Simmons' injury a big blow for Braves

Atlanta Braves rookie shortstop Andrelton Simmons broke his right pinkie finger sliding head-first on Sunday and will be in a cast for four weeks. Since being recalled on June 2, Simmons has been one of the most dynamic players in the National League, hitting .296 and slugging .452 while playing sterling defense that earned him ESPN's defensive player of the month honors for June.

Fellow rookie Tyler Pastornicky, Atlanta's starting shortstop the first two months, struggled in the majors, hitting .248/.281/.324 and displaying little range in the field. Baseball-Reference.com rated Pastornicky at -1.6 WAR during his time with the club and Simmons at 2.5. Even if we downgrade Simmons a bit -- his defensive metrics are off the charts but must be taken with a small-sample-size caveat and he was probably a little over his head at the plate -- we're still talking about a sizable difference in value, maybe as much as two wins over one month unless Pastornicky plays much better in the field.

The Braves enter the break in second place in the NL East, four games behind the Nationals and tied for the wild-card lead -- but just a half-game ahead of the Mets, Cardinals and Giants. Two games is obviously important. Our Capitol Avenue blog on the Braves has another idea besides playing Pastornicky: Trade for Brendan Ryan, the Mariners' defensive whiz.