Author: Joey Gaspierik
The Bravos have been less than exciting to watch the past few seasons. It sucks that really the most blood-pumping thing has been a wild card playoff game that resulted in one of the worst calls by an umpire I might ever see. I actually lost my “Chipper Knows” shirt on this call at the TED (go to 1:36 to see how the city of ATL felt about that). The Dodgers pitching made us look silly in 2013 – and so did our coaching in critical moments. Not to mention the heart melting finish that was this past season.
That being said, we need to take some steps forward. We are already going in the right direction by ditching Frank Wren. I don’t hate the guy. In my opinion, this isn’t a bad break-up. Yea, he made some bad moves and left us in debt to a couple of guys that seemingly have just lost almost all skill, but nobody expected both Uggla and BJ to completely suck…(well except these bunch of prophets who tried to tell us when Uggla was still with the Marlins…..and even this guy who really sums it all up quick when Beej Up was still with the Rays).By letting Frank Wren go, the Braves at least have a sign of some serious change. Now let’s hope it stays positive.
Newly acquired GM John Hart is going to have to make some real moves this off-season. The team needs some consistent bats, and I have lost all trust in the guys we have waited on to come around. Of course, in order to get exactly what we need we are going to have to break up with some dudes.
Might have to break up with Evan Gattis to some AL squad in order to get us something special. This one would be tough. It would be a “you’re better off without me…” break up – even though we don’t mean it. We know we will miss our white bear. It won’t be the end of the world though since we will gain a legitimate defensive catcher in Christian Bethancourt. Even though we lose a bat as lethal as a million hyenas, if Bethancourt can just hit about .260 and get on base, I will be happy. Not too much to ask. Hate to see Evan go, but life goes on.
The easiest to get rid of will be BJ, of course. I feel like if you let me work on hitting every day during my 9-5, I might be able to give more to the team than he has at the plate (minus the home runs). This would be that breakup that has been a long time coming. We invested a lot of energy, and tried our best to make it work, but in the end he has got to go. The sting of his exit will linger for a while (we owe him a whopping $48.15 million over the next 3 years), but we can finally move on and start a new chapter. We will probably have to package him, and I think the only way to package someone contributing so little, is to offer up his all-star brother in addition.
J-Up has been fun to watch. The way he mashes the baseball is awesome, but the dude strikes out like it’s going out of style. I think the only way we get a team to take Bossman Junior off our hands is to find the team that wants Justin, and tell them that you can’t have one without the other. Maybe even sell it as a “he plays better even when his brother is on the bench” type of thing. However they do it, it would be a “Braves thing” to sign the brothers, and then send the brothers off together. I could see Schuerholtz having his hand in a move like that. I’ll miss the threat of his bat, but if it means building a better team, fine by me.
I think we may shed a pitcher or two. Wouldn’t be surprised by anything there. Not even if we shed Craig Kimbrel, and his contract (we owe him 9 mil next year and then 24 mil over the two years after that). Not saying he doesn’t deserve it. Craig is the man. One of the best closers in the game – if not the best. But Shae Simmons has proven that he could potentially be just as effective, and shedding that cash guarantee would be huge. If a team offers the right piece for Kimbrel, I think we might have to break up with him, too. This would suck. It would be the “I’m going drinkin'” break up. It would leave me with a bad feeling in my stomach, and I would only pray that the guy we get in return is worth every ounce of the 5’11, 220 pound pile of gold that we run out in the 9th.
The core of our team is made up by Freeman, Simmons, and Heyward. If we can get Andrelton to hit the ball more effectively (just a .244 hitter last season), stop trying to kill every pitch, and pair the hitting with his symphonic shortstop play, he could go down as one of the best to play the game when he retires. With Simmons and Heyward both earning gold gloves, they are as defensively sound as they come. Freeman’s scoop will earn him gold gloves eventually to go along with his bat that is always solid, and J-Hey is getting better with age at the plate. Once we make some moves and bring in a couple of consistent bats to help them out, I feel like Andrelton will feel less pressure to have to be Superman, and make better contact. If we lose any of these guys, I would for sure be upset. It’s got to be safe to say that Fred and ‘drel are safe, but there have been rumors floating around that Heyward could be out. I really hope they aren’t true because it would be tough to watch a dude walk out of your life that came into it in such an amazing way.
I want to go back to a dominant pitching staff. Not one that is glued together with 1 or 2 guys that buckle at some point during the season. Maybe Medlen comes back and goes “Rookie of the Year” on us….who knows? It’s important to get Santana to re-sign for 2015. He just turned down our $15.3 million qualifying offer, so shedding some of the money just got a whole lot more serious in order to get him back. If we want any rings, we will need a pitching staff with no holes. I would be very surprised if we don’t make big moves to bring in a proven ace to the club to complement Julio Teheran and possibly Santana. I am hoping it will be Jon Lester. It’s already known that the Braves really like him. With 2-3 big arms, and the (cross your fingers) healthy returns of Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy, the Braves’ staff could be right where we need it to be for a strong presence in the NL East.
We need new faces. We need new names. We need real changes that are going to convert our entire structure to something that can guarantee good baseball. Part of me truly believes we will figure it out and make the right moves because I believe in the team, but another part of me is crossing my fingers and hoping it works — because I just can’t keep getting excited for the product they have been putting out lately, and excitement should be what Atlanta Braves baseball is all about.
Guys that could go…
- Mike Minor
- Chris Johnson
- Tyler Pastornicky
- Joey Terdoslavich
- Ramiro Pena
- Evan Gattis
- BJ Upton
- Justin Upton
- Craig Kimbrel
- Jason Heyward
Who do you think the Braves should trade away this off-season? Let us know in a comment here: