Morning Chop: Summary of Atlanta Braves’ News
NL East Links: Marlins, Amaro, Betemit
- The Braves and Indians have interest in Wilson Betemit, CSNBaltimore.com’s Rich Dubroff reports (Twitter link). The Marlins were also linked to Betemit earlier this week but their signing of Casey McGehee probably ended that interest.
Reassessing Atlanta Braves’ Offseason Plan and What’s Next
jor League Baseball’s offseason, nicknamed the Hot Stove, is dedicated to flair, bravado and excessive free-agent contracts that often exceed $100 million. Technically, the Atlanta Braves participate in this annual ritual, but rarely does a headline exist with their name in it.
Thus far this winter, Atlanta has been in the news for off-the-field stories (Bobby Cox‘s Hall of Fame induction, new stadium plans) rather than on-field acquisitions. After allowing Tim Hudson and Brian McCann to walk away in free agency, the team signed Gavin Floyd to provide rotation depth and traded for Ryan Doumit to fill a unique bench role of pinch hitter, backup catcher and occasional corner outfielder.
If you expected more, this franchise isn’t for you.
With a slew of young, ascending talent, the Braves don’t need to make a splash to compete for a postseason berth in 2014. Instead, incremental improvements and small moves can keep the Braves near the top of the NL East for years.
Yet, there’s still some business to tend to in Atlanta before the 2014 season begins.
Here’s what should be next for the Atlanta Braves.
Updated: In Braves’ fallout, city emails show Reed team in triage mode
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Mayor Kasim Reed and a handful of officials may have learned the Atlanta Braves’ shocking plans to leave for Cobb County in a Nov. 7 meeting with team leaders. But they weren’t prepared for the ball club to go public with the explosive news four days later.
According to emails released by the Reed administration Thursday, the surprise announcement made on Veterans Day sent the administration into a tailspin as it grappled with how to handle the inevitable public relations nightmare.
The emails reveal many within the administration had not yet been informed of the team’s pending departure.
“My phone and email are blowing up about a report in today’s Marietta Daily Journal claiming Braves plan to move to Cobb County,” Reed spokesman Carlos Campos wrote in an email to COO Duriya Farooqui and Deputy COO Hans Utz minutes after the news broke Nov. 11. “We are being asked for comment. Anyone? I’m clueless.”
Why the Braves gave up on Sean Gilmartin
The surprising part of the Ryan Doumit trade wasn’t that the Atlanta Braves added another catcher. The surprising part was that they added another catcher – a backup, no less – at the expense of Sean Gilmartin, a left-handed pitcher who was their Round 1 draftee in June 2011.
Which tells us: The Braves had seen enough of Gilmartin to believe that he would never pitch significant innings for them. Otherwise they wouldn’t have given up on a 23-year-old lefty to land a 32-year-old backup catcher.
Under Frank Wren, the Braves don’t mess around with pitchers. If they decide a guy isn’t good enough – or has topped out, or has lost whatever it was they thought he had – they’ll get rid of him. They won’t keep Running Him Out There. (They save that approach for underperforming big-ticket position players.) They’ll dump him for whatever they can get and let him become someone else’s project.
Nationals look stronger than Braves
The tale of the National League East race in 2013 was told early on, maybe in an early April showdown in Washington. The Nationals entered with a 7-2 record, while the Braves came to town at 8-1. It was only April 12, but it was a statement series. In the first game, Drew Storen was trying to close out a 4-2 lead in the ninth. Chris Johnson singled and Ramiro Pena reached on a bunt hit. Justin Upton would later tie it with a two-out, two-run single and then Pena hit a two-run homer in the 10th off Craig Stammen. The next night, Tim Hudson beat Stephen Strasburg 3-1 with seven strong innings as Evan Gattis hit a two-run homer. In the finale, Paul Maholm pitched great and the Braves battered Gio Gonzalez in a 9-0 win.
The Braves led the division the rest of the way, fueled by a 12-1 start. They sputtered only for a time in mid-May when the Nationals clawed to a half-game behind, but then the Braves went on a 15-4 run — taking two of three over the Nationals — and the race was over. The Braves finished 96-66, and only a strong September got the Nationals to 86-76.
Despite that 10-game difference in the win column and the fact that the Braves had a run differential of 110 runs better than the Nationals, if I had to pick a 2014 division winner right now, I’d go with the Nationals.
Here are a few reasons why: