So, many have noticed my lack of writing recently, at least according to my Twitter DMs, but I’m in that lovely time of life when you find someone who can put up with you most of the time, decide you’d like to spend your lives together, and then begin combining stuff. Being a couple that were both established in our own lives, that’s meant moving a LOT of things!
I have realized in this experience that I’ve uncovered the solution to the Braves season! Now, bear with me as some of these may be a bit of a stretch, but I think you’ll get it…
1. The Braves need to evaluate what will be needed for the new place.
One of the big parts of any move is reviewing what you have and what you will need in the new place. Looking at the Braves, it seems that an area of strength in 2013 has turned into a weakness in 2014 – the bullpen. There could be some help on hand with the return of Jordan Walden, the call up of Shea Simmons, and the possible return of Jonny Venters, but there’s no reason to stop there. I outlined before the season a number of guys who were good possible 2014 options who were still in the minors, and some of them have performed quite well, so the team doesn’t necessarily need to go out of the system to fill the bullpen, but whether it’s from in-house or trade, the current pieces simply aren’t on the roster. One of the issues is holding on too long to guys. Bullpen guys are rarely on top of their game very long at all, so it is wise to always have too many options in the bullpen, not expecting a Luis Avilan to pitch in 2014 as he did in 2013.
2. The Braves need to be willing to throw away parts that simply don’t fit anymore.
While he’s had some high points in this season, B.J. Upton has struggled mightily. That said, I’m not sure his contract is tradable. What I’m talking about here is possibly the most obvious throw away since last October, when he was left off of the playoff roster. Dan Uggla may be a guy with a great work ethic, fun to be around, and all those wonderful intangible things, but he’s simply not performing on the field. His defense has taken a huge step backward this year, and his bat is somehow even worse than last year’s collapse. I was on board with allowing Dan time to see how his LASIK could help, as it has helped a number of hitters over the years, but it simply hasn’t in 2014. Dan’s contract is heavy, but the Braves could find a team in the AL who could live more with his power bat and not having to use him in the field or they may just cut him completely and take the hit. Tommy La Stella has performed well thus far, and with Jose Peraza fast coming up the system behind him, the Braves may not have a place for Uggla in 2014, so it makes sense to open the roster spot, likely for a guy like Todd Cunningham or Joey Terdoslavich who could allow B.J. to sit more often with better options on the bench to either play center or cover the corners while Jason Heyward moves to center.
On the more positive side of this thought, the Braves currently are sitting on a wealth of starting pitching depth. While I don’t want to see an exodus of Aaron Harang, Gavin Floyd, and David Hale all at the same time or anything, the Braves certainly seem to have a glut of starting pitching with Alex Wood waiting in the minors to get a regular rotation spot, and starting pitching is definitely valuable on the market as Braves fans remember when getting a back-end guy like Paul Maholm required a highly-thought-of prospect like Arodys Vizcaino. Getting a similar high-risk, high-reward guy back for Harang or Floyd would be an excellent coup for the Braves.
3. The Braves need to reorganize.
Who of us hasn’t had a shelf that sat in our bedroom for years end up looking great in the office or living room at a new place? The Braves have been trotting out a lot of similar looks this season, and perhaps it’s time to change things up. I could get into lots of the retread ideas of moving B.J. out of the 2-hole in the lineup, hitting La Stella leadoff, batting Heyward, Justin Upton, and Freddie Freeman in the 3-4-5 spots of the lineup in some order, leaving Evan Gattis as arguably the best 6-hole hitter in the league. I’m not going to come out with definitive solutions as I don’t assume I would know without being in the clubhouse what mixture would work, but this team has a mix of players that are young enough not to be overly established in their roles. That would make ideas like lineup changes very viable with this batch of players, and mid-summer is a perfect time to do that before you hit the home stretch of the season in preparation for the playoffs.
Yes, I understand that I’m not providing definitive answers in this as I don’t know that before July 1st, the trade market has really developed enough to be aware of what will be out there. These are things that led to a peaceful move after the upheaval of removing both of us from our entrenched positions in life, and since the current method of madness hasn’t exactly produced overwhelmingly positive results, perhaps it is time for the Braves to enact a moving plan.