Oct. 15, 2016
Have The Braves Gotten Better, Or Just Older?
The Braves made news this weekend acquiring long-time Reds Gold Glove second baseman and 3-time All-Star Brandon Phillips from Cincinnati for two minor league players, both well past the developmental age. Adding on, Cincinnati is willing to pay all but $1 million for the rest of the contract, thus making this a steal of a deal.
Or is it really?
Don't get me wrong: I like Brandon Phillips and he is one of those guys that are "good for the game." But this is the unfortunate part: he is a stop-gap move. Sean Rodriguez was brought to Atlanta for the reason of being the Braves guy at second so that Ozzie Albies would be ready for Atlanta sooner rather than later and possibly move him over to 3rd when Albies does get in the bigs. Rodriguez was injured in a car accident and could miss the first half of the season.
Now, as a Braves fan, I am at least feeling a bit better that the Braves moves, compared to the last two seasons where they pretty much folded the season before it even began, is at least try to field a competitive team that may have a shot at a wild card. After all, Atlanta committed the crime of imploding the team while alienating the fan base in the process. With Taxpayer-I mean SunTrust Ballpark about to open in two months, "standing pat" wasn't an option. But..........the key moves that were made:
Signing Sean Rodriguez (31). Signing Bartolo Colon (43, but 44 when May rolls around), R.A. Dickey (42), Kurt Suzuki (33), and trading for Jaime Garcia (30). So the big question is, did they get better, or really older?
Rodriguez hurts, hence why the Phillips trade went down, but hopefully he can be a boost down the stretch. Colon is a modern day Frank Tanana, where his career was about blazing fastballs as a kid and has now turned into a junk-style pitcher. It works and seeing him swing may be worth the price of admission. He had a great year with the Mets in 2016, but you wonder when it goes away. Dickey, on the other hand, you do wonder if his time is nearing at an end (10-15, 4.46, 1.37 WHIP in 16). So maybe he is more relegated to 5th starter/bullpen. Suzuki really replaces AJ Pierzynski behind the plate, so make your own idea there, but at 1 year for $1.5 million it isn't too painful. Garcia, whom St. Louis had high hopes, had nearly the same numbers as Dickey in 2016 as many wondered if it was the arm started to give way as he's had surgery on his arm twice and now it is a mental issue. So all of the moves can be questionable ones to this point for Atlanta.
But...........at least they are not giving away Teheran or Freddie Freeman.
I also get the off-season this year in baseball was one of the most dud off-seasons with a crummy free agent pool (Edwin Encarnacion as the BEST bat available? Relievers making the big bucks?) Atlanta has pieces in place for a while, such as Freeman, Teheran, Dansby Swanson, Ender Inciarte, and Mike Foltynewicz (if he can get his head on straight). So adding veterans is needed, but in terms of the field performance, all of the moves are a "they will work IF" moves. And that is what is concerning. They can all have good years and push Atlanta into the thick of a Wild Card race, OR they may not make it through one year. But too may hypotheticals. Yes, I am glad the Braves are fielding a competitive team in 2017, but I am not sure if this is the best way of going about doing it. Time will tell when April rolls around.
-Fan in the Obstructed Seat