Little thoughts about Atlanta sports.
Starting with...The Braves offseason.
So far we have traded for a workhorse, signed (likely) a leadoff hitter and middle infielder, missed out on an injury prone strikeout pitcher, and held our ground against Kevin Tower's ridiculous demands.
I've already stated that the trade for Javier was a great move. Our pitching needs stability and consistency, he provides that. Our bullpen will be better due to added rest and our hitters will relax not thinking they have to score 10 every game to win.
Losing out on Burnett is a mixed bag. While I'd like to have a pitcher of his caliber on the team, I'm sure I won't be regretting it this July or next when he is disabled and the Yankees are eating his salary. I also don't mind not spending 16 million on a pitcher who we hope has kicked his injury bug. We just got done doing that already.
I like the Furcal signing a lot. It gives us flexibility, maturity (who ever thought we'd say that about Raffy), and a pure leadoff hitter. His ability (and willingness) to play 2B or SS gives us roster flexibility to trade either Kelly or Yunel without hurting ourselves offensively or much defensively. The shortness of the contract with an option year is also a nice touch to limit our exposure if Furcal declines suddenly.
Relatedly, the Peavy trade is "only mostly dead." Furcal's signing does give the Braves the option to trade one of them to the Padres in a package. At this point, I'm not sure the Braves want to take back in salary as much as Peavy is owed. Really, with the upgrade on the offense and less strain on the bullpen, a starter more like Greinke would be ideal. It would also cost less in prospects and we could perhaps fill a gap or two. Something like Kelly, Gorkys, Locke for Greinke and DeJesus.
The Falcons Miraculous Run
With three close losses and two ugly ones early in the season, the Falcons are proving that they have the testicular fortitude to fight back and pull out tough games. While the Bears' win was on the shoulders of Ryan, the victors against the Bucs came as a result of our O-Line punishing the injury plagued front of the Pirates of TampaBay. Coupled with Abraham's desire to remind everyone how dominant he can be, it was a complete team effort. The true measure of a team is how it responds against adversity and when a key player had a bad game. The coaching staff's ability to recognize and make adjustments was key in getting the Falcons drive going in OT but also in the defense's ability to stop the Bucs after watching Dunn and Bryant go crazy in the second half.
That has been the key all season that has been lacking in the past, specifically in regards to our last "franchise quarterback." While Ryan has gotten accolades, he has been the first to admit that the success of this team is a result of everyone "buying in" and working hard day in and day out to improve as an unit. As the season winds down, it is not pure talent that wins games--it is preparation, determination, and heart. For once, the Falcons have all three and it's a pleasure to watch--win or lose.
The Hawks Home Soaring
After playing 2/3 of their games on the road, the Hawks have looked road weary. The trip to Texas was the same as it always is: a slog through tough road losses. No longer could the team blame the "injury bug" as the entire team was basically healthy. Fortunately, the Hawks remained playing at the Texas teams' level of competition against some inferior teams back on the East Coast. Even though they weren't able to sprint out to big leads and coast, the Hawks seemed in control of themselves at least. Basketball is about confidence and the Hawks seem like they have more of a feel for what they want to do offensively and defensively.
The addition of shooters like Flip (when he's hot) and Mo and emergence of Marvin's beautiful stroke from the corners has freed up more space. While it is not being regularly used to get in the lane, it is creating more ball movement and open shots. Josh Smith has been his usual maddening self going through spurts where he wants to shoot jumpers more than bang in the post. I'd like to attribute that to him needing to get a little more conditioning and being tired from his defensive assignments, I can't help but be pessimistic that it's "Josh being Josh." That said, he is still a great weakside defender and alters twice as many shots per game as he blocks so his value is somewhat hard to calculate statistically (as there is no substantial way to figure out how many of his 'altered shots' don't go in).
I would like to see Woody stick with a rotation and commit to developing emerging talent like Acie and Solo. I would also like to see Woody listen to every statistician and Drew and CoCo and STOP FRIGGING PLAYNG ACIE AND FLIP TOGETHER. You can't develop a PG when your "shooting guard" decides that he = LeBron and can go 1v5 and won't give up the ball. Maybe give him a new pair of shoes for every pass he completes or something. I like Flip in the 4th because he does have Sam Cassellitis and isn't afraid of the big shot, but if we're going to have a shot in the playoffs we need to have a quality backup PG who can actually defend something.
I'm kidding I'm kidding. And since there is no news to report on the Dawg front, for once all is peachy in the sports world. It's nice to feel like it's good to be a fan all around for once.