Well. Because nothing major has happened in the world of Atlanta sports. There has neither been great news nor has there been terrible news. Just a modicum of good and 'meh' news. Today we'll focus on the Braves
Braves get a trio of new starting pitching. Nothing glitzy but after the maddening past few years of 4 inning pitchers and $15 million disabled vets, the Braves sought more stability. Personally, I agree with and love this strategy. Is this a pitching staff that can win a championship? Doubtful. However, this IS a great rotation to help develop our young players. At the major league level we are going to tax our bullpen less, give our offense a more consistent chance to stay in games, and keep our not quite ready talent in the minors to develop. Compare that with the past few years where we have been forced to bring up unready players, blown out ligaments of half of our bullpen, and forced our offense to try to come back from big deficit after big deficit. Did we pay "too much for Lowe"? Probably, but in the long run that investment pays off with the development of our other players that we were able to rest, leave in the minors, etc.
Getting rid of Smoltz will help us. Look. I love Smoltz. My dad loves Smoltz and he lives 1000 miles away from Atlanta. I admire a man who can work so hard through injury and be confident despite being bald since age 20. But the ridiculous notion that we "owed" Smoltz something was asinine. He told the Braves he would wait on them and make sure his arm is ready before negotiating. Then he got antsy and other teams opened their wallets. The Braves took a hard look and basically said "we'd love to have you if you are healthy, here is a contact that will reward you if you are." And he wasn't happy with it so he bolted. To blame the Braves for being prudent and neglecting sentimentality is insane. If we had resigned Smoltz and he didn't pitch an inning, the same media would skewer us. I wish Smoltz the best of luck but worry the cold air is going to tighten his shoulder and we won't see him on the mound come fall. And then he'll be back in the booth in Atlanta where he belongs.
Not wasting money or assets on Dunn, Dye, assortment of terrible OF options. Again, if we were close to a championship I would say the Braves should take the risk and get that one more guy. But right now we have a boatload of ML ready Outfielders who, at the least, will play slightly worse than anyone we could attain at about 1/10th the price. Blanco, Schafer, Gorkys, Anderson all have proven in the minors that they are ready for a shot and the Braves ought to not waste their assets at trying to get a marginal improvement. Instead, let the 'kids' play and see what you have after they get a regular opportunity. At worst we have capable platoon players (which Bobby loves) and a deeper bench than most teams. At best one of them shakes out to be a slightly above average player and we haven't wasted any money or players to improve the team.
Francouer. I am hopeful that his better diet and workout regimen will lead to increased productivity. But the fact of the matter is that it is his head that is slow, not his swing. Further evidenced by his demand for $4 million in arbitration while his best friend and All Star catcher is making $3.5 million this year. Over and over we see players that can't handle the pressure and the notoriety of playing in their home town. It seems like Frenchy may be one of those players. Unless he shows some humility at some point and is willing to accept his weaknesses and work on them, he won't improve and we will be seeing him in a Royals or Pirates uniform. And I'm okay with that.
Long term players who think they are the front office. Chipper is a great great hitter and an underappreciated fielder. He is not, however, the GM. To hear his inane comments of how Smoltz was treated was an exercise in stupidity. Of course a player is going to miss a long time teammate but to act like the Braves did something "wrong" in this just makes Chipper look like a moron. The quotes might have well read "reached via satellite phone while hiding in bushes hunting deer with a bowie knife Chipper Jones replied to the Smoltz signing by saying 'well darn, now I don't know what's gunna happen to me. I wonder what it's like to track deer in the snow.'" Let the front office handle the roster, Chipper. I hate to say it, but they could all learn a lesson from Glavine in the fine art of "keeping your mouth shut when you aren't involved."
So overall, I give the offseason an "A" from the front office. I'm sure all 3 of you readers out there are thinking "AN A? HOW CAN YOU GIVE THIS AN A? NO PEAVY, NO AJ, NO CC, NO HITTER?" But the committment to building takes time and patience. So far we have given up very little (a defensively limited catcher about whom it had been written that he had a career as a DH) and ended up with a sturdy rotation. Knowing that your rotation is the key to your success as it makes your bullpen stronger, your defense look better, and puts less pressure on your offense is a sign that Wren is trying to right the ship. Not bending to the whining of fans and players alike and being smart with every dollar in his budget, leaving room for flexibility means the opportunity for changes down the road. All this has been done with an eye to the future. After being spoiled for 14 years in a row it is hard to be patient as a fan. But the Falcons have shown us what having a plan and working towards it can do.
Maybe not Braves in 09, but Braves in 11 could be the key.