Posted: 8:43 pm Monday, February 24th, 2014

Gush alert! The Braves had a great offseason 

By Mark Bradley

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The first of the Braves’ four big, bold moves. (David Tulis/AJC)

Sometimes I gush. I try not to do it often — it ruins the curmudgeonly effect I endeavor to cultivate — but sometimes I do. I mention this because, over on myajc.com, our premium site, I just gushed about the Atlanta Braves.

Long-ish story short: By extending four luminaries among their prized young core — an All-Star first baseman, the best shortstop in the business, the best closer in the business and the best young arm this franchise has seen rise to the majors in 20 years — the Braves had themselves a great offseason.

As someone who has hung around this franchise for three decades, I have to say I’m more excited about the Braves than I’ve been since the middle ’90s, when the worst-to-firsters of 1991 began to give way to the Next Wave of Chipper Jones, Ryan Klesko, Javy Lopez. and Mike Kelly. (OK, so Mike Kelly didn’t work out.) You knew then that the Braves would be good now and, given that they were flush with prospects and cash, good for years to come.

The Braves of Liberty Media haven’t been so flush with cash, but they just sank $267.4 million into long-term extensions for Freddie Freeman, Andrelton Simmons, Craig Kimbrel and Julio Teheran. (This doesn’t count option years. It also doesn’t count the $13.3 million to secure Jason Heyward until he’s eligible for free agency in 2015.)

More gushing: I like it when the local teams carry themselves like smart teams. (This hasn’t always been the case, as we know.) I like it when they move boldly. Even if all these preemptive strikes don’t pay the hoped-for dividends, they were moves worth making.

I’m human. I enjoy a good rip, same as everybody else. But sometimes it’s nice just to sit back and say, “Well done, y’all.” This is such a time.

38 comments
SmyrnaGeorgia
SmyrnaGeorgia

I just hope they have Uggla and BJ on short leashes this year. You gotta pay 'em no matter what, but if they stink like last year, sit them on the bench, and use BJ for defense when we are ahead. It should not be hard to find a better hitter than Uggla was last year to play second. Wren has a real mixed record with getting good free agents.


Hard to know what we will be like this season- l think losing McCann and Hudson should not make much difference. We will at least be competitive I think, unless we catch the injury bug. Pitching should be very good. These Spring Training losses are usually the fault of pitchers who have no chance of being on the Major League team this year.

MichBravesFan
MichBravesFan

For the most part I agree this was a good offseason. Wren did not sign any free agents so that is good. Plus they got a new park and signed many of their young core players long term. However, not a complete success because they still have Uggla starting at 2b and BJ in CF and the Nat's got Fister so we're going to come up short this year I think. 

Trollhater
Trollhater

We're stacked and loaded this year. Should be a great season. I've never seen young talent on a team like ours. As far as Liberty goes; they went out and spent $280 million locking up the kids. Looks like they did their job too. Can't wait for opening day.


Flacons_go_2-14
Flacons_go_2-14

So explane why the Barves have loss all there games so far? 

TideDawg
TideDawg

One word about the Hawks..........never mind, one word won't do it!!

TideDawg
TideDawg

My worry about the Braves is how far are they willing to go to give BJ & Uggla a chance to bounce back? Last year was a nightmare watching them come to bat. They won't make it playing 6 hitters in the lineup this year.

JoelPinnell
JoelPinnell

It's good to see the haters of anything are already in mid season form. 


#REALFANSONLY

Hesalive
Hesalive

I like this new, younger team. If the chips fall in the right places, the Braves can win multiple WS, in my opinion. 

DogTheMan
DogTheMan

I understand why the Braves signed their young talent. But taking a chance on Jason Heyward in two years is just nonsense. And to not add anything new to get over the hump is inexcusable. Another average year on the making.

NajehDavenpoop
NajehDavenpoop

They didn't add anyone new, lost two key players, and wasted a chance to extend Heyward long term at a rate below what he will be worth in the coming seasons. Average at best. 

FarTrain
FarTrain

Doesn't take much to impress MB does it?  This is basically the same team(or less) that folded last year after finishing in first place over two teams who phoned it in.  I look for a third place finish this year, at best. The worst "first place manager" in baseball who had lady luck on his side will assure us of that.

Wilbo
Wilbo

Please, please, please, please, PLEASE somebody tell me why these AJC dolts absolutely and positively refuse to discuss the sawed off horse's head lying on the table! This little tweak of the line-up and that little tweak of the line-up is going to do the exact same thing it has done the last 12 years as far as making a difference in the stone cold putrid disgusting loser-itus hanging around the neck of the Atlanta Braves come the post-season every year. Let's just pretend we don't notice how much they suck EVERY single October, and maybe it will all go away.


And pretending this team is even in the same neighborhood talent and attitude wise as the early/middle 90's teams is fantasy in its most stupid form.


Bradley, wake up, dude!

BSNBC
BSNBC

Will be a lot of empty seats this year!

CTATLFAN
CTATLFAN

Is anyone else frustrated that the BRAVES have not won a playoff series since the NLDS in 2001 ?? As good as the  lineup looks right now for years to come , I feel the pitching staff is what is going to prevent them from competing for a championship.  We have some good young arms in the making but lets face it.... With out at least 1 dominant arm like  Harvey, Kershaw, Strasburg ..etc.. we will only go as far as our staff takes us which we know is usually good a playoff spot but that's about it!!  I'm sick of losing in the DS or WC game,  its time to make it to the playoffs and to stop being a push over to the other teams come October  !!

Ruffski
Ruffski

Love this team, and especially like getting the core in place with new contracts, but... We didn't do enough to compete with LA and STL. We'll handle the division, but going beyond that will take something special.


Go Braves!!

GloryBetweenTheHedges
GloryBetweenTheHedges

Want to know the outcome of this upcoming season in a sentence? We will win the division and lose in the first round of the playoffs.

MikeS777
MikeS777

The young talent on this team is staggeringly good, so obviously that bodes well for the future. But then Liberty Media's continued lack of support for the team balances that excitement out because they cant secure the pieces around these young guys to truly content for a World Series title.  I think it's one of the more tragic scenarios in sports today.  The young talent alone is good enough to win the division, but they aren't good enough to get by the Dodgers and Cardinals who have put good veteran players around their young core, let alone if they did get to the World Series and faced a loaded Red Sox or Yankees team.


They wouldn't have to jump into the $150 million club either.  They only would need a couple of big FA moves around this young core.

MikeS777
MikeS777

I wish I could be as optimistic.  Fact is, the 90's Braves had a Hall of Fame, Cy Young award winning starting rotation which they kept intact, and were very active in free agency.  They put a lot of good players around that core of Chipper Jones, Lopez, Klesko.  That group didn't have to carry the team.  But then you have to pay for play makers, and Liberty Media has not been willing to allow the Braves to dive in on the true play makers in free agency.

This group will have to carry the team because the only thing around them are more young players with potential (Gattis and other starting pitchers), the Upton brothers, and Uggla.  There are no Cy Young award winners (yet anyway).  There are no Fred McGriffs, Andres Galarraga, or even a Dave Justice and Ron Gant holding down the middle of the order.  And I don't see the Braves spending the money to secure such players either.  They could potentially get that if the Uptons and Uggla step up and have good seasons, but it would be better if they could have spent money on bigger names who you wouldn't have to wonder about.


DawgDadII
DawgDadII

They did what they could with Heyward and seemed spot on extending the four other young kids. There is a solid nucleus here.

The risk this year is the lineup could be wildly inconsistent, heavy on strikeouts and laden with several low-OBP guys. But with the exception of Freeman and Johnson there is upside potential across the board. This team needs the Uptons and Uggla to step up and be far more consistent.

WhiskeyBreath
WhiskeyBreath

Oh yea MB, I forgot, the Braves are a team that Schulz will actually let you be honest and fair.

Sports fans, you are in for a treat. You will enjoy an honest  opinion, old school journalism.

Apparently when it comes to the Braves, the AJC takes off the cuffs with MB.

He might even actually interview one of the players or coaches. 


Caius
Caius

“Well done, y’all.”

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

The off-season would have been even better if Dan Uggla had been dispatched ! 

Phillipdj
Phillipdj

Nothing wrong with a writer or media member getting excited about his/her teams they cover. I've done newspaper and mostly radio - you can't help rooting for them. MB can be objective and still be a fan. Anyone who claims to be truly objective 100% of the time is either a nomadic journalist with no roots or a liar.

Ficklefan
Ficklefan

I understand the strategy, I really do. But I just can't help thinking in the back of my mind . . . have the Braves done nothing here but create an army of Ugglas and BJ Uptons?  I personally believe that the idea of moving ahead for just a couple of years and then stopping to take a breath, to take stock in where things stand, is good for both the franchises and the players. There is something to be said for "pay as you go" from both sides. 


The franchise needs to be able to say, " Your performance has lacked miserably for the last two seasons - so take it or leave it - we have other options." The player needs to be able to say, "I carried this team on my back for the last two seasons - so take it or leave it - I have other options." Capitalism will do the rest. 


One thing is for sure. This could turn out to be really great over the next few years, or it could turn out to be a really, really ugly and complete disaster. Imagine the Braves  with 5 or 6 Ugglas and BJ Uptons with guaranteed big bucks, playing ahead of younger and better players every day for one reason and one reason only -- because of  what they are being paid.  Just like what happened last year, and we saw how that ended. Too hard to think about. 

chasjons
chasjons

Yep great moves by the Braves.  You play the poker game with patience but aggressiveness when needed.  The Braves made strong moves to secure a team for the future.

LADawg
LADawg

Simmons is not only the best shortstop, he has the best baseball instincts of any player I've seen in a long time. He will end up being the bargain of the decade!

MLH1983
MLH1983

Could agree more Mark

Flacons_go_2-14
Flacons_go_2-14

Ill answre my self. They need 2 fire the loosing managar. They nevery should of had of hired him in the fist palce. He had a loosing record. So far this year he had a loosing record. 

TideDawg
TideDawg

@FarTrain Your optimism is overwhelming. The manager makes out the lineup for each game, changes pitchers when needed and sends in pinch hitters. How smart do you have to be?? He doesn't hit the ball or catch the ball and he can't make a player hit(Uggla & BJ for sure) So where is it that a manager goes wrong?? You either have winning players or you don't. Look up poor manager in the dictionary and you will see Bobby Cox's picture...not Gonzalez. I thought Gonzalez did a good job winning with only 6 players in the lineup that he could count on to hit. I don't think it was his idea to play BJ & Uggla.


It's a young team with another year's experience. They should be better than last year. Maybe they won't win the division but probably will make the playoffs.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@MikeS777 How many of the Braves players that could have become free agents would have been signed by other teams to become the missing pieces to their teams? The Braves are a young talent laden team that will only get better. They own the missing pieces to other teams. This team with another year of experience could become what the teams of the 90s were. Patience my fellow blogger...Patience!!

kerryb
kerryb

@Ficklefan  Always going to be a downer in the bunch.  Everything about the players they signed say that they are just starting to scratch the surface of what they will do the next 5-10 years.  Now they will be Braves through those peak years.  What would have happened if the Braves had sit back and waited another 2 years to do this.  All of those players salaries together would have been out of reach for the Braves and the fans would have been angry when one by one they walked.  Sometimes you just have to take a risk and I applaud the Braves front office for doing it.  Yes, it can come back to bite you if they don't perform like some players have.  That has happened to many teams.  It's only been one year with B.J Upton so lets see what happens with him this season before we throw him on the trash heap.  Maybe last season was a fluke.  If that is the case then the Braves will be the best offensive team in the NL this season.

MrGil2U
MrGil2U

@Tea-Party-Meber Dude, you are embarrassing yourself. For goodness sake, at least employ spell check if you are going to espouse inane drivel. 

Baghead
Baghead

That's a lot of ifs.  Scratching what?  The only proven offense on this team at this point is Freeman.  The "best offensive team in the NL" is a very far away.  In fact, not sure that's achievable when you've built a team on long ball and not quality on-base-percentages.  Why call this guy a "downer"?  He actually makes a very valid point.  So what if he doesn't jump on the Frank Wren Atlanta Braves Schultz Bradley O'Brian bandwagwon.  He's pointing out very valid issues with these signings.  You must be a liberal.  I agree with taking the risk on multi-year deals, but when it's Frank Wren pulling the trigger, you gotta wonder if ANY due diligence was conducted.  This Bradley write-up is nothing more than a homer Atlanta article that fails to find any fault whatsoever in our management.  You keep on celebrating those 90 win seasons.  I'll keep pointing out that Wren has failed miserably to develop a team that can compete with other divisional winners in the postseason.