It’s Over

The streak is over. Last night, the Mets eliminated the Braves for the first time since I was in high school. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long. The Braves were so bad during my adolescence, I still haven’t gotten over it. This leads me to wonder, how does a Braves fans cope with no hope of the post-season? As a kid I used to follow Dale Murphy in the home rune race and pick other teams to follow. In reality, the Braves have been out of the playoffs for two months; that’s when I gave up on the team. I cringed each time the Braves made trades. While Bob Wickman turned his season around and improved the Braves, the team has just flushed $2 million (or more, based on incentives for innings pitched) down the toilet. It’s OK for fans to have false hopes, but not the front office.

The good news is that I think the team can be competitive next year if it can bring in a few arms. Giles will be moved. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Adam LaRoche go either: Chipper has to go to first, and LaRoche’s value couldn’t be higher. Wait ’til next year!

13 Responses “It’s Over”

  1. Ron24 says:

    You want to trade a young, relatively cheap and rapidly improving player like Laroche and keep a brittle, aging, expensive veteran like Chipper who is playing in fewer games every year? And I thought Shuerholz made dumb moves….

  2. JC says:

    Yep, I’m a real dumbass.

  3. Wait ’til next year is something that Cubs fans — such as myself — always say. Of course, we usually say it a lot sooner.

  4. Marc says:

    I can’t help it–I still want the Braves to try to finish .500 (unlikely), although not at the expense of someone’s health.

    Given how weak the NL is, it won’t take that much for the Braves to at least contend for the WC. But I don’t know where the pitching is going to come from. The bullpen improved with Wickman but still needs help–or at least addition by subtraction by getting rid of these rag arms like Yates.

    I don’t think the Braves will make all the big moves people expect. I suspect they think they can win with what they have if they can improve the pitching a bit. And I fear that JS actually believes that a staff anchored by Smoltz/Hudson/Hampton will be formidable.

  5. flournoy says:

    As much as I like LaRoche, I also favor trading him this offseason. His value is probably peaking right now. He’s young, he’s cheap, he’s good, and that makes him an attractive trade commodity. With Kelly Johnson, Scott Thorman, Matt Diaz (who also should be traded), Jeff Francoeur, and Ryan Langerhans, the Braves already have enough to cover 1B, LF, and RF, even without moving Chipper Jones. None of those guys are great, but for a team that I don’t expect to contend anyway, that’s okay. LaRoche should return some excellent young pitching talent.

    Marcus Giles will be traded for pitching as well. Willy Aybar and Martin Prado will man second base next year. No doubt about that.

  6. ChuckO says:

    I must say that I am not optimistic about next year. The Braves will have a new owner, if the sale ever gets completed, and, since Liberty Media is acquiring them for the tax advantages, I’d be surprised if there’s any increase in the payroll. On top of that, there’s the millstone that is Mike Hampton’s salary that they have hanging around their financial necks. All that leaves me feeling pretty gloomy about their prospects.

  7. A.C. says:

    I remember the bad years as an adolescent also. I agree with your synopsis – but what about LaRaoche in leftfield? He can not be worse than what is there now. Is Diaz our starting LF next year – if not, then why is in the lineup?

  8. flournoy says:

    Adam LaRoche in left field would be a defensive disaster. He fields first base well, but that doesn’t translate to the outfield. He is one of the slowest men I have ever seen. I really don’t understand how he can’t move his legs faster, but he can’t.

    Besides, what problem would that solve? So LaRoche plays left field, and Chipper Jones plays first base. Who plays third base? Or if you leave Jones at third, who plays first base? With Matt Diaz, Ryan Langerhans, Kelly Johnson, and Scott Thorman under contract next year, the Braves hardly need to add to their stock of left fielders.

  9. A.C. says:

    I appreciate your counterpoint. If LaRoche is traded there will still be no 3rd baseman. LaRoche was statistically better than the 3-headed monster in LF this year. The Braves have a sackful of 4th and 5th outfielders that are holding down a corner spot and they cannot combine to equal LaRoche’s numbers. LaRoche may or may not be serviceable in LF, but Chipper Jones in LF was not a pretty sight either. If Atlanta wanted to keep LaRoche, I thought that would be an alternative and they could use the surplus of OF’s for bullpen/3B/? help. Anyways keep up the good work. I enjoy the site and wish you all lots of luck.

  10. Jeff M. says:

    But who plays 3b? I agree that trading LaRoche is a prudent move in light of his current value (I won’t argue economics with an economist at any rate). But I’d assume they would just plug Thorman (perhaps in a platoon with Juries or, God help us, Jordan) in.

    It really seems to me that they’ve traded away the 3b prospects already (Marte and Betemit). I know of Campbell and a couple of others in the minors, but they seem more than a year or two out…

  11. Ron24 says:

    When healthy, Chipper was having one of his best offensive seasons this year. While he’s at best average defensively, there’s no reason to think his oblique problems are a result of playing 3rd or that playing 1st would make him less injury prone. Who would play 3rd anyway? Aybar? That would seem to me to weaken 2 positions offensively and I’d have to think Chipper would be a far worse 1b than Adam. I just don’t see the sense in it unless you are assuming the Braves will have to drastically reduce payroll due to new ownership.

  12. Johnny says:

    JC the thought crossed my mind to. LaRoche is at his peak value and he is very tradeable. A smart organization would try to leverage that value for some pitching. Alas.

    I don’t think that Chipper will move to first. I’m not even convinced that he has to. Given his lack of success at the easiest postion in the field (LF) first base might kill him. Trading Betemit will suck next year. Not becuase he is a star or anything but he had carved out a nice role as a caddie to Chipper and whomever else got injured this season.

    During the bad old days when I followed the Braves I had this uncanny knack for switching channels back to TBS just when Dale Murphy was batting. So I know where you are coming from. Even with that in mind I’m spoiled. Thanks for the dynasty Braves.

  13. WMH says:

    With what happened in Philadelphia after they traded their defacto team leader, Bob Abreu — where the whole demeanor of the team changed, the intensity level ratcheted up and they thrust themselves to the front of the Wild Card pack — I can’t help but question whether the same thing might be necessary in Atlanta with Chipper. Like Abreu, his numbers are consistently strong and he’s certainly a valuable player, but his ultra-professional, nonchalant, “we’ll get ’em tomorrow … or after I come off the DL” attitude might very well be holding back the overall team.