Topic: Freddie Freeman
Clarksville, TN – It was hard not to feel as though Christmas had come early when news of the Shelby Miller deal broke.
A Dansby Swanson? All for me? And an Aaron Blair for my pitching collection? And wow… an Ender Inciarte! I’ve never had one of those! Oh here, I got you a Shelby Miller… slightly used. Hmm, I feel kinda bad about that now. Want a gift card?
If I knew any Diamonbacks fans, I probably would’ve felt bad for them. They’ve now mortgaged three first-round picks—including Swanson, the No. 1 overall in 2015—and a legitimately exciting defensive outfielder for Shelby Miller, a marginal pitching prospect and the right not to pay Bronson Arroyo any more money. The franchise is going for it, which is an exciting phrase to hear—it was also the same phrase Braves fans heard when Atlanta acquired the Upton’s, and that didn’t turn out all that well.
Clarksville, TN – Yeah it sucks.
No matter what happens in the future, this much is irrefutable: the Atlanta Braves traded the best defensive player—not shortstop, not infielder, player—since Ozzie Smith, as he was reaching his prime, for wishes. Maybe those wishes can be granted and maybe they can’t; that’s for the genie and the Braves minor-league instructors to sort out.
Two years ago, Braves fans could say unequivocally, regardless of how good or bad the team as a whole was playing, that they could watch Andrelton Simmons play shortstop like a god and Craig Kimbrel be the best closer in the world. And we got to do that all the time. Now we don’t, and it sucks.
Clarksville, TN – The National League East has been a wonderful dumpster fire in 2015, which has been nice for a number of reasons. For one, that the Mets, Major League Baseball’s laughingstock for the past half-decade, not only won the division handily but were the only team that any casual observer would reasonably conclude was run with something approaching competency—a team that was forced to pay a 52-year old man whose last big-league at-bat happened less than a year into George W. Bush’s first term $1.2 million on July 1st—will never not be the best.
But my favorite part has been that the Braves incompetence, which happened by design, pales in comparison to the unintentional bungling by the Marlins and Nationals, with the latter’s season from hell coming to a head last weekend when sentient sack of Quikrete Jonathan Papelbon attempted to do bodily harm to Bryce Harper, who happens to be the best player in the National League.
Clarksville, TN – We make a lot of fun of the New York Metropolitans in this space, but it’s time to acknowledge that the Mets are at least somewhat Amazin’ this season.
(That’s right, the Braves have been so terrible this year that I’ve resorted to the New York Mets to find some good in baseball. Also, scotch.)
With David Wright missing a large swath of the season, Yoenis Cespedes and Juan Uribe not showing up until midway through and a regular cast that includes people you’ve never heard of (Michael Conforto, Juan Lagares), thought to be retired (Curtis Granderson, Michael Cuddyer) or terrible (Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy, Lucas Duda again), the Mets were supposed to be a year away.
Clarksville, TN – As far back as I can remember, the Braves were fine. Nearly always good, occasionally great. Sure, there was that 2008 team that was underachieving and unfortunate and doesn’t bear any measure of discussion. But from the time I started paying attention to baseball, I could nearly always count on Atlanta being involved in meaningful games in August and September.
So 2015 will be slightly different.
Clarksville, TN – You want me to talk about John Hart and the Confusing, Off-the-Wall, Nonsensical, Very Weird Deal or do you want me to talk about something else? I have to mention it, obviously, but I can do it in 80 words or I can do it 800 words.
You picked 80. Smart.
I think when you make a deal where the biggest principles involved are a 24-year old mid-rotation starter, a 21-year old top prospect, a two-time All-Star closer and a 30-year old super prospect whose never seen a big-league pitch and has a sketchy injury history—and the only one you end up with is the 30-year old—then unless the 30-year old turns into steroids-era Mark McGwire or better, you lost the trade. But hey, no pressure Hector Olivera. Pickles.
(Sorry, I was on 79. Needed one more.)
Clarksville, TN – If you made a checklist entitled ‘Worst Ways for a Professional Baseball Team to enter/exit the All-Star Break’, let’s see how your 2015 Atlanta Braves might have fared:
Four games in hitter’s haven Colorado – 11 total runs. So… check.
Five straight losses after being .500 and four games back in the division race – still in the hunt! – as recently as July 7th (That’s longform for ‘check’)
The Braves hit the halfway point on Saturday night – a dominant 9-5 win against the Phillies that was over by the fifth inning and brought the Braves within a game of .500 at 40-41.
And that this team – with one consistently good starting pitcher, a revolving door of castoffs for a bullpen and an offense best described as ‘Freddie Freeman, Cameron Maybin and six guys you may have heard of’ – is sniffing the possibility of .500 ball and maybe not selling at the deadline is Fredi Gonzalez’s greatest achievement. Well done.
I know this is not an earth-shattering revelation, but the lack of Freddie Freeman the last two weeks has thrown an already-limp lineup into utter disarray.
Teams cannot survive with one marquee attraction in a lineup full of has-beens, not-quites and never-weres but the subtraction of Freeman hurts the ones his presence had helped. Cameron Maybin (.229, 4 runs), Jace Peterson (.189, 2 runs) and Juan Uribe (.167, 1 extra-base hit) have all struggled during Freeman’s absence, clearly suffering once opposing pitcher’s no longer have to worry about working around the burly lefty.
Surprising few, the Braves sent Christian Bethancourt down to Gwinnett on Monday. Bethancourt was hitting .204 at the time and really, it’s time for a major re-evaluation when Ryan Lavarnway is considered the better bet to succeed at the major-league level. If his bat is going to be Mendoza-esque, his defense needs to be better than bottom-five in the league in errors (three) and passed balls (five) – especially since he was only catching twice a week.
He’s 23; 23-year olds get sent down when they’re struggling sometimes, even multi-time top organizational prospects who were thought to be lynchpins. He’ll go to Triple-A, get more playing time and hopefully figure out how to be serviceable with the bat and get back to the world-class defense we’ve all heard so much about.
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