Topic: Justin Upton
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 – The 2015 regular season has whimpered to a close. Let’s hand out some fake awards for an Atlanta Braves season that was all too real.
The Jermaine Dye Award for best season by a former Brave: This seems like one of those insanely stacked categories like the 1994 Best Picture Oscar nominees. In fact, lets draw some half-cocked parallels between baseball players and 20-year old movies!
Forrest Gump: Gets all the headlines and maybe (maybe!) it’s not the best, only everyone gets irrationally mad at you for suggesting that? Oh, this is so Justin Upton.
Four Weddings and a Funeral: Everybody always seems to forget about this movie… kinda like everyone forgets that Mark Teixeira used to play for the Braves.
Clarksville, TN – It’s easy to fly under the radar when you play on a team hell-bent on losing 100 games. The talented players tend to get the benefit of the doubt—Shelby Miller didn’t pitch perfectly in every one of those starts he was unable to win, just most of them, but you wouldn’t know that from listening to Chip and Joe—and the…less…talented guys bear the brunt of the blame (I can only imagine Fredi Gonzalez’s whole spiel to keep his job will be, “Whaddya want from me? I thought you were going to give me real ballplayers to coach.”)
Even so, I’m a little discouraged at Andrelton Simmons’ development.
(DEEEEEEP breaths, everybody. It’s not all bad, I promise. Andrelton Simmons is my favorite current Brave. Of course, he’s one of only like, three, that I recognize, but still, this is hard on me too.)
Actually, that’s not an accurate assessment of the situation. The Braves bullpen took a three-run lead into the bottom of the seventh on Wednesday night in Tampa and turned it into a three-run deficit in about four seconds. Matt Marksberry is looking, well, like a guy who was in A-ball to start the season—no shame on him either, that’s just what the situation calls for now.
It’s not fair to him that he has to play above his ski’s right now, but there’s just not much left in the cupboard. No Jason Grilli. No Jim Johnson. No Luis Avilan. If Arodys Vizcaino and Andrew McKirahan are the class of your bullpen, that doesn’t speak volumes so much as shout them, Lewis Black-style, from a mountaintop of crap, inexperience and ineptitude.
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.
Clarksville, TN – So far, you have to hand it to John Hart. Shelby Miller, Mike Foltynewicz and Jace Peterson already look like potential long-timers, while Matt Wisler, Tyrell Jenkins and Mallex Smith show great promise.
Meanwhile, Craig Kimbrel has an ERA over 4.00 and Jason Heyward is making my MVP boasting look woefully misinformed (I swear I wasn’t reverse-jinxing it, Cardinal fans – I still believe he’ll be very good for someone), so Hart looks like Nostradamus right now. In fact, he’s set the Braves up to be pretty good for a while at almost every spot.
Written by Colby Wilson
For all the talk about pitching wunderkind Matt Wisler – and that talk looks justified in the very early returns – Maybin was a distant third on most people’s list for ‘most important player acquired in the Craig Kimbrel deal’, behind Carlos Quentin, and may have mattered less to some than the acquisition of a competitive balance draft choice.
Yet Cameron Maybin has been the outfield presence the Braves have sorely needed in 2015, quickly becoming an every-day fixture in centerfield and playing exemplary defense as such to offset his sometimes-streaky offense.
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