By JORDAN JACKSON (@air_jordan2019)
Photo credit goes to lefthookrightfield.com.
Good news! We’re heading back to the '90s!
The decade of great movies, infectious music and dominant sports athletes was also the time in which the Braves won their one and only World Series Championship while being in Atlanta (of course their third overall as a franchise with one in Boston in 1914 and another one in 1957 when it was in Milwaukee).
True Atlanta Braves’ fans, like myself, long for the days in which the boys from Atlanta possessed arguably the most dominant big three to ever step on a baseball diamond: Greg Maddux, John Smoltz and Tom Glavine.
These three cornerstones anchored Atlanta’s pitching rotation and were a major key in leading the team to a world title in 1995 as well as two more appearances in the Fall Classic in 1996 and 1999.
But 2006 started a new era for the Atlanta Braves. After the club’s impressive run of division titles from 1991 to 2005, the Braves began to experience inconsistency in the mid-2000s.
Since 2006, the Braves have only reached the postseason on three separate occasions, and it does not look like the team has figured out its problem yet.
I have the answer: The Braves are stuck in the '90s.
Once in a lifetime rotation
The Braves have an everlasting desire to acquire pitching. I see this as a desperate attempt to recreate the trio of Maddux, Smoltz and Glavine.
In recent seasons, an overwhelming majority of transactions the Braves have made have involved them obtaining pitching. Now, this is not necessarily a bad thing, as the old saying in baseball is that “you can never have too much pitching.”
The Braves' vaunted trio. Photo credit goes to realclearsports.com.
Pitching is key for any baseball organization, especially nowadays in which dominant aces like Clayton Kershaw and David Price terrorize opposing offenses. What concerns me is the lack of proof and execution that has come from the Braves’ pitching within recent seasons.
Mike Foltynewicz, a promising star in the Braves’ rotation, proved to be a bust after suffering a severe injury and was subsequently sent to the bullpen after being called down to the minors.
Mike Minor, Brandon Beachy and Alex Wood all also proved to be busts for the Braves, as they are either not with the team anymore or suffered serious enough injuries to be deemed ineffective.
And how about that gun Kris Medlen from a couple of years back? Well he’s now a member of the world champion Kansas City Royals.
The Tomahawk Crew has fallen into a trap that time and circumstance brought. Pitching is becoming more and more vital in today’s game, but instead of going after proven pitchers who have experience in the MLB already, the Braves yearn for the “build ‘em up” approach.
And it has backfired, time and time again. Some might ask, “Well how do you explain Shelby Miller?”
To that I respond: That was not Shelby Miller’s fault.
Shelby Miller’s one year in Atlanta came during a time in which the Braves had no bats backing him. The problem was not his pitching, yet it was the lack of run support he had. The fact that Miller posted a 3.02 ERA in 2015 and still lost 17 games shines all the light on the offense, as it should be.
Right now, the Braves are going through the tough process of rebuilding.
While this will be a trying time for fans of the Braves, like myself, we can only hope that in a few years we turn out to be like the Royals or Astros. There are some promising pieces in the Braves’ system after the acquisition of Dansby Swanson, the development of Mallex Smith and the exciting debut of Sean Newcomb.
Will the Braves be able to compete by the time SunTrust Park opens up? Unlikely. Will they fall to dead last in the NL East? Not as long as the Phillies are there.
But with the Mets on the rise, the Nationals doing just enough to stay relevant and the Marlins waiting for their luck to turn, these next few years will be time spent in the shadows for the Braves.
Photo credit goes to zimbio.com.