“We may not be the prettiest girl at the dance, but we sure will be fun to dance with.”-Braves GM John Hart on 2015 Braves
When John Hart accepted the job as Braves general manager this off-season, he did so with some specific stipulations. Namely, that the Braves would rebuild their depleted farm system with an eye towards winning in the future. Check that off the list.
Hart and the Braves brass have, in a few short months, reshaped and bolstered the farm system which at one time ranked 27th in the big leagues by Baseball America.
In coming to Atlanta, Hart took over a franchise that had lost its way in recent years. Under the direction of Frank Wren, a Braves lineup that once featured balance and consistency, was now featuring strikeouts, droughts, and Ugglas. Hart changed that immediately.
In less than a month, Hart traded the hitters who ranked first, third, and fifth in RBI’s from a team that scored the second fewest runs in the majors in 2014. For Hart and those running the show in the ATL, this 2015 Braves team is merely the starting block for a franchise-wide culture change.
Many Braves fans seem frustrated and confused about the direction of the team. After all, the team hasn’t been in full “rebuilding mode” since beginning their historic run in 1991, and many in Braves country can’t fathom the very idea of not contending. But don’t fret Atlanta fans, the 2015 team may not be as bad some project.
The Braves are looking to the past for their future successes. Pitching, and timely hitting are the backbone of this club.
It’s a strategy that seemed to work well in the 90’s for the Braves.
The doom-and-gloom projections for the ’15 Braves are laughable, to me at least. Sure, the Braves had an awful offense last year, but their pitching wasn’t great either. The pitching on this year’s team has potential to be one of the best in the National League, and besides, if the Braves offense gets worse in ’15, it can’t get much worse than 29th in the bigs.
This isn’t a rebuild in the traditional sense of the word. The Braves aren’t getting younger. They weren’t an aging old squad in 2014. In fact, Atlanta had the second youngest team in baseball behind Houston last season. So, if not younger, then what? It’s clear the Braves are bringing in guys who get on base and don’t strikeout (Markakis and Callaspo) regardless of how old they are. I like it. If Gattis, Heyward, and Upton were so special, you would think they could have helped a lineup a little more than they did. They were good players, but they didn’t win, and frankly, it didn’t work.
Something had to change and I applaud John Hart for doing just that. As Brad Pitt, or Billy Beane if you prefer, “adapt or die baby.” The Braves are heading in a new direction, but they are doing so with an eye to the Atlanta dynasty of the 1990’s.
Pitching and a revamped farm system will put the Braves on the right path once again. Although the main goals are still a few seasons away, the 2015 Braves may surprise a few of you.
If you ask Hart, he’ll probably get a bit too excited about a lineup that features Chris Johnson, BJ Upton and a rookie catcher, but that’s to be expected. Hart is taking a risk with this makeover, but if it works, he’ll go down in Atlanta lore. Lets hope, for all of our sakes, it works.