Is the Braves’ sell-off their not-so-fond kiss-off to Atlanta?

The Braves break ground in Cobb. Mayor Reed is not pictured. (Bob Andres/AJC photo)

The Braves break ground in Cobb. Mayor Reed is not pictured. (Bob Andres/AJC photo)

The Braves break ground in Cobb. Mayor Reed is not pictured. (Bob Andres/AJC photo)

The Atlanta Braves are moving to Cobb County in 2017. There are two seasons to play until they do. If the tone of this offseason is any indication, they don’t care much about putting a winning product on display at lame-duck Turner Field. The Braves might say this is only a coincidence, that rebuilding needs to happen when it has to happen. I wonder.

Let’s say the Braves were moving into SunTrust Stadium this April. Would they have traded Jason Heyward, Justin Upton and Evan Gattis for young arms, many of whom mightn’t be major-league ready until 2017 if then? Would they have committed so fully to a sell-off if they were about to face a (somewhat) new target audience?

As we know, the Braves didn’t really consider moving away from Atlanta until one of Mayor Kasim Reed’s staffers told Mike Plant, “It’s not as if you can move anywhere.” Taking the dare, the Braves found an ardent suitor just up I-75. In what could only be described as an attempt at one-upmanship, Reed held a press conference to stress that the on-the-market Hawks would stay in Atlanta the same day as the Braves staged their Cobb groundbreaking.

There’s no love lost between these estranged partners, and now the Braves have essentially told us, “Rebuilding takes precedence over winning at the big-league level — at least until 2017.” Which just happens to be the time they open play at STS across from Cumberland Mall.

I’m sure the Braves will say this is purely a baseball decision, and maybe it is. But I’m just skeptical enough to wonder if the wholesale rebuilding of a team that was, in 2014, the second-youngest in the major leagues would have been seen as such a necessity if the franchise weren’t in the process of upping sticks.

Further reading: Is all this Braves’ rebuilding really necessary?

Reader Comments 3

229 comments
PortoBello
PortoBello

The Braves look like they're just following the MLB formula when you get a new stadium.  They'll slash payroll now and aim for 2017, not as a kiss off to Atlanta, but because they HAVE TO HAVE a winner immediately after they move.  Teams know this is the best way to get attendance and you have to get people acclimated to coming to the new stadium.  If your team comes out losing in your new stadium you'll really struggle to ever get the numbers in attendance that Liberty Media needs. 

Maggot_Man
Maggot_Man

@PortoBello Some of you guys act as if you've never followed professional sports. Do you really think a team can choose a year to suddenly become a Winner? Gosh, you guys are a mess. Spending more money and becoming a Winner can be too totally different animals. Ask the Dodgers and Angels and Rangers and [fill in the blank]........

scottarino
scottarino

@Maggot_Man @PortoBello Well the Dodgers have finished in first or second place the past several years now. I would count that as being a "winning" team. Say they don't make to the WS, they're still a winning team. 

MichaelJohnson
MichaelJohnson

Please hurry up and leave, GSU is in need of your land.

mike8472
mike8472

Enough about these Braves, they're in the off season. Why so many comments for an off season team when our Atlanta Hawks are tearing it up and proving to Metro Atlanta that they aren't a fluke and are a real threat in the NBA.

UncleTom
UncleTom

@mike8472 Because the NBA is less relevant in the grand scheme of sporting things as NASCAR.

Gunluvr
Gunluvr

The only thing that matters to a certain group is the Falcons and that's fine but it's not going to be enough in the end.

General Concern
General Concern

“It’s not as if you can move anywhere.”


Well, actually, you can. Rather easily.

A-pride
A-pride

Personally i like the moves...remind me again how good were they last year. Yep that's what i thought. Waaay too many strikeout hitters in the lineup and kudos to JH for recognizing that. Remember not a whole lot of people thought much of the Hawks when their season started either so why not the Braves.

Maggot_Man
Maggot_Man

"They will be crucified in future elections no matter how successful the Braves become.  And rightly so.  This was as dirty and under-handed a deal as there ever was around here."

They did it the only way it could be done. Trying any other way and it doesn't get done. That's business and it was a good move for both. Crucified? You're hearing mainly from the opposition because that's ideal for the press. The proponents are many, as well.

reckingball
reckingball

Yeah,........that's what it is all about. The Braves got mad because someone insulted them, and said that they couldn't move. It didn't have anything to do with Liberty Mutual making more  $$$$ money.

Maggot_Man
Maggot_Man

@reckingball The Braves have the right to improve its economic model like any business. You would not set up shop with your business down in that blighted hell hole. LM/Braves knew that the ideal situation would have to force a move. The fact that 'city leadership [laughing as I write this]' mishandled their relationship made it all the more less complicated and shifted the negative scrutiny heavily towards Reed and his gang of misfits.


As far as the primary product---Baseball team: Most, if not all, teams go through a re-shuffling. The Braves will have a decent product soon enough and will compete well with the bottom 70% of teams...which is most of the league. The East is improving top to bottom, so the previous group of characters were not going to walk away with division titles like they have when the division was pathetically weak. And last season's team---including those you idolize who are now gone---finished very poorly and was one of the most unexciting teams to watch in the history of sports; it was horrible. So what are some of you trying to cling onto?

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

With the LM ownership I would not put it past them to put a crummy but profitable product on the field


There have been teams like Pittsburgh and the Marlins whom while they were losing they were turning over some of the better profit margins in MLB


Rest assured that these so called prospects (not all of em will make it) will need some learning curve before they turn into decent MLB guys


This is a 2020 type of rebiuild and it did not have to be


Justin Upton and Gattis were given away thank you Mr Hart and Coppellla and I am sure were encouraged by Mr Mc Guirk and LM

J_A_N
J_A_N

@FireJohnHart Don't know much about sports?  The Braves were at the end of their rope...wholesale changes are necessary to rebuild this team...and, it all starts by rebuilding the farm system when you're trying to maintain a low labor cost and win.  Be patient.  We were all spoiled by the 14 year run and that money is gone.  The Braves will be winners again.


As for Reid, he's just another loud mouth politician who let his mouth over load his arse.  Look what that got him.


BTW-Profit is a good thing.  Otherwise, you never have any money to spend for wants instead of needs.

CynthiaTuckerrhymeswith
CynthiaTuckerrhymeswith

Well, DUH! Mark.  Baseball is a business.  Why waste time/money on a bad product in a bad market.  The Braves as configured in 2014 were simply bad with little chance of being 'good' for a while (thank you Liberty Media, Frank Wren and  Fredi Gonzalez).  They were stuck in a very, very bad market - downtown is a No Go area even before dark.  They were insulted by the so-called 'leadership' of the bad place and developed a plan to fix both problems - timing is important.

Bravo for the Braves.

Atlanta - and America in general - is running out of producers trying to satisfy the entitled moocher-class.  Until ATL figures reality out, few businesses will stay there and the rot will continue.  But most of us could care less - it's just a place to get through, around or over...quickly.

Meanwhile, the Braves took a chance - a good business risk, really - and got out of Dodge while the getting was still possible.

Again, Bravo to the Braves.

Now, how this was done by the sneaky, sniveling, simpleton politicians of Cobb County, that's a different matter.  They will be crucified in future elections no matter how successful the Braves become.  And rightly so.  This was as dirty and under-handed a deal as there ever was around here.

But no one should blame the Braves - not the pretend-haughty pols in ATL, not the fans, not the tax-payers in Cobb.

GGinKY
GGinKY

Mark, you're very good at what you do, but this is the dumbest thought you've ever exposed to the public!  Hope you get well soon.

AcrusaderO
AcrusaderO

Ole Kasim dared the Braves and they gave him the finger. he deserves it. I hope the Hawks move to Gwinnett or Cobb too. 

GWJ0525
GWJ0525

The games last season were so boring I usually fell asleep before they were over. All the strikeouts and runners left on base got really old. It would be hard for the run production to be any worse even if most of the home run hitters are gone. Usually the bad teams from the 70's and 80's would lose a lot due to bad pitching, but they did score runs and were fun to watch most of the time. So we may be like the Astros and Rangers next year looking up at 70 wins, but hopefully at least keep me awake. To expect a winning season would seem unrealistic to me, but if the good pitching continues and some of the young bats come through, maybe it will be better than appears.

Thrash
Thrash

Can't wait for the new stadium, tired of dealing with the hood.


farmeral
farmeral

How many people are going to see a losing team? Not very many. How many people are going to watch a losing team on on television? Not very many.


If the Braves can't afford to keep their better players with nearly 2 million people attending games now, how will they be able to field a competitive product when they have less revenue ? Good players are not cheap.


The tax payers in Cobb county just got suckered, if they think that their tax dollars will not pay for most of the new stadium.

tmc
tmc

I say to EVERYONE saying 2017 will be the turn around year and begin winning...


Just because the Braves brass says they are focusing on putting a winning product for 2017, doesn't mean that it will magically appear. The Braves team was 79-83 last year. They gave away 3 of their best 5 players for prospects. Mostly pitching prospect a lot of them coming off Tommy John surgery. The Braves are hoping and praying any of these prospects make to the majors by 2020... hoping and praying cause most prospects don't make it at all.

They already called up a lot of minor leaguer's who are/were on the club (they won't tell you that, because it's just a whole lote easier to blame Frank Wren for depleting the minors than explain the truth). It's not realistic to think 3-5 more minor leaguer's will come up the next 3-5 years to be every day producers. Just doesn't happen that way.

So i ask, how will you feel about all these trades when they don't pan out?

Maggot_Man
Maggot_Man

@tmc This whole idea of picking a year and deciding this is when we will 'schedule' our next run at a World Championship is very amusing. It's as if many on here have never watched this sport for more than a couple years. Teams can go decades without sniffing the second round of the playoffs. For anyone to assume that the team is 'gearing up' for a specific year(s) is ridiculous.

nippyjones
nippyjones

Are the Braves the new Houston Astros? Eternally young and always in last place.

robinhood999
robinhood999

All I can say about the new place is traffic, traffic and then more traffic!

tmc
tmc

@robinhood999 you act like there isn't any traffic downtown. last time i checked the traffic was ridiculous getting in and out of Turner Field. I live near by the cobb co location and it aint nearly as bad as down town. no where close.

Maggot_Man
Maggot_Man

Gosh, now Bradley's gone off the deep end. The Braves are now moving on a dare? No, the team is moving because it makes very good business sense to get out of that hell hole it is now in. Has Bradley or some of these readers ever been to a MLB game outside of ATL? The first time I visited Turner Field 8 years ago I got out of my vehicle and looked around me in amazement. It is a concrete desert. A genuine failure. And if the site had any real long-term potential investors would be lining up.  The Braves wanted to move and hoped the mayor and his staff would blunder the process...and they did.


The rebuild: Welcome to the perpetual world of about 20+ MLB teams or about 80% of all teams in every professional sports league. Long-term ATL fans fail to realize that having the best starting rotation in baseball for more than a decade was an aberration and will never be duplicated here. There will be no more 14 consecutive division title runs....never! There will be ups and downs, occasional success and occasional last place finishes and a lot of mediocre play. Welcome to the real world. Look what the Angels and Dodgers haven't been able to accomplish with twice the salary level. What makes anyone think Heyward and J Upton somehow takes us to the promised land...oh, I forgot the 20 HR El Oso.....or whatever we've tagged him with? Gosh, some of you are so naive.

Oakland
Oakland

IMO, in 20 years, they will tear down their Cobb County Stadium and move to suburban Chattanooga. Their reason, traffic and to be closer to their fanbase. 

Blackland
Blackland

I live in Atlanta but I would never take my kids to a Braves game in the ghetto. Did it once, never again! We will certainly go to games in the new facility, smart move by the Braves. 

Cinesias
Cinesias

So the Braves are moving out of Atlanta to...immediately out of Atlanta city limits.


Ok then.

DS
DS

Cutting off their nose to spite their face? Bizarre conspiracy theory.

My theory: Liberty Media is spending a lot of money on the new stadium, so they want to save on payroll. And they figure the fans in Cobb County are so enthusiastic to get the team that they would buy tickets and show up regardless of whether the team is winning.

joeytino
joeytino

The Braves left because the city did not want to pony up any money for a new stadium after making the deal to build one for the Falcons. Now we Cobb residents will have to live with the crappy traffic in an already congested area, a still growing debt, and the possibility of higher taxes all based on deals made in secret and passed at a speed that government rarely moves and prevented any opinions against the deal being expressed. There is more to this story.

Dmitri Ways3412
Dmitri Ways3412

LOL...you know what's so funny?

The Braves say they are moving to be closer to their fan base (Cobb...North Georgia)

But the funny thing is, 75 percent of Atlanta is now white.  The area where Turner Field is located..is steadily turning white.

I remember when Grant park was mostly black...you wont find hardly a black in that area now. Even the MLK historic district is turning white. In 5 yrs. it wouldn't surprise me if the entire East Atlanta area in 90% white.  You look at North and Northwest Atlanta from Lenox to Northside, it has always been mostly white.  Now when you go to the Castleberry area which is starting to venture into SW Atlanta.it.is becoming a white area. The only part of Atlanta which is still predominantly black is deep Southwest Atlanta (MLK to Greenbrier) which is miles away from Turner field. Im black, and I live in Cobb county.....too funny huh?  And what's even funnier, I have always been a huge Braves fan.  

SouthernHope5
SouthernHope5

@RealReality @Dmitri Ways3412 Reality, have you ever been to Atlanta? LOL....in any case, the data you're citing is 5 years old.   Dmitri, so true! I've been noticing (and laughing) about that as well. 


chalkdawg4
chalkdawg4

I say blow it up.  I don't care  if they trade a few more.  I am a 20 game season ticket holder and I hate going to Turner Field.  I give away my tickets to clients.  I live in Cobb County and can't wait for 2017.  It should be a blast going down to the new Suntrust Park.  Get there about 5:00.  Have dinner and catch the game.  I don't care about the Falcons.  Nothing to do down there before or after the game.  Go Braves!!  Chop some more.  Freeman, Andrelton, Kimbrell.  Get more prospects.  Hart the "Hatchet"

booful98
booful98

@chalkdawg4 Ha ha, you are so funny if you think you are gonna get there at 5. Maybe if you leave at 2.

AABraves
AABraves

Seriously? Can you really say you enjoyed watching that lineup whiff all last season? It was embarrassing and as a Braves fan Im excited to see some young players in the pipeline..Maybe the fans that travel to Turner will see some hustle from the young team? Maybe they will be more worth the price of admission than what Wren put on the table? This is what needed to happen if we want to be like the Royals or Pirates and contend for the WS again.

Chopp
Chopp

Is this click bait or what?!

NativeAtlantan
NativeAtlantan

A new target audience? A kiss off to Atlanta? Are you freaking kidding me with this garbage?  They're not going anywhere. They are building a new stadium 12 minutes up the road. Give me a freaking break. Atlanta is a huge metropolitan area. The city limits are irrelevant. Kind of like the AJC. You can do better than this.


But yes, it's convenient, the sell off of talent. My guess is that Liberty is prepping the team for a sale once the new stadium development increases the value of the franchise. Maybe THEN we'll get a local interested party to buy the team and build back a championship team.

vespajet
vespajet

Has anyone else given thought that the payroll cuts and the trades are moves that are being done in preparations to sell the team?  Liberty Media had to own the Braves for a certain length of time as part of the complex deal made with Time-Warner, and they've held onto the team for several years longer than they were required to.  While owners do want to get the most value for a team when they sell the team, potential buyers don't want to be stuck with huge contracts as well as long-term contracts.  

Chop_Chop
Chop_Chop

The Braves have been in a period of sustained success since 1991. The team has had three losing seasons during that time. Something tells me that tearing a young team down, one that averaged 90+ wins from 2010-2013, is not going to lead to better results than what we've seen in Atlanta over the last 24 years. I don't care how many prospects we've added this offseason. It doesn't matter. We have been a witness to top-notch baseball for a long time around here. It will take big postseason success (that ends with World Series rings) in order to impress us.

1995oneyearwonder
1995oneyearwonder

what's the difference if you're 79-83 or 72-90 ?  the attendance wasn't good and the prices of seats   are a lot cheaper than in many other cities.

better to be really bad for a year or two than medicore for ten.  a top 5 draft pick in 2016 would help.


if they are prepared for even worse attendance the next 2 years, then fine.  they'll get what they deserve-total fan apathy.


a lot of these prospects won't even be ready by 2017. and most of them are pitchers.  you still need 4 -5 Ofs for a roster last I heard

THEBITTERTRUTH
THEBITTERTRUTH

Observations:


1. Bradley - You are usually right on but this article is plain insanity. If you think the Braves are conducting business in any way to punish Atlanta for their stupidity then you better get some help - fast.

2. The Braves will do MUCH better financially now that its fans do not have to travel through and spend time in the african nation war zone.  Stadiums placed in these blighted areas are nothing more than work programs for blacks - at the expense of fan safety and security.

3. The Braves may actually be better this year for all the change. If they can get a decent left fielder they will win at least as many games as last year and have a much brighter future. Pitching always wins - and they now have plenty.

THEBITTERTRUTH
THEBITTERTRUTH

@NativeAtlantan @THEBITTERTRUTH You are naive or stupid or both to deny what the rest of Atlanta knows to be the truth. Your liberal stupidity shines right through. By the way - exactly what government assistance program are you on?

NativeAtlantan
NativeAtlantan

@THEBITTERTRUTH you're an idiot. I've been going to Braves games since 1980 and I've never had to travel through an african nation war zone to get to the stadium. Please stop posting, troll. 

BigTimeJacketFan
BigTimeJacketFan

Its their company, and they can do as they see fit with it.  They priced me out of the market a long time ago.

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