Today’s AJC included a little something from yours truly about the Atlanta Braves and their chosen course, which is to rebuild — stop me if you’ve heard this already — around young pitching. I’ll admit I was slow to see the reason for this massive tear-down and resultant stock-up. I’ll also note that sprucing up the farm system, as other organizations can attest, doesn’t always yield the desired effect.
Over time, I’ve yielded to the new reality. For better or worse, this is what the Braves are doing, and they’re going about it with such dispatch as to make the ol’ noggin spin. Last fall, Baseball America rated the Braves’ farm system the second-worst among 30 MLB clubs; last week, Keith Law of ESPN Insider rated it the second-best.
Give them credit. The Braves have been as creative as all get-out. They got the Padres to take Melvin Upton Jr. off their hands, albeit at the cost of Craig Kimbrel. My favorite was the deal with Arizona for Bronson Arroyo, who probably won’t ever pitch here, and the prospect Touki Toussaint. That was truly inspired.
That said, the Braves’ latest trade — contributors Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe to the Mets for middling minor-league pitchers John Gant and Rob Whalen — didn’t go over well with some among you. I thought it was fully in keeping with the grand design, but I get paid not to be a fan. I do, however, understand the growing angst: What bats the Braves have (and they don’t have many) keep leaving, and all that comes back is pitching.
My answer to that would be that the Braves see young pitching as the commodity that will allow them to acquire the needed bats. The Cubs have done it the other way, loading up on hitters (Rizzo, Bryant, Russell, Soler, Schwarber). The Braves chose pitching because, dating back 25 years, that was how this club got really good in the first place.
Whether this will pan out in pennants is unknowable. Sam Miller of Baseball Prospectus noted in January that the teams adjudged to have the best farm systems in 2004 (Brewers), 2005 (Angels) and 2006 (Diamondbacks) haven’t reached the World Series since those ratings were awarded, and all of those prospects are fully grown by now.
But enough. On to today’s question: Do you believe in what the Braves are doing? If so, why? If not, why not? I’ll hang up and listen to your responses, and there’s a poll for easy venting.