This marks the second time since 1990 that the Atlanta Braves were sellers at the trade deadline. The first was in 2008, when Frank Wren divested the team he’d inherited of Mark Teixeira, whose deadline acquisition the year before at the cost of a five good-to-excellent prospects cost the Braves dearly. (All Wren could get for Teixeira was Casey Kotchman, who was himself traded at the deadline in 2009.)
The point being: We’re not used to this. That’s a good thing. If you follow a team that makes selling an annual event, you’re seeing a lot of losing. Even when the Braves haven’t been as good as we’d hoped, they haven’t often stunk.
This team didn’t quite stink, either — at least not until the selling began. The Braves were 45-50 when Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe were shipped to the Mets, which was just bad enough to make everyone know they weren’t going anywhere. They’re 2-8 since. Until they won Sunday in Philadelphia, they’d lost eight of nine.
They scored a total of five runs in three games in St. Louis. They scored four in three games in Baltimore. They were outscored 25-6 over the first three games against the worst-in-the-majors Phillies, who’d just dumped Cole Hamels and Jonathan Papelbon. If you’re looking for a reason why the final two months might not utterly awful, 20 of the remaining 57 games will be played against opponents who were themselves sellers.
But that’s about it. From here to Oct. 4 figures to be rough. That’s not to say the Braves shouldn’t have sold — they’d have been silly not to sell — but there’s a human element involved. Those players who remain have tangible proof the organization has punted on 2015. Even for the proudest of professionals, it’s hard to approach games that don’t matter the way you’d approach games that do.
Which is my way of saying: If you’ve ever been of the inclination to turn your attention to a different sport, this is the time. (The English Premier League gets going next weekend, and every single game is available stateside.) The Braves will back next spring, presumably improved. You won’t have missed much.
From Sunday’s AJC: In landing Olivera, the Braves dared to dare.