Walk-Off Walk Awards

Walk-Off Walk Awards

The end of the 2018 Atlanta Braves season is upon us. There’s still much to figure out as far as who the Braves will face in the NLDS, but a season that almost no one predicted will come to a close with the Atlanta Braves as NL East Champions. Recently, I went over the path to that surprising run. Today, I asked the other members of the Walk-Off Walk family to help me with this column that focuses on our favorite moments and dishes out the awards for the 2018 season. Thanks for reading and as always, remember to follow our blog @WalkOffWalk_net.

Best of the Braves

Funniest Moments – Ronald Acuña Jr./Ozzie Albies bromance

Throughout the season, one of the truly great things to watch was how two of the greatest young players in the game interacted with one another. Whether it was jumping all over each other as the Braves rallied to take a lead or hugging one another in the dugout, the two were rarely far away from one another. The Braves have had a few different bromances over the years when young stars climbed up the ladder to the majors together. Brian McCann and Jeff Francoeur, along with Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward, were very close, but none of them seemed to have the connection that Acuña Jr. and Albies have. All of the WOW voters picked these two for their funniest moment, though Brittni Swanson did also mention a recent moment in which a foul ball nearly hit the Braves manager, Brian Snitker. And, well, that was pretty funny.

Best Move by Alex Anthopoulos – Anibal Sanchez and Kevin Gausman

On the job since last winter, Anthopoulos has put his stamp on the Atlanta Braves in short time. While we shouldn’t take away from the behind-the-scenes work, we focused on the biggest single move he did for our ballot and we ended up splitting the vote. Brittni and I went with the late spring addition of Anibal Sanchez, who has been the Braves’ most-reliable starter outside of their ace. Stephen Tolbert and Ryan Cothran went with Kevin Gausman, who Atlanta acquired without surrendering a major prospect. Who’s your choice?

Best Play – Dansby’s Game-Ender

In a clean sweep, we go back to September 8. The Braves blew two leads – one early and one late – as they tried to take the finale of a four-game set after winning two of the first three games. With the scored tied at three, the Braves took advantage of some poor Diamondbacks defense and pitching – along with a big triple by former Diamondback Ender Inciarte – to take a 5-3 lead in the tenth. A.J. Minter got the ball in the bottom half and immediately put a pair of runners on with one out. A wild pitch moved both runners ahead and after a weak grounder, the Diamondbacks still had both runners in scoring position and two outs. A.J. Pollock singled up the middle, but Dansby Swanson made a diving stop to keep the ball from getting through into the outfield. Former Braves farmhand, Nick Ahmed, tried to score from second, but Swanson didn’t panic. He got to his feet and delivered a strike to home, nailing Ahmed. What a way to end a game!

Biggest Home Run – Kakes’ Opening-Day Bomb

This category was a runaway, though we did have one other vote. Ryan Cothran mentioned Charlie Culberson‘s many big homers. In fact, Ryan said “all of them” which I took in very much the same way Ron Swanson orders bacon and eggs. They say you can tell a lot about a season by the way it opens. I don’t know if that’s true, but it definitely was valid in 2018. Down 5-0, the Braves came back with the help of Gabe Kapler‘s Wheel of Bullpen Moves. With the score tied, Nick Markakis sent a drive to right field against Hector Neris that SunTrust Park couldn’t hold. The 2018 Braves were off-and-running.

Best Individual Pitching Performance – Folty’s Two-Hitter

With the Nationals and Braves locked into a tie on top of the NL East as May came to a close, doubters kept to their preseason prediction that the Nationals would eventually run away from the Braves. The Nats had shrugged off a poor start to go 20-7 in May. This was their time. But nobody told Mike Foltynewicz, who faced Stephen Strasburg as June opened. Anthony Rendon singled with two outs in the first. The next 20 Nats? Not a single one of them reached base. Strasburg was good but ran into trouble in the 7th. Back-to-back singles, an error, and a one-out three-run bomb by Dansby Swanson staked the Braves to a 4-0 lead. They really only need one run. Foltynewicz walked a batter in the 8th and gave up a single in the 9th. With two outs, Trea Turner took second on defensive indifference. It was the closest a runner came to scoring against Foltynewicz. The only writer to go with a different choice was me. I went with Sean Newcomb, who came within a strike of a no-hitter against the Dodgers on July 29.

Most Favorite Game – Dansby Caps Off a Comeback

Yes, it was the Marlins. But the Braves entered the ninth inning of their May 20th contest against Miami with a close to 1% chance of winning. And it only worsened after Dansby Swanson struck out to open the frame. A walk and a single followed, but Atlanta was back at a 0% chance of winning after a sacrifice fly. But like Han Solo, never tell the 2018 Braves the odds. The next five Braves reached base, scoring three more runs in the process and getting the Braves within one run. That brought Swanson to the plate. The chance of winning this contest was only at 27% and Swanson was down to his last strike. In the seventh pitch of the at-bat, Swanson rocketed a liner to left field. It would have been the only extra-base hit of the inning, but the Braves only needed Swanson to reach first base as they walked it off. Want to relive it? Here’s the nearly thirty-minute video.

Most Surprising Player – Anibal Sanchez

Ryan went with Charlie Culberson while Brittni offered Nick Markakis, but with support from Stephen and myself, the winner is Anibal Sanchez. After his Tigers career ended with a whimper, Sanchez tried to make the Twins roster. He failed and was set free with the Braves signing him. At the time, they didn’t know what they would do with the aging right-hander. Would he be a long guy out of the pen? Maybe a spot starter? Sanchez, armed with newfound control over his cutter, made the decision for the Braves. In a season where consistency in the rotation was difficult to find, Sanchez finished with a 2.83 ERA, the first time he had an ERA under 3.00 since leading the AL in that category in 2013. He struck out nearly a batter an inning with his typical great control. He was also another pitching coach for the Braves young arms, helping them improve.

Best Rookie – Ronald Acuña Jr.

Well, we’ve hit the unanimous portion of the Best of the Braves section. Unsurprisingly, all four writers went with the man, the myth, the beast for the Best Rookie. All he did was hit .293/.366/.552 with 26 homers and just as many doubles. He also stole 16 bases and improved his walk rate to 9.2% by the end of the season. A .388 wOBA from a 20-year-old? Yes, please. And he did all this while missing 50 games with a business-justified demotion to the minors to open the year and a DL trip later on. If healthy in 2019, Acuña is already an MVP candidate.

Best Pitcher – Mike Foltynewicz

We debated before whether Folty should even be a starter, but after 2019, it became clear that he was Atlanta’s best starter. Acquired a few years back for Evan Gattis, Foltynewicz was never short on stuff, but the results were rarely there. This season, he finished with a 2.85 ERA and 3.9 fWAR. He also reached the 200-K plateau, the first pitcher for the Braves to do that since Javier Vazquez in 2009. There was no real smoking gun with Foltynewicz – no clear reason he lowered his ERA nearly two runs – except he simply improved. He grew into a pitcher. The kind of pitcher that will start Game One of the NLDS later this week.

Ronald Acuna | Jeff Morris @JeffMorrisAB
Best Player – Ronald Acuña Jr.

Unlike with the Best Rookie and Best Pitcher, there was definitely some differences in opinion here. Stephen countered with Freddie Freeman, who did lead the team in most offensive categories, including WAR. Brittni surprisingly went with Dansby Swanson, who delivered a number of big moments during the season. But Ryan and I were thinking along the same lines and went with Acuña, who did lead the team in homers and wOBA. He also, in my mind, was the guy as Freeman and Nick Markakis slowed down during late summer. He kept the line moving and won many games seemingly on his own. Did I fail to mention he is just 20-years-old?

Now, here are our picks for the different league-wide awards. Everyone submitted a ballot with their top three picks.

Manager of the Year

NL
1. Brian Snitker (3 first-place votes)
2. Craig Counsell (1 first-place vote)
3. Bud Black

AL
1. Alex Cora (3 first-place votes)
2. Bob Melvin (1 first-place vote)
3. Aaron Boone

A lot of agreement at the top of the ballots here. I was the only dissenter as far as Manager of the Year in the NL went. Snitker finished second on my ballot, but I went with Craig Counsell for a better record despite a pretty similar expected win-loss record. In the AL, only Brittni didn’t go with Cora as she voted for Melvin, the manager of the A’s. Certainly, few people projected the A’s to be a 97-win team this season who will meet the Yankees this week for the right to advance in the playoffs.

Rookie of the Year

NL
1. Ronald Acuña (4 first-place votes)
2. Juan Soto
3. Walker Buehler

AL
1. Shohei Ohtani (3 first-place votes)
2. Miguel Andujar
3. Joey Wendle (1 first-place vote

The Walk-Off Walk writers all selected the same top two options for Rookie of the Year in the NL. Maybe our love of the Braves helped make our choice rather than go with Soto, who had possibly the best season any teenager has ever had in the majors. On the other hand, Acuña was just as impressive and did it in a pennant race while playing good defense. In the AL, Ohtani was the runaway, though I threw a small wrench into the mix with my selection of Wendle. While playing all over the field and putting up a .300 average in Tampa Bay, Wendle was one of the guys who kept the team in contention into September. I worried no one would give him any love so I over-compensated.

Cy Young Award

NL
1. Jacob deGrom (4 first-place votes)
2. Max Scherzer
3. Aaron Nola

AL
1. Justin Verlander (3 first-place votes)
2. Blake Snell (1 first-place vote)
2. Trevor Bauer

Our voters didn’t escape the NL East much in our selections. Patrick Corbin, who I voted for with a third-place vote over Nola, was the only other pitcher in the NL to get any love. Scherzer took home three of the second-place votes with Nola getting a boost from Ryan. In the AL, more options were considered with Gerrit Cole receiving three third-place votes while Corey Kluber got a second-place vote. Snell and Bauer each appeared on two ballots with Bauer receiving a pair of second-place selections while Snell got a first from Brittni and a third-place vote from Ryan. Verlander ran away with the top spot, though, after striking out close to 300 batters with a 2.52 ERA.

Most Valuable Player

NL
1. Christian Yelich (4 first-place votes)
2. Javier Baez
3. Nolan Arenado

AL
1. Mookie Betts (3 first-place votes)
2. Mike Trout (1 first-place vote)
3. Jose Ramirez

It’s fitting that Yelich’s main competition – such as it was – came from two guys who may keep him from the first NL Triple Crown since 1937. Arenado homered twice Sunday and has one home run more than Yelich. Meanwhile, Baez is two RBI ahead of Yelich who is also tied with Arenado. But Yelich still got all of our first-place votes for MVP for his insanely good season. Matt Carpenter and Freddie Freeman also received votes. In the AL, the top two players on the ballot were the same for all four writers with Stephen flipping Betts and Trout. Jose Ramirez took home two third-place votes from Stephen and Ryan while Alex Bregman and J.D. Martinez finished with one third-place vote apiece.

What do you think of our selections? Got better ones you want to share? Let us know below or on Twitter!

This article was cross-posted at The Sports Daily.

15 Comments

I cannot argue with any of these choices and some of them are pretty clear cut. The only ones I would discuss is Best Player and Best AA Move. Freddie may win a Gold Glove. If he does, then his fWAR and defense may have him over the top. It’s been very difficult and confusing to watch him struggle, because I don’t think I’ve seen anything quite like it save the wrist issue.

There is no arguing that signing Anibal was great but, as a decision, it was average and it turned out to be very lucky. Anibal was not brought in to be what he became so I would not ascribe so much intent to it. He was brought in to be this year’s Jaime Garcia or R.A. Dickey. An innings eater on a .500 team. On the other hand, Gausman was brought in with intent and we got what we expected to get for less cost than would be expected. It was a clear decision to place Gaus over Archer or others, for example, and I think that, along with the O’Day tag along (this is still an underappreciated addition for next year) make this a clear best decision. In his best years, O’Day would be our best reliever and in his average years, maybe our third best reliever. He may not have any “best” years left, but he’ll still be “Venters good”. I was a harsh AA critic early in the year, but his deadline deals were incredible and were evidence to me that he is one of the best executives around. You have to admit that getting Culby included in the salary trade was also a stroke of genius. Although that trade was not about long term value, AA managed to get some out of it.

As far as other comments, I think you guys underrate Acuna on the value he provided with baserunning and defense over Soto. Soto’s clear advantage was in walks which you correctly pointed out was an area Acuna improved upon.

Also, the bromance is right on the spot. That along with the enthusiasm after Dansby’s walk off, really make this team something to watch. Baseball is entertainment and there is nothing more entertaining than those two. Another good time was Folty’s in game interview on MLBN when everyone was baiting him with towels for shade and sunflower seeds and generally having a good time. It reminds me when the O’s were winning and the game MVP would always get a pie in the face from Adam Jones during the post game interview. That was a team having fun too.

Roger….Freddie’s LACK OF POWER the past 2 months..is A HUGE CONCERN! The Dodgers DO NOT fear giving up homers to our #3 and #4 hitters!

Unless Acuna and Camargo are able to exhibit ABSOLUTELY AMAZING NLCS performances, The Braves are a 3-0 sweep WAITING TO HAPPEN!

Take away Freddie’s ”2 homer display” between September 15th-17th (really, is that what it’s come down to now with Freddie and Markakis, a 2 homer in 3 games effort being labeled ‘a display’?)…and what you have left is a #3 hitter who ONLY hit ONE OTHER HOMER in 100 September at-bats, while ONLY hitting 2 homers in 113 August at-bats (official at-bats, not counting walks/sac flies/etc.).

5 homers in 213 at-bats, during the months of August AND September…from our #3 hitter.

It gets HELLA WORSE for our #4 ‘power hitter’ (NOT) in Nick Markakis, lol! Look at these NOODLE/LIMP-LIKE ‘numbers’ (if that’s what you want to call them, from our #4 ‘hitter’): ZERO homers from Markakis, in 99 September at-bats. ONLY 2 homers in 116 August at-bats.

Markakis HAS NOT hit a homer in his last 177 at-bats! I WOULD LOVE for someone to tell me when was THE LAST TIME that a #4 hitter went 177 FREAKING AT-BATS…without hitting a homer! 2 homers in A TOTAL of 215 at-bats in August AND September…from our #4 hitter?

Add them up…and in A COMBINED 428 at-bats for BOTH Markakis and Freddie, our #3 and #4 hitters have hit A COMBINED 7 homers in August AND September!

Dodgers pitching have to be LICKING THEIR CHOPS when it comes to NOT HAVING TO FEAR their opposition’s #3 and #4 hitters ‘hitting any homers’! All The Dodgers have to do..is make sure that Acuna AND Camargo ‘doesnt beat them’…and it’s a HELLA EASY 3-0 sweep for them!

BOTH The Dodgers and Rockies beat us 5-2 during The Regular Season. The The Brewers and Cubs BOTH have good pitching who ARE NOT going to just give Freddie and Markakis ‘meatballs’ to hit (if by some chance we were to get by The Dodgers..then again, if we were to get by The Dodgers, chances are it would be because Freddie and Markakis somehow ‘rediscovered’ the ability to HIT A FREAKING HOMER/HOMERS, lol).

Those stats I detailed…are HELLA UGLY! 7 homers in 428 at-bats by our #3 and #4 hitters COMBINED in the last 2 months of the season….VERSUS….Acuna’s 11 homers in ONLY 116 at-bats IN AUGUST! Even Camarago…in ONLY 196 COMBINED at-bats in August AND September, MATCHED Freddie and Markakis’ 7 homers COMBINED during those 2 months to end the season (in 230 LESS at-bats, lol).

I WOULD LOVE to see The Braves win and make a SERIOUS RUN at a World Series Title! However, I FLAT OUT REFUSE to DELUDE myself into BLINDLY believing in some BS that DOES NOT EXIST! Our lineup has SERIOUS PROBLEMS (PRIMARILY caused by Freddie and Markakis’ POWER OUTAGE!). The two of them ‘somehow’ learning how to hit A FREAKING HOMER/HOMERS…would take pressure off of Acuna and Camargo (who ARE NOT ‘the seasoned veterans’ that our #3 and #4 hitters supposedly ‘are’)!

I’d have to go Gausman for the “Best Move”. Anibal has been incredible- but I can’t believe AA envisioned the signing would turn out quite this good, so it was a bit of luck. Plus, he cost only cash. To get Gausman from the O’s, without giving up much of consequence, when TB had to dish out a ton for Archer, was masterful.

I’d also go Blake Snell for Cy. Verlander was outstanding, albeit in maybe(?) a bit weaker division, with more help. The O’s and Texas probably cancel each other out. However, I see Toronto being better than Seattle offensively, and a harder park to pitch in.

Nathan….Even though I think that ALL RELIGION is garbage/made up…even though I havent read/touched a bible in over 30 years (back when I had to LISTEN to that NONSENSE when I was a kid)…I do recall something in The Bible that said ‘what good is it to have faith WITHOUT works’?

Translation: It’s A WASTE OF TIME to have ‘faith’ in someone…IF they DONT PRODUCE!

Also, isnt a person “justified by works and not by faith alone”?

Translation: Having faith is NO GOOD…IF A MOFO doesnt PRODUCE!

177 at-bats WITHOUT A FREAKING HOMER? WTF is Markakis waiting for? For me to go on a RANT….then decide to FINALLY start hitting homers come Playoff time?

Whatever dude!

They decided to eat 14 million and choose Anibal over Kasmir. To me that is a big decision. Real big decision, and a real miracle type decision. What Anibal has done has been nothing short of “flipping best move!” Genius and super lucky. Still eating 14 or 15 million to go with a guy with a 6 plus era last year–freaking crystal ball type move. Gaussman, what a great low cost pick up–amazing. Poor baltimore fans were like, “he will goto Atlanta and be a stud–its automatic.’ He has been great and when he got here he was a huge shot in the arm for the team.

Paul if their was a power store for Neck and Freddie to stop by–they would have already. If Albies and culberson and ender get on base at a 400 clip–we can win. Yes, power is nice. (Just for you Paul) YES power is NEEDED in our clean up spot–but that probably won’t change till the winter. Snit is gonna roll with what he has. Paul more important than necks power steadiness is the pen……please keep Touki and Fried and let them take the bridge all the way to the end of games…..to me albies, ender and culby getting on base and the pen being used like you know….righty against righty…..is gonna decide this LA series.

Paul you gonna make it to a game in LA?

Andy….I’ll address a number of ‘interesting’ points you brought up.

1. There is NO DOUBT that virtually EVERYONE in Braves management thought that 2018 was going to be ‘the last year of struggling MLB Braves Baseball’. That is why The Matt Kemp Dump Trade was made. While PAINFUL to absorb AD’s almost $22 mil 2018 Salary (AA agreed to release AD as a condition of him agreeing to wave his No-Trade Clause)..as well as Kazmir’s $16 mil 2018 Salary (‘at best’, Kazmir was going to be ‘a situational lefty bullpen option’ that ‘could, in a best case scenario’, get The Braves ‘a lottery type prospect’ at The July Trade Deadline IF Kazmir had ‘anything’ left in the tank…which he OBVIOUSLY did not. No other team picked up Kazmir after his release in Spring Training). Brandon McCarthy was ‘the only piece’ of The Trade that could have any ‘realistic 2018 value’ (assuming he could stay healthy, which he ultimately could not stay once late May rolled around). McCarthy gave The Braves some ‘decent’ starts during the first 5-6 weeks of the season (McCarthy, Preston Tucker, Ryan Flaherty AND especially Nick Markakis ALL played OUT OF THEIR MINDS up til around May 13th..which helped The Braves get off to a decent start to the season. Then we get to Charlie Culberson (who was, AT BEST, a ‘throw-in’ piece who could provide some ‘bench support/play a variety of positions’…AND who was cheap/making The MLB minimum).

While The Braves got UNEXPECTED SHOT IN THE ARM performances from the likes of McCarthy, Tucker, Flaherty and Markakis (Markakis, in particular, reverted back to ‘2015-2017 Markakis’ on May 13th, for the rest of The 2018 Season)….Culberson STRUGGLED to open the season (on May 2nd, Culberson was batting .111 in 27 at-bats PRIOR to going on a tear that basically SAVED HIS ASS from being cut/DFA, lol. A lot of fans, I’m one of them, was RIPPING Culberson for his TERRIBLE at-bats. For every Culberson who ‘miraculously’ turns his season/career around…there are MANY OTHERS who simply ‘are who they are’, lol. Culberson’s turnaround in 2018 was unpredictable).

Culberson won A NUMBER of games by himself! There were a number of Braves games that could easily have turned out like last night’s Cubs-Rockies game did for The Cubs (you know, where pinch hitters/8th place hitters simply ARE UNABLE to get a clutch hit to win a game….SAVING a team from having to wear their bullpens out because their offense is UNABLE to get a clutch hit to WIN GAMES).

Sure Kemp gave The Dodgers some ‘unexpected’ offense…however, they still owe him OVER $20 mil in 2019..whereas The Braves are TOTALLY FREE from the salary burdens that his/Hector Olivera’s contract SADDLED The Braves payroll since 2015. Unless The Braves unexpectedly non-tender Culberson (or trade him during this upcoming offseason), The Braves will have two players left to show from The 1st Hector Olivera Trade: 1. Charlie Culberson. 2. Joey Wentz! Amazingly, Joey Wentz has ‘the potential’ to SALVAGE that trade! Wouldnt that be something?

2. Annibal Sanchez was a LUCKY signing by AA/The Braves. Luis Gohara had several Spring Training setbacks (he was counted on to start/contribute significantly in 2018…his injuries opened up a hole in The Braves Rotation, primarily because AA did not want to rush Mike Soroka or any of the other Braves prospects). Signing Sanchez was a ‘let’s see if he can give us some innings…UNTIL after Soroka/our other prospects can get some starts in AAA to begin the season’ (and see how they progress). Soroka getting called up in early May (after Sanchez, ironically, got hurt running, lol) showed exactly that is what The Braves were thinking. If Soroka had stay healthy…Sanchez may not have stayed in The Rotation (UNLESS a trade/bullpen demotion/DFA involving one of our other starters occurred) once he recovered from his running injury. As good as Sanchez has been in 2018…I dont feel that he’s going to stay with The Braves. He’ll easily get at least a $10 mil a year deal (even if it’s a one year deal). There are BUMS out there getting WAY MORE than $10 mil a year, lol. Hopefully Sanchez can give us AT LEAST one more good MLB start, before he cashes on The 2018 Free Agent Market!

3. Gausmann’s ‘2018 turnaround’ was another ‘let’s see if we can turn him around with some adjustments’ (WITHOUT taking on a lot of risk/given that we, AA/Braves Management, are not really ‘sure’ if The 2018 Braves are for real/can stay in The Playoff race). Let’s face it, The Braves are still A FLAWED team in 2018. I’m proud that we made The Playoffs..however let’s be honest, this is ‘far’ from being ‘a great team’! Yet, there are simply NO DOMINANT TEAMS in The National League. That, gives The Braves a better chance than in ‘normal years’, to compete to win a World Series. Gausmann has to be ‘right on/have GREAT control’ in order to be effective. He’s a grinder. He battles. However, long term, he isnt someone who A SERIOUS WS Contender..wants in their rotation. What Gausmann does..is give The Braves ‘a fighting chance’ to compete (while buying The Braves TIME as our high upside Starting Pitching Prospects DEVELOP/EARN the right to pitch in meaningful games). Other than Bruce Zimmerman ( who I feel can develop into a 15 game winner/middle of the rotation-type MLB Starting Pitcher), I’m not worried about any of the other pieces that AA gave up in the trade coming back to ‘bite The Braves in the rear’, lol! Hopefully Gausmann will have a performance of his life in Game 2.

4. While I’m optimistic that Culberson can grind out some hits/walks…I’m not really that confident that Ender Inciarte (especially against two TOUGH lefties in Ryu AND Kershaw) can do anything other than go a couple of 0-FERS (The Dodgers will NO DOUBT go with lefties in the bullpen late in the game to face The Braves, UNTIL it’s time to go with Jansen). The ‘Wild-Card’ is Ozzie Albies. He hits BETTER from the right side of the plate..than from the left side. However can he BE PATIENT! Can he either draw walks OR WAIT for a better pitch to hit (in other words, can he NOT swing at JUNK on the 1st pitch..popping up pitch after pitch)? If Albies doesnt hit/produce…The Braves will have A HARD TIME winning (because The Dodgers ARE NOT going to let Acuna/Camargo beat them…and they DO NOT fear Freddie NOR Markakis being much of a threat to hit homers against them). I have my doubts. I’m not optimistic at all..because The Dodgers have skilled pitchers who know how to EXPLOIT THE HECK out of ‘impatient’ hitters.

5. I’m not so much worried about The Braves NOT ‘hitting a bunch of homers’…as I am with our #3 NOR #4 hitters being A THREAT to hit homers! I wish that there was ‘A STAT’ that could accurately measure what I call ‘stressful at-bats’ (or even a stat that measures a pitcher ‘stressing about a hitter that is 3-4 hitters away’, lol). A pitcher who stresses over/FEARS a hitter potentially TAKING HIM DEEP….affects a pitcher (both mentally and physically) as the game goes on. FEARING power…affects how a pitcher pitches to hitters hitting in front of a power hitter..as well as hitters hitting 2-3 spots in front of a power hitter. Pitchers DO NOT want to walk/give up a dink hit to a hitter hitting before a power hitter comes up. However with when having to face Freddie/Markakis with runners on base…the pitcher really DOES NOT have to fear giving up a BOMB that clears the bases! Even if he has to ‘throw a strike’…7 out of 10 times, it’s going to result in AN OUT! Even if he has to ‘throw a strike’…of the 3 times out of 10 that it results in a hit, VIRTUALLY NEVER will it result in the hit being a homer (believe me, that LACK OF STRESS….favors the pitcher). 177 at-bats by Markakis (our #4 hitter) WITHOUT A FREAKING HOMER? Who does that? What SANE ‘manager’, keeps a HOMERLESS hitter in The Clean-Up Spot?

For all this talk about Snitker being ‘The Manager of The Year’…he really should be FIRED after this season ends! His lineup construction/bullpen usage SUCKS! Acuna and Camargo CARRED The Braves in the 2nd half (while Freddie and Markakis basically forgot to pay their ‘electric bill’!). Acuna and Camargo were enough…ESPECIALLY given how weak The NL East was in 2018.

6. Dude, you can FORGET about Snitker properly using Touki and Fried in the bullpen. Snitker is A LOCK to bring in Sam Freeman to begin ‘a clean inning’..letting him face 3-4 righties in a row in high leverage situations. The only ‘consolation’ to potentially seeing The Braves get swept 3 straight….is The World seeing how BAD a manager Snitker is. Snitker’s BLUNDERS…in front of a National Audience (given that The Dodgers are being heavily promoted) will perhaps make it ‘easier’ for Snitker to fire him (or bump him to some ‘cushy/Bobby Cox-like front office role where he has ‘a ceremonial role’ with essentially ZERO decision making responsibilities) after The Braves are eliminated/swept.

7. I’m not going to venture down to LA to watch our guys play. I’m simply not confident about our prospects this year (I’d rather sit and home in the comfort of my home and watch them). If I’m going to venture into enemy territory and root for The Braves..I’ll do so in 2019 (after AA has ‘worked his magic’ during BOTH The 2018 Free Agent Offseason AND during The Winter Meetings). The 2019 Braves should be an IMPRESSIVE team all the way around. Just wait…this offseason is going to be SPECIAL. And let’s not forget about the prospects who’ll be competing in Spring Training come 2019. AA (and hopefully the new manager he’s going to hire) will have some ‘tough decisions’ to make!

8. My prediction….Dodgers in three. “Maybe” Game 3 is competitive (with it being a home game)…but with Walter Buehler pitching in Game 3 for The Dodgers….he’s going to be HELLA TOUGH to beat. However, if we cant win Game 1 with Folty on the mound…a three game sweep is HELLA EASY to visualize.

The ‘only’ way I see The Braves winning this series..is If The Braves win the 1st 2 games (against their 2 lefties) in LA…we’ll probably lose Game 3 with Buehler on the mound for The Dodgers. Then we take Game 4 against Rich Hill. I simply DO NOT see The Braves winning a Game 5 in LA. We either win in 4 games (under my scenario)…OR we are VIRTUAL LOCKS to lose this series. That’s..my prediction.

Andy….now you know why I FLAT OUT REFUSED to make ANY EFFORT to EITHER spend my time OR money flying to LA to watch THE DEBACLE I EXPECTED The Braves put forth in Games 1 and 2!

While I DID NOT expect our ‘offense’ (if that is what you want to ‘label’ them) to get BITCH SLAPPED SHUT OUT in BOTH GAMES…I KNEW that there was NO WAY we were going to win EITHER of those games in LA! I didnt want to fly down there and basically NOT have anything to root for!

This team SUCKS offensively! Freddie and Markakis just flat out lost any resemblance of being MLB hitters capable of hitting with any power! Acuna and Camargo played OUT OF THE MINDS offensively during most of the 2nd half. With both cooling off in the homer department…The Braves NEEDED BOTH Freddie and Markakis to STEP UP in The Post-Season..which NEITHER seems capable of doing! We’re TOAST…simple as that!

I thought they might’ve took the first one, but I knew they were dropping the 2nd to Kershaw. If they could’ve got back to Atlanta tied up at 1-1, they’d have had a puncher’s chance. It looks as if they’ve got a long, hard road now- but I’ll keep pulling for them, even if the odds are super slim.

I appreciate what Nick’s done for the team, and what he’s brought to the clubhouse. They’ve got to find a bonafide middle of the order bat for next season, though. It’s too difficult to manufacture runs against playoff level pitching, as this series shows, when you lack the threat of the long ball. Machado essentially ended game 2 early with one swing.

King….The Braves need AT LEAST two more middle of the order POWER BATS (unless they target a leadoff hitter…whether via Free Agency OR The Winter Meetings..allowing The Braves to drop Acuna to the middle of the batting order).

I’d go after Machado and throw AS MUCH MONEY AT HIM…as possible. Look at his defense so far in The Playoffs. I’d rather see him, than Harper. Machado is the more consistent bat power-wise…stays healthy…has a better chance to age ‘better’.

Also, The Braves should go after Grandal from The Dodgers. Tyler Flowers simply does not have it in him to catch ‘a full load’ (he’s MUCH BETTER when he’s fresh/limited to catching a couple times a week). Grandal is a good framer AND can hit some home runs.

If The Braves wanted to go after Pollack from Arizona…he could play leadoff for The Braves, which would allow The Braves to have a lineup of the following:

1. Pollack…LF
2. Albies….2nd
3. Acuna…RF
4. Freddie…1st
5. Machado…SS
6. Camargo…3rd
7. Grandal….C
8. Inciarte..CF

That lineup right there…makes The Braves HELL TOUGH to pitch to. Sure, Albies has struggled in the 2nd half of The 2018 Season…however the skill set is there. He just needs to put in the work and REDISCOVER what he was able to do in the 1st half of The 2018 Season. Plus, his SPEED is needed at the top of the order.

Image a top of the order…of Pollack, Albies AND Acuna! Freddie (who I feel will put in the work in the offseason to come back with the ability to hit some homers in 2019) AND Machado will have A PLETHORA of RBI opportunities in 2019! The above lineup…has lefty-righty balance…and other than Inciarte, the ability hit a homer at ANY TIME!

Machado at $35-$40 mil a year…Pollack at $20-$25 mil a year….Grandal at $15-$20 mil a year….WILL NOT ‘break’ The Braves 2019 NOR future payrolls.

Adding those three players to our lineup (we have PLENTY of pitching, we DO NOT need to add anything. We have MORE THAN ENOUGH to build BOTH a rotation AND bullpen from our PLEHTORA of young, high upside pitching talent in our MILB System)…would ONLY add approximately $70-$85 mil a year to The Braves payroll (depending on the exact amounts they ‘hypothetically’ were to sign those three to).

Given that in 2018, The Braves spent $21.5 mil on Adrian Gonzalez, $16 mil on Scott Kazmir, $10 mil on Brandon McCarthy…as well as $10.5 mil that is coming off the books as soon as Markakis becomes a Free Agent after The 2018 Season ends. That’s a total of $58 mil (for 2 players who DID NOT play AT ALL in 2018 for The Braves..along with a starting pitcher who STRUGGLED/did not pitch AT ALL in the last 4 months of the season…AS WELL as our NON-POWER HITTING ‘clean-up’ hitter who STRUGGLED to hit after May 9th).

In essence, The Braves should have NO PROBLEM whatsoever…..in ‘trading’ The $58 mil that we spent on Gonzalez, Kazmir, McCarthy and Markakis….and use it INSTEAD to sign Machado, Grandal AND Pollack for a COMBINED $70-$85 mil a year. We only be adding between $12-$27 mil to our 2019 payroll…by replacing FOUR BUMS with 3 ALL-STARS!

With the increased fan attendance…The Braves should have NO PROBLEM with having a team payroll of $150-$165 mil for 2019. If they cant afford a $40-$50 mil BUMP in payroll in 2019…then why the hell did they move from Turner Field to Sun Trust?

Our pitching/young talent of Acuna, Camargo and Albies would be A WASTE..if The Braves ARE NOT WILLING to spend money going after the right players (WE NEED POWER IN OUR LINEUP)! Simple as that!

Paul,

The thing with the free agents is—most teams would want them. Even if we could pay them–they would have to agree to come here. I dont know how many will. I think AA will try and get a big deal done. The Dodgers have a good catcher in the minors who is ready, but they still will want Grandal. Could the braves outbid the Dodgers for him? No. Same with most on the list. We would have to massively over pay to get one of the big “gets.” Maybe we will get Grandal and Pollack and Machado–AA has spent big with massive overpays before and extended players before they hit their peak.

Andy,

We will not and should not go after Machado. It would be counterproductive as blocking 2-3 rising players (Camargo/Riley/Dansby) and failing to fill a real hole (RF). And you’re right, we will have to outbid someone for Harper, which will limit us to one “huge” FA sign. But AA will also make one “huge” trade which I am betting will be for Realmuto who is better than Grandal but won’t cost as much as any of the big FAs. He will cost dearly in prospects and we will also have to overpay to get him.

But that is the price we will have to pay to improve from where we are. Braves players at every position accumulated 3 WAR or more except for RF and SS. At SS, we have to rely on Dansby to get better. He is our biggest bet. I believe he will reach JJ Hardy type of output – GG SS defense and 20-25 HRs per year with a low OBP. Plus he will get clutch hits at the bottom of the lineup. RF, where we earned just less than 3 WAR this year is where we can make the biggest improvement. We get a 5 WAR guy out there ($35M equivalent) and we’ve accomplished something big. The other place we can make a big improvement is to replace Zuk’s 2 WAR with Realmuto’s 4 WAR. We had horrible defense behind the plate and average offense. Realmuto is the best defender out there and he hits well. These two acquisitions plus other minor ones, plus development of our internal starting rotation, will make us a championship team next year.

Not to mention that turns two mid-30s players into two mod-20s players. When Realmuto approaches free agency is when Contreras should be ready for the bigs. When Pache is ready, Inciarte can go. You can see how well Harper and Realmuto fit into our long terms plans and scheme.

Roger, I don’t know that they should worry about “fit” so much, as they should about adding the best talent. To me, Machado trumps Harper there. I don’t feel the margin is all that narrow, either. Plus, if they were to sign Machado, they could use Riley as part of a package for Realmuto, if they wished. I also read somewhere that one talent elevator thought Riley could play a quality RF. So maybe that’s an option?

My wishlist of players would be one of:
Machado
Arrenado
Starling Marte (No idea if he’s available, just like his game)

In that order, paired with a quality RP for the pen. They get that, I’d be stoked.

The problem with spending big is that Harper/Arenado/Machado guys would need a long term contracts. And Braves will have a lot of “own” guys to pay. Instead of paying for FA we should buy out early years of Acuna/Albies – just like we tried to do with Heyward.

I don’t see Harper nor Machado in Braves. Infield is set (and waits for Riley). RF it will be a solid, but not great FA or cheapish, team controlled guy we would trade for.

Realmuto – another story. We don’t have any waiting catchers in minors. He’s good, young, cheap, and he fills a need. It could happen.

As some of you know, I’ve been a Die Hard Braves Fan since 1982 (I was 10 years old growing up in Arkansas when I first started following The 1982 Braves on WTBS). I’ve been ‘hooked’ ever since (through THICK and THIN, lol).

This Braves team has not only A LOT of talent on The MLB Roster (ESPECIALLY young talent) but also A LOT of MILB high upside potential prospects who will be knocking on the door in the next year or two. Our GM, AA, will have A WEALTH of talent to choose from (whether to put into The Starting Rotation, The Bullpen, on The AAA Staff (to be there, on a moment’s notice; to be summoned up to Atlanta to fill a need in our Pitching Staff…….OR, even as ‘trade bait’).

I bring all this up, because I feel that The Braves have MORE than ENOUGH young/cheap/high upside Starting Pitching Talent…to BOTH build a potentially GREAT Starting 5 that can excel in BOTH The 2019 Season…AS WELL as potentially in The 2020 Season AND beyond. In other words, I see LITTLE NEED to bring in any ‘outside’ pitching talent. The Braves have what it takes to build a VERY STRONG BULLPEN in 2019 as well! Buying bullpen parts via Free Agency..is a VERY DICEY proposition! Given how variance plays a HUGE ROLE in how effective bullpen parts are in any given year (there are obviously ‘exceptions to the rule’..however ‘the exception to the rule DOES NOT make it ‘THE RULE”, lol)….I’d rather see The Braves put prospects who are not ready to be a starter..in our bullpen (as other teams have done with high upside prospects who eventually transition to The Starting Rotation in the next year or two).

Where I want to see The Braves SPEND MONEY..is addressing the lack of power in the middle of the lineup! A team CANNOT win playoff games…when 1. Nick “NOODLE BAT” Markakis is hitting cleanup (NO HOMERS in his last 177 regular season at-bats)….2. Tyler ‘batted .227 with ONLY 5 homers’ as your #5 hitter (as happened in Games 1 & 2 of The NLDS against The Dodgers…AS WELL as throughout a big chunk of The Regular Season).

It would be A BIG TIME WASTE…to ‘go cheap’ when it came to addressing the lack of middle of the order power. I’m SICK AND TIRED of hearing ‘uh….we need to save payroll flexibility when it comes to re-signing our CHEAP young prospects in 2019 and 2020….who in 2021 and beyond become MORE EXPENSIVE’. First of all…there is NO GUARANTEE that our best young prospects…will even be receptive to signing on a potential ‘team friendly’ contact extension.

However, what I DO KNOW…is that it would be MUCH EASIER to get our young prospects to possibly ‘buy into’ signing long term contract extensions with The Braves…IF we can GO HELL DEEP in The Playoffs YEAR AFTER YEAR! The Braves NEED some serious power in our lineup…..which can ONLY be address via The Free Agency Offseason (UNLESS AA wants to overpay with prospects via The Trade Market).

Keep our prospects (especially THE PLETHORA of young pitching prospects we have…to build BOTH a Rotation AND Bullpen (not only in 2019…but also in future years…when The Braves will still have prospects working their way up to possibly replace ‘potentially pricey’ arbitration eligible pitchers who arent exactly ‘worth what they will command via arbitration’ come 2021-2020 and beyond)!

Before addressing who I feel The Braves should go after….let’s take a look at what I feel are ‘The Locks’ to be on The Braves in 2019 (and their salaries/position).

1. Freddie Freeman….1st…..($21 mil)
2. Ozzie Albies……………2nd…($600k…pre-arbittation/one more year)
3. Dansby Swanson…SS….($600k….pre-arbitration/last year)
4. Johan Camargo…..utility ($600k…pre-arbitration/one more year)
5. Tyler Flowers………..C………($4 mil.)
6. Charlie Culberson…utility….($1..5 mil….1st year arbitration estimate…possible trade chip IF AA cant get that figure a little lower).
7. Ronald Acuna……RF…..($600k…..pre-arbitration/2 more years)
8. Ender Inciarte….CF……($5 mil.)
9. Michael Reed….OF….($600k….pre-arbitration/3 more years)
10. Mike Folty…..SP…… ($6 mil….2nd year arbitration/2 more years before Free Agency)
11. Sean Newcomb….SP ($600k….pre-arbitration/1 more year)
12. Kevin Gausman…SP ($9 mil….1 more year before Free Agency….could be traded IF he wants ‘too much’. He could sign some type of 2 year contract that pays him something like $20 mil over 2 years…kind of like how The Braves did with Jason Heyward when he was 2 years away from Free Agency).
13. #4 starter……SP………($600k….pre-arbitration/3 years away….the last 2 spots of The Rotation, will come from our PLETHORA of young pitching prospects who stand out/earn one of those 2 spots during Spring Training 2019)
14. #5 starter…….SP……..($600k…..pre-arbitration/3 years away….read #13’s prediction).
15. Darren O’Day…..RP….($9 mil. last year before becoming a Free Agent. While he’s coming back from a hamstring injury…at least it isnt arm related. Prior to his injury, he’s a VERY EFFECTIVE late inning option. If AA didnt have to absorb his 2019 salary in order to get Gausmann WITHOUT having to sacrifice any of our top pitching prospects…I would LOVE to see AA go after Craig Kimbrel. However, I dont see ANY MLB team taking a flyer on O’Day WITHOUT seeing him pitch meaningful games first. So The Braves are pretty much stuck with O’Day for 2019…meaning that he’s our ‘defacto closer’ for 2019).
16. Adrodys Vizcaino…..RP……..($5 mil….last year before Free Agency. Vizcaino will help form a ‘bullpen-by-committee’ likely approach by Braves Management for 2019).
17. AJ Minter……RP……..($600k……pre-arbitration/2 more years. He’ll be the main lefty come closing time…part of what I believe will be a 3-headed-bullpen-by-committee-closer).
18. Dan Winkler….RP…..($1.5 mil…..arbitration/1 more year before Free Agency. Great bullpen arm. Need to not overuse him in 2019).
19. Johnny Venters….RP…..($1.5 mil…..arbitration/1 more year before Free Agency. Another good BP arm. Also need to not overuse him in 2019).
20. Max Fried….RP……($600k….pre-arbitration/2 more years. A lefty who can BOTH pitch multiple innings out of the bullpen/get tough lefties out in high leverage situations).
21. Chad Sobotka…..RP…..($600k…..pre-arbitration/3 more years. Tough on righties who can throw gas. Hopefully he’ll continue to develop).
22. Bullpen piece….RP….($600k….pre-arbitration/3 more years. The Braves have A PLEHTORA of options to fill the long relief role/spot starter-type to pitch on short notice/if one of our starters gets knocked out in the first couple of innings. Also, if any of our above relief pitchers OR starters get hurt….AAA will have A PLETHORA of options to turn to who can come up and fill those roles)!

I understand that BOTH Julio Teheran (at $11 mil for 2019 with a $1 mil 2020 buyout/$12 mil 2020 salary) and Adam Duval (arbitration eligible/$3 mil salary estimate) are on The Books for 2019. However I feel that there is NO WAY that Teheran doesnt get traded in the offseason (The Braves have cheaper/more talented options coming up than Teheran…..however Teheran will have value for other teams, given the contracts routinely signed by BUMS who are worse than Teheran, lol. I dont expect The Braves to get much in return for Teheran….what’s important…is that his $11 mil 2019 salary is REMOVED from the books). Also, Duval is an obvious DFA candidate. He simply LOST IT (reminds me of what happened to Austin Kearns years ago).

Assuming that AA takes my advice on trading Teheran/DFAing Duval…that would leave The 2019 Braves needing 1. a starting catcher (Flowers is the backup)…2. A starting Left Fielder (bye-bye Nick ‘NOODLE/CUCKOLD BAT” Markakis)…3. A 3rd baseman (Camargo should be our ‘super-sub/Ben Zobrist-type’ bench player for 2019).

My contention is that The Braves should have NO PROBLEM with a $150 mil Opening Day Payroll (with the option of increasing it by another $10-$15 mil SHOULD a need arise by The July 2019 Trade Deadline). I’m SICK AND TIRED of hearing how ‘the max’ Opening Day Payroll was $122 mil a year ago (implying that The Braves ‘only’ have around $30-$35 mil available to add to the current payroll)!

According to my math….The 5 Starting pitchers of Folty/Newcomb/Gausman/4th/5th starters coming from our PLETHORA of high upside pitching prospects…will total $16.9 mil in 2019.

The 8 man bullpen of O’Day/Vizcaino/Minter/Winkler/Venters/Sobotka/Fried/Long-Relief-Type from our PLETHORA of high upside young pitching talent….will total $19.4 mil in 2019.

The 4 man Bench of Camargo/Flowers/Culberson/Reed…..will total $6.7 mil in 2019.

The current 5 man Starting Lineup of Freeman/Albies/Swanson/Inciarte/Acuna……will total $27.8 mil.

Those 22 positions….will total $70.8 mil….leaving $79.2 mil to fill the holes that Left Field/3rd base/Catcher presents.

If AA feels that Austin Riley is THE FUTURE…then The Braves should pencil him in as our Opening Day 3rd baseman/#5 or #6 hitter. His power from the right side would be HELLA WELCOME in our lineup.

However, if AA has ‘question marks’ concerning Riley…then AA should package Riley (along with one or two of our ‘2nd tier’ starting pitching prospects…Realmuto is only 2 years away from Free Agency….The Marlins ARE NOT going to get ‘a king’s ransom’ for Realmuto, lol. Riley has a lot of power…and is HELLA CHEAP for the next 3 years).

So either The Braves trade for Realmuto by sacrificing Riley/a couple of others (he’s in line to get a raise to around $6 mil in 2019)…..which would leave The Braves with around $73.1 mil to fill Left Field/3rd base…..OR…..The Braves keep Riley as our 2019 Opening Day 3rd Baseman (he’ll only be paid $600k)…which would leave The Braves with $78.6 mil to fill Left Field/Catcher.

If we trade for Realmuto….I would LOVE to see The Braves use that $73.1 mil…to make DUAL OFFERS to BOTH Manny Machado AND Bryce Harper (offering $35-$40 mil type deals to EACH of them)! If each were to agree to a $35 mil a year type deals with The Braves…that would only put The 2019 Opening Day Payroll at $146.9 mil (look,

Sun Trust Field/the surrounding Battery Properties are A PRINTING PRESS OF DOLLARS for The Braves Organization (with even more development in 2019 and beyond). Also, REGULARLY HOSTING Playoff Games at Sun Trust…for MULTIPLE ROUNDS….will also SIGNIFICANTLY add to team revenue. Also, with the added STAR ATTRACTION of Machado and Harper to The Braves….The Braves can charge more for THE RICH PEOPLE”s seats/suites at Sun Trust. If it were to take $40 mil a year to sign BOTH Machado and Harper…then The Braves should DO IT IN A HEARTBEAT. That would give The Braves a 2019 Opening Day Payroll of $156.9 mil (with $ left over to add at The July Trade Deadline should a need arise).

Depending on how much it would take to sign Machado and Harper (2019 Opening Day Payroll of between $146.9 mil-$156.9 mil)….just look at what this 2019 Starting Lineup would look like:

1. Acuna……RF
2. Albies……2nd
3. Freeman….1st
4. Machado….3rd
5. Harper…..LF
6. Realmuto…C
7. Inciarte…..CF
8. Swanson….SS

Johan Camargo would be The Super Sub to give a number of our players a day off each week (he would be fresher as well). Also, if Albies were to struggle in 2019….Snitker could put Realmuto in the #2 hole and Albies in the #6 hole. Regardless…that would be A POWERFUL Lineup….with NO ONE over 28 years old!

Not only is that a powerful offense…but also very good defensive lineup! This lineup could stay together for a number of years!

A good offense/defense….would give our Pitching Staff time to develop! I would rather AA stay away from acquiring an ‘Ace’ like deGroom…because their salaries would rise significantly (also because he’s only 2 years away from Free Agency). The Braves have LOADS of high upside starting pitching talent….why not give the likes of Mike Soroka, Touki Tousiant, Kyle Wright, Bryce Wilson, Joey Wentz and Ian Anderson (among others) a chance to be Long Term Aces for The Braves (especially at cheap prices while The Braves are paying the likes of Machado, Harper and Freeman lots of money)?

I’m sure that Machado and Harper would only sign with opt outs after years #3-#4 (which would be IDEAL for The Braves…ESPECIALLY if both were to really HIT during those years)…..giving both players another chance for a big payday before they are 30 years old (which again, would be ideal for The Braves…because hopefully by then we’ll have players like Christian Pache and other hitters that we drafted in 2018 and hopefully in 2019…who will be ready to play/fill in for those players….AS players like Albies and Acuna get ready for ‘big payday extension offers’ by The Braves.

OR…..if The Braves were to keep Riley at 3rd…..then we’d have $78.6 mil to address left field/catcher….which 1. offering $35-$40 mil a year offer to Bryce Harper….and 2. Sign Yasmani Grandal to a $18-$20 mil a year type deal. That would leave The Braves with a 2019 Opening Day Payroll of between $124.4 mil and $131.4 mil.

Our 2019 Opening Day Lineup would be the following:

1. Acuna….RF
2. Albies….2nd
3. Freeman….1st
4. Riley……3rd
5. Harper….LF
6. Grandal…C
7. Inciarte….CF
8. Swanson….SS

I would bat Riley 4th (even though he’s a rookie)….because he has power AND because it would split up Freddie and Harper (both left handed hitters). In other words, having Riley hitting in between Freddie and Harper….would eliminate opposing managers from bringing in a tough lefty to face BOTH Freddie AND Harper…WITHOUT having to face a power righty bat like Riley.

Personally…..I like the first option (trading for Realmuto….going ALL-IN by signing BOTH Harper AND Machado). The Braves would be SERIOUS CONTENDERS for years to come with that lineup! If a team is making The Playoffs EVERY YEAR…..the payroll CANNOT stay the same. It HAS to go up! The young talent that The Braves have……would keep our pitching costs low (prime example….there’s a chance that Gausman, no matter how good he pitches in 2019…..will be a trade candidate next offseason…because The Braves have A PLETHORA of young, high upside Starting Pitching talent coming up The System! Heck, Gausmann may end up being traded by The July 2019 Trade Deadline….IF some of our AAA pitching studs ‘force the issue’. Why give Gausmann a raise on his already $9 mil 2019 Salary…IF a young prospect has the potential to pitch BETTER? That move there…is how money can be trimmed from The 2020 Payroll!

Other moves (whether after 2019 or 2020) would be to eventually trade Folty and Newcomb. By Opening Day 2021…I feel that the following will be our Opening Day Starting 5:

1. Mike Soroka…….($600k…could be a Super 2 IF he makes The 2019 Opening Day Roster. Regardless, he could very well be our ACE by then)
2. Touki Tousiant….($600k…..he’ll be in his last pre-arbitration year)
3. Kyle Wright……….($600k……same as Touki)
4. Ian Anderson……($600k…..he may not come up until sometime in late in 2019 or 2020..meaning that he’ll still be several years away from arbitration. Regardless, he has Ace-like potential)
5. Joey Wentz……($600k……same as Anderson. While not quite the upside as Anderson/Soroka…he’ll be a TOUGH lefty for opponents to face).

I know that it sounds CRAZY…however it is not impossible to imagine that THE ABOVE/Potential 2021 Starting Rotation…..leading The Braves to The 2021 Playoffs (in addition to being HELLA CHEAP)! That’s why AA SHOULD NOT trade any of our talented pitching prospects! That’s not even including the likes of Bryce Wilson, Patrick Weigel, Kyle Muller and Luis Gohara (2019 will be important for him….he has A TERRIBLE 2018…due to family deaths/issues..as well as injury issues. If he can live up to his potential….The Braves will have SICK depth).

It would be A SHAME…if The Braves decided to ‘nickel and dime’ the next few years……we have TOO MUCH CHEAP high upside talent….to NOT GO FOR IT during The 2018 Free Agent Offseason!

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