Atlanta Braves

Wheeling And Dealing

By: Colin Lacy news services

For most Major League Baseball players, the month of November is a time to rest, spend much overdue time with their family, and decompress from the grind of a 162-game regular season.

This year, the month of November has been all but restful for Atlanta Braves General Manager Alex Anthopoulos. Over the last month there have been 37 player transactions for the Braves (albeit most of those being players electing free agency), and a couple that have raised the eyebrows and curiosity of Braves Country, but the headlines aren’t all that need to be said.

The one that sent ripples (not quite tidal waves) through the organization was a trade with the Chicago White Sox sending RHP Michael Soroka, LHP Jared Shuster, SS Nicky Lopez, SS Braden Shewmake and RHP Riley Gowens to the south side of Chicago in exchange for Aaron Bummer.

This move had Braves fans scratching their heads, especially considering Soroka was a fan favorite since his debut.

That being said, and as good as Soroka was before tearing his Achilles tendon, his time as a Brave was more than likely numbered anyway. Most, if not all, of the pieces traded to Chi-Town were leading candidates to be non-tendered by Atlanta when the deadline came just hours later than the trade (deadline was Friday 11/17).

Instead of these players turning into free agents, Anthopoulos was able to turn them into another lefty that could play an impactful role into the Bravo’s bullpen.

Just one day later, the transaction hotline was connected with a familiar pipeline between Kansas City and Atlanta.

Two different trades occurred the 17th between the Royals and Braves to send Kyle Wright, and Nick Anderson to KC, and have Jackson Kowar and cash return to the ATL.

Kyle Wright had an injury riddled 2023 season in Atlanta but had been a key part of the Braves rotation in 2022, but injuries kept him from staying in the rotation.

The Braves also delt Wright knowing that he would miss the 2024 season due to shoulder surgery and would still be paying Wright approximately $1.4 million as he rehabs.

The other deal with the Royals had the Braves send Nick Anderson, who like Soroka was a likely candidate of being non-tendered, in return for cash considerations.

There are also a couple of transactions that fly under the radar with the front office in Atlanta officially not tendering contracts to 7 players who were previously on the 40-man roster including Kolby Allard, Chadwick Tromp, and Yonny Chirinos.

Why is this important? Because when you add all of the moves together, yes, the Braves clear up some payroll space, but at the end of the day, the Braves ended up with 30 players on the 40-man roster.

This allows the Braves to re-tool the bottom of the roster and bolster the organizational depth with key bench pieces and Triple-A players that, frankly, has been a weakness for the Braves in the past few years.

So far, the Braves have also added to the bullpen as well by signing the hard throwing righty Reynaldo Lopez, who struck out almost 30% of the batters he faced last season between the White Sox, Guardians, and Angels.

This could be a bigger addition to the Braves than it appears on the surface with Lopez potentially being able to serve as a back-end starter, if need be, but also be a high-leverage reliever.

I say all of this as what seems like one of the few Braves fans that are encouraged by these moves that “Headline Only Readers” are upset with.

I completely understand. Soroka, Wright, a couple former first round picks, and on the surface not getting much back, but when you dig deeper, it’s some crafty moves to get anything back for it, and oh by the way, I think we’re just getting started with the off season shuffle we’ll see out of the right field offices at Truist Park.

Not Just The Windmill At Third Base

By: Colin Lacy news services

This month news broke that beloved Atlanta Braves third base coach Ron Washington was getting the nod to take over as the new manager for the Los Angeles Angels.

This will be the second stint for Wash as a big-league manager after piloting the Texas Rangers from 2007-2014.

Ron Washington will be dearly missed in Atlanta after becoming an infectious personality around the clubhouse, while also being a gold mine of knowledge for infielders especially.

Washington has become a fan favorite around Braves Country because of the energy that David O’Brien of The Athletic described as “more energy at 71 than many 21-year-olds.”

Alex Anthopoulos, Braves GM, encapsulated the impact of Ron Washington on the Atlanta Organization by saying, “Presence, intellect, respect, work ethic, integrity.  Off-the-charts ability to lead. I mean, that guy walks in a room, it’s over.  He’s special. I’ve been in baseball since 2000. I’ve never been around someone like (Ron Washington).”

Ron Washington is a “baseball guy” through and through. A native of New Orleans, Washington was signed by Kansas City in 1970, and has been in professional baseball ever since.

He spent the next ten years primarily in the minor leagues for the Royals, Mets, and Dodgers organization. ‘Wash’ made his Major League debut in September of 1977 with the Dodgers as a September call-up but returned to the minors until 1981.

In 1981, Washington was on the active roster for the Minnesota Twins and would stay in the Bigs until 1986 scattered between the Twins, Orioles, Indians, and Astros. The end of his playing career came with his playing retirement in 1990 with the Oklahoma City Triple-A club.

After hanging up the glove (at least as a player), Washington set sails on his coaching career starting with the Mets organization for five years.

Washington made his Big-League debut as a coach in 1996 as the first base coach with the Oakland A’s where he would be until 2006 and return for the 2015 & 2016 season.

November 6th, 2006 will be a day that Ron Washington will always remember. It was the day the Texas Rangers announced they were bringing in Washington to manage the Rangers.  Washington spent 8 years in Arlington and led the Rangers to two World Series appearances in 2010 & 2011.

While in October of 2016, Ron Washington was a finalist for the Braves vacant managerial position (that would inevitably be filled by Brian Snitker), Snitker elected to bring Ron Washington on staff as 3rd base coach.  Since 2017, Washington was always around Truist park with the undeniable Wash Smile.

Washington’s pre-game routine with all the infielders, and even non-infielders, of throwing and hitting short hops to them blew up and became a must for all nationally televised game to show at some point.

Braves Country knows, and sometimes takes for granted, how underrated and top notch the coaching staff Brian Snitker has assembled over the years.

Ron Washington was a huge piece of that and will have some additional fall out I suspect. It has already been reported that Braves first base coach Eric Young Sr will be going with Wash to LA to join the Angels staff as their third base coach, and I wouldn’t be surprised if one or two others from the Braves staff joined as well.

Every offseason, each team has losses that fans will say “man that stinks” (sometimes a more colorful rendition of that), but not often is it a club’s third base coach.

Heck, many times when a coach leaves (outside of a manager or pitching coach), fans don’t realize it until opening day, and say “Hey who’s that new guy!”

Ron Washington is different. He was an incredible asset for the Braves and the Angles are getting a great baseball mind and great motivator. Grant McCauley, Braves beat reporter for 92.9 the Game, said on X what a lot of Braves fans are feeling. “It’s possible to be simultaneously thrilled for someone’s opportunity while being exceptionally sad to see them go.”

Power Surge

By: Robert Craft news services

I don’t know the journey the 2023 Braves will lead, but I now know the magnitude of their journey to this present moment.

They haven’t merely wrapped up the National League East. Their lineup is doing things baseball fans haven’t seen done in 50 years, 90 years, 100 years … or ever, for that matter, and that’s only now dawning on them.

There’s something funny about making history, you see. You don’t always recognize it when you’re in the middle of it, living and watching it, day in and day out.

There’s no perfect stat. There’s no perfect metric that reveals, unequivocally, the identity of the The Greatest Offense of All Time. So, if you’re even in the argument, alongside those ’27 Yankees, there’s no need to quibble about where to place the decimal points. We’re witnessing greatness, period.

Here’s an incredible difference between these Braves and those Yankees. Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig were twice as good at creating runs as the average hitter of that era, but they were part of a top-heavy lineup that didn’t have the depth of this Braves lineup, believe it or not the Braves are deeper and a higher utility team.

It doesn’t get much more old-school than home runs and stolen bases. And the triple digits in those categories are a reminder that the Braves can beat you one way on night one and a whole different way on night 2.

That 2019 Twins team that set the home run record the Braves are chasing, for most homers in a season (307). That team stole 28 bases all season. Ronald Acuna almost had that many himself by Memorial Day.

Even if they take their foot off the gas in the next few days, the Braves are almost a lock to lead the majors in homers by 50.  No team has even done that in 55 years.

Only two teams in history that stole 100 bases even reached 250 homers the same season: the 2019 Brewers  (250) and last year’s Yankees (254).

Hard to argue that this team isn’t special! The only two previous teams in history to bop 300 homers, the 2019 Twins and 2019 Yankees. They stole 83 bases combined. Acuña is on pace to steal 73 this year all by himself.

The Braves could have nine players with at least 20 homers! No team has ever done that.

The Braves could also have five players with at least 30 homers! Only the 2019 Twins have done that. And they just became the first team ever to have four men hit 35 or more.

They could lead the sport in slugging by 40 points! (They were at 43 through Sunday.) The only teams since 1900 to do that are the ’27 Yankees and 1953 Boys of Summer Dodgers.

I could spit out many more magic numbers for these Braves. But I’ve made my point. I never saw Ruth and Gehrig in 1927, but I’m watching Acuña and Olson here in 2023.

Now, there’s one more thing that needs to happen, one more thing they need to accomplish to make this season truly special, and historic.

The Braves just have to finish it. If October goes like the first six months of this season, they’ll be swirling around all these numbers for the rest of their lives.

If the Braves fail to win The World Series, they are just numbers that will be semi-forgotten.

It’s The Whole Team

By: Kipp Branch news services

MLB named starters for the All-Star Game yesterday based on the results of fan voting. The National League starters are:

Position Name Team
Catcher Sean Murphy Atlanta Braves
First base Freddie Freeman Los Angeles Dodgers
Second base Luis Arraez Miami Marlins
Third base Nolan Arenado St. Louis Cardinals
Shortstop Orlando Arcia Atlanta Braves
Outfield Ronald Acuña Jr. Atlanta Braves
Outfield Corbin Carroll Arizona Diamondbacks
Outfield Mookie Betts Los Angeles Dodgers
Designated hitter J.D. Martinez Los Angeles Dodgers


Let us look at the Atlanta Braves in the starting line-up.

Ronald Acuna Jr.: Acuna is having a monster year. An MVP type season. He is hitting .331 BA, 19 HR, 51 RBI, and 36 stolen bases as of this article.

Acuna is on pace for a 40/60 home run, stolen base season. That has never been done in baseball history.

Acuna is the best player in the game currently. The Braves will have to break the bank and restructure his current contract soon and make him the highest paid player in the game.

Sean Murphy: Another impressive signing by the Braves for 2023.

Murphy is hot currently hitting .375 over the past week. He has 13 homers and is batting .289 for the season currently. Murphy has earned the start in the mid-season classic.

Orlando Arcia: Dansby who? Arcia is batting .303 currently with 6 HR’s. Many thought Arcia would be an offensive liability for the Braves in 2023, but how wrong were we?

Arcia missed games with an injured wrist. How smart was Braves management in signing Arcia to a contract extension before the season began?

Potential Braves All-Stars: (NL Reserves will be named on July 2nd)

Ozzie Albies: Certainly, Albies will be named to the team. 18 HR’s makes him one of the best power hitting second basemen in MLB. He is charismatic and loved by the fans.

Albies should be an absolute selection. Ozzie has played eighty games so far this season and has remained healthy.

Matt Olson: Olson has 26 HR and 62 RBI’s. That ranks him 2nd and 3rd in the National League in those categories.

Yes, he has struck out 102 times so far this season, but he is a very productive hitter. Olson will be named an All-Star.

Austin Riley: Austin is a marquee player but could be on the outside looking in this year. He has a .265 batting average and only 14 home runs so far in 2023.

I look for him to get hot down the stretch, but name recognition alone should get him selected.

Bryce Elder: 6-1 with 2.44 ERA should get Elder selected.

Elder was not being counted on to contribute to the rotation going into 2023, but with injuries to Max Fried and Kyle Wright he had to step into the rotation and should be rewarded with an All-Star selection because he has earned it.

Spencer Strider: 9-2 with a 3.73 ERA with 162 strikeouts after the halfway point. Those are All-Star caliber numbers. Strider will be on the National League squad.

At 53-27 currently, the Braves have the second-best record in baseball and have the best record in the National League.

I do not know if the Braves will have eight players named to the NL All-Star roster, but they absolutely deserve it.

Unfair Wildness

By: Steve Norris news services

I’m still not over it.

It was October 12th, 1997. The Atlanta Braves were in Miami, Florida for Game 5 of the National League Championship Series and looking to take a 3-2 series lead back to Atlanta with Greg Maddux on the mound.

Maddux had already lost Game 1 at home to Kevin Brown, so Atlanta needed their ace to get revenge on Brown.

However, just before the game, Brown was scratched due to illness and replaced with Livan Hernandez.

What followed is arguably the most controversial game in Braves history. The late Eric Gregg umpired that game and decided for some reason to widen his already wide strike zone, especially to left-handed batters.

This hurt the Braves far more as they had six left-handed batters to the Marlins three. Hernandez was the benefactor and outdueled Maddux 2-1, ending the game on a strikeout of Fred McGriff, where the third strike was at least a foot outside.

If you don’t believe me, do a search for it on YouTube. You’ll be shocked how awful that strike zone was that day.

The Braves would surrender the series to Brown at home two days later 7-4, in yet another first inning implosion by Glavine, while the Marlins would go on to upset the favored Cleveland Indians for the World Series title.

It was a devastating loss for Braves fans, especially after their World Series collapse to the Yankees the previous year.

The fact is, that loss to the Marlins should have never happened in the first place. The Marlins had no business being in the playoffs. They finished 9 games behind the Braves who had won 101 games during the regular season. But thanks to the silliness of the Wild Card, they not only got a chance to beat the Braves, but they were also able to earn the home field advantage by winning just one of the first two games in Atlanta in the NLCS.

Fast forward to last year’s playoffs and the same thing happened to the Braves against the Phillies, except this time it was worse. The hated Phillies finished 14 games…yes…FOURTEEN GAMES behind the Braves.

Yet, when they faced off in the National League Division Series, they were given the opportunity to win one game in Atlanta and immediately get home field advantage in a five-game series.

The Phillies would tee off on Braves ace Max Fried, who was pitching while suffering from the flu, and would win the game 7-6. The Braves would not recover and would go on to lose three games to one.

All of this after playing 162 games.

How does that make sense? Why would a team, who not only failed to win the division, but finished way out of first place, be given such an easy chance to get home field advantage?

Logic says they shouldn’t. In fact, it’s my opinion that it’s time to make the wild card teams work harder to win a playoff series.

Here’s my proposal for the baseball playoffs: Any time a wild card team is facing a division winner in a playoff series, the division winner should get three more home games than the wild card team.

For example, if a division winner is playing a wild card team in the National or American League Division Series, the division winner should get four home games to the wild card teams’ one.

If it’s the National or American League Championship Series, the division winner should get five home games to the wild card winners’ two. This would force the wild card team to have to win two away games no matter what. If they can do that, then they’ve earned the home field advantage.

As for the World Series, that can stay at four games to three no matter who ends up there as a wild card team would have earned their way there by then.

It’s time for Major League Baseball to make the regular season important again if they’re going to keep letting all these wild card teams in.

Unfortunately, it’s run by Rob Manfred, arguably the most incompetent commissioner in sports history, so I don’t see him getting a clue any time soon.

Play Ball

By: Teddy Bishop news services

As the Braves throw out the first Spring Training pitch at Cool Today Park in North Port, Florida, six of the eight position players appear to be set.

Austin Riley will anchor the hot corner after signing a lengthy contract extension last season. Riley hit .273 in 2022 with 38 homeruns and 93 runs-batted-in. Will 2023 be his MVP year?

Matt Olsen will be back at first base for the second year of his long-term contract with Atlanta after Freddie Freeman defected to the Dodgers. Olsen will be looking to improve on his .240 average from last season, but his power numbers were excellent—34 HRs, 103 RBIs. Olsen is also a former Gold Glove winner.

The Braves are hoping for a healthy Ozzie Albies at second base, something that hasn’t happened consistently since he signed his contract extension in 2021. Albies is a leader on the diamond—and in the clubhouse—but needs to stay healthy.

Sean Murphy is apparently going to be the everyday catcher as the Braves gave up some good players to obtain him, and then signed him to a long-term deal.

Murphy is one of the best defensive catchers in baseball, and had 18 homeruns with 66 RBIs last year in Oakland. Travis d’Arnaud, a fan favorite in Braves Country, may be the odd man out if someone else emerges as the designated hitter.

Willie Harris II will probably be the everyday centerfielder for Atlanta for the next decade. Harris, the reigning Rookie of the Year, should get even better as he matures.

What can you say about Ronald Acuna, Jr.? Winning Rookie of the Year in 2018, and poised to perhaps become the face of the Atlanta franchise, Acuna simply hasn’t been able to stay healthy the last three years, from nagging injuries to a torn ACL.

All stakeholders say he is now healthy, and Acuna is looking to return to his 2019 form when he hit .280 with 41 HRs, 101 RBIS, and had 37 stolen bases. When healthy, Acuna is also among the leaders in put-outs for right fielders.

Left field could be an issue for the Braves. Marcel Ozuna is a defensive liability, and appears to be slated as the designated hitter (but let’s not forget d’Arnaud). Eddie Rosario will probably be standing to Willie Harris’ right during spring training, but I’m not convinced a trade won’t be made to plug the gap in left.

That brings us to shortstop. Vaughn Grissom is penciled in, but there is an eraser on the pencil, as Braves brass says there is an open competition between Grissom and Orlando Arcia.

Filling in last year for Albies at second, Grissom batted .291 with five homeruns and 18 RBIs in 41 games. If neither Grissom nor Arcia pans out at Cool Today Park, the Braves have hot prospect Braden Shewmake in the minors.

As for pitching, the first four starters seem set. Max Fried, Spencer Strider, Kyle Wright, and Charlie Morton may be as good as any team’s top four starters in the National League, and certainly in the NL East.

Mike Soroka, Ian Anderson, Bryce Elder, and others are competing for the fifth rotation spot. As you may remember, however, Anderson finished last season at Triple-A, and Soroka hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2019 due to injury.

The Braves bullpen will be strong again, with Raisel Iglesias as the closer. A.J. Minter, Collin McHugh, Dylan Lee, Kirby Yates, Jackson Stephens and newcomers Joe Jimenez and Lucas Luetge should be ready to get the game to the ninth.

Atlanta also has a bevy of pitchers and position player signed to minor league contracts, which could be a spring factor.

All in all, the Atlanta Braves look pretty good for 2023 and have an excellent shot at defending their 5th straight NL East title.

The first game that counts is March 30 at Washington. Play ball!

That Familiar Feeling

By: Steve Norris news services

For those of us who have been Atlanta Braves fans for over 40 years, we have been through some good times, some bad times, and then some really, really bad times.

There were a few Braves teams in the 80’s that were inexplicably bad. Many times, as the Braves were headed towards yet another loss, legendary Braves announcer Skip Caray would quip, “Well, Folks…you can’t win ‘em all or it would get boring.”

Well, believe me, some of those 80’s teams went out of their way to save us from that boredom.

Then in 1990, things began to turn around. John Schuerholz took over as General Manager and Bobby Cox came back as Manager (he managed the Braves from 1978-1981).

The team finally started making intelligent decisions and good things began to happen. For me, the biggest thing that came along was David Justice.

Now, I realize a lot of people are going to disagree with me here. They’ll say that it was the Braves’ pitching that made them what they were in the 90’s, and I’m not saying they’re necessarily wrong. But every great team has a leader. And Justice was it. Here’s how I know.

I was lucky enough to get to cover the Braves from 1994-1996 while working for 13WMAZ in Macon, GA. I covered somewhere around 20-25 games in that time, and for a guy in his 20’s who had grown up loving the Braves, it was like a day at Six Flags for me.

I got to interview the players on the field while they were taking batting practice, sit in the press box to watch the game, and then go in the locker room after the game to do interviews.

The locker room at that time was full of future Hall-of-Famers that everyone remembers. Chipper Jones, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Jon Smoltz, and Fred McGriff were all present.

However, there was one player the media always went to like a moth to a bug light. And that was David Justice. He had a commanding presence that couldn’t be denied and wasn’t afraid in the least to say exactly what was on his mind. He also didn’t suffer fools when it came to the reporters.

If somebody asked a dumb question, Justice called them out on it. His mouth did get him in trouble with the fans in 1995 when he went on a rant before Game 6 on the World Series, claiming that the fans would hate the team if they didn’t win the series.

However, he still went out and hit the biggest home run in Braves history to win the series that night.

The following year, Justice only played in 40 games of the 1996 season due to a shoulder injury. He wasn’t available for the World Series against the Yankees, and it led to the biggest collapse in Braves history.

After getting out to 2-0 lead in the series on the road and headed back home, the Braves managed to lose four games in a row, dropping the series 4-2.

As a Braves fan, I’m still not over that World Series loss. I couldn’t sleep for a week. David Justice was my favorite player and it frustrated me that he wasn’t able to be in the lineup to help keep that loss from happening. Still, I was looking forward to the 1997 season when he’d be back healthy and the team would be even stronger.

Then, for me and many other Braves fans, the worst trade in Braves history happened.

On March 25th, 1997, in a salary-cutting move, the Braves traded David Justice and Marquis Grissom (my second favorite Braves player) to the Cleveland Indians for Kenny Lofton and left-handed relief pitcher Alan Embree.

As a Braves fan, I was devastated. I had seen how clutch Justice could be when they needed him. I had seen what his presence meant in the clubhouse when he kept reporters away from other players who preferred not to be interviewed (like Grissom, Maddux, and McGriff). I felt like Justice was “the straw that stirred the drink” as the saying goes.

He went on that year to lead Cleveland to the World Series while Kenny Lofton was a problem child who never really wanted to be in Atlanta, lasting one year before re-signing with Cleveland the next year.

Embree was basically an average pitcher at best, who didn’t bring much value.

Meanwhile, the Braves went on to lose in the National League Championship Series to the underdog Florida Marlins 4-2, in what is still another playoff loss I’ve never really gotten over.

Which brings me to my point…there is no substitute for chemistry on a team, and some players are way more important than others.

After dealing Justice, the Braves never made it to the promised land again with Cox as manager. While eventually winning 14 straight division titles, they only played in one more World Series; in 1999, getting blown out 4-0 by the Yankees.

Now, here we are in 2023 and I’m afraid history is repeating itself. After the exhilarating and unexpected World Series win in 2021, the Braves let the biggest part of their chemistry go by not signing Freddie Freeman to another contract. And what happened?

A shameful first round playoff loss to the Phillies where Freeman’s leadership was sorely missed.

It’s hard for me to criticize Braves General Manager Alex Anthopolous for losing Freddie. After all, it was Anthopolous who made the moves halfway through the 2021 season that led to the World Series win.

But I’m getting that old feeling again. That while the Braves will be loaded with talent and most likely playoff-bound for several seasons to come, they’ll still find a way to blow it now that the chemistry has been irreversibly changed. I really hope I’m wrong.

Mets Get Chopped

By: Joe Delaney news services

Homers by Dansby Swanson and Matt Olsen powered the Atlanta Braves to a 5-3 win Sunday night and a three-game sweep of the formerly first place New York Mets in front of a raucous Truist Park crowd.

It was the third game in a row in which BOTH Swanson and Olsen have homered and it came against a loaded Mets lineup and three of the best pitchers in baseball.

The sweep gave Atlanta a 2-game lead over the Mets with 3 games to play with Atlanta holding the tiebreaker by winning the seasons series 10-9.

The Braves head to Miami to take on the Marlins, while the Mets close out the season at home with the Washington Nationals.

Any combo of a Braves win and a Mets loss and the Braves take home the Division Title again. And that’s after trailing the Mets by 10 ½ games on June 1.

It really looks like Deja Vue all over again as these Braves seem to be jelling at the right time. Last year they got hot in the playoffs. Well, they have sure looked like a formidable team rolling into October again.

The starting pitching has been steady. Max Fried and company have consistently gotten the Braves in a position to win after 5 or 6 innings and the bullpen has been stellar. The Atlanta bullpen posted a 1.70 ERA in the month of September. That’s flat out throwin BB’s sports fans……

While the pitching staff has been taking care of business, the starting lineup is playing bash ball. And that’s all through the lineup 1 thru 9.

The Mets rolled into Truist Park with a 1 game lead. Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, and 15 game winner Chris Basset had pitched 377 innings between them. Those 377 innings posted a great 2.79 ERA. One of if not the best trio in baseball.

They flew back to New York with a 6.91 ERA through 14 innings. Basset never even got out of the third inning.

When you look down the Braves lineup, they can all hurt you……….and they will. Matt Olsen now has over 100 RBIs. Austin Riley and Dansby Swanson are pushing 100. Hell, the 2 catchers Travis d’Arnaud and William Contreras have combined for over 100 RBI’s and around 40 home runs. Up and down there is speed and power in this lineup.

Defensively, the Bravos have been excellent with one of the tightest infields in the league and that’s with Ozzie Albies still out of the lineup.

Swanson might be the best overall shortstop in baseball and everyone knows what Matt Olsen and Austin Riley bring to the table game in and game out.

The outfield is just as good with rookie of the year candidate Michael Harris II leading the pack……….wait, did I say Michael Harris II leading the outfield???? What about Ronald Acuna? Well, that’s how good they are.

And last, but at the top of old chief Noc-A-Homa’s totem pole, is the steady excellent coaching staff headed by Brian Snitker. They need to put a big bronze in front of Truist Park of Ron Washington. That’s how steady those guys are.

So, what’s left?  Can they go win it all again. If the Braves can finish out the Marlins and take care of business, the Dodger Series would be one for the ages.

If they can battle past LA……….I like their chances! GO BRAVES!

Three Amigos

By: Joe Delaney news services

Man, fall is in the air! Football is all over the place. Whether it’s our local high schools, college, or the pros.

But, let’s give it up for the Atlanta Braves. The World Series Wonders are fighting for the NL East title with the Metropolitans and win or lose will be back into playoffs.

The kicker on this is that the Braves have been built the same way Kirby has built the Dawgs. And that’s for the long haul.

The Braves have a guy running the show who has been pulling all the right strings since he came to Atlanta. Alex Anthopoulos came to the Braves in 2017 and was promoted to president of baseball operations in February of 2020.

He is the mastermind behind what is happening to the Braves. Anthopoulos was the guy who reworked the Braves lineup late last season to bring in Adam Duvall, Joc Peterson and Eddie Rosario. I don’t think the Bravos win it all without those moves.

Duvall was steady as a rock. Joc Peterson had half of Truist Park wearing pearl necklaces and ole Eddie was the NLCS MVP. Yeah, Anthopoulos pulled all the right strings last year.

But what about that deal for the long haul? What have you done for us lately, Alex? Well, he has worked on the Braves from the ground up and man this dude doesn’t play around.

The Braves have three of the top overall prospects in the majors now on their roster.

How good are they? Two of them will probably finish 1 and 2 in the rookie of the year voting and the third is a consensus top 10.

We’re talking about Spencer Strider, Michael Harris II, and Vaughn Grissom.  These guys all have greatness written all over them.

Spencer Strider has struck out 200 batters in 132 innings. He carries an 11-5 record as of today. He consistently hits 97-100 on the gun. One of his teammates was asked how he ranked Strider and his reply was “just under deGrom”. Jacob deGrom is a future Hall of Famer.

Spencer Strider is 23 years old. Get used to seeing ladies with black fake moustaches at Truist Park! The guy is becoming his own little cult!

Vaughn Grissom is 21 years old and was brought up by the Braves when Ozzie Albies went down with a fractured foot over the summer.

He skipped AAA ball and came up from AA. With the Braves, he has played sterling defense and is batting .302 with 5 HR and 16 RBI in 34 games. Now with Ozzie out again with a fractured pinky, Grissom will finish out the season at 2B. This guy has a chance to be a great one.

Last but not least of these three amigos is Michael Harris II. He is the odds-on favorite for NL Rookie of the Year.

The amazing thing about that is he only came up to the Braves at the end of May. Harris has solidified center field for the Braves and should be there for the foreseeable future.

He is currently hitting .305 with 18 HR and 59 RBI and 17 SB. He is 21 years old.

Anthopoulos knows his stuff and just signed the rookie Harris to an 8 year 72 million contract.

So, this is how Alex Anthopoulos is building the Braves for the future. And what a future it’s going be. These guys are loaded and now have a lineup that is as good as any in baseball. I think ole Alex is gonna keep it that way. GO BRAVES!


Who’s On First?

By: TJ Hartnett news services

When we start talking about the Atlanta Braves roster for the 2022 season, the first thing we need to do is just have everyone CALM DOWN.

Yes, this is a roster that does not include Freddie Freeman. He is now on a different roster, headquartered on the other side of the country. This fact is very sad but it is a fact with which we must all come to grips.

Especially since the new season has arrived and there are a whole 28 (for now) other players that are on the roster. And, I might add, it’s a roster that is primed to make another run at a championship.

First off, we have the return talents of Charlie Morton, Ian Anderson, Huascar Ynoa, Kyle Wright, and Opening Day starter Max Fried set to open the season in the starting rotation.

This is more or less the rotation that got the Braves through the postseason last year, which should instill some confidence in the hearts of the Braves faithful.

Fried and Anderson are low-key greats in the NL, despite the rings they’re about to receive, backed up by the gutsy veteran Morton, the still-not-quite- consistent Ynoa, and the postseason hero/still unproven in the regular season Wright.

I’d call that three you can count on and two talented question marks. And of course there’s always the looming specter of Mike Soroka getting healthy, assuming that ever happens.

Taking the ball from the starters is the Night Shift, most of whom are back to haunt opponents (Luke Jackson’s recent injury notwithstanding).

Will Smith, Tyler Matzek, and AJ Minter all return, joined now by the former Dodgers fireballer Kenley Jansen, and the bullpen looks to be in great shape yet again.

As for the plate and the field: the roster really doesn’t look so massively different as it did at the end of season; with one large, aforementioned exception.

Travis d’Arnaud returns as the backstop with William Contreras along with him (Manny Pina is also on the roster for the time being, as teams start the year with two extra players due to a shortened Spring Training).  d’Arnaud is in the second year of his two-year extension in 2022, which didn’t quite pay off last season as he followed up a stellar 2020 with an injury-plagued 2021.

He’s shown that he is capable of hitting the ball when he’s healthy, so the Braves will have to hope he stays on the field. If Contreras is the heir apparent for next season, he’ll need to get more at-bats and have better ones too.

That being said, if the rest of the lineup does their job, the catchers will just need to catch. The infield is as full of firepower as ever, with Austin Riley, Dansby Swanson, and Ozzie Albies all back to try and top their 33, 27, and 30 home run campaigns from last year.

Matt Olson, far from a scrub replacing Freeman, would have led the team in homers last year with 39.

The outfield is a little more of a mess, but not necessarily a troublesome one. Eddie Rosario and Adam Duvall are back and will certainly hold their own at the plate and in the field.

The real question mark is who fills in for a few weeks until Ronald Acuna, Jr. returns to the outfield? The expectation has been that Marcel Ozuna will primarily serve as the designated hitter for Atlanta this year.

Ozuna is a former center fielder (those days are behind him) who can play left field in the interim while Brian Snitker plays around with the DH and keeps his players fresh to start.

Guillermo Heredia is another option to fill in playing outfield, but with that shortened Spring I think it is likely like Ozuna rotates in and out of the outfield rather than Snit settling into a consistent lineup, at least until early May. That is when Ronald Acuna Jr. is expected to be 100% healthy.

All told, this roster had made more headlines for who isn’t on it than for who is but the players who are on this team make up a squad that is tailored to run it back to the World Series and become the first back-to-back champions in over two decades.