Legendary scout Bill Wight's legacy lives on in Atlanta's pitching-rich rotation, but should the Braves trade from strength to address a weakness?
The Braves have too many young starters—a statement as timeless as any in baseball, right up there with "the Pirates hope to have a winning season” or “the Yankees lead the league in payroll.” Some things in baseball are destined to stay the same. Atlanta’s evergreen supply of young arms seems to be one of them.
Often, when a person joins a team just as it begins to do something well, he or she is identified as the catalyst for that change. That John Schuerholz has become the iconic figure behind the Braves’ pitching dominance is no surprise. Blossoming starting pitchers shaped Schuerholz’s legacy as much as, or perhaps more than, any other group of players did.
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Wrapping up the JAWS rankings for this year's Hall of Fame eligibles.
Finally, we come to the pitchers on the BBWAA ballot for the Hall of Fame, a mercifully short list this time around, featuring four holdovers and three newcomers. Among this group, Bert Blyleven is the standout, and while he's certainly no lock to gain election this time around, he jumped to nearly 62 percent in last year's vote, suggesting that the work done by statheads here and elsewhere to boost his candidacy is finally getting through to the voters.
Chivalry rules as participants practice bowing in and out of the Teixeira sweepstakes, the new Phillies outfielder is the little train who thinks he can, and the Rangers prepare for a deadly experiment.
THE GREATEST TRICK THE DEVIL EVER PULLED WAS LYING ABOUT AN UNDISCLOSED OFFER FROM A MYSTERY TEAM
Frank Wren has taken over for longtime General Manager John Schuerholz in Atlanta, and is looking to restore the franchise to its division-winning ways.
One of the most impossible jobs in sports is following a legend. Frank Wren has been around baseball long enough to understand that, for he began his career as an outfielder in the Montreal Expos' farm system in 1977. However, Wren has willingly put himself into that position this season. Wren is in his first year as the Atlanta Braves' general manager, taking over for the legendary John Schuerholz, who took on the role of club president last October. Wren, who spent seven years as Schuerholz's assistant, is replacing a man who has 16 division titles, six league championships, and two World Series crowns to his credit in 27 years as a GM with the Kansas City Royals and Braves. Yet, Wren does not feel any trepidation in following Schuerholz. In fact, he is in a comfort zone.
"I didn't think twice when John asked me if I would be interested," Wren said. "Normally, you might step back and give pause about replacing someone as great as John. However, we've worked together so long and have the same ideas about how to run a baseball operation that it just seemed like the logical step to take. There was no reason to hesitate. I'm an extension of John and I just want to continue on the great legacy he left as GM."
Turnover in the front office and with the big-market-success paradigm makes for interesting times ahead.
Before the season started, this website ran a series of team previews called "Hope and Faith" in which the writers gave a scenario in which each of the 30 major-league clubs could win it all in 2007. That series title was a play on one of Commissioner Bud Selig's favorite phrases, in which he likes to say fans can now use that phrase more than ever because Major League Baseball's revenue-sharing plan has brought about parity.
While fans in places like Pittsburgh, Kansas City and St. Petersburg might have a problem buying into hope and faith, the participants in this year's League Championship Series show that a large payroll does not automatically guarantee a team an invitation to October. In fact, three of the four teams still standing began the season with payrolls among the eight lowest in the major leagues. The Indians ranked 23rd among the 30 clubs at $62 million, while the Rockies were 25th at $54 million, and the Diamondbacks were 26th at $52 million. The Red Sox are the last of the big spenders still playing, as their Opening Day payroll of $143 million was second in the majors only to the $190 million spent by the Yankees, who have already been knocked off by the Indians in the ALDS.
As Andruw Jones plays out what could be his last season in Atlanta, are the Braves fit to return to the playoffs?
What happened last year was anything but ordinary. Come to think of it, winning the division is the only thing that's been a constant in Atlanta in the new century. There was a full five years, and one strike-shortened year before the Bronx returned to glory. From 1991 through 1999, Atlanta won a World Series, five National League pennants, and eight division titles.
John talks with Braves GM John Schuerholz, who describes his approach towards player evaluation.
John Schuerholz thinks back to his early days as a general manger with the Kansas City Royals and smiles.
"We had a scout named Tom Ferrick, who had pitched for the New York Yankees and was a man I admired greatly," Schuerholz said recently, sitting in his office at the Atlanta Braves' spring training camp at Disney's Wide World of Sports in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. "And Tom used to always tell me that statistics don't lie."
Jay wonders how much young talent the Braves traded away during their impressive decade-plus reign over the NL East.
Lo and behold, the Braves are at it again, having recently zoomed past the Washington Nationals and into first place, swinging the balance of power in the NL East by about 10 games in the standings over a six-week period and doing so with a roster that's included as many as 10 rookies. Most notably, Jeff Francoeur has hit a whopping .397/.405/.781 with seven homers in his first 21 games, Wilson Betemit has hit .307/.360/.474 while covering for an injured Chipper Jones, and Kyle Davies has stepped into a rotation that's had as many as four starters on the DL and has been better than league-average. Meanwhile, Schuerholz made one of the few notable deals at a quiet trading deadline, acquiring gas-throwing reliever Kyle Farnsworth for Roman Colon and Zach Miner, two live arms who may or may not amount to much in Detroit and points beyond.
Trading tomorrow's talent for a shot at today's pennant is a common strategy, of course, and it's worth a closer look to see how a given team fares in those exchanges. Last summer, as the trading deadline approached, I examined the track record of the Yankees front office in light of the previous year's Brandon Claussen-for-Aaron Boone deal. Rather than be concerned with who the Yanks received in return or whether they "won" a particular trade based on some VORP- or WARP-related accounting, I focused on another issue: how well did the players they traded turn out?
Nate Silver weighs in with an in-depth book review of Bill Shanks' "Scout's Honor" and its look at the Atlanta Braves' organizational philosophy.
I don't need to tell you what came next. Whether it was the Reverse Curse of Bart Simpson or something else, the Braves have been the most successful franchise in baseball ever since. For my money, in fact, the Braves' performance during the past 15 seasons has been the second-most remarkable sustained run of success in baseball history, behind only the two-pronged Yankee dynasty of 1920-1964. I'm a big fan of everything that the Braves have done, and of the way that they do business.
The Cubs shuffle through pitching options, the Brewers have one of the most interesting rosters in the game, and the Dodgers fight through injuries as they try to stay in the race. This and much more in Transaction Analysis.