Sunday, September 21, 2014

Close The Book on 2014

The Braves season ended with a whimper on Sunday.

Sure, there are still games to be played but the post season that Atlanta is so accustomed to is out of reach.  At the end of play Sunday, the Braves were eight games behind the division-winning Nationals and only a half game ahead of the Mets. Yes, only a half game ahead of the lowly Mets. The same Mets that just swept the Braves. The same Mets that the Braves always seemed to be able to beat.  Not this year.  At the beginning of September the Braves still had a shot at the wild card.  Since then they've gone 4-14.

Simply put, the Braves spent this season playing uninspired baseball. The biggest highlights of the year involved Braves players who, ironically, no longer play. Hank Aaron and the 40th anniversary of his breaking Babe Ruth's record and Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and Bobby Cox's election to Cooperstown. I hate to be the bearer of bad news folks, but the glory days are long behind us.

The finger-pointing has begun. The axes are being sharpened. Where does the blame for this sub-par season lie? The front office can't distract fans with a shiny new ball park that's over two seasons away. What should have been done differently?  What changes are in store for the team?  Who will be back?  And more importantly, who won't?

Over the years, countless people questioned many of Bobby Cox's decisions on the field and how he ran the team. I don't have enough fingers and toes to count the number I people I personally know who blame Bobby for the Braves winning only one World Series. Yet, those same people aren't saying a word about Fredi Gonzalez. I find that interesting. Is Fredi safe?  Will his coaching staff pay the price?  It always seems to be that the hitting coaches go first.  I don't think that this season is Greg Walker and Scott Fletcher's fault.  It was a group effort.  Specifically the players.

I think that more than anyone else, Frank Wren is on the hot seat. I'll preface this with the fact that I like Frank. That said, the Braves GM has made many moves that have cost the Braves dearly.  A quick, off-the-top-of-my-head list? Derek Lowe. Kenshin Kawakami. Dan Uggla. B.J. Upton. I don't even want to know the amount of money that the team wasted on these players.

And what about the players they chose not to keep. Brian McCann. I understand that one and letting him go to free agency made sense.  However, letting Tim Hudson slip away was a HUGE mistake. I'm certain that the Braves offer (if they ever got around to it) was for one year only. The Braves were playing it cautious as Huddy would be 38 at the start of the season and coming off a horrific ankle injury. However and interestingly enough, there were multiple teams that took no issue with either. Sure Huddy is 9-12 this season, but it's what the Braves gave up off the field which is much, much worse.


The Braves are the second youngest team in baseball. They need a veteran leader in the clubhouse. This season there was no one to fill that role. It showed.

I don't want to seem totally negative. Frank Wren has made some good moves. Chris Johnson and Justin Upton, even though they crashed and burned in the final month, were still good pick-ups.  Aaron Harang and Ervin Santana helped rescue the decimated pitching staff.  Alex Wood proved that he's a big league starter and that the farm teams are strong  There are good players are on the horizon but the horizon doesn't get the Braves into the 2014 post season.

The Braves take on the sad role of spoiler now. And the fans? We just sit back and wait.  Thank goodness for SEC football.

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