Some may call it "GM-speak," others may call it "delusional," and a few of you might call it "Well what is he supposed to do? Say 'Yeah man, we suck!'," but if the words of PresiGM John Hart are any indication then the Braves organization is feeling pretty confident heading into 2015.
During the Braves' whirlwind offseason of change that sent them into an apparent rebuilding mode, many people suggested that it was probably time to trade Craig Kimbrel as well. I mean, it makes sense: Why keep an elite closer when you won't have too many games to close in the first place? However, Hart and Co. have visions of grandeur in the future involving a core of Freddie Freeman, Andrelton Simmons, and Julio Teheran. Craig Kimbrel fits into those visions, so it appears that he'll be staying for the foreseeable future.
...The Braves never considered trading closer Craig Kimbrel or others from the core of young players they signed to long-term contracts last spring, including first baseman Freddie Freeman, shortstop Andrelton Simmons and starting pitcher Julio Teheran.
"Do a lot of things have to come together? Are we in a tough division? Yes, yes," Hart said. "But I don’t think that anybody came in with the idea or even discussed that we were going to blow this thing up. We held onto our core guys all winter. We never discussed them. We’re not looking to run up the white flag and not compete.
On Sunday, we got the news that local Braves goat B.J. Upton had decided to start using his birth name again, which is Melvin Upton Jr. Yesterday, he explained the reasoning behind the name change, and no, it wasn't to confuse you into thinking that the Braves cut him.
"This has nothing to do with starting a new chapter," he told reporters. "I just wanted to. My father thought enough to give me his name, so why not?"
Upton will use his birth name this season after long going by B.J., short for Bossman -- his father Manny's nickname -- Junior. Upton's full name is Melvin Emanuel Upton.
Upton said Monday that most of his friends already call him "Mel or Melvin."
"Nobody really calls me B.J., except at the stadium," he said.
Although he says it's not about starting a new chapter, this seems like as good of a time as any to try for a fresh start. Shoot, if it works out then I might start using my birth name on here.
The top 4 spots in the Braves rotation figure to be locked down, with Teheran, Alex Wood, Mike Minor, and Shelby Miller holding down the fort on that front. The 5th spot is wide open, and James Russell is one of the MANY pitchers at Braves camp who will be trying to earn that 5th spot. He'll probably be right back in the bullpen this season, but that's a good mentality to have just in case he'll be used as a long relief guy.
Full disclosure: Every time I see Jason Heyward wearing any sort of St. Louis Cardinals gear, it feels that same redbird in the Cardinals logo has jumped out of the screen and is pecking away at my heart. It still hurts, folks. Digression aside, Heyward had an interesting comment to make about his position as a leadoff hitter for the Braves.
"You feel like there’s a governor on you and you’re not letting it ride," Heyward said. "You have to think of other ways."
Consider the governor released.
The Cardinals want Heyward to "feel free."
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, who rarely makes declarations about his lineup in February, said he has no intention of hitting Heyward leadoff this season. He told the new right fielder that much after talking with Heyward about the hitter he’d like to be. Heyward has been candid about how he felt batting first for the Braves last season – while necessary – limited his approach and contributed to a decline in slugging even as it increased his walk-rate.
There's always two sides to every story, so I'd love to hear what the Braves would have to say about this. That being said, we'll probably never hear the Braves side of things, so now all we're left to do is ponder 'what if,' and read fangraphs articles on the subject.
New MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has been busy this offseason, most obviously with the new rules aimed at improving the pace of the game. While he's more focused on improving that part of the game, and the Commissioner at least has an eye on trying to improve the pace of the season in general. Obviously, that would mean shortening the season, and reportedly, Commissioner Manfred is open to shortening the season to 154 games. Our friends at SB Nation MLB make note in the article of the fact that less than 9% of all MLB players appeared in 150 or more games last season, so this would probably be a welcome change if it happened.
After what was surely a pretty fierce battle for the Cuban prospect's signature, the Red Sox have come out of the fray having earned the services of Yoan Moncada. The initial deal will be worth $31.5 MM, and Boston will also have to pay a 100% tax, which means that they had to pay an extra $31.5 MM on top of that. However, should Moncada end up being all that scouts project him to be, then this is probably going to be a worthwhile investment for the Sawx.