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Atlanta Braves news and links: All eyes on the future

From trying to predict what the 2016 team will look like, to evaluating one of the team's top prospects, and finally trying to evaluate the returns of a trade that focused on the future, all eyes were on 2016 and beyond for the Atlanta Braves.

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What will the 2016 Braves lineup look like?

Yesterday, we decided to put on our Nostradamus hats and try to figure out what the optimal Braves lineup will be for 2016. Here's Scott's idea of what the team may look like in its final season at Turner Field (which they'll officially leave on December 31st, 2016):

Jace Peterson, 2B
Cameron Maybin, CF - Value was once at an all-time high. With recent regression, think Atlanta hangs onto him for a while to give Mallex Smith more seasoning in Gwinnett.
Freddie Freeman, 1B
Hector Olivera, 3B
Nick Markakis, RF
Jonathan Lucroy, C - He's cheap, good and under control through 2017. Brewers are rebuilding. Would cost a lot.
Andrelton Simmons, SS
Michael Bourn, LF - Can't see Atlanta spending $100M+ for Upton, Cespedes or Gordon. Temporary in-house solution.
Shelby Miller, P - Means the Braves will start 0-1.

If you've got any ideas, be sure to take a trip to the comments section of this post, if you haven't already.

What about Mallex Smith?

One of the players in the Braves' organization who might have a shot at showing off his skills at the Major League level in 2016 is outfielder Mallex Smith. Smith's had a rapid rise through the minor leagues since he arrived in the Braves' system via trade, and there's definitely a lot of promise and potential here. But what exactly do the Braves have here? Our friends over at Minor League Ball tried to figure it out.

The question is how can help the Braves? Smith has the tools to be a solid starting outfielder in the big leagues, and could benefit having someone like Michael Bourn back in the organization as a mentor. Hopefully he won't be a Vince Coleman-esque player, whose stolen bases became the only redeeming factor of a hitter who rarely approached a .290 batting average or .350 OBP.

Braves are pitching it back to the 90s with rebuilding plan

It's pretty obvious that the Braves are rebuilding with a focus on the pitching staff, in an effort to replicate the absurd amount of success that they had with the three-headed dragon of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz back in the good-ol' days of the 90s. Although the Braves probably don't have three budding Hall-of-Famers in their system (or at least we don't know that for sure, yet), they're trying their best to make sure that the new pitching talent they do have in tow is good enough to turn the Braves back into a winner.

An assessment the Miller-Heyward trade

We're nearing the end of the season, which means that it's time to start taking a look back at some trades and how they've turned out after nearly one season of play. Some trades may take a while to evaluate, but there are some where you might be able to declare a winner already, and it's looking like the Braves may be on their way to winning the Shelby Miller/Jason Heyward trade. This isn't to say that Heyward's played badly for the Cardinals. Far from it, in fact; Heyward's hitting .289/.346/.429 with 115 wRC+, and a "decent" 13 DRS and 11.8 UZR. However, the Cardinals and Heyward appear to be a stalemate when it comes to contract negotiations, which means that the Cardinals could lose him via free agency. Meanwhile, the Braves appear to have a solid pitcher in Shelby Miller under control, and also have a solid prospect in Tyrell Jenkins to boot. Our friends at ATL All Day summed it up pretty nicely:

The Cardinals traded two key pieces of their organization for one-year rentals, essentially. All in all, the Atlanta Braves were able to shed expiring, expensive contracts for young arms with years of club control. If the Cardinals have any hope in trying to salvage the trade, they will need to at least re-sign Heyward. It is safe to say that the Braves won this deal, although hindsight is 20/20.

Today is the eighth anniversary of Bobby Cox becoming the all-time ejection king

The headline says it all: It's been eight years since Bobby Cox got thrown out of a game for the 132nd time of his career, which broke the record and made him the king of that statistic. Today, we refuse to tip our caps. No, today we kick our caps (and a little dirt, as well).

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Check out the minor league recap


Old Braves/New Dodgers aren't exactly tearing it up in LA

It's still way too early to evaluate the mega-deal that brought Hector Olivera to Atlanta from the Dodgers, but in these extremely early stages, the former Braves who are now wearing Dodger Blue are feeling the blues right now. Our friends over at True Blue LA took a look at the stats for Alex Wood, Jim Johnson, Luis Avilan (and Mat Latos), and it's been so far, so bad for that crew:

The results so far have not been good, obviously. They will almost certainly get better, though I do wonder how much of that is wishful thinking at this point.

But the numbers have been so spectacularly bad that I just wanted to chronicle the combined numbers for the quartet to date, just for posterity sake more than anything:

35⅓ innings, 48 hits, 35 runs, 34 earned runs, 15 walks, 33 strikeouts, 8.66 ERA, 1.783 WHIP, 4.49 FIP.


Hawk Harrelson says White Sox are a better team than the Royals

The Braves' TV crew of Chip Caray and Joe Simpson aren't exactly the most popular duo in Braves Country, but we should consider ourselves blessed that we don't have the White Sox's TV crew. That's right: Ol' Hawk is at it again, and this time his latest hot take has to do with trying to figure who's the better baseball team: The defending American League Champions and current holders of the best record in the AL, the Kansas City Royals; Or the team that's 13 games behind them, the Go-Go White Sox! I'll give you one chance at trying to figure out who Hawk thinks is the better team between the two. Our sabermetrically-inclined friends over at Beyond the Box Score decided to break this down in all facets of the game. Again, I'll give you once chance at trying to figure out who's really the better team here.

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