When the Atlanta Braves were eliminated in the 2018 Division Series against the Dodgers last season there was a feeling of disappointment but also that it was ultimately ok because many felt they had arrived early. After dropping Game 5 on Wednesday, the disappointment remains but a lot of the positive vibes have disappeared. I’m writing this 24 hours after the fact and this loss still hurts about as bad as it did yesterday. That will subside at some point and our attentions will turn to the offseason and 2020 but for now the pain is still there.
The day after elimination players clean out their lockers and set off for their various offseason destinations. It also brings one final press conference to put a final bow on the 2019 season. Brian Snitker and Alex Anthopoulos addressed the media on Thursday and discussed a myriad of topics including if there was anything they would change if they could, the decision to hold Mike Soroka until Game 3 and the pending free agency of third baseman Josh Donaldson.
Donaldson had himself quite a season in Atlanta. The Braves struck early nailing him down on a one-year $23 million deal in November. By the time spring training opened many had forgotten how much of an impact signing that was. For the first six to eight weeks of the season social media and comment sections were filled with hypothetical trade scenarios to send Donaldson elsewhere for usually bullpen help. After hitting 37 home runs, and producing 4.9 fWAR while displaying much better than advertised defense at third base, Donaldson won over the fanbase.
Atlanta want’s to retain Donaldson for next season but doing so will require a much greater financial commitment for a player who will turn 34 in December. Anthopoulos told reporters that he thinks Donaldson will want to remain with the Braves but again we will just have to wait and see if both sides can reach an agreement.
Fallout and reaction from the NLDS
- Jeff Schultz - The Athletic: Good vibes that followed Braves’ playoff exit last season are gone
- Mark Bradley - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: The Braves have a nucleus. They also have work to do
- Harry Lyles Jr. - SB Nation: The Braves convinced me that the 1996 Summer Olympics curse is real
More Braves News
- The other big story from Wednesday was the retirement of catcher Brian McCann after 15 years in the majors. McCann will long be remembered for his time in Atlanta and he ranks right up there along with Javy Lopez as the best catchers to ever put on the uniform.
- Braves outfield prospect Drew Waters and minor league reliever Caleb Thielbar were named to USA Baseball’s Premier 12 roster that will attempt to qualify for the 2020 Olympics.
- The Houston Astros avoided a first round exit Thursday night with a 6-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays to advance to the ALCS where they will face the New York Yankees. Gerrit Cole was dominant again allowing two hits and one run over eight strong innings while striking out 10.
- The Cardinals have set their rotation for the NLCS which will get underway Friday in Washington. Miles Mikolas and Adam Wainwright will start Games 1 and 2. Jack Flaherty and Dakota Hudson are scheduled for Games 3 and 4 back in St. Louis.
- Anibal Sanchez will get the start in Game 1 for the Nationals but the rest of their rotation plans are still to be determined. Kurt Suzuki had to leave Game 5 early but is expected to be in the lineup for Game 1. Victor Robles status for Game 1 remains up in the air as he continues to struggle with a strained hamstring.
- The Phillies finally announced on Thursday that Gabe Kapler will not return as the team’s manager for next season. Kapler went a combined 161-163 in his two seasons on the bench. Owner John Middleton released the following statement in regards the decision.
“Several years ago, I promised our loyal fans that I would do everything in my power to bring a world championship team to our city,” Middleton said in a statement. “I will never waver from that commitment. During the second half of this season and continuing into this week, I have evaluated our organization extensively, a process that included talking to many people both internally and around the league. Reassuring to me was the endorsement that people outside the Phillies gave to the progress we have made recently, both organizationally and on the field. Nevertheless, with the knowledge that I have gained from my evaluation, combined with my personal reflection on the 2019 season, I have decided that some changes are necessary to achieve our ultimate objective.”
- The San Diego Padres have reportedly narrowed their search for their next manager and interviewed former Angels skipper Brad Ausmus on Wednesday. Rangers player development field coordinator Jayce Tingler and Braves third base coach Ron Washington are also thought to be candidates.
- The Los Angeles Dodgers fell in disappointing fashion in the NLDS to the Washington Nationals. Despite some speculation otherwise, reports suggest that Dave Roberts will return as the team’s manager in 2020.
- Pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. and first base coach Trey Hillman will return to the Marlins in 2020 but third base coach Fredi Gonzalez is moving on to “explore other options.” Gonzazlez reportedly has interest in the Phillies opening.
- The Mets will interview Twins bench coach Derek Shelton next week for their managerial opening. It was previously reported that New York intends to interview former manager Joe Girardi, ex-outfielder Carlos Beltran and Diamondbacks Vice President of player development Mike Bell.
- Former Cubs manager Joe Maddon is still thought to be the front runner but the Los Angeles Angels continue to conduct interviews with other candidates. Buck Showalter and John Farrell have both reportedly spoken with Angels’ officials this week as well as one other unnamed candidate.