Miami Marlins Series Preview: Marlins Visit Atlanta Braves

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Aug 1, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman (5) warms up before a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Marlin Maniac: The Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves got involved in a trade at the deadline. Obviously as a Marlins fan site, we know the Marlins angle. But why did the trade make sense for the Braves? Or did it?

Alan Carpenter: Here’s the deal…

1. It’s in line with the Hart/Coppolella plan: get younger (even Olivera) and controllable players, build the farm, use draft picks and international spending to get the best prospects we can find… and do so aggressively.

2. Use the draft and trades to stock pitching. Use international acquisitions for athletic, toolsy position players.

3. Use pitching surplus to fill in the gaps.

The Braves paid a huge price for Hector Olivera, but they believe in him and now finally have a 3B of the future…first one since we thought it might be Martin Prado.

Turns out a bunch of 3B options (farm or majors) just didn’t pan out, so it wasn’t for lack of trying. The market is very tight, so Olivera brings a Freddie Freeman-like hitter for $6m AAV through 2020. We’ll take that.

MM: What do you make of John Hart almost one season through his tenure in his Braves GM career?

AC: The John Trust – Schuerholz, Hart, and Coppolella – has done a remarkable job in getting this team’s farm system re-planted. They have been creative (using bad contracts coming AND going to obtain players or draft picks), they have taken advantage of aggressive/desperate/naive General Managers (*cough* San Diego), and they’ve been in the right place at the right time to harvest a ton of talent.

There’s little other ways to put it: they managed to shed Melvin Upton’s contract in whole, ‘purchased’ a Top 100 talent in Touki Toussaint, brought in out best starter (Shelby Miller) plus Tyrell Jenkins, got 6 draft picks in the first 3 rounds… I literally could go on for several more deals.

It hasn’t been perfect (Eric Stults, Trevor Cahill, Alberto Callaspo and Wandy Rodriguez), but those guys were bridges to get were we are today.

The argument for the boys at the bar would be this one: would this team have had a shot at the division with Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, Evan Gattis, and Craig Kimbrel still in the lineup. That’s a tough one. Given the Mets and Nationals, I’d have to believe ‘maybe’, but not definitively. What I do know is that Atlanta is now set up for 2016 (a year ahead of schedule) and beyond. That’s a big turnaround for what will cost just one season.

MM: What is the latest on Freddie Freeman and his injury woes this season? How about other injured Braves’ players statuses?

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AC: Freeman has tweaked his right oblique. It’s a huge disappointment coming just after getting his wrist healed after 6 weeks out.

If there’s good news, it is that it’s not the wrist again. However, this truly takes the guts out of whatever this offense might still have to it. It is a big blow.

Andrelton Simmons has a bone bruise on the thumb of his throwing hand. If he’s back for the series, it might be a PH role in game 3 or something as he’s not yet allowed to swing a bat.

Everybody else is in decent shape – reliever Jason Frasor had a shoulder problem, but haven’t heard about it being terribly serious (though he was DL’d as well).

MM: Considering the Braves moves over the off-season, are you surprised about where the Braves currently sit entering the middle of August?

AC: I think I was more surprised at the early success of the club, which then lead to disappointment that there were games ‘given away’ by the bullpen in May that could have actually landed the Braves in first place (blowing several vs. the Mets and Nationals, primarily). So while I should not be surprised at the current record, I am disappointed, given the start.

We were hoping for something around 75-77 wins. That looked to be on track until mid-June. After losing Freddie Freeman, though, the pitching was unable to carry an offense that just stopped scoring, so the inevitable slide is in progress. Of course, this has made big decisions easier – such as the two recent trades.

With 54 games remaining, there will be a lot of experimentation: I expect several September callups as players get a taste of the majors. As a result, the Braves will be pressed to hit 70 wins now.

MM: Which Brave has been the most impressive in 2015? Which Brave has been the biggest disappointment?

AC: Most impressive. Several bright spots: Cameron Maybin, AJ Pierzynski, Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe until they became Mets.

Jace Peterson is the guy. He plays hard, he produces when the AB is important, and he has impressed the coaches enough that the team felt #1 prospect Jose Peraza could be traded away. That spoke volumes.

Least Impressive. Most of these guys are already gone: Alberto Callaspo, Eric Young Jr., Trevor Cahill, Eric Stults at times. Chris Johnson is the one still with us. He just has not been able to gain any hitting traction, though until recently, his playing time has been erratic. The season he produced in 2013 has simply not been repeated… not even close.

Unfortunately for Atlanta, the ‘addition by subtraction’ plan has not panned out due to Freeman’s injury and the lost offense via trades.

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