The Atlanta Braves Chop: Morn on the Cobb

Nov 8, 2016; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Atlanta Braves general manager John Coppolella during the MLB general managers meeting at the Omni Scottsdale Resort. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It is Thanksgiving week.  For those inclined, it is also Black Friday week.  Does that portend anything new on Sale for the Braves?  Or are those rumors a mere passing fancy?

Yes, we all want to know when the next shoe falls in the Atlanta Braves off-season edition of Build This House.  But even as news of various attempts to find frontline starting pitching have been made, we get word that the going is slow.

Here’s the word this morning from Braves’ President John Hart:

I include the second bit from Rosenthal because of the odd-sounding finish to Hart’s money quote.

Mindful of not accelerating [their] rebuild too quickly“… that is a statement almost demanding a follow-up for clarity.

Before the 2016 Spring Training, John Coppolella noted that the Braves’ vision for the rebuild was ‘ahead of schedule’.  I suppose we should be forgiven for the next thoughts we had as fans:  that the momentum might actually continue and we’d have a legitimately contending team in 2017… especially if a frontline starter could be acquired.

I frankly don’t get the notion of accelerating “too” quickly.

Yes – there’s the chance of leaving holes in the farm system that have to be patched with expensive veterans… oh wait, we kinda just did that with Dickey and Colon.  But it is rare (if not impossible) that you can build your entire team from just 2-3 drafts.

You will have to acquire outside talent; you will have fill gaps.  It’s part of the process.

I don’t know if Hart was just making up a line there or if there’s more to it than that.  I do believe that they “aren’t close” on dealing for a pitcher.  Those with such assets have little motivation to act early unless it’s obvious that one team has gone over the top with a trade offer… and that’s not the Braves’ style.

So I expect Coppy is staying on the hunt for seasonal bargains… but the doorbuster specials are going to be hard to come by, so don’t be too shocked if a “lesser” product doesn’t end up in the shopping cart.

Nov 2, 2016; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Salt River Rafters outfielder Dustin Peterson of the Atlanta Braves against the Scottsdale Scorpions during an Arizona Fall League game at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Braves Top 20 Prospects for 2017

JOHN SICKELS / MINORLEAGUEBALL.COM

The Braves system is very deep, particularly on the mound.

I have read John Sickels’ ratings for a number of years now.  I do recommend that you employ the link above for the full treatment from him.  But let’s check his rankings against Ben’s from last month (Ben’s rank in parentheses):

Almost the same names with only 2 changes from their respective Top 20s (Ben added Rio Ruiz [19] and Dustin Peterson [13]).

But Sickels also adds ‘grades’ to his list, and every Top 20 name gets a B- or better report card, which is remarkable.  He acknowledges that as well (not the repeated adjective below):

There is obviously an incredible amount of depth in this system, as is commonly seen. The pitching depth is incredible, though keep in mind the Rule of Five: for every five pitching prospects you have, you’re doing well if you get one actual pitcher.

He’s right on the pitching ratio, of course, which is why that mantra “There Is No Such Thing As A Pitching Prospect” (TINSTAAPP) exists.  Yet, the Braves should be acquitted for perhaps a little better odds than normal, given this group.

Anyway:  excellent report.

Jun 2, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; General view of a few fans attending the game between the Atlanta Braves and the San Francisco Giants during the 9th inning at Turner Field. The Giants won 6-0. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Opinion: Stealing home: Atlanta Braves and Cobb County kick out neighborhood residents

JASON NOTTE / COLUMNIST FOR MARKETWATCH.COM

Eminent domain is now being used to alleviate traffic around the ballpark

A sports stadium land-and-cash grab isn’t complete until someone loses their home. Isn’t that right, Cobb County, Georgia?

Cobb County’s deal to lure baseball’s Atlanta Braves from their 20-year home in Turner Field and into a suburban mall-scape of the Braves’ design has always been monstrous.

A county that couldn’t afford to pay its teachers somehow found $376 million for the Braves’ $700 million new SunTrust Park and its surrounding retail, office and residential development. When it turned out there was no way for fans to get from a nearby arts center to the ballpark, the county gleefully handed over another $10 million to build a pedestrian bridge over a highway. It prevented ballpark opponents from speaking in public meetings, it kept much of the deal secret to prevent a public vote, it diverted all parking revenue within a half mile of the ballpark to the Braves, and it gave Braves ownership — the $16 billion media conglomerate Liberty Media BATRA, -0.68%  — anything it could ever want.

Despite the fact that this terrible deal resulted in Cobb County Chairman Tim Lee being voted out of office on the ballpark issue alone, Cobb County just kept finding ways to make this deal worse. This week, it announced plans for the four-lane Windy Hill-Terrell Mill Connector road to alleviate traffic around the new ballpark site. To make this express lane to Braves revenue a reality, Cobb County informed 31 homeowners that it has to bulldoze their homes. Yes, after stealing their tax dollars and silencing their votes, Cobb County is now actively forcing people out of their homes to build a ballpark.

But just keep this in mind: Cobb County is taking tax money its citizens approved for parks, schools (the loss of 182 teachers through attrition) and other projects and is diverting it to a baseball team. It not only didn’t let taxpayers have a say in whether or not funds that go to programs available to all should be diverted to a building that only enriches private owners. It not only forced taxpayers to shell out for a ballpark that will host games they may never attend. But it’s also forcing them out of their homes just to make it slightly easier to get to that ballpark.

In fact, we aren’t sure what’s worse: Imposing a ballpark tax and forcing out residents who may never see a Braves game in their lives, or doing so to a guy who not only supported the ballpark, but dedicates his time to blogging about the Braves. At least Cobb County is keeping it equitable: Everybody is getting a terrible deal just so some politicians can say they brought the Braves to town.

[ Editor’s Note:  he’s a bit over the top, here.  First of all, let’s note the full-disclosure line at the end of this piece:

Jason Notte is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post and Esquire. Follow him on Twitter @Notteham.

Yeah – he lives over 2,500 miles away from this controversy that he’s trying to stir back up.

That said, he might have a point… except that even the blogger cited in his own piece is acknowledging… perhaps wistfully… that the Windy Hill/Terrell Mill Connector project had been on the drawing boards for a decade.

Jason Notte conveniently ignored that in his rant.  Sean Breslin, the guy losing his house, says:

Since this project is 10 years in the making, it’s hard to blame the Braves for this. The area around Cumberland Mall was getting a face lift whether the Braves came to Cobb County or not. The new I-75 managed lanes are to blame, plain and simple.

Breslin just finds it disappointing and ironic that he – as a Braves’ fan – is in the cross-hairs of this road realignment.

I can’t blame him for that.  Not in the least.

But Notte should look elsewhere to vent his frustrations with backroom Government deals… or just stick with that topic all together and leave this aspect out of the discussion. ]

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