Now that Alex Anthopoulos has sprinkled his magic dust on the Braves roster, the real baseball season can begin. We found out last year that the Braves don’t always put it on until we start smelling football in August.
And just like last year, they will play the final two months with more reinforcements from their general manager.
Anthopoulos is good at it. He once again made a series of trades without pissing anyone off on the price. Well, okay, Jesse Chavez had played so well you hated to see him go.
But to trade Chavez and Tucker Davidson, a fringe prospect who had a career 5.11 earned run average in his nine MLB games, for another team’s closer? Yeah, that was funny.
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The Braves are now positioned for another run in October. There are no guarantees in the baseball postseason. A team simply needs to warm up to win the trophy. All you can do is have a roster that will have a chance and then let the games happen. Yes, that’s all you can do.
This roster has a chance, as good as any defending champion in recent years. It’s hard to believe that this year’s roster is actually better than what the Braves had last year when they won it all, but they are. The starting rotation is stronger, deeper (like six deep), the bullpen is now ridiculously strong, and the lineup can sometimes be the best in the sport.
While Braves fans everywhere should owe Will Smith a debt of gratitude for what he did last October, he had to go. And for the Braves to get Jake Odorizzi, a solid middle-of-the-rotation starting pitcher was truly incredible.
Smith had slipped so far behind AJ Minter, Tyler Matzek and the incredibly talented Dylan Lee that some wondered if he would be let go if the Braves acquired another reliever in a trade.
Odorizzi can provide huge insurance in case one of the young starting pitchers starts to run out of gas in the dog days of summer. Maybe Kyle Wright and Spencer Strider won’t have that problem, and maybe Ian Anderson will continue to play the way he threw on Sunday.
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But if not, Odorizzi will be here to pitch doubleheaders and split innings to keep everyone fresh until October.
And then there’s Raisel Iglesias. Then again, the Braves approached again for a bullpen that already has one (Kenley Jansen) and will soon get another back off the injured list (Kirby Yates).
That trio ranked first (Yates), fifth (Iglesias) and eighth (Jansen) in saves in the Majors just three years ago, and now they’ll be in the same bullpen for the next few months.
Anthopoulos remembers well how the Braves won it all last year, with a stingy bullpen that got big outs in every game. Put this bullpen on paper and you’ll see perhaps the best in the game. Why change the formula if it worked last season?
Some may wonder if the Braves have done enough to improve the offense. Grossman is another lottery pick to see if he can find his bat in an Atlanta uniform.
He hit .205 for the Tigers in 273 at-bats, but remember Jorge Soler was hitting .192 for the Royals when the Braves got him last year at the trade deadline, and he hit the most important home run for the Braves this century. .
Grossman can hit lefties, though, and could be valuable in a platoon with Eddie Rosario.
The Braves need a few guys to start at the plate, and that list is headed by Ronald Acuna, Jr. Maybe he misses his friend Ozzie Albies. He may not have fully recovered from his knee injury. Maybe Acuna just needs more time to get it up to speed. And if he takes one of his tears, Acuna could have an Austin Riley-type month and put this team on his shoulders.
Marcell Ozuna is showing signs of coming on, which is much needed considering the lackluster first four months of the season. And when Albis returns, likely in September, the Braves will be better. Even with Orlando Arcia doing well, Albies has been missed – both for his presence on the field and his ability at the plate.
Finally, being led by an MVP candidate like Riley will only help. If he can keep up this torrid pace, not only will he be a prime contender for a major award for his mantle, but he could lead the Braves to another fantastic month of October baseball.
Oh, and those two Atlanta boys, first baseman Matt Olson and shortstop Dansby Swanson, are pretty good too.
The Braves’ 39-14 record in June and July proved they were ready to make another run at it. Then, in recent days, Anthopoulos again rewarded the team that was close with trades to make the roster better.
Will they repeat? Who knows?
Who ever knows about a baseball postseason?
But the Braves looked ready to have a chance, that’s all you can ask for.
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This article originally appeared in the Athens Banner-Herald: Atlanta Braves trade deadline moves make them World Series contenders