...the Braves are about to begin a dynasty.
Hey, the article isn’t called “The Knurve to Say” for no reason! I was having a conversation with one of my buddies who’s a Braves fan the other day. As we were talking about this team, I kept getting more and more shocked when I kept talking about how good this team is and how young they are.
Let’s start with the pitching. Sure, Tim Hudson and Derek Lowe are getting up there in years. But when you think about Jair Jurrjens (25), Tommy Hanson (24), and Brandon Beachy (24), there’s elite potential in each of those guys. And don’t forget about the two guys the Braves have in AAA right now. Mike Minor is only 23 and Julio Teheran is 20! Twenty years old and he’s already tasted the majors. They also have one guy in AA named Randall Delgado who the Braves consider a top 3 prospect in their own system and he's 21. And we haven’t even gotten to who I think is the best of these prospects, Kris Medlen. If you’ll remember, Medlen got hurt at the end of last year and needed Tommy John surgery after getting hit by a batted ball. I think this could dramatically help his career because it wasn’t like there was THAT much structural damage to the elbow and the Braves were just being cautious. With basically a new arm, Medlen could be scary in the next few years.
When we look at their bullpen, Jonny Venters is 26 and he has some of the best stuff in the majors. Craig Kimbrel, 23, looks like a competent closer of the future with a big arm and great stuff. Eric O’Flaherty is another middle relief guy who is just 26 with an ERA sitting at 1.10 at the halfway point this season.
The hitting is not as promising as the pitching, but it’s still pretty darn good. Jason Heyward is only going to get better in the next few years and he will anchor this offense for a very long time. I don’t see Freddie Freeman getting much better than he is now but I can see him being a solid 25/100 guy who is a good defender and will hit in the .290-.300 range for his career. Brian McCann is only 27, but people think he’s much older since he’s been in the league for five years now. I also have to think this year is an aberration for Dan Uggla. None of his peripherals indicate a decline and his game is pretty straightforward. He’s an abnormally large man playing a relatively evasive position and I can see him performing well for the duration of his contract.
Those four guys are still very young and have enormous potential. I think the Braves have let Beachy, Minor, Teheran, and Medlan taste the majors at such a young age so they can use them as chips to make moves to shore up their offense long-term. I trust Frank Wren and I trust the Braves brand of clean and consistent baseball. They show up and get the job done, and with their youthful and talented arms, the outlook for this franchise is among the brightest in the game.
My opinion: I’ll arbitrarily say the Braves win four World Series this decade if everybody stays healthy. Why the hell not?
Thoughts from the week that was:
- I’d be remiss if I didn't mention the tragedy in Texas last week. I can’t imagine how terrible that family feels, especially the man’s son. There’s nothing good about this situation but it seems like the Texas Rangers are handling this very supportively and professionally. Hopefully some good will come of this despite it being such a terrible situation.
- Hanley Ramirez is back. Get him if you can.
- Uggla’s catching on. I think last year really spoiled Uggla owners as to his potential. Remember, before last year, he was a .250 hitter who would get his 30 home runs and 95+ RBI. In July, he’s been a .250 hitter with two dingers and five RBI. His final line will look like .230 or so, but that means he’s going to have a big second half.
- Joey Votto is overrated. Sure he’s posting an elite slash line (.325/.440/.510). Sure he’s walking a ton and scoring runs. But when push comes to shove, he’s on pace for 25 HR/100 RBI. And while fantasy owners aren't upset with those numbers, people who have drafted guys like Ryan Howard and Paul Konerko for much cheaper are getting better numbers at a much better value.
- Rajai Davis, Juan Pierre and Emilio Bonifacio are all speedsters I’m buying right now. If you can get them for cheap, have at it.
- Given J. J. Putz’s injury history the past few years, if you have David Hernandez and you have space on your bench, hang onto him. He’s been cash money for the past two weeks and he’s worth keeping around.
Joke of the week: Hot Dog walks into a bar, bartender says “we don’t serve food here.”
Have a great week everybody! Follow me @TheKnurve with questions or comments and follow fellow contributor @JCPronkFan48 for all things relief pitching-related.