MLB Preview — The Braves and the Rebuild

Atlanta is at the tail end of a long rebuild, but not quite to contender level

Parts of a rebuild seem pretty easy from the outside. Teams that want to blow everything up need to trade away veterans for prospects, and avoid signing veterans to long-term contracts. This will inherently suppress immediate wins, leading to higher draft picks, leading to better prospects, leading to a brighter future.

But of course, the job of any major league GM is incredibly difficult and complicated, and managing expectations on the tail end of a rebuild may be the hardest part. For the Atlanta Braves, that’s where they are. The team has gotten to the point where they’re actually trying to be good again, but the talent development isn’t at the point where an 80 or 90 win season is remotely realistic. With a new stadium and plenty of fans longing for success, that has to be a difficult situation to be in.

Credit — Baseball-Reference

Fortunately, at least, there’s plenty for Atlanta fans to cheer for right now. Bartolo Colon is one of the most exciting players to watch right now (he’s something of a folk hero), and youngsters like Dansby Swanson carry the promise of an exciting future. Even if the team doesn’t have a high ceiling in 2017, 2018 and 2019 are looking brighter by the day. Plus, even in defeat yesterday, Julio Teheran looked excellent.

The opening day loss wasn’t a surprise, especially against one of the best pitchers in baseball. And even if the season’s first win doesn’t arrive for a while, Atlanta still has plenty of promise. It’s just not quite here yet.

Game of the Day: Chicago (Cubs) at St. Louis

After a St. Louis victory to start off the season, this should be a fun one. Plus, the pitching matchup — Arrieta vs. Wainwright — is also enticing. The Cardinals have plenty of question marks both right now and in the future, but picking up a second consecutive win against their rivals would be a nice start. For the Cubs, this is a chance to bounce back and avoid an 0–2 record.

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