Despite all signs pointing towards this particular rebuilding process taking longer than the repeatedly-stated goal of contention by 2017, it appears that the higher-ups in the Braves organization are still targeting the Braves' first season in Cobb County as the time when they'll start to really go for it. Braves CEO Terry McGuirk recently spoke with the Atlanta Business Chronicle and claimed that the team will start to see major payroll increases by 2017. Again, with the way the rebuild is currently going, I'll believe it when I see it. I think the tweet below by Hardball Talk writer Craig Calcaterra sums it up nicely.
ABC: If revenues increase like expected, will payroll increase?
TM: Absolutely. We are not going to be the Los Angeles Dodgers, which have become unsustainable. The Dodgers' operating theory is so unsustainable that they themselves have said, "We’re going to reduce $100 million of payroll." It’s crazy what they did and they now know it. New owners do this. Almost every time baseball has a new owner they sort of go haywire and then they come back down. We’ve been in the middle of the pack as far as payroll — that’s not where we want to be going forward. We’re going to be much better.
ABC: Can we expect to see a top 10 payroll team?
TM: I think that’s where we want to be. I think we would expect ourselves to be. The proof is in the pudding. We have to have all of this coalesce and work. Our confidence level is so high that it’s as close to being in our plans as we can get it right now as far as our operating plan and how everything we are doing.
ABC: When can we expect to see the Braves in the top 10 in terms of payroll?
TM: I won’t give you a timetable, but you will start seeing major jumps 1/1/17.
Underrated McGuirk line re: seeing big payroll jumps "1/1/17." As if the baseball calendar is lined up with the actual calendar.— Craig Calcaterra (@craigcalcaterra) November 16, 2015
Meanwhile, there are growing concerns that we probably won't bee seeing any recognizable names in the present-day by the time the Braves actually make the big move to Cobb County. FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Braves are "shopping everyone owed money," and that includes the current face of the franchise, Freddie Freeman. Although the Braves are clearly in a rebuilding process right now, it's just that -- a rebuild. Trading Freeman would basically be hitting the nuke button on the franchise. Meanwhile, I think there's a pretty solid chance that we'll see Cameron Maybin and even Julio Teheran moved. After the Simmons trade, anything's possible.
The action at baseball's Fall and Winter Leagues is still going strong, and one of the prospects that's turning heads and burning up the radar gun is pitcher Mauricio Cabrera. He's still topping 100-mph on the radar gun on a regular basis. Although he's still dealing with command issues, if he can get it together, then watch out.
Cabrera, who turned 22 in September, has pitched five minor league seasons since signing with the Braves as a Dominican teen, including four seasons in the U.S. He reached Double-A for the first time last summer, his progression slowed by command issues. The Braves moved him from starting to relieving in his third season.
He has a 4.35 ERA in 113 career games (50 starts) in the minors, with 275 strikeouts and 174 walks in 322 2/3 innings. His strikeout rate has climbed as he’s grown and last season he had 53 strikeouts and 35 walks in 48 1/3 innings in 36 appearances, including 13 at Double-A Mississippi.
"He’s a special arm," Braves general manager John Coppolella said. "He’s 98-102 (mph), but there’s not a lot of effort. He’s easy. It’s like he’s playing catch and, boom, 102."
Over the weekend, the Boston Red Sox made waves during the Hot Stove season by trading a handful of prospects to the San Diego Padres in exchange for former Braves lockdown-closer, Craig Kimbrel. The crew over at Beyond the Box Score believes that the Red Sox may have paid a bit too much for Kimbrel. With that being said, betting on prospects is always a gamble (as us Braves fans are going to learn all about in the recent future), and the Sawx may not complain about the heavy price soon if this is the first move that leads to a winning team returning to Boston soon.
Meanwhile, the Padres may not be done. They're reportedly trying to move RHP Tyson Ross and OF Matt Kemp. Those two moves would indicate that the Padres are going into full-rebuild mode, which is crazy considering that just a year ago, they were the darlings of the Hot Stove season and it seemed as if they were going to be one of the contenders in the 2015 season. Life comes at you fast.