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Atlanta Braves news and links: Storylines, prospects, and rebuilding

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2016 is almost over (phew!), which means that it’s a perfect time for retrospectives and looking towards the future as well.

Miami Marlins v Atlanta Braves Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

BRAVES NEWS

What were the five top storylines of 2016 for the Braves?

We’ve only got a few days left in 2016 (thank goodness), which means that it’s time to take a look back at what the year provided us in terms of storylines. Mark Bowman dug deep into the short-term memory banks to trudge up some important memories for the Braves in 2016 — from Fredi Gonzalez’s firing to the team’s final game at Turner Field.

McAuley rounds up his Braves prospect rankings

Throughout this week, 92.9 The Game (and friend of the site)’s Grant McAuley has been giving his take on who he feels the top 30 Braves prospects are as we head into 2017. He’s given us No. 30-11 so far, and now he’s down to the top 10. As usual, the names are familiar but it’s always interesting to see what someone thinks about a particular prospect. So if you haven’t checked his list out yet, now is the perfect time to do so.

Why did the Braves tear it all down after 2014?

Dillon decided to take a trip back to the fall/winter of 2014, which is when the Braves fired Frank Wren and installed John Hart as President of Baseball Operations. Hart and friends decided that the Braves needed to undergo a massive rebuild — one that the team is still in as we enter 2017. Meanwhile, Dillon’s goal in this article was to let you know why the Braves went into rebuild mode while also trying to figure out if the Braves can avoid having to undergo another teardown should this one fail.

Frank Wren made his share of good moves while at the helm, especially in the bullpen, but his shortcomings on draft night were just too much for the organization to overcome. Successful teams simply do not miss on their first selections with that much regularity, and they rarely forfeit the first-round picks either. Wren did both, and it crippled the farm system to the point that something had to be done.

MLB NEWS

Michael Brantley rumored to have suffered “horrific” injury

The defending AL Champions made their eye-opening run to the 2016 World Series without one of their impact players in Michael Brantley. The 29-year-old outfielder only played 11 games in 2016 due to a shoulder injury, but Cleveland is hoping that he’ll be able to be a healthy contributor for the team’s defense of the AL Pennant next year. However, Jonah Keri apparently had the scoop of the century on Brantley, saying that he’d suffered a “horrific” injury and probably wouldn’t be the same. Cleveland’s saying otherwise — in fact, they tried to shoot down the rumors on Reddit — but we’ll just have to see if Cleveland will get the normal Brantley back or just a shell of his former self.

Paul Goldschmidt and Daniel Murphy will play for USA at WBC

Jaime Garcia will have some star-studded company at the upcoming WBC, because Team USA announced that they’d landed two big names for the 2017 event. (Garcia will be pitching for Team Mexico, as previously announced.) Paul Goldschmidt and Daniel Murphy both made commitments to play for the United States at the WBC, according to Jon Morosi. This will be the first WBC for both players, but they’ll be joining a team that’s looking stronger and stronger (on paper, at least) with each passing day.

Goldschmidt will play predominately first base, his natural position. But Murphy could see time at designated hitter with Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler scheduled to play for Team USA as well.

Other Major League All-Stars scheduled to play for the U.S. include Max Scherzer, Chris Archer, Nolan Arenado, Buster Posey, Jonathan Lucroy, Brandon Crawford, Luke Gregerson and Christian Yelich.