Braves bullpen coach and 1999 NLCS MVP Eddie Perez has been busy leading Venezuela's Tigres de Aragua to the Caribbean Series, where they've already clinched a spot in the semis. Legendary Braves manager Bobby Cox has been keeping an eye on his former player, and recently gave Perez a glowing endorsement as a future manager. Perez clearly wants to be a Major League manager someday, and it'd be nice to see him get a shot in the future, even if apparently it won't be here in Atlanta.
Meanwhile, the Braves have another representative on Tigres de Aragua: Adonis Garcia. Garcia has been having a solid winter campaign (including this Grand Slam that features one of the greatest calls of a home run you will ever hear), and he's capping it off by not only participating in the Caribbean Series, but also reuniting with his brother, Jose Adolis Garcia.
The brothers were born eight years apart and now live in two different worlds, Adonis as the Atlanta Braves’ starting third baseman, Jose Adolis as a promising outfielder for Ciego de Avila, Cuba’s representative in the Caribbean Series.
On Thursday, they’ll be on opposite sides of the field for the first time as Adonis Garcia suits up for Venezuela’s Tigres de Aragua against the Cuban squad, which will be trying to avoid elimination after winning last year’s title in come-from-behind fashion.
The brothers acknowledge it won’t be just another game – Jose Adolis called it "historic’’ – regardless of the outcome. In fact, it was special just to wind up together in this yearly competition among the champions of the four major winter leagues, with Cuba joining for the third consecutive time after an extended absence.
Earlier this week, we let you know that Tom Glavine had offered to give Matt Wisler advice on his changeup. Now, things are apparently going swimmingly on that front, with the Hall of Famer recently taking time to watch the young pitcher throw off a mound during this week. Now, nobody is expecting Wisler to magically turn into a Hall of Fame-caliber ace under the tutelage of Glavine, alone, but it's definitely nice to see Wisler taking advantage of having Glavine around to be a mentor.
Yesterday, I decided to talk about tanking and the fact that, if the Braves are actually going to participate in using the tactic, then now is probably the best time to do so. They've got plenty of positive examples to follow (namely the Astros and Cubs), and it's also a good time to do it since baseball's owners are discussing ways to curtail the practice. Either way, it's clear that the Braves are sacrificing present-day success for long-term success in the future, and if they play their cards right, it could come soon.
We're getting closer and closer to the date of Pitchers and Catchers reporting for Spring Training, and now the teams themselves are getting ready to make their way down south or out west in order to be there to welcome the players. In fact, the Orioles took video of their organization packing up their truck and getting ready to head down to Florida. We're getting close, folks. Excited, yet?
The St. Louis Cardinals have been a postseason mainstay for quite some time, now. However, they'll probably find making it back to the playoffs in 2016 as tough as it's been in a while, since the top of the NL Central figures to be stacked, and other teams in the NL West are beefing up as well. However, if there's any organization in baseball that figures to be up for the challenge, it's those doggone Cardinals.
It should be noted that this kind of article has been written before, and time and time again, the reports of the Cardinals' demise were greatly overstated. The Devil Magic is strong, far stronger than many of us realize until it's too late and David Freese of all people is winning championships. Don't be surprised when Cooney or Gonzales (or both!) get Cy Young Award votes. It's just how the Cardinals operate. They make you cry and then they destroy you, and they laugh while they do it.
This could finally be the year that justice is served the trend is bucked. If they do in fact miss the playoffs, though, be afraid. They'll be back the next year, and the year after that, and many years following that one. The St. Louis farm is incredibly well stocked at the lower levels, and the Cardinals draft as well as any franchise. An absence from the postseason would be a temporary inconvenience for the most well-oiled machine in the league. Regardless of the results in 2016, the long-term view is bright.