When I first got the ESPN alert that Arizona traded for Shelby Miller, I was stoked for the Diamondbacks. They were fun as shit to bet on and watch for awhile last year. Paul Goldschmidt and the rest of their offense was fucking sick, and their starting pitchers had a ton of raw talent.
By August, though, those young pitchers just flat out collapsed. Where guys like Rubby de la Rosa and Robbie Ray would normally come into the majors as 4 and 5 pitchers who could slip back to the bullpen if they started to struggle, they had to serve as the 1 and 2 on the D-Backs and the pressure just became too much. However, now that that Arizona stole Grienke from LA and just got Miller to be ace 1b, the young arms will be in much more conducive situations to relaxing and throwing some fireballs.
I know a lot of people out there view Miller as more of a top end #2 instead of a true ace, but that’s bullshit. He was firmly in the Cy Young mix for a large chunk of last season until his run support slid from atrocious to literally nonexistent. Once he had to start going for a complete game shutout every outing, his performance started to suffer (even though he was still awesome compared to most pitchers). With arguably the best offense in the NL behind him now, he’s gonna breeze through the 20 win mark.
At the same time, after seeing what Arizona gave up in this trade, I am definitely perplexed to say the least. While the Grienke-Miller duo certainly makes them a playoff caliber team, losing the prospects they sent to Atlanta severely hinders their long term chances of World Series contention. They gave up a fucking shit load!
- CF Ender Inciarte – already one of the best leadoff hitters in baseball at only 25 years old, and a defensive beast anywhere in the outfield
- SS Dansby Swanson – #1 pick in the draft last year and is supposed to be ready for the show within the next year (btw, the D-Backs middle infield sucks ass right now)
- P Aaron Blair – solid pitching prospect (#61 overall) that’s expected to be a regular MLB starter
Dave Stewart (GM) and Tony La Russa (Chief Baseball Officer), both hired last year as first time executives, have done a lot of winning in the past as a player and manager, but I’m not so sure they’ll have the same kind of success in the front office…
It’s like they just got dealt an 8 at the blackjack table, but they’re doubling down because the dealer has a 6. It could work out (and I hope it does!), but it probably won’t. The time to get aggressive like this is when you’re already an established playoff team and on the precipice of breaking through for a title, not when you’re one year removed from having the worst record in the major leagues…
Braves GM John Coppolella, on the other hand, deserve a lot of dap for this move, especially when you peel it all the way back to its origin…
A year ago, he traded Jason Heyward (who was entering his contract year) to St. Louis for Miller and stud pitching prospect Tyrell Jenkins. He then flipped Miller for a center fielder who is just as good as Heyward, the best prospect in the game, and a top pitching prospect. That’s incredible!
When you combine this trade with the Andrelton Simmons deal that brought two solid pitching prospects plus the expiring contract of Erick Aybar, who will surely turn into a prospect or two at the next trade deadline, you gotta start thinking that the Braves will look legit soon. They’re set up perfectly to start peaking and take over the NL East right as the Mets start losing their aces to free agency and Dusty Baker’s Nats have fully collapsed.
The Atlanta sports scene is pretty sorry overall… The Hawks are never going to be considered good past the month of February and ousted their awesome GM in the dumbest coup in sports history. The Falcons hit apogee when their beloved dogfighter went to jail. And the Thrashers were laughed out of town. The Braves, on the other hand, are a franchise with at least a modicum of past success and can bring some semblance of respectability to the city. Good for Coppolella for starting to get them back on track. Atlanta is too nice and sunny to be complete losers.