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Atlanta Braves and the rise of a future MLB problem

MIAMI, FL – SEPTEMBER 18: Matt Wieters #32 of the Washington Nationals singles in the seventh inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on September 18, 2018 in Miami, Florida.  Note the number of empty seats. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

Who ya got in 2019 or 2020? Baseball’s paradigms are changing and while the Braves are positioned well during this first wave, they’ll still have to keep up with the big boys… while a bigger issue looms.

It was thanks to a weak American League that there were 3 AL teams hitting 100+ wins in 2018… and the second Wild Card team had 97.  The Atlanta Braves – with 90 wins – actually appeared (on paper) to be the weakest of the 10 playoff teams going into the post-season.

The Braves are now on the cusp, but they will need to do some serious work just to keep up this Fall… all the while there are disturbing signs along the highway of baseball’s future.

As we prepare for the shopping season – in baseball and otherwise – we are already seeing strong  hints as to what might transpire for next season:

  • the Yankees have already secured one pitching ‘ace’… and have designs on at least one more pitcher this Fall.
  • Even as I been suggesting that the Indians and Braves seem to match up well for trade talks, others have found that the Dodgers may be the team speaking with them the most… with a ‘variety of potential scenarios’ in play.
  • The Red Sox are being fairly quiet, but there really isn’t much they need to do… 108 wins is tough to improve upon, and they haven’t lost much that needs replacing other than Craig Kimbrel.
  • The Astros are indeed scrambling, having a need to replace pitching, which certainly explains why there are clinging to Forrest Whitley in all trade discussions.

Moreover, there is a curious partitioning of teams going on right now:

  • Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Phillies – teams that are actively pursuing the best of the best – with varying degrees of success
  • Astros, Braves, Indians, Brewers, – teams on the cusp, but with limited resources
  • Nationals, Mets, Rockies, Cardinals, Giants, Blue Jays – teams that have or should have resources, but are treading water while looking for direction (Angels could go here as well)
  • Cubs, Angels – teams with resources, but are roughly at their limits
  • A’s, Twins, Pirates, Rays – Teams with limited resources that are trying to figure out how to compete
  • Orioles, Arizona, Reds, Rangers, Tigers, Mariners, Padres, Royals, Marlins, White Sox* – Teams flat out rebuilding or starting to emerge from rebuilding  (* – could also be considered in the first group, but seem to be a year from that)

All of this starts making this writer wonder about the direction that baseball is heading toward… and I have some concerns.

Let’s look at what this may mean for baseball as we approach the 2020 decade and beyond.

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