MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – A little over two years ago, the Braves were a mess.
They had just finished a disappointing 2014 season. The farm system was in the worst shape it had been in for decades. The future did not look bright. Then Frank Wren, the general manager, got fired. The new guys in charge, specifically John Coppolella, decided to start over. Coppy, as he is called, believed the only way for the Braves to get back to what they used to be was to start over.
So Coppy has made a ton of trades, focused on pitching, fired his manager and now – in two short years – the Braves once again have a future. The hope for this season is the team will be better than it was a year ago, which won’t take much since the Braves won 68 games.
But let’s be honest, the Braves had a winning record after the All-Star Break and were 20-10 in the last 30 games. So the expectations are higher than normal for a team that is coming off a 68-win season. They’ll be better this year. I am confident in that. But what’s so exciting is the future for this team, which does start Monday with the beginning of the season.
The farm system has gone from next-to-last in the rankings to number one. The Braves are loaded with talent, with pitching and position player prospects. The depth that has been accumulated will allow the Braves to make trades to improve the major league roster. At some point, the Braves are going to make a huge trade. It might be during this season or next winter, but the talented farm system will allow the team to get better. And, the young players have a chance to come up and make a contribution this season. Players like Ozzie Albies and pitchers like Max Fried and Sean Newcomb could be in Atlanta this summer.
Just think about how good the middle infield will be when Albies joins shortstop Dansby Swanson. The Braves have a nice mix of veterans – like Matt Kemp, Nick Markakis and Brandon Phillips – along with a talented young core – led by first baseman Freddie Freeman, Ender Inciarte and Swanson.
It’s a good team, a good roster, and it might even be a great roster by season’s end. But this season is not just about this season. It’s about the Braves taking that next step in getting this organization back to where it was in the 1990s. That’s what the fan base wants, especially with the new stadium in Cobb County.
So enjoy this season knowing the Braves should be better and that the future, down the road, is very bright. The rebuilding process has worked. Now, we just have to see the Braves win more games.