LIVE: Braves (or what’s left of them) open season vs. Marlins

John Hart greeted Melvin Upton Jr in spring training but was happy to get rid of him Sunday. (AP photo)

John Hart greeted Melvin Upton Jr in spring training but was happy to get rid of him Sunday. (AP photo)

John Hart greeted Melvin Upton Jr in spring training but was happy to get rid of him Sunday. (AP photo)

MIAMI – John Hart may have been less than truthful every time he said he would not trade closer Craig Kimbrel, but the Braves’ president of baseball operation at least didn’t try to hide the obvious Monday.

“People don’t have to try to read anything into this,” he said, a few hours before the Braves’ were scheduled to open the season against Miami. “This trade doesn’t make us better, that’s for sure. And the sheer timing of it is difficult.”

Timing may have been the worst aspect of Sunday’s stunning trade that sent Kimbrel and Melvin Upton Jr. (and his contract) to San Diego. Braves’ players, organization members and fans had all winter to process the major changes in the club that including trading Jason Heyward, Justin Upton and Evan Gattis.

They had all spring to find some semblance of stability and prepare themselves for the season.

Then everybody was hit over the head again with a mallet — and on the eve of the season. Kimbrel was a great player, popular teammates, a good guy and active in the community.

In the end, is trading a great closer from a team that most project will win only 70 to 75 games going to make a significant difference? The Braves certainly may lose more games now because they don’t have Kimbrel and the depth in the back of the bullpen takes a hit. But in the end they probably weren’t going to make the playoffs anyway.

The issue is more about perception and the message the front office is sending before the team even throws its first pitch or takes its first swing.

Hart maintains he was not going to trade Kimbrel – at least not now – until San Diego general manager A.J. Preller phoned him Tuesday or Wednesday and expressed a willingness to take Upton and the remaining $46 million on his contract. But what about that message everybody in the organization had been trying to send that there was still an expectation of this club competing? What about those “parallel lines” Hart said the team was walking, with an eye on both the future and today?

Hart didn’t completely back away from that Monday but he said he understands the backlash and expected it.

“It’s not the ideal time,” he said. “But it’s the right thing for the organization.”

Manager Fredi Gonzalez echoed those sentiments when asked if the trade was contrary to the message that had been articulated: “Not in my mind. Our goal is to get to the playoffs, whether it’s a wild-card or a play-in game or whatever. That doesn’t change one bit. What changes a little bit it how do you get to that ninth inning (because of bullpen depth).”

On the whole, Braves players seemed upbeat before the game. Some of the shock and sting of losing Kimbrel may have worn off from the night before.

The team also held a pre-game meeting to clear the air and reaffirm the message about competing.

Gonzalez later: “It’s a big boy’s world. In three hours you have to go play a game.”

Pitcher Alex Wood: “It was a shock, more from a personal level. He’s one of my closest friends, so from that standpoint it was really tough. And it’s a lot of emotions going into opening day. It’s just another reminder how this game is. We’ve been through a lot of stuff this offseason, and then last night I lost somebody close to me. But we have a game today. We still have 162 inside of us and we’re excited to get started.”

It’s somewhat ironic the Braves are opening the season against the Marlins, the organization probably best known for past house-cleanings and payroll dumps. Miami is probably the second-best team in the National League East this season, behind Washington.

How different will be Braves be this season? Well, here’s their opening day lineup:

  1. Eric Young Jr. (center field)
  2. Jace Peterson (second base)
  3. Nick Markakis (right field)
  4. Freddie Freeman (first base)
  5. Christian Bethacourt (catcher)
  6. Kelly Johnson (left field)
  7. Alberto Callaspo (third base, in lieu of Chris Johnson)
  8. Andrelton Simmons (shortstop)
  9. Julio Teheran (pitcher).

This should be interesting.

MORE READING:

—A blog on the saving the payroll (dealing Upton) but what it cost Braves (Kimbrel)

—A column on the Braves’ hope that you’ll believe in their future

—A column on national perceptions and low expectations

—A column on Freddie Freeman, one of the few surviviors


Some recent ramblings from the digital jukebox
— AJC: Braves’ deal saves budget (Upton) but drives nail in season (Kimbrel)
— MyAJC: Trade reaffirms Braves’ decision to go backward before forward
— MyAJC: With expectations low, at least Braves won’t underachieve
— AJC: Hawks’ biggest nightmare: Millsap suffers shoulder injury
— MyAJC: Hawks’ turnaround started with trade of Joe Johnson — and he knows it
— AJC: (Updated) Hank Haney was right — Tiger Woods to play in Masters
— AJC: Braves’ deal for Trevor Cahill illustrates concerns about rotation
— MyAJC: Real news would be Tiger Woods making shots
— AJC: Tiger Woods’ plane in Augusta but status for Masters still uncertain
— AJC: Are Braves really second-worst team in majors (thank you, Philly)?
— AJC: Falcons will pay appropriate penalties for dumb decision
— MyAJC: Paul Millsap: The 6-8 kid who couldn’t dunk now leading Hawks
— AJC: Hawks clinch East, act like it’s no big deal (which is probably good)
— MyAJC: NBA needs to curtail resting of players
— AJC: Will Falcons, others avoid losing draft picks this year?
— MyAJC: Basketball is where Georgia State’s focus should be
— AJC: New reality at Georgia State: What Ron Hunter wants, he gets
— MyAJC: Hawks get drilled, and concerns may be growing
— MyAJC: Georgia better but still not where it needs to be
— AJC: Mark Fox returns subtle fire at Brian Gregory before tournament
— MyAJC: Gregory knows he needs to make most of his extended lifeline
— AJC: Gregory says he gave Izzo ‘everything’ he has on Georgia
— AJC: Timing is everything, as Tech keeps Gregory
— AJC: Tech expected to keep Gregory, but former coach (Hewitt) fired again
— MyAJC: Column on Quinn, Dimitroff defending moves, philosophy
— AJC: Exclusive: Q&A with Quinn, Dimitroff on Falcons’ moves
— MyAJC: Tech’s candidate pool may be thin if Gregory fired
— AJC: Tech’s decision on Brian Gregory tougher than you might think
— MyAJC: Georgia erratic but ceiling high in tournament
— AJC: NCAA tourney: Dogs should be in, Panthers must do a little more
— MyAJC: Georgia State at center of state’s hoops’ rebirth

 

Reader Comments 0

45 comments
UGA75
UGA75

The team as currently constructed couldn't win in AA. John Pinocchio Hart has destroyed this franchise deliberately, all while lying more to the fans than President Obama. I saw where someone suggested Obama wanted Hart to inspect the Iranian Nuclear sites and report back truthfully, wink wink, just as he had done to the Braves Fans.


Stingshuh?
Stingshuh?

We're undefeated!!!!!.................where are the experts?

likeitis
likeitis

oh yee of little faith.welcome to the NEW BRAVES.

DawgNole
DawgNole

Only 161 to go for an undefeated season.

Nice start to '15. Maybe they'll shock the sports world like the Hawks have. ATL fans deserve it.

Big Wally
Big Wally

Joe and Chip make it sound like they exploded for 20 runs.  It was 2 runs on 6 hits guys.  Simmer down.

LowcountryBulldawg
LowcountryBulldawg

Kimbrell who??? Ok, I kid but that was a good game to watch. 1-0 Braves!

Birdhair
Birdhair

I'm not so sure that the trade yesterday was a great one. I think we might have been best off dealing Kimbrel separately and getting a haul for him. Perhaps we could have gotten a 3-4 package deal of players and maybe one or two players who are MLB ready. I hope that we shopped Kimbrel and understood what the potential return would be before pulling the trigger on this deal. We need the talent and not so much the $ right now. What good is the freed funds for us right now? Adding a big name player isn't going to push us into playoff contention. Of course, freed money is always good and helpful, but its not what we need right now. We need the players to develop.Will Liberty allow us to put the saved funds away so that we can use them when the time is right to spend?


I probably would have dealt Kimbrel separately and just cut Melvin and eaten the $. I suspect the net return and usefulness would have been greater given our current situation. 


Looking at this deal, why did we cut Quentin? He's had some injury problems and was bad last year, but look at previous 4 year's production. Not too bad. He's been a decent player when healthy and could have been used as trade bait if he played well with us. I know we can still deal him after a DFA but we're selling low. Btw. Maybin sucks.

PalmBeachFalcon
PalmBeachFalcon

@Birdhair  As one national baseball writer said: Braves traded Kimbrel for 53M, 2 prospects, and a #41 draft pick.  Nationally, among people in the biz that don't have their hearts involved, this trade is seen as a great one for Atlanta

Iknownussing
Iknownussing

all you people that don't know anything need to realize that it takes time to get us out of the many years of disaster that Frank Wren had sewn.  These moves will all pay out.  You got to love the hustle already, but like everyone, I will miss Kimbrell.  A great player and person. unlike his trademate, BJ Flopton.


Jerry916
Jerry916

Why is Fredi leaving Teheran in the game?  It's the 1st of 162, he's completed 6 innings, and thrown 87 pitchers.  Take him out and use the vaulted bullpen that you have at your peck and call.


No need to kill his shoulder/arm in game #1.



BobbyDawg
BobbyDawg

It's just about time for Kimbrel.....................never mind.

neutral site
neutral site

Freeman and Simmons are going "man, I hope I get traded to a decent org".


As to Hart: you deflect all you wish. It's not about "timing", it's not about "lying".


It's about making a really stupid trade.


Kimbrel is a smart guy, will adapt to his age, and be in the HOF someday.


Meanwhile, we'll be looking at Gene Garbage again.

PalmBeachFalcon
PalmBeachFalcon

@neutral site  Why was that trade stupid?  Was Kimbrel going to lead us to playoffs this year? We got rid of Wren's greatest mistake, got a pitcher that is now our #2 prospect and got the #41 pick in next year's draft.

PeterNapa
PeterNapa

@PalmBeachFalcon @neutral site Our #2 prospect is only that because the farm system stinks. When the Marlins traded all of their guys they got back TOP prospects. Wisler is at best a mid-rotation guy.

PeterNapa
PeterNapa

@PalmBeachFalcon All of the major league talent traded in ALL of the trades we didn't receive anyone we know will play in the big leagues. The off season was more than this one trade.

PalmBeachFalcon
PalmBeachFalcon

Are we really going to platoon Callaspo and Johnson?


LowcountryBulldawg
LowcountryBulldawg

Heck I kinda like the idea of this ragtag group of guys. May not win 90 games, but those teams this past decade couldn't advance deep in October. Those teams where built on fools gold. They may struggle now,but let's remember how this run started in 91, high draft picks,smart trades and shrewd FA signings.

JSSN
JSSN

@LowcountryBulldawg

None of which exist with this bunch. And Wilser is not Smotlz, don't pretend he is.It is going to be interesting to see if his ailings in the PCL were a fluke!

PeterNapa
PeterNapa

@JSSN @LowcountryBulldawg That's bugging me too. These aren't top prospects. I had to laugh at Chippers "get behind the young guys" tweet. What young guys? Cahill? Markakis? Callaspo? Anyone who thinks that this is a contending team in two years is insane.

LowcountryBulldawg
LowcountryBulldawg

Yep, in '87 you targeted Smoltz for HOF when Doyle was dealing for the Tigers. Yeah players will come ask TP he won the MVP after signing as a FA for a last place team in '90. Hate to let facts get in the way of your emotionally driven arguments.

techfanforlife
techfanforlife

Someone please talk Ted into buying the Braves back 

Buzz Aldrin
Buzz Aldrin

Guess Jeff couldn't even stay awake for this one.  A rain delay in south Florida...you don't say!  And to think they even have a roof to prevent this from happening.  Money well spent I see.

Big Wally
Big Wally

Evidently the knucklehead who was fired for noisegate for the Falcons found employment working the dome in Miami.

Buzz Aldrin
Buzz Aldrin

1 inning out of the way.  Only 7 more innings until a blow save!

PalmBeachFalcon
PalmBeachFalcon

Pre-game was very cheesy.  Fitting for the Miami ownership.

Buzz Aldrin
Buzz Aldrin

Looks like a hell of a turnout here on this blog.  How are the Braves going to handle the overflow crowds this year at the Ted? At least a few of us suckers are keeping up.  1-0 Braves. World Series here we come!

PalmBeachFalcon
PalmBeachFalcon

Is Melvin Jr. carrying his retainer in his back pocket in the picture?

JSSN
JSSN

Go eat some great food, you're definitely not there for the baseball! The big worry is that young pitchers are going to be ruined because they think they are going to have to be perfect because you won't be able to turn 1 run leads to the bullpen!