Being a Braves fan in the 2014-2015 offseason has meant staring at a hole in the ground. Looking at it with an empty can of beer in one hand and a dead cell phone in the other; alternatingly curious and concerned at how deep it could possibly be. The hole has been eroding its way into the yard for years now, but it seems like it just appeared. It is upsetting and expected. Is it something we can fill in with a player addition here or there? Is there a minor league sized cavern just beyond this entrance to darkness? Only time will tell for sure, but as a Braves fan in the 2014-2015 offseason, I can already tell you that I’m sure of two things. This hole is ugly and I need another beer.
All that being said, the negativity that many of us are feeling this offseason may be a bit of an overreaction. Yes, our best and most exciting player was sent to St. Louis for a sensibly contracted starting pitcher. Sure, our farm system is a dust bowl of future relievers and players to be named later. Yeah, it looks like Evan Gattis is going to play some outfield while the front office only toys with the idea of a true rebuild. And of course, I could go on with all the other potential problems facing the team in the coming years, but…well, yeah, actually it sucks. Yet we have comfort in this little refrain taught to me by my loving mother many years ago. It could always be worse.
So, by way of therapy, allow me to play the role of a grim fortune teller and take a look at all the ways the next 3 seasons of Atlanta Braves baseball could be worse than what we are actually going to deal with. Walk away from the hole of reality and gaze deep into this chasm of make-believe so that come April, the former won’t seem so miserable. And grab another beer.
April 12 – After failing to trade Justin Upton, the Braves outfielder tears his ACL in an afternoon game against the Mets. Upton was diving out of the way of an errant pitch.
May 1 – Re-signed to a 2 year deal in February, Kris Medlen returns to the rotation. Having lost his number to early-winter addition, Buddy Boshers, Medlen switches to number 32.
May 12 – Kris Medlen is moved to the bullpen.
May 29 – Dan Uggla is spotted at Turner Field and spends three innings in the booth with Chip Caray and Joe Simpson.
June 8 – Having made only 3 appearances in 3 weeks, Craig Kimbrel is used in the 8th inning and blows a 2-1 lead. MLB Network leads with the story.
June 13 – The Turner Field Waffle House is closed due to a grease fire. Reopens as a Huddle House.
July 3 – Julio Teheran pitches 9 innings and gives up 1 hit and no walks against the Phillies. Braves lose 1-0 in the 11th.
July 12 – Chipper Jones is interviewed in the woods by Fox Sports Live. He expresses doubt in hitting coach Kevin Seitzer’s approach.
July 15 – Mike Minor, leading the league in home runs allowed, is sent to AAA Gwinnett.
July 22 – After his 7th multi-error game of the season, Evan Gattis remarks in an interview that he has been working on his defense with coaches and respected friends. Is seen leaving the ballpark with Dan Uggla.
July 30 – 9 games back in the NL East at the trade deadline, rumors circulate about interest in Craig Kimbrel. The Braves send Todd Cunningham and JR Graham to the White Sox for a player to be named later.
August 3 – Freddie Freeman stars in an MLB Fan Cave dance video. The video is posted alongside 5 others and a Twitter vote for best dancer is held.
August 22 – The Braves are eliminated from possible postseason contention.
September 1 – Chris Johnson suffers multiple fractures after falling off the back of a motorcycle. The driver remains unnamed in the AJC report. Evan Gattis starts at 3B.
September 23-October 1 – The Braves go on a 7 game win streak.
October 2-4 – The Braves drop their final three games of the season to the Cardinals by a combined runs total of 37 to 4.
November 4 – Alex Wood, Julio Teheran, and Shelby Miller place in the top 5 in Cy Young voting. The rotation combines for a 1.89 ERA. The offense scores 189 runs on the season.
Notes from 2016:
– Kevin Seitzer is fired immediately following the 2015 season and Chipper Jones is named the new hitting coach.
– The Braves open the year against the Nationals who have signed free agents Justin Upton and Jason Heyward.
– David Ross retires during Spring Training.
– A Deadspin article reveals that Julio Teheran is actually 31 years old and his real name is Armando Franco.
– Freddie Freeman grows his hair to shoulder length.
– Chipper Jones expresses concerns about Fredi Gonzalez’s ability to lead the team into the new ballpark.
– After 3 months, Nick Markakis leads the Braves in OBP at .310.
– Fredi Gonzalez is fired before the All Star break. Bobby Cox is named interim manager until one can be hired.
– The Braves battle the Phillies for 4th place in the NL East throughout September. They eventually fall one game short and finish last for the second year in a row.
– Chipper Jones resigns as hitting coach citing a desire to get back to filming his hunting show.
Notes from 2017:
– The Braves new SunTrust ballpark opens with 3 adjacent restaurants and 1 parking lot completed. The opening day roster contains only 2 position players from the 2015 season; Nick Markakis and Freddie Freeman.
– The Phillies win the NL East under the leadership of new GM Frank Wren.
– The MLB spearheads the creation of a major, new international club league. To allow for more non-American teams only the top 20 MLB teams will be allowed to compete, thus creating a promotion and relegation system. Atlanta is relegated following the season.1
1 Special thanks to an internet Frog.