ATLANTA -- It appeared the Braves were taking another stride toward infamy when they surrendered a pair of runs in 13th inning to the Reds on Wednesday, and were staring at the possibility of falling 29 games below .500 with their 11th loss within a 13-game span.Suddenly, there was once
ATLANTA -- It appeared the Braves were taking another stride toward infamy when they surrendered a pair of runs in 13th inning to the Reds on Wednesday, and were staring at the possibility of falling 29 games below .500 with their 11th loss within a 13-game span.
Suddenly, there was once again reason to wonder if this team might challenge the dubious status of the 1962 Mets or the 2003 Tigers, the only teams to win fewer than 50 games within a 162-game schedule. But riding the momentum created by scoring three runs in the bottom half of that 13th inning against Cincinnati, the Braves stormed through New York this past weekend, and flew to Miami on Sunday night, basking in the satisfaction created by a five-game winning streak.
"It's like air to breathe," said Braves general manager John Coppolella. "We all hate the losing, and we hate it for our fans. There's nothing worse than losing."
While securing a little more than 20 percent of their 23 wins within the past five days, the Braves have not erased all of the misery felt while losing two-thirds of the 69 games played thus far. But this string of success has at least given the club's front office a chance to feel confident about the major rebuilding process, which has revitalized the club's farm system at the expense of results at the Major League level.
So with the Trade Deadline a little more than a month away, the Braves will now evaluate ways to move back toward a level of respectability next year, and possibly become a playoff contender by 2018.
"I think we've gotten to a point where we've built up enough prospects," Coppolella said. "We have the top farm system and it's not even close. So for us, if there's an opportunity to get a long-term piece that makes sense -- it doesn't have to be a Minor League player or a prospect. We need to try to supplement [our Major League team] to the best extent we can, and put a winning product on the field as we go through the second half and head into 2017.
While Freddie Freeman and Julio Teheran might garner the most significant returns, trading either of them could also delay the club's return to respectability for at least an additional season. Freeman has shown why he is a potential cornerstone, producing a 1.653 OPS over his past seven games. Meanwhile, Teheran has posted a 1.89 ERA over his past 11 starts, and strengthened the belief he needs to remain the reliable anchor within Atlanta's young starting rotation.
Including his $20 million option for the 2020 season, Teheran's average annual salary over the next four seasons would be $9.3 million, a very economical figure within the current pitching market.
Still, the Braves could be active on this year's trade market as they may be able to gain some value by trading closer Arodys Vizcaino. While Vizcaino alone will likely not garner the big bat Atlanta needs, the right-hander could be paired with some of the club's prospects to garner a strong return.
Through this season's first couple months, it didn't look like the Braves could fulfill their plan to flip Bud Norris and Erick Aybar by the end of July. But if both of these veterans extend their recent success, they may garner some value within the next month.
It will also be interesting to see what transpires regarding Jeff Francoeur and Nick Markakis, who has two years remaining on his four-year, $44 million deal. Everybody is available at the right price, but the Braves may be hesitant to move either of these clubhouse leaders as they attempt to create some positive energy, while promoting the move to SunTrust Park next year.
"I think we're buying and selling," Coppolella said. "I don't think we have to trade everybody. I don't think we have to trade anybody. We'll just see what other clubs want, and see how it goes."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com