Phillies vs. Braves: Whose offseason has been worse?
It's still shockingly early in the offseason, but it's never too early to look back and grimace.
The Mets, Marlins, and Nationals have been adding players appropriate for their current situations, making Curtis Granderson, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Bartolo Colon, and Doug Fister all NL East members. The other two teams - formerly those who ran the place from 1991-2011 - have been either curiously quiet or signing Marlon Byrd.
Losses: Roy Halladay, Erik Kratz
Gains: Marlon Byrd, Roberto Carmona, Brad Lincoln, Jeff Manship
Yes, yes; we're all too familiar with what the Phillies have done. The closest they've come to major signings is being listed along with eight or ten other teams "showing interest" in somebody. Remember when they were always one of the last three? Remember #mysteryteam?
Now, though, they're adding small important pieces that a team preparing to contend would add.
"We're just one 36-year-old, slow-moving outfielder away from the offense we want," is apparently something that's been said. And the way their GM talks, they're definitely going to contend. But looking at it from the outside doesn't inspire confidence.
A big signing isn't even what they should be trying to accomplish, anyway. Much has been said about the Phillies - "What are they doing? Why are they doing that?" - but none of it has been "They are a major signing away from contending." The Phillies are scrambling to assemble something out of what is most likely a third place team, at best, and they can't pick a strategy. You can't go sideways into the future.
We're probably sick of hearing that "blowing it all up" is the way to go, but this isn't the Phillies losing five of their first ten. It's the end of an era; Shane Victorino is gone, Roy Halladay is gone, Ryan Howard is in constant repair, and Jimmy Rollins isn't an MVP, and they don't have anyone to trade except their best players. The natural time for a rebuild has arrived, but the Phillies are either refusing to admit it, or just doing it wrong.
Losses: Brian McCann, Tim Hudson
The Braves were a scary team in 2013, expected to duel the Nationals right down to the wire, only they didn't have to, because Washington's World Series run ended around July.
Once more, Atlanta faltered in the playoffs' first round, and you would think that this would be enough to singe their young, talented roster with white hot determination. And maybe it did. But their silence as offseason deals are struck elsewhere is concerning.
Brian McCann, the team disciplinarion, as well as every other team's self-appointed disciplinarian, has piled up 23.5 WAR for the Braves in his nine year career. Seven of his nine seasons saw him at the All-Star Game, and five of them ended with him holding a Silver Slugger. At 29, he was old enough to provide a veteran example, and young enough not to be deemed "old," even for a catcher in baseball, guys who age about three to five times faster than normal humans.
Tim Hudson, who at 38 years old signed a deal with the Giants this winter, reliably kept his ERA under 4.00 for most of nine seasons in Atlanta. His departure leaves the Braves with a spot to fill in the rotation, though their farm system seems fertile enough to sprout a young hurler any day now.
It's the idea that two chunks of productivity were yanked off the roster, and the Braves' response has been to maybe - unsuccessfully - draw up some interest in Dan Uggla. Free agents are flying off the board, and the Braves will have to do more than "nothing" to keep pace with the vigilant Nationals.
The Braves may have had the worse winter of the two, as they actually have something to lose. The Phillies, if they really believe they can contend, are full of an admirable amount of holiday joy, but little else fuels their delusion.
Should they sink further, it will push things forward in the years to come, while this year served as a mere delay to their necessary rebuild. The Braves, however, are currently contenders, and if their silence continues, it will cost them. Likely, they've got some moves to make.