Guest Entry

Creg Stephenson writes on the latest from Mark Bradley. I, personally, don’t like Bradley, largely because of his repeated gratuitous potshots at my hometown and home state. I guess that if the alternatives are the senile rantings of Furman Bisher and the racist claptrap of Terrance Moore, Bradley is the best of the AJC columnists. — MT

Memo to Braves GM: Don’t mess with a good thing

I generally like Bradley the most among the AJC columnists, but this column makes no sense. He thinks the team should not try to improve itself? In essence, what he’s saying is that this team is a cinch to win it all and there’s no point in trying to make itself better. Have 10 of the last 11 postseasons taught this guy nothing?

If there’s one team that cannot afford to rest on its laurels, it’s the Braves. Another postseason meltdown from a team that is the best in baseball this season would be a catastrophic embarassment. There is no guarantee the Braves will be able to re-sign Glavine or Maddux, so they had best throw it all on the table now. Not to mention the fact that a work stoppage may wipe out the postseason completely.

I’m not saying that Atlanta should revamp its entire starting lineup in the next week (although I wouldn’t be opposed to it, I just don’t think it would ever happen), but getting a few bench players — like a backup catcher who could hit and a pinch-hitter with power — wouldn’t hurt. If they’re not going to get a first baseman, they should at least swing a few deals to keep key players away from other teams (the Yankees’ acquisition of Jose Canseco in 2000 comes to mind).

The record speaks for itself — the Braves stood pat (more or less) in 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2001, and they fell flat in the postseason. In the years they made significant deals — 1991 (Alejandro Pena), 1992 (Jeff Reardon — who will always be remembered for the homer he allowed to Ed Sprague in the World Series, but who had a 1.15 ERA, three wins and three saves in the regular season for Atlanta), 1993 (Fred McGriff), 1995 (Mike Devereaux and Luis Polonia), 1996 (Denny Neagle) and 1999 (Jose Hernandez and Terry Mulholland), the Braves have either overcome a huge deficit or made the World Series, or both.

Chemistry is bunk. It’s not going to win the pennant or the World Series. I can guarantee you the Yankees, Cardinals and Diamondbacks won’t be worried about upsetting their “chemistry” at the trading deadline.

Creg Stephenson