Today marks the first caress of a proper fall day in Atlanta. Too soon for me to reflect in any detail upon the playoff, or any of the other bitter pangs in and outside of baseball the passing seasons has wrought– and yet soon enough we must. We carry the reminders of every glove that laid us low, but still we must remain, Scroogelike, awaiting the visit of our third ghost. Like him we dread his coming most of all. In the midst of so much hope, with as many budding young stars as any team, a looming budget issue, and departures and regressions in almost every other department have placed the quest on the edge of a knife – stray but a little in the wrong direction and all is lost, while a very few astute moves will see our fortunes restored and then some. As in previous years, a series of posts will examine the strategic issues in detail. Identifying them is easy – a farm bereft of hitting prospects, further decline from a hoped for-ace pitcher, holes at CF and either LF or 3B, an alarming dropoff from a star catcher coming up for an expensive contract renewal, and an even more alarming continued loss of power from a 2B tied to a hefty deal.

Still there is much to love about the club – Simmons has been able to more than hold his own at the major league level, Heyward, Prado and Freeman turned in remarkable defensive seasons to go with effective, if not quite star level, offensive output. Medlen and Beachy figure to be very good for a long while, Minor has righted the boat, and Kimbrel, well, let’s just leave it at that. There are not enough lumens to quantify the brightness of his future.

My fellows will soon begin to examine the various propositions, players, and possible pitfalls in detail over the near term. In the interim, over the coming midnights dreary, while we ponder weak and weary over many a quaint and curious volume of sabermetric lore, we do so in the full knowledge that even as summer yields to fall, winter inevitably must do as well to spring. The long march to February, when all is right with the world, and every team is tied for first place, begins now.

From the editor, AAR: we’ll be staggering Where Do We Go From Here? posts, player writeups, and other posts across the long offseason. Anyone who wants to contribute is welcome and encouraged to do so — email me at the email address on the top right of the page. Thank you!