This is not the way we remember it. This is not the reason we go to Turner Field—to see our Braves stars being packaged up for shipping. First, there was Mark Teixeira shipped off to the Angels, for a lesser known first baseman and a pitcher low on identity. It was still July, late, but still July. The Braves were only 8 games out of first place at the time. This is not the way it used to be. Usually, the Braves were trading for players who might muscle up the offense. In this case, they were shamelessly beginning to hoist the white flag. Surrender—with two months of the season left.
Teixiera had a bat that might have turned things around those last two months. Trade him later, at least get another month of so of his bat and his glove. Why cash in your chips in late July?
“You’ll have to talk to Frank Wren about that,” Bobby Cox said.
Then came the dusk of August. Mark Kotsay sits out one night, the next day he is on his way to the Red Sox. Two strong bats gone from the Braves lineup. Of course, by this time they were 15 games off the lead and out of it. B ut where might they have been had Teixiera been around those 30 days. The Giants once came from 14 games behind in mid August, and won the pennant. Not that it’s done every season or
so, but it is possible. Why the early surrender?
Well, the routine explanation is, “They would be free agents after the season and we wouldn’t be able to re-sign them.” Oh, so sure at this stage?
Three pitchers with large contracts who might not have an capable arm next season—should they thrown in the towel at this stage? For that matter, Kptsay would not have commanded a bulbous contract anyway. Teixiera, yes. Vut at least get your money’s worth out of him.
For a team that strung up all those pennants over the leftfield fence to give up at such a stage—embarrassing. THESE are the Braves. Yes, Frank Wren does have questions to answer. His year in command has been dismal. But the least he could have done to fight the good fight until there was no hope left. In this case, he gave up without a whimper and took to cover.
He has been treated with kid gloves to this point, but the time has come for something more than surrender. Speak up. Whither goest the Braves?