Atlanta Braves Trade Mark Teixiera, End Era

Ben GibsonSenior Analyst IJuly 29, 2008

It was one of the most impressive streaks in sports history.

Just a year after amassing the worst record in baseball, the 1991 Atlanta Braves went on to win their division and reach the World Series before losing in seven games to the Minnesota Twins.

This transformation from worst to first was far from over; the Braves collected an improbable 14 straight Division titles. 

Not bad for a team that had only posted two winning seasons in the past 21 years leading up to the streak. 

However, time waits for no man and, unfortunately for Atlanta fans, the bell tolls for thee.

Tonight, news has come out that the Braves best player, last season's acquisition, Mark Teixiera, is being shipped off to Anaheim. 

His goal will be the same as last year when "Big Tex" marched into Atlanta, to try and take a contender to the next level.

It is the first time in 17 years that the Braves have been buyers instead of sellers, but, looking at this current roster, it certainly may not be the last.

How did this happen to the team that "Tomahawked" it's way into American hearts in the mid-90s?

Injuries and age happen to be the biggest culprits. 

The Braves built their dynasty on pitching with Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz.  It was so successful, Atlanta avoided major changes and kept their roster relatively in-tact, something that has now resulted in their downfall.

Amazingly, Glavine and Smoltz are still around, but unlike a fine wine they are not better with age. 

Both men are on currently on the DL, Smoltz is out for the year and may have thrown his last pitch in the big league.

Add to Atlanta's frustration that their two best players Tim Hudson and Chipper Jones are out, Jeff Francoeur spent time in AA ball because of his offensive struggles and projected starter Mike Hampton has pitched only one game in the last three years! 

Considering all this, it is amazing to think that the Braves record of 49-56 is not any worse. 

The question is: Will it get any better?

The scary trend is since media mogul Ted Turner has handed over the ownership reigns, the Braves clearly do not have much incentive to go out and spend the big bucks.

The Braves have let some big name free agent pass through their fingertips while teams like the Chicago Cubs have opened their bank accounts and seem to be the prohibitive favorites in the National League this year.

Of course, big payrolls certainly do not always results in World Series rings. 

Detroit Tigers, anyone? 

However, if Atlanta wants to pull off the Florida Marlins strategy of building their farm system, they will need some luck and avoid the injury bug.  

For every Evan Longoria there is a Mark Prior.

If the Braves do want to keep what they have, there is some hope in starting pitchers Jorge Campillo and Jair Jurrjens. 

Jurrjens has 10 wins on the season, just one behind Hudson for the team lead and has begun to find success on the road as well as at home.  He has also gone six innings or more his last eight starts.  

Campillo may have a modest record but his 2.78 ERA matched with 65 strikeouts to 20 walks means he is one of the more consistent pitchers in the rotation.

However, after that, the cupboard has been bare.  No other active pitcher has more than three wins this season and the bullpen for the Braves has been a problem since Smoltz left the closer position a few years ago.

The future of the Braves offense, though, is not any brighter.

The Braves have two players with a batting average over .300, Jones and catcher Brian McCann. 

Francoeur has 29 more strikeouts than he does RBIs.

The Braves need a shot of adrenaline and soon.  They need to shake up the roster to reinvigorate this staff not just for this season and beyond. 

No offense to Casey Kotchman, but he is not the answer to this team.

Atlanta stands at a major crossroads in the history of their franchise.  Now is the time to make the right choice.  The Braves need to overhaul this team now or settle for mediocrity in both the short and long-term.


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