John Smoltz, Greg Maddux, and Tom Glavine are not walking through the front door. With the recent trades of Justin Upton to the San Diego Padres and Jason Heyward to the St. Louis Cardinals, the Atlanta Braves are taking a wrecking ball to their roster and the rebuilding process is in full swing. This is a brave new world for Atlanta fans; especially for a franchise and fan base used to staying the course. The Atlanta Braves won 14 straight division titles from 1991 to 2005 and a World Series title in 1995.
After the 2005 season, the Braves went into a lull but their long-time manager Bobby Cox shepherded the team back into the playoffs in 2010. Braves management believed there was a great foundation in place when the legendary manager stepped aside and handed the reins to Fredi Gonzalez in 2011. This proved to be a falsity: the Braves have not built a sustainable model of success under Gonzalez. From their infamous late season collapse in September 2011 to striking out on free agent signings B.J Upton and Dan Uggla, management’s best laid blueprints have gone awry. The choice to rebuild is necessary but should have taken place sooner, especially with an imminent move to Cobb County, GA.
Tearing down the team and building up a contender by 2017 is a bold proposition. Continuing to build talent around a marginal manager is risky. It comes as no surprise that the Braves reached back into their sturdy past to help build a more stable future. Bobby Cox assisted in hiring new president of baseball operations John Hart and will continue on in an advisory role into the future. It is the only way to make the winning ways of old new again.