This post originally appeared on Yahoo! Sports as part of the Yahoo! Contributor Network. Since YCN closed down, I thought I would start a new weekly series here at The First Pitch where we look back on what was going on in the baseball world and how it compares to today.
While the Los Angeles Angels and Miami Marlins have been creating headlines with their signings of Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson and Jose Reyes, countless teams have been slow movers. Among those teams is the Atlanta Braves. The Braves stopped playing ball once the calendar changed to September this past season, leaving fans hoping for money to be spent and changes to be made.
To start the offseason, the Braves ate a big portion of Derek Lowe’s contract and shipped him to Cleveland for Chris Jones. Jones pitched for Single-A Kinston in 2011, going 7-1 with a 3.36 ERA in 43 games. The Braves also saw their ace, Tim Hudson go under the knife to fix his ailing back. Add in the doubt to the health of Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens, and the Braves rotation could be quite different in 2012.
Since the Braves season ended, rumors started about possibly trading Jurrjens and/or Martin Prado. While those rumors haven’t led to anything as of yet, for the right price, both could see themselves playing elsewhere next season. What moves have actually been close this far for the Braves?
Earlier in the offseason, the Braves picked up the option on infielder Eric Hinske, while declining the option on center fielder, Nate McLouth. Hinske hit .233 with 10 home runs and 28 RBIs, while McLouth hit .228 with four home runs and 16 RBIs. McLouth has never been able to get going in Atlanta, and was expendable with the acquisition of Michael Bourn.
Relief pitcher Peter Moylan and utility infielder Brooks Conrad were both non-tendered contracts, making them free agents. Moylan appeared in just 13 games last season, spending most of the time on the disabled list. He was 2-1 with a 3.24 ERA. Conrad, the 2010 playoffs goat for the Braves had a terrible season, hitting just .223 with four home runs and 13 RBIs.
The Braves appear to be looking at prospect Tyler Pastornicky as their starter at shortstop, as they allowed Alex Gonzalez to sign with the Milwaukee Brewers. The defensive stud suffered through a horrible offensive campaign, hitting just .241 with 15 home runs and 56 RBIs.
In a division that has seen the Washington Nationals improve over the years, Miami and the Philadelphia Phillies improve this offseason, the National League East could be a scary division to play in. Atlanta needs to start making moves soon, or they could see a fourth place finish in 2012.
How It Compares to News of Today
The Braves of 2011 and the Braves of 2014 are quite different. The former wasn’t willing to make big moves for the better of the team, while the latter is making moves that all have the centralized goal of opening up their new ballpark in 2017 with a bang. They have already traded young second baseman Tommy LaStella, Jordan Walden, and the best defensive right fielder in the sport in Jason Heyward.
They will look to dump the contract of B.J. Upton, the worst player in baseball during the past two years, and could trade Justin Upton if the right deal comes along. While the Braves are willing and able to make the moves this offseason, they aren’t the type of moves that will lead to a 100-win season in 2015.