Especially this year and last. With the Braves payroll shrinking (relatively to the rest of the league, anyway), John Schuerholz has no longer been able to throw money around with the big boys. He's forced to be content with a solid core of Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones, and John Smoltz, and a rotating supporting cast. Through a combination of strong player development and savvy trades and free-agent signings, the Braves just keep winning.
Well, not every trade has been savvy, but his track record is pretty good.
But all that is old hat--we all know why that much about how the Braves have been successful. But what blew me away last night--and this is the sort of thing I see starting to happen in Milwaukee--was this game-changing play:
Wilson Betemit homered to deep right center, Pete Orr and Martin Prado scored.
Okay. I'm a pretty hardcore fan, checking my newsfeeds every couple hours and all that, so I know who these guys are and why they're playing. But honestly folks, how many of you had even heard of Martin Prado before yesterday? It was his major league debut, what with Chipper, Edgar Renteria, and Marcus Giles on the shelf for a few days.
In other words, that's like the Brewers winning a game when Bill Hall hits a three run home run to drive home Zach Sorenson and Brent Abernathy.
While I hope we don't see that particularly game-winning situation this year, you can witness the plan in progress in Milwaukee. Even behind some of our younger players, there are quality AAA players who could take over if need be. Last year Jeff Francouer was a difference-maker for Atlanta: this year it could be Corey Hart for the Brewers. Gabe Gross has already come out of nowhere and won a game or two for us.
I've said this more times than I can count, but it bears repeating when we're watching young players struggle in the early going. We are very fortunate to have a manager who is willing to put faith in young players, like Ned did in JJ Hardy last year, maybe Dave Bush this year, and stick with them. That's a huge, underrated part of Bobby Cox's success, and failure to do so is the sort of thing that keeps other teams from reaching their potential.
Tags: Brent Abernathy, Bobby Cox, Marcus Giles, Jeff Francouer, Atlanta Braves, Chipper Jones, Milwaukee Brewers, Martin Prado, John Smoltz, Andruw Jones, Zach Sorenson, John Schuerholz, Ned Yost, Edgar Renteria