makes you wonder

Let me get this clear in my mind. The brain trust of the Atlanta Braves decided, in the interest of building a competitive team sometime during the next millennium, decided to trade arguable the best defense shortstop in baseball.

This is not brain trust; this is brain lock. If there were any notion the Braves really had a plan, this move dulls that idea down to an old kitchen knife.

New Angel Andrelton Simmons. New Braves Erick Aybar, Sean Newcomb, Chris Ellis
(Clockwise from top) New Angel: Andrelton Simmons. New Braves: Erick Aybar, Sean Newcomb & Chris Ellis.

Supposedly the deal with the Angles gives them a serviceable shortstop for next year and two great young pitching prospects…again. This trade would make the staunchest Braves fan gag. If there was anything that gave the fans hope for the future it was the play of Andrelton Simmons.

I suspect the idea is to warehouse a ton of young arms, then as they mature you can make a decision on which ones to keep and which ones to trade away for proven position players. This presupposes the idea that the brain trust will know which ones to trade and which ones to keep, and there is nothing to indicate they have the ability to make such a decision.

Right now the Braves have turned themselves into the farm system for the rest of the league. Develop good talent, then through being cheapskates or incompetents, trade it away. You could have taken all the ex-Braves players in the playoffs and had a World Series team.

The Siamese twin to great pitching is great defense. Simmons, who was just named the overall best defensive player in baseball, was one of the few bright spots for the Braves. Watching the Braves wallow through a season like a fat dog in a mudhole was only offset by having the opportunity to see Simmons make the astonishing play.

Simmons is 26, and had five years remaining on his existing contact. If the brain trust truly believes the team will be a contender in the next few years then Simmons would be in his prime and a key defensive player on a team leaning on pitching.

Certainly Simmons is no great shakes at the plate, but he more than makes up for that in the field, and as he matures he may very well become a better hitter. There are few .300 hitting shortstop that play great defense, and shortstop has always been considered a position where you are willing to sacrifice offense for defense.

This seems to be lost on the Braves. They are continuing to gut a team of proven major league players for “potential.” This is not a knock on the players the Braves received in the deal.

Erick Aybar, 31, is a solid shortstop and can serve as a bridge until someone emerges from the farm system, assuming there is someone down there who can play and will not be traded away.

The two young pitchers, Sean Newcomb and Chris Ellis, were considered the best pitching prospects in the Angles organization and may have a bright future, assuming there is someone behind them able to can catch and throw the ball.

Shortstop is not a position to fool with, and when you get a great one able to play defense, regardless of his hitting, you hang on to him like a winning lottery ticket. Apparently the brain trust have forgotten the past, when the Braves went through a series of wall-eyed, iron-handed shortstops who allowed scorekeepers to put E6 on the scorecard and then print it out for the next game. Fans sitting along the first base line dared not take a bite of hotdog less they catch an errant throw between the eyes.

And while the brain trust clearly does not care, this trade also stabs at the heart of Braves fans that came to believe Simmons and Freddie Freeman would be the lynchpins of defense, on a team that is supposedly going to be good in two years.

Despite the great young arms the New York Mets trotted out all year, there is no question the team defense was a liability that must be addressed if that team is to reach the next level.

Anderlton Simmons not only offered moments of amazement, but was available to do so for the next five years.

But the Braves brain trust, brilliant and all knowing, have once again decided promise and potential is more valuable that a proven product. Makes me wonder if these guys worked at a Yugo factory.

Image: Composite image created for - Andrelton Simmons, Erick Aybar, Sean Newcomb, and Chris Ellis (promotional images/fair use).

Ric Latarski

Ric Latarski has written for a variety of publications in the Atlanta area, was a stringer for Time Magazine, did commentary for Georgia Public Radio and wrote the guidebook, Atlanta: 101 Great Choices. He now writes fiction and recently completed his first novel.