last man standing

Atlanta Brave Freddie Freeman

The time has come for the Braves to pull the trigger on Freddie Freeman. The brain rust, uh, brain trust of the Braves stated Freemen will absolutely not be traded under any circumstances. No doubt this was an honest statement when it was made, but there is always a potential deal that can change things.

There have to be a couple of left handed pitchers recovering from Tommy John surgery out there somewhere the Braves covet.

Trading Freeman would be a terrible move, but making terrible moves and hoping those moves don’t turn into a nightmare so they can win in a few years is the standard bill of fare for this Braves management team.

This may be one of those times the Braves are true to their word, but they should not be, and the impetus for a trade should come from Freeman himself. He should march into the front office and tell the powers to be that he wants out.

And the fans should support him. Freeman is a terrific player and a class guy with great fan support, but he deserves better than the Braves. He does not deserve to be relegated to mediocre status because he is hitting in a decrepit lineup on a losing team.

Remember Dale Murphy? He never learned to lay off the low and away pitch, and it ultimately cost him. The reason was he knew if he didn’t knock in the runner on second it was likely the guy would starve to death because no one else would, so he tried and tried and tried. And his career suffered for it.

If you look at Freeman’s numbers now, he shows to be a middle of the pack first baseman in the National League, but those numbers are an illusion given what the rest of the lineup had to offer last year. Freeman is going to be asked to carry a team that will be so heavy they will tear the bottom out of the bag.

The result over the next few years will be statistics that will not show the real worth of Freeman, which can ultimately cost him career numbers, not to mention real money on the free agent market. Toiling away on a lousy team, even if you love the town and the fans, is crippling to the heart and soul and can wear a player down faster than an umpire tossing Bobby Cox.

The Braves have basically said it will be two years before the team will be really competitive, and that’s if all the saplings they traded for actually grow into real trees. An injury here, a bust there, and it could be four or five years before the Braves are truly competitive to the point of challenging for a championship.

The Braves management point to the Kansas City Royals and beam, saying we’re doing the same thing. That’s great, if you want to wait 30 years between World Series titles.

The brain trust are adamant they will be better than anyone thinks, but those of us who are 5-8 and thought we would be 6-2 are still waiting for our growth spurt.

The Braves were a team with a solid core of very good young players, most now wearing other uniforms. The Braves were in need of tweaking, a few key additions, not a tear down and total rebuild.

Freeman is basically the last man standing and could very easily spend the new few years, prime years in baseball, stuck in a quagmire that will dull his talents and rob him of an opportunity to be the player his talents demonstrate he can be.

Freeman should not feel bad, or like he is deserting the home folks, by asking for a trade. He can wish the Braves well and tell them he hopes the grand plan works, but he has the right to look out for himself and not slog away waiting for a team of potential to jell around him, if it ever does.

Freddie Freeman should demand to be traded, and we should all hate to see him go, but ultimately wish him the best and hope he has a chance to play with a winner before Father Time knocks on his locker.

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Image: Freddie Freeman by Keith Allison via flickr and used under a Creative Commons license.

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.