Sir Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The Law of Gravity states that what goes up what comes down. In baseball, the Braves and Padres (among others) are trying to prove that if you can go down in the standings first, you will come up. They are also hoping that a few years of losing can result in producing equal and opposite results in the win column to make those losing seasons worth it.
In 2016, the Minnesota Twins were the worst team in baseball winning 9 games less than the next fewest teams at 59 wins. In the National League the Reds, Braves and Padres all only mustered 68 wins out of their season. So who will be staying in that range and who has reinforcements on the way?
The Braves and Padres have optimism for the future as Keith Law unveiled his farm system reviews for 2017. The Braves rank first on the list, the Yankees second, and the Padres third. With 90’s nostalgia in full swing with Fuller House, the Goonies meets E.T. style revived with Stranger Things and a Space Jam reboot in the works why don’t we just get the Braves and Yankees (World Series in 1996 and 1999) and Padres (1998) winning again?
Of course, I’m a Braves and Padres fan both so the news is great, but I’m not ready to anoint them champions of the world just yet. The Braves of the 90’s were built on pitching as we all know. What some forget is that only Glavine was even drafted by the Braves. John Smoltz they traded for from Detroit for Doyle Alexander and Greg Maddux was signed in free agency after winning a Cy Young with the Cubs.
The Braves minor league pitching is so strong that Law describes it this way: “It’s as if someone told Coppolella the axiom that you can never have too much pitching, and he just said, ‘hold my beer.'”.
Fair enough. What we do know about pitching though is how quickly injuries can derail those plans. In 2011 the Braves had two All Star starters in Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens. Hanson tragically died after nearly being out of baseball and Jurrgens hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2014 despite being just 31 years old. Now after a slew of trades and draft picks there biggest concern will be working in top prospects slowly into the rotation this year. They brought on R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon to fill in the gaps for cheap and mentor the younger pitchers along with young ace Julio Teheran.
The Padres on the other hand have some high ceiling prospects, but it all seems a little tenuous. Many of their higher end prospects were brought about in trades – and many of those trades are now under scrutiny after it was found that their G.M. A.J. Preller had falsified some medical records.
Hunter Renfroe – my personal mancrush and who was drafted by the Padres and I’ve been following since his 2013 College World Series appearance – was called up last year at the end of the year and played great. He is my early pick (like beginning of last season early) for 2017 NL ROY. Manny Margot made a terrific catch at the All Star Futures Game in San Diego last year and is poised to take over center field for the Padres in 2017. The Padres also locked up All Star Wil Myers to a long term deal this winter which bodes well for building a core group of players.
The last time the Braves made the World Series was 1999. The last time the Padres did was 1998. The difference is the Padres haven’t been to the playoffs since 2006 and the Braves haven’t been since 2013.
Speaking of 2013, that year the Chicago Cubs – who you may have heard won the World Series this year, finished with just 66 wins. The following year – they finished last again with 73 wins – and nearly unaminously first in farm systems after drafting a stud third baseman out of the University of San Diego named Kris Bryant.
With a strong farm system and talent panning out – success and going from worst to first can happen very quickly in Major League Baseball these days. Pitchers and catchers report in a little over two weeks and we start finding out if all this prospecting can turn into major league gold.