The Atlanta Braves started a process on Tuesday evening trying to fix a team that all the sudden sprung about 100 leaks. Pitching, hitting, defense and injuries all crashed into the Braves at one time. This created a perfect storm that sent the Braves reeling on an eight game losing streak. Miraculously, the Braves fell only into fourth place in the NL East. Even after enduring a sweep to the division leading Washington Nationals, they were only four games back from first place. After their offense awakened for the last two games against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Braves now head into their first off day in almost three weeks with a chance for redemption against the Nationals. They will start a three game series on Friday hoping to get revenge against the Nationals.
The losing streak did light a fire under the seat of Frank Wren and Fredi Gonzalez, though. They have started a process that will no doubt shakeup this team and provide a jolt of life into the dugout.
The first move was sending Kris Medlen to the minors to stretch out to be a starter. This means that either Randall Delgado or Mike Minor will be optioned back to AAA when he is recalled. Medlen was solid in a starting role in 2010, before hurting his arm and needing Tommy John surgery. The team feels his experience will trump the struggles that Minor and Delgado have experienced. If anything, this should send a signal to Delgado and Minor that they have to continue to prove that they belong. Delgado got the message last night. We will see if Minor gets the message in Washington Friday night.
The more surprising move came after tonight’s win. The Braves optioned Tyler Pastornicky to AAA and called up Andrelton Simmons from AA Mississippi. Simmons is a defensive whiz. He has amazing range and an arm that is unmatched in the Braves’ organization. He will help improve the infield defense by a ton.
Pastornicky was limited defensively. This became more evident in the Braves’ 8 game losing streak. He was set up to fail from the get-go, to be honest. Dan Uggla is a horrible defensive second baseman. Chipper Jones is beyond his prime. The Braves knew Pastornicky’s limitations coming into the season. Yet, they gave him a chance. Unfortunately, the infield defense of other players made his defense more important. He was set up for failure from the begginning.
What this does for the Braves is huge. Medlen should have won a spot in the rotation out of the gate. The Atlanta Braves wanted an inning limit on him. Medlen will make the Braves’ rotation stronger. Simmons will make the Braves’ defense vastly better. This team will improve from what we have seen so far, in my opinion.