Happy holidays to all! First off, I want to thank everyone who has joined us for this ride over the last year-plus. Whether you’re a religious follower or a first-time reader, all of you have helped us achieve a ton of growth this year, and my job would not be possible without each of you.
Now that I’m off my soapbox – given Christmas takes place tomorrow – I figured it is an excellent time to run through a Christmas wish list for each Atlanta sports team. Our very own Pat Benson already took care of it for the Hawks. You can check that out, here. And I’m about to sit on Santa’s lap for the Braves (please don’t try and picture that). This should be fun.
Obviously, you know who this is referring to. We have had to wait way too long for Josh Donaldson’s decision this offseason, and he appears to be the domino holding everything up. However, his announcement could come at any moment. Perhaps he might surprise us on Christmas morning with a holiday gift to all of Braves Country. That does appear to be the type of guy he is.
However, notice how I did not put ‘The Bringer of Rain.’ While I’d love Donaldson as much as anybody, this is a business, and Alex Anthopoulos may have to make the tough choice of walking away. We still don’t know if the Braves are willing to go that extra year. But whether it’s Josh Donaldson or another power bat, Atlanta needs to acquire a cleanup hitter that can create a thunderstorm in the bleachers. There are plenty of other options out there, and I’ve talked about many of them before, here.
The outfield doesn’t seem to be among the Braves’ top priorities, which shouldn’t come as a shock. They have a lot of options to fill only three positions, but outside of Ronald Acuña, they don’t have anyone that strikes fear into opposing pitchers.
Ender Inciarte and Nick Markakis could/should both be replaced in the starting lineup of a championship-caliber team. Maybe that comes internally, with Adam Duvall and Austin Riley stepping up, or perhaps even Cristian Pache and Drew Waters contributing as rookies. But since it’s Christmas, I’m asking Santa (Alex Anthopoulos) to pick up the phone and find a more powerful bat they can stick out in left or right field. We know the Braves have had contact with Marcell Ozuna. Let’s make something like that happen.
A Running Mate for Mike Soroka
I firmly believe the Braves already found the ace they can stick at the top of their rotation for years to come in Mike Soroka. As long as he can stay healthy, he’s going to be competing for MLB’s lowest ERA and the Cy Young award annually. And we have already seen him showcase his abilities on the biggest stage in the postseason, as he shut down the Cardinals, holding them to one run over seven innings in his playoff debut.
Like the outfield, Soroka’s running mate could come internally, and that looks to be the direction the Braves are heading. They hope one of Max Fried, Mike Foltynewicz, or Cole Hamels can turn into ace #2, which is totally fathomable. However, as I’ve said before – it’s Christmas. So Anthopoulos, please pick up the phone, throw some prospects at a team and make this rotation one of the deadliest in the National League.
Yes, I’m well aware of the rumors suggesting the Braves and Indians have not had extensive talks regarding Francisco Lindor. But when has anything Alex Anthopoulos has done been reported beforehand. I’ll give you a hint – never. AA attacks like a Tiger. If there’s no noise, it usually means he’s about to pounce.
The asking price for Lindor will be astronomical. However, if there’s a team that could make a helluva package without parting ways with too much, it’s the Braves. They can center the deal around Dansby Swanson (who I love, but c’mon, it’s Francisco Lindor we are talking about), throw in a few top prospects, and receive the best shortstop in the game, who is under contract for two more seasons.
I don’t know how you put together your Christmas Wish List, but my motto was always shoot for the stars, and you might land on the moon. The Braves couldn’t possibly pull off all of this, but completing any one of these tasks would significantly increase their chances at a World Series title. I’m hoping Anthopoulos can find a way to achieve at least two.