Braves have a lot of work to do

sports@macon.comOctober 15, 2013 

Braves Wrap Up Baseball

JASON GETZ/ASSOCIATED PRESSAtlanta Braves clubhouse assistant Eric Durban, right, collects jackets from every Braves players’ locker in their clubhouse at Turner Field on Wednesday morning, Oct. 9, 2013, in Atlanta, The Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Braves 3-1 in baseball’s best-of-five games National League division series.

JASON GETZ — AP

So now that the third base coach has been suspiciously blamed for the postseason failure, the offseason has officially started for the Atlanta Braves.

Sure, it was Brian Snitker’s fault that Evan Gattis, a catcher, was awful defensively in left field. That must be why they believed they needed an outfield instructor to also serve as third base coach.

And if the new third base coach, Doug Dascenzo, is also going to act as a base running coach, it might help if the Braves make sure a portion of the 2014 lineup can even get on base enough to require instruction.

The fact is, Snitker was outstanding as the third base coach. The former Macon Braves manager deserved a better fate after serving the organization for 37 years. He’ll certainly do a great job as the manager in Triple-A Gwinnett, but to make him the only one to pay for the early exit was ridiculous.

Let’s hope that’s not an omen for how the offseason will go for the Braves. This team has not won a postseason series in 12 years, and with a young core the Braves need to make the necessary adjustments to finally get over the hump.

The low-scoring postseason games make it obvious the Braves need a true No. 1 pitcher. They have three very good starters -- Kris Medlen, Mike Minor and Julio Teheran. There’s little doubt Brandon Beachy (if healthy) and Alex Wood have the potential to be solid, as well. And if Tim Hudson returns, he could act as the veteran who was sorely missed in the NLDS

But not one of those pitchers is in the same category as a Clayton Kershaw, Adam Wainwright, Jon Lester or Justin Verlander -- the four aces of the teams remaining in the postseason.

Tampa Bay will make left-hander David Price available through a trade, and Atlanta should be first in line with an offer. Price is two years away from free agency, and he grew up in Murfreesboro, Tenn., reportedly rooting for the Braves and idolizing David Justice.

The price for Price would be exorbitant. Atlanta might have to give up two of the current starting pitchers and more top prospects, but he would immediately give the Braves the type of pitcher they desperately need.

Detroit’s Max Scherzer and Boston’s Lester are rumored to also be available by trade this winter.

There is not a clear cut No. 1 starter on the free agent market, and considering the Braves history that’s probably a good thing. The past three free agent signings for Atlanta have been Derek Lowe, Kenshin Kawakami and B.J. Upton, who were all tremendous failures for the amount of money they were paid.

Even if the Braves get a top starter, they’re not going to solve the issues with the offense. The first thing on the agenda must be to get rid of Dan Uggla. Those five words -- get rid of Dan Uggla -- should be written on sticky notes around the Braves’ front office until they get it done.

They’ll have to eat perhaps as much as $18 million of the $26 million remaining on the final two years of Uggla’s contract, but who cares. Just get Uggla out of Atlanta. He just had one of the worst offensive seasons in the history of the sport, and he has hit only .213 in three years with the Braves, 50 points lower than he hit in his five years with the Marlins. A cheap rookie could do better.

It’s obvious -- and unfortunate -- that Brian McCann is going to leave as a free agent, giving Gattis the job as the everyday catcher. Would Gattis and a young, cheap second baseman replacing McCann and Uggla make the lineup significantly better? Probably not, and this is why the Braves might need to be creative in doing something else to give the team more offense.

There is money to spend. The reworked local television deal and the more lucrative national television deal should give the Braves substantial funds to invest in the team – if absent team owner Liberty Media allows that to happen.

The front office is under the gun here. The Braves have won more regular season games than any team in baseball since the start of the 2011 season. But another postseason disappointment will have more people than just the third base coach changing jobs a year from now if they’re not careful.

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at www.foxsports1670.com. Follow Bill at www.twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.

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