The Atlanta Braves: third place team

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That’s not me talking. Remember, I’m a big fat fanboy. That’s Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, throwing cold water on the optimism that has pervaded Braves Nation Universe Republic Township this spring:

Me, I’m still skeptical. I eagerly await the coming of Jason Heyward,
but I also wonder if the age on this team — and there’s a ton of it —
will show over 162 games. I wonder about the offense. I wonder about the
defense. I wonder about the zen of Wren. I’d be more than happy to be
proved wrong in my doubting, but as of now I’m still saying what I said
back in February.

Third place.

He doesn’t go into details, but I still take the point. While I think the upside of this team is pretty high up, it wouldn’t take a ton to send the Braves’ season skidding out of control. Chipper Jones could continue on like he played in the second half last year. Derek Lowe too. One of the old arms in the bullpen gets hurt. Glaus either gets hurt or just doesn’t have anything anymore.  Unlike a lot of team’s worst-case-scenarios — Utley and Howard forget how to hit! — no single component of the Braves’ list of imaginary horribles is much of a reach.

I’m still sticking with my predictions, of course, but Bradley’s pessimism is a good reminder that for all of the virtual ink we’ve spilled these past few months, the games matter and anything can happen.  Thank God they begin in earnest in a couple of hours.

Brian Cashman signs 4-year contract to remain Yankees GM

Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports
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SAN DIEGO — Brian Cashman has signed a four-year contract to remain the New York Yankees Senior Vice President and General Manager. The announcement was made during the first day of baseball’s Winter Meetings.

Cashman, New York’s GM since 1998, had been working on a handshake agreement since early November, when his five-year contract expired.

The Yankees were swept by four games in the AL Championship Series and haven’t reached the World Series since winning in 2009. It is the franchise’s longest title drought since an 18-year gap between 1978-96.

Cashman’s main goal during the offseason is trying to re-sign AL MVP Aaron Judge.

Judge hit an American League-record 62 homers this season with a .311 batting average and 131 RBIs. He turned down the Yankees’ offer on the eve of opening day of a seven-year contract that would have paid $213.5 million from 2023-29.

While Judge remains on the market, Cashman was able to re-sign Anthony Rizzo on Nov. 15 to a two-year contract worth $40 million after turning down a $16 million player option.

Cashman has been the Yankees general manager since 1998. He has been with the organization since 1986, when he was a 19-year old intern in the scouting department. In his 25 seasons as GM, the Yankees have reached the postseason 21 times, including four World Series championships and six American League titles.