From 1988 to 1991, the Atlanta Braves were in a youth movement. They went from a 54-win team in 1988, to 63, 65, and finally, 94 in 1991 and to the World Series. This time was the very beginning of dominance, when the Braves won 14 of 15 division titles and Bobby Cox led a team of youngsters into prominence. The names that came up during this time: Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Steve Avery, Jeff Blauser, Ron Gant, and David Justice.
You have to wonder if this is the beginning of another run. Freddie Freeman is just 21, as is Jason Heyward. They could use some more sticks, but they did trade for Dan Uggla, who FINALLY came around the last month or so. However, look at their pitching: Arodys Vizcaino (20), Randall Delgado (21), Julio Teheran (20), Mike Minor (23), Tommy Hanson (24), Jair Jurrjens (25), Brandon Beachy (24), Craig Kimbrel (23), and Jonny Venters (26).
The Braves foundation to their long run atop the NL East was the dynamic pitching of Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, (at times) Steve Avery, and the signing of Greg Maddux, who won the Cy Young his first three seasons in Atlanta. Now, they are building the depth in their system, even after dealing Neftali Feliz and Matt Harrison to Texas for Teixeira in 2007, to make deals for offense, like they did with Michael Bourn at the deadline.
Imagine if the Braves could dump Derek Lowe, who is a free agent after 2012, and the $15 million that he is owed next season. What if they could use that money toward Jose Reyes, Jimmy Rollins, Aramis Ramirez, or Carlos Beltran next off-season? What if Tim Hudson, who has a sexy $9 million salary through 2013, becomes the lone “veteran” and Hudson, Hanson, Minor, Vizcaino, and Teheran build a fireballing five-some, worthy of the “Most Potential in Years” tag?
Things are shaping up nicely for Atlanta. They are 21-games over .500 after Randall Delgado’s masterpiece tonight (6 IP, 1 H – a HR by Cody Ross), and they are 6 games up on San Francisco in the Wild Card Standings.