The Atlanta Braves just signed free agent Paul Byrd to a two-year, $10 M contract. Byrd had a great year this year, but has always been the poor man's Rick Reed, who is, of course, the poor man's Greg Maddux. With the move, it appears that the Braves are foregoing free agent Greg Maddux, the actual Greg Maddux and a Brave of 10 years.
The Braves appear to be completely revamping their rotation. They traded Damian Moss for Russ Ortiz earlier today. They acquired Mike Hampton earlier in the offseason. Tom Glavine and, now apparently Greg Maddux, left via free agency. There are rumors that John Smoltz may even return to the rotation.
Meanwhile, the Braves have one left-handed starter (Hampton). The three starters that they have acquired have had their share of success as well as failure. Staff retainees Kevin Millwood and Jason Marquis have had their failures as well. My first question is who's number one on the staff. I would guess Millwood with his 18-8 record last year, but Millwood had two sub-par years before 2002. Byrd, Hampton, and Ortiz will comprise the nest three spots in the rotation. Your guess as to their order is a s good as mine. Marquis or whomever replaces him will go 5th.
That's potentially a big step down from the Maddux, Smoltz, and Glavine years. The guys that they have now remind me more of the Denny Neagle types who the Braves have acquired in the past and who have performed well for them. However, the Braves never seem to build a staff around those types but rather quickly jettison them before their weaknesses show.
The Braves should be fine. It's a weak division. They have won with Julio Franco as their starting first baseman for two years for crying out loud. Mazzone and Cox do wonders with these types of pitchers (as a Paul Byrd fan, I couldn't imagine a better environment for the pitcher). But one has to wonder if the barbarians are not already within the gate, and the great Braves dynasty is no more. The moves feel more like attempts to prop up a collapsing franchise than ones designed to right it (like the Greg Maddux signing years ago). The Franco types were never in the rotation before, and now it's permeated with them. As Felix Unger said, "this is the way the world ends. This is the way the world ends. This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper."