Eight days after the Shields/Davis/Myers deal, the Mets traded R.A. Dickey, the National League’s reigning Cy Young winner, to Toronto for a package including Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud. They’ll be the starting battery in Game 3. If the Braves of John Hart and John Coppolella have shown us anything, it’s that they’re not afraid to dare. Did they not swap three major-leaguers and Jose Peraza for Hector Olivera?
This October shows that being bad can be a good thing. With contracts for free agents soaring above $100 million, the draft has become the cheapest way to win. The Astros took shortstop Carlos Correa No. 1 overall in 2012 and outfielder George Springer No. 11 in 2011. The Cubs took third baseman Kris Bryant No. 2 overall in 2013 and the slugging Kyle Schwarber No. 4 last year. The Royals tapped Eric Hosmer, Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas among the top three picks of their drafts.
If Coppolella, named the Braves’ general manager last month, has a mantra, it’s to make no trade that costs a draft pick. His method is to acquire, acquire, acquire. The best example is Austin Riley, the 18-year-old third baseman the Braves took in the June draft with a pick gained for Kimbrel. Riley hit .305 with 12 homers and 40 RBIs in 60 minor-league games. He’s a ways away, but he’s the best young bat in the organization.
This October shows that being smart is a precursor to getting good. The Cubs' fortunes changed when Theo Epstein, an architect of Red Sox championship teams, was named president of baseball operations in 2011. The Mets became a different club when Sandy Alderson, who'd built great teams in Oakland before Billy Beane invented Moneyball, took over in 2010. Jeff Luhnow, the head of scouting in St. Louis, left in 2011 to preside over the Astros' rebuilding. It took Dayton Moore, once Schuerholz's No. 2 man here, eight seasons to lift the Royals to the playoffs, but they've now graced consecutive World Series.'
I don’t know if Coppolella and Hart will lift the Braves to the 2017 playoffs or the 2020 World Series. Baseball fixer-uppers carry no warranty. I do believe they’re very smart men who are working very hard. I trust them to do right by this franchise.