Bradley’s Buzz: The Braves’ response to Ohtani-as-a-Dodger? There won’t be one

Mookie Betts #50 of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels in the fourth inning at Dodger Stadium on July 7, 2023, in Los Angeles, California. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Mookie Betts #50 of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels in the fourth inning at Dodger Stadium on July 7, 2023, in Los Angeles, California. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images/TNS)

Braves fans hate the Dodgers. (Fans of every team hate the Dodgers.) The sight of Shohei Ohtani landing in L.A. – though he was in L.A. already – while the Braves make smallish moves and re-gift half their bounty to other clubs might seem a dereliction of general-managerial duty. But it isn’t, and I know from having paid attention what AA’s reaction will be.

He’ll react by not reacting. He runs the Braves. The Braves aren’t the Dodgers. Baseball is not a zero-sum game.

The Braves have been good for six years. The Dodgers have been good for more than twice that long. They’ve each won the World Series once this century. They played each other three times in postseason from 2018 through 2021. The Dodgers won the first two times. The Braves won in 2021.

The Dodgers have won 100-plus games four times over the past five full seasons. In none of those years did they win the World Series. The Braves have won 100-plus games over the past two season. In neither did they win the World Series. Know who won the most recent World Series? The team that signed an even better pitcher than Ohtani for $185 million over five years.

Jacob deGrom worked 30-1/3 innings before he was lost to Tommy John surgery. His team still made the playoffs, albeit as a wild card. Those Rangers then went 13-4 in postseason. How’d that happen? Nobody knows, though everybody knows. It happened because this is baseball.

To worry about what other teams are doing is a fool’s errand. (Put another way, it’s the sort of thing the Mets would do.) The Dodgers’ odds of winning another World Series over the next 10 years have shortened – Ohtani’s a great hitter/pitcher; having great pitchers/hitters never hurts – but even his imposing presence guarantees nothing.

Let’s play “Name That Team.” There’s a certain club that made the playoffs in more than 10 consecutive seasons but has failed to win the World Series in all but one of them. Yes, that’d be the Braves of 1991-2005, who won 14 division titles but went 1-for-14 in pursuit of MLB’s grand prize. It’d also be the current Dodgers, who’ve made the playoffs 11 years running but won it all once.

We can’t ignore what the Dodgers did, but it’s not as if the Dodgers haven’t done this before. Know what their postseason record is since they landed Freddie Freeman? 1-6. (The Braves’ postseason post-FF record is 2-6.) This isn’t the NBA. You can’t throw the ball to LeBron every time the shot clock hits :05.

The reason Ohtani agreed to defer $680M of his $700M is because, when based in neighboring Orange County, he saw what happens to MLB clubs who have superstars but nothing else. The best players of the past dozen years are Ohtani and Mike Trout. Teammates for six seasons, that team never finished above .500.

The Dodgers will finish above .500. They know how to build a team. Still, they need to rustle up some pitchers. Clayton Kershaw is a free agent. Julio Urias is a free agent and could be facing trial for domestic violence. Walker Buehler is coming off a second round of TJ surgery. Tony Gonsolin is coming off TJ. Dustin May is coming off elbow surgery. And the famous hitter/pitcher will be just a hitter in 2024.

Ohtani had some sort of elbow surgery – it hasn’t been labeled TJ, though he’s had that before – in September. The Dodgers believe he’ll be a pitcher for some of the next 10 years. But pitchers, as we know, are tough to predict.

You don’t tear down your house because the neighbors added a solarium. When last the Braves made a move just to keep up with the Dodgers, this franchise set itself back half a decade.

In the heat of the 1983 pennant race, Ted Turner and Co. believed they need to answer L.A.’s move for pitcher Rick Honeycutt by dealing for Len Barker, who’d just worked a perfect game. Shipped to Cleveland were Brett Butler and Brook Jacoby, who’d become All-Stars. (Butler became an All-Star as a Dodger.) Barker didn’t throw a perfect game here. He managed few halfway decent games. He was gone by 1986.

The Braves finished behind L.A. in 1983. They wouldn’t have another winning season until 1991. Here endeth the lesson.

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