Braves Dominance Sparks NL East Arms Race

Photo courtesy of USA Today FTW

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Three straight division titles in the past three years will put more pressure on division foes than they’d care to admit. Atlanta’s dominance was expected, but not as early as it started. The Braves won the first of their three titles when they were “a year away” according to national pundits. Of course, those same pundits continue to pick the Braves to finish 3rd or 4th each preseason; only to eat crow when the regular season comes to a close with Atlanta celebrating on their division rivals’ fields.

The Phillies, this past week, hired highly accomplished baseball executive Dave Dombrowski. Dombrowski is credited with building two World Series Champions; the 1997 Marlins & the 2018 Red Sox. He’s been in baseball since 1978, when he broke through with the Chicago White Sox. He earned United Press International’s Executive of the Year in 1990 with the Montreal Expos. He’s a two-time Baseball America Executive of the Year (2006 & 2018), with the Detroit Tigers & Boston Red Sox. His best work, other than the Marlins ‘97 World Series is, in my opinion, his 2006 Tigers season.

In 2006, he brought Jim Leyland out of semi-retirement to manage the ball club. He saw his acquisition-turned-development come to fruition with a stable of young pitchers, & signed free agents: Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, Kenny Rogers, & Magglio Ordóñez. The 2006 Tigers won their first AL Pennant since 1984. They lost the World Series that year to the St. Louis Cardinals.

The New York Mets have anew owner in Steven Cohen, who’s made quick work of cleaning house. Cohen hired a new General Manager, Jared Porter. Porter is a former scout for the Red Sox who was hired by the Chicago Cubs & then the Arizona Diamondbacks, from which he was hired to come to New York. The Mets are also reportedly signing catcher James McCann to a 4-year/$40 million contract. A position of serious need for the Metropolitans. $10 million a year over the next four leaves plenty in the bank to pursue big name free agents. Free agents who’ve been linked to the Mets already, Trevor Bauer & George Springer.

New York also brought back a familiar face to serve as their bench coach under Manager Luis Rojas. That coach is Dave Jauss. Jauss has worked for the Red Sox, Dodgers, Orioles, Mets, & Pirates over his 23-year career in MLB. His first taste of success came as an advance scout for the historic 2004 Red Sox World Series title.

A monopoly on success always brings about sweeping changes among an organization’s constant opponents, so this isn’t a shock. These moves by division rivals is something to keep an eye on, but nothing more until players who improve their on-field product start wearing their jerseys & perform at a pace worthy of the lofty contracts they’re sure to command.

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