I spoke too soon, the Braves seem to be on the right track after their trades

Published 5:19 pm Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Atlanta Braves president of baseball operations John Hart has put together a very competitive team since settling into his new job a number of months ago.

Hart, the former outstanding general manager of the Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers, has made some moves since taking over the day-to-day operation of the Braves. While they might have seemed a little strange to some, I think they might make the team a little stronger in the long run.

Among those Braves traded away were right fielder Jason Hayward, who went to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for right-handed pitcher Shelby Miller, and All-Star right-handed closer Craig Kimbrel, who went to the San Diego Padres in exchange for center fielder Camren Mabin. In addition, the Braves signed right fielder Nick Markakis, a former All-Star outfielder with the Baltimore Orioles, to a four-year free agent contract.

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While the offense will probably continue to struggle a little with the trading of Hayward and catcher Evan Gaddis, who was traded to the Houston Astros, Shelby Miller is one of the top young right-handed pitchers in the game.

One player who the Braves can count on day in and day out is power-hitting first baseman Freddie Freeman, who was signed to a long-term contract a few years ago. The contract includes several years when Freeman could have become a free agent.

With All-Star slugging third baseman Chipper Jones having retired, Freeman is definitely the face of the franchise.

With the trading of players like Heyward, Gattis, Kimbrel and power-hitting left fielder Justin Upton, who will all be potentially making big money when he becomes a free agent following this season with the San Diego Padres, the Braves have relieved themselves of some money that they hope to be able to use to sign some high-priced free agents before moving into their new SunTrust Park in Cobb County in 2017. Hart has done the same thing during his tenures with the Indians and Rangers and it worked out very well.

The Braves have been hovering around the 500 mark all season and that is a tribute to Hart and Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez.

While starting pitching with right-handers Miller, Julio Teheran and rookie Williams Perez has been fairly solid, the bullpen has struggled quite a bit.

Set up man Jim Johnson and closer Jason Grilli have done their job well, left-hander Luis Avilan, who had a strong 2014 season, and rookie right-hander Brandon Cunniff, have struggled.

Despite all the ups and downs, the Braves entered Monday’s two-game inter league series with the Red Sox in Boston just three-and-a-half games behind the National League Eastern Division leading New York Mets.