Team USA Hoops Needs Help. So...
....Should Pop have called Trae? The Braves make a deadline deal (sort of). It's Not Joc. Atlanta as Olympics Host Again. Wait! What? News On Olympics Here.
I’m wondering just how much Trae Young could help the fitful USA Olympic Basketball team, which lost two warm-up games this week.
You bet I have some thoughts:
The games are not officiated as tight as NBA games and Young makes a living out of getting to the foul line. The international referees are also suspicious of players purposely drawing fouls.
Also, Team USA has a size issue and Young is not going to fix that. One more thing: defense is a premium here and while Young is better defensively, he could be exploited by crafty guards like Australia’s Patty Mills.
The Hawks’ star is still too young for the international game. And, he is banged up, which is really the biggest reason he didn’t get a call. But if he was healthy…it wouldn’t happen.
Then again, I don’t see a Team USA Player able to turn a corner and get downhill like Young and bust up a physical defense.
My take is Trae Young wasn’t given consideration for the U.S. Olympic Team for some obvious reasons.
The problem with Young being anywhere near Team USA is the presence of assistant coach Lloyd Pierce. It is pretty much accepted that Young and Pierce did not co-exist nicely with the Hawks and that was ONE of the reasons Pierce was fired this season.
Gregg Popovich, the Team USA head coach, is loyal to Pierce, his friend. There was no way Pop was going to put his friend in a bad situation, especially when it was not clear how much Young could elevate the team.
I think, eventually, this squad comes together and wins Gold. It would be nice to have Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis, so our best is against their best, but injuries and a grueling NBA season ruin a Dream Team.
I would be more worried if Australia, a favorite to medal, had Ben Simmons. Say what you will about his game in the playoff series with Atlanta, but Simmons would have made the Aussies better, and they are plenty good right now.
The Braves (44-45) are going to have a huge pick-up right after the trade deadline at the end of the month. I can guarantee it. Will it be enough to make up four games on the Mets? Sure it can.
So who is it? The Braves need an outfield bat. Some people are thinking they make a big play for Baltimore’s Trey Mancini, an All-Star, who is under contract through 2022.
It’s not him.
No, it wasn’t the strikeout/home run maven Joc Pederson who the Braves pried away from the Cubs on Thursday for a first baseman from Iowa, Bryce Ball, who isn’t among Atlanta’s top prospects.
The Braves deadline deal is more significant than Joc.
They are going to get Travis d’Arnaud.
I know, trick question. The Atlanta catcher’s return from a thumb injury is going to be just like a big trade. Atlanta, which has used sixed catchers trying to replace “Lil d” after he was injured in May, needs a bat in the middle, so call it a re-acquisition.
d’Arnaud had a big season in 2020 hitting .321 with a .919 OPS. He played just 23 games this season before the injury. He wasn’t 2020 good, but it was just 23 games.
It took Freddie Freeman weeks to find his groove and d’Arnaud will be back the second week of August and have some time to get right. He could slide into the 4 hole, move Austin Riley back to 5, Dansby Swanson to 6, and the lineup gets some depth again.
Pederson? He is making $7 million and is one of my least favorite players in all of baseball. The guy is hitting .230 and swaggers, which at least fits him with the rightfielder he replaces, who was also known to swagger.
The Braves have this superiority complex that they think they can turn a guy around. We’ll see. Pederson does have 11 home runs, but it is with 287 plate appearances. I’m just tired of this kind of player.
From the sounds of it, I don’t think the Braves are done trying to win another division title. “Right now, our focus is on adding if we can,” Anthopoulos said.
Atlanta is not giving up.
According to a source at Major League Baseball, 23 of the 30 teams are at 85 percent vaccination rate. The Braves will not say what their vaccination rate is, but I wonder if this has anything to do with Bally Sports TV guys still not traveling with the team. The Braves want to keep the clubhouse closed because they have too many un-vaccinated players.
Or, maybe it’s money.
Chip Caray, Jeff Francoeur, and Tom Glavine seem to be doing just fine calling away games from the booth at Truist Park, so perhaps the Bally mavens, who are all about profit, are going to save a bunch of money by keeping the guys at home.
Braves fans should be out-raged. We are paying premium cable/streaming rates and the broadcaster is keeping the news gatherers away from the players. Believe me, there is a benefit to having Caray and Francoeur close to the game and collecting some tidbits. The same with award-winning analysts Paul Byrd and Nick Green. When they have interaction with the players, we learn more.
There was a lot of speculation over the All-Star break about the Braves and contract talks with Freddie Freeman, who has said he wants to re-sign with the Braves.
There is absolutely no way the Braves can not re-up Freeman because there is not another leader on this team. Who is the voice? Who is the presence in the clubhouse?
It is certainly not Ronald Acuna, Jr., with his theatrics and age. It might be Ozzie Albies in two years, but not in 2022. Austin Riley is too young and doesn’t have that presence.
Travis d’Arnaud is a veteran, but he is signed through just this year. Shortstop Dansby Swanson is too up-and-down and fans are clamoring for the young shortstop Braden Shewmake to take over, though he has regressed offensively.
Pitcher Max Fried? Maybe, but he plays once every five days. Then again, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz could rule a clubhouse playing once every five days.
No, the window to a title is wide open and the Braves need Freeman. I understand GM Alex Anthopoulos abhors the long-term deal for a 30-something player. The graybeards lose commitment to the game, and they can be a big waste of money to a middle-income team like the Braves, but Freeman is a player who has proved he can be trusted to play out the deal.
They have bring back Freeman.
Oh, that bit on the Olympics in the Ball Atlanta headline.
Steve Hummer of the AJC had a sit down with 1996 Olympics overlords Billy Payne and Andy Young.
Hummer had this:
Delayed a year by the COVID-19 outbreak, the Tokyo Summer Games are scheduled to open Friday without spectators amid another surge of the virus. As Japan struggled with the pandemic, Young said he was approached with the idea of Atlanta stepping in to hold these Games if the original host country could not accommodate them. “I said, ‘No, thanks,’” Young chuckled. “I wasn’t interested at all. It just didn’t feel right.”
Atlanta’s 1996 Olympic Games were so successful that in a 9-1-1 situation the International Olympic Committee had Atlanta on speed dial.