David O'Brien of the AJC posted his latest blog, which includes some great stuff worth reading in full. I will do my best to summarize and respond, as I often like to do with his blogs.
O'Brien interviewed GM Frank Wren while Wren was on vacation in Cozumel, fresh off a couple scuba diving sessions. Wren was asked about the payroll situation and Liberty Media, the owners of the Braves, in which he gave some great answers. He gave the usual response that they have an ample payroll to win, which is certainly true. He gave examples of teams around their mark that have succeeded recently, including the Giants. But the part I loved the most was his emphasis that a strong farm system keeps a middle market team competitive. It is nothing new, but something like this seems to get lost in a sea of complaints about ownership not spending like the competition. If ownership is willing to spend on the system, and there is a constant flow of talent coming to Atlanta, the Braves will continue to compete.
Wren further stated that the situation with Liberty Media is "outstanding." Naturally, he will say something like this, but he also mentioned that ownership basically stays out of their business and lets them run the team. This can go both ways. As a general manager, you don't want somebody constantly looking over your shoulder, setting limits and telling you whether or not you should make a move. However, you would also like ownership to be involved in that they should be willing to pay the extra few million to get that international prospect. If they set a limit on the budget and say have at it, it doesn't sound like much of a competitive spirit that would be willing to add that few million.
The main point of me adding this to the Dan Uggla post is found halfway down the blog, where O'Brien says talks are still ongoing between the Braves and Uggla, but it is not on the fast track to an announcement. The two sides feel there is no reason to rush it, and it appears both sides feel confident it will get done. It sounds like this may have something to do with the holidays slowing things down, so there is no way of knowing when it will get done, if it does. But all signs point toward it happening.
O'Brien compares Uggla's possible five-year extension to Jayson Werth's deal with the Nationals as a means of justification, which blows his argument out the window and into the trash can. He doesn't come out and say Uggla is worth five years at his age, but he gives plenty reasons to understand the move. The first is his success through the first five years of his career, which has earned him a lofty amount, but means nothing when extending him through the age of 35. The other is the current market, which can always be a reason for a large amount if comparable, but it doesn't make you any smarter when extending Uggla five years. Just because the Nationals want to pay Werth a wad of cash when he will no longer be worth it does not mean the Braves should do so with Uggla.
The final part of the blog involves a discussion with commenters about how competitive the NL East will be. I will dive deeper into this in the future, but I will say that the big signings around the division have made it tougher for the Braves to win. O'Brien takes it as people believe the better competition will somehow make the Marlins, Nationals and Mets able to overtake the Braves. What should actually be taken from it is better competition means tougher wins. Within a year or two, the Nationals (and I venture to say the Mets) will no longer be a pushover. Not having that three-game series to guarantee a couple wins makes a difference.