Mark Bradley

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Gush alert! The Braves had a great offseason

Sometimes I gush. I try not to do it often -- it ruins the curmudgeonly effect I endeavor to cultivate -- but sometimes I do. I mention this because, over on, our premium site, I just gushed about the Atlanta Braves .

Long-ish story short: By extending four luminaries among their prized young core -- an All-Star first baseman, the best shortstop in the business, the best closer in the business and the best young arm this franchise has seen rise to the majors in 20 years -- the Braves had themselves a great offseason.

As someone who has hung around this franchise for three decades, I have to say I'm more excited about the Braves than I've been since the middle '90s, when the worst-to-firsters of 1991 began to give way to the Next Wave of Chipper Jones, Ryan Klesko, Javy Lopez. and Mike Kelly. (OK, so Mike Kelly didn't work out.) You knew then that the Braves would be good now and, given that they were flush with prospects and cash, good for years to come.

The Braves of Liberty Media haven't been so flush with cash, but they just sank $267.4 million into long-term extensions for Freddie Freeman, Andrelton Simmons, Craig Kimbrel and Julio Teheran. (This doesn't count option years. It also doesn't count the $13.3 million to secure Jason Heyward until he's eligible for free agency in 2015.)

More gushing: I like it when the local teams carry themselves like smart teams. (This hasn't always been the case, as we know.) I like it when they move boldly. Even if all these preemptive strikes don't pay the hoped-for dividends, they were moves worth making.

I'm human. I enjoy a good rip, same as everybody else. But sometimes it's nice just to sit back and say, "Well done, y'all." This is such a time.

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About the Author

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has been with the AJC since 1984.