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Mark Bradley

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

Why do the D-backs trade with the Braves anymore?


A sampling of the scathing reviews regarding Arizona's trade for Shelby Miller:

Headline on azcentralsports: Did Diamondbacks fall for the Braves’ tricks again?

Writes Andrew Joseph: "When it comes down to it, dealing with the Braves hasn't worked out for the Diamondbacks, but no trade has been riskier than this deal for Miller. Thanks to the trade, the Diamondbacks don't have a bright (distant) future. This is a team that is all about the present."

Headline on FanGraphs: Attempting to rationalize the Shelby Miller trade

Writes Craig Edwards: "This plan might work to get (the Diamondbacks) to the playoffs, but long-term their failure to understand the market is costing them precious assets that could be used to build a sustainable winner."

Another headline on FanGraphs: Diamondbacks pay for ace, get Shelby Miller

Writes Jeff Sullivan: "Miller is plenty interesting. He ought to help Arizona. Yet the trade looks like a clear, obvious mistake ... We know what took place, and we have a pretty darn good idea it’s extremely lopsided. One of the more lopsided trades in recent history."

Headline on Baseball Prospectus: The Shelby Shocker

Writes Matthew Trueblood: "The Diamondbacks surrendered perhaps the National League’s best fourth outfielder, in (Ender) Inciarte, a key cog in their run-prevention machine in 2015. They gave up Aaron Blair, a former first-round pick who split 2015 between Double-A and Triple-A, and who could have provided nice rotation depth in 2016. And they gave up Dansby Swanson, the top overall pick in the draft six months ago. If the Diamondbacks had any hope of extending their half-open competitive window further than the end of Paul Goldschmidt’s prime, they put a huge dent in it by agreeing to this trade."

Headline on ESPN's SweetSpot: Braves rob Diamondbacks in Shelby Miller trade

Writes David Schoenfield: "Miller is the big name here but the Braves got an absolutely terrific haul of talent for a dependable, mid-rotation starter. Heck, Inciarte may be worth more than Miller by himself and is certainly proof that executives Dave Stewart and Tony La Russa are out of touch in the analytics game."

A bit of history. In early 2013, the Braves' then-GM Frank Wren plucked Justin Upton and Chris Johnson from the D-backs -- whose general manager was Kevin Towers -- for Martin Prado and Randall Delgado. That was a win for the Braves. (Not a windfall, but a clear win. The Braves won 96 games and the National League East.) Last summer, the Wren-less Braves fleeced the Snakes for former No. 1 pick Touki Toussaint in exchange for utility man Phil Gosselin and the remainder of Bronson Arroyo's contract. The aforementioned Stewart and La Russa got roasted for that. Now the same D-backs duo just overpaid -- and saying they overpaid understates it -- for Miller.

Arizona's three most recent No. 1 picks -- Blair, Toussaint and Swanson -- are Atlanta property. This comes at a time when every other organization puts a massive value on the procuring and hoarding of No. 1 picks. We could say that La Russa and Stewart don't, as front-office types, know what they're doing, but the Upton trade was hashed out by different GMs.

Maybe it's the desert air. Maybe it's too much time spent in the Arizona sun. But something is odd in Phoenix. But that's those folks' problem. For now, let's just say: Every time the Braves' John Coppolella sees the name "Dave Stewart" flash on his iPhone, his heart surely goes pit-a-pat.

(Oh, and for those audibly inclined, here's a Baseball Prospectus Effectively Wild podcast by Sam Miller and Ben Lindbergh, in which the Miller trade is discussed at length. Neither Sam nor Ben understand it, either.)

(As for me, I wrote this: Time for kudos - the Braves just made a tremendous trade.)

(And this: The Miller trade is the Braves' master stroke.)

(And this about the Toussaint deal: A really slick trade for the increasingly brainy Braves .)


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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.