These aren't your older brother's Atlanta Braves. Gone are the 11 straight division titles from 1995-2005. Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, and Chipper Jones aren't walking through that door anytime soon.
Following last night's loss to the Red Sox the Braves have fallen to an MLB worst 4-17 on the season, good for a .190 winning percentage. It has been a steady decline for the Braves since their latest division title in 2013:
Despite the struggles there is reason to be optimistic about the Braves, who are following the Astros model of "tanking". That word is in quotes because tanking in baseball is not as egregious as it is in the NBA. Make no mistake though. It is about as close as you can get to trusting the process in MLB.
Atlanta realized they could not compete and instead of trying to remain a .500 team they decided to rebuild. They shed Melvin Upton's contract by including him in the Craig Kimbrel trade a year ago and continued that process this past offseason by trading Andrelton Simmons for prospects.
However, the best trade Atlanta has made recently was sending Shelby Miller to the Diamondbacks for the 2015 number one overall draft pick. Never before had the first overall draft pick been traded that quickly. The early signs from the move look promising as Miller is struggling in Arizona with a 8.69 ERA through five games while Swanson is hitting to a .333/.438/.520 clip in the minors.
As frustrating as the next couple of years will be for Braves fans the thought process makes sense. The team won't compete for division titles this year or next so there is no point in trying to reach .500. Instead Atlanta will spend some time building up their minor league system, which is a process that has proven to work for teams such as the Astros, Cubs, and Royals.