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Welcome to a Brave, old world.

It's interesting to see a baseball team on the rebuild swing a deal for two 30-year-olds, but that's the way it works in Atlanta these days. With John Hart, you see, anything can happen and if his team wants to get rid of you bad enough consider you gone.

Just ask Chris Johnson.

The aloof Johnson, owner of the last of Fran Wren's horrible contracts, clearly did not want to be in Atlanta after asking to be traded and then, after getting a chance to prove his worth with Freddie Freeman out again, acted like he had forgotten how to play (or, at least count).

So out goes Johnson and in comes Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher and two more really bad contracts. There are — as we've seen in nearly every Hart trade — more good sides to the deal than bad. Johnson's bad attitude is replaced by the bubbly Swisher and the professional Bourn, who was a fan favorite in his previous stint in Atlanta.

The money involved is nearly a wash, with the Indians on the hook for two more years of Johnson and the Braves just one year for its new vets. Not to mention Cleveland pumped in a reported $10 million to help even it out.

Hey, why not?

The trade doesn't affect the rebuild one bit. It does, however, give the team a chance to win a few more games in the meantime and do it with players that actually might give a hoot.

It's funny that on Alumni Night Saturday the Braves had six players age 30 or more in the lineup. And they won.

On a side note, sorry to see Frank Gifford and Buddy Baker pass away this weekend. I never saw Gifford play but his voice on Monday Night Football was such a constant from my early childhood and he was always much more likable than Cosell.

Baker was doing TV when I first started on the NASCAR beat in the mid 90s, and even though he had no idea who I was he always took time to speak when we would pass in one of the media centers. You always hear that this guy or that guy was the nicest you ever met, but in this case few would argue.

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Atlanta Braves A.J. Pierzynski, left, scores past New York Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud on a Pedro Ciriaco base hit in the sixth inning inning of a baseball game Saturday, June 20, 2015, in Atlanta. d'Arnaud was shaken up up the play and left the game. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Who's your MVP?

It would be hard not to consider A.J. Pierzynski the Braves most valuable player. The 38-year-old catcher is hitting over .300 and has remained patient with the team's stable of inexperienced pitchers.

The team received a good bit of trade interest in the veteran but considered him too valuable to give up. And what's not to like? He hustles, produces, leads and, above all, cares.

Now if he could just have some of that rub off on Christian Bethancourt.

Speaking of valuable vets, Nick Markakis has really picked it up lately, hitting above .350 for an extended period and proving his four-year contract wasn't so bad after all. He definitely needs to be hitting somewhere in the middle of the order.

Also on the rise, finally, appears to be Julio Teheran. It's hard to believe a move from one side of the pitching rubber to the other has sparked his recent surge, but OK. His pitches do seem to have more movement since the move and he appears more confident in his pitches.

One other player to note is new closer Arodys Vizcaino, whose stuff is as good as any closer not named Chapman or Kimbrel in the NL. He's also a heck of a lot cheaper, and if Roger McDowell can keep his head on straight and his walks down, the Braves might just have something there.

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Dan Quinn, who is in his first season as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, led his new team through the first day of training camp Friday in Flowery Branch, Ga.

Falcons depth chart released

Say this for Dan Quinn and his coaching staff, they aren't afraid to send a not-so-subtle message or two to veterans who might have come into camp thinking they could cruise.

The team released its depth chart Monday, and while it means nothing in the long run, it does make for some interesting water cooler talk. Most notably on offense is that high-priced guard Jon Asamoah is listed second-string to Chris Chester. That's a lot of money to be sitting on the bench, so you have to wonder if it's just message to the vet to pick up the pace.

That O-line, which also consists of tackles Jake Matthews and Ryan Schraeder, guard Mike Person and center Joe Hawley, probably won't strike a lot of fear in opposing defenses, huh?

The defense lists top pick Vic Beasley the starter at end, though the other end, Tyson Jackson, is a bit of surprise considering Adrian Clayborn has received a lot of early praise. Ra'Shede Hageman and Paul Soliai are the tackles, with Jonathan Babineaux in a backup role.

Camp sensation Ricardo Allen is the starter at free safety opposite William Moore, and combined with corners Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford form a nice secondary. Let's just hope the linebacking trio of Justin Durant, Paul Worrilow and Brooks Reed can be respectable.

 

 

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