Offseason signings: Sometimes you win, sometimes you don't

Associated PressAtlanta Braves starting pitcher Charlie Morton (50) in the first inning of a baseball game Sunday in Denver.

Sometimes a baseball general manager will take a big swing and hit one out of the park with offseason acquisitions. 

Something that turns out to be a no-brainer where the signing works out for all parties involved. 

In other instances, however, the swing leads to a big whiff and an even bigger strikeout. The end result leads to a 'What were you thinking?' mindset from the fanbase. 

An argument could be made that each of those cases were made by Atlanta Braves General Manager Alex Anthopolous regarding his two offseason starting pitcher signings heading into the final month of the season.

Charlie Morton has been everything the Braves had hoped for and could be the veteran presence the team needs heading into the postseason. Following Sunday's victory over the Colorado Rockies, Morton is now 13-5 with a 3.47 ERA with 185 strikeouts and 1.06 WHIP.

Morton pitched six innings in all but one start in August, which included a six-inning gem against the defending World Series champs Los Angeles Dodgers on Aug. 31. With a bullpen as suspect as the Braves have at times, they need their starters to go as deep into games as possible. 

Morton is the perfect veteran pitcher for the Braves who still have young hurlers like Max Fried and Ian Anderson. He is the ace that the Braves can hand the ball to in game one and then potentially lean on for a game four or even game seven in the postseason. In 10 playoff series for his career, Morton is 7-3 with a 3.38 ERA. He's pitched in two World Series and three World Series games, so he is definitely not scared of the moment.

It is no wonder the Braves just signed him to an extension.

But as good as Morton has been, Drew Smyly has been a disappointment; 4.71 ERA, 27 home runs allowed, 61 earned runs in 116.2 innings. He was especially disappointing in August. He lasted at least five innings in just two of his five starts. In 23.2 innings, Smyly surrendered 16 earned runs and an eye-popping nine home runs.

Smyly's latest month was about as pathetic as his start to the season; six innings and four runs against the Washington Nationals; five innings and five runs against the Philadelphia Phillies; four innings and six runs against the Arizona Diamondbacks; and four innings and six runs against the Toronto Blue Jays.

An 8.05 ERA and nine homers in 19 innings in April is not what the Braves paid for. I understand the reasoning behind giving him a shot since the Braves needed experience on the mound. But there is a point when the Braves should cut their losses. That was a long time ago.

Kudos to the Braves for signing their postseason ace. At least Anthopolous deserves that credit.

Clint Thompson is a special contributor to the Valdosta Daily Times.

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