While the Braves were strategizing how to rebuild a team that might lose as many as 14 free agents, they had difficulty watching a World Series that many had picked them to be in.
"It's been frustrating the whole time watching this thing," infield Mark DeRosa said. "It's frustrating, but Florida is a team that's always played us tough, so I've got a lot of respect for them. They've got guys stepping up, doing what it takes. Like the Anaheim Angels last year, their whole lineup is just flowing, clicking at the right time."
But at least one senior Brave watched enough to know the Braves had serious flaws that would have been exploited as the playoffs went on. The Braves led the NL in scoring but, according to closer John Smoltz, offensive fireworks do not always make for the best team.
"Seriously, what can Bobby do with this lineup?" Smoltz said. "You can't hit-and-run, you can't steal. What buttons do you want him to push when the team's constructed the way it is? When you're doing what you've got to do, it looks powerful, it looks great. But when you're not, it looks ugly. There's nothing in between."
While the Braves underwent a change in philosophy last winter when they cut allocations to the pitching staff, Smoltz felt the offense was over-reliant on power. While the club did break the franchise home run record (235), it rarely demonstrated the ability to generate runs without the long ball.
Both the Marlins and New York Yankees showed offensive creativity with the stolen base, sacrifice and hit-and-run throughout the Series.
The Braves were 17-25 in one-run games in 2003.
"Simple fact is, the Florida Marlins put the ball in play in many situations that create pressure on the other teams," Smoltz said. " ... Nobody gives up. They faced two hot pitchers, and the second time around they made adjustments they needed to make. We just didn't."
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