MLB  > General MLB  > Are the Braves back?
February 10, 2010, 07:18 AM
Are the Braves over the hump and on their way back?

Dan: I think that they are. They have a good team. Tommy Hanson is a young and upcoming pitcher, they also have Jair Jurrjens who is really good. He had a good year last year and that showed a lot about well of a pitcher he is. They also have a good hitting squad with Chipper, McCann and McLouth. I think that they have a possibility to make a run at the NL East title (but the Phillies will still pull out the win, though).

Tim: Its tough to say. They certainly have "now" talent in their line-up and rotation with Chipper, Jurrjens, McCann, and McClouth. However, they have their main piece - Jason Heyward - a year or two away from making the bigs. They need to start planning for a replacement for Chipper Jones who can produce when Heyward is ready. They also lost Vasquez this offseason to the Yankees. Its doubtful they are on their way back just yet; especially with a talented Phillies team in the division as well as a deadly at times Mets squad.

Joe: The Atlanta Braves didn???t exactly do terrible in 2009 season finishing 86 and 76. They were actually making a move to be in the playoffs late in the season at a point. They have made moves this winter but nothing that audacious that propels them into being a favorite to win their division.

Arguably, their best starter Javier Vazquez was traded, so that sort of weakens the Braves rotation. However, the rotation is still deep with Jair Jurrjens, Derek Lowe, Tommy Hanson, Tim Hudson, and Kenshin Kawakami.

Braves added Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito. Wagner will be penciled in as the Braves closer. He turns 39 next year. Can he be effective for a whole season after missing almost all of last season following Tommy John surgery? Saito will be 40 years old by the time the season starts. Not sure these two improve the pen for the Braves. Besides, to put it politely, Wagner never was Mariano as a closer.

In 2009, the Braves were 17th in batting average and OPS, and 22nd in home runs. They have not done a lot to change that situation. Adam La Roche is gone and has been replaced by Troy Glaus. Troy Glaus, following off-season shoulder surgery, played in only 14 games in 2009. Glaus has the potential to put up big numbers but is anyone going to bet the ranch on that happening?

Right now the Braves opening day outfield of newly acquired Melky Cabrera in left field, Nate McLouth in center field, and Matt Diaz in right field. Anyone impressed?

The Braves infield is shortstop Yunel Escobar, catcher Brian McCann, 2nd baseman Martin Prado, and 3rd baseman Chipper Jones. The Braves need Jones to improve upon his season of last year but that may be a bit to ask for the guy in his, what I am afraid are, declining years. He is probably a first ballot HOFer but his best is now behind him.

Other acquisitions by the Braves were Jesse Chavez, Mike Dunn, and Arodys Vizcaino and they are not likely to have a major impact during 2010. Chavez was acquired in the Rafael Soriano deal. He is a reliever and probably makes the major league roster. Dunn and Vizcaino were acquired from the Yankees in the Javier Vazquez deal. Dunn, a reliever, is a highly regarded Yankee farm hand. Arodys Vizcaino is a hard throwing 19 year old Dominican who struck out 11 batters per 9 innings at Staten Island. However, they are not ready for prime time as of yet.

The Braves have money to spend winter and need a power and/or high average bat. Damon?

Right now though I don???t see the Braves as all that much improved over last year. As they are presently represented they are going only so far as their pitching carries them and their pitching better pitch a lot of complete games, too.

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