Well, with snow blanketing much of the US, clearly – it’s time to talk Braves baseball!
So, what do we make of the Braves version 2010? Wasn’t it weird to have an offseason where the last thing we as fans were looking for was starting pitching? Too many starters in fact. When did we last have that problem?! 19 hundred and something, at the latest! Of course if any of the main guys go down, then we are like every other team in baseball, hoping and praying someone at AAA can go 5 innings and only give up 3-4 runs. But, as of now, I am sure everyone will agree that our starting pitching is in very good shape. As good as it was at the start of last season.
Now, the bullpen. Ahh, yes, the bullpen. While Gonzo and Soriano are not perfect, my feelings are they are better than Takashi Saito and Billy Wagner. At least the former are younger! ;)
Takashi Saito has had an ERA under 3 for his 4 seasons in the big leagues. Very impressive! But he is also going to be 40 on Valentine’s Day. He also was in only 56 games last year. I sure hope one of the translators will make both facts well known to Bobby! ;)
Wagner is a relative spring chicken compared to him as he will turn 39 in July. 62 Games and 62 innings the past two years. Can he pitch in 3 straight games?? 2 straight??
We know if the 87 games Peter Moylan pitched in last year don’t cause his arm to fall off this spring, he will be a steady presence, most likely racking up 80 plus appearances again. Kris Medlen should continue to improve on last years work.
Eric O’Flaherty will get the lefties out once again. Scott Proctor, if he has regained his health, could be a big boost to the bullpen. Bobby has to find someone else to rely on besides Gonzo, and Sori…oh wait…anyway. He has to find a way to trust someone besides the 2 middle-aged guys. Just can’t use them like guys 10-12 years younger.
Will Manny Acosta finally get his act together??? Will Chris Resop and his 100 MPH stuff finally come through??? Those guys clearly have great stuff….
Speaking of question marks: our offense. (Some of this is going to be ‘no duh, Berigan,’ please bear with me!)
Starting at 1st. Troy Glaus. Man, if this was 2009, we would be tickled to get him after another 100 RBI season. But it’s 2010 and in 2009 he hit .172 in just 29 AB’s. The biggest thing going in his favor is he is still fairly young, won’t turn 34 til August.
2nd Base. Toot toot! (me tooting my own horn) I have long been a fan of Martin Prado. It seemed like he would never get his chance to show what he could do as a full time player. Finally got that chance, and showed to everyone he deserves it. Still, he only has 770 AB’s for his career, and some guys the league does figure out. I don’t think he will be one of those though.
SS: Yunel Escobar. He has finally proven himself, offensively and defensively -well, as long as no one is sliding into him!- but what about between the ears? Didn’t it seem last year that any day he would do just the right thing to get his talented behind traded??? Will he finally mature this year???
3rd base: Ol Chipper. There was this 37 year old. He hit 17 HR’s drove in 62 RBI’s and hit .337. Then he turned 38 and in 404 AB’s hit 14 HR’s drove in 44 RBIs and hit a lousy .255. A lot of people thought he was washed up. His manager even was trying to tell him he wasn’t a regular anymore. He hit .275 at the age of 39, .288 at the age of 40, and at 41, in 505 AB’s he hit 19 HR’s Drove in 82 RBIs, and had a .330 B.A. Unless I have a cystal ball (I do, but it only sees 30 seconds in the future) I am not talking about Chipper, but another guy already in the the Hall of Fame. Stan Musial!
Funny, when Chipper hit .248 at the age of 32, no one thought he was washed up. He hit .264 last year and even he seems convinced he’s about done. Like the great Joaquin Andujar said, “There is one word in America that says it all, and that one word is, You never know!”
Wait, what am I forgetting on the infield? Catcher. McCann and David Ross. If healthy, no worries. Nuff said.
Left field: Matt Diaz hit .313 last year! Seems hard to believe, doesn’t it?! He was very streaky early, .216 in April, .378 in May, .250 in June. I think if he didn’t take those terrible swings on pitches low and outside he’d be thought of as a regular, IMO.
Anyway, likely a platoon guy with Melky Cabrera, who last year hit .274, 13 HR, 68 RBIs. He lost the starting job last spring but won it back when Brett Gardner went on the DL. So, Cabrera was in 154 games last year, the guy to man center for a team that won 103 games. Of course, they also traded him. But both he and Diaz arguably should be starting players, though neither has a whole lot of power. Seems we do have plenty of outfielders though, if you toss in Eric Hinske.
Center field: Nate McClouth. Did you know he hit 26 HR’s and drove in 94 in 2008? Do you understand why I think it’s bat poop crazy for him to bat leadoff on a team with little power? *sigh* Tilting at windmills.
Right Field: some kid – what’s his name? The JHey Kid! Is he the real deal? Everyone says he is. Those short clips I’ve seen on the web show one of the smoothest swings out there – but he is 20. What can we truly expect from him?
Willie Mays failed at first. Cal Ripkin was bad at the very beginning, as well. ARod, at the age of 20, hit 36 HRs, drove in 123 and had a .358 BA. But he also played 65 games in the previous two years in the majors.
Ken Griffey jr came up at 19, and hit 16 Hr’s drove in 61, and hit .264. Are those realistic numbers for Heyward? Would we win with those numbers? Or How about what a 23 year old rookie by the name of Mark McGwire did as a rookie? 49 Homers! Not much pressure, but he should shoot for 50 to break his record! :mrgreen: Still, wish the Braves had brought JHey up for a cup of coffee, especially if they are counting on him right out of the box.
So, long story longer – who knows what will happen this year? 3rd, 2nd or even 1st place all seem to be valid possibilities. Which is why we watch the games, right?
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