Sunday, March 26, 2006

N.L. East Preview: Atlanta Braves

Laaaaaaaaarrrrr-rrrrrrrryyyyyyyyyyyy!

All right, now that that's out of the way...

Seriously, I've been agonizing over this for days now. You know, every season I want to pick against these guys...much in the same way I thought there was no way the Yankees could win out in the playoffs such as 1996, 1999, and of course 2000. And everytime I do pick against them I wind up with egg on my face...and rotten egg at that. You know the old saying: "They're the champs until somebody beats them." Combine that with the fact that the Braves seem to live on borrowed time every season, getting by with kids fresh out of Richmond, with the best closer they've had in the past 15 seasons a converted starter, who's back to starting. And there's also the case of that very same converted starter playing more mind games with my head, proclaiming that the Mets are the favorites to win the division on paper.

And I swore I wouldn't fall victim to John Smoltz's evil Jedi mind tricks, as Smoltz tries to be a modern day Whitey Herzog...waving the white flag in March. I swore at that moment, that I was going to automatically pick the Braves to win the east and fall in the first round of the playoffs like they always do.

But darn it, I'm breaking my promise to myself. And I'm going to regret it.

Make no mistake about it, the Braves are a damn fine team (ugh!) And they are the champs until somebody beats them (double ugh!) Smoltz along with Tim Hudson are the best 1-2 punch in the division. Edgar Renteria is primed for a huge bounce back season in his return to the National League, and the rest of the lineup which includes Andruw Jones, Brian McCann, Ryan Langerhans, Jeff Francoeur, Adam Laroche, Brian Giles, and yes that guy who plays third base and names his kid "Shea", make up a pretty good lineup.

But there are two vital questions that the Braves must answer this season:
  1. Who is the Braves leadoff hitter?
  2. How large will the departure of Leo Mazzone loom?

Rafael Furcal was the prototypical leadoff hitter for many years in Atlanta. And in 2005, he was easily their leader in stolen bases with 46. Second? Marcus Giles with 16. Renteria had 9 for the Red Sox last season, but with Papi and Manny batting behind him, there was never a real reason for Renteria to take off...so his total will move up a bit. But Renteria will most likely bat second, with perhaps Giles and his career .366 OBP to lead off. That's not to say it isn't going to work, the Yankees lineup has been successful for years with their cyborg of a shortstop leading off instead of his more natural two spot. But the Braves aren't going to have the wealth of steroid us...er, natural big boppers in the middle of their order as the Yankees do. The Jones boys may very well be good enough though.

In terms of Mazzone, pitchers like Tim Hudson were fine without Mazzone before, and will be again. But what of a pitcher like Jorge Sosa? Sure, a pitcher from Tampa Bay is bound to get better not only leaving Tampa, but leaving the A.L. East. But from 4-7, 5.53 in 2004 to 13-3, 2.55 in 2005 has a little more to it than merely discovering Wheaties. And what of a bullpen that will not only start the season on the disabled list, but is also extremely young? Closer Chris Reitsma isn't even widely assumed to end the season in that role. Blaine Boyer, Lance Cormier, Joey Devine, Macay McBride are inexperienced to the point that the Braves are currently looking into wheeling John Thomson to get bullpen help. If Thomson, another pitcher who has had his greatest statistical success under Mazzone, is the chip to get help in the bullpen, there is a problem.

So this may be the year that the Atlanta magical fun ride comes to an end, much in the way that the New England Patriots struggled after the loss of coordinators Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel. It will still be an uphill battle for anybody to overtake this team, but I've decided that I couldn't let that John Smoltz Kool-Aid sit idly by on the table without someone taking a sip...damn you, John Smoltz. Prediction: Second place/Wild Card.

Tomorrow: Guess who!

10 comments:

j m said...

Just want to say, F them. Is this the right place to say that? And...I'm loving all the breakfast cereal allusions lately.

Metstradamus said...

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!

Liberals H8te God said...

Why do all liberals hate freedom and god.

Becuase they smoke weed with Barbare streisand and hillary clinton.

Only liberals want to deny freedom to IROC and deny the HOMELAND to detain evildoers

hahaha. That is why Bill Oreilly is a true patriot!

COOL BREEZ said...

You just keep repeating your self over and over again, get some new material and it might be funny. After like the 3rd or 4th time it kinda gets old. Do you even fallow the METs? You don't post about them. Just your warped views that no one cares about. In fact you have not even said what makes your point of view worth reviewing. All that I can gather from your posts is that your a retarded right wing republican with no sense of the real world. Or the only other thing I can think up that would explain your train of thought is that you still live with mommy and daddy.- dont forget to be home by 11:00pm or you will get grounded.


Metstradamus- Bring on the first place team!!!!!!Oh alright I'll do it for you...Its the METS!!!!!!!!! BABY!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

O'reilly is also a sexual harrasser. I can't believe I even responded to you.

Tommy_Calzone said...

Someone mention smokin weed?

I thought Tarasco & Roberts were no longer on the Mets?

Bobby V's imitation of that has to be one of the funniest things I ever saw.

puff puff give ;)

JeterBoy said...

Although Met fans believe their team will be world beaters year in and year out.....this may be the year it can all come true. The Braves run of winning the division what 25 years in a row is bound to end sometime (The Sox eventually got the Yankees). However, the Mets will play with the pressure of high payroll and high expectations and one would hope that they'd live up. I dislike the Braves myself but their string of success (albeit not in the postseason) is to be admired. Bobby Cox and Mazzone were able to do so much with all of their teams through the years. My thought is that the Mets should be first this year.....if anything its hoping that my Met friends can have something to cheer about besides celebrating childhood memories such as the 20th anniversary of their last world championship in 1986. After 20 years, we have to have something to hang on to. In another decade, these guys won't even be able to get out there!

Exit 117 said...

Ugh... For your poll, you needed a "I still don't f**king have SNY" option. Screw DirecTV.

Metstradamus said...

exit, you're correct. That was an oversight on my part.

jabair said...

Hey jeter b!tch, F U