Thursday, March 29, 2007

Your 2007 N.L. East Preview: Atlanta Braves

They say that teams like the Atlanta Braves don't rebuild, they reload. Well, John Schuerholz had to do a lot of rebuilding for the 2007 season. But they also did some reloading as well.

It all means that it's time to ratchet up the hate machine again.

I'm doing my best to try to suppress these feelings about the Braves being competitive. But that would be as unhealthy as my general eating habits (as I wolf down some salt & vinegar potato chips and a Coke Zero). Let's face it: I can't go around spewing about how it's the bullpen that wins ballgames and then turn around and say that the Braves are going to suck moose appendages. Bob Wickman, Rafael Soriano (great f'n trade Bill Bavasi!), and Mike Gonzalez represent a huge upgrade from how the Braves started 2006. Those three join lefties Oscar Villareal (9-1 in 2006) and Macay McBride (4-1 in 2006) to form a very good unit. The questions lie in former Met Tyler Yates and former Yankee Tanyon Sturtze, but when everybody's favorite school system expert Mike Hampton comes back from injury, Lance Cormier will probably join the 'pen and strengthen it.

The rest of the rotation will feature Tim Hudson (who single handedly ruined my fantasy team last year ,but is having a good spring), Chuck James (who will single handedly ruin my fantasy team this year, but is also having a good spring), Kyle Davies (who battles inconsistency), Mark Redman (who battles being with crappy teams like the Royals), and of course John Smoltz who doesn't want to retire anytime soon. When Hampton comes back (and if Hampton can return to his peak form), the starting pitching is deep and serviceable.

The highlights of the lineup will lie in Andruw Jones and his contract year, Edgar Renteria...who is happy to be out of the American League once and for all, and the newly minted Brian McCann...a .300 hitting lefty catcher who just signed a huge contract at the age of 23. You can put Jeff Francoeur on that list too, but he strikes out an awful lot, and walking seems to be a concept foreign to him (his OBP was a paltry .293 last season). By the way, Francoeur's middle name is Braden. Just thought you should know.

Remember Larry Jones? Sure you do. He battled nagging injuries last season, and appears to be doing the same this spring. If they continue, he'll be relegated to less of a factor than he usually is...although he will get his quota of big hits against the Mets. You can be sure about that. Kelly Johnson is learning a new position at second base, Ryan Langerhans could platoon with Matt Diaz in left, and former Yankee Craig Wilson will platoon at first base with second year player Scott Thorman.

If Andruw Jones fulfills his expectations for a contract year, and if Tim Hudson bounces back, the Braves are going to be serious contenders. For me though, the mediocrities of their starting pitching and the relative lack of firepower in their lineup (along with the uncertainty of whether they can go out and get a big ticket item at the trade deadline with the transference of ownership from Ted Turner to Liberty Media) will keep them from reclaiming the throne they feel is rightfully theirs. But that isn't going to stop those incessant chops and chants from coming out of the deep south. Buy your earplugs, boys and girls.



I'll miss Captain Planet.

Prediction: Second place, 86-76

14 comments:

Mike said...

That 86 wins looks to be about right. Could be higher even.

But they could really give the Mets a run for their money this year. I think their lack of starting pitching'll do them in in the end though. But they could contend for the wild card too.

Unser said...

McCann . . . he scares me.

'62METSFAN said...

DON'T KNOW HOW MANY OF YOU REMEMBER THE OLD LADY OF WENDY'S COMMERCIALS SCREAMING "WHERE'S THE BEEF? I UNDERSTAND SHE'S A SEASON TICKET HOLDER @ THE TED. BTW TURNER HASN'T OWNED THEM FOR YEARS. IT'S BEEN A TIME-WARNER FRANCHISE. MAKES ME FEEL SO MUCH BETTER NOW ABOUT SWITCHING TO DIRECTV.

Tommy_Calzone said...

Damus,

Just poppin in to say whats up before the bell rings.

Nice article on FU.

It's weird reading you with less sarcasm, sillyness and humor.

My biggest concern this year is ATL - call me cynical, call me emotionally scarred by the late 90's early 00's. Whatever it is they still scare the hell out of me.

I am hearing the Mets are gonna shelve Pelf for 2 weeks?

BAD BAD BAD BAD move.

the kid is on fire, i dont get it.

why not shelve Duque for a start or 2 instead?

Well at least its almost here.

Lets Go Mets!

tommy calzone said...

ps - explain the "labels" at the end of your posts please?

I mean you dont have to explain labels for any of the Braves, or Rollins or Myers I have my own labels for them....

Braves R Losres said...

John Rocker is the pride of the braves that is why they are pathetic losors.

Toasty Joe said...

The "Where's the Beef" lady has been dead for 20 years. As such, I seriously doubt she's a season ticket holder.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clara_Peller

Metstradamus said...

Tommy, I think the labels do something in terms of search engines...but I don't completely understand them either.

Mike said...

What's this about Pelfrey?

I thought he was in.

Is it something to do with the schedule, that they won't need a 5th starter for a couple weeks?

And yeah, Clara Peller, the Where's the beef lady died in the late 80s or early 90s I think.

Unser said...

There's been speculation that Pelfrey will remain in Florida for the first two weeks, when a fifth starter is not needed, but I think it's just speculation. I haven't heard anything from Mets' brass one way or the other.

I'm with Calzone - Pelf should be slotted in from the get go. Let's get Glavine and El Duque an extra day's rest during the cold months.

Mike said...

I agree.

Anonymous said...

Fear the chop!

Anonymous said...

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http://www.ticketwood.com/mlb/Atlanta-Braves-Tickets/index.php . Well I hope this will be helpful for you guys. Go Go braves. Keep me updated Great blog!!!

Anonymous said...

You guys seen the game, unbelievable, Braves is my best team in the MLB. I wish I could go to watch all their games but ticket prices this season are getting very pricy. Brokers made the game hard to attend. Well talking about Brokers. I found a new web site where you can compare Atlanta Braves ticket brokers, the site is
http://www.ticketwood.com/mlb/Atlanta-Braves-Tickets/index.php . Well I hope this will be helpful for you guys. Go Go Braves. Keep me updated Great blog!!!