As Spring Training games continue, I can’t help but wonder what this
season will bring. So many surprises, so many new players, so much fun
awaiting. The Braves are opening the season again this year, meaning I
don’t have to wait as long as the majority of you do for your team to
play. I really can’t wait. There are so many reasons why.
- The Braves Restructured Their Pitching Staff
After SO MANY
bad injuries last year, we decided to find guys who can stay healthy
and really help out our team. We lost out on AJ Burnett, Mike Hampton,
Junichi Tazawa, and John Smoltz. Smoltz really hurt since he was an
icon for the Braves and was much loved here in Atlanta. AJ Burnett and
Mike Hampton didn’t really matter much since they spend more time on
the DL than they do on the field. Tazawa wasn’t too important since he
was probably one from actually playing. We did happen to land Dodger’s
star pitcher Derek Lowe, workhorse Javier Vazquez, highly rated
Japanese pitcher Kenshin Kawakami, and some bullpen help in Boone Logan
and Eric O’Flaherty. We also got to retain Tom Glavine. It is a totally
different pitching staff.
- There is More Experience in the Players
had many players like Jurrjens, Morton, Campillo, Blanco, Jones, and
Sammons who had little to no Major League experience. Because of all
the injuries, some of them got rushed into the spotlight. Jurrjens and
Campillo seem to be the most likely out of that list that will start on
the opening day roster, and they also have a chance to be much better
than they were last year. They were both great until they got tired of
all the starts. They will know more of what to expect in the Majors
than they did last year as rookies. There will be many rookies this
year that are looking to get some playing time sometime during the
season like Tommy Hanson, Jordan Schafer, and Jeff Locke. It should be
fun watching them play for the Braves and learning from some of the
best players and one of the best managers in the game.
- I Get to Watch a Healthier Team
injuries were SO bad last year that it wasn’t funny. We are lucky to
have finished with the record we did considering we had 1 of our
opening day pitchers stay healthy and had many injuries with our
bullpen and field players. Chipper spent some time on the DL, same with
Kotsay, McCann, Escobar, and Diaz. Our 3 possible closers were all the
DL (Soriano, Gonzalez, and Moylan). We had no depth. We gave up after
we dealt Teixeira and Kotsay to contenders. It was hard to watch.
We Have a Very Good Chance at Going to the Playoffs For the First Time Since ’05
your an October regular, it is hard to miss 3 consecutive playoff
appearances. It has definitely been to deal with, but I really think
this is the year. It will definitely be a tough challenge as the
Phillies and Mets have gotten better as well. We also can’t overlook
the Nationals and the Marlins. If we can keep cool and get the maximum
ability out of all of our players, especially Jeff Francoeur. I can’t
tell you how important he is to our success next year. If he plays bad,
we lose. If he turns back into his Gold Glove, 100 RBI, 20 Home Run self, we will win. If he does another 08 season, he won’t be in Atlanta in 2010. It is very hard for me to say that, but it is true.
- We Have a Lot More Depth
year we had little depth, and that killed us badly. Our Bullpen was a
wreck, our pitching staff was a complete shame, there was always an
injury in our starting lineup, and our backups didn’t do too well last
year. Our backup catchers were an absolute shame and should be put on
the list for “poorest attempt to play a game.” I actually take back the
“our backups didn’t do too well last year” comment since now that I
think about it, the other backups weren’t too bad (the catchers were
still horrible). Infante, Norton, Prado, Gotay, and Lillibridge all got
decent playing time last year and they were our utility men. We do have
much better depth this year because of our great farm system. We also
signed David Ross who should help with our backup catcher situation. We
lost Gotay and Lillibridge, but we still have Prado, Infante, and
Norton along with a couple of prospects who are more than capable of
filling in. Our pitching is the best part. We have plenty of bullpen
arms and can improvise if a player in our rotation gets injured or is
not doing too well. We have it all covered.
- The Teams Are Not The Same They Were Last Year
players, new uniforms. We have seen players like Hoffman and Smoltz
sign for teams that we never expected them to sign for. It will
definitely be weird watching them play in different uniforms next year,
but that is the way baseball goes. I can wait to see how the Braves’
new additions do during the season. There were so many free agents and
so many new signatures that it is hard to know who will be good and who
won’t. You will never know.
- There Are So Many Unexpected Things That Could Happen
This is the best thing about baseball. Anything can happen. The
Volquez-Hamilton was an unexpected thing. Tim Linececum, Ryan Ludwick,
Cliff Lee, Nate McLouth were all some of the big surprise players this
year. The Rays were the biggest surprise as they went from last in the
AL to Best in the AL in 1 year! That is amazing! I can’t wait to find
out who are this year’s breakout players. I am hoping players like
Andruw Jones, Jeff Francoeur, and Barry Zito bounce back. It would be a
feel-good story. I really just can’t wait for next year and will
Hopefully we will see soon what this season brings.
I thought I would give my take on the newly elected HOF’s. First off, I would have voted for both. They both deserved it and I’m proud they are in. Some people will disagree with the Rice being Hall-material, but I congratulate him and wish him the best. Just to be mentioned is great. Henderson was a shoo-in and should have at least been given 98% of the vote. I don’t see what kind of argument you could have made to make me think that Rickey was not a Hall of Famer. He should have been given the full 100% in my mind.
I will just say that if I could vote, I would have given votes to both of them, Dale Murphy, Bert Blyleven, Andre Dawson, Lee Smith, Harold Baines, Tim Raines and probably Tommy John. They are all Hall of Famers in my book. Next year might be more exciting. Blyleven and Dawson will be favorites coming back. They will be going against a class that will be highlighted by Roberto Alomar, Ellis Burks, Fred McGriff, Barry Larkin, Andres Galarraga and Edgar Martinez. Alomar and Larkin might be get more than 75% on their first year, but it will be a tough test.
Well This might be the last post I will be doing until 2009 (Hopefully not, but most likely it will be). I’m going to New York for Christmas and New Years and won’t be back until the 4th of January. I’ll try to get on every once in a while and send comment, but I will be site-seeing the majority of the time so I’ll do as much as I can.
I’m going to be staying near New York City and it will be my first time going up there. It’s suppose to snow and be around 25 degrees there so hopefully I won’t freeze. Down here in Alabama it’s 70 degrees. That’s a major temperature change.
The only thing I need for Christmas is for Atlanta to get a big-name player and for Alabama to beat Utah in the Sugar Bowl. The 2nd one is likely, the 1st one has a chance to happen (hopefully). Hey! While I’m down there I might pay Mr. Burnett a visit and ask him why he is not in Atlanta! Just Kidding =)
Alright I’m going to start packing.
And just in case I don’t get on here until January….
Merry Christmas and Happy New Years!
P.S. I promise I won’t be spying on the Mets or do anything to them!
I have predicted many, many lineups for the Braves this year, but now I am going to make my final prediction and stick to it until it’s no longer possible. I will also predicted any MAJOR trades/free agent signings. It’s impossible to know all the little AAA and AA guys we sign that can’t make it on majors. Well here it is.
C- McCann. No comment here. Sammons will be the backup unless one gets injured. Then Flowers gets the call up
1st- Kotchman. I could see Prado, McCann if needed, Thorman, or even Flowers playing here —–IF—- needed.
2nd- Prado. Infante and Gotay will back him up.
3rd- Chipper. Again no comment except that Infante, Gotay, and Prado could back him up
SS- Furcal. Renteria is another choice but I’m giving my pick to the man who we made into what he is today. Lillibridge and Prado will be backups, NO INFANTE HERE. Oh and yes Escobar is a Padre next year.
OF- Frenchy, Schafer, and…….Dye. The big surprise here is…… Andruw Jones ladies and gentlemen!! Andruw will be a Brave, but only used as a backup. The other backup includes Anderson, Infante, and Diaz.
Transactions- Peavy for Jojo, Esco, Boyer, Hernanadez, and Locke. Dye and Vazquez for Brandon Jones and a couple of Prospects. Jones for a couple of prospects with little value and the Dodgers will pay most of his contract. Kelly Johnson, Blanco and Chuck James will be included in one of the three and I am going to say so will Morton along with those prospects.
4. Vazquez with Hanson in at the middle of the year.
5. Campillo with Hudson replacing him when he’s ready.
WHEN someone gets injured, the following pitchers will replace them in order: Redmond, Hanson, Bennett, and Carlyle
Soriano- 2nd Closer
Gonzalez- 3rd Closer
Parr- yes he is usually a starter but I say move him to the ‘pen
There are gonna be maybe a couple of other guys but I’m not sure how they will do during Spring Training.
Thorman, Stockman, Hanson, and Redmond will probably see some time during the season, but there are so many guys on Atlanta’s roster that I’m not sure about so I won’t say I’m sure they will.
Yes there are a heck of a lot crazy trades that may occur, but this is just how I see it. We will use every penny of that 45 million for it though. The Andruw thing might not fall though because of money issues, but I won’t guess on the money.
Glavine will retire , Hampton won’t resign, and we will get rid of Miller forever. A couple of other things will happen but I’m not sure what they will be.
Feel free to call me crazy, but I am only giving you my opinions. Anyone who wants to share comments, opinions, or thoughts, feel free to comment.