Tuesday, February 21, 2012

the three most beautiful words


Tonight let us put the events of September 28, 2011, the night that completed the collapse of the Atlanta Braves, behind us. Tonight let us reflect on hope for a new season. Tonight let us begin anew.

The Atlanta sqaud is the only team in the NL East that is returning most of the same team. The Marlins have a new town, stadium, shortstop, closer, uniform, number two starter, and logo. The fight’en Phill's signed Pap, and Big Jim Thome. Washington added Geo, they are getting Strasburg back and Harper is on the way. The Mets, well, one of their pitchers climbed Kilimanjaro during the off season. But I don't want to dwell on the wild card teams let's focus on the 2012 Eastern Champs.

At first glance its easy to say that the Braves didn't make any moves this winter, but if you look at the team with a critical eye you might come to a different conclusion. Derek Lowe is gone after posting a 9 and 17 record with a 5 plus earned run average (ERA) last year. By moving him to the Indians Frank Wren made spot in the rotation one of the young stud prospects. They also fired hitting coach, Larry Parrish, and hired one with a stellar reputation. Then the hired him an assistant. Addition by subtraction?

The official date for position players to report is not for a few days yet, but with the exception Bourn and Pastornicky all of the projected regulars have already reported and the news coming out of Orlando is outstanding. The most encouraging of all reports have been on Jason Heyward. They say he is swinging the bat as well as he did his rookie year. That's the year every one was comparing him to Hammer’en Hank. I don't believe Heward will have a Hank Aaron type of year but I'm confident that he can have a 20 and  90 type of year. More good news, Uggla reported to camp with bigger arms and more confidence than he did last year. If he doesn’t slump in the first half this year like 2011 he could be a beast (40 plus bombs).  When we add a resurgent Heward and a confident Uggla with a full season of Bourn and health Prado the offense is looking solid. Real solid! And I still haven't mentioned old number 10

The solid offence that Atlanta is going to send to the plate is going save O'venbrell, the big three in the bullpen. It was pretty obvious in the late season last year the Venters and Kimbrel were gassed as a result of all the close games we played last year. If we can get to the 7th with a three run lead more often those guys will be there past game 130. Combine that with a few young starters going deeper in the game and the pen looks to be well rested in September. I am concerned with the lose of Linebrink and Sherill. Those guys ate alot of innings for us, and I'm not sure who we have that can fill that roll. Martinez and Vizcaino will eat those innings without giving up the big hits???

All that leaves it the Rotation. Hudson, Hanson, Jurjjens, Beachy, and Minor sounds really good right? Problem is Hudson won't be ready until May at best, and Tommy Hanson had a blowout and hit a tree or something two days ago. I think he will be ready for opening day but who knows. So that leaves us with Jurrjens, Beachy, Minor, Delgodo, and Terhan as our opening day five. Still not bad, just very young. Facts are we will do as well as or starting rotation does. With out 30 starts each from Jurrjens and Hanson we are putting a huge load on the rookies Terhan and Delgado despite the talent the question remains, are they ready to face the big bats of the east? Of course the wild card and true sense of hope wears 54, Kris Medlen who is coming back off of Tommy John's. As best I recall, the braves did not loose but one or two games behind him 2010. If he is able to earn a spot in the starting five this spring that should allow Wren some flexibility come the trading deadline in July.

It's been a long winter, but the calendar has turned to a new season.  Let's turn the lights on at the Ted, and crank up the tomahawk chop because, THIS IS BRAVES COUNTRY!!!!  

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