If you haven’t notices many different sites and sources are under the impression that the Braves are one of the weaker teams in the NL East. I suppose an epic collapse, a fired hitting coach, a silent off season, a rookie shortstop, and a slow start to the Spring may cause the casual observers to worry but the ‘experts’?
Come on, we had an epic collapse. A collapse means everything falls apart. The team played bad for a month. It is completely different from being a horrible team the whole year. For a huge portion of the season the Braves were one of the top 5 teams in the entire league.
We have made any moves because there was no need to make any moves. Dumping Derek Lowe and saving $5 million dollars counts as a ‘loss’ but it’s a gain in my book. Mike Minor is going to be taking his spot and that is like signing a stud pitcher. The kid has been on fire so far this Spring and leads the team in strike outs, ERA, and WHIP. He has improved upon last season and is looking to have a Branon Beachy type breakout year. It will do wonders for the team if he can stay healthy and go deep into games on a regular basis. Minor is arguably the best 4/5 pitcher in the game right now.
The offense has been doing well lately too. Dan Uggla is destroying the ball, Freddie Freeman is finding his groove, Martin Prado looks to be the player from 2010 again, and how about this kid? It seems like Jason Heyward is tired of people talking crap and he is back to shattering the ball (I did knock on wood before publishing don’t worry) like he used to. Michael Bourn is going to make a huge impact on the lineup now that he is here for a full season as well.
The bullpen could be even better than it was last year even with Arodys Vizcaino having Tommy John surgery. Kris Medlen is back to eat up innings wherever he is needed (starting, long relief, tight spots,) and Cory Gearrin is looking better than ever and I’m betting Yohan Flonde will manage to be more effective than Scott Proctor ever dreamed of.
Another bonus is that Frank Wren is now actively searching for a right handed outfielder/third baseman to help out which has really been our biggest need since October 2011.
Add all of this to the Phillies’ Phlethura of injuries and it’s a shocker no on has thought to put the Braves in the number 1 spot of their NL East predictions. But being the underdog is always fun and immensely satisfying when you win the Division. If you still need something get you a bit more hopeful for the Braves 2012 season… we play the Mets next Thursday to open the season.
If you need more than that:
- we play the Mets on the 7th then,
- we play the Mets on the 8th then,
- we play the Astros on the 9th then,
- we play the Astros on the 10th then,
- we play the Astros on the 11th then,
- we play the Mets again on the 16th then,
- the Mets again on the 17th then,
- we get tired of ten run ruling the Mets so on the 18th we let one of our minor league pitchers have a shot against them but we forget that our minor league pitcher is the best pitching prospect in baseball and he throws a no hitter against them and Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman hit homeruns and then,
- we finish off the month with a brutally challenging four game series against the Pirates an everyone’s favorite outfielder, Nate McLouth.
I’m looking forward to the season, I hope you guys are as well.