Apr 1, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Former Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox reacts to applause from the fans during the game against the Philadelphia Phillies during the fifth inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Morning Chop: Braves News 4/2


Not everyone has the time to read every article out there that they want to, so here are quick excerpt from the articles we’ve read and enjoyed.  Making your start to the day easier is our goal!

 

CBSSPORTS

Freeman’s HR, three RBI lead Braves over Hamels, Phillies

Apr 1, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman (5) hits a home run against Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels (35) during the first inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Braves brought their home-run bats north from spring training to spoil Cole Hamels’ first opening day start.

Freddie Freeman drove in three runs with three hits, including the first of three Atlanta home runs Monday night, and the Braves beat Hamels and thePhiladelphia Phillies 7-5 on opening day.

Some observers have suggested the free-swinging Braves might lead the NL in strikeouts instead of home runs. Uggla says the positive results will make up for the whiffs.Dan Uggla and Justin Upton, making his Braves debut, also homered for Atlanta, which led National League teams with 49 in spring training.

“We’re not trying to hold back,” Uggla said. “If it costs some strikeouts in situations, then that’s what it’s going to take, because we have the power to go blow for blow with anybody.”

 

Lehigh Valley

Home run barrage pushes Atlanta Braves past Philadelphia Phillies

Freddie Freeman drove in three runs with three hits, including the first of three Atlanta home runs tonight, and the Braves beat Cole Hamels and the Philadelphia Phillies 7-5 on opening day.

Dan Uggla and Justin Upton, making his Braves debut, also homered for Atlanta, which led National League teams with 49 in spring training.

Hamels (0-1) struggled in his first opening day start. He gave up five runs on seven hits, including the three homers, with five strikeouts and one walk in five innings. The three homers allowed matched his high from last season.

 

YahooSports

Atlanta Braves 2013: Who Are the Weakest Links?

Apr 1, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins (11) is safe under the tag of Atlanta Braves third baseman Chris Johnson (23) during the fifth inning at Turner Field. The Braves defeated the Phillies 7-5. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Third Base: Chris Johnson/Juan Francisco

It seems only fitting that it would take two separate players to fill in for one of the greatest switch-hitters to ever step foot on the diamond. Johnson (bats right handed) and Francisco (bats left handed) will platoon over at Chipper’s hot corner as the matchups, and manger Fredi Gonzalez, dictates.

The “John-cisco” combination hit .268 and struck out 202 times last season. However, Johnson has proved to be a serviceable utility player, and Francisco did show streaks of power for the Braves in 2012. If the two play at full capacity, they just might be lucky enough to each equal one half of a 40-year-old Chipper Jones.

Second Base: Dan Uggla

Uggla has infuriated Atlanta fans for two seasons with his bipolar-like bouts of extreme brilliance and extreme “suck-itude” (real word, I swear). The same player, who carried the Braves for a month in 2011, during his 33-game hitting streak, is also the same player who hit just .193 over the last four months of the 2012 season.

Interim Catcher: Gerald Laird

We’d all like to believe that Gerald Laird‘s inclusion on the Atlanta roster will be a short-lived one, but predicting exactly when Brian McCann will be healthy enough to come back from offseason shoulder surgery, as well as assuming there will be no other problems that flare-up to keep “Mac” out of the lineup later in the year, may be shortsighted at best.

 

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Opening day for a new Braves era

Cursed locker eliminated:

Whatever the official reason, The Locker is no more. The infamous cursed locker in the Braves’ clubhouse at Turner Field has finally been eliminated. Not boarded up, as GM Frank Wren half-jokingly suggested couple of years ago, but turned into a cubicle with a small desktop for the computer that players use to reserve their comp game tickets.

Opening at home: 

This is only the second opening day at home in nine years for the Braves, who beat the Cubs 16-5 in 2010. Before that, they hadn’t opened at home since losing back-to-back openers against the Montreal Expos (yes, it was long ago) in 2003 and Mets in 2004.  Maddux got the decision in ’03, Russ Ortiz in ’04.

 

Full Spectrum Baseball

Ah… Predictions, Predictions

Apr 1, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves left fielder Justin Upton (8) (right) reacts with his brother center fielder B.J. Upton (2) after hitting a home run against the Philadelphia Phillies during the fifth inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

NL East
The Atlanta Braves have a fierce line up with the Upton brothers and Jason Heyward, but I think they might not excel as much as expected. Justin Upton has major potential to win an MVP award in his career and still has yet to show everything he is capable of, but the initial excitement of playing withB.J. Upton might be more of a distraction than a motivator. Eventually, these two will tear up the NL East, maybe even toward the end of this season in a push for the playoffs. But I think they might be too amped in the beginning to reach the standards that everyone is anticipating. The Braves do have some bullpen talent that can rescue them in any inevitable jams. This team will certainly make their name known this year.

I am not sure what the Marlins were doing over the off-season. It seems that most clubs were making improvements and Miami had a different plan. This will not be their year. They may put up a fight… or perhaps a squabble. But I do not think they will make much of a dent in opposing teams. The Mets will surly dominate them with Shaun Marcum in their starting rotation.

 

NY Daily News

Unlike NY Mets, Washington Nationals have big expectations and Atlanta Braves are ready to fight them for division

Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has an option on his contract for 2014, but he knows he has to go much deeper into the postseason than last year when his team suffered a wild-game flameout to satisfy his bosses, who bumped the payroll considerably with the addition of the Upton brothers, B.J. (signed for $75.25 million over five years) and Justin (acquired in a trade from Arizona with three years, $38.6 million left on his contract). With Jason Heyward, who finally was able to avoid injuries last year (27 HR, 82 RBI, 21 stolen bases), the Uptons give the Braves potentially the most complete outfield in baseball. There is power throughout the Braves’ order — catcher Brian McCann, first baseman Freddie Freeman and second baseman Dan Uggla” href=”http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Dan+Uggla”>Dan Ugglacombined for 62 HRs in 2012 — and Gonzalez is confident second-year shortstop Andrelton Simmons has the plate discipline to handle the leadoff spot.

In McCann’s case, a slow recovery from shoulder surgery will keep him out until May, but it has also opened the door for 26-year-old catcher/outfielder Evan Gattis — a “born hitter” in Gonzalez’s assessment — who led the Braves in batting, slugging and homers this spring. But there are also potentially a ton of strikeouts as the Uptons and Uggla alone combined for 478 a year ago.

“I’d be concerned,” said GM Frank Wren, “if it wasn’t for the fact the whole game is going that way now.”

 

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