'Tis The Season To Have An Atlanta Braves Offseason

The 2013 offseason for the Atlanta Braves has been sort of a let down compared to the 2012 one.  With the additions of both B.J. Upton and Justin Upton and the emergence of Evan Gattis in the Winter Leagues – not to mention Chris Johnson who was just a little addition to the Upton trade, CJ came up huge for the Braves and bringing back Jordan Schafer – fans were excited about the occurrences heading into 2013.

Dec 5, 2013; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees newly signed catcher Brian McCann puts on his new jersey during a press conference at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: William Perlman-The Star-Ledger

The Braves have made moves but nothing to the extent of last winter season.  The Ryan Doumit trade, Gavin Floyd signing, Mark Hamilton signing and the Matt Gamel signing have all been overshadowed by the departures of Brian McCann and Tim Hudson.

“In a perfect world, we’d love to have both of them back,” Braves GM Frank Wren said.  “But I think you look at our franchise and how we operate for a long time, we like to operate from within.  If the situation comes up where someone is out hitting or out performing the guys with our club, we’re content to go with our young players.”

McCann’s departure struck the hearts of many when he put on that famous Yankees uniform but Wren stands by his position as he goes on about the catcher position and signing of Doumit.

Sep 18, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Atlanta Braves outfielder Evan Gattis (24) waits on deck in the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

“We have a dynamic young catcher in Christan Bethancourt who’s not far away.  He was in Double A last year and performed very well, he’ll be in Triple A this year.  He’s going to be knocking on the door.  We also like the emergence of Evan Gattis.  He proved last year he can handle it behind the plate and gave us comfort that he can handle that job.  And now getting Ryan Doumit, which sprung from really smart guys in our office during the winter meeting talking about how do we fill out our staff – we wanted a left handed power bat and we wanted protection behind the plate.  Also, we wanted to be able to use our two best pinch hitters.  They are Gattis and Gerald Laird.  You look at their pinch hitting numbers and they are both over .350 and the only way you can utilize them is to have a third catcher.  So Doumit was on our list, he’s a switch hitter power bat from the left side and his ability to play multiple positions.”

If you’re question Frank here about having three catchers on the roster, it actually makes sense.  Most managers don’t want to use their backup catcher as a pinch hitter in usually any situation during a game for the sake of an injury to your primary catcher.  But having three catchers, you’re able to pinch it one of these guys who isn’t starting that game.  Also, though it may not be pretty, Gattis and Doumit can both play other positions.

Other than a new ball park, roster moves and other daily things Wren goes through, this offseason he’s dealing with the slumps of his two highest paid players, B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla.

Oct 3, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves center fielder B.J. Upton (2) reacts after striking out against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the fifth inning of game one of the National League divisional series playoff baseball game at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

“There is a plan in place and that plan is to start early.  Most MLB players take some down time during the winter months, they still work out physically to stay strong but they try to clear they heads about baseball.  The plan is to start January 1st, Craig Walker and his guys are putting some workout plans in place to get them back on track.  In B.J.’s case, it was a think where going to a new team and signing a big contract and they expectations not only from him but of the fans probably got the best of him and I think we’ll see him bounce back.  Too young, too talented, too athletic to not bounce back.  And the case of Dan Uggla, he still did some things that were impressive – 20 home runs, he still continues to walk a lot, we just need to get him back hitting towards his norm.  He does that team will be real solid.”

True, the Braves had some guys who struggled last year but if you look at the team we had, the Braves won 96 games and won the NL East.  Young guys with lots to look forward to and Mr. Wren agrees…

“You look at our team, Freddie Freeman is one of the best young first baseman in the league.  Chris Johnson finished 2nd in the batting title at third.  Justin Upton, I think is still just scratching the surface of what he can be and the same case with Jason Heyward.  And that’s not even to mention a guy who is probably one of the best young players in the entire sport, Andrelton Simmons.  We think our club is pretty well covered and we have a lot of young guys who have the chance to improve with their careers.”

The firepower is there for Atlanta’s offense but everyone needs pitching.  One of the key elements to the offseason was to get some sort of pitcher to Atlanta.  Wreny Wren Wren talks about the pitching staff…

“The reality is that one third of teams have a true ace and the 20 other teams just have really good pitching but they really don’t have that ace that you want to talk about.  We love our pitching, we have good solid pitching, we may not have that true ace but we have guys that can sit near the top half of a rotation and they proved that this past year.”

GO BRAVES!!  And Happy Holidays!!

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