5 Bold Predictions for April

April is just around the corner, and with it marks another season of Braves baseball. Coming off of a 96 win season, the Braves are expected to be serious contenders in the National League East(Fox Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi even thinks so this year!), but as any baseball fan knows, no titles are won conventionally.

Teams face all different types of adversity over the course of a 162 game season, and the Braves have already faced quite a bit before Spring Training has even come to an end. April is sure to be full of ups and downs for the club, and here are five bold predictions to bring you down to Earth, or even maybe raise your spirit.

    1) Dan Uggla will hit over .220.

As I touched on in my last article, Uggla is making strides towards improving. Couple that with his low pressure placement in the lineup, and the presence of Tommy La Stella in AAA Gwinnett, I see a solid, if only average, performance out of Uggla in April.

    2) Alex Wood pitches like an ace.

With a depleted pitching staff that will open the year featuring a 24 year old Opening Day starter, one of two rookies and a newly signed 35 year old coming off a down year, Alex Wood’s performance will be more than crucial. The good news is that Alex Wood is responding early on. In 20 spring innings, the 23 year old lefty has tallied 16 strikeouts compared to only two walks. Wow. I’m banking on Wood to deliver a phenomenal April performance.

    3) The Braves will flirt with the .500 mark.

It’s something no one wants to hear, but I feel like things will be a little rocky for Fredi Gonzalez and company in April. Some pitching uncertainty alongside the uncertain performances of Uggla and B.J. Upton, and the question marks that could be Evan Gattis and Chris Johnson make the early going seem like a slippery slope. It may not be by much (maybe 1-3 games over or under), but the Braves should stabilize into the division winning club we expect by summer, which will be highlighted by the addition of Gavin Floyd and the return of Jonny Venters.

    4) Harang might actually be kind of good.

We all know Aaron Harang is essentially just a stopgap for Gavin Floyd. In the eventual rotation of Ervin Santana, Julio Teheran, Alex Wood, and Mike Minor, Floyd in any kind of good health leaves him as the odd man out. Whether or not he remains in the organization is yet to be indicated, but his time here will be productive. He won’t pitch like an ace, but his reported positive velocity increase will be enough for him to scathe by with some good luck and a respectable ERA.

    5) The lineup will be a game of musical chairs.

Yesterday Fredi gave a little indication of what we could expect from our Opening Day lineup, and it was a bit shocking, as Jeff touched on in the Morning Chop. As much as I am for giving B.J. the benefit of the doubt, I don’t see him as a #2 hitter, and I also don’t see Chris Johnson in the cleanup spot. I think both of these choices will bring less than stellar results, and hopefully it doesn’t take Fredi as long as it did to change this as it did to hit Jason Heyward leadoff…

None of these predictions are certain, but one thing that is certain is the Braves are in for a heck of a year.

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Tags: Aaron Harang Alex Wood Braves Dan Uggla Opening Day

  • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

    Yeah, I just don’t get the lineup.

    Okay, let’s say Jason is the leadoff guy. Still not idea, IMHO, but it can certainly work.
    BJ works as a #2 hitter ONLY if he actually hits OR is content to move Jason over. To the extent that I don’t believe the latter will happen, I’d almost switch these 1st 2 guys and have BJ lead. But to the extent that BJ’s OBP isn’t gonna work as a leadoff guy, I’d still move him well down in the order.

    I think Chris J is the ideal #2 on the roster: he will get on base enough and can hit the ball anywhere, thus can move Jason over even if he doesn’t get a hit.

    After that? Freddie/Justin/Gattis/Uggla/BJU/Simmons/pitcher spot. That’s my call.

    • Sealift67

      I agree. Also, CJ may feel the need to start pulling the ball again,
      trying for power versus driving the ball. Hope he is not a victim
      of his success. Give BJ time to get it going, hopefully, deeper in the order.

    • http://tomahawktake.com/ Julien Benjamin

      Always believed that the #2 hitter should be one of your best 2-3 hitters, even when at career norms, BJ doesn’t fit there. Heyward, Justin, Freeman, maybe CJ (if he isn’t expected to regress).

      Heyward at leadoff is fine by me, he’s got our best OBP/speed chances. BJ 2 is just silliness though.

      Heyward, CJ, Freeman, Justin, Gattis, Simmons, BJ, Uggla would be my choice.

    • fireboss

      While I don’t agree with it I can explain the rationale. . .Note I said explain not justify, send your letters to Fredi Gonzalez 755 Hank Aaron Drive. Okay then
      In the absence of a consistent alternative Jason Heyward is the best option to lead off. He thrives in that slot and so does the team.
      As well as being a “move the runner over” spot is also a place where managers place hitters to get them more fastballs to hit. With Heyward on base and Freeman behind BJ will get more pitches to hit and they will be less inclined to nibble. This spot has successfully been used as a slump breaker for a long time. Don’t stat me to death, I’m just explaining what’s been done.
      Freddie is likely the best hitter on the team and could be a batting champ if not this year then soon. He drives the ball all over and is our best RBI man.
      CJ is in the four spot by default. With Gattis taking the responsibility as starting catcher full time or most of the time and likely to be rested in favor of Laird 2 days a week, putting him in the cleanup spot would be a mental burden and mean swapping someone else in twice a week. Players like to know where they are going to hit. They get comfortable there and swapping them around makes them uncomfortable. CJ will continue to drive the ball all over the ballpark and not swing for the fences. he liked last year and wants to do it again.
      Justin is the likely 5 hole guy because he has pop, isn’t learning to be starting catcher or coming off a sub .200 season nor did he lead MLB in infield popups (Simba).
      Gattis is sixth because Laird can actually slot in there as well.
      Dan is seventh because that’s largely a no pressure slot and the alternative is Simba who is really better suited for the 8 spot.

      I don’t expect the lineup to skip around very much early on. Fredi has to allow it to settle to see if it works. If BJ goes the first half of April you could see Schafer slip in there. If Uggla looks like 2010 Dan instead of 2013 Dan he could easily become what he was hired to be the cleanup guy. But barring injury or consistently bad at bats Fredi needs to give it time to work.

    • Jeff Schafer

      I’ve been saying it for a while now…CJ should be batting 2nd

  • Jeff Schafer

    A VERY bold predictions….Dan Uggla has a slash line of .284/.334/.456 at the end of April with 7 home runs