Sep 12, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Aaron Harang (44) throws a pitch against the Washington Nationals during the third inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Morning Chop: Atlanta Braves News 3/26

ESPN

Experts overrating the Nationals

Atlanta Braves

For most of the offseason, ZiPS has had the Nationals and Braves running neck-and-neck, and while the Braves have been hit by some injuries this spring, rumors of Atlanta’s demise may be too early. The pitching situation looks bleak given the Tommy John surgeries of Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy, but bringing in Ervin Santana at a hefty price did minimize some of the damage, and the Braves’ options at the back end aren’t really that bad.

ZiPS is bullish on Alex Wood, and on Gavin Floyd‘s recovery shot, and the Braves have some better than replacement options in Cody Martin, David Bromberg, and Aaron Northcraft (ZiPS is less crazy about David Hale).

The mean projection for the Braves isn’t that different from the panel, but ZiPS is such a fan of the upside of the Braves young core of Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman, and Andrelton Simmons that the Braves have a better projected chance of hitting the 100-win mark (8.5 percent) than any other team with a mean projection under 90 wins. That’s enough to put Atlanta in the positive list, even with the questions involving the starting pitching.

Projections think Forecaster is overrating these teams
Washington Nationals

The Nats have excellent front-line talent, but the team’s depth isn’t quite there, something that we saw last season when the bench was one of the worst in baseball. Nate McLouth improves the bench, but there are enough downside scenarios — and enough players in the starting lineup who are injury-prone — that ZiPS isn’t as comfortable as the experts in chasing the Nats all the way above 90 wins.

 

Fansided Opening Day 2014

MLB rumors: B.J. Upton to hit 2nd in lineup for Atlanta Braves

After a season in which Atlanta Braves center fielder B.J. Upton was arguably the worst player in all of Major League Baseball, there is a reported leaning by the Braves to hit him in the #2 spot in the Opening Day lineup.

Mar 25, 2014; Lakeland, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves center fielder B.J. Upton (2) reacts after he strikes out during the second inning against the Detroit Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports that Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez is heading toward a scenario where Upton hits behind Jason Heyward in the lineup in the second spot, and frankly, this doesn’t make sense at all. In 2013, the 29-year-old Upton was an utter disaster at the plate, posting a .184/.268/.289 slash line (not a misprint) with just 9 home runs in 446 plate appearances, and even with an expected bounce back, the #2 position doesn’t suit his game.

There is a school of thought that the #2 hitter should be the best hitter in the lineup, and at the very least, it should be someone who gets on-base (Upton has a career .329 OBP) and makes contact (career strikeout rate of 26% with a staggering 33.9% in 2013). To be fair, I am in the camp of people who believes that Upton will be much, much better than he was in 2013, but there is no scenario in which hitting him in the projected position is optimal.

 

Gwinnett Daily Post

Garcia not pleased with Braves’ decision; Atlanta hopes Harang is the veteran answer

The Atlanta Braves didn’t feel that Freddy Garcia was the veteran needed for their injury-depleted rotation. They hope that Aaron Harang is.

The Braves signed Harang, who had been in camp with the Cleveland Indians, just hours after releasing Garcia.

“Our reports on him late last season and this spring were good,” general manager Frank Wren said. “We felt he was a good fit for us. We didn’t want to go into the season with all young guys in the rotation.”

Julio Teheran, who won 14 games as a rookie, will start the opener in Milwaukee next Monday and after that the Braves would have been left with Alex Wood, David Hale and Gus Schlosser.

“It’s a good piece for us,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Harang’s signing. “He makes us a stronger staff. I wasn’t too excited about Teheran being the veteran guy.”

 

Grantland

MLB 7-Day Warning: Checking In on the BARVES Story Lines

THE BARVES

The popular misspelling of the Atlanta Braves has been a thing for years — a rallying cry if you will — but it really seemed to hit the mainstream last season. Yes, Major League Baseball shut down BARVES merchandising in 2012, but that couldn’t stop the faithful from continuing to use the phrase. And that will continue this season. And should continue forever. Because it’s such a versatile word. Sometimes it’s used as an exclamation, representing all that is joy. And other times it’s used to describe the Bizarro Braves, the ones who blow leads in the ninth or continue to employ Dan Uggla. Either way, the word drips with emotion.

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