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Thread: The Atlanta Braves

  1. #21
    Senior Member All-Star Bark's Lounge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by biggentleben View Post
    This is an area where I can be of assistance. LOL!

    Technically, Arizona and Anaheim would be first alphabetically, but I'll take it!

    The Braves are one of the youngest teams in MLB. They have a ton of youth in the lineup and rotation. Their biggest issue is a manager with some of the most poor decisions in MLB this year. When Bobby V makes the comment "I don't know another manager who would do that in that spot." while reviewing your game, you know you're in trouble. I can go position by position quickly if you'd like...

    Catcher - Brian McCann is having an out of character poor season, led primarily by a horrid BABIP this year. He has been one of the most consistent catchers in all of baseball the last 5 years, but he is also coming on 30 years of age and doesn't have a great body for long-term success at catcher. He is a free agent after 2013 (the Braves will most likely pick up his 2013 option), and that will lead to an interesting decision for the team. Christian Bethancourt is arguably the best defensive catcher in all of professional baseball, but his bat has progressed slowly. He is young, and he doesn't strike out an absurd amount, so it's more about pitch recognition, but at this point, his profile is beginning to look like a poor man's Yadi Molina, which isn't bad, but isn't quite the Yadi-plus everyone was assuming he'd be long term.

    Infield - Freddie Freeman strikes out too much, but that's basically the only knock on his development in his second year. Dan Uggla has aged quickly in Atlanta, and he may be trade bait if any other team would step up with interest. If he fills his contract in Atlanta, he'll likely be moved off of 2B. Chipper will retire this year at the hot corner, ending 20 years of stellar play and one of the best switch-hitters of all time. Juan Francisco has played poorly in the field in spot duty, but when given back-to-back starts this season, he's been a very solid hitter and played good defense as well. More than likely Martin Prado will move back in to 3B. Andrelton Simmons flashed an amazing glove before his freak injury this year, and he should be a fixture at SS with a very solid upside with the bat for many years to come. He has been compared to a young Omar Vizquel, and that could be a great thing if you're the Braves for the next 10+ seasons. The Braves minor league system actually has a ton of depth up the middle, including solid 2B and SS prospects in their low minors, but the guy to keep an eye on for the 2013 squad is Joey Terdoslavich, who has a very smooth line drive swing when he's going right that could produce a high average hitter with 15-20 homers and 30+ doubles. He is still learning 3B and rough around the edges, but he's made big strides this year.

    Outfield - Jason Heyward has recovered from his injury riddled 2011 to produce a 20/20 season in 2012. He has played tremendous defense in RF, and he may find himself moving to CF next year depending on how things work with Michael Bourn in free agency. Bourn has showed surprising power in 2012, but he's done so while having a drastically higher strikeout rate than any season in his past. Because of a likely 13+M price tag, the Braves may let Bourn walk in free agency and trade for a replacement or move Heyward over to CF. Martin Prado has produced a very good season this year in left, but he's likely destined to the infield in 2013. The Braves have a number of solid young outfielders in lower minors, but only Evan Gattis, who has one of the better stories in baseball, is in the upper levels with a chance to move to the big club in a starting role in 2013. Gattis is a power monster, but his contact is streaky. His back story is similar to Josh Hamilton's, and many have compared them in their production offensively as well, both nearly unstoppable when on and hard to keep on the field when they're off.

    Rotation - The Braves have a ridiculous amount of pitching depth, but they lack a true ace. They may make a move for someone like Zack Greinke in the free agent market to head their rotation this offseason and use their depth to trade for a CF if they cannot resign Bourn. The Braves will have veterans Tim Hudson and Paul Maholm leading the rotation with young guns Mike Minor, Randall Delgado, Tommy Hanson, Kris Medlen, Julio Teheran, and Sean Gilmartin competing for other spots in the rotation. Jair Jurrjens is almost certainly going to be non-tendered, and Ben Sheets' success has likely given him the chance to price himself beyond the Braves' price range, unless he chooses to give a drastic discount again like he did this year.

    Bullpen - This is an area of major depth for the Braves. Craig Kimbrel is arguably the best right handed reliever in baseball right now, and when Jonny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty are on, they're among the best back ends in the entire game. They're also all three well rested this year after being overused going into September last season. The Braves are also rich with bullpen arms along the way in the minors and the starters who don't find their way into the rotation can contribute in the bullpen as well.

    Minors - The Braves have focused on up-the-middle offensive players, high-upside/high-risk right handed pitchers, and pitch-to-contact lefties. Their system has a ton of depth in pitching and middle infielders right now, though there are not the top-level prospects of the last few years as many of them have graduated to the major league roster and are contributing.

    Management - The Braves made a change to Fredi Gonzalez after Bobby Cox's retirement, and his seat is currently very hot, in spite of the team's success in his tenure. Many players have been pushing for Eddie Perez, the former Atlanta backup catcher and current bullpen coach, to take the reigns, and something may happen in that area this offseason. The team took the unusual approach of hiring a dual hitting coach approach, hiring Greg Walker and Scott Fletcher away from the White Sox after the Braves went from the top team in the NL in walk percentage in 2010 to second-to-last in 2011 under Larry Parrish. The results have been very good, especially with youngsters like Heyward and Freeman, though with high strikeouts along with the higher BB rate this year. Roger McDowell is a solid pitching coach, working especially well with the bullpen and young starters.

    Ownership/financial set up - Liberty Media has drastically cut the Braves spending, which has been going down drastically for nearly a decade since Ted Turner sold away his beloved Braves when AOL/Time Warner merged. Liberty has kept the payroll right around $90M for the last number of seasons. The word in Atlanta is that the Braves will be seeing a payroll in the $95-100M next season, which with the contracts coming off the books and the arbitration cases added, should leave $25-35M available for free agents and/or contract extensions. The Braves are in a very good spot with young players leading the roster and good payroll flexibility. Their biggest issue seemingly would be the Washington Nationals, who have built a tremendous load of young players and are willing to spend big on some solid free agents as needed, likely pursuing guys like Michael Bourn, BJ Upton, and Josh Hamilton, all guys who will likely be out of the Braves' spending range, which could be their biggest competitive detriment in the next 3-5 years.
    Hello Big Gentle Ben. You seem a bit down or at best luke warm on Fredi Gonzalez. Let's say Fredi is booted out or town. What would you think about Greg Maddux as manager of the ATL Braves?

  2. #22
    Senior Member Big-Leaguer biggentleben's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bark's Lounge View Post
    Hello Big Gentle Ben. You seem a bit down or at best luke warm on Fredi Gonzalez. Let's say Fredi is booted out or town. What would you think about Greg Maddux as manager of the ATL Braves?
    Eh, no. The Braves have been blessed with some cerebral guys - Greg or Smoltz would make a great pitching coach, Chipper would make a good hitting coach, but Eddie is that kind of guy who just KNOWS the game. People were saying when he was early in his career that Eddie would someday be a major league manager. I'm also wary of the money it'd require to get Maddux to sit full time on the bench managing. He is arguably the most intelligent pitcher of my lifetime, though, so he'd be a tremendous asset with their current roster.
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