2012 Braves Preview

It is no secret to any long time TGT readers that we don’t really care for Bill Shanks.  His afternoon radio show is difficult to listen to.  However, as far off he is on Georgia football, he does know his Braves.  Though it doesn’t go into a lot of detail, he has a 2012 preview up about the offense

I think the Braves are going to be in for a tough 2012 season.  Chipper Jones has already said he won’t be returing and will start the season on the DL.  Who knows how much Chipper will be able to contribute at this stage in his career?  Chipper Jones should have retired several seasons ago.  With the Liberty Media ownership group, the Braves payroll has decreased every year the last several years.  With a limited budget, the Braves has spent a relatively large proportion of their avaialble cash on a 3rd baseman who can’t produce what he once could.  

I like Michael Bourn batting lead off.  Then, after that, there are some question marks.  Last season, there was not a Braves everyday player who batted above .300.  Let’s go through the lineup together:

1.  Michael Bourn, CF- Bourn will lead the NL in stolen bases again in 2012.  A great option at the top of the order.

2.  Martin Prado, 3B/LF

3.  Chipper Jones, 3B/DL-I think anything Chipper contributes will be exceeding what I expect.

4. Dan Uggla, 2B-You know what you are going to get with Uggla-a lot of power and a bad batting average.  30+ HR and at best, .250 average

5. Brian McCann, C-Will give you the usual steady production

6. Freddie Freeman, 1B-Freeman had a phenominal rookie season.  I would expect a Sophomore slump.  Sterotypes exists for a reason.  They don’t call it a sophomore slump because of the aliteration. 

7.  Jason Heyard, RF-A big qusestion mark.  Heyward had a great first half to the 2010 rookie season, but the last season and half he has really struggled. 

8.  Tyler Pastornicky, SS-I think we can safely say there won’t be a whole lot production there.

I am excited about the recent trade for Juan Francisco.  Matt Diaz, Eric Hinske and Jose Constanza will see some playing time as Fredi Gonzalez tinkers with the lineup while Chipper is out.   There is no room for error in this lineup.  A lot of questions.   Will Heyward break out of his slump?  Will Prado return to his usual form?  Will Uggla be consistent?  Will Freeman show any regression in his 2nd full season?  Can the platoon of players coming in while Chipper is on the DL make signifigant contributions? 

Another area of question is the Braves’ pitching rotation.  That may sound odd at first, but hear me out.

The 5 in the rotation is looking like:  Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens, Brandon Beachy and Mike Minor.   The bullpen still has O’Ventbrel, Kris Medlen, Christian Martinez and former National Livan Hernandez. 

But Tim Hudson is 36 had offseason back surgery.  I am as big of a Hudson fan as anyone outside the Hudson family, but coming off surgery there has to be some concern.  Tommy Hanson and Jurrjens are both coming off of injury as well.  Hanson should be back and ready to go.  Jurrjens is as good as anyone in the NL when he is healthy.  But health has been a concner for the young pitcher the last couple of years.  2010 was a tough season for him, and the 2nd half of 2011 he struggled to stay healthy.  You now have to ask questions about his durability going forward.  There is a lot of depth and Delgado and Teheran are primed and ready to if needed. 

These questions wouldn’t be so bad if the Braves played in a weaker division, like the NL West.  But the NL East is going to be extremely difficult.  The Phillies are the Phillies and will be hard to unseat them, even with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard battling injuries.  The Marlins have upgraded also.  Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes and Giancarlo Stanton will present one of the best top of the lineups in Baseball.   The Nationals are constantly improving.  The Mets are a dumpster fire. The Marlins and Nationals both improved from last year, and the Braves kind of stayed the same.  I think it will be difficult to match last years’ 89 win total.  I think the Marlins with a new ballpark and new manager will be a tough team to beat. 

I hope I am wrong, but I look for the Braves to finish 3rd in the NL East.  Once a regular in the postseason, I think our beloved Braves will miss the postseason for the 6th time in past 7 seasons. 



2 Responses to “2012 Braves Preview”

  1. 1 barndawg April 3, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    Agree with your thoughts. A few things that stand out to me:

    – I’m glad to see McClouth gone.
    – If Pastornicky/Simmons combine to hit .230’s and a .260/.270 OBP out of the 8 hole, that would be huge. Doubt it will happen, but it would be huge.
    – I like the Livan signing. Keeping him fresh out of the bullpen will be good for long relief.
    – 18 games against each team in the division. If they split season series with Fish, Phillies, the Braves need to at least win 12 games vs. Nats & at least 14 from Mets and hope that the rest of the division beats each other up.

  2. 2 TuxedoDawg April 4, 2012 at 9:42 am

    Last year, I felt really good about our pitching and really bad about our offense. This year, I feel a little better about our offense but pretty bad about our pitching. The only positive our pitching has going for it is that Hanson is going to beast it this season. That awkward release is gone but his beard and rat tail has stayed. That’s all you need to know.

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