Look outside your office window. What do you see? Well, I see a parking lot, I-75, and a lot of fat old ladies walking around the parking lot on their lunch break trying to feel good about exercising for 5 minutes a day.
But bear with me here. Use your imagination. I see warmer weather, plants blooming, and birds and bees courting. Yes, I see springtime.
As spring approaches it means that another baseball season is about to be underway. We all love the Braves around here; like many other folks my age, our formative childhood years were in the early 1990s, when the Braves were on top and the Bulldogs were “goffing” off (I wonder if I am the first person in the last 20 years to make that pun…doubt it). You could say the Braves were my first true sports love.
But with great love comes great anger. I get so aggrevated with the Braves. We even went through a nasty seperation and damn near divorce during the 2008 season.
I have been as hard on Frank Wren as anyone. But he has made some moves this offseason that are truly amazing that he was able to pull off. The problems that the Braves have had with personnel aren’t poor front office decisions, but rather ownership ones.
Dealing Tommy Hanson for Jordan Walden was brilliant. Walden was a former closer for the Angels and has good stuff. Tommy Hanson, the once future ace of the rotation, is broken down and is a liability. Shipping Hanson off opens the door for Julio Teheran. Now the Braves have without question the best and deepest bullpen in all of baseball.
But somehow, Frank Wren pulled off a major coup with the signing of B.J. Upton and the trade for his brother, Justin. I know it hurts losing Martin Prado, but look at what I said early last year:
A guy at work made a great point-Prado is one of the key pieces to the Braves offense. Prado is a great player and seemingly an equally great person. But if the Braves want to compete for a Championship, to be at the level with the Rangers, Tigers, Phillies and Yankees, then having Martin Prado being your best offensive player won’t cut it. If Prado was with any of the aforementioned teams, do you think he would be the key part in the lineup?
Getting both Upton brothers gives two guys that combined will give you close to 60 HR and 50 SB. Throw in Heyward, and the Braves now have the best outfields in the National League and one of these in all of baseball (the Angles have a pretty good one with Trout and Hamilton).
Will be the first season in almost 20 years that #10 isn’t batting 3rd and playing 3rd. A lot of fans were letting their hearts control their emotions about Chipper; he was way past his prime and it was time for him to move on. He will be missed, but not as much as you might think.
One of the underrated additions of the J. Upton deal was the acquisition of Chris Johnson. Johnson is a third basemen that will solve the question at thrid base.
Last year, Chipper played 112 games, 387 AB, scored 58 runs, 14 HR, 62 RBI and hit .287. Chris Johnson played in 136 games, 528 AB, 48 runs, 15 HR, 76 RBI and hit .281. Very comparable numbers to Chipper, so if Johnson can win the job from Juan Francisco, then there won’t be a drop off in production. He won’t win us any games, but his production won’t cost us anything either. It is not like there is a huge drop there.
Look at what Prado did in 2012. 156 games, 617 AB, 81 runs, 10 HR, 70 RBI and hit .301. So from the original 2013 projected thrid basemen to the current 2013 projected third basemen, there will be a drop, but no a killer one.
The Braves have upgraded across the board, and lineup will be much improved.
If the starting rotation can hold serve until Beachy comes back from his Tommy John surgery, then the Braves will be the team to beat again in the NL. It will be a fun season, and April 1 at 7:10 pm to get here fast enough.