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View Full Version : Spring Training Preview 3/8/05: Atlanta Braves


Jjav829
03-08-2005, 02:12 AM
Atlanta Braves

Key offseason additions:
SP Tim Hudson
RP Dan Kolb
OF Raul Mondesi
OF Brian Jordan

Key offseason losses:
OF J.D. Drew
RP Antonio Alfonseca
SP Russ Ortiz
OF Charles Thomas
RP Juan Cruz

General Outlook:
It looks like John Schuerholz has done it again. After losing Russ Ortiz to free agency, Schuerholz went out and traded for a true front-line starter in Hudson. Schuerholz also accommodated John Smoltz's move back to the rotation by acquiring Dan Kolb from the Brewers. The loss of J.D. Drew will hurt the offense, but they should make up for it with improved pitching. Meanwhile Brian Jordan and Raul Mondesi could help make up for some of the offense that was lost.


Possible starting lineup:
SS Rafael Furcal
2B Marcus Giles
3B Chipper Jones
CF Andruw Jones
RF Raul Mondesi
C Johnny Estrada
LF Brian Jordan
1B Adam LaRoche


You have to like the 1-2 punch at the top of the order. It's one of the best in baseball at setting the table, though they have to stay healthy. The biggest key is going to be Andruw Jones. He changed his stance at the end of last year and saw some better results than the Sosa-like numbers he was previously putting up. Their middle of the order isn't really set in stone as of yet, but it seems likely that the Jones' will bat back-to-back. It seems logical to keep the Jones' at 3-4 and move Mondesi/Jordan down. This could turn out to be a pretty good lineup, though you have to wonder how much Jordan and Mondesi have left.

Possibly starting pitching rotation:
John Smoltz
Tim Hudson
Mike Hampton
John Thomson
Horacio Ramirez

I believe Smoltz is scheduled to start Opening Day, even though Hudson is probably the better of the two at this point. They have 5 solid starters, all of whom should put up double digit wins. Smoltz is the biggest question. He excelled when moved to the closer's role due to health questions. Now the question is can he survive a whole season as a starter. If he can, it bodes very well for the Braves chances of winning the division again. If he can't, they'll still be a contender but it won't be as easy. Dan Kolb was a very nice addition to their bullpen. I worried about a dropoff from him, but under the guidance of Leo Mazzone, I'm confident he'll thrive. Hudson should benefit greatly as well. The rest of their bullpen looks a little weak. They lost Alfonseca to free agency and Cruz in the Hudson trade. They should be fine with Gryboski, White, Reitsma, Martin and Colon, though.

Overall Prediction:
1st place; 100-62

Player that will surprise:
LF - Brian Jordan - I think he'll put together one more good year for the Braves. You have to wonder when Schuerholz picks up a guy like this. I don't know that he'll give the Braves a full season healthy. I think Ryan Langerhans will be needed at some point. But I think Jordan will be a pleasant surprise when healthy.

Player that will disappoint:
SP John Smoltz - I hope not because I really like Smoltz. I just don't think he's going to be able to stay healthy all year and make the jump back to the rotation successfully. Here's hoping that he does, though...

Your thoughts?

ChiWhiteSox1337
03-08-2005, 02:19 AM
Yep, this team is a very interesting one. We all learned last year never to under estimate this club. Mike Hampton could be a big part of the rotation if he performs all year like he did in the second half for the braves last season. I think the revamped Braves, revamped Marlins, revamped Mets, Phillies, and the new Nationals are going to make the NL East a very interesting race this season, quite possibly the best division race in the league.

Jjav829
03-08-2005, 02:23 AM
Yep, this team is a very interesting one. We all learned last year never to under estimate this club. Mike Hampton could be a big part of the rotation if he performs all year like he did in the second half for the braves last season. I think the revamped Braves, revamped Marlins, revamped Mets, Phillies, and the new Nationals are going to make the NL East a very interesting race this season, quite possibly the best division race in the league.

I definitely agree! This will be the most fun division to watch. I really want to pick the Marlins to win the division, but I just can't go against the Braves. The Marlins will give them a run for their money, but it's just hard to go against the Braves. Even when they look like they are finished, they find a way to win the division. This year they look like a good team from the get-go. I really like Thomson as their 4th starter. And if Ramirez is healthy, their rotation is really good.

Epark84
03-08-2005, 04:21 AM
This team just amazes me how it retools over and over again without missing beat. I know they only have one title to show for it, but every division title since '91 just boggles the mind. I think they have to be favorites again, although the Marlins could be tough. One wins the division (braves) other is the WC I think.

samram
03-08-2005, 08:20 AM
Wow, 100 wins? I don't know if the starting pitching is good enough. If Smoltz is mid to late 90s Smoltz, and Hampton is late 90s Hampton, then 100 wins is attainable, but Hampton seems like a 12-15 win guy right now, and no one knows if Smoltz can make the transition back to starter over one offseason, given his injury history.

I do think Jordan will play well and Estrada is one of the best catchers in the league. They should be the favorite even though the Marlins may have more talent.

By the way, Jjav, these previews are a great idea.

Jjav829
03-08-2005, 03:38 PM
Wow, 100 wins? I don't know if the starting pitching is good enough. If Smoltz is mid to late 90s Smoltz, and Hampton is late 90s Hampton, then 100 wins is attainable, but Hampton seems like a 12-15 win guy right now, and no one knows if Smoltz can make the transition back to starter over one offseason, given his injury history.

I do think Jordan will play well and Estrada is one of the best catchers in the league. They should be the favorite even though the Marlins may have more talent.

By the way, Jjav, these previews are a great idea.

I think they can reach 100 wins. Hudson had a sub-par year in 2004, but pitching under the guidance of Leo Mazzone, I think he has a good shot at 20 wins. Smoltz is a big concern. You know he has the makeup and the stuff to go back to being a starter, but he question is will his arm hold up. If it does, that's a fine 1-2 considering their depth. Hampton has been much better since getting out of Coors. As I said before, I really like Thomson at the #4, and Ramirez was pitching great before he got injured last year. That's a really good 1-5. The bullpen should be fine. I think their pitching could carry them to 100 wins. If two of Mondesi, Jordan, Chipper and Andruw, and LaRoche can step up, their offense should be good enough to win 100 as long as the pitching performs up to expectations. I really think they could be the best team in baseball.

Baby Fisk
03-08-2005, 03:53 PM
Mondesi is a clubhouse cancer -- 6 teams in 4 years. Atlanta will have the brains to ditch his sorry ass as soon as he acts up again and minimize his detrimental impact. Remember his BS routine with the Pirates last year? Total jerk.

I pick the Marlins to pull it altogether and topple the Braves at last.

Jjav these previews are good stuff... even tho you are out of your mind giving Atlanta 100 wins... :thumbsup:

OEO Magglio
03-08-2005, 04:19 PM
I agree with the possibility of them winning 100. The thing is I don't think they're the best team in their division but I think they'll win it with relative ease with Florida slipping into the wild card.

PAPChiSox729
03-08-2005, 05:42 PM
Once again, right on target with the analysis. My only comment is the 100-62 record. Their staff is good, I just don't they are 100 win caliber with that staff and a good, but nothing special, offense. I say that 95 wins is a little more realistic.

Jjav829
03-09-2005, 08:49 AM
Mondesi is a clubhouse cancer -- 6 teams in 4 years. Atlanta will have the brains to ditch his sorry ass as soon as he acts up again and minimize his detrimental impact. Remember his BS routine with the Pirates last year? Total jerk.

I pick the Marlins to pull it altogether and topple the Braves at last.

Jjav these previews are good stuff... even tho you are out of your mind giving Atlanta 100 wins... :thumbsup:

Yeah, Mondesi is a head case. But if anyone can get him under control, it's Bobby Cox. He's one of the few managers who I would trust to keep Mondesi from exploding.

I'll admit the 100 wins is probably a little overboard, mainly because of their division. They'll have some tough competition, so it's unlikely they reach 100. But what the hell, why not predict it? It got people to respond. :thumbsup:

spawn
03-09-2005, 09:20 AM
Wow...great preview. I'd like to pick against the Braves, but as has been mentioned here, they surprise you every year, ala the Twins. I don't know if they'll win 100 games though, especially if Smoltz goes down. I also wonder how much Jordan has left, although I like him and believe he will be a good addition. Raul Mondesi on the other hand...Overall, another solid preview.

Foulke You
03-11-2005, 12:10 PM
I think this might be the year that Atlanta's streak comes to an end. The Braves seem to really be counting a lot on Smoltz to come in and be like he was before as a starter. As Jjav pointed out, he certainly has the makeup to do it, but it is asking a lot to step back in and be the team's ace.

Also, I'm not sold on Dan Kolb as a closer. He really only has one year under his belt as an effective closer and that was for a Brewer team that was out of contention for much of the season. Will Kolb be able to nail down those key saves in September when the Braves are fighting it out with the Marlins and Phillies? If he falters, who takes over at closer? Do they put Smoltz back in the bullpen and trade for a starter? The rest of the Braves bullpen appears thin to me and not ready to take over a closer spot on a contender.

It really doesn't matter though does it? Even if Atlanta finds their way to the postseason yet again, they will fold in 5 games in the ALDS as they always seem to do.:tongue:

Brian26
03-11-2005, 12:14 PM
I think this might be the year that Atlanta's streak comes to an end.

Does anyone remember if Atlanta was leading their division in '94 when the strike happened....I think the Expos had a better record, in fact. So I'm assuming most people don't count the '94 season when they're talking about division champions? The Sox aren't the '94 AL Central champs?