Atlanta Braves Last Year: 72-90 4th in NL East This Year: 3rd in NL East
The Braves tried to be a big player in the offseason but were less than successful. They tried all summer to get Jake Peavy in a trade. They were unsuccessful in signing A.J. Burnett. They also thought they had Rafael Furcal until he used them as leverage to return to LA. They did make some moves by signing Derek Lowe and Garret Anderson but they did not make the splash they needed to get in the conversation for the NL East.
Opening Day Lineup w/Projections SS Yunel Escobar .305 12 HR 62 RBI 2B Kelly Johnson .281 14 HR 67 RBI 3B Chipper Jones .321 24 HR 88 RBI C Brian McCann .304 22 HR 97 RBI LF Garret Anderson .289 13 HR 78 RBI RF Jeff Francoeur .251 15 HR 75 RBI 1B Casey Kotchman .274 12 HR 70 RBI CF Josh Anderson .297 13 HR 49 RBI 27 SB P Derek Lowe
Rotation RHP Derek Lowe 14-9 3.56 ERA 142 K RHP Javier Vazquez 12-13 4.77 ERA 189 K RHP Jair Jurrjens 15-11 3.43 ERA 152 K RHP Kenshin Kawakami 8-13 5.15 ERA 102 K RHP Tommy Hanson 8-10 4.56 ERA 149 K
CP LHP Mike Gonzalez 4.45 ERA 24 SV 44 K
Best Case Scenario: Tommy Hanson makes the squad and makes an immediate impact and wins NL Rookie of the Year. Chipper Jones stays healthy and becomes a Triple Crown threat. Francouer bounces back with a decent average and power. They pull off the Peavy trade during the season boosting them to compete with the Phillies and the Mets for the wild card and division title.
Worst Case Scenario: Jones can't stay healthy and gets under 300 at bats. Tommy Hanson isn't ready and spends the year in AAA. Francouer struggles to bat above .230 and joins Hanson in AAA. Garret Anderson fails to contribute and Lowe and Vazquez fail to give quality starts or justify the offseason moves. This team finishes under .500.
Player Most Important to Success: Tommy Hanson. He is a big-time prospect. He was ranked by Baseball America as the 4th best prospect. He has been compared to Justin Verlander and Jake Peavy. Scouts are looking for him to make a Tim Lincecum impact right away. Are there any more aces I can compare him to to make my point? If he is able to come in and be a ROY canidadate he will along with Lowe and Jurrjens will form a very solid rotation. If he can't contribute this year this is just a mediocre rotation one injury away from relying on Tom Glavine.
Outlook: This team is the definition of a .500 team. They have an average lineup and an average rotation. Everything about them smacks of average. They do have a bright future with 2 of the top 5 prospects in the league and 5 in the top 100. They have the parts to swing the Peavy trade. They have a decent future but it is not this year. McCann is good but he is not a cleanup hitter. Jones is aging and never healthy. Vazquez and Garret Anderson are on a steep decline. This team does not have the horses to join the Mets and the Phillies at the top of the division, at least not this year.