By: John Wickham
Spring brings optimism. I cannot tell you how many times I was disappointed or upset at the Braves and was not sure how they expected to be able to compete for a World Series by doing nothing. An Ace was needed, a new 2nd baseman was needed, and while we are at it, why not a new CF.
The Braves lost two of their longest tenured players in SP Tim Hudson and C Brian McCann and their biggest moves were to trade for backup C/1B/OF Ryan Doumit and sign Gavin Floyd for $4 million and he won’t be ready for the beginning of the season. While the Nationals are trading for more starting pitching, the Phillies were busy signing players, the Marlins are young and talented, and the Mets are well, the Mets. Are you kidding me?
But then after many, many nights looking at the situation, I suddenly felt better. And why not? The Braves have a lot of young talent that should continue to get better and after the past week or two; we are guaranteed to be seeing them stay here in Atlanta.
The Braves will again have the Upton, Upton, Heyward outfield. Jordan Schafer, Jose Constanza, Joey Terdoslavich and Todd Cunningham will be the main backups. At the corners of the infield you will have Freddie Freeman and Chris Johnson. Ryan Doumit has the ability to backup multiple positions including the corner outfield spots, catcher and 1st base. Ramiro Pena and Tyler Pastornicky can sub in at 3rd base as well as the two middle infield positions. The starters for the middle infield are going to be Andrelton Simmons at SS for sure while Dan Uggla will have to fend off several threats including Tommy La Stella as well as Pena and Pastornicky for 2nd base. As for the backstop the Braves will have a new guy manning the position. Evan Gattis will be the starting catcher but when he needs a break there will be Gerald Laird and Ryan Doumit. We most likely will not but there is a slight chance that we could see Christian Bethancourt.
The starting five is pretty much locked up except the fifth spot is still up in the air. In some order it will be Kris Medlen, Julio Teheran, Mike Minor, and Brandon Beachy. The final spot is a battle between Freddy Garcia, Alex Wood, and David Hale. Gavin Floyd will make an appearance later in the season when he returns from injury. The bullpen will be Craig Kimbrel, Jordan Walden and Luis Avilan as the main three. We will also see David Carpenter, Anthony Varvaro, Luis Vasquez, Cory Gearrin, with more than likely the losers of the 5th rotation spot going to the bullpen. Jonny Venters will also make an appearance a couple months into the season as returns from injury.
There might be more than a few names missing from this list that will end up making a contribution to this team. I definitely missed a few last season including Joey T, David Hale and David Carpenter. That is what allows the Braves to win games. Not only having the star power but also having quality depth backing them up so when injuries do happen you are able to continue on and with that I believe the Braves are poised for another tremendous run.