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2005-prediction-atlanta-braves | March | 2005 Articles

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2005 Prediction (Atlanta Braves)

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Spring training is nearly over and the roster is nearly set. Opening day is next Tuesday, and a dozen or so familiar faces will be joined in the Braves dugout by quite a few newcomers. But how will that affect the Braves' run for another division title? Let's have a look.
Players Lost
SP Russ Ortiz
SP Jaret Wright
SP Paul Byrd
RP Antonio Alfonseca
RP Jose Capellan
RP Juan Cruz
RP Dan Meyer
IF Mark DeRosa
IF Nick Green
IF Mike Hessman
OF JD Drew
OF Charles Thomas
OF Eli Marerro
OF Roosevelt Brown

Players Gained:
SP Tim Hudson
RP Dan Kolb
RP Jorge Vasquez
RP Jorge Sosa
IF Julio Franco
OF Raul Mondesi
OF Brian Jordan
Starting Pitching. The Braves lost Russ Ortiz, Jaret Wright, and Paul Byrd, all of whom were fairly successful under Leo Mazzone, but none of whom should be all that successful in the future. Wright has the best potential among the three, but he was a bit too volatile to hold. Tim Hudson outshines all three of them, and a healthy Horacio Ramirez and John Smoltz returning to the rotation will more than make up for the pitchers we lost. Even if Smoltz is only 75% as good as he used to be as a starter, that's still much better over the course of a season than we would get out of Paul Byrd! Verdict: The starting rotation has improved. Relief Pitching. Alfonseca and Cruz were quite reliable -- I was even hoping Cruz was take over Smoltz's spot as the Braves' closer at one point -- and Capellan has enormous potential. I disagree with the Braves' decision to trade Capellan; I think he would have made a better closer than Dan Kolb. But I'm still hoping for good things from him. And Adam Bernero and Buddy Hernandez could be pleasant surprises. Verdict: The relief pitching is slightly degraded. Starting Lineup. The Braves replace JD Drew and the Marrero/Thomas platoon with Raul Mondesi and a Jordan/Langerhans platoon. But Andruw Jones has come back much stronger and healthier than last year, and Chipper Jones should return to much better form after an off year. LaRoche should be much improved in his sophomore season, and we should be able to expect close to the same performances from Furcal, Giles, and Estrada. Verdict: The starting lineup is slightly improved. Bench. Eddie Perez, Julio Franco, and Wilson Betemit return. Nick Green and the second half of last year's left-field platoon are presumably replaced by Pete Orr and the second half of this year's left-field platoon. The talent may be there, but the performances of these players is sporadic at best. But let's look at the bright side: at least they're on the bench! Verdict: Improvement or degradation is negligible and as yet indistinguishable. OVERALL. Change is constant, and in a 162-game schedule, surprises are guaranteed. Players will be injured and traded, minor leaguers will be called up, and newcomers will have an unpredictable impact. However, given what we do know about the players who have established themselves and what we can expect based on changes to last year's team, the Atlanta Braves still look like division champions to me. And no one can take that away from them until someone else clinches the NL East title. Verdict: I predict another successful season, good enough at least for a playoff berth and probably the Braves' 14th consecutive division title.
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