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TomahawkChopper
02-22-2009, 06:13 PM
http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/9238050/Improved-Braves-look-awfully-dangerous


ORLANDO, Fl. - Jake Peavy, A.J. Burnett, Rafael Furcal and now Ken Griffey Jr., not to mention John Smoltz. MLB Spring Training Ken Rosenthal and our MLB crew have you covered this spring. Check out the latest news and notes.


The Braves continue to make bigger news with their offseason failures than their successes, but not to worry.
This still is a much-improved team.

Griffey, 39, is not a terrible loss coming off left-knee surgery, he fits better in the American League, where he can serve the Mariners as a designated hitter as well as an outfielder.

The Braves mostly wanted Griffey as a platoon partner for Matt Diaz in left field, and they can sign another left-handed hitting free agent, Garret Anderson, for the same role.

With or without Griffey, the Braves should be significantly improved.

Yes, they finished 72-90 last season, sending pitchers to surgery even faster than they lost one-run games.

But they've added two right-handed workhorses, Derek Lowe and Javier Vazquez, and a third righty who also could prove durable, Kenshin Kawakami.

The Braves' bullpen, if healthy, will feature a wicked late-inning trio of lefty Mike Gonzalez and righties Rafael Soriano and Peter Moylan.

Perhaps most important, the team's overall pitching depth will be superior to what it was last season, when the staff too old, too injury-prone simply fell apart.

The National League East looks formidable, but the Braves should be competitive with the Phillies, Mets and Marlins.

Just ask right fielder Jeff Francoeur.

"The way I look at it, A) I'm not going to suck and B) We have pitchers who will throw 200 innings," Francoeur says.
A better Francoeur would help his on-base percentage declined from .338 in 2006 to .294 last season, and his home runs have dropped from 29 to 19 to 11 the past three years.

The Braves finished sixth in the NL in runs last season, but only fourth in the division and that was with four months of Mark Teixeira at first base.

Pitching, though, was their greater problem; the team's 4.46 ERA ranked 12th in the league. The Nationals were the only NL club to get fewer innings out of its starters. The Braves' bullpen, also hit by injuries, could not withstand the strain.

"We had to overuse our bullpen, overexpose 'em, wear 'em out," third baseman Chipper Jones says.

Manager Bobby Cox says it will be "huge" if Gonzalez, Soriano and Moylan are all healthy at once, but Gonzalez speaks just as excitedly about three less experienced relievers Jeff Bennett, Manny Acosta and Blaine Boyer.

Each has closer stuff, Gonzalez says, and will benefit from pitching under less pressure. Boone Logan, who arrived from the White Sox in the Vazquez trade, should fill the role vacated by free agent Will Ohman. The Braves also are intrigued by lefty Eric O'Flaherty, whom they claimed on waivers from the Mariners.

The team's increased pitching depth, though, is even more evident in the rotation. Along with Lowe, Vazquez and Kawakami, the Braves boast righty Jair Jurrjens, who was 13-10 with a 3.68 ERA as a rookie last season, displaying what Jones calls "poise upon poise."

Glavine is likely to be the fifth starter, but the Braves' other candidates include righty Jorge Campillo, who had a 4.34 ERA in 25 starts and was terrific in the bullpen last season, and two developing pitchers, lefty Jo-Jo Reyes and righty Charlie Morton.
Derek Lowe is one player Atlanta didn't miss out on. (David J. Phillip / Associated Press)

And then there is righty Tommy Hanson.

"This kid is going to be a No. 1 starter in Atlanta soon," Jones says. "He's probably got the best stuff of anybody in this clubhouse has right now."

Hanson, 22, has yet to pitch above Class AA, but he went 5-0 with a 0.63 ERA in the Arizona Fall League and could force his way into the rotation quickly.

As if all that is not enough, the Braves might even get a boost in late August from righty Tim Hudson, who already has Cox excited in his recovery from Tommy John surgery.

Run production, then, might be the Braves' biggest problem Casey Kotchman is not nearly the hitter that Teixeira was, Cox must choose between three unproven players in center and Francoeur's revival is hardly a sure thing.

Jones, who turns 37 on April 24, is never a guarantee to stay healthy. The Braves might lack the financial flexibility to add a hitter at the trade deadline, and their farm system lacks the hitting equivalent of Hanson.

The players, though, are confident that they are underrated, as opposed to last spring, when one vertically and intellectually challenged writer initials K.R., employer FOXSports.com picked them to win the World Series.

Whoever that fool is, he will not make the same mistake again. But no one should be overly influenced by the Braves' offseason disappointments, either.

Francoeur's quote had me laughing

A_Brave_Pack
02-22-2009, 06:43 PM
At least he knows he sucked last year?

iamaj
02-22-2009, 07:18 PM
Good read.

At least Frenchy isn't delusional.

NickSC07
02-22-2009, 07:56 PM
The Braves will easily be the best third place team in the league, lol.

BRAVE KID
02-22-2009, 08:51 PM
The Braves will easily be the best third place team in the league, lol.
pessimistic much. Have some patience why don't ya. season hasn't even started.

Joe Smoe
02-22-2009, 09:36 PM
Many are starting to predict great things for the Braves this year. With all that is said and done with this offseason, I think the Braves can possibly make the playoffs if the cards fall right. I do not think they are the favorite, but never does being the favorite make the diffrence. If that was the case the season would not need to be played.

Last year the Braves had a strong chance to take a shot at the penant, but who could have predicted the Braves fluke of injuries the Mets loosing it in the last 2 weeks again, or that the Phillies would go all the way. Either way the Braves will make it intresting. They do not have massive star power, but they have lots of potential and depth that can not be overlooked.

hawksd911
02-22-2009, 10:12 PM
i cant wait till Sring Training games start i am going to fly down to florida and spend a week there and go to a couple Phillies games ( only because my Grandpa works their and i can get in for free) and one of those games they are playing the Braves :)

howiend
02-23-2009, 12:31 AM
Braves will definitely be improved. Had they not signed some starting pitching I would have had a hard time watching them.

devildogdco
03-03-2009, 08:04 PM
downgraded hitting UPGRADED starting pitching... which will set up our bullpen and take the presure of the offence... Pitching and Defence, and timely hitting is the way you win.

hawksd911
03-03-2009, 08:44 PM
we didnt down grade our offence. 1st we traded teix during last season. we kept everyone else and we got G Anderson i think we just stayed the same.

iamaj
03-04-2009, 07:56 AM
^ Agreed. We made lateral moves. We're banking on Frenchy bouncing back and the LF platoon to be productive.

Even so, our team could hit and get on base last year. The Braves just weren't good at getting runners over and getting them in.

Driehurst
03-08-2009, 10:45 PM
we didnt down grade our offence. 1st we traded teix during last season. we kept everyone else and we got G Anderson i think we just stayed the same.

So your saying G Anderson is equal to Teixiera? No not even close, A good year for Anderson this year, 19 HR's, 70 RBI's, .270 avg

dbroncs-abraves
03-08-2009, 10:49 PM
So your saying G Anderson is equal to Teixiera? No not even close, A good year for Anderson this year, 19 HR's, 70 RBI's, .270 avg

what hes saying is we didnt have teix for last part of last year so it doesnt really count as downgrading because he was traded during the season

MR2
03-09-2009, 09:45 PM
Hate to say it, but maybe it's the best we haven't signed Chipper long term yet. He looked absolutely horrible in the WBC. 6 AB's and 5 K's. Time to upgrade our third base options.

Thibs34
03-09-2009, 10:04 PM
Hate to say it, but maybe it's the best we haven't signed Chipper long term yet. He looked absolutely horrible in the WBC. 6 AB's and 5 K's. Time to upgrade our third base options.

Ur an Idiot.:pity:

hawksd911
03-09-2009, 10:05 PM
???? ^^^ are you kidding its the first week in march and he barley had spring training. Sure its soon to invest some on 3rd but he is the leader on our team since Smoltz left. i say he still has 2-3 years left till he starts getting bad enough that we have to replace him.

MR2
03-09-2009, 10:24 PM
Hey Thibs34
Let's see who's right at the end of the year! Do you watch baseball or just like players??

Thibs34
03-09-2009, 10:37 PM
Lol. I watch players win batting titles. You are basing what you are saying on six at bats in the beginning of March. Give me a break.