LONG BEACH— Braves Baseball is right around the corner. From my perspective, it could stand to get here sooner.
I suppose it is best that it is three weeks away. Chipper Jones has just injured his oblique. That’s an injury that lingers. Chipper had this issue a few seasons ago. With him it is either the sides or the toes. So far the toes are in good health. Hopefully the sides heal up well and fast.
As time goes by I’m slightly more optomistic about the Braves’ chances. I am still not convinced they will make it into the post season. However, I believe they should be right there at the end and that would go a long way towards erasing the 90 losses of 2008.
The future looks even brighter for the Braves. There seems to be no end to the talent the farm is producing. Baseball America ranked five of the Braves players in the top 100. Two in the top 5. And overall, 9 players that are either in the Braves system or were prior to the Teixeira and Vazquez trades, were in the top 100. That’s a good sign for the Braves development team. Out of thirty teams the Braves have managed to produce almost 10% of the top young talent in the game.
The reports are that there is still an opening in center field but I’m think that is just to encourage guys to try hard. I’m thinking this team is pretty much set with Josh Anderson in Center, Garret Anderson in Left and Jeff Francoeur in Right. Francoeur has been working all Spring to get comfortable with his new stance. Initially it wasn’t good, but he has turned it around as of late. Still no extra bases (at least last I checked) but he also has no strikeouts. Perhaps he will be a singles hitter from here on out. It’d be an improvement over the guaranteed out he was last season.
The bench seems to be set with Matt Diaz, Omar Infante, David Ross, Martin Prado and Greg Norton. That should make for a really solid bench. Much better than in previous seasons. Dumping Todd Pratt and Corky Miller can have that level of impact.
The rotation was set when Lowe was signed. Barring injury it will be Lowe, Vazquez, Jurrjens, Kawakami and Glavine. This too is a huge improvement over last season. While it is still possible, there doesn’t appear to be any injuries in there. I’ll keep my fingers crossed. At any rate the depth is better. Tommy Hanson is practically ready to go and Tim Hudson should come back in the second half. James Parr is still there as well as Buddy Carlyle, barring any unforeseen trades.
The relief corp seems to be the most open of all the units on this team. Soriano, Moylan and Gonzalez are the few certainties but even they represent some question marks.
This should be a fun season. Now if it would just get here.