As spring slowly creeps toward us, we take a closer look at this offseason and see how many changes teams have made. When we look at the Braves, we see little change at all.
In fact, the biggest moves the Braves made were resigning key players to avoid arbitration. These players include Martin Prado, Michael Bourn, and Jair Jurrjens. One other major event that took place in the offseason was the shipping of Derek Lowe to Cleveland. Although the Braves had to eat most of his salary, they were able to remove him from their roster.
Other than that, the Braves' 2011 roster remains relatively intact. There are no new faces, no new big names, and no changes. Should Braves fans feel comfortable about this?
Well, last year the Braves finished 89-73. They barely missed the playoffs after having a commanding lead on the wild card in August. They collapsed in September and their lead disappeared. This has left a bitter taste in the mouths of all attached with the Braves, be them fans or players.
Some might say that the Braves should have remodeled the team and traded players like Jair Jurrjens and Martin Prado, who are both soon-to-be free agents and are about to reach the peak of their careers. They also claim that Chipper is now too old and fragile to produce good numbers and be valuable to the team.
I disagree with these notions. While Frank Wren, the GM, is usually trigger happy, he hasn't been this year, and for good reason. While this team may not have made the playoffs, they dealt with injuries that greatly changed the dynamics of the team and the way it played. Martin Prado was out for a couple of weeks, Chipper dealt with nagging injuries, Peter Moylan was practically out for the entire season, and so was Kris Medlen.
Two of the Braves' young pitching stars, Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson, had devastating injuries that, without keeping them out for too long, stunted their pitching performances for the remainder of the season. Imagine how the season would have turned out if these injuries were less severe! The Braves' offense was inconsistent for much of the season, and they still were able to pull out 89 wins.
They easily have the talent to win 90, and are capable of reaching 100, if the team remains relatively healthy for the entire season. Many players are returning from injury, players like Michael Bourn and Dan Uggla are just settling in, and young players such as Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman are gaining experience.
This current roster is so talented, it doesn't need tampering with. What manager wouldn't want to have Chipper Jones, Michael Bourn, Brian McCann, Freddie Freeman, and Martin Prado in their lineup? Additionally, their pitching staff figures to once again be among the best in the majors. If this year doesn't pan out, which is very unlikely, then changes would need to made.
For now, though, the status quo is absolutely satisfactory. This team has what it needs to go far, so let the players do their thing. The Braves have done the right thing by not doing anything this offseason.
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