While many Braves fans sweat out the quiet offseason in worry as other teams in the N.L. East make big moves, the players don't seem to be as concerned with the front office's judgement as spring training nears.
Third baseman Chipper Jones, in a recent interview with David O'Brien of the AJC, said he didn't expect any major moves. “Nobody was going to be a free agent; everybody was coming back. The bottom line is, for four and a half, five months we were pretty dang good. We had the third or fourth-best record in baseball. We were right there. We just didn’t finish it out."
Last season came down to the wire in frustrating fashion as the Braves blew a sizable wild-card lead and still only needed one win to at least have a shot to battle the eventual world champs for the honor. They blew it in extra innings and went into the offseason stunned.
Rising star reliever Jonny Venters had good things to say about the starting rotation options when he told O'Brien that "there’s no doubt that our rotation was the strength of the team. That’s why we pitched so much because our starters kept us in so many games. If those guys stay healthy, there’s no telling. … I expect to be in the thick of the division race anyways. But having those two guys, they’re horses. They’re number one starters on most teams.”
Pitching will again be a big deciding factor in the division and wild-card race this season and the N.L. East has a ton of quality arms. If the Braves want to remain a contender, with other teams like the Marlins and Nationals seemingly on the rise, the rotation will need to be consistent and healthy for most of the season.
The Rookie of the Year, Craig Kimbrel, weighed in when he told the AJC that he was "happy." He went on to say that the Braves:
"...have a good team. All the pieces are here. It’s not like we had to go out and get anybody. The team’s talented. We’re going to be fine. We've got a really good clubhouse; that’s a big part of having a good team. I’m glad we didn't break that up.”
Whether it is false hope or insider's perspective, it's good to see the players show some confidence in the decisions of the Braves' front office. It will be interesting to see how this season goes and if big moves are needed as the year plays out.
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