Atlanta Braves: How Lowe Can You Go?

Kevin MarkumCorrespondent IJanuary 13, 2009

It would seem as if the Atlanta Braves’ 2009 season outlook was very dim when the Braves got the news of John Smoltz’s departure to the Boston Red Sox.  Remember the last article, I had talked about how that Smoltz’s departure would actually be lucky for the Braves.


Within a week of the news of John leaving the organization, the Braves have signed two veteran pitchers in the form of Japanese sensation Kawakami and MLB veteran pitcher Derek Lowe. Now the Braves’ 2009 rotation looks like one of the sturdiest that it has been for years…not to mention what it will look like in 2010.


With these recent signings the Braves are looking like a team that could make a serious run for the playoffs.  How is that statement compared to what we were looking at a week ago?


I wasn’t sold on Derek Lowe at first, but after reading what Bobby Cox says about the guy…I’m intrigued.  His age is a question, but based on his record in the past I think he will be solid.  While I do question the length of this contract, I think it was worth it to sign this guy.  He could be something very special for us for a few years.


Here is the projected rotation for the 2009 Braves:


Derek Lowe

Jair Jurrjens

Javier Vazquez

Kenshin Kawakami

Jorge Campillo


That rotation includes the question of how Bobby will want to fix Jurrjens and Vazquez.  They very well could be swapped if Vazquez has a strong spring.  I also question Campillo in the rotation for 2009.  If Tyler Hanson performs well enough this spring, he will easily fall in to the fourth or fifth spot in the rotation.


The signing of Lowe is huge for the Braves.  It answers the question of who is the ace and who will eat innings to save what is normally an over-worked bullpen.  I think given Smoltz’s situation, Lowe is a big upgrade.  Vazquez will also have the pressure off of him with Lowe in the rotation.


As far as the team’s offensive situation, the Braves are in many rumors for a return of CF Andruw Jones.  Based on videos I’ve seen of him this offseason, he looks great.  If he could come back and just hit 25 hrs, I would see him as a benefit.


I’m not interested in the Braves signing another big-name free agent to fill an outfield spot.  Andruw Jones would be worth the risk for a one-year deal given the low cost.  Given the solid prospects we have in the outfield, a big-name free agent with a high cost would be unwise.


I like the Braves’ chances now in 2009 with a rebuilt rotation and a solid bullpen and lineup to match.  I feel if the team stays healthy and does as projected on paper, the Braves could make a World Series run this season.  I’m definitely pumped up for opening day now.