Chipper Jones leads a much improved Atlanta Braves lineup that will turn heads in 2009. What does the team's signing of Garret Anderson do to the lineup in 2009?
Below is my projected lineup for 2009.
LF—Garret Anderson/Matt Diaz
Basically, I'm cashing in on the prediction that Jeff Francoeur will bounce back in 2009. I could even put him in the cleanup spot given McCann will only start four out of every five games.
Anderson is my front-runner for the center field job given his speed and his ability to put up above-average numbers. Gregor Blanco had the job last year, but he will have to climb over Anderson and Schafer this season.
I'd love to see Schafer in 2009, but it is looking more and more like we won't see him until 2010.
Escobar could be batting third by the end of the season. I think the move to the three-hole could be inevitable by 2010. He just has as sweet of a swing as anyone in the majors and will add some power to his arsenal in 2009.
Jones is "Mr. Brave." Ask anyone.
He is the star of this team even more so with the absence of John Smoltz in 2009. He will again compete for another batting title although I don't see him hitting more than .330 in 2009. You can still write him down for 25 home runs and 95+ RBI.
McCann is the heir apparent to the title of "Mr. Brave." He is a great hitting catcher, and is playing defense better every day. I look for him to challenge the 30 homer mark this season and bat over .300. He could bat fourth or fifth depending on how the Braves place Francoeur and Garret Anderson.
Francoeur is ready to have a huge comeback season. He's shed his added bulk from last year and is ready to return as a top defensive outfielder and a run-producer in the lineup. I project numbers of around .270, 25 home runs, and about 90 RBI for the youngster.
2008 was a maturing process for Jeff, and I think in 2009 the Braves reap the benefits.
Anderson is the recently signed "savior" for the Braves. I personally like Anderson, but I question the signing when team already has outfield depth. I think he could give significant reason to do away with the platoon in left field, and make head coach Bobby Cox use Diaz off the bench.
I project numbers of .290, 15 home runs, and 75 RBI.
Diaz is a player on the bubble now. The Braves recent signing of Anderson might keep Diaz in a pinch-hitter role more than he expects, but I see him as a valuable bat off the bench.
Yes, he bats lefties pretty well, but so does Anderson. I will hold off on my predictions for Matt until after spring training.
Kotchman wants to show the Braves that the Mark Teixeira trade was not lopsided. Is he Mark Teixeira? Not in the least bit.
Is he a good player? The Braves wouldn't have demanded him in the trade unless he was. I predict a .275 average, 20 home runs, and about 70 RBI.
Johnson could be batting second or even leadoff before this is all said and done. Until then, he could possibly be the best eighth hitter in the game. I predict a season of .280, 15 homers, and 65 RBI. That could change if he moves up in the order.
Look for a preview of the Braves' rotation tomorrow.