Why the Atlanta Braves Don't Need Michael Bourn Back
This offseason, it's becoming more clear every day that Michael Bourn will not be wearing an Atlanta Braves uniform in 2013.
With the way the team is focused on other outfielders and the salary demands Bourn is asking for, it makes sense for the Braves to not overpay.
Many fans are worried about letting Bourn go, as he is the first true leadoff threat since Rafael Furcal left town, but not bringing back Bourn isn't something that will kill the Braves.
In fact, the Braves don't need to bring Bourn back to compete in 2013.
This article takes a look at why the Braves should be fine without him.
Bourn's Second Half of 2012
Michael Bourn was an All-Star based on his first half of the 2012 season, an award that he was deserving of, however, in the second half Bourn hurt the Braves at times as he spent the last few months of the year in a major slump.
Bourn hit .311/.366/.451 in the first half of the season, but only .225/.325/.311 in the second half.
Even his power plunged, as he went from seven homers in his first 85 games to just two in his final 70 games.
No matter who replaces Bourn in 2013, it will be hard for them to not improve upon Bourn's second half.
Bourn's long second half slump in a contract season and pennant race make the Braves seem smart for not chasing him.
One of the guys the Braves seem to be chasing hard this offseason is former Tampa Bay Ray B.J. Upton.
Upton is a career .255 hitter who has averaged 23 homers per season over the last three seasons to go with 36 steals per year.
Making Upton even more intriguing is the fact that many around the game believe he never reached his full potential in Tampa.
He hit .300 with a .386 OBP back in 2007, and could potentially bring up his average and on-base percentage with a change in scenery.
Upton hasn't signed with a team yet, and may not sign with the Braves, but he would be an excellent fit with his speed and power combination.
Though he may not be a true leadoff hitter, Upton may be able to handle that role and should be able to do damage elsewhere in the lineup as well.
Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman
One way the Braves will replace Michael Bourn's production is increased production from the youngsters—Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman.
These two players have a solid chance to take the next step in production in 2013.
Heyward hit .269/.335/.479 with 27 homers in 2012 in a bounce back season. Making those numbers even more impressive is the fact he really stepped up his power production in the second half, as he hit 21 homers after June 7.
Freeman had a rough 2012 season as he hit just .259 and battled an eye injury suffered in May.
His average was significantly down from the .282 mark he posted as a rookie in 2011, and down from what he was hitting before having dirt scratch his eye in Colorado.
Heyward's power could take the jump to the 40 homer mark as soon as 2013, while Freeman has the potential to emerge as a potential All-Star with his eyes back to normal.
If one or both of these things happen, it would really go a long way to replacing the production left behind by the departure of Bourn.
Another reason the Braves don't need to retain the services of Michael Bourn is because of their pitching.
As crazy as that sounds, the pitching was a bit of a disappointment in 2012, especially the starting rotation for most of the year.
The good news is that it should be much improved in 2013.
Having Kris Medlen at the top of the rotation for a full season will help the Braves, and we all know that Tim Hudson is a very strong option near the top of a rotation.
Throw in Mike Minor, who looked very good in the second half, and the Braves have a very solid trio of starters to work with.
As if that isn't enough, having solid veteran Paul Maholm, the talented Tommy Hanson and a half season worth of Brandon Beachy just solidifies the rotation. This isn't even getting into promising youngsters Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran.
The Braves have one of the top rotations in the game from top to bottom.
That will help Atlanta prevent more runs in 2013, which will help make up for some of the runs the offense loses by the departure of Michael Bourn.