Atlanta Braves' Biggest Offseason Disappointments
Rarely does an offseason go perfectly for an organization, at least from a fan's perspective.
I'm sure if you asked general manager Frank Wren if he was satisfied with the offseason to date, he would give multiple reasons why the Braves filled all their needs.
But the truth is, Wren has not stopped looking for ways to improve the team as any good general manager would do.
And fans can see there are still holes that need to be addressed.
Overall, I wouldn't label the Braves' offseason as a disappointment---to date---but here are some disappointing developments for the Braves this offseason.
1. Who Starts in Left Field?
The Braves entered the offseason with two holes in the outfield with the assumption Martin Prado would take over the everyday third base job.
Wren addressed one of the voids by signing B.J. Upton but still has not added a player to play left field.
If the season began today, the Braves would have a number of options but all are average at best or at least unproven.
Utility players Reed Johnson and Jose Costanza, newly acquired Jordan Schafer or the journeyman prospect Evan Gattis are among the options to see playing time in left field.
Or the Braves could keep Prado in left field and play power-hitting Juan Francisco at third.
All those options make me shrug my shoulders.
Would it be good enough to get the Braves into the playoffs? Sure.
Would it be good enough for the Braves to make a deep postseason run? I don't see it.
2. Who Hits Lead-Off?
Michael Bourn had an up-and-down season in 2012, in which he stole 42 bases and made the All-Star team, but also struck out 155 times and struggled in the second half.
Perhaps his greatest value to the team was how he fit in the lineup and allowed others to hit in their natural position.
Prado fit perfectly hitting behind him with his ability to take pitches, hit-and-run and hit to all parts of the field.
The Braves have utilized Jason Heyward in the two spot in the past but he's a natural No. 3 with his run-producing ability.
Bourn's ability to hit lead-off allowed those guys to be comfortable with their spot in the lineup.
As of now, Prado or Andrelton Simmons could be forced into that role.
Both are good hitters but not natural lead-off hitters, which leaves that vital spot in the batting order a question mark right now.
3. No Run at Shane Victorino
I was in the sign Shane Victorino camp from the beginning of this offseason and wrote about it in multiple articles.
The Braves could have filled two voids with one signing if they had been able to land Victorino.
He has the ability to hit lead-off and stole 39 stolen bases last season---just three less than Bourn.
Sabermetric geeks can check out his mixed ratings here, and also see he's posted a WAR higher than 3.0 the past five seasons.
It isn't his stats or ratings that stick out to me regarding Victorio. He's just a gamer.
As a Phillie, he was a thorn in the Braves side and served as a spark to the offense and came up with big hits time after time.
Victorino signed with the Red Sox for three years and $39 million.
That's a lucrative deal for Victorino, but imagine if the Braves could have combined him with a certain left fielder.
4. Acquire Justin Upton
That left fielder is obviously Justin Upton, and it isn't a Braves article without at least mentioning his name.
Once again, the Diamondbacks have placed Upton on the trading block after the surprise signing of Cody Ross has created a logjam in their outfield.
It was well-known that the Diamondbacks wanted Andrelton Simmons if they were to trade Upton to the Braves.
The Braves would no longer have to trade Simmons and should look to get rid of their pitching depth to acquire Upton.
Upton is only 25-years-old and is under contract through 2015.
Those factors combined with his MVP-potential make him an extremely attractive player, and one you can afford to dump a good chunk of your farm system.
5. Brian McCann's Surgery
Brian McCann is coming off his worst season by far in his career, setting lows in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and RBI.
McCann battled through shoulder discomfort for most of the 2012 season, which clearly hindered his ability at the plate.
The disappointing news of the surgery was the announcement that he will likely miss the opening of the season as he faces a 6-month rehab.
That means newly-acquired Gerald Laird will serve as the Opening Day starter after the Braves also lost David Ross in the offseason.
Laird has experience and will be a serviceable catcher for the time, but he does not offer the pop that McCann features.
Braves fans hope that McCann returns to his old form when he comes back.
However, it will still be disappointing to not have the entire starting lineup on Opening Day.
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