Here are my grades for the 2009 Atlanta Braves so far. The categories will be starting lineup, starting rotation, bullpen, and bench.
The Braves are once again dealing with injuries early on. Brian McCann, Garrett Anderson, and Chipper Jones have all missed some games already. Matt Diaz, Jeff Francouer, and David Ross have been pleasant surprises.
The rest of the lineup has been pretty inconsistent. That needs to change for the Braves to have any chance of contending this year.
It has only been a month since the season started. However, it looks like the starting rotation is a major strength for the Braves. Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens, and Javier Vasquez have been solid.
Kenshin Kawakami has shown flashes of brilliance, but needs to work on his control. If this group can stay healthy, the Braves could be contenders by season's end.
This group has looked really good at times and really bad at times. Mike Gonzalez started poorly, but has picked it up a bit. Rafael Soriano looks incredible in his setup role. It looks like Peter Moylan came back too early from Tommy John surgery.
Jeff Bennett has been solid and Blane Boyer pitched himself off the team. This group is not hopeless. If they work on their consistency, the Braves could have one of the better bullpens in the NL.
The bench looks good again for 2009. Greg Norton has struggled so far, but he will get on track soon. Martin Prado and Omar Infante have been impressive so far. I like their versatility.
David Ross is a huge upgrade from Corky Miller. When Brian McCann gets injured, it's nice to have a solid veteran that is known for his offense and defense.
The Braves have been really inconsistent, but they are still a major contender in the NL East. Once the injured Braves return, that should give them the boost they need to firmly place them in the thick of the NL East race.