Just a week or so before Memorial Day and roughly two months into the 2014 Major League Baseball season, it is a perfect time to take stock and see how things are developing for the Atlanta Braves. Let's take a look at some news and notes.
Evan Gattis, who was a late scratch from Tuesday night's game with a viral infection or some sort of stomach bug, is out again Wednesday night. Veteran catcher Gerald Laird started in his place again, although Gattis shouldn't miss much more time.
According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, reliever Jordan Walden needs more time to recover from his hamstring injury. Manager Fredi Gonzalez was quoted as saying, "it would still be 'a while' before (he's) back throwing off a mound."
In other reliever news, Jonny Venters is making progress and was given the green light by the team doctor to continue his throwing program. His setback last week was apparently not much of one and pretty normal for a player coming off Tommy John surgery. There is still no set timetable for his return to game action, though.
More news on the injury front, as newly instituted starting second baseman Tyler Pastornicky has a sore left calf, and manager Gonzalez says he will be out a few more days. Although he may be available to pinch hit Wednesday night, a return to the starting lineup (where he's taken the place of the struggling Dan Uggla) could still be a couple of days away.
With the MLB amateur player draft just around the corner, Bleacher Report's own Daniel Kock took a look at whom the Braves might select with their first-round pick, a compensation pick for losing Brian McCann as a free agent this past offseason. The players he mentions are a number of Georgia guys ranging from the outfield to the mound, with his No. 1 target being Georgia high school outfielder Michael Gettys.
Position players may be the way to go in this year's draft as the team has gone pitching-heavy in recent drafts, and also, as every Braves fan will attest to, Atlanta pitches pretty darn well at the major league level, while the everyday lineup leaves something to be desired.
Another Bleacher Report columnist, Joe Giglio, addressed the issue of the Braves lineup in his Wednesday article. Using some figures and statistics, Giglio argued that the current lineup will never be good enough to contend, although, as was made evident in the piece, an obvious quick fix is also not apparent.
The Braves have taken a small step toward changing things with the benching of Dan Uggla for Pastornicky, but that is hardly a division-winning move, even when Pastornicky returns healthy.
Elsewhere, Georgia State apparently has a plan for Turner Field once Atlanta's new stadium is completed. It wants to turn Turner into a 30,000-seat football stadium, of course. Georgia State desires an upgrade in facilities, and this appears to be an (expensive) option, although the switch is still at least three years away.
As for the new stadium in Cobb County, the Braves will be on a tight schedule once construction begins with the Falcons also getting a new stadium during the same time frame. In fact, according to the NBC affiliate article, "the Braves still have the option (to) extend their lease if construction on their new home falls behind."
This linked article also contains some new artist renderings of what the new stadium is supposed to look like.
And lastly, on the trade front, ESPN's Jim Bowden (Insider subscription required) recommends Atlanta trading for Seattle Mariners second baseman Nick Franklin to shore up the Uggla problem. If that doesn't pan out, here are a number of other trade options for the Braves to target.