Craig Kimbrel is a "for-sure" thing for the Atlanta Braves in 2011
When the Atlanta Braves 2010 came to a close a couple weeks back at the hands of the eventual National League Champion San Francisco Giants, there was a lot of mourning at the Britt (that's me) household.
I was resigned to filling out college applications and (gasp) putting school over baseball for a couple of weeks as I bitterly refused to watch the LCS's for the thought of what might of been had Chipper Jones, Martin Prado, Billy Wagner and Kris Medlen been good-to-go for the first round of the playoffs.
I sound like a bitter fan of a team that dons blue caps with red "C"s.
Well...I guess I shouldn't digress.
But, now that the World Series has begun and the "Least Annoying Team Left in the Playoffs" Award-winning Texas Rangers have a chance to knock off the team that broke my heart in the opening week-or-so of October, I'm feeling up to digging back into the sport that consumes my nights from about 7-10 during the summer.
As one looks at the Atlanta Braves' roster, one notices that there are only a couple major (as there have been for the past couple of offseasons) holes to be filled.
One of which is the lack of some "grizzled old veteran" in the bullpen.
With the swagger of Billy Wagner headed for retirement greener Virginia pastures and Takashi "can't-pitch-back-to-back-nights" Saito getting his (contract-mandated, mind you) release papers in the past couple of days, the average age of the bullpen lost a few months.
I'm not saying that the Braves have to go out and sign some Arthur Rhodes-looking 40-some-year-old just for the heck of it—don't get that impression, at all.
I'm just saying that with the lack of experience down in the 'pen (the most experienced guy that's going to be relied upon next season is Peter Moylan, who has all of three FULL seasonsin the bigs), someone like Joe Beimel or Grant Balfour (both free-agents-to-be) could be helpful to the under-30 quartet of O'Flaherty, Venters, Dunn and Kimbrel that will be shutting the door in late-inning situations in 2010.
Oh, and that leads to this prediction: Kyle Farnsworth won't be back.
The other major thing that needs help is the rotation.
Wait...this isn't the 2008-09 offseason (isn't it nice not to have to think about, though, isn't it...hey, you have to find positives when you're watching Jeff Francoeur riding the pine in the World Series before any of the other Baby Braves).
Short of dumping Kenshin Kawakami, that was a total and complete (poorly executed, I might add) joke.
But really, that only other major red flag being thrown up on the Braves' current roster is in the outfield.
We can all celebrate now that Melky Cabrera had been given his pink slip...but (once Rick Ankiel's option is declined) with Jason Heyward, Nate McLouth and Matt Diaz looking like the options right now, there needs to be some work.
Options range from Jayson Werth to Colby Rasmus (if he is made available, he's a perfect fit) to Wilkin Ramirez (you know, that last-second deadline acquisition who didn't do too badly with Gwinnett after coming over).
I'm only touching on that here to tease a slideshow coming up (I know, a real d-bag move).
The one thing that is for sure is this: the Braves weren't that bad of a team running on three legs down the stretch.
One piece thrown in the mix here and there makes this team a pretty big threat in the National League in 2011.
After all, Hanson, Hudson, and a rejuvenated Lowe (no Jurrjens, think: trade-bait) are all penciled into manager Fredi Gonzalez's rotation next season and there's going to be an even slightly more matured Jason Heyward somewhere in the lineup.
All I can say right now that's a for sure: Spring Training can't get here fast enough.