Atlanta Braves and What We Have To Be Thankful For

Kevin MarkumCorrespondent INovember 25, 2010

Atlanta Braves and What We Have To Be Thankful For

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    ATLANTA - OCTOBER 10:  Eric Hinske #20 of the Atlanta Braves reacts after hitting a two-run homer in the eighth inning off pitcher Sergio Romo #54 of the San Francisco Giants during Game Three of the NLDS of the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Turner Field on Octobe
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    As a fan of the Atlanta Braves, we have had much to complain about for the past few years.  However, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I believe we should also consider a few things that we can give thanks for as fans of this great franchise.

    The fact is that 2010 was just a starting point for what should be a nice few years of success in Atlanta.  I do predict the Braves should be very competitive in 2011 and battle the Phillies again for the NL East title.  I honestly think this year the Braves should win the division as long as there are no major injuries.

    On this great day of food, family, and football....let us consider just a few things that we as Braves fans can be thankful for looking back and looking forward to next year.

The Greatest Manager of All-Time Has Left Us With a Good Framework For Success

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    ATLANTA - OCTOBER 11:  A tribute to manager Bobby Cox #6 of the Atlanta Braves is shown on the jumbotron after their 3-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants during Game Four of the NLDS of the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Turner Field on October 11, 2010 in Atlanta,
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Bobby Cox is the greatest manager of all-time.  Just had to let you know.

    In 2010, Bobby Cox called it quits on what is one the greatest careers of anyone associated with Major League Baseball.  He is the favorite manager of virtually anyone who played for him and the most respected of those who played against him.

    No doubt in 2011, we will miss the classic Bobby Cox argue and ejection.

    Thankfully, Bobby has had the opportunity to manage the next generation of baby Braves such as Tommy Hanson, Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman.

    Bobby got the Braves back to the playoffs in 2010, and has left us a good foundation that 2011 can be even greater.

    Thank you Bobby for all you did for the Atlanta Braves.

Fredi Gonzalez May Be The Perfect Fit For The Braves

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    KISSIMMEE, FL - FEBRUARY 28:  Third Base Coach Fredi Gonzalez of the Atlanta Braves poses for a portrait during photo day at Cracker Jack Stadium on February 28, 2005 in Kissimmee, Florida. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    After the playoffs, I really was hoping the Braves would go after Joe Torre.

    Fredi Gonzalez has grown on me significantly.  He knows the Braves and the Braves know him.  He wanted to come here and he was basically hand picked after being let go from the Marlins.

    The players should respond well to him in 2011, as most who have been asked say they approve of the the hiring.

    I really believe Fredi Gonzalez will be in Atlanta for several years to come.  He will never be #6, but who will?

    We can certainly give thanks that Fredi Gonzalez will be a Brave again, this time as the manager.

Baby Braves Will Grow Into Healthy Veterans Quickly

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    PHOENIX - JUNE 10:  Jason Heyward #22 (R) and pitcher Tommy Hanson #48 of the Atlanta Braves sit in the dugout during the Major League Baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacksat Chase Field on June 10, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Braves defeated
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    In case you haven't heard, the Braves have a guy named Jason Heyward.  He plays RF, he hits for power and he is clutch.  10 years from now, Jason will be to the Braves as Chipper has been for the last 15.  The J-Hey kid will no doubt be a superstar within a couple of seasons and will hopefully stay with the team for years to come.

    Tommy Hanson has Cy Young written all over him.  He is dominant, confident, and maturing quickly.  Not to mention, the beard looks good on him.

    Freddie Freeman hasn't had a lot of experience starting for the Braves.  However, 2010 did allow him to display some great power and good defense at 1B for the Braves late in the season.  At AAA Gwinett, Freeman had a .319 BA with 18 HRs and 87 RBIs in only 461 ABs.

    Craig Kimbrel is the closer the Braves have needed.  Not that we haven't had good closers, Wagner was certainly great. but Kimbrel will give the Braves a young guy that will be around for several years. Kimbrel allowed one earned run in 2010, just one!  Will he do this in 2011?  Probably not, but anything resembling his 2010 performance would be great.

    No doubt, the Braves have much to look forward to not just in 2011, but for years to come because of baby Braves. 

The Braves Sluggers Are Back and Have Added Another

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    ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 29:  Dan Uggla #6 of the Florida Marlins against David Ross #8 of the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on September 29, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Chipper Jones is still a force to be reckoned with, even though his skills are declining.  What is good to know is that leading up to his season-ending injury, he was starting to hit the ball like Chipper Jones.  In August he was hitting .400 with a .471 OBP and a 1.304 OPS.  Chipper should be a good help to the Braves if he returns in 2011.

    Martin Prado is blossoming into a stud for the Braves lineup.  He can hit lead-off, second, third, or virtually anywhere.  He was an All-Star in 2010 and looks to repeat in 2011.  Oh yeah, and he can play several positions, which is huge with the trade of Infante.

    Brian McCann is the best hitting catcher in the National League.  What a benefit it has been to have B-Mac for a few seasons now.  While others have struggled, Brian has been fairly consistent aside from the time he had issues with his eye surgery.  Brian McCann will be back in 2011 and be a tough out for all opposing pitchers.

    Dan Uggla is an Atlanta Brave.  Many hated the trade because we lost Omar Infante, but Uggla brings something to the Braves we have not had for many years.  He really hasn't had an average season yet as a big-leaguer.  He has hit for 30+ HRs in four of his five seasons and hit 27 in the season he fell short.  Not to bad.  Uggla could be a household name in Atlanta for all the right reasons in 2011 rather than being known as a Brave-killer as he has been in years past.

    No doubt, the big bats will be huge in 2011.  May we give thanks for their ability to hit the cover off the ball and win big ball games.

The Pitching Is Still the Cream of the Crop in Major League Baseball

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    ATLANTA - OCTOBER 10:  Starting pitcher Tim Hudson #15 of the Atlanta Braves pitches during Game Three of the NLDS of the 2010 MLB Playoffs against the San Francisco Giants on October 10, 2010 at Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/G
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    When you think of the Braves you think of pitching.

    Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe, Tommy Hanson,  and Jair Jurrjens make up what will be the best rotation in baseball in 2011.  If they had stayed healthy all season, they would have been at the top instead of near the top in 2010.

    Kris Medlen will be a huge help late in 2011 if his recovery goes well.  Mike Minor and Brandon Beachy will be good in the rotation for the first part of the season until Medlen returns.

    The bullpen is better than ever, even with Wagner leaving.  Kimbrel, Venters, Moylan, and O'Flaherty will make up a Braves bullpen in 2011 with good strong arms that will help save games for the starters.  While frustrating at times, the bullpen is one of the best in the league because of these guys.

    No doubt, the Braves have much talent in the pitching department, and have many good pitchers in the system who will bring us good baseball for years to come.

    On this day and every day, continue to give thanks for the blessings we have as Americans.  The freedom we have and the benefits of living in this country are great and we shouldn't forget that.

    However, on a lighter note, Brave fans can also be thankful for all the good baseball we have been given and that is still to come.