Atlanta Braves Baseball: Preparing for a Season of Greatness
The Atlanta Braves look like they are headed in a good direction after the signing of Dan Uggla, a scrappy power hitting right-handed second baseman. The Braves definitely need some right-handed power in the middle of their order. Someone like Uggla will increase production and also provide some protection for a youngster like Jason Heyward.
It looks like Uggla will bat fourth or fifth in the batting order, probably behind Brian McCann and Chipper Jones. He's also been told that he will play second base this season despite Martin Prado's excellent year last season. More than likely Prado will move to left field where last year the Braves needed some stability.
They have also acquired veteran pitchers Scott Linebrink and George Sherrill. These signings will sure up their bullpen after the departure of Billy Wagner. These veterans are going to have to be leaders in their bullpen and help lead young pitchers like Jonny Venters, Kris Medlen and Craig Kimbrel in the right direction.
It looks like the Braves won't need to go out and get a fifth starter by the way Mike Minor pitched to finish the season, but if he struggles to produce in spring training, they also have a young pitcher by the name of Brandon Beachy that could steal the starting spot or could become a long reliever. The pitcher they need to cut ties with is Kenshin Kawakami who has been trouble for the Atlanta Braves and has a substantial contract for the upcoming season. They could use him to lure in a potential buyer willing to give up a good young outfielder in return.
The Braves need another outfielder to go along with Eric Hinske, Nate McLouth, Jason Heyward and Martin Prado. There is a slight possibility that Prado will have to play first base if Freddie Freeman doesn't excel in spring training. There is a chance that the wrist he injured a while back may cut into the power production he had in the minors. So with that in mind, the Braves could send Freeman back to the minors for another season to sharpen his skills. If this happens, the Braves might be in the market for a first baseman but not as strongly as they will be for a fifth outfielder.
Also this off season the Braves hired former Marlins' coach Fredi Gonzalez to replace the great coach Bobby Cox after his retirement. This move will hopefully continue the success Cox had for several years in Atlanta. General Manager Frank Wren has expressed confidence in his new additions and new coach and feels the Braves should be able to compete not only with the Phillies but with other great teams. He feels that these additions will boost the Braves right to the World Series.
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