MLB Preview 2011: Atlanta Braves

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MLB Preview 2011: Atlanta Braves
Marc Serota/Getty Images

9 Innings Blog will be bringing you previews of every Major League Baseball team for the next 30 days. This is in accordance without 30 teams in 30 days series. Today, we will preview the 2011 Atlanta Braves, who start a new era in their franchise history. One of the greatest managers of all-time, Bobby Cox, is out and the apprentice Fredi Gonzalez is in. We will see how well the former Marlins manager fairs.

The Atlanta Braves had a great 2010 campaign as a team last season. The Braves finished 91-71, six games behind the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League East. With that record, the Braves made it to the playoffs as a Wild Card team and got to play the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants.

They did not have a great NLDS though. Game 2 brought the end of closer Billy Wagner’s career when he injured himself fielding a bunted ball. Wagner now says he is going to retire, but has yet to do so.

In Game 3, Brooks Conrad committed three errors and allowed two Giants runs which helped them win in Game 3. Finally, in Game 4, the Braves lost 3-2 to San Francisco losing the series three games to one, it was Bobby Cox’s last game.

However, the Braves clearly got better this season and acquired 2B Dan Uggla from Florida. Jair Jurrjens also returns to the rotation after and injury plagued 2010.

The Braves have to be good if they’re going to contend with Philadelphia this season in the East. The Braves have a chance to win the East, I will not count them out, although it will be difficult.

Key Addition: Dan Uggla, 2B

Breakout Player: Craig Kimbrel, CL

Prediction: Second NL East

Starters
CA: Brian McCann
1B: Freddie Freeman
2B: Dan Uggla
3B: Chipper Jones
SS: Alex Gonzalez
OF: Martin Prado
OF: Jason Heyward
OF: Nate McLouth

Pitching Rotation
SP: Tim Hudson
SP: Derek Lowe
SP: Tommy Hanson
SP: Jair Jurrjens
SP: Mike Minor

RP: Scott Proctor
RP: George Sherrill
RP: Scott Linebrink
RP: Eric O’Flaherty
RP: Peter Moylan
RP: Jonny Venters
CP: Craig Kimbrel

Bench
CA: David Ross
INF: Brooks Conrad
INF: Diory Hernandez
UTL: Eric Hinske
UTL: Joe Mather

Top Prospects
1). Julio Teheran, RHP
2). Freddie Freeman, 1B
3). Mike Minor, RHP
4). Randall Delgado, RHP
5). Craig Kimbrel, RHP

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