Atlanta Braves: 4 Things the Braves Must Do to Rebound in 2012

Ross DurrenceCorrespondent IIOctober 2, 2011

Atlanta Braves: 4 Things the Braves Must Do to Rebound in 2012

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    The Atlanta Braves suffered a historic collapse in 2011.

    Staring at an 8.5 game lead with mere weeks to play in the season, the Bravos fell apart, letting a wrapped-up wild-card spot slip through their fingers.

    Fret not, Braves fans.  Frank Wren is in control of this team, and he'll do what's necessary for the team to be back in the mix in 2012.

    Let's look at four things the Braves GM needs to do in 2012.

Sign Michael Bourn to an Extended Deal

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    Michael Bourn was one of the bright spots for the Atlanta Braves in 2011. He finished his 53-game stint with the Bravos with 63 hits and 22 steals.

    Expand that over a full season?  More than 200 hits and quickly approaching 70 steals.

    Bourn is one of, if not the best, leadoff hitters in the game, and Frank Wren has to sign this lightning bolt to a long-term deal.

Pitching, Pitching, Pitching

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    The Braves pitching staff struggled mightily down the stretch, with a horrific combination of injuries and lackluster performances.

    Frank Wren needs to beef up his bullpen and starting rotation for 2012.

    The best move he can make?

    Send Derek Lowe packing.

Acquire a Big Bat in the Outfield

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    Was there a more disappointing everyday player for the Atlanta Braves in 2011 than Jason Heyward?

    His average plummeted this season, and he was replaced, temporarily, by a career minor leaguer in Jose Constanza.

    Atlanta needs another bat in the lineup, and right field is a position that begs for power.  Wren needs to go get a big bat in the offseason, if nothing else than to push the young lefty.

Fire Fredi Gonzalez

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    Gonzalez has been in over his head since day one, and the Braves won't succeed with him at the helm.

    He bunts when he should let them swing, and he lets them swing when he should be laying one down.

    Also, mere days after Gonzalez told the media the entire staff would come back intact for 2012, Frank Wren fired hitting coach Larry Parrish.

    Someone wasn't kept in the loop.

    Pack your bags, Fredi.