Atlanta Braves: 5 Bold Predictions for the Offseason
The Atlanta Braves, following an embarrassing collapse, will make a few adjustments to their roster during the offseason.
Although they missed the playoffs last season, the upcoming season will give them much better chances at success.
There are a few things that could occur in the few coming months that would greatly impact the Braves' team.
Here are five bold predictions for the Braves' offseason.
Braves Trade for Matt Kemp
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For much of last season, the offensive production from the Braves' starting outfielders was very unimpressive.
Martin Prado hit only .260, Jason Heyward hit .227, Nate McLouth hit .228, and Jordan Schafer hit .240.
And then they acquired Michael Bourn from the Astros, which gave the Braves a starter consistent in offense and defense, as well as stealing bases.
If the Braves were to make a trade for Matt Kemp, who is a career .294 hitter and had an MVP-quality performance this past season, their offense would be greatly improved.
The combination of the two star outfielders, as well as Jason Heyward, who has just as much potential, the Braves' lineup would be quite formidable.
Also, this trade would put Martin Prado in a utility position, so that he could give necessary backup to Chipper Jones and Tyler Pastornicky, if he is named shortstop, as well as the outfielders on their off days.
Braves Trade Away Top Pitching Prospects
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In order to make a useful trade, even if it isn't a large trade such as the one for Matt Kemp, the Braves would need to part with one or two of their top pitching prospects.
When the Braves acquired Michael Bourn from the Astros in July, they managed to hold onto every one of their top pitching prospects.
And now, as they are in need of a power bat, would be a great time to use these prospects in a trade.
If the Braves were to make a trade for Matt Kemp, or even someone like Carlos Quentin, they would need to trade away at least one or two of their top pitching prospects, as well as a few other players, such as Jair Jurrjens or Brandon Beachy.
Because this would be a difficult trade to make, the Braves may look for a different player. However, with an overload of young pitching talent, the Braves might as well make an impacting trade.
Braves Name Tyler Pastornicky Starting Shortstop
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Alex Gonzalez' contract with the Braves expired as of the end of the 2011 season.
His offensive production for the Braves was limited, and they are unlikely to re-sign him.
There happen to be a few impressive shortstops on the free-agent market, such as Jimmy Rollins and Jose Reyes; however, their high expense are likely to keep them away from Atlanta.
The next best possibility for shortstop is Tyler Pastornicky, the top hitting prospect in the Braves' farm system.
In the minor leagues last season, Pastornicky hit .314, and .365 in the Triple-A.
It is possible that he may not be ready for a starting position by the time the 2012 season comes along.
However, this is not too likely, and Pastornicky currently appears to be the Braves' top choice for shortstop.
Braves Keep Entire Pitching Staff Intact
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This offseason, there is the possibility of the Braves trading away one of their starting pitchers.
Jair Jurrjens, who was a Cy Young candidate for the first half of the season, was diverted by injuries and performed poorly in the second half.
Because of his injuries, Jurrjens may have difficulty living up to the expectations he had set with earlier performances.
However, if Jurrjens does manage to stay healthy for the majority of the 2012 season, he could once again become the Braves' ace and greatly improve their team.
Aside from Derek Lowe being replaced by a prospect pitcher, if all are healthy, the Braves' starting rotation should remain completely intact.
Starting Pitching Rotation
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The Braves' starting pitching rotation should look like this:
1. Tommy Hanson
2. Tim Hudson
3. Jair Jurrjens
4. Brandon Beachy
5. Julio Teheran
Hopefully, both Hanson and Jurrjens will regain their health and continue their pitching dominance.
If this does occur, Hanson should start the Opening Day game, because he is their most probable ace for 2012.
Also, Julio Teheran should manage to take the fifth starting spot from Randall Delgado and Mike Minor.
Minor and Delgado may have a slight edge in this competition because of the success in the major leagues they had last season.
However, Teheran should have improved enough in the minor leagues that he will be ready to take the starting role for 2012.