Early Grades for All of Atlanta Braves' Offseason Acquisitions
The Atlanta Braves spent a great deal of the offseason overhauling the roster to change their style of play, find some leadership and build toward the future.
The new roster got the Braves off to a hot start in 2015 but has since cooled to around the .500 mark.
Playing .500 baseball is likely the ceiling for this 2015 team, but with some luck and elevated play, it could push for a wild-card spot.
This will depend on many factors, with one of those being the play and leadership of their offseason acquisitions.
Let's take a look at early grades for the Braves' offseason acquisitions.
1. A.J. Pierzynski
The Braves signed A.J. Pierzynski to serve as a backup and mentor to young catcher Christian Bethancourt.
However, Pierzynski has started the season with a hot bat and has forced his way into the lineup in a starting role for the time being.
Pierzynski ranks second on the team with three home runs and has combined that with an impressive .378/.405/.676 slash line.
With Bethancourt slumping out of the gates, the vetera has been a key addition for the Braves.
It will be interesting to see how playing time at catcher shakes out if Pierzynski can keep up the hot hitting.
2. Alberto Callaspo
The Braves signed Alberto Callaspo to a one-year deal in the offseason to serve as the primary second baseman.
However, the 32-year-old struggled in spring training and saw Jace Peterson win the starting job.
Still, Callaspo has seen plenty of playing time at both second and third base as he's appeared in 17 games, with 51 plate appearances. The veteran has been solid for the Braves to this point.
He's posted a .265 average and .327 on-base percentage with a home run and four RBI.
He will continue to see playing time at various positions if he continues his pace.
3. Jace Peterson
The Braves picked up Jace Peterson in the trade that sent Justin Upton to the San Diego Padres.
Little was known about Peterson at the time, but the Braves seem to like his potential and athleticism.
While Peterson won the starting second base job out of spring training, the 24-year-old has struggled thus far.
To this point, Peterson has just a .217 average with just one extra-base hit on the season.
It's a long season, but it is obviously not the start Peterson was hoping for.
4. Jonny Gomes
The Braves signed Jonny Gomes in the offseason to provide leadership and hit left-handed pitching.
By all accounts, the 34-year-old has been a welcomed presence in the dugout.
Gomes has also come up with some clutch hits to begin the 2015 season.
He's hit two home runs and knocked in seven runs while posting a .250/.364/.472 slash line.
Perhaps more importantly, he's hit .500 against left-handed pitching, which was his primary job heading into the season.
The Braves need to find more consistent outfield hitting to allow Gomes to play mainly against left-handed pitchers.
5. Kelly Johnson
The Braves signed Kelly Johnson to give him the opportunity to earn a roster spot as a utility player.
Johnson made the team out of spring training for his second stint with the Braves and has gotten most of his playing time in the outfield.
The 33-year-old has a .263 average and .333 OBP and has added three home runs with seven RBI.
The Braves could really use some consistency from the left field spot. While Johnson has provided some power, he needs to get on base at a more consistent rate.
6. Nick Markakis
Nick Markakis was arguably the most surprising acquisition the Braves made all offseason.
While most of the moves signaled a shift toward the future, the four-year deal they gave Markakis indicated a win-now approach.
The signing a few years down the road will be interesting to grade, but as of now, Markakis has arguably been the Braves' best hitter.
Markakis has posted a .333/.436/.379 slash line with five RBI. He's also struck out fewer times (9) than he's walked (12).
He's come through with clutch hits, as well, with a .500 average with runners in scoring position.
7. Cameron Maybin
The Braves acquired Cameron Maybin a day before the season started in the shocking trade that sent Craig Kimbrel and B.J. Upton to the Padres.
Maybin will be splitting time with Eric Young Jr. in center field in 2015.
The former top prospect has shown flashes for the Braves but has struggled with consistency. The 28-year-old has slugged three home runs but has hit just .167.
The center field position is another one where the Braves need to find a long-term solution.
8. Eric Young Jr.
The Braves got good value in the offseason by signing Eric Young Jr. to a one-year minor league deal.
Young impressed this spring and earned the starting center field job as well as the primary leadoff spot for the Braves.
However, Young has struggled to begin the 2015 season.
He's hit just .179 with a .220 OBP. He's walked just three times while striking out 10 times.
Young does lead the team with three stolen bases, however.
9. Shelby Miller
The Braves acquired Shelby Miller in the trade that sent Jason Heyward to the St. Louis Cardinals.
This trade signaled what was ahead for the Braves in the offseason: building toward the future.
So far, Miller has been the best starting pitcher for the Braves.
In four starts, Miller is 3-0 with a 2.05 ERA and 1.095 WHIP. He leads the Braves' starters in wins, ERA, WHIP and opponent average (.192).
Having Miller under control for four seasons could prove to be one of general manager John Hart's best moves of the offseason.
10. Eric Stults
The Braves picked up Eric Stults to be a potential fifth starter in the rotation.
Stults beat out Wandy Rodriguez for that spot in the rotation.
The 35-year-old has been solid and has eaten innings for the Braves to begin 2015. In three starts, Stults has a 1-1 record while posting a 4.03 ERA in 22.1 innings.
Stults will be a solid but unspectacular No. 5 starter for the Braves.
11. Trevor Cahill
The Braves took a flyer on Trevor Cahill by acquiring him from the Arizona Diamondbacks late in the offseason.
In picking up Cahill, the Braves hoped he would resemble his 2010 form with the Oakland Athletics. Unfortunately, it has not worked out that way to start the 2015 season.
In three starts, Cahill is 0-3 with an 8.03 ERA.
Cahill will need to quickly find a rhythm on the mound, or the Braves could turn to Matt Wisler or Mike Foltynewicz from the minors.
12. Jason Grilli
Jason Grilli has proven why Craig Kimbrel was expendable in a trade to get rid of Melvin Upton.
The Braves were not projected to be contenders in 2015, so the closer position wasn't one of highest importance.
Meanwhile, Grilli has been dominant in his save chances.
In seven chances, Grilli has notched seven saves while posting a 1.29 ERA.
Grilli could prove to be Hart's best offseason signing, as he's signed for two years and $8 million.
13. Jim Johnson
Jim Johnson looked like he'd form a dominant one-two punch with Grilli at the end of the Braves' bullpen.
However, the 32-year-old has struggled recently in picking up two losses and posting a 4.35 ERA.
The Braves signed Johnson to a one-year deal hoping he'd bounce back from a dismal 2014 season.
It will be interesting to see how short of a leash manager Fredi Gonzalez has on Johnson. He could give Cody Martin or Luis Avilan a shot at the setup role if he continues to struggle.