Atlanta Braves: 5 Moves to Get to the 2011 NLCS

Denton Ramsey@DentonRamseySenior Analyst IOctober 16, 2010

Atlanta Braves: 5 Moves to Get to the 2011 NLCS

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    ATLANTA - OCTOBER 11:  Manager Bobby Cox #6 of the Atlanta Braves waves to the crowd after the Braves were defeated by the San Francisco Giants 3-2 during Game Four of the NLDS of the 2010 MLB Playoffs on October 11, 2010  at Turner Field in Atlanta, Geor
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Granted, the Bobby Cox era has officially been closed with the Braves—but that doesn’t mean baseball has ended in Atlanta.

    And the same Braves that made a splash once again in 2010 have a shot of reaching even higher expectations in 2011.

    So, what moves do Atlanta need to consider when building upon this past MLB season’s success and looking towards Spring Training and beyond?

    Let’s take a quick glance at five moves the Braves can make to get to the 2011 National League Championship Series, and possibly even a return trip to that coveted World Series.

Find and Sign a Billy Wagner Type of Closer

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    ATLANTA - OCTOBER 10:  Pitcher Billy Wagner #13 of the Atlanta Braves walks out on the field before facing the San Francisco Giants during Game Three of the NLDS of the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Turner Field on October 10, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Forget the fact that he’s nearly 40 years old.

    Billy “the Kid” Wager is still young at heart, and was saving games with ease up until Atlanta’s recent postseason exit.

    But it appears crystal clear that Wagner’s playing days are behind him, and with that realization—combined with the Bobby Cox era ending—the Braves must now find and sign a closer to fill his shoes.

Continue Skipper Bobby Cox’s Baseball Legacy

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    ATLANTA - OCTOBER 10:  Manager Bobby Cox #6 of the Atlanta Braves walks off the field after opening introductions before facing the San Francisco Giants during Game Three of the NLDS of the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Turner Field on October 10, 2010 in Atlanta,
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    No one can ever replace Bobby Cox.

    But what the Braves must do moving forward is aim to continue the Cox legacy: a feat that has to seem overwhelming to the organization, especially considering the legendary skipper guided Atlanta to numerous postseasons appearances and World Series title in 1995.

    In addition, Cox was a three-time National League Manager of the Year while at the helm of the Braves (1991, 2004, 2005).

Sign Big Bat, Bring on Additional Help Offensively

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    ST. LOUIS - APRIL 26: Colby Rasmus #28 of the St. Louis Cardinals is tagged out by Brian McCann #16 of  the Atlanta Braves at Busch Stadium on April 26, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Cardinals beat the Braves 4-3.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Imag
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Colby Rasmus is the top-rumored name the Braves may be pursuing this offseason, with Atlanta hoping the young outfielder can be molded in a powerful offensive threat.

    Other big free agent names that could be on Atlanta’s radar are guys such as Adam Dunn, Carl Crawford, and Jayson Werth.

Solidify Starting Rotation with Fifth and Final Pitcher

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    WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 24:  Tim Hudson #15 of the Atlanta Braves pitches against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on September 24, 2010 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    The Atlanta Braves have a phenomenal No. 1 through No. 4 starting rotation, with the only question marks surrounding the team’s fifth and final pitcher.

    Atlanta has faith in youngsters Mike Minor and Brandon Beachy if the Braves are unable to acquire another starter this winter, but don’t be surprised if the team pulls the trigger on a major offseason move in picking up another arm to add to it’s solid rotation.

    We’ll just have to wait and see how things pan out in the coming months.

Mixture of Age and Experience with Youth and Talent

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    SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 07:  Jason Heyward #22 of the Atlanta Braves bats against catcher Buster Posey #28 and the San Francisco Giants during game 1 of the NLDS at AT&T Park on October 7, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Imag
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Jason Heyward is already a looming force for the Atlanta Braves with just one season under his belt.

    And from top to bottom, the Braves truly have a solid and legitimate contending team heading into the 2011 season.

    With a mixture of age and experience combined with youth and talent, look for Atlanta to once again make some major noise when the 2011 MLB season begins in six months…

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    Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at denton.ramsey@gmail.com