Atlanta Braves top-10 concerns revisited
On March 31, opening day, I touched on the 10 things that need to go right for the Atlanta Braves before they can play in October. It’s been five games; they are 3-2 (even after getting a two-hit shutout by Yovani Gallardo thrown at them last night) and I wanted to revisit that list to see where we are. (Hell, I might even add or subtract a few things.)
So, here’s the original list:
- Derek Lowe needs to be last-September Lowe, and the rotation needs to stay consistent.
- The defense is an area of concern. They racked up a lot of errors this spring. Pitching isn’t anything without defense.
- Brooks Conrad needs to forget. He had an awful spring. Batted just above the Mendoza line and booted a few ground balls. If he doesn’t, then we have another Greg Norton on our hands.
- The lineup needs a healthy Chipper Jones. He had a massive spring, and he’s reportedly a lot stronger in the legs, which could produce some tasty numbers this year.
- Can the Boys of Spring turn into the Boys of October? Will Freeman be consistent the whole year?
- Will the closer by committee work? Will Venters or Kimbrel take charge?
- Will Venters or Kimbrel succeed? A lot riding on such young arms.
- Is Martin Prado healthy enough to play 162 games in LF? Chipper didn’t transition well from 3B to LF earlier in his career. It takes a toll on the body, because you can be standing around, not in the action for a while, then moving at 100% speed in a split second.
- Will Alex Gonzalez hit like he did in Toronto or like he did with Atlanta?
- Nate McLouth. Is this really Pittsburgh Nate?
Here are the revised 10 things for the Braves with new commentary:
- Derek Lowe – Off to a hot start. 1-0 with a 0.77 ERA in his first two games. In 11 innings, he’s only given up one run and has recorded 13 Strikeouts to only five walks. For Derek Lowe, that’s amazing. This must be his contract year.
- Concerned Defense – What??? Only one error so far and that’s by Tommy Hanson? This stays on for at least another week, not sure I buy the no errors in five games by the defensive corp.
- Brooks Conrad (ahem, Greg Norton) – Hasn’t played much. Only 0-2 with a K at the plate. But during those two at-bats, he still didn’t look like last-year Conrad. If Bobby Cox was coaching, he would have had 10 at-bats already.
- Health for Chipper Jones – Chipper is batting .300 with two doubles and no errors. No rumblings through the press that he’s sore. No retirement announcements. One shocking stat for him is his .333 OBP. He usually hovers in the high .400’s. Watching him play the past five games, he’s much more aggressive than the recent years. He’s not drawing as many walks (maybe the pitchers aren’t as scared of him?) but he is swinging more freely and attacking the ball more. Could be a sign of him being comfortable at the plate.
- Freddie Freeman – He’s amassed a stunning … one hit in 15 at-bats. He just looks lost some times at the plate. Those that drafted him might want to start browsing for a replacement. Not that he will be replaced, but one that would be more consistent.
Will the closer by committee work? Will Venters or Kimbrel take charge?Jesus, Kimbrel is a beast. This topic is over. Will Venters or Kimbrel succeed? A lot riding on such young arms.Again, why was I in doubt? Venters is already a veteran. Is Martin Prado healthy enough to play 162 games in LF? Chipper didn’t transition well from 3B to LF earlier in his career. It takes a toll on the body, because you can be standing around, not in the action for a while, then moving at 100% speed in a split secondPrado is going to be fine. But this could be revisited.
- Will Alex Gonzalez hit like he did in Toronto or like he did with Atlanta Braves? Still undecided.
- Nate McLouth – Is this really Pittsburgh Nate? Still undecided. Had a rough start but shows signs of seeing the ball well.
- Can Jair Jurrjens stay healthy?
- Will the bullpen be over worked like recent years?
The Atlanta Braves are playing like the Braves that overtook the Phillies last year before injuries plagued the team. They are exciting and give it everything they can with every swing. I haven’t actually seen one player that I would like to trade or demote yet. The Atlanta Braves are a well-rounded team but the real test will come against the Phillies this weekend. We’re down to only nine concerns and if you think there should be more, let me know why below.