Are you excited yet? I mean, we’re at less than 10 days and counting till that first pitch is hurled at the leadoff batter (which is Austin Jackson or Martin Prado; both 1:05 starts). Yes, this could be a first of many for Through The Fence Baseball. Have some great things on tap, including live chats. Trying to get some minor leaguers into the live chats, so we’ll see how it goes. (I’ll be doing live chats on the Braves and a Fantasy Focus, for now.) Some Braves games, I’ll have a live chat going with play by play updates. Should be interesting.
Anyways, the reason why you’re reading this is for some Braves news, right? If not, then go ahead and stop reading, hit the back button, and look for your team or article of preference, cause this is about the Braves. Ok, I lied, there is a little bit of the NL East thrown in and whatever else I can come up with.
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If any of you watched the Braves vs. Red Sox game on ESPN the other day, you got a bevy of information from Buster Olney and Frank Wren. Both were on the show talking about the teams. Wren went on to say that the Braves were improved and the NL East is one of the toughest and improved divisions. Said the Nationals have improved, the Marlins are always there, and with the Mets lineup, how can they not be competitive. Various topics were covered, but let’s jump onto the Braves spring training so far.
I’m impressed with how things have gone so far. They have played well but then again, I don’t remember the last time they didn’t play well in spring training. Chipper is hitting the ball with authority and frequency, so everyone who wanted him to ride off in the sunset can take a seat on the bench. The guy is showing he has plenty to deliver still. The rotation is solid, bullpen is solid, lineup is solid….is there anything I’m leaving out?
Oh yeah, defense. Speaking of defense, what is the Phillies thinking with Luis Castillo? Do they have budget restraints or something? I mean, he won’t come close to replacing Chase Utley in the lineup and they have better options in the minors. That move baffles me, but oh well, everyone else in the NL East moves up a notch.
Defense. Defense. Defense. It’s the only thing that scares me. They weren’t good defensively last year and I don’t believe they will be stellar this year. Sorry folks, it isn’t happening. Do they have a chance to be remotely above average? I think so, but this spring hasn’t looked that well. They’ve made too many errors this spring already. Would everyone just get off Dan Uggla’s back on this? He’s not terrible defensively. Did anyone think he was BAD before that all-star game? I don’t believe so (You can prove me wrong here) but after that game, every critic has been pin pointing his defense and what kind of liability he is. I don’t think he’s what the Braves have to worry about. It’s his replacement (Brooks Conrad) that I’m afraid of. He makes some outstanding plays, but then he can make some God awful plays.
Anyway, the Braves have legitimate concerns at third base. Anyone who is recovering from knee surgery is a concern in the field until he proves he can man it fine. He’s played well this spring, even some bare handed plays, but how will he play throughout the season? He’s fresh now; can he make it the whole year without defensively going south?
Give it up on Prado, he’s turned every critics “downgrade defensively in LF” into a positive. He’s a significant upgrade I think. The dude is a baller. Hard worker.
Other than that, I don’t see too many concerns here guys, what do you think?