If you are a Braves fan, you might start to wonder if now is the time in spring training when you should start being very concerned. So, should you?
The short answer is “no.”
Now, I have been accused of being overly subjective and not analyzing what’s really going on, and that could be a solid argument. However, my first article was written with the intent of rousing rabble and putting a challenge in the air. This time I’ll be more objective, but just know that my glass (of beer) is always half full.
So, of course, you’re keeping up with Through the Fence and read Jeff Dickinson’s article about records in spring training, and I do see his point. In fact, I think I even listened to the same radio show and heard some of the same statistics. But I also think that it is way too early in the season to start being worried. It’s even too early to start making reliable predictions based on results in spring training. Baseball is absolutely a game of attrition and nothing is done until the end. Or the All-Star break, depending on who your team is.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not thrilled with the Braves so far, particularly their offense, which I think was one of their biggest faults and probably the ultimate cause of their downfall last September. But I’m not of the opinion that their terrible record not even halfway through March has much bearing on what is going to happen for the rest of the season. The fact is, there are a number of young players being vetted right now, lineups being changed three times a game, not to mention that pitchers are throwing their weak pitches and hitters are swinging free to get their timing.
Before you think I’m not being objective, let me say that all of that is true, even if it sounds cliched. Don’t forget that the ultimate goal of spring training is simple: stay healthy. Honestly, if you bat .130 for all of spring training, but start the season healthy and ready to play, I can’t really say I care much. A crummy spring break record is better than missing the first six weeks (if you’re lucky) of the regular season.
I don’t want to get too off track, so let’s talk some Braves. Here’s what I’m not happy about. First would be the offense. Offensive! What will it take to get the Braves hitting like this lineup should? Fortunately, Dan Uggla is doing well and Martin Prado seems to have a better approach at the plate this season. Michael Bourne is exactly what anyone can expect from him. But Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman and especially Tyler Pastornicky really need to pull it together in a hurry. Realistically, if Pastornicky doesn’t start making some waves soon, Andrelton Simmons is going to take his job. (Have you seen that guy play?!) Next would be some of the projected starting pitchers. Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran haven’t made as much of an impression as they would like, but there was a marked difference between their first and second starts, and both for the better.
Overall, the pitching staff looks good. There is always room for improvement, and there are a few pitchers I’d like to see make some strides before the regular season starts. The offense needs to start generating more runs, but Wednesday’s game was a step in the right direction, and, if the rest of spring training looks like Wednesday, I think the Braves will be in good shape. There’s still a lot of time to make their record better, time to improve all the facets of their game, but more importantly, time to gear up for a hot start to the regular season.
Don’t worry, Braves fans. Spring training is an important piece of the season, the time to stretch muscles and knock the rust off, but this early record doesn’t spell doom for Atlanta.
Keep an eye out, I’m going to be putting the lid on all the Chipper Jones talk in my next article.