The Braves’ opening day starts today, and there is an optimistic feel around Turner Field — and it’s not even April yet.
The team is excited, pumped, and really believes it will be playing in October this year, and I agree. In recent weeks, given the Phillies’ problems, many sports writers are now picking the Braves to win the East. Four of our staff members, including me, predicted the Braves to win the East. They even sit at number seven in our power rankings that were released yesterday. There certainly is optimism surrounding the team, and there is a lot of hope riding on the season.
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In our new forums, which you need to sign up for, you can find the Braves opening day lineup and 25 man roster. You can also talk about the game today, which is at 1:05 EDT, on our game thread. Click here to head directly to the Braves section.
Anyway, here are 10 things that need to go right for the Braves to return to October …
- 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?
That’s a lot of question marks, guys. Which ones are you worried about?