Thursday, March 23, 2017

2017 Atlanta Braves Preview

Freddie Freeman
The Atlanta Braves had a bad year in 2016.  They finished 68-93, fifth in the National League East.  That said they finished the second half of the season with a winning record of 37-35.  The trade for Matt Kemp seemed to give the Braves a much needed boost and the Braves have continued to retool during the offseason.  While I wouldn’t say they will contend this year it should be better year overall.

The starting staff added R.A. Dickey, Bartolo Colon, and Jaime Garcia to go along with Julio Teheran and probably Mike Foltynewicz.  Dickey and Colon should eat up innings and if we’re lucky will get Atlanta 12 wins each.  Garcia’s career numbers are good but he always seems to disappoint in the end.  I live near St. Louis and the Cardinal fans do nothing but laugh when this comes up.  Hoping for the best, he is another guy that can get ya 10 -12 wins.  With a little support Julio Teheran should get around 15 wins while Foltynewicz is a bit more of a wild card.  I don’t mind this starting staff.  It won’t wow you per se but it has more upside than what we saw last year.  Dickey and Colon are on one year deals so no huge loss if they struggle but who doesn’t like Bartolo Colon or the knuckleball?  Bullpen hasn’t changed much.  While Jim Johnson resigned to handle the closer duties, all hopes are that Arodys Vizcaino will eventually earn that job from him. 
Bartolo Colon
At catcher the club will go with Tyler Flowers and Kurt Suzuki.  I think Atlanta is happy to go with a defensive minded replacement for now until a better option is available.  Stud first baseman Freddie Freeman returns anchoring the lineup as well as the right side of the infield.  Brandon Phillips was traded for after free agent pickup Sean Rodriguez was injured in the offseason.  I like this move.  Very aggressive even if it is for a veteran on the downside on his career.  Shortstop will again be manned by Dansby Swanson who has everyone excited with his potential.  Adonis Garcia will be at third.  His batting is below average and his defense isn’t great.  They are stuck with him until another option is obtainable. 
Ender Inciarte
The outfield returns Ender Inciarte who has been great in the field and had a very good second half of the season at the plate.  Matt Kemp will man left and I’m hoping he can hit something close to what he did after he was acquired last year.  Light hitting Nick Markakis will be in right.  He at least can get on base at a decent clip and stays healthy but he won’t really wow you otherwise.

Dansby Swanson
Atlanta did a good job in the offseason at least giving themselves a decent team to put out on the field.  Both the offense and pitching should be respectable.  Depth is still an issue so injuries could put a major hurt on them if they pop up.  No one will be expecting them to make a playoff run this year but I do think 70-75 wins is attainable assuming the pitching staff stays healthy and a few things go right for them.  No matter what happens Atlanta should be trending up.  They still have talent in the minors and a new ballpark which should provide more revenue and make them a destination worth looking at for future free agents.   That is the fun part about spring training.  We all still have hope.  And check out this funny five tool Bartolo Colon video hyping his coming to Atlanta. 
Brandon Phillips

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