Atlanta Braves 2011 Preview

2010 Record: 91-71

2011 Projected Roster

  • Catchers: Brian McCann, David Ross
  • Infielders: Freddie Freeman, Chipper Jones, Dan Uggla, Alex Gonzalez, Brooks Conrad, Diory Hernandez
  • Outfielders: Jason Heyward, Martin Prado, Nate McLouth, Eric Hinske, Joe Mather
  • Starters: Tommy Hanson, Derek Lowe, Tim Hudson, Jair Jurrjens, Mike Minor
  • Bullpen: Craig Kimbrel, Johnny Venters, Peter Moylan, Eric O’Flaherty, Scott Linebrink, George Sherrill, Scott Proctor

Notable Signings

  1. Dan Uggla: traded for 2 players
  2. George Sherrill: 1 year, $1.2MM

Notable Losses

  1. Omar Infante
  2. Derrek Lee
  3. Troy Glaus
  4. Billy Wagner
  5. Rick Ankiel
  6. Melky Cabrera
  7. Takashi Saito

Top Prospects

  1. Julio Teheran: RHP
  2. Freddie Freeman: 1B
  3. Aroyds Vizciano: RHP
  4. Randall Delgado: RHP
  5. Mike Minor: LHP

Key Position Battles

  • Centerfield: Nate McLouth vs. Jordan Schafer – Both players were extremely unimpressive in 2010 even though they had high hopes for the season. Due to McLouth’s salary and solid track record prior to 2010 it will be his job to lose going into camp. McLouth could get back to his 20 home run days from Pittsburgh but it is more likely to expect an average back over .250 and somewhere around 15 bombs. Schafer has next to no power and no more speed than Nate. This is not to mention that McLouth has had a stellar spring while Schafer has struggled greatly. Centerfield Pick: Nate McLouth
  • 5th Starter: Mike Minor vs. Brandon Beachy vs. Rodrigo Lopez – Lopez received a minor league deal just to get a look if the kids did not pan out in camp but he will not be making the team. Brandon Beachy has a ton of potential but may be better suited as the Braves swingman at this point. He dabbled in both the reliever and starter roles in the minors last season but had more success out of the bullpen. Mike Minor is one of the top prospects in their system and will give the Braves a lefty in the rotation. Minor struck out 43 in 40 major league innings last season. He has a very high ceiling and will begin approaching it this season. 5th Starter Pick: Mike Minor
  • Closer: Craig Kimbrel vs. Johnny Venters – No matter who wins this job, Atlanta will had a solid lock down closer at the back end of their rotation. Johnny Venters has thrown 8 scoreless innings this spring while Kimbrel has faltered a bit. I still think the Braves will opt for Kimbrel and use Venters as a late game stopper against lefties(or lefty heavy save situations.) It will likely be more of a split/committee situation but Kimbrel will get the first look. Closer Pick: Craig Kimbrel

With an offseason trade for Dan Uggla the Braves were able to add some tremendous power to their lineup after the loss of veterans Troy Glaus and Derrek Lee. This move gives Atlanta one of the most dynamic offenses in the majors. Veteran catcher Brian McCann is a top defensive catcher who takes very good care of his pitching staff and is a lock for 20 home runs. You can not talk about the Braves offense without mention Jason Heyward; the star outfielder that many believed would be the NL ROY in 2010(he lost to Giants phenom Buster Posey.) Heyward will only be 21 years old this season and is already on the verge of superstar status. He was blessed with incredible raw talent and will slowly approach a .300 average and has 30 home run potential. Chipper Jones has looked stellar in spring training, hoping for a nice rebound after a disappointing and injury plagued 2010 season. Could Freddie Freeman be this year’s Heyward for the Braves? He is a hit machine who had a .319/.378/.521 line at AAA last season. The rotation down in ATL is not so shabby either. Tommy Hanson has Cy Young stuff and Tim Hudson is a ground ball machine who seems to be improving with age. Jair Jurrjens was a stud in 2009 and will look to return to that status after an injury riddled 2010 season. While Derek Lowe is clearly in the twilight of his career he will be good for 12+ wins especially with this Braves offense. Atlanta has added a few important pieces to the bullpen after losing bonafide close Billy Wagner to retirement. Johnny Venters and Craig Kimbrel are both dominant options to shut down games at the back end. The addition of George Sherrill gives solid relief against lefties and Peter Moylan is the model of consistency. This Braves team has a ton of potential and could battle the Phillies for the division. At the least they will be in the hunt for the Wild Card right down to the wire.

WTP Projected 2011 Record: 91-71

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About jacarfagno

Live, Breathe, and Bleed Baseball
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