Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Addressing Braves Issues This Off-Season

The Atlanta Braves' season came to an abrupt end Friday in the Infield fly game. The Braves where very solid last year, & it seems like if they want to be good next year they should stay the exact same. But they can't, Chipper's retiring, there's a 80% chance the Braves won't resign Michael Bourn, & with all these moves there's likely to be a position that won't have a Major League class player in it. The simplest option for patching up these missing areas is putting Reed Johnson in center, & Juan Francisco at third, but it's not that simple. There's arbitration to be filed, weight to be lost, options to be picked up, long term contracts to be negotiated, it's gonna be a very busy off-season. First, let's talk about third, the most likely thing to happen is Juan Francisco getting the job, but he'll have to work for it. Juan is in the same situation Melky Cabrera is in: he's over weight, & the Braves don't like his attitude. The front office wants him to replace some fat with muscle over the off-season, & change his attitude to something, I don't know, more "team minded," over the off-season. If none of this happens then we've got an issue. If Juan can't get the job at third, the best choice would be Martin Prado, but putting Martin at third would make him be an every day player at the position, then what happens if Freeman's eyes go out on him again, & Overbay is no where to be found? Or is Uggla goes through an ultra-slump again? Or if the Braves go 20 innings & they run out of pitchers? In that case, maybe Prado isn't the man for the job. Fredi Gonzalez loves Constanza, & he's not bad choice, but I just don't see that happening. If the Braves want to go down to the farm system, the best choice is Joe Terdoslavich, but he doesn't seem to be ready yet. He can't hit big league pitching, & has yet to prove himself in AAA. Names like Chase Headley are being thrown around. In fact, an amount of people on Talking Chop think the Braves should trade Uggla & Hanson for Headley, however, most people (including the Braves) think Uggla should stay around next year. Plus, getting rid of Uggla would cause a huge gap in the infield, & filling it would be the most complicated thing ever. I've even seen some people go as far as suggesting the Braves move Prado to second, Uggla to third, Reed Johnson to left, & Todd Cunningham to center, however, I see no reason to do any of this, we need to keep it simple. Finishing out the infield issues, the pitching looks almost set. Jair Jurrjens will most likely not be back, & the only other pitcher whose future is in jeopardy is Tommy Hanson, but he will most likely stay. Finally, we go to the out field, right field is set: Jason Heyward is there. Martin Prado will most likely stay in left, & the only issue is center. There's about a 20% chance the Braves will re-sign Bourn, so let's start looking at options. As I said before, the simplest solution is Reed Johnson, but we can do better than that, Johnson is a pinch hitting wizard, & let's keep him one. Todd Cunningham is an option, but let's look at FAs at this point. One option is Dexter Fowler, who apparently is a trade candidate, but I don't see him being given up very easily, the player they would probably ask for is Dan Uggla, who we're no giving up. Josh Hamiltion is a long shot, but we don't really want him. One player who is realistically available is Shane Victorino. Victorino is a FA this year, he's got good speed, & can hit. I don't see Shane asking for ungodly pay, & with the space Bourn leaving opens up, the Braves should easily be able to sign him. With all that said, here's who I hope the Braves starters will be next year:

C - McCann
1B - Freeman
2B - Uggla
SS - Simmons
3B - Francisco
LF - Prado
CF - Victorino
RF - Heyward

Whether that's the exact starters the Braves will use next year or not, it's very close. The only thing I see that might not happen is Juan at third & Victorino on the team. Either way, the Braves should be pretty successful next year, hopefully good enough to win the NL East.

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