Atlanta Braves Spring Preview: Which MLB opponents look toughest in 2010?

mets_bay Pitchers and catchers will be reporting before we know it and with March comes the start of Spring Training. Baseball’s back, basically, and with so many teams making big offseason moves it’s like it never really left us.

MAKE THE CALL:
Which MLB teams – NL or AL – among the Braves’ 2010 opponents retooled themselves best for the upcoming season and who’s already looking like a cellar dweller? Also, are you headed to Spring Training? Which teams are you most eager to see and why?

110 comments Add your comment

Question

January 26th, 2010
12:01 pm

Did the Braves discontinue the pre-spring pitching camp in Atlanta

2010

January 26th, 2010
12:09 pm

The Mets had to retool themselves with some healthy players and I guess they made a move with signing Bay. But it seems like Red Sox hesitated signing him because of his injury.

Same as 2009

January 26th, 2010
12:14 pm

Phillies repeat as division champs

Never give up

January 26th, 2010
12:16 pm

Love opening up the braves page to see spring training in Atlanta and then seeing the Mets. Way to go supporting your team Journal. It might be time to re-think my supporting the local paper too.

Marc in FL

January 26th, 2010
12:22 pm

The Mariners are looking hawt, The AL east is going to be a monster division, even compared to previous years.

I’m not forgeting about the Marlins, they could be pretty solid.

gayle

January 26th, 2010
12:22 pm

It looks like the status quo is intact – the Phillies and Mets making the big moves and the Braves signing some retreads and walking wounded then mixing that with some youth and crossing their fingers. We are expected to believe that all of these projects will have career years and thus launch this team into the playoffs as a fitting swan song for the departing manager.

Remember many years ago when they built the fancy Philips Arena where the Omni used to stand? Well, that is what they need to do to this team – tear it down to the ground and rebuild and stop this nonsense of band aids. With the manager leaving, this would be the perfect opportunity to do just that.

Third place behind the Phillies and Mets and possibly worse depending on injuries to this team and the Marlins and/or Nationals being competitive.

KnightInATL

January 26th, 2010
12:22 pm

The Mets have way too many question marks hanging around their starting pitching rotation to be considered a serious threat in the NL East. Additionally, there are many questions surrounding the return of Reyes, Wright, Beltran etc. from injuries. The Mets are not a contender this year and will finish 4th in the division just ahead of the Nats.

Kevin

January 26th, 2010
12:24 pm

I honestly see the Mets finishing dead last in the East. Their pitching is absolutely horrible after Santana.

I see the scrappy Nats finishing 4th; their pitching may not be any better overall, but I think they will give the Mets a run for their money!

In third place, I see the Marlins. They should sustain what they did last year, and maybe even start building some momentum heading into the new stadium in a couple of years. I wouldn’t completely write off the Marlins to win the division.

In second place this year, I see the Braves. They definitely began to put it together at the end of the year, but the Phillies are a complete club. I’d like to see the Braves sneak in there and snag the wildcard, and I don’t believe it is a long shot.

Bring Me the Head of Deforest Kelley

January 26th, 2010
12:25 pm

The Phillies somehow got better (and remember Utley and Rollins could bounce back from down years last season). The Mets got better (but still not good enough). The Nationals got better.

The Braves, meanwhile, effectively exchanged Soriano, Gonzales and Vasquez for Saito, Wagner and Hudson. This is a step down anyway you cut it.

2010 = another mediocre season of Braves baseball.

geauxbraves2000

January 26th, 2010
12:26 pm

I’ve been a die hard Braves fan since the early 80s, and it pains me to say this, but with this team as it is currently constructed (not just the players), I don’t think they can even compete for a playoff spot. I certainly hope I’m wrong.

Phillies win the East, the WC from the central or west.

AJC Sports

January 26th, 2010
12:41 pm

Never give up — We’re just previewing the Braves’ opponents from time to time for 2010 Spring Training. That’s it. Asking readers to discuss which foes may give Atlanta a tough time this season doesn’t mean we’re slamming the Braves. We’ve done this before, we’ll do it again and you can look for more of these previews in the coming weeks. (Or not, we guess, if you’re going away.)

And, really, it’s a newspaper’s job to report on teams.

mike

January 26th, 2010
12:41 pm

Braves don’t want to spend the money need to make themselves a contender

Bring Me the Head of Deforest Kelley

January 26th, 2010
12:43 pm

2010 NL East prediction:
Phillies 100-62
Mets 88-74
Nationals 84-78
Braves 75-87
Marlins 69-93

Gary

January 26th, 2010
12:48 pm

I couldn’t care less about the, so called, retooling, done by the Mets.
They’ve been doing that, for years…even spending megabucks, trying to win.
And, for what it’s worth, it was WORTHLESS!

Kevin

January 26th, 2010
12:56 pm

Deforest, I’d love to hear how you calculate the Mets and Nationals having more wins than the Braves and Marlins, given the pitching staffs of those 4 clubs.

san diego dawg

January 26th, 2010
1:08 pm

The Braves still have the best starting rotation in the NL east, even after losing Javy. Look for Philadelphia to win the east with the Braves a very close second, the Marlins 3rd, the Mets and their huge payroll 4th and the Nationals keep being the Nationals in the cellar.

Dawgbelly

January 26th, 2010
1:24 pm

I think the Braves are much improved from last year. Remember, last year, everyone was bemoaning the moves (or lack thereof) made by the Braves in the off-season. Even with the trade of Javy, they still have one of the best starting rotations, 1-5, in the bigs. They are deeper in middle relief, which will help the back end of the pen. If Chipper bounces back to have just an average, for him, year, he will hit over .300, with 25 homers and 100 RBI. With Glaus hitting 4th and McCann batting 5th, there will be very little temptation to pitch around him. Escobar should have a lot of RBI opportunities, hitting 6th. They should score a lot more runs this year. Just a few more runs last year would have put us in the playoffs. I think it is going to be a race to the wire with the Phils for 1st place.

AJC, I agree with you. It’s the paper’s job to report the news.

Gary2

January 26th, 2010
1:25 pm

As an eternally optimistic Braves fan since the 70’s, I believe they may have a chance at the wild card if Chipper and Glaus stay healthy and play most of the year. The Phillies are still the team to beat in the division, though.

indianman

January 26th, 2010
1:25 pm

braves 98 64 phillips 94 68 mets 88 88 national 80 82 marlins 75 87

Chief Knockahoma

January 26th, 2010
1:26 pm

I will be getting called up mid-season by Bobby……see yall at Turner Field

Bring Me the Head of Deforest Kelley

January 26th, 2010
1:39 pm

The Nationals have been getting better and better the past couple seasons, and this may be the year they finally pull enough together to build a better-than-.500 club. Stasburg can be an impact player from day one. They also added Marquis to their rotation, and while he’s no ace, he’s certainly some stability over what their rotation has consisted of in the past. No more soft tossing Livan Hernandez for opponents to beat up on every 5th day.

The Mets will benefit from a full year of Johan Santana, and stand to benefit considerably if Reyes and Beltran rebound the way their histories would indicate.

The Marlins got great production from all their rookies last year, but if even a couple of these players have sophomore slumps, it leaves holes in their lineup. Also, the Marlins overwork their best arms. Josh Johnson is awesome, but I bet he’s not far away from arm problems. He’s had injury problems before. Marlins also some players off their bench in the offseason, which was a big strenght for them last year.

No denying the Braves have a solid rotation, but don’t kid yourself it will be as good as it was last year. Comfortably assuming Jurrjens and Hanson hold their own as co-aces, you still have Lowe on the steep downslope of his career, a hit or miss Kawakami and the question mark of Tim Hudson. This is a rotation that will still be heavily reliant on the bullpen to get them through nine innings, and the bullpen has taken a couple steps backward. Maybe this guy Dunn they got from the Yankees will help, but that’s anybody’s guess.

Vol4ever

January 26th, 2010
1:41 pm

Let’s see…………….the Braves trade their BEST pitcher by far and then Left their best hitter in the 2nd half go and sign a guy with one foot in the nursing home.

The very best finish will be 3rd, but more likely 4th place this year. NO playoffs in sight. Go ahead and go home Bobby, you don’t have the horses.

Roger McDowell Hater

January 26th, 2010
1:42 pm

Why is Roger McDowell STILL employed with the Braves (who have NOT made the postseason since his hire) while Leo Mazzone is not?

WHY ?????????

Mark Biles

January 26th, 2010
1:48 pm

NL East Projection:

Braves 92-70
Phillies 91-71
Marlins 86-76
Mets 80-82
Nats 72-90

Hudson, Lowe, JJ will win 18 games
Hanson will win 15 games
KK will win 12 games

Wagner/Saito will save 35+ games

Chipper, Glaus will hit 30 HRs; McCann 25 HRs.
Prado, Chipper, McCann, McClouth and Diaz will all hit .300 or better
Heyward will be a June callup and hit .290 with power

hop

January 26th, 2010
1:54 pm

The braves are an absolute joke with the “over the hill” gang in place.

I am afraid the turnstiles at turner will be lacking fan activity with this porous team!

C from Marietta

January 26th, 2010
2:00 pm

To “Vol4ever”,

do you honestly think Javier V is better then Hudson and Jurrigens?

WJ

January 26th, 2010
2:04 pm

The Phillies will still be the top team that the Braves have to overcome. While the Mets made many changes, I don’t see where they did a whole lot with their pitching really. I still believe the Mets will be contending but will fade at the end of the season falling to third behind the Phillies and Braves. Possibly fourth behind the Marlins who just might have a better team than people think. Anyway, my guess is the Phillies at 1st in division but without injuries and some career years from several players the Braves could win the division. Go Braves!

Brian

January 26th, 2010
2:04 pm

The Phillies should be and will be the overwhelming favorites to win the division again. I think the Braves have the second best team, followed by the Marlins, Mets, and Nationals. I think the Braves will be right in the thick of the playoff hunt come September and have a great shot in Bobby’s last year.

Brian

January 26th, 2010
2:06 pm

Mark Biles, you have the first 5 Braves starters winning 81 games total. If that happens, the Braves as a team will win more like 120 games than 92. The Braves will not have three 18-game winners. There was only one 18-game winner in the entire NL last year.

WJ

January 26th, 2010
2:07 pm

Just saying: Look for Hudson and Lowe to both rebound with strong pitching this year. If they get run support I believe both are looking at 15-18 wins this year. How would that be?

WJ

January 26th, 2010
2:10 pm

Look for Cabrera to hit lead off and get on base consistently. While not great power he can still get on base frequently and set the table for 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th hitters. Offense just might be better than many think.

To:

January 26th, 2010
2:13 pm

Mark Biles, I would love to have some of what you are smoking. Nobody is going to touch Philadelphia.

WJ

January 26th, 2010
2:16 pm

Brian
It isn’t beyond the realm of possibility for 5 pitchers to win 81 games. The great Baltimore teams in past years had this to happen when they were in their best years. I know it isn’t likely but don’t discount the possibility. Just because 5 pitchers win 81 games don’t necessarily mean that the team will win 120. There are still 81 games to win/lose. Hopefully, out of those 81 a team can win say 15 reasonably with record of 96 wins and 66 losses. This happens if all starters pitch deep into games. It is a reach but it is feasible.

Kashi

January 26th, 2010
2:28 pm

Braves MUST sign Damon or Uggla to compete in a professional level of MLB else forget 2010 and look for 2011. Or for better Liberty Media must sell Braves to Arthur Blank.

eric noe

January 26th, 2010
2:31 pm

Mark Biles, those are the dumbest win predictions I have every seen. 3 pitchers with 18 wins, 1 with 15 and 1 with 12????? 81 wins from your starters? That would be the greatest Starting 5some of all time. Lay off the drugs.

bvillebaron

January 26th, 2010
2:42 pm

I don’t get the pessimism of so many surrounding this team. One of my favorite comments is that when the Braves traded Vazquez, they got rid of their best pitcher “by far”. Based upon what, his career year last year? I guess in some fans minds, if you aren’t around for a year, people forget about you. Throughout their respective CAREERS, Hudson has been a decidedly better pitcher than Vazquez (look it up). Besides, I don’t ever remember a manager refusing to pitch Hudson down the stretch during a pennant run because he had no faith in him and then making sure he got traded in the offseason (which is exactly what happened to Vazquez with the White Sox in 2008).

I also don’t get the number of people who think that a Gonzo/Soriano combo is better than a healthy Saito/Wagner combo (again look it up). Yeah, I get the injury concerns, but the fact is that Wagner was healthy and pitched well at the end of last year. Besides, Gonzo has had his own TJ surgery and Soriano missed a substantial amount of time during his tenure in Atlanta due to his own pitching arm injuries.

The Braves are on the right track; they have a solid core of good young players led by Hanson, Jurrjens, Escobar, Heyward, Freeman, Kimbrel, etc. who give them a chance to have a team that will be competitive for years to come. Given the budgetary constraints that Wren operates under, the last thing he needs to do is to hamstring his ability to add a key player when that nucleus matures by adding a high priced free agent or, worse, yet by trading prospects for one (didn’t you guys learn anything from the Texeira fiasco?).

Given how good the Phillies are right now (because they built a powerhouse with a core of home grown players and now that those players are established and in their primes are in a position to add key pieces like Lee last year and Halladay this year), the Braves are probably realistically playing for a wild card this year, even if with a budget busting big name like Bay.

Wren has done a good job of signing veteran players like Glaus, Wagner, Saito to SHORT TERM contracts which, given the strength of the Braves’ starting staff, affords them the opportunity to complete this year and give them financial flexibility next year and beyond.

Techfan78

January 26th, 2010
2:44 pm

As long as Frank Wren is making decisions the Braves will be exactly what they have been the last 4 years, MEDIOCRE! Wren is to the Braves what Chan Gailey was to Georgia Tech football and what Paul Hewitt is to Georgia Tech basketball. Until we make a change the front office (eliminate Wren) we are going to continue to be a little bit better version of the Braves of the 80’s. Oh, and can we please get rid of Chipper, he has been on a steady decline other than 2008. He has had a great career but it is time to send him packing. He stays hurt more than he stays healthy. He reminds me of Roger Dorn of the great baseball movie “Major League”. Come on Braves, lets spend some money like teams that are TRYING to win a championship do and go out and get some all-stars and bring the titles back to Atlanta!!!

Tami

January 26th, 2010
2:52 pm

I’m an optimist, but….I miss Javy already. And, just where is the “big bat” we were supposed to get in exchange for him…the deal that never happened? I agree with Techfan78 @ 2:44 p.m. I’m afraid Wren just hasn’t been a Scheurholz “clone”, or even come close to it. And…the reference to Dorn from “Major League” had me laughing. But, let’s not be too hard on Chipper. Age is a factor. Although he still has the heart of an 18-yr-old when it comes to this game, Chipper has what….a 37/38 yr old body. I’m older than him, and well KNOW what age can do to the ole’ bod. Maybe we should make Chipper the batting coach??

To answer the original question of the AJC folks: It’s really hard to say if the Braves have improved in their offseason moves enough to rise above 3rd place in the division. They’re still in need of the “big bat” that they said they were going to go out and get but didn’t. I’m not counting Glaus in that category because we don’t know what we have yet. It may be end up being more of the same from last season. But, I hope they can rise above it all for Bobby’s last season.

RayDawg

January 26th, 2010
3:02 pm

The Braves have again failed to obtain the off season ingredients for a Division Championship, and they will be no better than last year.

Conyers Brave Fan

January 26th, 2010
3:06 pm

With the roster that is now in place, the Braves will be no better than 2nd behind the Phils.
Until they get more to spend for the power hitter they needed they will again be relying too much
on the starting pitching. The new closers will not be as good as last year. I wish I could be more optimistic but I just don`t see much if any overall improvement over the 2009 team.

Stan

January 26th, 2010
3:08 pm

Even with an ok roster….we still took the season series from the wuss-phils last year….we just need to play better against the Reds/Astros/Rockies…etc…that is what hurt us big time last year

cdog

January 26th, 2010
3:18 pm

i knew the braves were going to stupid around and let xavier nady get away. they need to go after damon now. don’t be stupid and let him get away.they need another outfielder with a bat.

ACC Braves Fan

January 26th, 2010
3:20 pm

Can’t wait for the start of training camp. Hope Braves will be in the top two of division. They need another outfielder, leadoff man, and another big bat. Two part question – Who plays third and bats third – when Chipper goes down this year, or retires next year?

Craig

January 26th, 2010
3:28 pm

I think the mets will be an easy team for the braves first off they are a fast ball team and the braves are a fast ball hitting team second the only person the will have trouble with is bay and beltran maybe wright if he is having a good day…. But over all the braves will probably beat the mets all year! the one that will give us trouble this year as usual the philies but i think we can win the division but it all will depend on Glause McCann Escobar Prado Heyward and Mclouth. GO BRAVES!!DAYOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!

richbrave

January 26th, 2010
3:35 pm

PHILADELPHIA made the best upgrades. We are still way behind in the power department and now their staff equals ours on paper at least. Losing VASQUEZ rather than LOWE will be our achilles-heel.

Stephen

January 26th, 2010
3:46 pm

Phillies – Marlins – Braves – Mets – Nationals

Jim

January 26th, 2010
3:51 pm

When Wren traded Vasquez and Soriano and got nothing in return, the Wren supports said he was getting things set up for the signing of a power hitting free agent. They said don’t judge those moves until all the moves are done. Well, the moves are done and Wren has given away 2 of the best pitchers with little in return and no power hitting outfielder. Can we send Wren to the Phillies? In a couple of years he would get them straightened out.

Larry Orange

January 26th, 2010
4:13 pm

Phillies
Braves
Marlins
Nationals
Mets
And the Braves win the Wild Card by one game!!

JASon

January 26th, 2010
4:19 pm

If the Phillies are bringing back basically all of their key players, then who from the NL is going to compete with them? We had to lose our star ace. They lost their star ace but got Halladay in return. Plus, Bobby’s even older than last year

Braves 2010

January 26th, 2010
4:20 pm

Look, my prediction. Right after the half way mark the braves will be a couple games back. Then bammmmmmm, Schafer comes into play as well as Heyward who will be waiting with Schafer in AAA Gwinnett. They are gona go on a tear and theres the power we needed. Our pitching staff is better. Huston has always been a ACE where Vazquez was top last year only. He will not repeat. Anyone who was at any games last year got sick and tired of Gonzo and Soriano blowing the lead. No it was not a save situation so there was no zero in the loss columns but Im here to tell you, I saw a lot of games given away by Soriano and Gonzo and I for one am glad they are gone. I will take my chances with Wagner who has a rebuilt arm now. Remember Smoltz. Smoltz problems are not his arm but his shoulder. Wagner, same way. Hes a terrific ballplayer who stays in top notch shape and a worker. Hes also very good with the young pitchers out of the pen.

So who says we wont compete. I am really sick of everyone saying the Braves arent going to do it. But then of course they have always said that and how many times did the braves pull off the NL East? I will wait to see how the players rebound before I judge. I for one think we are better.