Still another sunny Braves forecast? ‘Bah, humbug,’ I say

I'm sorry. This is still my favorite picture ever. (AJC photo by Phil Skinner)

I'm sorry to keep using this, but it's my favorite picture ever. (AJC photo by Phil Skinner)

Comes now another in our daily series of the-Braves-look-great articles. This is from Phil Sheridan of the Philadelphia Inquirer, and he sees the Braves as the team that could dislodge the Phillies from the National League East summit. And here I sit, starting to wonder if I underrated these guys and undervalued the offseason work of Frank Wren.

But let me say a couple of things: First, I haven’t been to Lake Buena Vista to see the team firsthand, so I’m having to rely on dispatches; second, I remember the first time I really covered a team up close and personal. It was the 1980 Kentucky Wildcats, and standing at practice every day for a month convinced me a breakthrough football season was at hand.

Impressed by what I’d beheld, I told Russell Rice, the UK publicist, “There’s no way you’ll be as bad as 3-8.” (That being the consensus on how the Big Blue would do.)

Long story short: The 1980 Wildcats wound up 3-8.

I was young and foolish then. I’m much older and still foolish, but one thing I have learned: Practice doesn’t count. Practice games don’t count. Sometimes they’re an indication, but not always. It’s entirely possible the Braves will come north and tear off another 13-0 “Torre! Torre! Torre!” start — that’s a reference to 1982, for you youngsters — but spring success is no guarantee of future results.

Me, I’m still skeptical. I eagerly await the coming of Jason Heyward, but I also wonder if the age on this team — and there’s a ton of it — will show over 162 games. I wonder about the offense. I wonder about the defense. I wonder about the zen of Wren. I’d be more than happy to be proved wrong in my doubting, but as of now I’m still saying what I said back in February.

Third place.

Amid all this sunshine, somebody’s got to be the grouch. Besides, who am I to deprive y’all of the chance to say, not for this first time and surely not for the last, “Hey, Bradley — you were wrong!”

266 comments Add your comment

Bring back Gene Garber and Bob Horner

March 30th, 2010
1:31 pm

I think it hinges on Glaus and McClouth.

b-ward

March 30th, 2010
1:34 pm

So basically this article just says “Oh, I’m not sure how the Braves will do”. Truly riveting stuff….

coach joe

March 30th, 2010
1:35 pm

hope springs eternal.. or what ever..

Mark Z

March 30th, 2010
1:41 pm

Ah, Bradley…..what do you know!?

matt r

March 30th, 2010
1:42 pm

At least no one is picking us to win it all this year, like Jayson Stark in 2008.

Ted M

March 30th, 2010
1:43 pm

Chipper won’t play in more than 50 games but Infante will have a great season replacing him. Braves reclaim the division.

eh

March 30th, 2010
1:44 pm

bah humbug to you sir!

Reid Adair

March 30th, 2010
1:49 pm

Mark, you haven’t “underrated” the roster, and you certainly haven’t “undervalued the off-season work of Frank Wren.”

These national media folks don’t understand the disaster that is Frank Wren like the Atlanta media and Braves fans do.

jw15

March 30th, 2010
1:49 pm

I think I’m done reading anything you publish. There is nothing in this article that warrants any time out of my day. Yet, I do think you should be told how big of a moron you are. You don’t have to be a “homer”, you don’t have to jump pn any bandwagons, but come up with some valid points. Age of this team? Six of the eight regular starters are under thirty. The two corner infielders who do have age on them are supported by the best bench in baseball. Our top two pitchers are under 25. Ok, the back of our bullpen is old. Yet Wagner is still throwing 98. I guess the Braves should just sell everyone and sign Georgia Tech’s freshman team and then they’ll be “younger”. Pure brilliance as always on your part.

hop

March 30th, 2010
1:52 pm

mark.. for once you are correct! braves have too much age especially with the relievers, glaus and chipper.

they will not last a full season.
braves will finish fourth

leland

March 30th, 2010
1:55 pm

Dear Mr. MB–you know what your problem is? You want me to tell you what your problem is? I’ll tell you what your problem is: your problem is you don’t know how to have fun. That’s what your problem is. Your pal, Leland

TomJoad

March 30th, 2010
1:56 pm

I’ll say this, then i’ll leave it to the experts: Good pitching beats good hitting, and we’ve got some good pitching. If those pitchers stay healthy, i think we added enough pieces this year that we can score just enough runs to make those fine ERA’s from JJ, KK, and the other guys go from 10-15 game winners into real MLB studs. We’ve got some nice backups all around to cover the big boys i think, and I’m not just talking about the boys that come on the 40 man roster. Another 1/2 a year under the belts of guys like Schafer and Freeman could do a world of good for those guys, and Kimbrel too for that matter. If we’re in a bind come September, those guys could be adding some late season spark to a hungry ball club. This team is deceptively deep, and like Chipper said earlier this spring, it may not be sexy, but it’s solid. I like my Braves this time around. Looking forward to a competitive season.

Joey

March 30th, 2010
1:56 pm

Ted M, I’ve gotta ask what you think Chipper’s injury will be? Bicep, hamstring, thigh, thumb, wrist, oblique, quad, or other?

Sonny Clusters

March 30th, 2010
1:58 pm

We was never one to brag but we was always playing ball at the highest level and having fun doing it. It seems to us that these Braves are going to have fun, too. They may be short a buck commander or two but they have some real good arms and, hopefully, just enough hitting to be a real threat in the division. They just might make the playoffs. Of course, they will lose in the first round so everybody can go hunting on opening day. We had a friend once that was a major league ballplayer but he did not like to hunt and he got traded. One time when he did go hunting he shot at the first thing he saw move (much like in baseball) and ended up shooting Chipper’s Jeep.

91-05 Streak

March 30th, 2010
1:58 pm

I see this team winning 95 games. Will it be enough?

Joey

March 30th, 2010
2:01 pm

You shouldn’t be so hard on Mark, jw15. Apparently he’s all we got left at the AJC. I do agree with you on the “age of this team” thing. I think we have some young guys who could handle the closer role, also.

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

March 30th, 2010
2:02 pm

I do not follow offseason baseball but i try not to miss a game when it starts on tv so why all this optimism for the braves didn’t they let some of there best players go during the off season and dont all the teams look great in training camp.

bass stringerfish

March 30th, 2010
2:05 pm

More than one “pundit” is saying the Braves will come in second or even with luck squeak in and win the Division. But folks…baseball is a long season. At the end of the day, injuries, slumps, luck, who has THE career year, etc. always determins who eventually wins. I think we have the talent to be in the race all year long. I am not sure if we have the talent to sustain more than a couple injuries or long term slumps of players we count on – including pitchers. I do like the future of the team though and I do like (so far anyway) the restraint Wren has shown with respect to dealing our prospects. I tink B-ward hit the nail on the head…we just don’t know with this team do we?

26.2

March 30th, 2010
2:06 pm

I agree with you Mark. Braves still have Bobby and he will hurts us more than helps. Last year was not lost in Aug. & Sept. but was lost in April and May when Cox continued to play Shaefer and K. Johnson instead of recognizing the abilities of Prado and Infante. Cox will subbornly hurt us again this year.

Freddie G

March 30th, 2010
2:07 pm

I believe the Braves can dislodge the Phillies this season, and now that Mark Bradley is not very optimistic of this teams performance makes me feel better that the Braves will do well.

Magnum

March 30th, 2010
2:08 pm

Sonny, I want to hear more about your teammate, Standing Pat.

Ryan

March 30th, 2010
2:15 pm

It all comes down to injuries.

Last year the Mets stunk because they were destroyed with injuries.

I think everyone might be surprised to find the Mets competing very well with the Phillies and the Braves.

To be honest, I don’t see the wild card coming from the East this year. There just won’t be enough wins to go around.

Brad Komminsk

March 30th, 2010
2:20 pm

I’m available to pinch hit if they need me.

Heath

March 30th, 2010
2:21 pm

I grew up listening to Bob horner hit four home runs in one game and the Braves losing 11-8 and also listening to chuck Tanner talk about how he was going to lead a ticker tape parade down Peachtree when they won the world series that year (as I recall it didn’t quite work out that way).

3rd place is pretty good considering the Braves cheapskates. Maybe we could get Chief Nocahoma to do a pitcher’s mound dance on opening day.

Ted M

March 30th, 2010
2:22 pm

Chipper’s injury will be some sort of leg injury perhaps a ACL tear. But I hope not.

Matt Hanshaw

March 30th, 2010
2:24 pm

hy do you always hate on the sports teams of Atlanta? I have been reading your nonsense in the AJC for years and you do nothing but bash every sports team in Atlanta, College or Pro. Hey how about you do something crazy for once and actually root for the teams that you cover or just leave the city of Atlanta and take your negative attitude somewhere else.

Eddie Miller

March 30th, 2010
2:25 pm

I think what the Braves need is a bonafide leadoff hitter.

All I'm Saying Is...

March 30th, 2010
2:27 pm

Hmm, usually with stocks, it pays to go the other way when there is a consensus in one direction but with respect to our Atlanta Braves and this blog, what I see is…

b-ward, Mark Z, and Freddie G are all correct (and I agree with them–wild card for Braves with outside shot at division as Phillies unlikely to three-peat.).

jw15 is unnecessarily harsh.

Reid Adair, Mark Bradley, hop, and 26.2 are wrong but at least together.

SouthGADawgFan is simply waiting on football season & clearly clueless re: Braves.

Sonny Clusters needs a new act.

Ryan is too practical and pessimistic.

LET’S GO BRAVES!

Coon-Dawg

March 30th, 2010
2:28 pm

Bradley … If we sustain the usual number of injuries (And there’s a great chance of this happening, because we always do) … You “May” be correct predicting 3rd. — Thankfully ! … You are USUALLY wrong about everything ! … So I hope your wrong again this time. Go Bravo’s !!!

ArtDodger

March 30th, 2010
2:28 pm

Chipper…you ain’t hurt yet! ’bout time to start gripping that nobody in batting order covers Chipper….start pushing, maybe the Braves will trade Hanson like they did when you cried and they traded Wainwright.
Dump The Lump

Journalism

March 30th, 2010
2:29 pm

Hey Matt, he gets paid to put his opinion out there! If he just wrote a bunch of columns about how great all the local teams are, no one would read! And besides, that would be a bunch of lies anyway. Atlanta hasn’t had but one championship that I can remember in the major three sports. That’s not good by the way.

lazydawg

March 30th, 2010
2:32 pm

Mark, would it hurt you to be a homer once in a while?? This is our team, let’s take a wait and see approch and do some rooting for you team once a blue moon.
Go Braves!!!!!

Cynthia Tucker

March 30th, 2010
2:32 pm

If you’re gonna give someone a hard time, give it to me. I have it coming. Mr. Bradley is a capable professional.

Thirty Points To Your Twenty-Four Points

March 30th, 2010
2:33 pm

Bradley…..

Why don’t you just become a “journalist” for the Georgia Tech student newspaper?? That school is the ONLY source for positive/optimistic journalism coming out of your amateur pen.

I know it still kills you Marky-Mark…. so I’ll lay it out clear for you….

{{{{{30-24}}}}}

Bobby Dews

March 30th, 2010
2:34 pm

I think we’ll be fairly good this year.

SC Smith

March 30th, 2010
2:35 pm

I believe Wren has done maybe best best job of any GM in baseball rebuilding a team in two years, short of maybe the Yanks but they have deeper pockets than anyone. Second these Bobby Cox bashers, man that gets lame. Lets see 14 straight titles, world series champion, came to the Atl. to be GM and then Manager of the worst team in baseball. And all these years later the Braves are still contenders. I’m a sales person, Bobbys a manager, who the heck are yall to question his track record. And if he’s gone after this year, wellllll look out for what you wish far you just may get it!

fifthbusiness

March 30th, 2010
2:38 pm

Its the pitching stupid. Will Bobbie burn out the geaser closers?

azcat225

March 30th, 2010
2:39 pm

Mark, what happened to all that high praise you had for Frank last year? This team can only absorb one or two injuries, including pitchers, and is as thin as Tiger Woods’ skin. They’ll tease us with a nice start, a mid-season winning streak, and then fade again. That ain’t hate, Matt, it’s reality, but go make up some posters and hope you get your three seconds of camera time some magical night in August.

The Mcchicken Sandwich

March 30th, 2010
2:41 pm

Braves win 85 games
Chipper Injured Early
Heyward Starts Hot but Cools due to rookie season and lack of experience

JC

March 30th, 2010
2:47 pm

Mark, thank you for wasting my time.
Sincerely,
JC

blue

March 30th, 2010
2:48 pm

b-ward; you’re kind of a jacka_ _

blue

March 30th, 2010
2:49 pm

JC; how did he waste your time? You’re the one that chose to read it, dolt. YOU wasted your time. You must be a liberal.

NCBravesFan

March 30th, 2010
2:53 pm

Yeah I think guarded optimism is in order with the Braves. A lot could go right, but a key injury or two could have big impacts on the downside (especially Glaus/Chipper I would think).

chem

March 30th, 2010
2:53 pm

Matt, that’s funny you bring it up. In his earlier days (print version), Bradley used to be a homer. — However, 21st century digitized Bradley is usually closer to target than his earlier self. Plus, he has to keep things interesting and stir the pot since Terrence is gone. AND NOW… He’s even taken over for Bisher playing the old man card!

Braves Fan 84

March 30th, 2010
3:01 pm

you are an idiot.

SavannahRiverRat

March 30th, 2010
3:02 pm

Hope springs eternal…. I BELIEVE!!! We mcCann do it.
I’ve lived with the Braves from the beginning. I agonized over their losses over the years and gloried in their victories. i attended games where only 300 or 400 attended.So Once again we face a season and
look to be in the chase again. WE WILL BE IN THE PLAYOFFS!!

Ray Pugh

March 30th, 2010
3:07 pm

You don’t know much about baseball Bradley – several computer projections such as CHONE (which are very accurate) have us winning the division….

bowman

March 30th, 2010
3:10 pm

Practice games don’t count. On that we agree. Practice does count, however. What you work on. How you execute. Whether you get a sense of accomplishment. All of it leads to games that do count.

I also don’t get the Wren Is Wrong thinking. Give the poor guy a break. He’s still trying to rebuild the organization that John Schuerholz brought down in his desperate attempt to win more for his resume.

All that said, the Phillies do look insurmountable. The Marlins have the best manager not named Bobby Cox. The Braves have creaking bones at the corners and a vastly overrated centerfielder (bad trade by Wren) but they are solid elsewhere and have outstanding pitching. If others stumble, the Braves could surprise.

bowman
– -
“Art will always be Art.” – Goethe

BravesAC

March 30th, 2010
3:11 pm

You’re not wrong…Brave? Yes. Misinformed? That too.
2nd in a race to the end when, ultimately the Phillies buy their way to another pennant- then the wildcard for the Braves. Next year they take over the division again.

Larvell Sugar Bear Blanks

March 30th, 2010
3:13 pm

Mark, some years things just go your way as a team. Let’s hope this is that kind of year for the Braves. My prediction—- we increase last years win total by 9 games.