Wrapping up the tour of NL East team previews that I started back before the Bowden departure, today I'm chatting with Mac from Braves Journal.
In case you missed them, check out my previews with divisional blogger friends Fish Stripes (Marlins), Balls, Sticks & Stuff (Phillies), and Amazin' Avenue (Mets). Thanks to everyone who participated, and I encourage y'all to drop all these guys into your RSS feeds and bookmarks. We have a very cool group of bloggers in the division who make it fun to keep up with the visiting team.
With that, here's my Braves chat:
Finish the following statement: The Braves will be better than expected if...
The outfield is even close to average. The Braves' infield should be very strong, as long as Chipper Jones and Yunel Escobar can stay in the lineup most of the time. But the outfield killed them last year, and most of the same suspects are back again this year.
And, the Braves will be worse than expected if...
Chipper Jones plays fewer than 110-120 games. You know he's going to miss time, but without him there's a big hole in the lineup, and the most important thing is that they minimize the time that the hole's there -- especially since their other franchise hitter, Brian McCann, is a catcher and will miss a game or two a week.
What's your take on the job Stan Kasten's done here in DC? It's hard to remember now, but a lot of Nationals fans were very optimistic about him coming to DC because of the Braves' success while he was there. But, we obviously haven't seen that. Did you expect better? Or do you think Kasten got undue credit for Atlanta's success in the 1990s?
I didn't know he got much credit at all! Kasten was essentially an executive, someone who handled some of the ownership and representation roles. John Schuerholz and Bobby Cox built the team. Kasten had more of a role when the team was terrible. Kasten was essentially a basketball guy and Ted Turner's stooge, not someone who knew much about baseball, but he hired good people.
Who will, and who should, get the fifth spot in the starting rotation?
Tom Glavine will, if he can manage to stumble out to the mound and get the ball over the plate. I think he should retire, but I don't make decisions for him. I don't know why Jorge Campillo, who was the team's second starter last year, is out of the equation, but if they really want a lefty, they should go with Jo-Jo Reyes. I'm not saying Reyes is a good choice, only that he'd be better than Glavine.
If all the Nationals outfielders play up to their potential, especially Willingham, Kearns, Dukes, and Milledge, we're probably going to want to make a trade. The Braves seem like a team that could use an OF or two. Any interest?
I don't know why the Braves didn't try to get Willingham, except that they seem to think that they're "set." I can't imagine them going after Dukes or Milledge. I think a few years ago Bobby Cox would have been able to control them, but not these days.
What else should we watch for when the Braves come to town this year?
Last year, the team fell apart partially because of the abhorrent outfield, but also because they didn't get a lot of innings from the starters, which overloaded the bullpen, leading to ineffectiveness and injuries. If the Braves can get innings -- effective innings -- from their starting pitchers, they'll compete.