Five Questions: Atlanta Braves

The Hardball Times

You want my guess, the Braves’ offense won’t decline by nearly 100 runs — more like 50. I think Drew will probably do a decent enough Sheffield impersonation when healthy, and that they’ll probably get more offense from first. I see no reason Marcus Giles will decline at all.

11 thoughts on “Five Questions: Atlanta Braves”

  1. I agree with their assessment. 850 runs would be incredible, but 750-800 seems much more realistic to me.

  2. My guess is closer to 100 runs lost on offense too. Even if LaRoche is ok, you lose 50 runs right off the top at catcher, plus you lose some at RF and 3B (which could be a full blown disaster). 80 to 100 runs lost seems about right.

    But I do think the pitching will be a little better. The bullpen has to be better (especially with Cruz and Rietsma now on board), a full season of the good Hampton, I can see a 20-40 run improvement on run prevention.

    Totaled, you end up with about a 50 run loss in the delta, which comes out to about 4 wins. That should still keep the team in the race.

  3. What if we gain runs in left field, center field, and second base? That’s not entirely unrealistic. A bit optimistic, but plausible.

  4. Possible I guess. Unless Giles turns into Joe Morgan, it’s hard to imagine he can do much better than last year. Chipper is in the midst of a multiyear performance slide, so I’m not very optimistic of anything other than a modest bump in his numbers. Andruw is another story. If he finally has that really big year we’ve all waited so long for, that would make a big difference. I’m encouraged that he came to camp in real good shape.

    Put another way, if Andruw were to become Andruw!, that would give us a real good chance at number 13.

  5. I see no reason why we would lose anything at 3rd. I sure as hell wouln’t call it a disaster. DeRosa’s career numbers are pretty damn good for someone who never got regular playing time. Offense at first most definitely will improve. Not only can Giles improve, but so far it’s looking like he most definitely will. I agree with Mac on this one.

  6. And I almost forgot, pitching. Ortiz will be the same. Hampton will be all year what he was at the end of last year. Ramiraz will mature. As he pointed out, Thompson will match the much declined Maddux of last year. But most importantly, Shane Reynolds is gone. All Wright has to do is throw the ball somewhere near the plate to match Reynolds, and from the looks of things, he’s doing much more than that. All that combined with a better bullpen will lower the runs allowed and compensate for some of those lost runs.

  7. I don’t know why everyone is so high on LaRoche. Is it a realistic possibility that he will put up better numbers than Fick? Yes. Is it a sure thing, or even close to a sure thing, or even close to being close to a sure thing? Hell no. Granted, the position will now be better defensively, but Fick was an adequate platoon bat. I guess my point is that I’m not quite sure where all of these “stephen hawking would hit better than fick” sentiments are coming from.

  8. I see no reason why we would lose anything at 3rd. I sure as hell wouln’t call it a disaster. DeRosa’s career numbers are pretty damn good for someone who never got regular playing time. Offense at first most definitely will improve. Not only can Giles improve, but so far it’s looking like he most definitely will. I agree with Mac on this one.

    Maybe disaster was a little strong. DeRo is an adequate fill-in, and maybe he’ll respond to the regular at bats and match Vinny’s 101 OPS+ from last year. But he is unproven as a regular and there is a nonzero chance he either (1) wears out and doesn’t hit, or (2) gets hurt playing third and we are treated to the Hessman-Betemit-Garcia ugliness. I doubt we will see 578 PAs of 101+ from third this year, but I can see some people are more hopeful. I hope you are right.

    I’m not saying Giles won’t be a great player. It’s just that he was so great last year, it’s unlikely that he can improve on it. Unless like I said he’s the second coming of Joe Morgan. I mean, 635 PAs of 140 OPS+ and nifty D at second is tough to improve on.

    I totally agree with your assessment of the pitching being better. As I said in my first post that should take the edge off some of the offensive losses. I think the improvement of the pitching staff is too easily overlooked by those who are picking against the Braves this year.

  9. Maybe it just the beginning of the season, but there are some grounds for optimism. The pitching staff should be better. Wright (and possibly Byrd) will be better than Reynolds. With the addition of Reitsma(assuming Smoltz stays healthy) the bullpen has a good chance to be stronger as well. With respect to offense, it is true that run production will almost certainly decline. Yet, I think that Chipper may hit better without Sheffield in the lineup. LaRoche has yet to taste big league pitching, but he will probably become more productive as the season progresses. Giles will produce and Furcal might just have the great year we have been waiting for. The same holds for Andruw and at least Drew has given us a glimpse of his promise.

    It is hard to know what JS can really do, but shedding financial obligations (created by long term contracts) may well give him more flexibility than he has had in previous years. As painful as it has been to witness many of our favourite players leave Atlanta, I hope that it has left JS with a greater capacity to improve the roster during the season. All told, the Braves certainly have the means to fight for the division. And the Phillies still have Larry Bowa…

  10. I HIGHLY recommend James Fraser’s preview of the Braves over at Baseball Primer. If I figured out how do link it, its in the doohickie above. If not, blame Thomason!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *