Braves 2010 Primer: 5 Questions

The ’09 Braves contended till the final week of the season.  How will they fare this year?

5. Who will bat leadoff?

Since Nate McLouth has single handedly been trying to turn the Braves into the Pittsburg Pirates, one would wonder if he’s going to permanently be hidden in the 8 hole be given time to work on his swing.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of McLouth, and he seems to make the offense better when he plays.  He has won Bobby’s loyalty and gives 115% every day, so I look for him to be a big part of the team.  I think that Bobby will continue to tinker with the lineup into May as he normally does, but look for Melky to take that lead-off spot when he’s in left field.

4. How will Jason Heyward perform?

Photo by Icon SMI

We all know that the savior has come to Turner Field, wrapped in swaddling cloth and heralded by the ESPN wise men.  Will he live up to the hype?  Everything seems to point to yes.  Not only is he an outstanding athlete, but he has a good head on his shoulders.  Guess that comes from his Ivy League parents.  His development in season should be a priority for the Braves.  If he thinks that he has to carry the team should Chipper struggle and the rest of the league catches on and walks McCann every time, then he could press too hard.  The last thing we need in right field is another Failcoeur.  Shudder.

3. How will the reclamation bargain bin veteran free agents do?

Billy Wagner, Takashi Saito, and Troy Glaus. Enough said.

2. Was trading Vasquez a prudent move?

In this day and age, it’s hard to fathom sending your best pitcher away for spare parts and a prospect.  Ugh, and to the Yankees.  Anyway, the Braves have one of the best rotations in the National League outside of Philly with or without Vasquez.  I have this feeling that Vasquez was playing above his level last year – his WHIP and ERA were both strikingly low last year.  Who knows which version of Vasquez will show up this year.  Melky Cabrera, who was part of the trade for Vasquez, looks to be fitting in nicely so far and could provide a leadoff hitter if McLouth continues to think he’s still a Pirate.

1. How will Chipper hold up?

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Chipper is aging, but he is still the core of the Braves’ offense.  The Braves need him to hit well to succeed – McCann, Prado, and Escobar will be solid, but they cannot carry a team the way Chipper can.  He will be playing hard, given that it’s Bobby’s last year.  Hopefully he will not play too hard and press the issue.  Chipper needs to play 140 games and drive in 100 runs.

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