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Da' Braves.

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Inappropriate. Just inappropriate.

Anyway kids, now that the first game has been pushed back to tomorrow, I can present you with a decent preview of the Atlanta Braves. If you're like me, you're not sure quite what to think of the NL anyway. Why do we play these interleague games? Why is our main rival the Braves? Does Selig think they still play in Boston too?

In any case, the NL is hard to figure out. I mean, it's not like NFL teams play teams from NFL Europe during the season (or consider them worthy opponents for a World Series)? Why are we messing around with these teams with obviously sub-par rosters and probably sub-par hygiene?

Because kids, poor jokes aside, the Braves are a good team, and more importantly, interleague is what allows Bud Selig to make $15M in a year rather than just $14.75M. And that's a big difference if you can imagine those amounts in the first place.

Right. The Braves.

Catchers: Brian McCann (L), Jarrod Salt%^&$&*(alamachia (S).

This is a pretty good tandem. McCann is the "elder" (by about 15 months). He's a potent offensive threat, and had a big season last year. He hasn't been quite on pace with last season, but still an above-average catcher offensively. S... is someone you've no doubt heard of. From my limited research. it would seem that the best defensive alignment for the Braves in the long-term would be S.... behind the plate and McCann at 1B. However, if you see either at 1B for this series, it'd be S....

First Base: Scott Thorman (L)

Thorman got his chance in the bigs due to the trade of Adam LaRoche to the Pirates. He's been productive, slugging almost .500 while his batting average is .273. I would imagine the Braves might like to see a bit more patience (.314 OBP)

Second Base: Kelly Johnson (L)

There were any number of candidates for this role, 2B and leadoff hitter, when the Braves entered Spring Training. Many of the guys who tried out to be a Nationals SP went to Braves camp in the same week to audition for this job. However, Braves' farmhand Kelly Johnson got the job, and he's been doing just fine. .275/.397/.463 is his line on the season, for the league minimum. Sometimes you can't even get that production for $9M per season.

Shortstop: Edgar Renteria (R)

The man labeled a bust by many in RSN has been doing quite well in his second season back in the Senior Circuit. He's compiled a .331/.385/.513 line as the Braves 2-hole hitter, and his defense has been much closer to his Cardinals days than his year with the Sox.

Third base: Chipper Jones (S)

Jones is kind of an institution to himself in the Southeast region of the United States, much like Dale Murphy before him. His defense at 3B has always been a bit erratic, but he's torn the cover off the ball thusfar; .300/.402/.643.

Left field: Matt Diaz...for now (R)

Diaz got his shot at (mostly) a starting position all his own when Ryan Langerhans set out on his tour of ML teams. His defense isn't great, and his OPS of .755 isn't quite ideal for a left fielder with suspect D.

Center field: Andruw Jones...til he signs with the Yankees in Dec. 07 (R)

Jones has struggled this season, leading some critics to believe that he's not aware of the concept of contract years. Note to Andruw: Call Adrian Beltre for more information. .224/.348/.422. And his defense, while still good, isn't quite the stuff that legends are made of. (Which it was, a couple seasons ago)

Right field: Jeff Francoeur (R)

Francoeur has a rocket arm in RF, runs well, and has learned a bit of patience this season. Could be an even bigger star given some more time. Note to DeMarlo Hale: Don't send Mirabelli, Papi, Manny or Lowell on this guy. Even if they're on 3B and someone hit a double.

Bench: Chris Woodward, Pete Orr, Willie Harris

Bench players not named Willie Harris aren't hitting very well this season. Harris gives them speed and a par-only defensive replacement in the OF. Woodward and Orr basically share whatever time Renteria or Johnson don't want to play, and the time that Chipper has off to stay healthy. No pop from any of these guys, really.

SPs:

  • Anthony Lerew: Only 9 innings to go on. At least he's right-handed.
  • John Smoltz: "What can we say? Not our pitcher. Just tip our hats and call John Smoltz our daddy." Against the Sox: 1.09 ERA, 27 Ks in 24+ IP.
  • Tim Hudson: On the other hand, Hudson has been pretty horrid in his career against the Sox: 59 IP, 5.80 ERA, WHIP of about 1.56, and 5 HBPs. Particularly abysmal at Fenway: 25 IP, 2.16 WHIP, 7.92 ERA.
Bullpen:

I know two things about the Braves' bullpen.

  • They didn't have one last season.
  • They have one now.
  • Mike Gonzalez is on the DL. (Okay, three things.)