Good news first: Unless you’ve been living in a cone of baseball silence during the past few months, you’ve heard of Jason Heyward. In case you have not heard of him… just think of Labron James in a baseball uniform. He’s 6-foot-4, 245 pounds, has the patience of a seasoned veteran, only 1 strikeout so far this spring, and he’s 20 years old. He’s being compared to the likes of Fred McGriff, Dave Parker, and God. All signs are pointing to him being the Braves starting right fielder come April, and we (Braves nation) couldn’t be happier.
Another plus is going to be the Braves’ starting rotation. The Bravo’s starting ERA in 2009 was nasty… but due to barely any run support, the Braves didn’t have much to show for it. Their first four are Lowe, Jurrjens, Hanson, and Hudson. That’s just nasty. The fifth spot is still in question. I hope it will be Kris Medlen, but chances are it’s going to be Kawakami.
The lineup’s looking good too. Heyward should have a stellar season. The Matt Diaz and Melky Cabrera platoon in LF should do significant damage (I think Diaz should play EVERYDAY… that’s another article altogether), and the infield bats – Jones, McCann, Escobar, Prado, and newbie Glaus, will be good.
K, now the not so good news (according to me):
- The Braves dealt closers, Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano, away and acquired two veterans Takashi Saito and Billy Wagner. My feelings are indifferent about the closing situation. Eh, we’ll see. I’m going to miss Gonzo.
- The Javier Vasquez trade was another big change. I’m almost too emotionally distraught to talk about it. The Braves traded Vasquez to the Yankees for Melky Cabera and some peanuts.
- They have also made changes to first base. Laroche is gone and Troy Glaus is here. I was in favor of paying a bit more money to keep Laroche. He’s consistent, has a good glove, plus him and Chipper are hunting buddies, and if Chipper’s happy, everyone’s happy. But, so far Glaus is tearing the cover off the ball in spring training, so we’ll see.
Bottom line: With the Braves’ starting rotation and their strong bats, I think they will give the NL East a run for their money. Here’s to 2010. Don’t stop the chop.