What’s all this talk about the Phillies? Yeah, they acquired Cliff Lee, and yeah they have a sweet rotation… but the Braves ranked 3rd in ERA last year, and the Phils ranked 5th. Apparently MLVtv and ESPN haven’t taken this into consideration. Not only did the Braves have the 3rd best rotation in the NL… they did it without Jurrjens and Medlen. Booyah.
Let’s take a look at the Braves projected pitching rotation for 2011. And, if you’re a Phillies fan, be scared.
1 – Derek Lowe
2 – Tim Hudson
3 – Jair Jurrjens
4 – Tommy Hanson
5 – either Mike Minor or Brandon Beachy (probobaly Minor)
With Jurrjens healthy, and Medlen’s return mid to late season to reclaim that number 5 spot… lookout. And, let’s not forget about, perhaps the 2 best young closers in baseball, being in the Braves pen… Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrell.
As far as the offense goes, the Phillies should start praying to Jesus immediately. With Jayson Werth now gone to the Nats, the Phils are banking on Ben Fransisco to hit in their number 5th spot… how terrifying! Both Jimmy Rollins’ and Ryan Howard’s OPS have dropped considerably the last 2 seasons and Placido Polanco is getting old. Well, so is Chipper too, I guess…
Even though my favorite player, Matt Diaz, is gone, the Braves lineup is going to be nasty. The addition of Uggla, B-Mac’s presence, Chipper’s return, Prado’s return, and J-Hey are all a serious threat. The big offensive question is, “What about Nate McLouth?” Well, I think he’ll have a rebound year. Nate was, in my opinion, too good prior to 2010 not be consistently good again. I think he just had a down year in 2010, and I have great hopes for him, even though he has a 1998 Justin Timerlake NSYNC haircut. Let’s not forget about our secret weapons, Eric Hinske and David Ross too.
The Braves have all the ingredients to win the NL East and take names. Their achilles’ heel will be being consistently aggressive. We’ve seen this the past 3 years… they will go on a rampage of offense for a week or so, then just die out, like a roller coaster. But, with Fredi Gonzalez taking over, I think he’ll bring a fire and some long needed aggressiveness. Bobby coached so much by-the-book, that it was hard for the team to get that fire going, so I’m excited to see what Fredi will bring.
Last minute 2011 concerns/predictions –
- Chipper is going to get hurt. He always does. It’s science. So, look for Prado to get some playing time at 3B and Hinske to see some time in LF… which is a pretty good backup plan if you ask me.
- Tommy Hanson will dominate and look like 2009 Tommy Hanson.
- Derek Lowe will have a bad year… and I’ll lose some vocal chords over it.
- The Washington Nationals will be a serious threat.
- Eric Hinske will make the All-Star team.