Monday, April 6, 2015

2015 Braves Season Outlook

If you follow the Braves then you should know by now the changes that were made in the offseason. There's been a few trades and free agent signings that were eye-opening. John Hart has said that the Braves have gone into a rebuild but that it's more of a short term rebuild. When he traded Justin Upton and Heyward, although it was hard to see them go, I could see what the new direction was.

I've seen many people complain about the Braves....quite a lot, actually. Some of the moves were hard to accept, I understand, but for the most part they needed to be done. With Upton's contract (Justin, that is), it would cause a problem to try resigning. I'm just glad we got something in return for him (hello Jace Peterson, first hit of the year for the Braves), as opposed to rolling the dice on trying to resign him just for him to go elsewhere that offers more money. The Heyward trade brought in Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins while the Gattis trade brought in Foltynewicz, Rio Ruiz, and Andrew Thurman. I know some will say that the minor league system isn't that great but it's definitely better than last year....it is. It's been rounded out and we've got just about every position added to in-depth with prospects, which wasn't the case over the past few years.

The Kimbrel/Upton trade was surprising. I heard about the trade while I was halfway through with writing this, that's why I'm talking about it separately. I knew this was going to happen, so I was prepared. I just wasn't expecting the trade to happen so soon. I know Kimbrel signed that contract extension but I figured they'd try keeping him for at least another year or two while still under control. At least they free up a TON of money by getting BJ's contract (I'll still gonna call him BJ) off the books which I'm sure everyone in baseball never thought could happen. But it's done. As you can guess, Kimbrel was the main part of that deal going through, so it definitely came with a price, which the Padres now have to worry about. Especially with all of their offseason moves, the Padres have a lot of pressure to be good this year, so it's interesting to look at it from their perspective. IF the Braves are to be mediocre this season, then might as well sell when value is high. Also, I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but I do believe that Kimbrel will be on the decline (I can say this openly now that he's gone). I've felt it was only a matter of time before TJ surgery catches up to him, or something serious happens to his arm when consistently throwing high 90's. That might not happen for a few years from now, but I do believe something will happen. With the Braves' history of TJ surgeries, it's nice to see them get ahead of that trend (even if they were more focused on freeing up salary). That's just something to think about, so keep that thought in mind for now.

2015 Braves outlook:

Although I have the Braves finishing fourth in my prediction of the 2015 standings, I do believe they could surprise people. You can call it being overly optimistic, but as a fan sometimes you have to be. I'm not sure about first place but second place could be possible, third definitely possible. All it takes is a few injuries on other teams and/or underachievement. Earlier in the year I wrote a post about the Braves' season statistics from last season and it may or may not surprise you. Considering they were towards the bottom of the league in offense, would trading guys like Heyward, Justin Upton, and Gattis really make that much of a difference? Even with those guys they still didn't do well offensively, and with the offseason additions, hopefully the team will be more contact-oriented. If they can strikeout less and put the ball in play more (not too many double plays) then they can still be a decent team. I understand it was hard to see some fan favorites go. I'm still a little bummed Heyward is in a Cardinals uniform and Kimbrel is off to San Diego, but it's time to move forward.

Final thoughts:

The Braves aren't expected to be competitive until "2017" and all that, but I still believe they can be a good or at least decent team. They may not win 90 games. They may not win 85 or even 80. But these guys aren't going to mail in a whole season just because a few players got traded, and we as fans shouldn't give up on them. People are already jumping ship before we've even set sail. For those still mad about the trades, take a deep breath and chillax. Baseball is finally back and we get to see Freddie make cringe-worthy stretches at first and Andrelton make some vacuum-like plays at shortstop, so it'll be great to see everyone again and get acquainted with the new additions to the team. The Braves may surprise people.