The Trouble With My Team Last Season …. Name An Issue ….. And They Had Many ….. The Atlanta Braves !
By tophatal ………..
The biggest disappointment for myself as an Atlanta Braves’ fan last season was to see the rapid decline of the team during the final month of the season . Seemingly with the wildcard berth well within their grasp at the beginning of the month of September only to finally it all slip away on the final day of the season with the St Louis Cardinals snatching the last remnants of hope that Braves’ manager Fredi Gonzalez in seeing his players hopelessly to play themselves completely out of contention .
Slide show for your perusal .
If that wasn’t enough beyond the injury issues that the team faced with long spells on the DL list spent by Jair Jurrjens , Chipper Jones and Jason Heyward to name but a few , it really had me wondering had the Atlanta Braves made the postseason would they have proven to be a resounding success againts either the Philadelphia Phillies , Milwaukee Brewers or Arizona Diamondbacks !
Disheartening as all of this may well have been , with the mere fact that the difference between the margin of success and failure in terms of the final divisional standings and a playoff berth was one of a few games . But at the same time I hope that the experiences of this past season will be used and seen as a learning tool for Fredi Gonzalez , his coaching staff but specifically for the young players as they about to embark upon their 2012 schedule .
Frank Wren in succeeding John Schuerholz as the team’s general manager knows that the success attained by his predecessor in conjunction with former manager Bobby Cox has cemented the legacy of the Atlanta Braves’ organization . With Schuerholz now in the front office as a senior consultant guiding his protege` in all things related to the personnel …….. decisions for the organization. I would certainly like to think that the team has depth in all of the positions necessary to succeed this upcoming season within the NL Central to compete against the likes of the Miami Marlins , New York Mets , Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals .
With Chipper Jones , Jayson Heyward and Dan Uggla seen as the brunt of offensive production sought in order to compete against their divisional rivals as well as the rest of the National League (NL) as a whole. And though this season , there once again will be inter-league play between the AL and NL teams . If there was one thing I knew would be a harbinger of things to come , it was the mere fact that with Jair Jurrjens having started off the season with a bang , it simply would implode with the player faltering when the Braves needed him most . The team’s pitching became erratic as the season progressed with there being no real end in sight for the fans in attendance at Turner Field , Atlanta , Fulton County , Georgia . Hopefully , Jurrjens in conjunction with a seasoned veteran such as Tim Hudson can lead the rotation to where they need to be .
If there is one thing that I am now sure of , it is that the Braves’ pitching and offense will certainly have to show a marked improvement if they are to be truly seen as a viable contender not just within the NL East but most certainly to counter the likes of the Cincinnati Reds , St Louis Cardinals , Milwaukee Brewers and San Francisco Giants but the likely perceived contenders within the AL such as the Los Angeles Angels , Texas Rangers , Boston Red Sox , New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays .
One thing is very clear with the Braves’ organization and that is over the years they have been able to produce some highly productive players either through their farm system or by way of trades . And though I long for the days when the organization could rely on the wiles of pitching aces Steve Avery , Greg Maddux , John Smoltz and Tom Glavine . I now know that era is now long gone though the unprecedented years of success under then manager Bobby Cox brought about only one World Series title the precedence was set with that decade long reign . Multiple divisional titles and a number of NL pennants with an unprecedented eleven straight seasons in the playoffs was enough to suggest that while the Atlanta Braves could hold its own during the regular season it was more often than not the postseason that would be prove to the ball-club’s own undoing and their Achilles’ Heel .
The Atlanta Braves’ pitching rotation this season led by Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson will have to raise the level of their play this upcoming season . The frustration was there for all to witness during 2011 that the real inherent issues for the Braves simply wasn’t just the pitching but also the lack of overall productivity . And most definitely what I would like to see from the current roster , is that the > offense has to be more forceful with their intent .
Granted , within the NL East the Atlanta Braves will have to deal with Ozzie Guillen’s now formidable Miami Marlins , given the financial outlay made by GM Michael Hill now in acquiring the likes of Jose Reyes , Mark Buerhle , Carlos Zambrano and Aaron Rowand to complement … Hanley Ramirez , Emilio Bonifacio , Mike Stanton and Josh Johnson on that Marlins’ roster . And while there’s no denying that the Miami Marlins did not make the biggest splash this off-season in terms of the moves made by the teams around the league , most definitely there were amongst the biggest movers and shakers in that environment .
Given the pitching strength of the Phillies’ roster led by Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee the perception would be that the team has everything going for it but given their failure to acquit themselves in the 2011 postseason there are still flaws that Charlie Manuel and GM Reuben Amaro have yet to address fully . And the loss of first baseman Ryan Howard for Spring Training and the first few months of the regular season will do doubt affect the Philadelphia Phillies adversely given the player’s productivity .
I certainly believe the NL East is up for grabs given what I perceive to be now growing uncertainty of the Philadelphia Phillies and what I now feel they personify as a team ! The are certainly very good during the regular season but in recent years apart from their triumph in 2009 there has been little to suggest that this roster in its current guise can repeat their most recent success in the World Series. It was abundantly there for all to see as they simply fell apart during the MLB playoffs of 2011 without showing any real determination .
To my mind the New York Mets and Washington Nationals will simply viewed as the ” also-rans” within the NL East ! Neither team has made the sort of moves that certainly would give me the impression that they are able to contend within the division . The Mets remain but one step away from being deemed a financial failure when one bears in mind the mess created by the two most senior executives Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon . And the idiocy of it all have been the maneuvers of Sandy Alderson and J P Riccardi as they try to resurrect the fortunes of this organization. Alderson , given his experience as a front office executive has shown all the astuteness one would deem befitting a clueless Congressman . As Head of Baseball Operations Sandy Alderson chose to berate Jose Reyes for his lack of candor and honesty knowing full well that the organization would not be able to afford the player in terms of the Mets’ contractual obligations and specifically matching the 6 year offer made to Reyes by the Florida Marlins.
This season it remains to be seen as to whether or not the New York Mets will once again be an also ran within the NL and more noticeably the poor crosstown rival to the New York Yankkees . Something that no doubt pains the Mets’ fans almost as much it must now pains New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg who was seemingly duped by the NL organization as well the MLB hierarchy led by Bud Selig in financing what now appears to be that grossly ostentatious ” white elephant” …… known as ” Citi Field” , in Flushing , New York built at the cost of some $775 million of public financing . I mean what better way to show how out of touch the vast majority of politicians now happen to be as it concerns the economic and political environment . Only Bud Selig ., the Mets’ organization and the New York City Mayor could still in fact be dumb enough to believe that the building of such a monstrosity would be a guarantee of success when the on-field product was so grossly inept ! Is there anyone of the belief that the New York Mets’ fortunes can now be resurrected given their recent history ? Your thoughts ?
Picture gallery for your perusal .
Can the Atlanta Braves be a factor this season within the NL East and specifically mount a serious enough challenge to be a legitimate contender for the World Series ? I certainly believe that they can be given the right set of circumstances with the team raising the level of their overall play and team manager Fredi Gonzalez and his coaching staff leading by example by getting the players to buy into their brevitas ! What thoughts if any do you have with regard to the points raised within piece ? Simply chime in with a comment as you see fit and thanks as always for the continued support as it is greatly appreciated !
Picture and slide show details below .
(1) Atlanta Braves’ Brandon Beachy pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning of a baseball game, in Atlanta. Beachy is the most established of four 2011 rookies who saw time in the Braves’ rotation. AP Photo/John Amis …
(2) Atlanta Braves’ Hank Aaron acknowledges the media while Braves’ Chipper Jones looks on when introduced during a news conference to unveil the club’s new alternative home uniform, Monday, Feb. 6, 2012, in Atlanta. The uniform pays homage to the team’s past, reflecting more of the look of the 1966 team when Aaron played. AP Photo/John Amis ….
(3) Atlanta Braves’ Chipper Jones, center, Brian McCann , right, and Dan Uggla model the club’s new alternative home uniform during a news conference to introduce the new threads, Monday, Feb. 6, 2012, in Atlanta. The uniform pays homage to the team’s past, reflecting more of the look of the 1966 team. AP Photo/John Amis …
(4) Jair Jurrjens of the Atlanta Braves seen here pitching in a game for the team during the 2011. The player’s injury woes beset the organization as well as his inconsistency towards the end of the year. AP Photo/ Mark Hughes …..
(5) Jason Heyward (22) of the Atlanta Braves gets set to take batting practice for the game against the Chicago Cubs during Opening Day at Turner Field on April 5, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. Getty Images/ Scott Cunningham …
(6) Jason Heyward (22) of the Atlanta Braves hits a 3 run home run against the Chicago Cubs during Opening Day at Turner Field on April 5, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. ….. Scott Cunningham/Getty Images …..
(7) Atlanta Braves general manger Frank Wren , left, shakes hands with new manager Fredi Gonzalez during a news conference where Gonzalez was introduced as the baseball team’s news manager, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010, in Atlanta. AP Photo/John Bazemore ………
(8) John Schuerholz, left, addresses reporters about the announcement he will become president of the Atlanta Braves baseball team and be replaced as general manager by Frank Wren, right, during a news conference Thursday, Oct. 11, 2007, in Atlanta. AP photo/John Amis ….. AJC/ Mark Harris ……
Turner Field , Atltanta , Fulton County , Georgia