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2014 Outlook: Atlanta Braves

Jan 7, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

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2013 record: 96-66, 1st place in NL East
Manager: Fredi Gonzalez, 4th season
Estimated 2014 payroll: $90 million
Key additions: RHP Gavin Floyd, C/OF Ryan Doumit
Key losses: C Brian McCann, RHP Tim Hudson, LHP Paul Maholm, OF Reed Johnson

Projected lineup
RF Jason Heyward
LF Justin Upton
1B Freddie Freeman
C Evan Gattis
3B Chris Johnson
SS Andrelton Simmons
2B Dan Uggla
CF B.J. Upton

Projected rotation
LHP Mike Minor
RHP Kris Medlen
RHP Julio Teheran
RHP Brandon Beachy
LHP Alex Wood

Top relievers
CL Craig Kimbrel
RHP David Carpenter
LHP Luis Avilan

Biggest questions entering 2014
1. Can they overcome the loss of Brian McCann? There’s no debating McCann’s significance to the Braves over the years, and it’s impossible to believe they can make up for his departure to the Yankees. Evan Gattis will get a chance to play almost every day, but he’s going to be a significant downgrade behind the plate.

2. Can B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla bounce back? Two of Atlanta’s three highest-paid players last season were among the most underachieving players in the majors. Upton hit .184 with a pathetic .557 OPS and was benched for the playoffs. Uggla hit .179 and was dropped from the playoff roster altogether. Can the Braves get away with those kind of performances again in 2014?

3. Will the lack of a true ace hurt them? The Braves have five quality starters, but is Mike Minor (career 32-24, 3.90 ERA) a real No. 1 guy? Probably not. The departed Tim Hudson may not be what he once was, but there’s no question how important he was to Atlanta’s staff. Somebody needs to step up as the leader of this group.

  1. unterp - Jan 7, 2014 at 2:10 PM

    Chop!

  2. micksback1 - Jan 7, 2014 at 2:11 PM

    They will be tough, but maybe, just maybe they will fall apart like the Angels did last season. One can only hope, any way, General Sherman rocks, you Braves fans!

    • Sonny G 10 - Jan 7, 2014 at 8:35 PM

      Yes, and maybe the Nats can have something to do with it.

  3. Section 222 - Jan 7, 2014 at 2:30 PM

    Every time I remember that the self-appointed “Sheriff” of MLB is no longer playing in the National League and I don’t have to see him in person even one time next year (except in the World Series of course), I smile. I truly came to hate that guy for what he did to Jose Fernandez, and to Harper.

  4. jd - Jan 7, 2014 at 3:18 PM

    The projected rotation (Minor,Medlen,Tehran,Beechy and Floyd) is fair but not overwhelming. I think Tehran has some pretty good upside but the rest are who they are. We should exploit this as our biggest area of advantage over the Braves in 14.

    In their lineup I’m looking for big drop offs from Chris Johnson and Gattis but some improvement from BJ Upton. Their bench was spectacular last year but with Gattis starting and Kelly Johnson gone and Shaffer likely to take a step back they should come back to earth.

    Their bullpen was the best in the business last year with. Between Kimbrel being nearly unhittable and Carpenter and Avilan nearly as good it’s hard to expect them to repeat 2013.

    I think that they are a 90 win team and will be in the wild card hunt all year with teams like Cincinati, Pitsburgh and San Francisco.

    • natsjackinfl - Jan 7, 2014 at 3:34 PM

      jd, Look for Andrelton Simmons to take a big step in his overall hitting ability this year. He and Freddie Freeman are the two guys I expect to be our nemesis for the foreseeable future,

      • jd - Jan 7, 2014 at 4:00 PM

        natsjacjkinfl,

        I agree. I also fear Heyward and Justin Upton.I think the rest of their lineup is average at best.

      • knoxvillenat - Jan 7, 2014 at 7:50 PM

        +1

  5. Doc - Jan 7, 2014 at 3:36 PM

    If the Nats do their job, the Braves are ‘also rans’!

  6. sjm308 - Jan 7, 2014 at 5:00 PM

    Doc – I think the Braves will be in this all the way through the season but I also think we should have a better year and they did lose some key pieces. I just can’t believe that BJ Upton will be as bad as he was last year. I am hoping he will not come all the way back though. Freeman has always impressed and I have to think natsjack knows what he is talking about with Simmons (I ranked him just a hair better then Desmond and got called out pretty good on an earlier post).

    I am just hoping for a good race the entire year. Actually, I would love to see us up 10 games with a month to play if you want to be honest.

    NatsLady – I responded to your comment in the last post but its stuck in the middle there somewhere. In my sport, we did not draft players but recruited them and you can trust me that in 40 years, I never recruited (or continued to recruit) an athlete, no matter how talented, that showed as much negativity as the person I discussed. I actually kicked a National Champion off our team in his soph. year but that was not for negativity as much as for him thinking he was above team rules.

    • cayucosbaseballconservancy - Jan 7, 2014 at 5:22 PM

      Last time I looked your name wasn’t Davey Johnson or for that matter Jim Riggleman? Trying to claim some modicum of expertise over folks who clearly know a lot more than you do seems a bit immature to say the least.

      Try coming off your high horse for a bit and perhaps your objectivity will improve.

  7. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 7, 2014 at 10:16 PM

    Isn’t Venters supposed to return to their bullpen? Despite all additions on our part and subtractions on their part, they are the team to beat.

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