Atlanta Braves Top 5 Team Needs for 2013
Fredi Gonzalez Needs to Start His Wish List for 2013
2012 was a step up for Fredi Gonzalez and the Atlanta Braves…or was it?
Ok, so in 2011 the Braves had their epic September Braveocolypse and were eliminated from any chance of playoff contention on the last day of the season with a record of 89-73.
In 2012 the Braves clinched the No.1 wild card spot for a home game in the first ever wild card playoff (play-in?) game during the last week of the season with a record of 94-68
Five games difference. Five games.
Now when it comes to MLB standings, five games can be a huge difference. But when it comes to all the excuses what were made about the Braves collapse in 2011, you would think there would have been more improvement to the Braves record than just one more win per month.
The Braves posted a 9-18 record in the month of September, 2011. So let’s just pretend that they had an even semi-normal month, and played .500 ball that month. That would have given the Braves about ...
You guessed it. Five more wins.
Had they put up September numbers like they did in 2012, they would have finished with a record of 98-64. So it’s clear that the 2011 and 2012 Braves really aren’t all that different.
With that, it’s apparent that standing pat with the status quo is not going to cut it in 2013 for Atlanta. This team has some needs, and they are going to have to be addressed in ways other than hoping for aging retirees to have a miracle season.
And no, the Braves do not need to go get themselves a replacement for Chipper Jones at 3rd base. First of all, you don’t EVER replace a legend like Chipper Jones. Second of all, they have a perfectly legitimate player to fill both Chipper’s spot at 3rd and in the batting order in Martin Prado.
The Braves need to get out there and wave their banners, toot their horns, open up the coin purses and start attracting some premier free agents to make Turner Field their home.
Need No. 5 - A Number One Starter
The Braves starting rotation was good, but not great. The fact that they got eliminated in a one-game playoff is a fairly good indicator that Atlanta doesn’t really possess that number one guy in their rotation. Tim Hudson used to be that guy, but several surgeries and a few years of aging have taken their toll on the one-time ace. Atlanta needs to go out and do whatever they can to get a true number one starter that will be their big game man down the stretch.
Need No. 4 - A Full-Time Left Fielder
With all due respect to Matt Diaz, Jose Constanza, Eric Hinkse and Reed Johnson – the Braves need a regular power hitting left fielder. Not someone to platoon. Not an decent bat, but someone who is to be feared in that lineup and someone who can man the outfield with Michael Bourn and Jason Heyward every day. The other guys are great bats to have off the bench and nice if you need to sit your everyday guy. But this left field by committee needs to end.
Need No. 3 - Say Goodbye To Dan Uggla
The great Dan Uggla experiment in Atlanta is over. For whatever reason, Uggla just never seemed at home in Turner Field. The Braves took a shot getting him here, but it’s just a case of not getting your money’s worth. Uggla has been inconsistent and far too streaky, not to mention demonstrating some pitiful defense at typically crucial times. Trade Uggla and his fat contract, and invest money in the power hitting left fielder and just go get an inexpensive defensive whiz to cover second base.
Need No. 2 - Time For a New Pitching Coach
Forget the chants of “Fire Fredi”. Yes, manager Fredi Gonzalez has made a few questionable decisions in his two seasons with Atlanta, but in the end, he’s had the Braves winning games. On the other hand, if you look at the returns from the pitching staff since Roger McDowell became pitching coach in 2006, you’d see some pretty alarming statistics. This isn’t to say McDowell is a bad pitching coach, he’s just probably not the right pitching coach for Atlanta. It’s time the Braves find a pitching coach who will do a better job of bringing these young arms along, and keeping them healthy.
Need No. 1 - Re-sign Michael Bourn
This needs to be priority one on the Braves agenda this off-season. Michael Bourn is the catalyst that makes the whole thing go. When Bourn gets on base and scores runs, the Braves win. It’s just that simple. He’s one of the best leadoff men in baseball, one of the best center fielders in baseball, and he’s worth every penny that he will command on the free agent market. The Braves will have some money to spend this year with money from Chipper Jones, Kenshin Kawakami, and (cough) Derek Lowe coming off the books. They need to spend it on Bourn.