Since getting off to a hot start, the Atlanta Braves have spun their wheels and are sitting at a 17-12 record. We all figured that this team would have its ups and downs. It’s very difficult to get a read on where they stand with the top contenders in the National League. They need someone to step in and settle the clubhouse down, someone to be a leader to help them win consistently. Luckily, that person is on his way back next week. Enter Brian McCann.
McCann is the longest tenured Brave on the team’s roster. After Chipper Jones left and Martin Prado was traded, the Braves were left with an exciting mix of young talent. McCann was expected to lead this team. But his shoulder injury put those plans on hold. Even though he occasionally appeared in the clubhouse to cheer his team on, it is much more important for him to also contribute with his bat. He couldn’t do that while hurt, but now he can hopefully give the Braves some direction.
It will be interesting to see if he can give some guidance to rookie Evan Gattis. Gattis could certainly use defensive help and McCann is known for doing an excellent job blocking balls and calling pitches. Mac has always been good at framing strikes, and this will benefit Gattis defensively and the team’s pitching staff.
McCann should be motivated by the unfortunate end of his season last year. He was upset at being benched during Atlanta’s short appearance in the playoffs. His injury and struggles forced him to watch the Braves get eliminated from the dugout. He will be a free agent next year as well, so there are many factors to indicate he will have a good 2013.
While his return does create a few roster dilemmas, that is an enviable problem to have. It is always easier to move someone around or send an extra player down than it is to dig for a guy via trade or free agency. His spot in the batting order is up in the air as well, but it’s never a bad thing to have an extra hitter you can stick in the heart of the lineup.
The Braves have a lot of potential, but they seem to have consistency issues, especially with their bats. Brian McCann’s return should help bring them solidarity and a leader to guide them towards the playoffs.