Posted on: February 25, 2012 9:51 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 10:23 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
Thanks to the Red Sox collapse, the Braves' September disappearing act seems to have been forgotten by everyone outside of Atlanta and St. Louis. Atlanta led the wild card race by as many as 8 1/2 games in September before conceding the final NL playoff spot to the Cardinals, going 9-18 over the last month of the season, losing their last five and 13 of their last 18. While there were rumors of big changes in the offseason, none of that materialized and the Braves head into 2012 with the same team that appeared to be headed to the playoffs before the final month of the season.
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Major additions: None
Major departures: RHP Derek Lowe, SS Alex Gonzalez, OF Nate McLouth, RHP Scott Linebrink, LHP George Sherrill
1. Michael Bourn CF
2. Martin Prado LF
3. Chipper Jones 3B
4. Brian McCann C
5. Dan Uggla 2B
6. Freddie Freeman 1B
7. Jason Heyward RF
8. Tyler Pastornicky SS
1. Tim Hudson
2. Tommy Hanson
3. Jair Jurrjens
4. Brandon Beachy
5. Mike Minor
Hudson's status for the beginning of the season is in doubt, which would make room for right-hander Randall Delgado
Closer: Craig Kimbrel
Set-up: Jonny Venters, Eric O'Flaherty, Kris Medlen
Important bench players
OF Jose Constanza, 1B/OF Eric Hinske, OF Matt Diaz
Prospect to watch
In three starts and two relief appearances, Julio Teheran went 1-1 with a 5.03 ERA and only struck out 10 batters in 19 2/3 innings, while walking eight batters. But it should also be noted he was just 20. Teheran will likely start 2012 back in Triple-A, where he went 15-3 with a 2.55 ERA. The right-hander has four pitches, including a fastball in the mid-90s. He may not be an ace right away, but few pitchers in the minors have his potential.
Fantasy sleeper: Mike Minor
"His strikeout and walk rates showed he has the skills to become a top-of-the-rotation-type pitcher, and with Derek Lowe banished to Cleveland, he suddenly has a rotation spot to refine them. The Braves' decision to clear that spot for Minor this offseason should give the 24-year-old a renewed sense of purpose entering spring training. If his performance during his final nine starts last year, when he posted a 3.83 ERA with more than a strikeout per inning, was a sneak peak at what he can do with a defined role, he'll be a late-round find on Draft Day." -- Scott White [Full Braves team fantasy preview]
Fantasy bounce-back player: Jason Heyward
"He developed numbness in his shoulder in spring training and, in an effort to play through the injury, altered his mechanics. His popout rate was through the roof, which is a clear sign his swing wasn't right. With an offseason of rest and the fresh perspective of new hitting coach Greg Walker, Heyward should be in for a bounce-back season. Expecting other-worldly numbers from him would, of course, not be prudent, but even a return to his rookie form would make him a top-25 outfielder." -- Scott White [Full Braves team fantasy preview]
Everything that went wrong last year -- Uggla's early-season struggles, Heyward's sophomore slump, manager Fredi Gonzalez's overuse of the bullpen -- goes right this year, while the young pitching studs are as advertised. If all that happens, the Braves could win the NL East. Then with their starters and relievers, the Braves would be a tough out in any series.
Uggla plays the entire season like he did last May (.160/.241/.260 with two home runs), Heyward's 2012 is a repeat of 2011 and Hudson, Hanson and Jurrjens have a large chunk of time on the disabled list with varying injuries. Meanwhile, the rookies the team is counting on to perform -- Pastornicky and Minor -- struggle and the veteran Jones can't hold up for an entire season at 40. There's plenty that can go wrong and with the improvements made by the Marlins, the growth of the Nationals and the Phillies' pitching, the Braves could battle with the Mets for the bottom of the division rather than searching to avenge 2011's collapse.
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Tags: Alex Gonzalez, Brandon Beachy, Braves, Brian McCann, Chipper Jones, Craig Kimbrel, Dan Uggla, Derek Lowe, Eric Hinske, Eric O'Flaherty, Freddie Freeman, Fredi Gonzalez, George Sherrill, Jair Jurrjens, Jason Heyward, Jonny Venters, Jose Constanza, Julio Teheran, Kris Medlen, Martin Prado, Matt Diaz, Michael Bourn, Nate McLouth, NL East, Randall Delgado, Scott Linebrink, spring training, spring training 2012, Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, Tyler Pastornicky
Posted on: January 13, 2012 3:44 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
The Braves have signed shortstop Jack Wilson to a one-year deal worth $1 million, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman reports. The deal also includes $500,000 in perofrmance bonuses, Heyman reports. Wilson, 34, will likely serve as a backup and mentor to rookie Tyler Pastornicky.
Pastornicky, 22, spent most of 2011 at Double-A Mississippi, hitting .299/.345/.414 with six homers and 20 stolen bases in 90 games. He also appeared in 27 games for Triple-A Gwinnett, hitting .365/.407/.413 with one homer and seven stolen bases in 117 plate appearances. Pastornicky was a fifth-round pick of the Blue Jays in the 2008 draft. The Braves got him in part of the two teams' shortstop swap in 2010, sending Alex Gonzalez to Atlanta and Yunel Escobar to Toronto.
The Braves called Pastornicky up last September, but he didn't appear in a game. His father, Cliff Pastornicky, played in 10 games at third base for the Royals in 1983.
The Braves traded for Wilson last August for a player to be named, which ended up being minor-league infielder Luis Caballero. Wilson appeared in 17 games for the Braves, hitting .220/.238/.244 in 45 plate appearances. He hit .249/.283/295 in 62 games for the Mariners. He's a career .269/.311/.376 hitter, better known for his defense than his bat. He was an All-Star and won a Silver Slugger in 2004, when he hit .308 for Pittsburgh. Wilson can also play third base and second base for added depth.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.