Yes, it’s that time again. Major League Spring Training baseball has begun. It should be interesting watching the Atlanta Braves piece together an opening day roster. They traded nearly every position player for pitching prospects during the offseason. Let’s take a look at what the organization is parading out to start spring training.
The current depth chart as listed by the Braves right now shows an outfield of Hector Olivera who has exactly 79 Major League at bats, Ender Inciarte who has ten Major League homeruns in nearly a thousand at bats and 32 year old Nick Markakis. Markakis joins first baseman Freddie Freeman as the scariest spots in the batting lineup. The Braves did sign former fan favorite Jeff Francoeur to a minor league contract. Francoeur hit .258 in 2015 and is more of an appeasement measure for the fans than an actual threat to add punch to the lineup.
The infield consists of third baseman Adonis Garcia who has only 191 Major League at bats, shortstop Erick Aybar with a career .276 batting average, Jace Peterson with a career batting average of .227 and Freddie Freeman at first base. Am I the only one surprised that Freeman is still on this team? I cannot picture ANY team actually pitching to him. At catcher the Braves appear to be going with AJ Pierzynski who while he has been a solid hitter his entire career is 39 years old. His backup as of now is Tyler Flowers, a .223 career hitter.
Can’t you see pitching staffs around the league just shaking in fear of facing that murderer’s row of a batting lineup? This team will be lucky to average two runs a game. In the past, you could at least count on a great pitching staff to keep the Braves in the game but Atlanta traded away most of the experienced talent for future prospects there as well. The ONLY pitcher currently listed in the starting rotation with an ERA under 4.44 is Julio Tehran.
What I am trying to tell you is that I hope you are into watching kids get their chance to play in the big leagues. If you expect to watch competitive baseball, find something else to do this summer or follow a different team. This is going to be a horrendous baseball team. The Atlanta Braves could well lose a hundred games this year. As bad as the Braves were last year, they could actually be worse this year. This is NOT a Major League roster. It is not even close.
The belief, and Braves front office story, is that Atlanta is taking it on the chin now to build for the future. Atlanta residents claim the Braves are doing this to hang a finger at them during their final season in Atlanta before moving to nearby Marietta. I think the truth, as usual, lies somewhere in between the two. The Braves need to field a competitive team when they arrive in their new digs outside the city. Bad moves and contracts of the past had put the franchise in a very bad position and the only way to purge those problems was to start over from scratch. I also think the organization could care less what they field for their last campaign at Turner Field. They believe the city made a lot of promises to the team and lived up to none of them. Whatever the underlying cause, it is clear that the Atlanta Braves made absolutely no effort to be a contending team in 2016.