Behind one of the game’s better-looking rosters, the Braves have overcome a 9-14 April by winning nearly 70% of their games since. Turner Field has been a house of horrors for opposing teams, with the Braves winning nearly 80% of their games at home and outscoring their opponents by 51 runs (as opposed to a sub-.500 record on the road and only a +13 run differential). They are currently in first place.
Buy or Sell?
Undoubtedly the Braves’ record makes them candidates to acquire even more talent. They’re pretty much set at catcher with Brian McCann. At first base Troy Glaus has been a fantastic low-risk, high-reward signing (as has Eric Hinske) while Martin Prado is flashing power and on-base abilities along with being a human vuvuzela. The left side of the infield has a collective line of roughly .245/.367/.330, suggesting they can get on base, but can’t hit for power. It seems unlikely they add a new third baseman or shortstop, though.
The outfield definitely needs help. Nate McLouth is out after an outfield collision and Melky Cabrera is usually out when batting. Hinske and Jason Heyward are good, and Matt Diaz should return soon, but the Braves have had to turn to players like Brent Clevlen and Gregor Blanco to make ends meet. Someone like Luke Scott would fit in, as would David DeJesus, or hey, maybe Alex Gordon, which would give the Braves a Chipper Jones replacement for next year (if he does retire) and an outfielder this year.
Their pen is one of the three or four best in the game. The rotation features one elite starter in Tommy Hanson then a few guys closer to average. Kris Medlen has filled in admirably, but Jair Jurrjens should soon return from the disabled list which makes the unit stronger, even if it means Kenshin Kawakami sliding to the bullpen.
On The Farm
First base prospect Freddie Freeman and outfielder Jordan Schafer are the Braves’ hotter positional prospect names bound to rise in trade rumors. Pitching is the Braves’ oil, though, and they feature a number of intriguing and attractive arms. There’s Julio Teheran, a teenager with top of the rotation stuff but bullpen durability to date; Arodys Vizcaino, whom they acquired in the Javier Vazquez deal as well as Craig Kimbrel, Randall Delgado, and Ezekiel Spruill. Oh, and their top draft pick in 2008 is Mike Minor.
The Braves’ opening day payroll of ~84 million is their lowest since the 2000 season. Even last year they had a payroll over $95 million, which suggests an increase could be possible, particularly with the Bobby Cox’s ever-looming retirement occurring at season’s end.