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Atlanta Braves 2009 Predictions

A sports show on a local Talk Radio station has recently called me insane!

Yes, I know I am insane, and YOU know that I am insane…but how do these bastards know that?

Dr. Basketball (Gary Haskew), Quake (Scott McMahan), and Cowboy Joe (who earns his pay by trying to insert something into the conversation very quickly every 25 minutes or so) form what 102.3 calls SportsTalk.

Now, since the name itself implies that they should be covering all sports doesnt mean that they actually do. They are good at basketball (I guess)…they are good at NASCAR (I guess)…they are OVER THE TOP UT Vols fans…and I am good with that since I am a Vols fan myself but some of the stuff that comes out of their mouths just…well, its embarrassing. Almost as embarrassing as when Lane Kiffin actually speaks.

That “Lane Train” TOOT-TOOT has been quieting a bit over the last couple of weeks.

Folks, what I am suggesting that the 102.3 SportsTalk team are lacking in and what I am writing about is their apparent lack of interest in and their authority of coverage of Major League Baseball. They cover the headlines…about as well as any 2nd grade sports lover should. They sort of read the highlights…like “Manny finally signs with the Dodgers” but are not really interested in the specifics…like “I dont know how much he is making“…when all you have to do is read the damned ariticle.

Nor are they concerned with other minor things like statistics, Won/loss records, money, administration, how the game works, three strikes and you’re out…etc.

They are just reading the highlights from Comcast.net…not because they like baseball, but because they are trying to fill air time until their next beer break. (I dont really think they drink beer on the air, …I just know that they are huge Vol fans and would NEVER drink Gatorade)…so…maybe I am suggesting that they are drinking Powerade?

Whoknowz?

Anyway, I am known as “Johnny Brave” when I call in. (Its a little thing they like to do, give knicknames to people who call in…like the nicknames kids get in little league I guess…I just felt stupid calling in and saying “Hi, I am John Armstrong“…when everyone else is saying “I am the Gator-Terminator” or “I am the Bama-Pajama.”)

So I call in wanting to talk about our local MLB franchise…the Atlanta Braves. The questionable topic of the day was “American Sports Iconic Figures”…and who should be on that “list“.

I called in and asked if front office management should be considered into the equation in addition to atheletes. They all mumbled and stuttered a bit and then agreed that it should. Then I suggested that John Schuerholz should be included because of what he has accomplished in regards to the streak that has never before been equaled in American sports history in a climate of free agency.

Ever!

14 consecutive division titles.

Folks, not even the pinstriped Yankees have ever done that!

And all of their millions $$$$ suggests that they have tried their best!

I couldnt get an argument from them on why he (Schuerholz) shouldnt be there…on their little “list“…so then they start asking me about how I feel about this years Bravo’s.

So I tell them.

First, let me say that I am forever a Braves optomist. What I mean by that is that when I make projections that I am considering that everyone remains effective and healthy.

Should I project failure and injuries? Well, if I could, I would imagine that I am in the wrong line of work and that I should work for an insurance company.

No Mr. LaRussa, we cannot insure Albert Pujols this year because I think he will tear an ACL this June.”

N’uff said!

I talked about the Vasquez trade. The Kawakami signing, the Lowe signing, the Glavine signing, about Jurrjens success as an infant last year and about Hudsons projected arrival around August.

Folks, thats a deep friggin’ rotation. Maybe not a pure ace on the staff but a helluva lot of innings eaters on there. Which brings me to my next point.

Tommy Glavine is projected to be our 5th starter…and 2 years ago he was among MLB leaders in quality starts (that means pitching at least 6 innings while giving up 3 runs or less whether you win or not)

Our 5th starter??

Ok, Soriano is healthy, Gonzalez is healthy, Boyer is healthy, and we have got friggin’ Hanson just dying for a spot in our rotation. Yes, Hanson, the boy wonder with the 99 MPH heater that he can cut butter anyway he wants with, a slider that Cox compares to Smoltzs (among the best ever), and a 70 something 11 to 5 over the top curve that is going to buckle many knees. Yup, he will indeed need a spot too come September.

I read an article today where our AAA pitching coach Hansen thinks that this is the deepest pool of pitching prospects that he has ever seen in any organization and in anytime in Atlanta’s history.. Yes thats right, including when Glavine, Smoltz, Avery, and Mercker were coming up.

The best in its history…

Our main problem last year were one run losses. If we can cut those in half then what would our record be this year at the same projection?

Thats my whole point about the rotation. The bullpen is healthy but the rotation is also much deeper meaning less work on the bullpen which means a more effective bullpen which translates into better one run situation scenarios.

I think we have a helluva chance to cut those one run game totals in half…which to me translates into a 92 win season.

…and thats exactly what they asked me. I cut the team apart, discected it for them…they couldnt argue with anything that I said, …they tried to talk smack about the Braves for signing Mike Hampton and paying him for not pitching but I threw up the fact at, numbers to dollars, that the Greg Maddux signing may have been one of the best in baseball history.

They finally asked me for an over/under. I told them 92 wins. They immediately hung up on me at that point and called me “completely insane“. ..and went on and on and on about it. Hell, even the caller behind me said that “Well, he brought up a helluva lot of good points…then he dropped that 92 win bombshell.”

102.3 SportsTalk has officially labled me as head of the Bravo’s fans. And folks, they mean it condenscendingly.

I have got credible backup though…by people that actually know and understand baseball…you know, the whole three strikes and you are out thing. Check this out ….read this article…from the website that Peter Gammons from ESPN gets most of his MLB rumors from. I know Tim folks, he is a die hard Cubbies fan…and this article was written after my phone call and my over the air diagnosis of insanity.

Enjoy!

11 comments to Atlanta Braves 2009 Predictions

  • When it comes to baseball you’re my go to guy. I will repeat your 92 win season prediction and pretend it comes from my vast store house of knowledge. We will see how you (I?) do.

    This is gonna be fun.

  • RW

    They have no shot at the playoffs.

    Glavine is at the end (will be lucky to have an ERA under 4.30) and tops out around 85 on the gun, our left-fielder is past his prime & won’t play the first few weeks of the season, our CF is an unproven rookie who’ll be lucky to have on OBP of .330, our RF is coming off a career worst season & looks like he’ll never learn the strike zone, we lost every free agent we really wanted, our SS is our second choice (wanted Furcal back) and our 1B is a slap hitter that the Angels gave up on.

    Will be lucky to have 83 wins and Chipper will be traded to a contender before the deadline. The Phillies & Mets are better.

    Sorry, we’re rebuilding and things won’t look better until Hudson is completely healthy, which is next season.

    Time Warner ruined the franchise a few years ago with their internal salary cap & it’ll take years to recover from what those freaking NYers did to our team.

  • OK, we have two hard predictions… three if you count Buck’s endorsement. Now, let’s see who gets bragging rights at the end of the season. I’ll bookmark this one.

  • They will win 93 games and still not make the playoffs.

    Didn’t something like that happen to the San Francisco Giants one year?

  • RW

    103, back in 1994, the year the Braves won 104 and shot their proverbial wad getting to the playoffs since they lost to an inferior Phillies team that season in the NLCS. FYI, saw them play the Giants during the final weeks of the season & was reminded of how awesome that a-hole Barry Bonds was. The crowd was on him mercilessly (like a conservative visiting Bill Maher’s show) and he “only” went 4 for 4 with a homerun & a stolen base against a during-his-prime-years Greg Maddux.

    If they win 93 & since the defending world champs are in the same division and the loaded-to-the-hilt NYM are as well, that means a few teams would win less than 75 games. Don’t see that happening. The Marlins have a good staff & the Pirates will do what they always do (suck). Sorry, guys, the Braves stunk last year & since then we’ve lost Tex, Hudson & Smoltz and gained Kotchman, Vazquez and Lowe.

  • But we still have Bobby Cox!

  • jadarm

    We also tried to shore up the outfield situation with the signing of Anderson who should agument the lineup pretty well. I agree with you in that Kotchman is not as good a hitter as Tex…by far…but we havent really lost anything defensively. He wears some Gold Glove caliber caliber leather and he makes more contact than Tex. He can be a good situational hitter. I might also remind you that our won loss record last year was better after Tex left. Hmmm.

    Our kids:

    Jordan Schafer-It sounds like everyone in camp, scouts, team officials, is very excited about the energy the kid plays with. He can absolutely fly, he is hard-nosed in the outfield, and he puts good wood on the ball. David O’Brien is calling him the “real deal”. He is hitting .364 with 9 RS in only 6 games so far.

    Josh Anderson-Once the prize of the Astros farm system, he is a potential leadoff hitter with the speed to at least match Furcals. They Braves are leaning towards starting him in CF this year because, I am not really sure, would have to check, but I think he is out of options.

    Tommy Hanson-Already 2nd in the NL in strikeouts with 11 in 10-2/3 IP. Just a pup who has clocked out at 99 MPH on the radar gun. Barring injury he will be in the rotation at some point this year. I think it will remind a lot of old time Braves fans of this kid who came up in the system named John Smoltz.

    Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman-Both kids are hitting exactly .304 with 1 HR in 23 AB’s.

    …I also agree with you about Tommy Glavine. You may have pegged his ERA on the head. Who really knows. He is no longer an ace but if he can keep throwing quality starts 60 to 70 percent of the time that he is on the mound then you are going to have to look very hard to find a 5th starter on another team that you would feel is a lock to beat Tommy and the Braves on any given night.

    Frenchy is starting to hit the ball well and I hope that it translates into the regular season.

    There are a few things that are necessary in order for the Braves to reach the 90 win plateau. They must remain healthy. Frenchy must relax (he will never lead the league in OBP) and start swinging the bat the way everyone knows he can. Chipper must play at least 135 to 145 games (oops, he’s strained an oblique again and is out of the WBC…ouch!)…and did I say they must remain healthy?

    The Marlins have a decent staff and some bonafide stars on their team. But they are still the Marlins. I dont think they are as deep offensively or defensively as the Braves are…but who knows, kids can surprise people. The Nats are always a question mark. They seem to be a thorn in our side…I dont know if its because of Stan Kasten and everyone he has loaded their organization up with are so familiar with Atlanta or what. The Mets and the Phils and the Braves are going to be beating up on each other all year. I dont think that there is one clear favorite at this time.

    The Phils won the series last year…but only because they got hot during the last month of the season. The Mets acquired K-Rod this offseason…not much else to speak of. But they are still the Mets and still scary.

    The Braves wouldnt have had such a bad season last year if not for their won/loss record in one run games. I think that they stand a good chance to avoid repeating that fiasco this season due to the added depth of the starting rotation and the health of the bullpen.

    We shall see.

    …and yup Buck, the Braves won 104 games that season and the Giants won 103 games and still didnt make the playoffs. I think that was part of the reason the wildcard was initiated (that and a little thing called money)…but how can you have a team win 103 games that doesnt make the playoffs??

    Maddux has called Bonds the “best hitter I have ever pitched against”

    Tony Gwynn used to light him up too. :)

  • Bubba

    I honestly don’t see how, barring injuries of course, this team couldn’t reach the 90 wins plateau this season.

    This rotation has depth out the ass, and, when you have a guy like Glavine sporting the 5th spot in the rotation, you’re doing really well. Even assuming that he only accumulates an ERA of 4.30. The guy is old and coming off surgery and nobody expects him to be throwing a complete game, much less 7 or 8 every night. But, if healthy, what you can expect is a good six innings every night. In which case, I don’t see as that bad at all. A quality start is atleast 6 IP with 3 ER’s or less, right? That equals a 4.50 ERA. 4.30 means he is averaging BETTER than a quality start per game, and we’re only talking about FIFTH starter in the rotation. You can even heighten it a little and for a fifth starter it’s still damn good. He would still be close to averaging a quality start per game and providing LEADERSHIP to our young pitchers and upcoming starters. That pretty much pays the contract out itself.
    Derek Lowe is an absolute horse, and while he may not be your Jake Peave type ace, he is still a very good pitcher and very capable of eating innings and anchoring any rotation. He is also a ground ball pitcher in a hitters park with an excellent infield defense. Hey, Anderson and Frenchy ain’t that bad either. ;)
    Kawakami? Your guess is as good as mine. But he’s put up pretty good numbers in the past and has won the Japan equivalent to the Cy Young. Seems like a good enough resume, don’t it?
    Jurrjens is young and still after them. He had a few rough openings but is getting things back on track now and doing even better. He’s added a little velocity and worked on his pitches even more.
    Vasquez is going to go out there and eat many innings like Lowe and will preserve our bullpen even more. Plus he will be another strike out pitcher when we really need to just shut someone down.
    Plus, you have Hanson beating on the door and Hudson coming back in mid August.

    Tell me something… how good can your rotation be if you have to find a spot for TIM HUDSON to pitch in it?


    The offense is just fine. As a matter of fact, they are predicted by CHONE to score just the same amount of runs that the Mets and Phillies tied for last year.
    We may have lost Teix, but the young guys will improve even more this year. Kelly, Yunel, Kotchman, McCann, Anderson and others. And more than likely Francoeur as well. That will boost more than Teix did and even out more. Plus the fact that Anderson, regardless of what you say about him is an improvement over all the the Braves outfielders combined last year.

    I can keep throwing facts out there.

  • You tried to talk about something other than UT football on SportsTalk? And they let you get away with it?

    I’m optimistic about this year’s team, but then again I’m always optimistic when it comes to the Braves.

  • Speaking of UT Football how about the Bryce Brown catch? Damn guys. That is one hell of a big fish.

    Here is to hoping he does not do for UT what Walker did for UGA!

  • jadarm

    Kiffin had been doing ok in the recruiting dept…especially considering the lack of time he has had to jump in feet first.

    I would also mention that he might not be doing so ok in the PR dept. He has produced a whole lot of bulletin board material for most SEC football teams in a short amount of time.

    Lets see if he can win a game now.

    My fingers are crossed.

    fdtate, thats funny. You know, the thing about it is that I am a UT fan myself. But they are way too over the top even for me. They talk about the Vols, basketball, Tiger, and NASCAR.

    Everything else is a minor footnote.

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