This is one of a series of posts in which we grade each team’s wily hot stove maneuvers and tragic offseason blunders.

Did Atlanta improve over the offseason? Yes. And no.

Atlanta’s biggest need entering the offseason was starting pitching. So GM Frank Wren went back to the future and signed Tom Glavine. Good move? No. Glavine is washed up. But at the very least, he should be an (overpaid) innings eater. Wren also traded all-star SS Edgar Renteria to Detroit for SP Jair Jurrjens. The Jurrjens acquisition could be a real long-term steal. But for 2008, Atlanta’s starting staff will depend on the continued strength of an aging John Smoltz and the hope that Mike Hampton will return to form after multiple arm surgeries. Some things never change.

But enough about pitching. Who needs pitching when you have offense? And the Braves do have offense. Atlanta scored more runs than every NL team but Philly and Colorado, two teams that play in hitter-friendly parks. That’s pretty impressive considering the Braves’ best hitter, Mark Teixeira, didn’t get to town until August.The 2008 Braves should benefit from a full season of Teixeira. The team lost power when Andruw Jones signed with the Dodgers, but they gained OBP when they signed Mark Kotsay.

In other Braves news, the Renteria-Jurrjens trade freed up a starting spot for SS Yunel Escobar, who represents a possible defensive upgrade, but a probable offensive step back.

Atlanta’s bullpen will suffer from the loss of Ron Mahay, but should be bolstered by the mid-season return of Mike Gonzalez.

Additions: Brandon Jones, Mark Kotsay (and Jamie Kotsay), Tom Glavine, Jair Jurrjens.

Losses: Edgar Renteria, Andruw Jones, Ron Mahay.

Projected Starters, Rotation, and Bullpen:

chipperC – Brian McCann

1B – Mark Teixeira

2B – Kelly Johnson

SS – Yunel Escobar

3B – Chipper Jones

LF – Matt Diaz/Brandon Jones

CF – Mark Kotsay

RF – Jeff Francoeur

SP – John Smoltz

SP – Tim Hudson

SP – Tom Glavine

SP – Mike Hampton

SP – Jair Jurrjens/Jo-Jo Reyes/Chuck James/Jeff Bennett

Setup – Peter Moylan

Closer – Rafael Soriano

Offseason Grade: B

Atlanta has some exciting young players (Escobar, Jurrjens, Kelly Johnson) and some others who are entering their prime years (Brian McCann, Jeff Francoeur, Teixeira), but as usual the team’s success will hinge on the contributions of some oft-injured players (Chipper, Hampton) and old timers (Smoltz, Glavine).

Hot Offseason Action Index

23 Responses to “Hot Offseason Action: Atlanta Braves”

  1. I think (I’m) Chuck James (b*tch!!!) will get the 4th spot in the rotation if he has a decent spring. Even though he was shaky down the stretch, there were flashes of brilliance last year. Cox stuck with him through thick and thin, so I’ll bet it is his spot to lose. Mike Hampton is more likely to be competing with Jo-Jo “Yes, we went over this already, it really is my name” Reyes and Jair Jurrjens for the 5th spot.

  2. Nick Kapur says:

    Well, it would seem like Chuck James is the incumbent, but I heard that he has a torn rotator cuff. He is going to try to “strengthen the shoulder” with exercise and “pitch through it” like so many guys have done, but that never really works. The only guy who was able to pitch with any effectiveness over any amount of time with a torn rotator cuff that I can think of was Pedro Martinez, and even he lost about 12 mph off his heater, and even he eventually had to have the surgery. I think James is going to be a non-factor til he gets that tear fixed surgically.

  3. Thanks for the info, Nick! Apparently I am out of the loop.

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