Spring Postcard: Revamped Braves have plenty of hope for the future
The Braves missed on several free agents, but still made quality acquisitions
Jeff Francoeur will need to produce with power for the Braves lineup
The Braves have several young prospects who are among the best in baseball
1) The last four months were anything but an offseason for Frank Wren.
Of the moves Atlanta did make, the primary target was acquiring starters such as Lowe, Vazquez and Kawakami, who all have been durable innings-eaters in their careers. Last year 11 Braves started at least four games and none threw 200 innings.
2) Jeff Francoeur is a key player for this lineup.
3. These kids are good.
Wish you were here
Tom Glavine. The Braves' legend, who re-signed Feb. 4 to return as the fifth starter after an injury-plagued 2008, isn't in camp yet. On a white board in the clubhouse last Thursday were a pair of handrawn cartoon people, with one asking the other, "When is Glav going to get here?" The other character's reply, "When the plane comes to take us home." Glavine's contract reportedly hasn't been filed with MLB, perhaps because the Braves haven't decided how to juggle their roster. He'd be the 41st-man on the 40-man roster. (There are 42 names listed on atlantabraves.com, also including Tim Hudson, who's on the 60-day DL after Tommy John surgery and thus who does not count toward the active roster). Glavine is expected to arrive at the Disney training facility this week.
Not done yet
Garret Anderson. Atlanta's only key offensive acquisition is the 36-year-old Anderson, who played 145 games last year (139 starts, 79 in the outfield, 60 as DH) and batted .293 with 15 homers and 84 RBIs. His homer and RBI numbers have been consistently in that range for the last five seasons (and match the likely power production of several other Braves, like Jones, Casey Kotchman, Brian McCann and possibly Francouer). In the NL, Anderson will not have the luxury of being the DH, but he's a needed lefty bat for the Braves and extends the lineup another spot. He also finished strong, batting .333 with nine homers and 49 RBIs in his final 70 games.
Overheard: A young player approached Hudson in the clubhouse, seeking advice not on pitching but on refinancing his house. Signs of the times are everywhere. ... Had the Braves competed in a Biggest Loser Couples competition, McCann and Jair Jurrjens could have competed. McCann, who says he jumped to 250 pounds by the end of last year, dropped 25 pounds in the offseason by eating healthier and drinking a lot more water. Jurrjens lost 15 pounds and hopes to stay healthy and durable enough to meet his personal goal of 200 innings. ... Vazquez says he wasn't surprised about being traded, the fourth time he's been dealt in his major-league career. "It's nothing, man," he says. "It's just business." He grew up watching the Braves on TBS and considers it a "dream" to play for them. He played for Bobby Cox on a 2000 MLB All-Star tour of Japan and has kept in touch with him ever since. In Chicago, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen publicly criticized the pitcher as not being good in big games. Vazquez declined to talk about Guillen when asked on Thursday.
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