March 25, 2011 at 7:16 pm by Kevin Orris under Atlanta Braves
Just a few weeks ago, the Phillies were the consensus favorite in the NL East. Everyone loved them – after all, they have the best starting rotation of all time. Suddenly, we’ve learned that both Chase Utley and Brad Lidge appear to be headed to the DL and things quickly shifted.
Rather than talking up the “Four Aces” that the Phillies have or the powerful offense that includes the likes of Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez, and Shane Victorino, writers have quickly taken to trashing the Phils. They’ve suddenly turned into a team that has a questionable offense after coming to the realization that Howard has come back to earth in recent years, Ibanez is 38, and James Calvin Rollins has been on a three year slide, and the bullpen is made up of patchwork.
After Buster Olney’s “daring” prediction that the Braves “may beat out” the Phillies in the NL East, shit has hit the fan. Instantly, everyone is realizing the Phillies “phlaws” (I can’t help myself from making those jokes) and hopping on the Braves bandwagon.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but those making these bold predictions have failed to look at the Braves in the same way:
Catcher: Brian McCann had eye issues for a good chunk of last season. Who’s to say those won’t return?
First Base: Freddie Freeman is a rookie. Need I say more about the typical production of rookies?
Second Base: Dan Uggla isn’t very good defensively.
Third Base: Chipper Jones hasn’t played since August 10, 2010 and hit just .265 with 10 home runs prior to suffering a season-ending knee injury.
Shortstop: Alex Gonzalez came out of nowhere to hit 23 home runs last year. Too bad only six of those were for the Braves.
Left Field: Martin Prado has played 3 career games in left field prior to this year. We can only pray that he will cost the Braves less runs defensively than Troy Glaus did at first base last year.
Center Field: Nate McLouth hit below the Mendoza Line last year.
Right Field: Although Jason Heyward was named to the All-Star team in his first season in the big leagues, he’s battled a handful of nagging injuries so far this spring.
Bench: Outside of Eric Hinske, there aren’t very many reliable bats.
Starting Rotation: Tim Hudson was incredibly lucky last year. Derek Lowe gets paid a lot. Tommy Hanson had some really, really bad starts last year. Jair Jurrjens is experiencing injuries in March. Just one year ago, no one knew who Brandon Beachy was.
Bullpen: Scott Proctor may have a role. Scott Linebrink hasn’t been the same since 2005. George Sherrill isn’t very good, especially against right handed batters. Eric O’Flaherty and Johnny Venters both posted career best numbers last year. Craig Kimbrel doesn’t even know where his slider will cross the plate.
Let’s let this one play out before we start to celebrate the first of another NL East Division Champs streak.
Notes: I already know that you will probably hate me for doing this, but get real. Instead, let’s make jokes about the flaws of the Mets in the comments.