Spring is a great time of year for every baseball fan because we all have hope. Every team is in it. Hell, even Pirates fans are looking at their young players, hoping they can finally put together a winning season. (Sorry, Pirates fans, I don’t mean to hate)
Will the Braves, in Bobby Cox’s final season, get back to the playoffs? How many ejections will he add to his record? Will the off-season moves work out? Well, here are some things that will happen this year:
Jair Jurrjens will win 20 games. After finishing the season with a career best 2.60 ERA and only 14 wins to show for it, the Braves will have a better offensive season and it will benefit Jurrjens more than anyone. He should have had at least 22 wins last season, but his bad luck will end this season and will finally get the attention he greatly deserves.
Jason Heyward will win 2010 NL ROY. The Braves are giving Heyward every chance to win a starting spot on this year’s roster and they really need him to—and he will. Though he has less than 300 Minor League at-bats, Heyward has the poise, confidence and ability to be a big-time player in MLB and will do it sooner, rather than later.
Troy Glaus will hit 25 HRs. After an injury-plagued season in which Glaus played just 14 games, his shoulder is finally 100% healthy. Tony LaRussa had Glaus on the Cardinals’ playoff roster, so that tells me that even last October his shoulder was in good enough shape to contribute in a big spot. I mean come on, if LaRussa has confidence in Glaus, who can argue? The guy invented baseball!
Yunel Escobar will make the 2010 All-Star Team. With a full season hitting down in the Braves’ order, Escobar will get more chances to drive in runs—something he excels at. After posting career highs with 14HRs 76RBI 262B 89R Escobar will continue to evolve into a bona fide threat at the plate. He will finally gain recognition after being overshadowed by the other NL East shortstops.
Chipper Jones will rebound. 2009 was Chipper’s worst offensive season in his 15-year career. The good news was that he didn’t go on the DL— the bad news is that he was so worn down that he wasn’t his productive self. This season he will stay relatively healthy and will be given plenty of rest. Eric Hinske can spell Chipper at 3B when he needs some rest.
Derek Lowe will finish with an ERA below 4.00. After a disappointing first year in Atlanta, Lowe will rebound with a strong showing in 2010. While a good portion of Lowe’s 4.67 ERA was due to a handful of starts, he still didn’t live up to his contract. Lowe has spent a good part of the off-season working on his mechanics and believes he has found the flaw that caused so many problems last year. There are no hard feelings after all the trade talk and D-Lowe will be the pitcher the Braves expected when they inked him to that 4-year $60 Million deal.
Billy Wagner will save 40 games. Wagner appeared in just 17 games in 2009 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but looked very impressive in September. I saw first-hand as Wagner made his debut in New York against the Braves and just dominated. Every batter looked like Greg Norton as Wagner mowed down one hitter after another for both the Mets and Red Sox. Wagner has not only rehabbed his elbow, but (similar to Tim Hudson) has gained more strength in his shoulder than he’s had in over 10 years. Wagner will fit in great with Atlanta as a solid closer.
The Braves will make the Playoffs. The NL East title will once again belong to the Philadelphia Phillies, but the Braves will earn the Wild Card spot and will give Bobby Cox a chance to go out on top. I would love to say the Braves will dethrone the Phils, but they just look too strong. Not only did they keep their core players together, they added Roy Halladay. Roy Freakin’ Halladay! It just doesn’t look like they are going to fall this season, but the Braves will beat out Arizona and Milwaukee to gain a spot in the 2010 Post-Season.
The Mets will lose 82 games. They will also lead the league in DL time—again. Carlos Beltran is supposedly going to miss the first month of the season. I have news for you folks, he is going to miss a hell of a lot more than that! Beltran isn’t going to return to the Mets lineup until June. One of Jason Bay’s shoulders will likely become unattached, Jose Reyes will pull a hamstring dancing at the Latin Quarter (if his thyroid level is ever back to normal) and Keith Hernandez will miss time with a damaged scalp after leaving his Just for Men on for more than 5 minutes.
Bobby Cox will swear at Angel Hernandez. I wanted to make sure I got at least one right. Angel is one of Bobby’s arch nemeses and has thrown him out more times than I’m sure he would care to remember. Plus, I’m sure Bobby’d drop an F-bomb on the Pope if he called-out a Brave on a borderline pitch.
Well, there you have it—10 things that will happen during the 2010 season. Am I crazy? (Well yes, but that’s why I am self-medicated). I’d love to hear opinions on these predictions or anything else Braves…
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Until Next time…Go Braves!