The 2010 season didn’t go as many of us had envisioned, but I have to say I am content with the season as a whole. Sure, they Braves didn’t get past the first round in the playoffs, but after four years of turning to College Football in September, I was watching the Braves earn a playoff spot. After losing Chipper, Prado, Saito, Medlen and then Wagner when the NLDS began, the Braves didn’t have much but fumes to run on; and they still kept it really close.
I have just returned from my Honeymoon in Key West, FL where I spent way too much time with a hurricane named Paula. It rained a lot, the Braves were out of the playoffs, but it was great to get away and take the sting out of another playoff series loss. I guess this year didn’t hurt so badly because of the hectic time getting ready for the wedding, the injuries piling up and the fact that they actually made the playoffs; that in itself was a victory to me.
Hats off to Derek Lowe! Who would have thought it would have been Lowe to pitch them into the playoffs and almost to the NLCS? Look, I know they Braves didn’t make it, but they could have and maybe should have won every one of those games, and Lowe was huge. This is the guy the Braves paid $60 Million, who had been offered to every team last offseason for some minor leaguers, and a guy who most of the baseball world thought was all but gone from stardom.
Then you have to look at the bullpen—with or without Wagner (and Saito), this group was flat-out dominant. They kept the Braves in more games than they should have been in and won them some games they probably shouldn’t have won. Most will be back next season and I look forward to watching the battle for closer between Craig Kimbrel and Johnny Venters. Personally, I think Kimbrel is the guy, but what do I know?
Speaking of next year, the Braves have already made a couple moves that may be foreshadowing the upcoming offseason. Melky Cabrera and Takashi Saito were released earlier this week and I don’t think they are the only two that will have new homes next year—at least I sure as hell hope not!
Troy Glaus was by far the team MVP for a 1 ½ month stretch, but I don’t see him being a part of the 2011 roster. Rick Ankiel hit the biggest HR of the year for the Braves, but I’m not sure he is what the Braves need in their OF, that is, unless they can unload Nate McLouth. I don’t care what he did during the last month of the year (remember they played the Nats, Mets and Marlins a lot) I think McLouth needs a new home—but who is going to take him? He is owed a good chunk of cash next season and unless the Braves pay some of it, they may not be able to move him.
Anyway you look at it the Braves need a power-hitting outfielder and no, Jason Werth is not gonna happen. There isn’t too much of the free agent market the Braves can afford, so a trade is most likely. Hopefully the trade doesn’t involve Jair Jurrjens as some reports have indicated. That would be a moronic move; don’t trade starting pitching. Well, unless it’s Jo Jo Reyes, but I guess that’s using the phrase “starting pitching” loosely.
I was very happy to see Fredi Gonzalez announced as the Braves next manager sooner, rather than later. I think he is the perfect fit for the Braves and though Bobby Cox will surely be missed, it is going to work out for the best. And hey, the Braves will finally get that new hitting coach…Terry Pendleton was moved to first base after Glen Hubbard was let go from the team last week. Hopefully a new voice can jump-start some of those Braves bats that were so quiet the last month of the year.
Anyway you look at it; the 2010 season was successful for the Atlanta Braves. They made it to the playoffs, boosted attendance (thanks in a big part to Mr. Jason Heyward), said goodbye to one of the greatest managers in baseball history and won 4 of 5 games I attended this year—not too bad. And while the baseball gods didn’t keep their word to me and the luck of Hinske has run out, I am so excited to do it all again in five months. So, as the Cubs faithful have been saying for over 100 years—Just wait ‘til next year!