|The 2011 Atlanta Braves during Spring Training at The Disney Wide World of Sports in Florida, 2011. AP Photos from AJC.COM|
Information for Braves Fans:
Complete 2011 Season Schedule, visit—> http://atlanta.braves.mlb.com/schedule/sortable.jsp?c_id=atl&year;=2011
2011 Roster click here
Braves Sites for Up-to-date news:
Braves News from the awesome AJC Braves reporter Dave O’Brien
AJC.COM SPORTS -The Atlanta Journal Consitiution
ESPN Predicts 2011 MLB Season- Some are loving the Braves. Do you? Check it out here: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/preview/2011/news/story?page=11expertpicks
2011 National League East Teams
1. Atlanta Braves
2. Florida Marlins
3. New York Mets
4. Philidelphia Phillies
5. Washington Nationals
2011 Atlanta Braves Managers & Coaching Staff
MANAGER: Fredi Gonzalez
BATTING COACH: Larry Parrish
PITCHING COACH: Roger McDowell
1ST BASE COACH: Terry Pendleton
3RD BASE COACH: Brian Snitker
BENCH COACH: Carlos Tosca
BULLPEN COACH: Eddie Perez
COACH: Alan Butts
General Manager: Frank Wren
Opening Day: 31 March 2011 @ Washington 1:35 PM on SportsSouth
Pitching Matchup: Derek Lowe v. Livan Hernandez
|Derek Lowe is the Braves Opening Day starter at Nationals Park in Washington D.C.|
OPENING DAY BATTING ORDER (from AJC.COM):
1. Martin Prado (LF)
2. Nate McLouth (CF)
3. Chipper Jones (3B)
4. Brian McCann (C)
5. Dan Uggla (2B)
6. Jason Heyward (RF)
7. Alex GonzalezSS)
8. Freddi Freeman (1B)
9. Derek Lowe (RHP)
|Youth looking towards great things with Wisdom, alongside Braves GM Frank Wren during Spring Training 2011 (from the AJC.COM)|
– Chipper’s Health: The Braves may not need to AS worried as they thought about the longest-tenured player currently for one team, Chipper Jones, and his surgically repaired ACL on the knee that ended his 2010 season last August. Jones, who will be turing 38 in April, had a hot spring training: .387 AVG., 8 doubles, 4 home runs, 15 RBIs, .710 slugging percentage and a OBS (on-base percentage) of .433 in 21 games this spring. Hoping to play out his contract before he retires, Chipper will be returning to the 3rd spot of the batting order, according to the Opening Day line up announced by manager Fredi Gonzalez before the warm up game against the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday (for more on that click here ). I look forward to seeing how the new skipper will use Jones, because former manager Bobby Cox, in the past few years, would pull Chipper out to give him rest during the long season.
– The J-Hey Kid’s Sophomore year: Before the San Fransisco Giant’s rookie Buster Posey made his big splash during the MLB PLAYOFFS last year sent him into super stardom, the NL’s most popular new player was Jason Heyward. A spectacular first half was cut short due to nagging injuries post- All Star Break. Heyward’s freshman season statistics, while they can be improved upon, they are still solid numbers: 142 games played, 520 at bats, 83 runs, 144 hits, 18 home runs, 128 strike outs, .277 AVG., .393 OBS, .456 SLUGGING%. He is hitting 6th in the Opening Day line-up, so perhaps he can help produce much-needed power in the middle-end of the batting order. A dynamite outfielder, I predict that he has a Golden Glove coming his way by years’ end.
|from the AJC.COM|
– Big Money Uggla: The Braves had a huge pick-up from the Florida Marlins, and it’s not just the hiring of their ex-manager Freddi Gonzalez. Second Baseman Dan Uggla, one of the most underrated infielders’ in baseball, signed to the Braves with a 5-year $62 Million contract extention in January 2011. A noted Braves killer in his four years at Florida, he comes to a divisional team that has the momentum to be a contender, whether its for the NL East or the NL Wild Card spot. He will be hitting 4th, behind Chipper in the line-up.
– Freddi comes back home, other managers move around: Former base coach Freddi Gonzalez takes over the managerial role once held by future Hall-of-Famer Bobby Cox. The former Florida Marlins skipper was hired by the Braves shortly after the 2010 season ended, and returns to the team that he was a member of the coaching staff as the 3rd base coach before taking his first managerial role in South Florida. He brings a youth to the Braves staff that can lift the team from being 2nd or 3rd since their streak of 14 straight division titles ended in 2005. Along with this move was the departure of long-time 1st base coach Glen Hubbard and the moving of Terry Pendleton from the hitting coach to 1st base coach. All interesting moves that could do more help than harm for a Braves team trying to win the division.
– Improved Bullpen, despite HoFamer retiring: With Billy Wagner, one of the best closers in MLB history retiring at the end of the 2011 season, the Braves Bullpen is the most intriguing part of this current Braves roster. (It has been reported today that the Braves gave Wagner his release from the team, that grants the team the rights to his contract in the case that he decides to return to baseball). The team, under pitching coach Roger McDowell, are going to go with rotation of two closer’s to fill Wagner’s void: right-hander Craig Kimbrel and left-hander Jonny Venters. The bullpen is improved in several roles, and will aide a solid starting rotation in the later innings.
– Can McLouth and Freeman STEP THEIR GAMES UP TO THE BIG SHOW LEVEL: Nate McLouth has had his struggles in his time in Atlanta. Since being demoted to AAA last year after playing 85 games and hitting a lowly .190, he looks like the confidence he lacked last year has improved and he expects more productivity offensively this season. Freddi Freeman, the Braves new rookie at first base, provides youth to a team anchored by veterans Jones and McCann. Hoping to have a great rookie season, much like Jason Heyward did last year, Freeman provides another left handed bat to the Braves line-up.
Predictions (by Order):
– The Phillies rotation, if all stay healthy are going to be tough to beat. The Braves and Phillies will be alone in the fight for the NL East. I believe while the 1 and 2 spot will change between these two rivals, that whoever is in 2nd place will be the NL Wild-Card team, while the 3rd team will be a great distance behind these two powe houses.
2. Braves (win Wild Card)
BRAVES FACT OF THE DAY:
-Nationals Park, the home of the Washington Nationals, was built in 2008. The first home run hit in Nationals Park was a towering shot hit by…..Chipper Jones.
Stats, information, photos and sources from ESPN.COM, braves.mlb.com, yahoosports.com and AJC.COM