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Sound off on the Braves

3/27/2007

All good things come to an end. The Braves saw that happen last season. For 14 straight years, they owned the NL East and were synonymous with the playoffs, but after missing out on October, Atlanta is looking for a fresh start.

There's no reason to think the Braves can't begin a new streak. Kelly Johnson has shown he can do the job at second base and handle the leadoff role. The Joneses (Chipper and Andruw) are superstars. Brian McCann is one of the best young catchers in the game, and Jeff Francoeur is a rising star.

Pitching won't be a problem. John Smoltz is still money. Expect Tim Hudson (27-21 in first two seasons with Braves vs. 92-39 in six seasons with A's) to get back to being nasty. Chuck James draws comparison to a young Tom Glavine. When Mike Hampton returns from a left side strain, the rotation will be very deep.

The bullpen blew 29 saves last year, but trades for Mike Gonzalez (Pirates) and Rafael Soriano (Mariners) should plug those leaks.

Are the Braves once again the team to beat in the East? Let us know what you think.