Atlanta Braves

Manager: Fredi Gonzalez
Stadium: Turner Field
2008 Record: 72-90 (4th in NL East)
Team Page | Roster | Schedule

LINEUP

'08: Batting | Runs (6th in NL)
PLAYER B POS
Gregor Blanco L CF
Yunel Escobar R SS
Chipper Jones B 3B
Brian McCann L C
Garret Anderson L LF
Jeff Francoeur R RF
Casey Kotchman L 1B
Kelly Johnson L 2B
OFF THE BENCH
Matt Diaz R OF
Martin Prado R INF

PITCHING

'08: Pitching | ERA (12th in NL)
ROTATION T POS
Derek Lowe R SP1
Javier Vazquez R SP2
Jair Jurrjens R SP3
Kenshin Kawakami R SP4
Tom Glavine L SP5
BULLPEN
Rafael Soriano R Setup
Jo-Jo Reyes L Setup
Mike Gonzalez L Closer
 
In his 15 seasons with Atlanta, Chipper Jones has seen it all. "There was a time when we had a rotation of John Smoltz, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Steve Avery and Denny Neagle -- and every night we knew we would win," Jones says. "Last year, we were just hoping no one's arm fell off." For the first time since 1981, no Braves pitcher threw 200 innings. So Atlanta signed workhorse Derek Lowe, who has topped 200 in three of his past four seasons, and traded for Javier Vazquez, who's averaged 206 innings per year in his career. "I love our pitching," says Jeff Francoeur. "And our bullpen is great when it's healthy." That's a mighty big "when." The Braves got a total of 533 innings last season from closer Mike Gonzalez and set-up men Rafael Soriano and Peter Moylan, all three of whom have had elbow surgery in the past two years. Atlanta was a league-worst 11-30 in one-run games en route to its first 90-loss season since 1990. Manager Bobby Cox expects his relief corps to be healthy by Opening Day. If not, Jones will have to reminisce about when Smoltz was a closer.
-- Tim Kurkjian

ESPN The Magazine's Braves preview Insider

PROSPECTS

HITTER TO WATCH:

Jordan Schafer makes the huge leap from high-A to the majors; he should provide good defense but has really struggled against left-handed pitching.

PITCHER TO WATCH:

Tommy Hanson didn't make the Opening Day rotation, but he should be the first one recalled when Tom Glavine hangs it up.
-- Keith Law, Scouts Inc.

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Featured Comment

Will the Braves take my little baseball heart and dash it on the fields of America?


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FANTASY

SLEEPER

It's a bit premature to assume Casey Kotchman can't emerge as a helpful home run hitter. Kotchman hit 12 home runs in 100 games with the Angels before the Mark Teixeira trade, then did little with the Braves. He's 26, still capable of developing 20-home run power.

BUST

Atlanta's rotation would have been a mess without Jair Jurrjens' emergence in 2008, but be wary of a high walk rate, which contributed to a 1.37 WHIP, and a poor second half when his ERA jumped to 4.66. Jurrjens is purely a late-game starter in 10-team mixed leagues.
-- Eric Karabell

INJURY TO WATCH

Like that Energizer Bunny, Chipper Jones takes a lickin' and, well, minus a few days off here and there, just keeps on tickin' with remarkable consistency. Sure, he'll get banged up, but as a team leader, he's going to play through as much pain as he can. Last year's nagging quadriceps and hamstring strains finally forced him onto the DL in July, but he still finished the season batting .364. This spring an oblique strain squeezed him out of the World Baseball Classic, but fear not: Despite being 37 years old, he'll be back in the lineup come Opening Day. Yes, he remains an injury risk, but the Braves' willingness to extend his contract indicates their belief that the reward outweighs that risk.
-- Stephania Bell

MORE

30 Questions: Will Jeff Francoeur rebound?

PRESEASON POWER RANKINGS

  • Jayson Stark

    Stark
    No. 10 overall
    (3rd in
    NL East)

  • Tim Kurkjian

    Kurkjian
    No. 13 overall
    (3rd in
    NL East)

  • Buster Olney

    Olney
    No. 11 overall
    (2nd in
    NL East)

  • Rob Neyer

    Neyer
    No. 12 overall
    (2nd in
    NL East)

  • Jim Caple

    Caple
    No. 22 overall
    (4th in
    NL East)