Every year the Braves slog through phases when they look like they couldn’t beat The King and His Court (a slow-pitch softball version of the Globetrotters, for younger readers.)
They happen to be in such a spell now. They always fight out of these funks, and I’m confident they will again. What team wouldn’t suffer without the top third of its order? It’s no surprise the Braves have struggled offensively. The depth of the struggle might be a little surprising, but the fact of it is not.
When the lineup is intact again, I think the club will be OK. The starting pitching
has rounded into form. If Davies can keep it up, and I think he will, and Thomson remains steady, also a reasonably good bet, our rotation compares favorably to any in the division. Offensively, this team might not be the ’27 Yankees. But I believe it’ll be solid once Renteria, Chipper and Giles find their grooves.
Still, this team is flawed. What’s more, this year’s Mets are good, better than any other team in the East the past couple of seasons. We have not had to contend with a lot of exceptional East teams lately, though the 03 Marlins were pretty good, as were the 2000 Mets. So the Braves have not been able to stroll through 162 in each of the past few seasons.
This year certainly won’t be a stroll, and might in fact be as difficult as any year since 1990. Start out in the green expanse. Neither corner outfielder is a truly established big leaguer, and one of them is floundering. Francoeur
may or may not come out of it any time soon. If he doesn’t, the options are not plentiful. Langerhans will be fine, I think. Moving to the infield, LaRoche is clearly a work in progress. Everyone else is excellent, though Chipper appears to have maybe taken a step backward defensively from last season.
The top four in the order are as solid as almost any. Defense up the middle is very good. McCann’s a sound receiver and a nice bat toward the bottom of the order. If the starting pitching holds up, we can live with a down year from Frenchy and an erratic LaRoche.
The bullpen, where have you heard this, is suspect. If anyone can find a way to cobble it together, Bobby can. Same goes for the team overall. Whatever questions riddle the lineup or bullpen, No. 6 will get the most out of this team. It might not be good enough to win the division or get the wild card. But it’ll be the best it can be.
So let’s not start howling about Bobby or Chipper or anybody else. The biggest concern could well be the ownership situation. JS, it’s widely presumed, has the money to make some moves this season. But who knows how a sale could affect that.
For now, though, we’ve said it before and will again – the Braves have been in first place at the end of April exactly once in the past five seasons. And we know where they ended up. There are concerns, sure. But it’s no time to panic.