Atlanta Braves: 2010 Preview

SportsPickle is previewing each MLB team in the lead up to Opening Day 2010. Today: Atlanta Braves (2009: 86-76, 3rd in NL East).

STARTING PITCHING In Jair Jurrjens, Derek Lowe, Tommy Hanson, Tim Hudson and Kenshin Kawakami, the Braves may have the most balanced rotation in all of baseball. I mean, they have tall guys, short guys, a Latin one, some white guys, an Asian. And let’s just assume one of them is gay. (My pick is Lowe.)

LINEUP … Troy Glaus was signed in the offseason. Along with Chipper Jones, Glaus should provide veteran leadership in the hot tub and trainers room. But the player everyone in Atlanta is excited about is 20-year-old, rookie outfielder Jason Heyward. Heyward has all the five tools that you want: looks, personality, no fear of commitment, a nice paycheck, and he is clear of diseases.

BULLPEN General manager Frank Wren made over Atlanta’s bullpen via free agency. Billy Wagner was brought in to close and Takashi Saito was signed to be his setup man. Clearly Saito is still struggling with English, because he didn’t understand when countless people no doubt told him: “You don’t want to be on the same team as that prick Billy Wagner.”

BENCH Wren also brought in Melky Cabrera and Eric Hinske this offseason in, let’s be honest, absolutely brilliant moves. No team has won a World Series in nearly 17 months without having Cabrera and Hinske on its roster.

OVERALL The Braves clearly intend to contend this year and they have the pieces in place to do it. Nothing would be better than a championship in Bobby Cox’s last season on the bench. It’s just too bad they couldn’t do it a few years ago when he was still alive.