Wednesday, June 7, 2023
HomeSportsMarcell Ozuna, Braves looking solid again in 2023's NL East

Marcell Ozuna, Braves looking solid again in 2023’s NL East

Life must be pretty good for the Atlanta brave. You can sit back and follow all the headlines about New York Mets and their Correa fiasco or the Mets and theirs Edwin Diaz fiascoor the Philly Phillies sign Trea Turner without really solving the problem that their outfield will look like a demolition derby most nights.

Sure, there was the divisional round loss when Spencer Strider boomed and Brian Snitker kinda fell asleep in the process. But if the Braves’ rally in the ninth inning produced just one more run in Game 1, they might have thrown that streak back to Atlanta and White Flight Park for a Game 5. With edges like that…

This is still a 101-win team supporting their World Series-winning team. The Braves didn’t have to do much, and they didn’t really do it. Their big moves consisted of trading catcher William Contreras for Sean Murphy, then laughing maniacally at the Cubs when they decided to overpay Dansby Swanson, the only homegrown product the Braves came out the door, and then played Galaga again. Murphy is the better overall player than Contreras or an aging Travis d’Arnaud, but he will do well to match Contreras’ overhead production last year (138 wRC+). d’Arnaud as a backup is a good thing.

Other than that, the Braves themselves are running back pretty much like the Mets, only without the noise and don’t have to replace nearly as much as New York. Your questions are left and at DH where both Eddie Rosario and Marcell Ozuna decompose (what is good in the case of Ozuna). Vaughn Grissom didn’t take the shortstop job in spring training, so he’ll start the year in AAA, but shortly be the starting SS, it’s envisioned. Grissom batted well on his cameo last year (.291/.353/.440) but was pretty solid on second base. Even when he emerges from the minors, it’s a mystery if he can handle Short every day. That and Orlando Arcia’s brief interlude is still what the Braves preferred over Swanson’s payment. Still, it’s the only spot in the lineup where the Braves lost something and didn’t actually replace it, and it might be something they feel they need to address after the trade deadline if Grissom never finds it. They also lost some depth when Adam Duvall trotted over to Boston, and the bench will pretty much end up being Arcia and Kevin Pillar, who occasionally bumps into a wall.

The first four of the rotation return intact, and Michael Soroka’s inability to eat the cursed frog is also intact as he’s back on the IL with hamstring problems. Ian Anderson has broken away from fifth place and is expected to be replaced by top prospect Jared Schuster (was there ever a bolder name than “Jared Schuster?”). Turning 40 right after the season, Charlie Morton started dealing with it last year as hitters have had far more success sending their pitches into someone’s beer mugs outside of the various walls of MLB. They’ll hope to move him down the pecking order if Spencer Strider can pitch 130+ innings, Kyle Wright gains more experience, and maybe Soroka can track down the gremlin that lives in his house and eventually kill him and be his fate can change.

They got rid of Kenley Jansen at the pen and handed things over to A full-time.J Minter, and found one of the few useful tigers in Joe Jimenez on the trade (he beat a third of the thugs he faced last year and you certainly didn’t hear about it).

Everything about the Braves seems to be standard now. The core of that roster is basically locked in until Fried hits free agency after the 2024 season. Even with their left and DH and short holes, they’re so good everywhere else they can basically sleepwalk to 95 wins. The rotation issues are all below and fixable.

The Mets are still lacking some power and the top of their rotation has a combined age of Gandalf. The Phillies will miss their best player halfway through the season and treat baseball like it’s covered in scorpions selling knives many nights. And the Braves just hum along.



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