It’s finally here! The Atlanta Braves’ pitchers, catchers, and some other eager players have reported to North Port, FL to begin Spring Training.
Pitchers and catchers are set to arrive first because pitcher-catcher bonding is important. If your pitcher and catcher aren’t comfortable with each other or don’t have a good understanding of what pitch is being thrown and the location of it, that is going to cause some serious trouble in a game. Communication for catchers and pitchers is why Spring Training is so important and why they arrive a week early.
Spring Training will be especially important for catcher Sean Murphy. He is who Atlanta got out of their three-way trade with the Oakland Athletics and Milwaukee Brewers. Just a few days after this trade, the Braves signed Murphy to a 6-year $73 million deal. He will join Travis d’Arnaud behind the plate for the Braves. He could also be used as a Designated Hitter if Marcell Ozuna does not start to perform better than he has the past couple of seasons. It’s safe to say there’s multiple roles Murphy can fill for the Braves.
With d’Arnaud and Murphy behind the plate, it’s time to take a look at the Braves’ starting rotation. Atlanta has a solid starting rotation, that is, if everyone can pitch the way we know they are capable of pitching. Charlie Morton had a down year last season. He still got a good amount of wins, but they were a struggle. The same goes for Ian Anderson. He was sent down to triple A twice last year because he had a hard time commanding any of his pitches. We know that Ian can be a very good pitcher – we saw this first hand in the 2021 Postseason – he just has a tendency to throw WAY too many pitches. Max Fried wasn’t a sharp as we’re accustomed to seeing last season either, but he still came through when the Braves needed it the most.
The two most surprising Braves pitchers in the 2022 season were Kyle Wright and rookie Spencer Strider. Wright had 21 wins last season. That’s crazy! He was Mr. Consistent for Atlanta, and when he was pitching we knew he was going to give a quality start. He seemed so comfortable on the mound, had such a dominating presence, and maintained control of his pitches. These things helped make him such a good pitcher.
Spencer Strider started out in the bullpen last season. But then, after the Braves coaching staff saw the velocity he had on his pitches and the command he had while throwing so fast, not to mention his strike-out-rate, they moved him into the starting rotation and there was no looking back. In just 131.2 innings he struck out 202 batters! He definitely belongs in the starting rotation and has proven how good he can be.
Last but not least, Mike Soroka. Soroka hasn’t pitched since the 2020 season when he tore his ACL during a game in August. It was heartbreaking to see a young pitcher like him, who had such good potential, go down with an injury like that. Then, he tore his ACL again in 2021 walking into the dugout. So, he hasn’t pitched in a major league game in 2 1/2 years. It will be exciting to see if he has the same command on the mound as he did before he was injured.
With all this to consider about these pitchers, it’s time to talk about how the rotation will be stacked. I think the Braves should start with a 6-man rotation at the beginning of the season so they have more guys available and can work their way into the season, eventually moving to a 5-man rotation.
Here’s how I think it would look:
Max Fried LHP
Kyle Wright RHP
Charlie Morton RHP
Spencer Strider RHP
Ian Anderson RHP
Mike Soroka RHP
Ian Anderson and Mike Soroka can easily be switched in their rotation spots. If the Braves start with a 5-man rotation these two will “compete” for that fifth spot. It will all depend on how comfortable Soroka feels on the mound and how Anderson’s command is.
One thing to note about Anderson is the pitch clock. He can take a LOT of time in between pitches. He will shake off a lot of signs and go through his windup multiple times just to throw one pitch. I’m sure the Braves coaching staff will be working with him during Spring Training to get adjusted to the pitch clock and it will be interesting to see how he does.
It’s so exciting to have baseball back, and I can’t wait to see what goes on in Spring Training for the Atlanta Braves and into the 2023 season!
With pitcher and catchers set to report in less than a month, it’s time to start looking ahead to the Atlanta Braves’ 2023 season. Obviously, we are all excited for our beloved baseball to return, but there are going to be some major changes coming – not only on the Braves team, but also for the MLB rules.
The Atlanta Braves team:
Along with Dansby Swanson, Luke Jackson and William Contreras will no longer be Braves in 2023. Swanson signed a 7-year, $177 deal with the Cubs, Contreras was part of the Braves 3-way trade with the Milwaukee Brewers and Oakland Athletics, in which the Braves got catcher Sean Murphy. And most recently, Luke Jackson signed a 2-year, $11.5 million deal with the San Fransisco Giants.
It was sad to see these three loved players go, but we can’t dwell on the past…and the Braves are still the same good team we know them to be.
Why is MLB changing/creating new rules?
I recently had someone challenge me on this topic. A lot of people say that the only reason that MLB is changing the rules of the game (i.e. adding the pitch clock) is to speed up the game. That is simply NOT true! Time is a contributing factor, but it is NOT the “ONLY” reason they are adding the pitch clock as some people would like to argue. Part of the reason they are implementing the pitch clock is that it speeds up game play which will help enhance production on the field. That means there won’t be as much “dead time” for players while they’re on the field. On average, a MLB pitcher took anywhere between 15-45 seconds to throw one pitch. 45 seconds is a long time to take to throw a pitch! Not to mention, it seems the longer a pitcher takes to throw a pitch, the more comfortable the batter is facing that pitcher. From the time a batter gets into the batters box to the end of his at-bat (whether he got out or reached base) it’s about intimidation factor. If you go up to the batters box and seem uncomfortable…the pitcher is going to trample all over you. But, if a batter is hard-core staring at the pitcher while he is going through his excessive windup, then it’s going to have an impact on the pitcher and make him redo his windup, causing the at-bat to last longer.
With the pitch clock, MLB pitchers will now get 15 seconds to throw a pitch with no runners on base and 20 seconds with runners on base. If they don’t throw a pitch within that amount of time, it is charged as an automatic ball. This rule is going to be harder for some pitchers than others. For example: last year, it took Braves reliever Jesse Chavez roughly 13.5 seconds to throw a pitch. Whereas it took former Braves closer Kenley Jansen roughly 20 seconds to throw a pitch with NO runners on base, and roughly 25.5 seconds to throw a pitch with runners on. I do not mean this rudely, but as a Braves fan, I’m glad we don’t have Jansen as our closer for the first year with the pitch clock.
There were two other rule changes that will be implemented this year. There will be larger bases, and no more shift.
When I first heard they were enlarging the bases from 15inches to 18 inches I was intrigued. Those three extra inches added onto the bases are to help prevent collisions. It will give the position player and the player running the bases more space to operate. This will especially come in handy with stolen bases – bringing the stolen base rate up that is. But stolen base rate, in the end, is not why they are enlarging the bases. They are doing it to try and prevent collisions and life-threatening injuries to the players. All of Braves Country wish these larger bases would have been on the in-field last year for Ozzie!
The new rule about the shift is that when a pitch is thrown, four infielders must be on the dirt, two on each side of second base. Once the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand, they are allowed to move, but they are not allowed to shift and “prepare” for what the hitter might do before hand.
Adding this rule to the game of baseball is to get more players to reach base. Honestly, some players should be embarrassed that MLB is adding this rule. It almost seems like a pity rule because they can’t pull their hands in and shorten their swing to hit the ball the other way.
However, in some ways I suppose it is good that MLB is adding this rule, because it keeps the infielders in the position they are supposed to be in. When Austin Riley ran across the diamond from third base to play behind first base in shallow right field after every other pitch, that was excessive. And what blew my mind was that when the third base line was WIDE open, players still hit the ball RIGHT at where Riley was positioned. Yes, I know. As a Braves fan I was happy it worked out in our favor – but come on!!!! You’re supposed to be a professional, yet you can’t hit the ball in a wide open gap.
So yes, I think it is a good thing that they are ending the shift, but I also think it embarrassing for players that they are having to take it away. That is my view on the end of the shift.
Braves Potential in 2023:
The Atlanta Braves are a good team. Just because they lost two of their long time players does not automatically put them at a disadvantage. I believe the Braves are going to have a great 2023 season and are easily title contenders.
Here are a couple reasons why I believe this:
The Braves will have a healthy team coming into this season:
It was clear to see that Ronald Acuña Jr. was no where near 100% in 2022. He was not as comfortable in the outfield and was not the Acuña we were used to seeing at the plate or on the basepads. He was caught stealing 11 out of 40 times. While that doesn’t seem like a bunch, it’s a LOT compared to 2019 when he stole 37 bases and was only caught 9 times. Acuña has been training a lot this off-season. I think, if anything, this season taught him that he wasn’t the invincible “king” he thought he was and that it really is a team effort for all of the wins that the Braves team got. It will be good to *hopefully* see him play with a team attitude and not a me attitude this year.
It will also be absolutely wonderful to have a healthy Ozzie Albies back. Ozzie broke his foot on June 13th of 2022 and was out until September 16th. And then, on September 18th, just two days later – Ozzie broke his finger sliding into second base. It was so painful to see him go down again with another freak accident after he had just worked SO hard to come back. And you could tell that having him back sparked something in the Braves. He brings enormous energy to the club and brings out the best in Ronald Acuña Jr. Just imagine how many wins the Braves could have had in 2022 (keep in mind they had 101) if they had Acuña to his full potential and Ozzie 100% healthy.
Another player the Braves will have healthy in 2023 is RHP Mike Soroka. Soroka hasn’t played in a major league game since he tore his ACL on August 3rd, 2020. It’s been almost three years!!! That’s insane. He could have pitched in the mid 2021 season, but he tore his ACL AGAIN by walking into the Braves clubhouse for some extra rehab. Soroka was a great pitcher in the short amount of time we got to see him pitch before he became injury plagued. I am looking forward to seeing what he can/will bring to the Braves starting rotation.
Braves Young Rookie Duo:
Michael Harris the II and Spencer Strider were a big part of the success that the Atlanta Braves had in 2022. They were both extremely impressive – so impressive that they both got long-term deals with the Braves before the 2022 season was over. Now that says a LOT about their potential!
As soon as he came up, Michael Harris II was a phenomenon. His defense was easily Gold Glove worthy. I still don’t know how he made some of those plays that he did! He also brought more offensive power into the lineup. He hit his homers, got his hits, and took his walks. He found ways to get on base.
Spencer Strider started his 2022 season in the bullpen, then around late April- mid May, the Braves coaching staff made the great decision to put him into the starting rotation and there was no looking back. He had 202 strikeouts in 131.2 innings pitched. That’s incredible! Not to mention he has such a high velocity on his pitches and can control them at the same time. A lot of pitchers either throw fast and have no control of their pitches or the strike zone, or have low velocity and control of their pitches. But Strider is capable of doing both.
Harris won the Rookie of the Year award for 2022 and Spencer Strider was the runner up for the award. They have both proven that they are great players and they are going to have an impact on the Braves for years to come.
There are, of course, other reasons why the Braves have the potential to have a great season in 2023. They have a solid lineup, solid defense, a solid rotation, and a solid relief core. It’s just a matter of getting all of those things to work together at the same time. Many times last year it seemed that we struggled with having great pitching and no offense, or great offense and terrible pitching. Yet, when they got over those slumps, they were almost unbeatable.
I am beyond excited for the 2023 season! I cannot wait to see the Braves play- and play to their full potential.
While the news of Dansby leaving the Braves was disappointing, it wasn’t all that surprising. The longer the question of “Will Dansby re-sign?” was up in the air, the more it seemed that the answer would inevitably be no. Now that the issue is settled and Dansby has signed with the Cubs, Braves Country must move on. We survived losing Freddie, and we’ll survive losing Dansby.
So…who will be the Braves’ new shortstop?
I think, as of where the Atlanta Braves are at right now, Vaughn Grissom is the most logical choice for our new SS. Grissom showed potential while filling in at second base for Ozzie Albies while he was hurt last season, and his position in the minors was shortstop so that will definitely help him in this position for the 2023 season. He has also been working with third base coach Ron Washington this offseason which tells me that the Braves are planning on making him their shortstop.
It will definitely be different to see someone else at shortstop who isn’t Dansby Swanson, but at the end of the day, whether we like it or not, this is how the game of baseball works. Dansby made the decision that makes the most sense for him and where he’s at in life — and Atlanta fans must move on.
Regardless of who’s at shortstop, I believe in the Atlanta Braves team. I’m looking forward to the 2023 season for the Braves, and I can’t wait to see what kind of excitement is in store for them!
With each passing day, this becomes a more pressing question. No one wants to see Swanson go, and I don’t think Swanson wants to leave either. Honestly, it just comes down to money and the length of the contract. I don’t see Dansby Swanson as a greedy person, but after what happened with Freddie, and everyone saying that he wasn’t a greedy person, makes me a little more apprehensive regarding Dansby. Not to mention he and Freddie have, or had, the same agent. (Freeman fired his agent in the middle of the 2022 season.)
There hasn’t been a lot of talk regarding Dansby Swanson, but one thing that the Braves organization does well is keeping their movements out of the public eye until something is finalized. They don’t ride (or start) the rumor train.
Coming into the 2022-2023 offseason, there were four big-name FA shortstops on the market: Dansby Swanson, Trea Turner, Carlos Correa, and Xander Bogaerts. Turner and Bogaerts have both signed long term deals with the Phillies and the Padres, respectively. That leaves Swanson and Correa as the only big-name shortstops on the market, and there are multiple teams in need of one. That just makes the situation with Dansby more nerve-wracking because some teams (like the Dodgers) could pay big money for him. He will have the ultimate decision of remaining a Brave or seeking out a fat paycheck.
The Winter Meetings are now over, and while there were some big deals made… none of them were made by Braves GM, Alex Anthopoulos. This came as a little bit of a surprise. While Anthopoulos is never big into the rumors or openly discussed deals, he has been known to make some jaw-dropping deals at the Trade Deadline and the Winter Meetings. However, that did not happen this year.
One of my hypotheses as to why they haven’t made Dansby an offer is because he is getting married this Saturday, and Anthopoulos, being one of Dansby’s good friends, is invited to the wedding. They might not want any tensions regarding him hypothetically not being signed during that time. Yes, I know, this idea may seem far-fetched…however, I’m not really sure what else it could be. Unless they really just haven’t made him an offer, OR they did make Swanson an offer that he refused and they’re keeping it under wraps.
This is a tough situation to navigate. All I know is I wouldn’t want to be in Alex Anthopoulos’ shoes. No one wants to see Georgia-grown, Dansby Swanson leave Braves Country. But at the end of the day, it typically comes down to money. How much are the Atlanta Braves are willing to spend, and how much is Swanson potentially willing to give up when push comes to shove? I guess we will just have to wait and see how things play out- hopefully in the Braves’ favor.
So far, the offseason has been a slow one for the Atlanta Braves. One thing I like about the Atlanta organization is that they don’t get involved with all of the offseason rumors. When they make a deal, then they release the information regarding that deal. It just makes everything less stressful. Regarding Dansby Swanson, however, I think all Braves fans are anxiously awaiting news about him.
But today, I want to take the time and talk about left field for the Braves. This has been a position that hasn’t really seemed secure over the past couple years. The Braves signed Marcell Ozuna in February of 2021 to a four-year contract, and it has not proven to be a good signing. Throughout a lot of his contract he has either been injured or in and out of jail and facing the consequences of that. Also, he does not have a good arm, which makes him a sub-par outfielder; he also gets into major slumps at the plate which makes him not so good offensively. Overall he isn’t a good fit for the Braves in left field — but, unfortunately, we seem to be stuck with him on the roster.
The other options the Braves have for left field are:
1) Using Vaughn Grissom as a left fielder – while his position is naturally a shortstop, the Braves had him do left field drills with outfield coach Eric Young during the 2021 season. Grissom is young and could easily tackle a new position. This would be the cheapest move the Atlanta organization could make to solve their left field problem. However, if things were to go south with Dansby Swanson and he were to go elsewhere, Grissom would assumably fill in the shortstop role.
2) Resigning Adam Duvall – Duvall missed most of the 2022 season with a torn ligament in his thumb, but he has proven to be a key player for the Atlanta team. He is currently a free agent, and could honestly be scooped up for pretty cheap. Although he is known to get into his slumps at the plate, he is a good defender and has made game-saving plays a time or two for the Braves team. He is also a decent home-run hitter in moments that count.
3) Finding a good left fielder on the Free Agent Market – this is also a logical choice, but it could potentially cost a pretty penny. There’s a long list of free agent outfielders – a lot of those being left fielders. However, if Anthopoulos is working to grant Dansby a big contract, the Braves organization probably won’t have much more money to throw towards a big name left fielder.
In the end, only time will tell what the Atlanta Braves are going to do. If it was me, I would sign Adam Duvall because we know he can be a very good player and he fits in with the Braves club well. But right now, this isn’t really the Braves biggest concern. That, obviously, is the signing of All-Star shortstop, Dansby Swanson. But, left field is a problem that can’t, and won’t, be ignored.
Now that the offseason has officially begun, it’s time to start looking ahead to the 2023 season. The Atlanta Braves locked in three players this season: Austin Riley, Michael Harris II, and Spencer Strider. They Braves have almost all of their everyday players locked up. In fact, only shortstop and whoever is going to play left field are not locked up for the Braves. Obviously, The Atlanta Braves’ front office, the Braves team, and ALL of Braves country want to see Dansby Swanson at shortstop for the Braves for many years to come. He is a Georgia native and all things Atlanta sports. He has made such an impact for the Braves and over the last two seasons. We have really gotten to see the power he has and the top-quality defense he gives every single day. No one wants to see him go, but it’s all a matter of if he really wants to stay in Atlanta like he says he does, or if he wants to go where the money is. Hopefully Dansby won’t be another Freddie, but they had the same agent (Freeman fired his earlier this year). Dansby is obviously the biggest goal this offseason, and it’s my hope that the Braves would go after him first.
Along with Dansby Swanson, Adam Duvall, Robbie Grossman, Kenley Jansen, Luke Jackson, Darren O’Day, Jesse Chavez, and Ehire Adrianza are Free Agents. I would be surprised if the Braves re-signed Grossman, O’Day, or Adrianza. O’Day did not have a great year on the mound, Adrianza didn’t play much other than a couple games when both Ozzie Albies and Orlando Arcia were hurt before they called Grissom up, and although Robbie Grossman came through in quite a few situations in the 2022 season, I don’t see him coming back over Adam Duvall.
The Braves need a closer, but they need a reliable one. Jansen had his ups and downs this year, but he came though when the Braves needed him the most. I think the Braves will make him an offer, but I don’t know if he’ll take it or not. Luke Jackson did not play this season due to Tommy John surgery. However, in 2020-2021 he showed skill off the pitching mound. With his slider and his fastball, he was able to get batters out and get out of troublesome innings. I can possibly see the Braves using him as a closer, but I think Atlanta will try and find someone who has more closer credentials. The Braves could sign him to add more depth to the bullpen, but there’s no guarantee what he’s going to be like after surgery. Jesse Chavez has become a fan-favorite. He has been traded ten times in his career, and has been a Brave off and on for 2 1/2 seasons. Chavez has come through for the Braves, and like Jackson, I could see the Braves signing him to a 1-2 year deal to add depth to the bullpen.
In the end, we will have to wait and see what moves the Braves make. I think I speak on behalf of all Braves country when I say that we don’t want to see Dansby Swanson in another uniform. He has become the face of the Braves this year and has proven just how good of a player he is, and everyone wants him to be a Brave for a long long time.