30 Teams in 30 Days – Atlanta Braves

Atlanta completely collapsed in September last year, losing their Wild Card spot to the Cardinals on the final day of the season. Luckily for them, it was completely overshadowed by the Red Sox collapse. You start to wonder, who would have won the World Series if Hotlanta had of been able to play just average in September, and were able to cruise their way to a playoff spot? Let’s see how they looked overall last year.
Atlanta Braves
Record: 89-73
Finish: 2nd in NL East
Playoffs: N/A
Top Pitcher: Jair Jurrjens 13-6, 2.96 ERA, 90 SO
Top Hitter: Brian McCann .270 AVG, 24 HR, 71 RBI
Manger: Not Bobby Cox (Fredi Gonzalez)
Important Offseason Acquisitions: Adam Russell, Josh Wilson, Robert Fish (he’s not really important, I just enjoy his name),
Imortant Offseason Losses: Derek Lowe CLE, Nate McLouth PIT, Alex Gonzalez MIL, Scott Linebrink STL, George Sherrill SEA

On August 28th, 2011, the Atlanta Braves led the Cardinals in the Wild Card race by 10 games. I want to put this in perspective here, the Braves were just 6 games back of the Phillies at this time, the Tigers were only 6.5 games ahead of the Indians, and the Giants only trailed the D’Backs by 3 games, at that time, it would have made more sense  for one of those teams (Braves, Indians, Giants) to have have caught their division leaders  
instead of the Cardinals catching the Braves. Apart from September, the Braves had a terrific season, despite struggling offensively from time to time, their pitching more than made up for it, finishing top 4 in the league in ERA(3.48), WHIP(1.25), SO(1332), Opponent’s Average(.240), Home Runs allowed(125), Runs allowed(605) and Saves(52). They also did a great job defensively, finishing 4th in the league in Fielding Percentage(.987). Unfortunately, they struggled offensively, finishing in the bottom 8 of the league in AVG(.243), R(641), RBI(606) and SB(77), they do have some pop in their bats as they hit 173 Home Runs, but they will need to improve their offense this season. The Braves have some AMAZING young talent, for whatever reason, I find a lot of people thinking the Braves have an old team, this may be because of Chipper Jones and Tim Hudson, but they’re the 6th youngest team in the league. Examples:
Freddie Freeman 1B
Age: 22
Rookie Season: 2011
2011 Stats: 157 G, .282 AVG, 21 HR, 76 RBI
Brandon Beachy RHP
Age: 25
Rookie Season: 2011
2011 Stats: 25 GS, 7-3, 3.68 ERA, 169 SO
Craig Kimbrel
Age: 23
Rookie Season: 2011
2011 Stats: 79 G, 77 IP, 46 SV, 2.10 ERA, 127 SO
Eric O’Flaherty
Age: 26
Rookie Season: 2007
2011 Stats: 78 G, 73.2 IP, 0.98 ERA, 67 SO
Jason Heyward
Age: 22
Rookie Season: 2010
2011 Stats: 128 G, .227 AVG, 14 HR, 42 RBI
Jair Jurrjens
Age: 26
Rookie Season: 2008
2011 Stas: 23 GS, 13-6, 2.96 ERA, 90 SO
Tommy Hanson
Age: 25
Rookie Season: 2009
2011 Stas: 22 GS, 11-7, 3.60 ERA, 142 SO

It’s pretty clear that the Braves have tons of young talent on their team, and even some of their established players like Brian McCann and Miguel Prado are still fairly young, as their each only 28 years old, and their star reliever Jonny Venters just turned 27 yesterday. The team didn’t make many moves in the Offseason, nor should they have. If Uggla (who hit .296 and 21 of his 36 HR post All-Star break last year) and Heyward have bounce back years, and the rest of their players can keep up what they did last year (not including September), this team should have no problem nailing one of the two Wild Card spots, even with the improved Marlins. I even have them winninng the World Series, but I’m kinda crazy. Their bullpen might be a bit worse (but still amazing), but their offense will improve and their Starting pitching should be just as good, and having Bourn for the entire year should help them tremendously on the base paths. I expect good things from the Braves this year, but there’s still one question left to be asked, would the Braves have collapsed if they still had Bobby Cox as their bench boss? Too many what ifs, let’s just see how they play this year.

Prediction
Record: 92-70
Finish: 2nd in NL East
Playoffs: World Series Win (I have this strange gut feeling about the Braves this year, I don’t know why)
Top Pitcher: Brandon Beachy 17-8 3.16 ERA, 204 SO
Top Hitter: Dan Uggla .284 AVG, 36 HR, 108 RBI
Like us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/criticsfromthecouch
Follow us on Twitter: @CriticsFTCouch

-Vernon Smells

 

 

 

Randy Moss, Linsanity, Manning Vs Manning, Hines Ward and The Grammys

Due to some internet problems over the last few weeks I’ve been unable to write any articles, but now I’m back and I’ve got a few stories and topics to cover.

1) Randy Moss is out of retirement! Last year, wide receiver, Randy Moss retired after no teams seemed to have any interest in him. I thought this was crazy as he is a “freak”. As long as you have someone to throw the ball high in the air, Moss will catch it. I’m hopping that someone will sign Moss this year. Personally the Team that has Peyton Manning at the beginning of the season should sign Moss. Imagine Peyton Manning throwing 60 yard bombs to Randy Moss and who better to keep him in check.

2) Jeremy Shu-How Lin (not to be confused with Timothy Richard Tebow) is the greatest player in NBA history. Alright well, maybe not… YET, but he is one of the greatest things to happen to basketball. Jeremy Lin is a Harvard graduate, for those not familiar with the likes of Harvard graduates, I brought names: John Adams, John F Kennedy, Mitt Romney, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. It is easy to assume that Mr Lin is a very intelligent man and that he is good role model. Lin is also the underdog story of the year. He went from living on his brothers couch to averaging 27.3 points and 8.3 assists in his first 4 starts. Jeremy Shu-How Lin is a mix of a genius, Rudy and Tim Tebow. This is why he is the greatest thing to happen to if not basketball, all of sports.

3) Since winning his 2nd Superbowl and slaying the evil Patriots AGAIN, Eli Manning is now said to be better than his older brother Peyton. Now as an avid Colts fan, I understand that maybe I only have this view, for the fact that Peyton Manning has been my idol for as long as I’ve liked football. However, with that being said, Peyton Manning has won 4 regular season MVP awards (an NFL record), he is the 3rd all time in both passing yards and touchdowns and has one a Super Bowl of his own. Eli has won two Super Bowls and two Super Bowl MVP awards. I understand that the NFL weighs Super Bowls heavily, but you shouldn’t judge a player solely on that, you should judge him for his whole body of work. Peyton Manning led his teams to 9 consecutive playoff appearances (tied an NFL record). He did this with a low-ranked defense, and in the last few years a low-ranked run game. Eli has been leading an off and on Giants team that has had a great defense, and like the team in general an off and on run game. Eli is younger and has time to improve his stats and career, but until then, I think it’s safe to say Peyton Manning is the better Manning.

4) Fourth on the docket, the curious case of Hines Ward. Steelers’ wide receiver Hines Ward wants to end his career as a Pittsburgh Steeler, but the Steelers plan on releasing him. Hines Ward has even stated that he would restructure his contract so he could remain a Steeler. This case reminds me of where the Edmonton Oilers traded Ryan Smyth, who said he’d love to play for the Oilers(as they were his favourite team as a child), but they still traded him. Although I am not a Steelers fan, I feel for Hines Ward and I hope that the Steelers do decide to keep him for the rest of his career.

5) Last and least, The Grammys. The Grammys were as expected, very tame and horrid. However, there was a small silver lining, Bon Iver won Best New Artist, Adele won 6 Grammys and Kanye West won four. After this years list of winners, The Grammys got back some of their integrity by locking out Artists such as Drake and Wiz Khalifa. However, this years performances were less then stellar with the exceptions of Jennifer Hudson’s rendition of “I will always love you” by the late Whitney Houston and Adele’s performance of “Rolling in the Deep”. Next year, pending albums of course, I’m hoping for performances by Kanye West, Jay Z, Blink 182, Eminem, a performance by Dr Dre (after finally releasing Detox), a rejuvenated Green Day and or multiple Rock band acts. I would like less performances by Chris Brown, David Guetta, Taylor Swift and everybody and anybody in the Young Money family.

 

-McFultz