Thursday, March 31, 2011

Braves win opener

1 down, 161 to go.

Baseball has thankfully started. The Braves opened at the Nationals in what looked like a miserable day weather wise. And that's fitting since most of spring here in Memphis has been pretty miserable.

But they were able to overcome the weather with a really solid start from Derrek Lowe and great work from the bullpen. It was great to see Chipper Jones healthy and in the lineup (legged out a double). He got on base and was drove home by Brian McCann. Dan Uggla didn't have a good debut. But for the second year in a row Jason Heyward hit a homer run on opening day.

I'm not quite sure what the new manager is doing batting Heyward 6th in the lineup behind Uggla and in front of Alex Gonzalez. Heyward has great plate discipline which was evidenced by his .400 on base % last year, which is incredible for a rookie. The only reason I can see is to give Uggla some protection since Gonzalez and Freddie Freeman aren't going to scare anyone. But I'd rather have Heyward getting on base in front of Chipper and McCann.

Regardless of where Heyward bats I like this lineup. Prado, Heyward, Chipper, McCann, and Uggla should provide a good mix of getting on base and hitting for power. If Freeman can provide some power from the bottom of the lineup this could be a dynamic offensive team.

I was kind of surprised to see Lowe pitching today because Tommy Hanson proved to be Atlanta's best pitcher last season. I'm guessing the manager wanted to give it to Lowe as a seniority thing. And I'd bet Tim Hudson will start the next game for the same reason. I'd also bet that the bullpen rotation is what we will see for most of the year barring any major struggles.

I like this Braves team. I think at worst they should contend for another wild card spot. At best they should be a strong contender with the Phillies for the winner of the division.

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