I've noticed while reading transaction updates, interviews, and so forth over the past few months leading up to the season that there are certain aspects of the team I absolutely love and a few I hate. I figured there are probably a number of other posters who have a few things they are happy or frustrated about entering the season as well, so using this as a place to comment and elaborate on your issues could stimulate some fun conversations.
The things I'm loving:
The young arms: Placing faith in Minor or Beachy, Venters, and Kimbrel seems to me like a great idea to get solid production for a low amount of money. The Braves could have easily signed a fifth starter type and let Minor be the sixth starter, but acting as they have seems like a great decision to me. Likewise, in the bullpen, they could have acquired a player or two with closing experience which would have cost either prospects or money. I don't like the Linebrink or Proctor deals, but those are minor deals compared to acquiring a closer or set-up type. Allowing Craig and Jonny to man the back-end is a tad bit risky but likely worth it.
The bats: The offense was tremendous last season, despite popular belief, and it has only gotten better aside from AGon being on the team from the start. Freddie is a bit of a question mark considering his penchant for struggling at the start of each level, but he should be more consistent throughout the season than what we had last year and I can't imagine McLouth being any worse than last year's group of centerfielders, including himself. This team is going to score a ton of runs.
The things I'm hating:
Freddi's proposed lineup construction: It doesn't matter much, as evident by a number of different studies, but I don't like the idea of McLouth getting more plate appearances and Heyward getting less. Of course, it's just proposed and I would imagine Freddi comes to his senses and alters it either in Spring Training or not long after the start of the season. We went into last year with Melky as our opening day leadoff man, so it could be worse.
Kimbrel likely winning the closer spot: That title looks a lot worse than it sounds. I want Kimbrel to be flexible. He's probably going to be the best reliever, and having him pitch the final inning only will be frustrating. Hopefully Freddie mixes and matches Kimbrel and Venters in that role but I doubt it. I see bullpen aces having more value than closers, by a pretty big margin.
Defense: Freddie will be a big improvement at 1B compared to what was there all season. Center field was pretty terrible defensively and probably won't get any better. We know Nate has limited range and that whole ordeal with not throwing last season was pretty annoying. Prado could be better than what we had in LF, especially when you consider how much Hinske played there, but there is at least a small reason to worry about the transition. Chipper will probably be pretty bad at third with the new knee ligament, and Uggla is basically a small improvement over Conrad defense but it will be there every single day. The pitchers won't be happy with balls dropping and being booted as frequent as I'm expecting, and neither will you and I.
No real backup CF option: Schafer isn't a reliable option at this point and neither is Young. We want them to be, but they just aren't. When Chipper gets hurt, and unfortunately that has turned from an if into a when these days, the Braves won't have a good option offensively or defensively to put in left or center. Hinske and Mather are a bit better than replacement level most likely, but neither should be playing regularly for this team. It's scary, especially if McLouth doesn't get going. Seems to me like the FO is looking at having a quality backup option as a luxury and not a necessity, but I see it the opposite.
These are the things I love and hate. Even though there are more things I wrote I hate, I left the given lovable things off (I.E. pitching looking very formidable, Heyward being awesome).
So what do you love and what do you hate?