A new semi-regular feature on the site will be for Atlanta Braves fans to ask me their questions... and then I answer them. Why me? Why not. 50 percent of the time I seem to know what I'm talking about 100 percent of the time. That last sentence was not one of them. Anyhoo, make sure you follow me @gondeee to know when I send out the call for questions. Here are today's:
@BravesCoffeeshop asks, "Will the Braves lose a game in the World Series this year?"
Answer: We can only hope that the team plays as well in their last 12 games of the year as they've done in the first 12 games.
@AustC asks, "Will the Braves trade McCann mid season?"
Answer: No. There's no reason to deal McCann. There are two lineup regulars who are currently injured (McCann and Freeman), there are bound to be more nagging injuries throughout the season, and having guys like Evan Gattis and Chris Johnson who can fill in at multiple positions will help cover up the times when the team is not at full strength. The Braves should retain their depth this year, not trade it away. Depth also allows a team to rest players throughout the year so they'll be fresh for the post-season, especially catchers. Brian McCann's two worst months offensively throughout his career have been August and September. Imagine a mid-summer McCann in October.
@KWhitehead92 asks, "Do you think this is the most talented Braves team in the last 20 years?"
Answer: It is certainly the most talented in the past 10 years, but more recently in baseball it seems like teams have to have an all-around spectacularly talented roster to win. Back in the 90s teams could get away with starting Mark Lemke and his career .641 OPS year after year after year and still expect to win -- at least 100 games played each year from 1990 to 1997. It's hard to judge past teams based on perceived talent at the beginning of the year, but as I said before this season started, this year's team is the most excited I've been about a Braves team in quite some time. (And clearly that excitement continues into the season.)
@justin_Caine10 asks, "when Beachy comes back does he get inserted in the rotation immediately or spend some time in the pen like Meds did?"
Answer: We'll have to see how his rehab goes and how they work him back in. My best guess at this point is they stretch him out with the intention of starting. At the point when he's ready to come back you never know if there might be an injury or if the team might want to DL someone to save their arm or for any other Martinez-related "injury." The Braves could also reconstitute the six-man rotation late in the year (like they did last year when Medlen joined the rotation) in order to lighten the work load on all the starters. If there's a need, shifting Beachy to the pen probably wouldn't be too much to ask.
@Gdawgs755 asks, "imo Simmons should bat leadoff, Bj second, and Heyward 5th. Thoughts?"
Answer: Fredi will tinker plenty with the lineup throughout the year, but he'll always eventually fall back on lining them up left-right throughout the order. If Jason Heyward struggles for another week, you'll probably see him move down to sixth.
@dunnellz asks, "Who has been your biggest surprise thru the first week? Justin? Maholm? Ramiro? Gattis? Chris Johnson? Biggest disappointment?"
Answer: As good as I thought Justin Upton would do, the power display he has put on has been a huge surprise. I thought Chris Johnson would do pretty well, but he is definitely exceeding expectations. But of course, El Oso Blanco has been the biggest surprise. I was hoping for a solid .265 with decent power, but he's second in OPS in the National League (behind J-Up). The biggest disappointment has been Jason Heyward. He struggled this spring, and I figured some of that might carry over into the season, but I can't believe he's struggled this bad.
@hornsa2013 asks, "So... will we have to release Schafer and who will take him? If not, what other options do we have?"
Answer: There is at least another month before we have to answer this question (when McCann returns). Schafer will get plenty of at-bats between now and then, and based off his performance you should have your answer. Though it certainly seems like the Braves want to keep him around. Another interesting scenario is that the Braves trade him. He's a good center fielder, a position that could be in high demand, and if he's still hitting in a month, then he could have pretty decent trade value.
Thanks for your questions, twas fun. We'll do this again on an off-day.