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Atlanta Braves news and links: Winter is over as far as we're concerned

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The magic day has finally arrived -- pitchers and catchers are officially reporting to camp today, which means that baseball is here!

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Braves pitchers and catchers report TODAY

We've made it, folks: The calendar on your wall might not say so, but the baseball calendar says that winter is over, so we're going to go with that, instead. Pitchers and catchers (and a few early birds who aren't pitchers or catchers) are reporting to camp today, which means that baseball has arrived! Granted, we still won't see Spring Training games for a couple of weeks and games that actually count won't be played until April, but that's beside the point. The point here is that even with the Braves' low expectations for 2016, baseball's back, and that's a wonderful feeling.

Bowman outlines three major questions for Braves as they enter camp

The 2016 Braves figure to have a lot of question marks surrounding them this season, but according to beat writer Mark Bowman, they've got three big questions that are more important than any others as they head into the new campaign. Chief among those questions is the potential of Hector Olivera, who figures to be a key cog in the Braves' plans going forward.

After spending some time with Olivera in Puerto Rico, Braves hitting coach Kevin Seitzer said he believes the athletic Cuban left fielder can hit somewhere in the neighborhood of a .280 batting average with 15-20 home runs. If Olivera does this, he'll add some much-needed right-handed pop to the lineup and possibly create some fluidity if he can fill the cleanup spot in an order that will be left-handed heavy at the top.

Braves continue looking for new Spring Training home

After plans for a shiny new facility in the Toytown area of St. Petersburg fell through, the Braves have been actively searching for a new Spring Training home for 2018 and long afterwards. Currently, the team has their eyes on the Palm Beach area, and this would actually mark a return to the area for the Braves. However, things are still in preliminary discussions, so nothing's for sure at the moment

Who will have the better rotation between the Phillies and the Braves?

Philadelphia and Atlanta are the odds-on favorites to be battling in the NL East cellar this season, and it's probably due to the fact that both of these teams figure to have bottom-barrel starting pitching rotations in 2016. So, the AJC decided to put both teams' rotation to the test in a comparison in an effort to find out which team has the better projected pitching rotation.

Six Braves Spring Training games will be televised by Fox affiliates

In case you missed it, the Braves' Spring Training schedule is out, and Fox Sports affiliates South and Southeast will be televising six games this Spring. As usual, I hope that you guys have a radio nearby that's part of the Braves Radio Network because that's normally one of the best ways to stay up to date with every Spring Training game.


Could the Cardinals swoop in on Kevin Maitan?

It's pretty common knowledge at this point that the Braves and international prospect Kevin Maitan are currently linked together via handshake agreement, and that agreement looks stronger and stronger every time the 17-year old posts pictures of himself on social media wearing Braves gear (though surely that's just a coincidence and maybe he's just a Venezuelan kid who loves the Braves? Wink wink.). However, handshake agreements aren't official agreements, which means that other teams could always swoop in and make a deal for themselves. Could the Cardinals potentially enter the situation like vultures?

ESPN's Keith Law discussed his top prospect lists on a conference call earlier this week. Given the Cardinals reported interest in Maitan and the handshake deal with the Braves, I asked Law about Maitan's situation.

Law: "My understanding is that at one point Maitan and/or his representative broke an agreement with Atlanta, agreed to another number with a different club, and then Atlanta came in and offered more, and then they went back to the original arrangement just with a higher dollar figure. So it says to me if somebody calls tomorrow and says, hey, here's $8 million instead of the four and change supposedly that Atlanta has offered, why wouldn't Maitan and/or his people take that deal? They are not legally bound to anything right now. Major League Baseball cannot enforce an illegal agreement, so why wouldn't they just switch it up if it's that much more money?"

He did not know about the Cardinals situation relative to Maitan, but if he were a GM, he would be making a call to Maitan's representative.

Yankees try to cut StubHub out of their secondary ticket market

Meanwhile, the New York Yankees have been ruffling feathers among their fanbase after making the controversial decision of changing their ticket policy so that fans can no longer use tickets that they printed at home to get into Yankee Stadium to watch the game. The Yankees say that this is being done to combat fraud, but it's really just an effort to get StubHub out of their secondary ticket market. As if fans weren't angry enough, Yankees COO Lonn Trost added fuel to the fire by basically implying that poorer fans shouldn't be sitting by richer fans or fans who paid full price. Yeah, that'll go over well with your fans, right?

I'm a Yankees fan, as you know, and I grew up in a middle class family that, for many years, could afford one set of tickets for a family of four a year. Sometimes we'd get more than one via corporate giveaways, but in terms of sheer cash, one game was what we had.

To tell these fans, including myself, that they don't deserve to be sitting next to someone who paid full price is absolutely absurd. We deserve to be in Yankee Stadium. We deserve to sit wherever we want, and we certainly have the right to sit there if we, you know, legally bought a ticket.