It’s amazing the difference 365 days can make, isn’t it? At the end of the 2015 season, Braves fans were looking at a long offseason ahead with not a whole lot of optimism. After a 42-42 start to the season, trades and injuries played a big part in the reason the team won just 25 of its remaining 78 games. But, 2016 was a much different story. After a five win April and 9-28 start to the season, it would have been really easy for the 2016 Braves to just go through the motions and look ahead to next year. But this team didn’t do that. His team fought hard every single day. This team finished with the best winning percentage in baseball from August 28th through the end of the season, scoring the second-most runs in baseball over that span. Those are just a couple of the reasons we saw Brian Snitker’s “interim” tag removed as he was rewarded with the full-time gig.
All season, the goal was the same, to try and win as many games as possible and avoid the dreaded 100 loss mark. Well, while it wasn’t exactly the mission this team set out to achieve when camp opened in February, it was mission accomplished for the 2016 Braves. One year ago, there was a sour taste in the mouths of everyone involved. This year, hope and optimism follow the club into the offseason. An offseason that will likely be spent finding one or two starting pitchers and attempting to upgrade the catchers position.
Unlike the last few offseasons, Atlanta’s shopping list shouldn’t be nearly as extensive. The outfield is covered with Kemp, Inciarte and Markakis. Smith could find himself as either a fourth outfielder to start or in Triple-A to get regular playing time. Markakis could also be traded between now and Opening Day, but that seems less likely. Around the infield, Freeman and Peterson have the right side covered, while Swanson proved he’s Major League ready and Garcia took serious strides defensively. The bullpen is also in relatively good shape, leaving the starting rotation as the number one priority. It will be a busy offseason, but maybe not as hectic as we may have expected three or four months ago.
– Kevin McAlpin, Braves Radio NBetwork