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The Atlanta Braves: third place team

Image (1) Chipper.jpg for post 5058
That’s not me talking. Remember, I’m a big fat fanboy. That’s Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, throwing cold water on the optimism that has pervaded Braves Nation Universe Republic Township this spring:

Me, I’m still skeptical. I eagerly await the coming of Jason Heyward, but I also wonder if the age on this team -- and there’s a ton of it -- will show over 162 games. I wonder about the offense. I wonder about the defense. I wonder about the zen of Wren. I’d be more than happy to be proved wrong in my doubting, but as of now I’m still saying what I said back in February.

Third place.

He doesn’t go into details, but I still take the point. While I think the upside of this team is pretty high up, it wouldn’t take a ton to send the Braves’ season skidding out of control. Chipper Jones could continue on like he played in the second half last year. Derek Lowe too. One of the old arms in the bullpen gets hurt. Glaus either gets hurt or just doesn’t have anything anymore. Unlike a lot of team’s worst-case-scenarios -- Utley and Howard forget how to hit! -- no single component of the Braves’ list of imaginary horribles is much of a reach.

I’m still sticking with my predictions, of course, but Bradley’s pessimism is a good reminder that for all of the virtual ink we’ve spilled these past few months, the games matter and anything can happen. Thank God they begin in earnest in a couple of hours.