John Schuerholz may not be the GM of my favorite team, the Atlanta Braves, anymore but he is now even higher up in the organization and his ideals have seemed to filter down to current GM Frank Wren. Schuerholz the architect to the record setting Braves team of the 90’s and early 2000’s who won 14 consecutive division titles and a World Series in 1995. How did he do it? One of the main things was building the team with pitching...sure it is one thing to have good pitching but quite another to have 3 future Hall of Famers tossing every 5 days for you (Maddux, Smoltz and Glavine). Throw in there 2 very good guys in the 4 and 5 spots (like Neagle, Schmidt, Smith, Avery, Millwood ect..) and every night the team was in a great position to win.
Looking at the rotation as it stands right now that same idea is being used. The Boston Red Sox, when healthy may have the best rotation with Beckett, Lester, Matsuzaka, Wakefield, Penny and Smoltz...oh and throw in a kid that has already thrown a no-hitter in the majors in the minors that they can call upon in Buchholz. Atlanta has got to be near that level with the arms that thew can throw on any given night. Right now the Braves mound can have any of Javier Vazquez, Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens, Kenshin Kawakami, and rookie phenom Tommy Hanson. They too have a bit of an ace up their sleeve that they are hoping to have Tim Hudson return from injury at some point. Not too shabby. It is clear that this was a priority since the pre season when they took a run at the big name free agent pitchers, especially AJ Burnett.
Granted it seems like the offence may be a bit of a weaker spot but looking at the lineup they should be more consistent then they are. Even with future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones in the lineup the team seems to be very streaky as far run production and wins are concerned. As a team the regular lineup boasts an average of .293 (not including the pitchers spot)..that is fairly decent. I guess it is just a matter of being more clutch and/or consistent. The mid season acquisition of Nate McLouth, Adam LaRoche's return and the Franceour/Church deal may help that a lot too.
A slow first half have put them behind early but with that pitching and if Rafael Soriano can be a good closer they that have a decent chance of taking a run at the Phillies for the East title or possibly the Wild Card. Don’t give up on the ATL too soon.