The Atlanta Braves have been extraordinarily quiet this offseason, but that might not be terrible, all things considered. In fact, the Braves' problems may already be taken care of.
The Braves took care of their most glaring issue just days after the season ended by firing hitting coach Larry Parrish. There were already concerns by players in Spring Training in February about his communication skills. That lack of communication, coupled with what may have been a lack confidence in the leadership, resulted in the Braves going from tops in National League in on-base percentage in 2010 (.339) to 14th in 2011 (.308).
Those struggles were compounded in September when the Braves hit .235 with an OBP of .300, but they also put up those numbers with numerous dinged up starters.
For starters, Brian McCann hit .180 after returning from an oblique injury too early on August 14. Martin Prado's second half also was not characteristic of himself after he missed three weeks due to a staff infection. Factor in Jason Heyward's bum shoulder, Dan Uggla and Freddie Freeman drastically cooling off, and that leaves only Chipper Jones, Michael Bourn and Alex Gonzalez hitting worth anything in the month of September.
It also did not help the Braves that Tommy Hanson made no starts after August 6, and Jair Jurrjens also did not pitch at all in September, while Derek Lowe threw up an ungodly 8.75 ERA. Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel even showed signs of being human.
Really, the fact that the Braves had tallied an 8.5-game lead in the Wild Card race on Sept. 1 is a testament as to how well things had gone for the first five months of the season. The fact is that literally everything went wrong at the same time, and it did in the Braves' season.
Though they will face stiffer competition from the Miami Marlins and Washington Nationals, and the Philadelphia Phillies will still be strong, the Atlanta brass made the common sense judgment that what happened in September was pretty much the absolute, hell freezing over worst case scenario. When that happens, it is usually not the smartest thing to overhaul an entire team like the Marlins do whenever they win the World Series.
So, while fans may be frustrated at the lack of activity by the Braves so far, they should also realize that Atlanta had a darn good ball club last season; it just happened that everything went wrong at the end.
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