MLB Spring Training 2012: Atlanta Braves Need To Get In Gear To Shake Off 2011 Finish

The 2012 Atlanta Braves are a talented bunch, but in order for them to adequately shake off last years dismal finish they need to start playing better this spring. For most teams, March is usually a time to work on things and get fully prepared for the upcoming regular season. The Braves, however, are coming into spring under circumstances following last seasons improbable collapse. For that reason it’s not enough for them to say “its only spring” and “the stats and records don’t mean much.” I would encourage Fredi Gonzalez and his squad not  to adopt this attitude.

By now it has been well documented that the Braves, who entered September with the fourth best record in baseball and a 10 and a half game lead in the National League Wild Card race, suffered one of the most historic collapses in baseball history. Losing to the St. Louis Cardinals for the final playoff spot in the National League was supposed to leave a bad taste in their mouth’s and inspire them to come out full-bore this season.

They entered Monday losers of seven straight. Split-Squad or otherwise.

Why is it important for the Braves to put some emphasis on winning these games? Because at some point they have to remember what its like to put together a collection of quality games/wins. They need to know what its like to have their hitting, which was a primary culprit in last seasons (10-20) finish and their pitching to be on the same page. This isn’t about going (28-0) in the Grapefruit League, but it isn’t about being (1-9) and getting used to the moral victory speeches that became a common theme for this ball club the end of last season.

Injuries played a major role in last seasons finish, and with everyone back its important to get on the same page at some point as the calendar rapidly inches towards their April 5th match up against the New York Mets. The last week has shown some improvement from key players on offense such as Martin Prado (.368 BA this spring), Dan Uggla (.313 BA, 1 HR this spring), and Michael Bourn (.278, 4/12 and 2 runs in last four games). Jason Heyward, Brian McCann, and Chipper Jones (injured) haven’t shown much to this point but are showing signs of life the last week or so.

It’s imperative for this ball club to get it going and fast. The Washington Nationals and Miami Marlins are much improved and  the Philadelphia Phillies return three of their “big four” and are getting a full season out of Vance Worley. While the Braves are just as talented, they can’t afford to get into a lull in March and have it carry over into April.

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