For every surprise, there is usually a a disappointment or two along the way. The Braves are counting on a number of veteran players along with some untested rookies. Today’s roundtable question is, who will be this season’s biggest disappointment?
Who will be this season’s biggest disappointment?
(Scott Coleman): I don’t have as much confidence in the bullpen as most others do. Mauricio Cabrera and Armando Rivero are already battling elbow and shoulder injuries. Ian Krol, who was great last year, was really bad in Detroit and is no guarantee to repeat. Chaz Roe and Eric O’Flaherty don’t do much for me. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a bottom-five unit in the NL.
(Kris Willis): Matt Kemp’s arrival in Atlanta couldn’t have gone much better than it did in 2016 but it remains to be seen whether he can sustain that for a full season. He arrived to spring training in great shape but it will be interesting to see if his offense can produce at enough of a rate to offset his defense in the outfield.
(Brad Rowland): Brandon Phillips. The newly-acquired second baseman turns 36 in June and there isn’t a ton of evidence that a bounce-back is coming due to the age concerns. Phillips was solid enough with the bat (92 wRC+) last season to avoid embarrassment but if his glove continues to slip, there is a scenario in which he’s borderline unplayable. Throw in the fact that Ozzie Albies is just a few miles up the road and… yep. Brandon Phillips is the guy here.
(Ivan): Mike Foltynewicz has a very one-step forward, two-steps back season, looking worse than he did in 2016. Alternatively, Emilio Bonifacio appears in an Atlanta Braves uniform this season.
(Garrett Spain): I’m going to say Dansby Swanson. It won’t be because he performs particularly poorly for a rookie shortstop, but simply because of the ridiculous expectations on him. Pitchers have enough on him now to take advantage of of the flaws he has, and it will be a battle for him to play a full month as well as last season.
(Matt Powers): I don't think we see as much help from the farm as some people expect in 2017. I'm not including Dansby Swanson in this since he was a full time starter at the end of last year. Ozzie Albies is blocked by Brandon Phillips, who I’m expecting a strong year from. Dustin Peterson and AJ Minter have dealt with some injuries this spring, and since Peterson’s injury typically tends to linger for the rest of the season and Minter has a troubling history with injuries, there is no need to rush either this year. I do think Sean Newcomb will reach the majors, but just don't see immediate success for him. Rather I see a guy who is going to have some ups and downs and need to make adjustments. After those guys the next real wave of prospects is at least another year away.
(Demetrius Bell): Even though expectations are pretty low for this particular part of the squad, I still think that we’re probably going to reach a point in this season where we all get annoyed with the quality (or lack thereof) coming from the bench. I hinted at it in the final record prediction post, but the bench is a big reason why I’m not picking the Braves to do better than around 76 wins this year. Aside from a couple of guys, there’s nobody who I really trust to come off the bench and consistently make a positive impact, and if any of the big names go down due to injury for a long period of time, it’s going to be bad.
(Dillon Cloud): The biggest Braves-related disappointment this season is likely to be the ridiculously bad traffic on the way to each game, but on-field I believe the biggest disappointment will be the starting rotation. Bringing in two starters over 40-years-old in Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey plus the injury-prone Jaime Garcia does not seem to be a stark improvement over the options that the Braves had in-house, and I just have a hard time seeing all three staying healthy throughout. The struggles of our depth options is also a concern, with both Wisler and Blair looking very hittable this spring, so any injury to the aforementioned veterans could leave the Braves in an even tougher spot. I have high hopes for Teheran and Folty, but the newcomers all have major question marks that will need to be answered.
(Jeff Jones): Not sure if this will be a disappointment to anyone but I am going with R.A. Dickey. He had a nice start yesterday but I just don’t think he has anything left in the tank and will lose his rotation spot to an Aaron Blair or Sean Newcomb(!) before the trade deadline.
(Eric Cole): Third base just looks like a comedy of errors at this point and BPhillips, Dansby, and Ender can only do so much there to recoup the losses there. This team will loses more than a couple of games because of REALLY suspect defense and that will drive a lot of fans nuts.
(Kyle Parmley): R.A. Dickey. Nothing against the guy at all, but he has not inspired me with great confidence during the spring. I do think he is rejuvenated by the change of scenario and being back in the National League, but it just doesn’t seem like he’s going to be consistently effective. Hope he proves me wrong.
(Gaurav Vedak): Ozzie Albies. Now let’s see how many of you continue to read this and who just gets mad that I said that. I’m going to be disappointed in the lack of playing time for Ozzie because he’s being blocked by Brandon Phillips who has a ~ .700 OPS season.