1. What Atlanta Team is Most Likely to Win a Championship for the City and When?
I think it comes down to two teams. The Falcons are still ways away from competing for a Super Bowl, so that leaves the Braves and Hawks. The Hawks came the closest last year, only to be swept by the Cavs. They are probably the most likely team to win a championship in Atlanta next year, but without a true go-to scorer, I do not think they will. I think the Braves are the next team that will win a championship in Atlanta. We have watched them rebuild this year, and it has actually been rather pleasant to watch. If the bullpen was not absolutely dreadful, this young team would be comfortably in first place. The Braves have a ton of good prospects and young professionals. As far as the year, the Braves will take it all in 2017. New ballpark, great team, why not?
2. Is There Any Chance the Braves Make a Run at Beltre with the emergence of Gallo in Texas?
This is very unlikely. I think Adrian Beltre is a potential Hall of Famer and one of the most underrated players of this century. This being said, Beltre has shown signs of regression this season. Beltre hasn’t hit for this low of a batting average (.257) in a decade. Now would Beltre be an upgrade at the position? Sure. But they just acquired Juan Uribe, and they have been trying to get rid of Chris Johnson for months with no bites. The main factor is money. Beltre is due to make $16 million this season and $18 million in 2016. However, the Braves just gave up a potential Hall of Fame Closer to earn back their financial freedom. You can never rule anything out, but it’s highly unlikely and would only happen if the Rangers ate most of the money. If the Braves invest any money (which they likely won’t this season), the bullpen is what needs fixing currently.
3. Can the Hawks Get Sam Dekker in the Draft?
Sam Dekker is one of my favorite prospects in this year’s draft class. My ideal pick would be to somehow to get Devin Booker, but Dekker is next on my list. He is extremely polished and can make an immediate impact. I think Dekker will be taken anywhere from 12th on. Hopefully he slides to 15, but if not I still really other prospects, such as Bobby Portis. The Hawks will have a lot of good options at 15, and Dekker may be one of them.
4. Will Vic Beasley Get Double Digit Sacks This Season and Will Trufant Make the Pro Bowl?
Last year, Kroy Bierman led the team in sacks with just 4.5. This offseason, the Falcons focused all their time and money to the defensive side of the ball. Hopefully there will be an improvement in just the 22 total sacks from last year, but I do not see any player getting double digit sacks. I think Beasley will be great in the NFL, but I think ends up with somewhere around 7 for the season. As far as Trufant goes, he is one of the true up and coming players in the NFL. I think he is already a top 10 corner with a possibility of becoming a top 5 corner in the future. He will no doubt make the Pro Bowl this season.
5. What Do You Think the Braves Options are When it Comes to the League’s Worst Bullpen?
The Braves have a lot of options to bolster their bullpen, but unfortunately few are short term. They’ve made it clear they aren’t going to invest much money in bullpen help, so they’re trying to sign some minor league deals to patch some holes. David Aardsma and Dana Eveland have pitched well in their tiny sample size so far since being called up last week. They’re likely just going to continue to feel out the bullpen until finding the right group of guys. Luckily, they will have more options sooner than later. In AAA Gwinnett, I’m impressed with the work of Aaron Kurcz, who was acquired for Anthony Varvaro. Unfortunately, Peter Moylan has struggled a bit for AAA, but he has major league experience and success and if he turns things around he’s definitely a strong candidate. Andrew McKirahan and Arodys Vizcaino also complete their suspensions in July. This is also around the time the Braves will be able to acquire some quality relief help, as teams out of contention will emerge as sellers. This is how the Braves acquired James Russell this past season. Chris Withrow could return in August or September. I think the bullpen is a fixable issue this season, but the Braves have to hope that they don’t dig themselves in too deep a hole before help arrives.
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