The Braves have used the staple of their great 90's teams to vault into first place -- great starting pitching. They've added clutch hitting and gotten some contributions from some unknown players (Brooks Conrad, Jonny Venters) and players on the comeback trail (Troy Glaus, Tim Hudson, Billy Wagner). Frank Wren and Bobby Cox have assembled a team that has very few weaknesses, with strong starting pitching, a strong and deep bullpen, and a lineup with few holes.
The team will definitely be a buyer; in fact, they have already "bought." The trade which sent the under performing Yunel Escobar to Toronto for Alex Gonzalez shores up perhaps the weakest spot in the lineup, and removes the biggest distraction from the clubhouse. While Escobar is a promising young shortstop, this is viewed as a huge upgrade by the players on the team.
The Braves will use the next couple of weeks before the deadline to observe players like Matt Diaz, Jason Heyward, and Nate McLouth as they come back from the disabled list. Depending on how they perform the Braves may choose to acquire an additional outfielder to bolster this group. Other than that they will take a wait-and-see approach and not over-pay or use any of their top prospects in a deal.
The rotation is set, and has a couple of ready replacements in Kenshin Kawakami and Mike Minor if anyone gets hurt. The bullpen is strong all the way through and the Braves minor leagues are stocked with strong arms that could fill in like Scott Proctor, Stephen Marek, Mike Dunn, and Craig Kimbrel. Eric Hinske and Brooks Conrad provide good infield depth in case of injury, and Gregor Blanco and Willy Tavares are triple-A outfield depth.
There are certainly very few holes on this team, but they may still look for an impact player if one becomes available for the right price.
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