The Atlanta Braves: third place team

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That’s not me talking. Remember, I’m a big fat fanboy. That’s Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, throwing cold water on the optimism that has pervaded Braves Nation Universe Republic Township this spring:

Me, I’m still skeptical. I eagerly await the coming of Jason Heyward,
but I also wonder if the age on this team — and there’s a ton of it —
will show over 162 games. I wonder about the offense. I wonder about the
defense. I wonder about the zen of Wren. I’d be more than happy to be
proved wrong in my doubting, but as of now I’m still saying what I said
back in February.

Third place.

He doesn’t go into details, but I still take the point. While I think the upside of this team is pretty high up, it wouldn’t take a ton to send the Braves’ season skidding out of control. Chipper Jones could continue on like he played in the second half last year. Derek Lowe too. One of the old arms in the bullpen gets hurt. Glaus either gets hurt or just doesn’t have anything anymore.  Unlike a lot of team’s worst-case-scenarios — Utley and Howard forget how to hit! — no single component of the Braves’ list of imaginary horribles is much of a reach.

I’m still sticking with my predictions, of course, but Bradley’s pessimism is a good reminder that for all of the virtual ink we’ve spilled these past few months, the games matter and anything can happen.  Thank God they begin in earnest in a couple of hours.

Reds sign outfielders Mason Williams and Rosell Herrera to minor league deals

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The Reds picked up outfielders Mason Williams and Rosell Herrera on minor league deals, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports. Both Williams and Herrera will receive invites to spring training and could compete for backup outfield roles behind Adam Duvall, Billy Hamilton and Scott Schebler.

Williams, 26, completed a three-year track with the Yankees in 2017. He has yet to see a full season of playing time, however, and went 4-for-17 with two stolen bases during a five-game span with the club in 2017. While not a power hitter, his speed and steady contact rate produced a .263/.309/.318 batting line over 437 plate appearances in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, including two home runs, three triples and 19 stolen bases.

Herrera, 25, has yet to make his big league debut. After seven years in the Rockies’ system, he finally reached Triple-A Albuquerque in 2017 and slashed .278/.351/.394 with three home runs and 20 stolen bases in 363 PA. He looks most comfortable in the left field corner, but has some experience at shortstop and third base and should give the Reds a nice utility option come spring.