Even with the probability of platoons at second, third and catcher, do you think the lineup will have more stability in 2016?
-- Vincent P., Greenville, S.C.
Before looking at numbers, the simplest way to analyze potential offensive improvement is to focus on the health of Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis. If Freeman's right wrist remains sound and Markakis is a little stronger a year removed from neck surgery, the lineup should be more formidable.
But I do like some of these proposed platoons. With Tyler Flowers present, A.J. Pierzynski can get sufficient rest as he attempts to match last year's impressive plate consistency. Kelly Johnson's presence provides insurance in case Adonis Garcia struggles with the glove or sees his unexpected power dissipate.
:: Submit a question to the Braves Inbox ::
Given that Ender Inciarte hit a .227/.253/.277 slash line against lefties last year, Emilio Bonifacio might get an occasional start against a tough southpaw. But I think the greatest beneficiary of these platoons might be Jace Peterson, who will share second base with Gordon Beckham. Peterson had a .251/.332/.350 slash line against right-handers and .190/.234/.276 against lefties.
Do you think Eddie Perez could eventually become the Braves' manager?
-- Jack T., Jacksonville, Fla.
When I was asked a managerial-related question in this forum a couple months ago, I pointed out that there are still many members of the Braves' organization who would like to keep current manager Fredi Gonzalez around for many years to come. But with that said, there are always whispers on the managerial front -- especially on the heels of two consecutive losing seasons.
As I previously mentioned, Mark DeRosa would likely be considered one of the top candidates if Atlanta's managerial post opened in the near future. But at the same time, Perez would definitely garner strong attention.
Perez's managerial star rose as he spent the past few months guiding his team to a Venezuela Winter League title and nearly a Caribbean Series title. If you're wondering about his baseball IQ, remember there's a reason Greg Maddux kept Perez as his personal catcher for so many years.
During his days as a player and coach, Perez has always been one of the most respected and appreciated members of the Braves' clubhouse. It won't be long before he gets a shot to manage at the big league level. But time will tell whether that shot will come in Atlanta.
If Erick Aybar does not rebound, how quickly could we see Dansby Swanson in an Atlanta uniform?
-- Jason M., Madison, Ala.
Once you acquire great assets, it always wise to do whatever is necessary to protect and foster their development. In other words, there isn't any reason whatsoever to expect to see Swanson in Atlanta before September. In fact, it wouldn't be hard to find some who would argue that his long-term interests would be best served by staying at the Minor League level throughout the season.
Yeah, it would be cool if the Braves introduced Swanson as their starting shortstop at the start of the 2017 season. But it's obviously more important to allow the kid to go through a natural development at the Minor League level. He's played just 22 regular-season games at the professional level. The key is letting Swanson do whatever is necessary to prepare to be a valuable asset at the big league level for many years to come.
Why are the Braves considering moving their Spring Training home from the Disney complex?
-- Lewis L., Rossville, Ga.
The primary issue is the geographical consequence of the Astros and Nationals moving away from Central Florida. When the Astros and Nationals begin playing in Palm Beach County next year, the Tigers will be the only other club that is based within an hour of Disney.
The proposed Pinellas County site would have been nice, given the number of teams that are located both in the Tampa and Bradenton/Sarasota areas. But that proposal hit a snag when Major League Baseball made it clear Pinellas County should be more committed to putting its money toward keeping the Rays in the region.
So now we don't necessarily know where the Braves will be training after their current deal expires at the conclusion of 2017. But as time elapses and construction clocks get tighter, you have to wonder if Disney might remain in play, at least for a short-term extension.