The Forsyth County News sports staff debates a few key topics about the Atlanta Braves as they get set to open the 2014 season.
What is the biggest bright spot for the Braves this season?
Andrew Hirsh, Sportswriter: Youthful core. GM Frank Wren did a masterful job locking up his young stars this offseason, which will serve the team well in the long-run.
Brian Paglia, Sports editor: Future stability. That $280 million to lock up Freeman, Heyward, Kimbrel, Simmons and Teheran this offseason was well spent. A good sign from ownership.
What’s the team’s biggest concern going into the season?
Hirsh: Pitching depth. With the losses of Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen, the Braves will have to lean on the likes of Aaron Harang and David Hale. That’s far from ideal.
Paglia: How about catcher? Evan Gattis was a nice story last season, but can he avoid a sophomore slump? Can he handle a pitching staff like longtime catcher Brian McCann?
Who will be the team’s MVP?
Hirsh: Jason Heyward. After dealing with injuries over the last few years, Heyward is primed for a breakout season. A .280 average and 35 home runs are certainly in the cards.
Paglia: Julio Teheran. This is the year he turns into a legitimate ace. He drew comparisons to Pedro Martinez as a prospect and won 14 games last season as a 22-year-old.
How many games will the Braves win?
Hirsh: The Braves win 89 games, earn a wild card spot and lose in the NLDS.
Paglia: They’ll win 91 games, make the playoffs as a wild card and lose in the NLDS.