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Team Preview: Atlanta Braves

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2007 W-L: 84-78
2007 Pythag W-L:
2007 Payroll: ~87 mil
2008 Payroll: ~101 mil

Coming: Mark Kotsay, Tom Glavine, Javier Lopez, Matt DeSalvo

Going: Andruw Jones, Edgar Renteria, Ron Mahay, Julio Franco, Octavio Dotel, Willie Harris, Chad Paronto, Chris Woodward

Sliding In:
Despite acquiring the best bat available last deadline, the Braves missed the playoffs for an unheard of second straight season.

Offense: First the obvious: losing Andruw Jones hurts and Mark Kotsay nor Josh Anderson will replace him. Edgar Renteria being dealt also hurts, but Yunel Escobar should take some of that sting away and become a big fantasy sleeper pick, or at least as big of a sleeper pick as a 24 year old shortstop with a 119 OPS+ can possibly be at this point in the game.

Brian McCann and Mark Teixeira are still really good, so is Chipper Jones, but the team could use a Jeff Francoeur breakout season to aid their decision whether to trade Teixeria at the deadline - assuming they're not in the thick of things, a la leading the division or within three games of a playoff spot - or to just sit on him and take the two first round picks.

Starting Rotation:
Tom Glavine is a Brave again and all is right in the world, except that the Braves are still paying Mike Hampton to be a human pin doll. Without fawning too much, John Smoltz and Tim Hudson were pretty darn great last year, and some form of Chuck James, Jo-Jo Reyes, or Jair Jurrjens will fill out the rotation - assuming that Hampton doesn't rise to the occasion and stay healthy - not likely.

Bullpen:
Rafael Soriano will head into his first season as a closer, however it'll be interesting to see if Bobby Cox would consider giving Mike Gonzalez the gig if Soriano were to struggle. Lefties galore: Jeff Ridgway, Royce Ring, and Will Ohman figure to fight for a spot alongside Tyler Yates, Chris Resop, Peter Moylan, and others - giving the Braves the possibility of two or more lefties in their pen.

The Hook:
The Braves didn't do much to improve and the Mets and Phillies didn't get any worse; if the team is going to make the playoffs it'll be in a wild card role, and even then it's a long shot.