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Know Your Enemy: Atlanta Braves

This is the Braves' last year at Turner Field.

Turner Field in Atlanta. The Braves are leaving for the suburbs after this season.
Turner Field in Atlanta. The Braves are leaving for the suburbs after this season.
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

The sentence above is probably the only interesting thing about the 2016 Atlanta Braves season.

They have apparently been looking toward the 2017 opening of SunTrust Park to retool their team so they could be returning to contention along with a new stadium. Right now, they seem pretty far away from that goal.

The Braves were 42-42 and just four games out of first place on July 7, 2015. Then they started losing and losing and losing and wound up playing .321 ball the rest of the year (25-53). That's a 52-110 pace for a 162-game season and it would not surprise me if this year's Braves did that.

They have one quality starter, Julio Teheran, and he had a mediocre 2015. On the depth chart on the team website, Bud Norris is listed as their No. 2 starter. Norris was released by the Orioles last year after posting a 7.06 ERA in 66⅓ innings and he wasn't much better for the Padres, for whom he pitched exclusively in relief.

The rest of Atlanta's rotation is Triple-A quality.

Former Cub Arodys Vizcaino is listed as their closer. He certainly has the stuff to fill that position, and did post nine saves for the Braves late last year (after sitting out the first 80 games of 2015 on a PED suspension) with a good ERA (1.60) and WHIP (1.188) in 33⅔ innings. It remains to be seen if the Braves can get enough late-inning leads to give him enough work.

Freddie Freeman is a good player. Uh... trying to find someone else to write positive things about... uh... well, not really. Oh, yes. Ender Inciarte, who the Cubs had some interest in and who is pretty good, will play center field for the Braves, probably until the trading deadline when he'll be flipped to a contender.

The Braves have reconstituted the White Sox' catching tandem from 2011-12 by re-signing A.J. Pierzynski and picking up Tyler Flowers as a free agent. A.J. had a surprisingly good year with the bat in 2015, but he is 39 and has caught over 1,800 games in his career, which ranks 11th all-time and leads all active catchers by a considerable margin (Yadier Molina is second at 1,436). So Flowers will likely play a lot, and he really doesn't hit much at all.

Maybe the Braves' big swap of Shelby Miller to Arizona for prospects, including top shortstop prospect Dansby Swanson, will work out for them. I'm guessing it'll take more than one year, though.

The Cubs and Braves will meet April 29 and 30 and May 1 at Wrigley Field and June 10-11-12 in Atlanta.