Caray: Braves can reach World Series as presently constructed

The Morning Show w/ John & Hugh
February 19, 2019 - 11:20 am

© Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

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With Atlanta Braves pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training in Florida this past weekend weekend, John and Hugh spent a few moments with Fox Sports South lead voice Chip Caray on Tuesday.

After a surprising 90-72 record and capturing the NL Eastern Division title a year sooner than expected, the Braves provided fans with a glimpse into what promises to be a bright future for manager Brian Snitker's club.  With two All-Stars, a Gold Glove award winner (Ender Inciarte), the NL's Rookie of the Year (Ronald Acuna Jr.), and the NL Manager of the Year (Snitker,) divisional opponents now know that to become division champs, you must contend with Atlanta.

“For Braves Country, everyone’s excited to see what this team is going to look like in defending their NL East Division championship,” Caray said. “No one expected the Braves to do what they did when they did it. I think everyone had a feeling they would make the jump into playoff baseball or baseball respectability, and last year was that year for the Braves. Now the challenge becomes, how do they manage expectations of defending their title?"

While cynics might say the misfortune of the Phillies and Mets played a part in Atlanta's grabbing the division a year ago, Caray said the franchise has nothing to be ashamed of. 

"At the end of the day, the Braves were the team that won it, and I think those guys are going to play with a chip on their shoulder and say 'hey, we're good, and we don't care what anyone thinks.'"

Even with those lofty expectations, there are plenty of questions about this year's team. Caray believes each day will be an interesting one for third-year manager Snitker, who Carey believes will have even more flexibility with his roster.

"The thing that's so exciting for Snitker is that he will have tremendous options on how to set up that lineup. You'll probably see a lot of different lineups, and I'm excited about that."

What do you expect our of Ronald Acuna and where he might bat in the lineup?

"That’s up to Brian Snitker. The way the game is played now, you put your best three-or-four hitters in the top of the batting order. It's hard to argue with what Ronald did out of the leadoff spot last year."

While fans have shown plenty of interest in wanting the Braves to sign former reliever Craig Kimbrel, there's no guarantee it'll happen. If that area isn't addressed heading into the season, Caray says economics will have played a part. 

“There's two ways of looking at things: How do you justify paying a closer who's going to pitch in 60-70 games, $15 to $20 million dollars when you have other needs you have to address as well? There’s the rub. He’s a terrific closer and he would solidify that roster. As a Braves fan, I'd love to see a guy like Craig Kimbrel on the roster, but it has to make sense on both sides."

Can they make it to the World Series?

“First of all, you have to be one of the teams to get into the dance. As presently constructed, yeah, I think they can. I think the Braves have a lot of young pitching talent, but the bullpen is young. But having that guy who’s been under the lights, I think is invaluable. Having a number one...'that dude’ as Snitker says, is important. It would have everyone feeling good about their chances.”