In the early 1990's it was Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. In the late 1990's it was the New York Mets In 2003 it will be the Philadelphia Phillies who give Atlanta a run for the division. The last time the Atlanta Braves did not win their division was 1990. Will this be the year it ends?
For the first time in recent memory, they lost key players from their roster and were not able to replace them with equal talent.
The biggest question for Atlanta will be their long time strength, the pitching. Gone are starters Tom Glavine, Kevin Millwood and Damian Moss. Also gone are 7 pitchers from the bullpen, Mike Remlinger, Chris Hammond, Kerry Ligtenberg, Albie Lopez, Tim Spooneybarger, John Foster and Aaron Small. These 10 pitchers accounted for 68 victories (48 from the 3 starters).
The new faces in Atlanta are starters Paul Byrd, Byrd was a Brave in 1997-98, (17-11, 129 SO, 3.90 ERA), Mike Hampton ( 7-15, 74, 6.15-albeit at Coors Field), Russ Ortiz ( 14-10, 137, 3.61), Shane Reynolds ( 3-6, 47, 4.86) and Roberto Hernandez ( 26 saves, 4.33 ERA). Total wins: 41.
The staff will again be anchored by Greg Maddux (16 6, 118, 2.62) followed by Hampton, Ortiz, Reynolds and Byrd (until Byrd returns from disabled list, Jason Marquis (8-9, 84, 5.04) and rookie Horacio Ramirez will fill in.
The bullpen will be filled with many new faces like rookies Jung Bong, Joe