It’s early, but it’s looking good

By Tony Schiavone

Sure, I realize we’ve played only three teams so far this season, but there are plenty of reasons to be excited about 2012.

As with any Braves teams, major or minor, it starts and ends with pitching.  And we’ve got plenty of it.  The G-Braves bullpen of Jose Lugo, Buddy Carlyle, Cory Gearrin, Dusty Hughes, Jaye Chapman, Adam Russell, Jason Rice, Ben Swaggerty  and Anthony Varvaro have a combined record of 5-2 with five saves and an ERA of 1.76.

Simple math will tell you the bullpen has either won or saved 10 of the G-Braves 12 wins as of April 23.

Wow.

But let’s be honest.  This is Triple-A baseball, and as the old adage goes, “If you really like your team now, wait about two months, you’ll get another one.”  So we sit and wait for call-ups, options or injuries in Atlanta to take their toll on the Gwinnett staff.

Most Atlanta beat writers feel when Tim Hudson comes off the DL, that Randall Delgado will be optioned to Triple-A.  If that is true, what does that mean for the current staff?  It’s an exciting, but troubling question all in one.

The next few weeks will be important not only for the careers for Hudson and Delgado, but for the fortunes of two Braves teams as well.

On the other hand, the offense has been spotty at best.  This 12-and-6 starts can best be described as “bookends” offensively.  We lost two of the first three games of the season in Durham with a limited supply of runs; and we’ve lost two of three to Charlotte, again with not many runs to brag about.  But in the middle of the “bookends” there has been plenty of offense.

So we should approach our fourth Braves season in Gwinnett County with optimism.  After all, the previous three seasons have seen winning records each year and one playoff appearance.  And all indications that even without a Tommy Hanson, Cristhian Martinez, Kris Medlin, Mike Minor, Jonny Venters or Craig Kimbrel; this maybe the best pitching staff we have seen.

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