With the Grapefruit League and Spring Practice both up and rolling, we thought we would throw out a new Debate of the Day to y'all - For 2010, who has the better chance of winning their respective division? The Dawgs in the SEC East or the Braves in the National League East? Both teams have plenty of plenty of potential and a few question marks. Read on and chime in below with your thoughts in the comments section.
UGA in 2010...
The big question marks for UGA are the QB position and how quickly can the D pick up Grantham's new 3-4 scheme? As to the 1st question mark... If Aaron Murray is as half as good as his hype, we will have the best offense in the East, hands down. We return 10 starters from last year's team that averaged nearly 29 points/game and the new QB will be replacing a turnover machine. While having a rookie QB is never ideal in the SEC, this might be the ideal situation to have a rookie QB. Think about it - we have a veteran offensive line, a dynamic tandem at RB and the best WR in the nation. To me (along with the rest of the Bulldog Nation), the big question is on defense. If CTG and the new staff can coach the players up and they are able to grasp the new system quickly, 2010 could be a banner year for the Dawgs. The special teams should be a huge strength for us as we enter into 2010. In Walsh and Butler, we have the best P/K combo in the country to go along with a record-setting return man and a new coaching staff running the unit.
As for the Dawgs' competition to win the East, they have to deal with (1) a rebuilding Florida team with a schizophrenic head coach, (2) a South Carolina team led by Stephen Garcia, and (3) a Tennessee team that is getting to know its 3rd coaching staff in as many years. The East is going to be down this year more than we have seen in a long time.
Braves in 2010...
The Braves are going to have one of the best starting rotations in baseball. Lowe, Jurrjens, Hudson, Hanson, and Kawakami - pretty damn solid. So, the Braves have come back around and gone back to their successful model from the 90s. The other half of the battery is also about as good as you can get - McCann has become one of the best backstops in MLB over the last 4 years. After that, the Braves are loaded with potential - both good and bad. Chipper Jones could hit over .300 with 25 jacks and 100 RBI, but he could also miss 100 games. They signed a former AL Homerun Champ and he is only 32 years old. The problem is Troy Glaus could hit more than 32 HR or he could get less than 32 AB. The super prospect Jason Heyward probably provides all of us Braves fans with the the biggest question mark along with the most excitement. The Braves are really hoping for him to bust out this year and make a significant contribution. The obvious problem is you can't really expect a 20 year old to step in and start mashing in his first big league season.
As for competition, The Braves' big hurdles are the 2-time defending National League Champion Phillies, the big-spending Mets, and the Marlins, who seem to always have a good young lineup that could all break out at any time.
The Braves need a bunch of old guys to prove their bodies can endure a 162 game season. Between Chipper, Glaus, Saito, and Wagner, we have a good chance that a major part of our lineup/team will miss significant action over the course of 162 games. The Dawgs, on the other hand, have a bunch of young guys that have to prove they can play at this level. I would much rather bet on young potential rising to a challenge than bet on old brittle bodies making it thought the 6 month grind of a MLB season.
The schedule/competition also favors UGA. I never thought I would say this, but the SEC East will be a little weak next year. Of course, it's all relative when I say that. But, Florida has a lot to replace, including all- world Superman (careful when you click here - it's an awfully bright orange and blue page) and a whole lot of underclassman that left early. Tennessee lost a lot of seniors from an average team last year and they will be getting to know their 3rd coaching staff in as many years. And until they prove otherwise, in my eyes, South Carolina will always be...... well... South Carolina. They just always find a way to screw it up. The Braves, on the other hand, have a tough field to compete against. The NL East will be as strong as any division in MLB in 2010. The Phillies will be going for a 3rd straight pennant, the Mets will get some superstars back from injury (Reyes and Beltran) this year, and the Marlins have been a thorn in the Braves' side since expansion in 1993.
I have gotta go with the Dawgs here. While both teams have the potential to have great seasons and win their East Divisions, the Braves' margin for success is just too thin. And their competition is just too strong and proven. At this point, I think UGA should be favored to win the East next year. But, that's another post for another day.
What do y'all think? I look forward to reading your comments below.