NorthernNotes

Atlanta Braves

1999 National League Champions

The 2000 baseball season looks bright as the Atlanta Braves expect to continue their success of the 1990s.

The Braves have solidified their batting order by acquiring Quilvio Veras and Reggie Sanders for the top two spots. The rest of the order will be filled by established Braves players, including Chipper Jones, Brian Jordan, Andruw Jones and Walt Weiss.

Andres Galarraga and Javy Lopez will also be returning to the lineup after missing all or most of the 1999 season. Hopefully both players will be able to play injury free and be productive.

The biggest question mark for the Braves this season may be their pitching staff. John Smoltz is out for the season after he re-injured his arm in spring training. The Braves still have Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Kevin Millwood as their top three pitchers. The last two spots in the pitching rotation are up for grabs.

The bullpen also has its share of troubles. There are questions of whether John Rocker can be effective with the controversy surrounding him. Kerry Lightenberg, the Braves closer in 1998, is returning from the arm surgery he had in 1999 and can hopefully come back strong.

All-in-all, the Braves have a solid team that can stay atop the National League East, defend their 1999 National League championship and win the World Series.

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