The Atlanta Braves have made several moves already this off season to strengthen their core and also to add to their ranks. In a bit of a quieter fashion, the Braves have steadily made changes to the team that could be a playoff contender again in 2011.
First, they made a trade for Marlins slugger Dan Uggla. This brings power to the line up and a steady force in the infield. Uggla gives the Braves another potent bat in their lineup with which they can face the NL and contend for another playoff run in 2011. The Braves made this trade with relatively little in the way of loss and gained much for both their plate power and the infield presence.
The Braves then re-signed Eric Hinske. A young player who has shown great versatility for the team. He has come through for the Braves in multiple clutch situations and offers them another power bat. A good utility man, Hinske looks to gain a lot more playing time on the 2011 team with Infante traded and Matt Diaz non-tendered.
The Braves then traded a minor league pitcher Kyle Cofield for former White Sox Pitcher Scott Linebrink. Linebrink is a veteran pitcher who brings that presence to the bullpen and could possibly work into a closer role with the team. He also brings his veteran presence to a very young Braves bullpen something the Braves were looking to add. Linebrink is very excited about being with the Braves and it could bring about a big resurgence for him on the field. Linebrink went 3-2 with a 4.40 ERA and allowed a .262 batting average in 52 appearances for the White Sox last year. Opponents hit just .203 (15-for-74) against him with runners in scoring position. He said that his arm feels great and he is looking forward to being able to pitch in warmer climates for much of the season and thinks it will only help him.
It will be interesting to see what, if any, future moves the Braves make as the off season progresses. Right now though, I would say they've got a great core of a team with a very potent lineup to start off the 2011 season.