Even though we are only three days removed from the 2005 season being over for the Atlanta Braves, it's not too late to take a look ahead to the 2006 season. Soon the Braves' brass will be meeting to go over their plans for this winter, and we want to examine many of the topics they'll have under discussion.
Therefore, for the next thirty-five days, we will examine one topic every day. It will be a question that the Braves' brass will also be trying to answer as they prepare for this winter. This will take us through mid-November, when we should be hearing some rumors and getting a clearer view on the plans for the offseason.
Here are the 35 questions that we'll try to answer for our premium subscribers:
1. Can John Smoltz repeat his 2005 performance and pitch 200-plus innings in 2006?
2. Should the Braves go after a top-flight starting pitcher?
3. Should the Braves pick up John Thomson’s option for next season?
4. Can Horacio Ramirez take his game to the next level and be a top-of-the-rotation starter?
5. Can Jorge Sosa repeat his 2005 performance?
6. Should Kyle Davies join the Atlanta starting rotation full-time?
7. Where do Anthony Lerew and Chuck James fit in for 2006?
8. Should the Braves re-sign Kyle Farnsworth?
9. Should the Braves target Billy Wagner or another closer?
10. Should the Braves non-tender Chris Reitsma?
11. Are Joey Devine and Blaine Boyer ready to become important relievers?
12. Can John Foster be an effective lefty reliever?
13. Can Macay McBride become the Braves’ best lefty reliever?
14. What other pitchers in the farm system might help in 2006?
15. Is Brian McCann ready to become Atlanta’s starting catcher?
16. What do the Braves do with Johnny Estrada?
17. What veteran catchers might the Braves bring in to back up Brian McCann?
18. Can Adam LaRoche become more consistent and be a star first baseman?
19. Should the Braves bring Julio Franco back?
20. Should the Braves trade Marcus Giles, so they can re-sign Rafael Furcal?
21. Should the Braves re-sign Rafael Furcal?
22. Who replaces Rafael Furcal if he leaves as a free agent?
23. Can Chipper Jones stay healthy?
24. Where is Chipper Jones’ long-term position?
25. What should the Braves do with Andy Marte and Scott Thorman?
26. Should the Braves pursue any free agent position players to replace existing starters?
27. What veteran infielders might the Braves bring in?
28. Can Andruw Jones repeat his 2005 season?
29. Is Ryan Langerhans the starting left-fielder for the future?
30. What should the Braves do with Kelly Johnson?
31. Is Jeff Francoeur ready to be a star?
32. Which players from the farm system might contribute in 2006?
33. How long will Bobby Cox remain as the Braves’ Manager?
34. Is 2006 John Schuerholz’s last year as General Manager?
35. What are the other long-term questions that must be asked when planning next season?
Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team. Bill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.