This is essentially the same blog as the one that I posted earlier. But with the revelation that Kenshin Kawakami has been scratched from tonight’s start because of right shoulder fatigue, I’m adding this top.
Javier Vazquez will start in his place. Vazquez, who pitched against the U.S. on Saturday, will be pitching on regular rest.
I’ll provide more details when I come back upstairs. Kawakami is expected to talk to the media at 4:30 p.m. ET.
(NOW BACK TO THE ORIGINAL BLOG)
So I sent some of the guys a text this morning to find out who they
were picking to win the NCAA tourney. Always the prompt professional,
Tom Glavine quickly revealed that he’s predicting Louisville to emerge
victorious in a Final Four field that will also include Memphis, Pitt
and North Carolina.
A few minutes later, Jeff Francoeur said
that he believes that UNC or Louisville will win it all. Then John
Smoltz attempted to have some fun by saying that his Michigan State
Spartans, West Virginia, Syracuse and Pitt will participate in the
Smoltz knows how much I dislike both Pitt and
Syracuse (primarily for the crime Marvin Graves committed during a 1992
game in Morgantown). As an MSU fan, I guess he couldn’t bring himself
to truly make my blood boil with mention of that Ann Arbor school that
currently employs that once highly-regarded football coach.
enjoying his laugh, Smoltz revealed his true Final Four prediction
consists of UNC, Villanova, MSU and Memphis. Respecting my elders, I
wouldn’t have called him if Cal St. Northridge had held on to win their
first-round matchup against Memphis.
Now that we’ve all finished
our bracket selections, it’s time to look at some of the tough roster
decisions the Braves have to make. By the time I take this laptop back
to Atlanta in two weeks, we may have a better idea about who will begin
the season as the starting center fielder.
Based on what I’ve
seen, Jordan Schafer has clearly established himself as the
front-runner in this competition. The 22-year-old prospect is the best
defensive option and his speed/power capabilities make him more
attractive in the leadoff spot than Josh Anderson or Gregor Blanco.
some guys who have been around this game much longer than I have seem
to think Schafer could benefit from the opportunity to spend some more
time in the Minors. From a business perspective, this would help the
Braves, who don’t want to start his arbitration-eligible clock any
earlier than necessary.
Anderson is certainly capable of
handling the position and the role of leadoff hitter. The fact that
he’s out of options also aids his bid to win this position battle. But
I’ve also been told not to eliminate Gregor Blanco, who has spent the
past couple of weeks with Venezuela in the WBC.
Glavine not needed until April 18, I’m expecting the Braves will begin
the season with eight relievers. Assuming Peter Moylan is healthy and
Cox is comfortable with the fact that he might not be available for
back-to-back appearances during the early weeks of the season: I’d say
the early bullpen locks are: Mike Gonzalez, Rafael Soriano, Moylan,
Blaine Boyer, Eric O’Flaherty and Boone Logan.
Manny Acosta, Jorge Campillo, Buddy Carlyle, Kris Medlen will be
battling for one of those final two spots. My expectation is that at
least one of these hurlers will be traded.
Also with Jo-Jo
Reyes pitching well, there’s seemingly less reason to send Campillo to
Triple-A Gwinnett to remain conditioned as a starter. So I would have
to say, I’m guessing Campillo begins the season in Atlanta.
Bennett and Acosta available the final spot, it also would make sense
to let Medlen gain more seasoning as a starter at the Triple-A level.
But I think we’ll be seeing him in Atlanta at some point this year.
The Braves haven’t announced tonight’s lineup yet. I’ll post it in the comments section later.
case you were wondering, my Final Four predictions are West Virginia,
Oklahoma, Missouri and Pitt. But when WVU plays my alma mater tomorrow
at 3 p.m., you better believe that I’ll be pulling for Dayton.