Early look at position battles

It’s still far too early to make firm guesses about who might fill the final spots on this year’s roster.   But it’s already apparent that in comparison to recent years manager Bobby Cox has enhanced depth in the relief department and an increased number of versatile position players.

My early evaluation is that it’s currently much easier to project who will fill the final available spots in the bullpen.  With the projection that Billy Wagner, Takashi Saito, Peter Moylan, Eric O’Flaherty and Kris Medlen will fill five of the bullpen spots, it appears a group of relievers will be fighting for the final two spots.

ADDITION:  When I initially posted this, I should have mentioned that I’m assuming Scott Proctor won’t be ready for Opening Day.  He’s ahead of schedule.  But I think it’s safer to assume he won’t return until we’re at least a couple weeks into the season.

As he continues to impress Cox with his mix of above-average fastballs and changeups, Jesse Chavez could soon be considered a heavy favorite to claim one of the seven spots. .

With this in mind, the final spot could prove to be a battle between left-handers Mariano Gomez and Mike Dunn.  Although Dunn is the candidate who is currently on the 40-man roster, he will need to show better control than he produced last year, when he issued 46 walks and recorded 99 strikeouts in 73 1/3 Minor League innings.

Gomez posted a 1.99 ERA in 47 appearances with Triple-A Gwinnett last year.  But while registering 36 strikeouts and issuing 29 walks in 72 1/3 innings, he didn’t exactly display the “wow” factor that Dunn has the potential to produce with his power arm.

Of course if Jair Jurrjens’ shoulder proves to be a lingering problem, Medlen may begin the season as a starter and open a bullpen spot for somebody like Manny Acosta or Chris Resop. Whatever the case, I think you can expect Craig Kimbrel to at least begin the season at the Minor League level to refine his control.

With the assumption that Jason Heyward will begin the season in the Majors, it appears there might be just one available roster spot for position players.   The versatility of Melky Cabrera (can play all three OF positions) and Eric Hinske (can play both corner positions in the outfield and infield), it’s not easy to pinpoint exactly what the Braves might need. 

Joe Thurston would provide further versatility with his ability to serve as both an infielder and outfielder.  But his offensive capabilities off the bench are seemingly trumped by what the likes of Mitch Jones (can play first base and corner OF positions) or infielder Brooks Conrad (limited defensive versatility) could provide.

Right now, it’s seems to early to guess which direction the Braves might go when deciding how to fill out their cast of position players.  In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if they continue to look for an affordable player who has the capability to be the offensive bench threat that the Phillies possess with Greg Dobbs.

This is the kind of acquisition that could be made at the end of Spring Training or during the early weeks of the regular season after clubs have released veteran players who don’t fit on their 25-man rosters.    

  

30 Comments

Hey Yankeepowerhouse. I’m glad that we didn’t get that piece of crap Damon he sucks My grandmother can play better ball than him! as for Jeter I don’t think he is worth that now so the joke is on you suckass yankees. The only way you guys can win a WS is by buying your way there. The only thing that comes to mind when you mention the word the YANKEE”s is a bunch DA’s that will pay to much money for a bunch of *******!! LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! oh yeah looks like you have a couple of x Braves playing for you guys now & they are the only ones that bring any class to your suckass team.

HEY BOWMAN……….
HOW’D THAT DAMON FOR NOTHING PLAN THE BRAVES HAD GOING FOR A MONTH OR SO WORK OUT FOR YOU LOSERS……

MAYBE YOU CAN TRY TO SIGN JETER NEXT YEAR FOR 500,000

ONLY THING COMES TO MIND WHEN YOU MENTION THE WORD ‘BRAVES’ IS TEENAGE INDIANS,BAD BASEBALL PLAYERS AND THE WORST TEAM IN BASEBALL.

It sounds like even though he is ahead of schedule that Scott Proctor is Gwinnett bound at best. I would use Medlen as a starter all spring to stretch him out just in case, then make the determination how he is going to be used.

I am also in favor of signing Smoltz later on in the season. I don’t believe he still has an arm that can handle March-October, but I do think he could be valuable from June/July to October. We’ll see if he is still lurking when it makes sense to look at him. I would hate to use him up in March-June, when his real value could be realized from August to October. We’ll see how that goes.

Mark, as the huge Michigan fan that I know you are, I’m thinking a Drew Henson signing may have to follow the House signing, don’t you think?

HEYMAN NUMBER ONE PROSPECT ? HAHAHAHA….HE’LL BE BACK IN DOUBLE A THIS YEAR…JESUS MONTERO IS GOING TO EAT MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PITCHING UP THIS YEAR

HAYMAN, HAYWARD WHO CARES…SAME LOSER BACK IN DOUBLE A

SMOLTZ..GET A CLUE..QUIT HANGING ON FOR A PAYCHECK

LORENDLENTZ…REALITY CHECK TIME…
JETER 5 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP RINGS SINCE 1995,ENTIRE BRAVES TEAM…I WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP SINCE 1995

OK, guys, who left the gate open this time…

What about omar infante, arguably our best bench player for the past couple of years? he not even worth a mention?

Irish, Omar will be on the team. He’s certainly not among those fighting for what could be the final roster spot

Bowman, what do you think Heyward has to do or prove to start in RF on Opening Day?

Dear Joe Thurston,

You seem like a pretty cool guy and everything, but please stay off the active roster. You can’t hit at all, you can’t really field, you can’t even play SS, and you run about as well as you’d expect a thirty year old baseball player to. So, you really can’t bring much to the table.

You can play in Gwinnett. You can be my favorite Gwinnett Brave. I’ll buy a ticket, I’ll go to a game, I’ll cheer for you. You can start for the Gwinnett Braves. You can bat lead off for all I care. But, for the love of god, stay off the MLB active roster.

Best,

No Papi,
It’s more like who left the toilet seat up and forgot to flush.

Mark, what about Ortegano? Double A last year: 47 IP, 42 K’s, 15 BB’s, and 2.83 ERA. Knowing Cox, and his loyalty to vets, I’m guessing Proctor gets the final nod assuming he’s still ahead of schedule and available.

Not to mention Ortegano’s performance in winter ball.

I like that there is competition for these final spots on the team. What I don’t like is these new hats the Braves are sporting this spring!

LOL, Bill… that works better.

BCIMF: I should have mentioned in this post that I wrote this with the assumption Proctor won’t be ready until we’re at least a few weeks into the season. He’s still ahead of schedule. But as you guys remember with Moylan from the early weeks of last season, it’s not always good to rush back from TJ surgery.

Ortegano will remain a starter. They are high on him. But he still needs at least another half-to-full year of seasoning in the Minors.

While talking to Smoltz a couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t determine exactly what he wants to do. In fact, I don’t think he knows exactly what would be best for him right now.

It’s easy to project that Smoltz would jump at the opportunity to join the Braves late in the season to enjoy one more run toward the playoffs with Cox.

But at the same time, in order to make one of these late-season arrivals, he would have to continue working out on his own over the course of the next three to four months.

Even at the age of 43 (he’ll hit this mark in May), Smoltz is still one of the rare creatures who would be able to keep the motivation and discipline necessary to do this.

But for now, it’s far too early to project that Smoltz and the Braves could serve as a late-season match.

McCane: From a statistical perspective, I think the telling point with Heyward down here will be his ability to consistently put the ball in play. As long as you don’t see him striking out with great regularity, I think you can assume you’ll see him in Atlanta on Opening Day.

Heyward is already showing signs that he is mature enough to accept the pressure and responsibilities this opportunity would provide.

The Braves will also spend the next couple of weeks ensuring he’s been schooled enough to understand the finer parts of the game — taking an extra base, making the right throws, situational hitting, etc. But through his Minor League days, he’s always shown the ability to do these “little things.”

Mark, It seems that you have become quite skilled at “throwing out the trash”. While recognizing that that is an unenviable task, I am sure that everyone here appreciates the effort. And thanks for the update on Smoltzie.

PWH’s comment led me to review this post and come to the conclusion that I’m truly not sold on any of these candidates who could serve as the final position player added to the roster.

I was really pleased to hear that Bobby was defending Shafer in DOB’s column. I mean Bobby is notorius for that but he also doesn’t tolerate any monkey bizness(See Jeff Bennett, Bob Wickman, et al). There were a lot of really negative things said here last year about Shafer that I believe were really unwarranted. He’s a kid, coming off a major suspension, he makes the team against all odds and because the team needed him he tried to play despite what now is known to have been a major injury. I say, give the kid a break. Let him get some strength back and we may have a great addition to the club come June or July.

bill, I seem to remember most people being very high on how well Schafer handled himself last spring, as opposed to prior years.

Oh, I agree everyone was on the JS bandwagon until later last year when he was a “problem” in Gwinnett. Geez the kid had a broken hand.

hey yankeespowerhouse yea i bet anyone can buy a world series with 100 billion dollar pay roll but i bet the yankees wouldnt be nothing with out the money of big edaddy steinbrenner but u take the money away from the yankees and they would be nothing.

BOWMAN,
I’VE ALREADY TOLD YOU THIS BEFORE BUT YOU DON’T LISTEN….
I KNOW THE YANKEES TEAM FOR YEARS…..
SCOTT PROCTOR WAS WITH THE YANKEES WHEN TORRE WAS THERE..
HE WORE HIM OUT …JUST LIKE TOM GORDON..
Number one, he was on the yanks in year 2004 and 2005 and he was pathetic,got blasted for 10 home runs and a 6.04 era in 05.
Number two, in 2006 they got him half way squared away, but torre pitched him 83 games and 102 innings out of the bullpen when he’d never pitched over 44 innings of major league ball before.
the next year they pitched him 52 games and 54 innings then shipped him off to the dodgers at the trade deadline …….
LA pitched him another 31 games though and that was the end of him basically….
in 2008 he got lit up for a 6.05 era in 41 games but only 38 innings and the end was there ,nothing but injuries since…
he walks alot of people too…
braves are wasting their time and energy with him..
obviously the yanks knew his velocity was going down when they traded him..he gave up 20 home runs in a year and a half before they traded him to boot…
the guy is thin and frail, not up to all those innings and threw the curveball that led to injuries…
I wish him luck but i’d imagine he is done any meaningful pitching…

So I’m assuming you made that account just to come into this blog and bust on us with all caps and with your asinine ideas that Jesus Montero is even close to where Heyward is? Ok bro, you keep using that glass pipe while the rest of us make comments that are meaningful to baseball discussions which is usually what happens on Bowman’s blog. Proctor will have to prove himself in Gwinnett before he gets the callup to the Braves because the bullpen this year is shaping up to be pretty solid and if he crashes and burns in AAA then he can stay down there in the International League and maybe pitch against your boy.

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