Roster battles taking shape

Before this afternoon’s game against the Phillies, I mentioned that I felt the final two bullpen spots would be claimed by Jo-Jo Reyes and Jesse Chavez.  A few hours later, I’m willing to make this assumption with greater confidence and also say that I think Brooks Conrad currently holds the lead in the battle for the last roster spot for a position player. 

Conrad ended an 0-for-15 slump that extended back to March 18 with a seventh-inning homer this afternoon off Chad Durbin.  But my thinking has more to do with the fact that even during his prolonged slump the Braves never soured on this journeyman, who gained a lot of favor with the work ethic he brought to the park during his short stints with Atlanta last year. 

Had Thurston been in the Braves organization last year he might have gained the same advantage.  So far he has proven to be the same kind of likable player who is very similar to Conrad in many ways. 

But if I had to guess right now, the nod will go to Conrad, who also draws the advantage provided by the fact that he is already on the 40-man roster and Thurston isn’t. 

“Brooksy did a great job for us last year,” Bobby Cox said. “He won us some games.”

Chavez at least regained his sanity this afternoon while working a perfect inning against the Phillies.  During his previous two outings, he had worked 1 1/3 innings, allowed 11 hits (all singles) and eight earned runs.

“The last two outings haven’t been indicative of the way he’s pitched,” Cox said. “He kept the ball down and he did it again today.  It was the same as the last two times for me.” 

Cox has repeatedly pointed out that Chavez was marred by bad luck in those previous two outings and those who witnessed both could certainly back up my belief that this wasn’t just another case where the veteran manager was going out of his way to back up a player that didn’t deserve to be defended. 

When we approached Chavez this afternoon, he looked relieved.  Thinking back on his two previous outings, he could only laugh and say, “what did I give up like 11 singles and only about half of them even left the infield?”

“I’m not the first to say it, but I’m not a spring pitcher,” said Chavez, who was a surprise addition to Pittsburgh’s Opening Day roster last year. “But this is what it’s for.  Get them out of the way now and be ready to roll once the lights turn on.”

It was interesting to hear Cox say after today’s game that there is some concern about putting Reyes in the bullpen to start this year because of the fact that as a starter at Gwinnett he would provide insurance if one of the members of the Atlanta rotation was sidelined.

“It’s a predicament because Jo-Jo is a starter/backup guy if we send him out,” Cox said. “If we keep him, he could help us here too.”

With Reyes pitching two perfect innings today and Jonny Venters seemingly crumbling under the pressure while allowing the Phillies three runs in just two-thirds of an inning, there’s even more reason to believe the Braves would rather go with Reyes. 

Venters allowed a leadoff double to Jimmy Rollins and issued consecutive walks to Chase Utley and Ryan Howard (with the bases loaded) before recording his first out.  As for Craig Kimbrel, the only thing he surrendered while going up against Utley, Howard, Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino was a single by Howard. 

But the Braves seem to be shying away from sending the still-green Kimbrel to the Majors with just 14 games of experience above the Class A Minor League level.  With this being said, he’s shown enough to lead me to expect to see him in Atlanta at some point this year.

If all of this proves to be true, those final bullpen spots will go to Chavez and Reyes.  And if the Braves are really hesitant about the fact that they don’t have much depth in the starting pitching department, they could send Reyes to Gwinnett to get stretched out when Scott Proctor is deemed ready to join the Atlanta bullpen. 

While Kris Medlen is certainly capable of making a spot start if necessary, his positioning in the rotation could weaken the bullpen’s depth.  As mentioned last week, this young right-hander has proven that his versatility extends to his ability to be a detriment to left-handed hitters. 

With Medlen in the bullpen mix, the Braves could be confident carrying Eric O’Flaherty as their only true left-handed middle reliever.  

 

 

 

12 Comments

I predicted everything he just said right here.

http://brandonwoodworth.mlblogs.com/

I predicted everything he just said right here.

http://brandonwoodworth.mlblogs.com/

Mark, who got cut today? You said there would be cuts this afternoon.

Brandon, I’m sorry, but your website looks like a 18 yr old soccer player talking about baseball. Viva and the Capital Avenue clown might be interested, but it ain’t shattering the earth here. Maybe you could throw in a few more stats and get a bigger following. If you say UZR they all get a little moist.

I don’t even know what UZR stands for, you miserable old *******.

I don’t even know what UZR stands for, you miserable old b@stard.

Thanks Viva, you made my day. It’s always a good day when I can rankle you a little. I like how you you went back and respelled B@stard.

Well no crap, I only stated that on the site. And take my soccer playing with a grain of salt, I don’t know **** about soccer or any soccer team, but I’ll talk circles around you about baseball.
And everyone knows what UZR is. But I don’t give it much merit. It tends to display some top play making Gold Glovers to be terrible defenders. I don’t need numbers to tell me that a guy can’t bust his a$s(I don’t know if it will censor it or not, I saw that guy do it and I though it’d look cool) getting to a ball, I have eyes for that. And it’s funny, considering I mentioned nothing about defense in the one blog post I made almost a week ago aside from a comment about hearing about Conrad’s defense, so when I’m right about all the roster spots, I’ll gladly accept an apology, because I am right. Long-shots Acosta( thank whatever respective God you pray to) and Krimbel are out, so now it’s down to Proctor, Chavez, Reyes, and the longshot who is Ventures(?, I’ve never heard his name mentioned before this Spring.)

And Mark, whatever is to become of Steve Marek? I want to see something out of the Texiera trade.

http://brandonwoodworth.mlblogs.com/

Well like I’ve said all along Wren will have Chavez make the team because he traded for him. Oh and Brandon, if your gonna talk circles around me, you might want to figure out the braves players names( insert Venters here). I mean for chrissake the guy is mentioned in the article above. Maybe you should talk about Pele or Dvid Beckham or something. That might be a blog you could pull off, but i kinda doubt that too. Certainly baseball isn’t your calling. You might want to cool it with the shameless plugs.

Rare agrement with billreef in his last missive.

I got a lol out of Pele, considering I have NO idea who he even plays for haha (I’ve just heard the name)(And wow, I check Wikipedia and found out he is retired lol), but if you now say you agree with me, why did you even argue in the first place? o_0

The point is, I’m right and I know just as much as you do, don’t try and make me look stupid, because this is a match you will not win. Like, I didn’t realize adding a letter to a name was just TERRIBLE, but completely missing a letter in DAVID was totally acceptable.
P.S. Apparently baseball isn’t yours either, seeing as you pick fights about it on the internet instead of playing it. :)
http://brandonwoodworth.mlblogs.com/

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