My prediction: Conrad and Lucas will be on OD roster

Welcome back to Disney, where Tim Hudson will finally introduce himself to the home mound against the Mets, who have become familiar with the Braves this year.  This marks the fourth time these clubs have met and we’re just 15 days into the exhibition season. 
 
After tonight’s game, I’m going to head back to Atlanta to spend a couple days reintroducing myself to my wife and kids.  Before heading out, I figured I’d stir some debate by projecting which position players might fill the final available roster spots.  

With the assumption that Joe Mather, Eric Hinske and David Ross are all assured spots on the Opending Day roster, the Braves seemingly have to fill just two of the 13 spots reserved for position players. 

Brooks Conrad, Matt Young, Diory Hernandez, Ed Lucas and possibly Jordan Schafer seem to be the top five candidates fighting for this spot.  Before going any further, I’ll say that my position hasn’t changed with Schafer.  I still think it’s in his best interest and the club’s best interest that he goes to the Minors and plays on an everyday basis for at least a couple of months. 

Also, there is obviously a need to have a backup for Alex Gonzalez.  With Hernandez and Lucas standing as the only candidates capable of playing shortstop,  I think one of them is assured of being on the Opening Day roster.

For whatever it’s worth, Lucas and Hernandez have both hit around .400 through 20 at-bats this exhibition season.  .

Lucas was drafted as a shortstop out of Dartmouth in 2004 and started becoming more of a utility player the next year.  The versatile 28-year-old player has played every position (except catcher) at least once in his professional career and he’s actually spent the most time at third base (361).  He has played just 115 games at short. 

Hernandez has played shortstop in 449 of the 655 games he’s played professionally.  He has played 77 games at third base and has made just one appearance as an outfielder.

Given the lack of upper-level shortstop depth the Braves have had the past couple years, not a whole lot should be made of the fact that Hernandez has been the one who has continued to play shorstop on a regular basis.  

Just because I think Lucas has the potential to provide more with his bat, I’m going to predict he wins this battle against Hernandez. 

The battle between Conrad and Young might have been even more interesting had Young been a right-handed hitter. 

The Braves really like Young and he would stand as the legit backup centerfielder they don’t currently possess.  But the club really doesn’t need another left-handed bat on the bench and if necessary, Mather could play center. 

Thus, I’m going to say the switch-hitting Conrad gets that last roster spot.  He has recently attempted to make himself more marketable by taking grounder at first base.  He actually played the position during last Wednesday’s “B” game against the Cards. 

Obviously adding the ability to play first base to his resume isn’t going to get Conrad the job.  Instead, he’ll end up getting this role based on the fact that he’s already proven capable of handling it in impressive fashion.  

Forget about the defensive miscues he made when forced to serve as an everyday player and remember how many times Conrad’s bat proved clutch coming off the bench last year. 

    

32 Comments

A good problem to have, in my opinion. It’s better than scrambling to try to fill spots.
If Conrad makes the roster and gets used to playing 1B, we’ll have about five people capable of manning the position: Freeman, Hinske, Mather, Prado, and Conrad.

I don’t know why Mather is going to make this team. He’s never hit in the major leagues. He’s not hitting at all this spring. His defense this spring has been questionable. I know he’s a right-handed batter, but so am I. That doesn’t mean I should make the roster. Young should make the team instead; at least he has something to offer.

On another note, if Gonzalez hits behind Heyward all year Jason is going to be walked well over 100 times. This nonsense that a lineup needs to be constructed to avoid managers being able to bring in a left-handed pitcher to face a string of left-handed hitters makes sense only if the right-handed hitters you have to break the string are good hitters. Gonzalez will be lucky to have an OBP of .300 while Heyward’s will be around .400. Who would pitch to Heyward with men on base? Heyward should be hitting third with Chipper second.

To me, Joe Mather is an afterthought; I keep forgetting he’s even on the team. The Braves can get by without him. Conrad should be more assured of a roster spot than he is. Give Matt Young and either Hernandez or Lucas (total toss-up in my opinion) the last two slots.

As for Schafer, let him get used to playing every day in the Minors, because once Chipper has his inevitable injury, he will have to man left field so Prado can take over at third.

DOB, I know this is way off base, but could they be looking at a guy like W. Castillo for one of those bench spots? You want an awesome right handed pinch hitter. We have one. Ross. If only we carried someone that could serve as a third catcher while at the same time providing some speed and versatility serving as infield and outfield backup as well. Even though Diory is having a strong spring, I think it’s time for a change to Lucas as utility and back up ss. So many posters seem to love this guy Young, again good speed, good backup cf and versatiliy as infield backup. He could be this years Conrad (come from nowhere). Good makeup and hustle guy. Just thinking out loud.

DOB, I know this is way off base, but could they be looking at a guy like W. Castillo for one of those bench spots? You want an awesome right handed pinch hitter. We have one. Ross. If only we carried someone that could serve as a third catcher while at the same time providing some speed and versatility serving as infield and outfield backup as well. Even though Diory is having a strong spring, I think it’s time for a change to Lucas as utility and back up ss. So many posters seem to love this guy Young, again good speed, good backup cf and versatiliy as infield backup. He could be this years Conrad (come from nowhere). Good makeup and hustle guy. Just thinking out loud.

DOB, I know this is way off base, but could they be looking at a guy like W. Castillo for one of those bench spots? You want an awesome right handed pinch hitter. We have one. Ross. If only we carried someone that could serve as a third catcher while at the same time providing some speed and versatility serving as infield and outfield backup as well. Even though Diory is having a strong spring, I think it’s time for a change to Lucas as utility and back up ss. So many posters seem to love this guy Young, again good speed, good backup cf and versatiliy as infield backup. He could be this years Conrad (come from nowhere). Good makeup and hustle guy. Just thinking out loud.

Just a hint: this is Mark Bowman’s blog, not David O’Brien’s.

If the Braves go north will 12 pitchers because of the April schedule, right now I’m leaning towards this mix:

OF Heyward, McLouth, Prado, Hinske
INF Chipper, Gonzalez, Uggla, Freeman,
C McCann, Ross
UTIL Mather, Lucas, Conrad
SP Hanson, Hudson, Lowe, Jurrjens, Minor
RP Venters, Kimbrel, Moylan, O’Flaherty, Martinez, Linebrink, Sherril

Wilken Ramirez, Brent Cleven, and Diory Hernandez are my almosts.

That said, this line up has no late innings defensive help in it. Schafer gets his chance if Mather struggles in April/May, or when Chipper goes on the DL for the first time.

Who has options? It would be helpful to know.

I didn’t see Wilken Ramirez mentioned. He is having a great Spring.

If it were me I would go with Hernandez and Young in the infield, and Hinske, Ramirez and Schafer as outfield bench.

Joe Mather (as the Beaver) would not make the team.

Problem with my thinking is, I would bet that would leave some players without options off the squad. Also, I would agree (above) that Schafer should be playing everyday somewhere to keep his trade value high. Looks like Gwinnett will have a STRONG team.

Go Braves!

Chipper is RED HOT! Same some big guy!

Mather is certainly out of options.

Mark, what is the latest about Billy Wagner, and why his name still appears on the 40 man roster? What gives?

I think they are keeping him on the 40 man until they absolutely need the spot, just in case he has a change of heart.

Ramirez had another great game. I can see why the Tigers were high on him for a couple years. If he can keep the K’s down like he has, they really need to find him a spot with the Braves.

Why is the q-Tip keeping Mather. He has done anything this spring, nothing before in the major league and very little in the minors. This looks like another ego move for Cotton Top. He picked the guy up off waivers, so he must be a steal. It’s time to cut your losses and go with guys who have more upside. Lucas and Ramirez have looked great this spring and deserve to make the club. They offer the team the best chance to win.

Mr. Bowman. I guess I was more off base than even I knew, I was having some Brain F_rts when I referred to you as DOB.

I know this is way off base, but could they be looking at a guy like W. Castillo for one of those bench spots? You want an awesome right handed pinch hitter. We have one. Ross. If only we carried someone that could serve as a third catcher while at the same time providing some speed and versatility serving as infield and outfield backup as well. Even though Diory is having a strong spring, I think it’s time for a change to Lucas as utility and back up ss. So many posters seem to love this guy Young, again good speed, good backup cf and versatiliy as infield backup. He could be this years Conrad (come from nowhere). Good makeup and hustle guy. Just thinking out loud.

The reason Mather makes the team is simply due to having no options. The Braves took a gamble on him and they need more than Spring Training numbers to prove that it was a poor decision. My STL sportswriter friend told me a while back that Mather is known to be a “lefty crusher” and has the capabilities of putting up Diaz-esque numbers against LHP (which would be wonderful off the bench). Finding Minor League Splits is pretty difficult, but his 2010 numbers are really solid against lefties:

.884OPS 7doubles 1triple 3hr 17rbi 15bb in 118 plate appearances.

I think Wilken gets a spot. Conrad,Mather, to minors.

Who’s the back-up center fielder in this scenario? Heyward?

IF Conrad makes this team, and I don’t think he should, he should NEVER be placed on defense. I would only utilize him in late inning pinch hit situations only. With 8 errors in the final week, including 3 in one NLDS game last year, he should be banned from all things defense. He booted another one yesterday.
Lucas, Hernandez, Young, and Ramirez are all fighting hard to make the team and I like all of them. It’s a good problem to have.
Also – DOB seems to think the 5th starter competition is a tie and maybe even the nod going to Beachy. I completely disagree. Minor is edging him (not by much) this spring, but he’s a lefty in a righty dominated starting rotation. That alone should give him the nod over Beachy. That and he’s a #1 draft pick out of college so age wise he’s ready and we spent a lot of money on him. To me it’s a no brainer.

Aye – Bravo, but it may well be the economics of being the first round draft pick that might ultimately work against him in a close contest. What is his arbitration situation, etc.>>??

Conrad, Hinske and Mather (don’t ask me why) are a lock. Lucas beats out Ramirez for the last spot although they will likely be on the 25 man on opening day. I think both Beachy and Minor got to Gwinnett for a start each until mid-April. Barry’s mancrush Hernandez heads back to minors along with Young and Shafer. If Mather doesn’t hit he will soon lose out to the new improved Shafer who is really close to having his swing back.

If both Beachy and Minor go to Gwinnett, who is the 5th starter. Do we skip the 5th starter, have KK or R. Lopez be the 5th starter? I hope Beachy ins the battle for the last rotation position. He has looked good last year and in ST.

won’t need a 5th starter until mid April because of early off days. I would like to see Beachy make it too, but minor will probably get the nod because he is one of Q-tips brilliant moves.

“don’t ask me why?” Bill says. The why is as I indicated above – who has options.

And my man crush on Hernandez pales at Bill’s man crush on Brooks Conrad. Bill also enjoys such a crush on “Danny” Uggla.

Someone other than me must have a little thing for Danny. We just gave him 62 Million for 5. Even CottonTop got this one right.

Geeeee, I hope you’re right Bill.

Dan Uggla is a dick. That said, I hope he breaks records this year.

Bill, Yes I was watching the Cards on TV and trying to decide if Uggla $62M for 5 years was better or worse than Holliday for 7 yrs @$120M. Holliday career OPS of .931(OPS+ of 135) in Colorado versus Uggla career OPS of .837(OPS+ 117)

Hell I think I could have had a .931 OPS in Colorado. I hear the batboy’s is .940.

Maybe, I know I can hit a golf ball here 300yds…

Can we please go ahead and trade KK….What does Wren expect to get back in return?? In this case, addition by subtraction.

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