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.