Roster battles still being waged

Welcome to the final full week of Grapefruit League action.  Or as those who came to camp hoping to win a roster spot might say, welcome to the one week that truly matters during Spring Training. 

The past month has certainly been important to both Chipper Jones, who has gained confidence in his knee, and Nate McLouth who has simply proven that he does once again have confidence in himself.

The early weeks of the exhibition season have also proven beneficial to Wilkin Ramirez, the extremely athletic 25-year-old outfielder who went from being a respected prospect in the Tigers organization to a player that they were willing to part with for a little cash. 

Those who have only had a chance to evaluate Ramirez based on what they’ve seen in the box scores this year are understandably excited about the 25-year-old outfielder.  But is there really any reason to put much difference in the .310 batting average he’s compiled and the .207 mark Matt Young has recorded.

Both players have compiled 29 at-bats.  Ramirez has just been fortunate to tally three more hits during this short span.

Most of you were already well aware of the fact that there is no reason to put stock in exhibition season stats.  With this being said, I do recognize that the Braves would have certainly liked to have have seen Joe Mather tally more than the four hits he has compiled in his first 36 at-bats.

But because he’s already on the 40-man roster and out of options, I still feel it’s a foregone conclusion that he will be on the roster.  

In the exhibition season-setting, you have little control over which pitchers the batters face.  Once the regular season begins, Mather will be in a position to draw most of his at-bats against the left-handed pitchers that have been much friendlier to him than right-handed pitchers in the past.

I’m also still thinking Brooks Conrad will get one of the final available bench spots.  The Braves need his bat off the bench and they can get by with using Mather in center field if necessary. 

Conrad is beloved in the clubhouse and respected by members of upper management.  If there was legitimately a better alternative, it would be much easier to send Conrad to Gwinnett to begin the season.

But even with Ramirez impressing with his great athleticism and having the ability to serve as  legit backup option in center, I still expect Conrad to get the nod simply based on the fact he proved productive in the role last year. 

Meanwhile Ramirez combined to hit .234 for three different Minor League clubs last year.  This is not to say he doesn’t have tremendous upside and could possibly be in the Majors within the first couple of months.

But Ramriez seems to be in a position where he could benefit from a little more time in the Minors.  When the Braves acquired him last year, scouts labeled him as an extremely talented player who has had trouble hitting the breaking ball. 

While I’m still thinking Conrad will get one of the two final bench spots, I really don’t know whether it will be Ed Lucas or Diory Hernandez who gets the other one. 

Last week, I thought they might go with Lucas and I will stick with that belief because he could be used in the outfield if necessary.  This becomes even more important with the assumption that Conrad will be on the roster instead of Ramirez or Matt Young.

I’ll take a closer look at the final available pitching spots over the next couple of days.  But if pressed for a guess right now, I’ll stick with Brandon Beachy winning the fifth spot.  

My reasoning for Beachy hasn’t changed. The Braves paid Mike Minor a big bonus and his upside is tremendous.  Thus with just 134 career Minor League innings under his belt, the Braves need to maximize their investment by giving Minor another month or two in the Minors to work on his secondary pitches. 

Some of you will say the Braves need a left-hander in their rotation to start the season.  That’s fine, but I think it’s more important to do whatever necessary to increase the odds that you will get the most you can from Minor. 

As for that final bullpen spot, I think Cristhian Martinez is the clear favorite.  Scott Proctor struggled Thursday night and simply isn’t able to provide as much as Martinez, whose value rests in his ability to serve as both a middle man and long reliever.

The Braves will likely trade to Proctor over the next week.  If they are unable to move him, they could release him by March 28 and only have to pay a fraction of his one-year, $750,000 contract.  




If the Braves are trading Proctor, I bet Pittsburgh and Kansas City are first on the list of teams FW will call.

The final week will be interesting. Does Lucas play short stop? I really like him over Diory otherwise.

Betting that the bench should likely consist of Hinske, Ross, and probably Conrad.

That leaves one infield spot and one out field spot. It is ashamed for Jordan Schafer that his hard work has not resulted in good numbers. He will likely start the year at Gwinnett.

Wilken Ramirez has won the other outfield spot in my opinion. Whether they award him is the question.

The other infield spot comes down to Lucas and Hernandez. Both have had excellent Spring Training. My question would go to which one plays Shortstop. To me that gives the edge to Hernandez.

I sure hope Mather is not rewarded, just because he is out of options. We are too deep in the outfield to worry about that in my opinion.

Bring on the season boys! Let’s get it on!!

Barry, why do you assume Lucas can’t play SS? He played SS when he entered the league and played 32 games there last year. Physically he is an imposing guy. He is a better stick off the bench, if Gonzalez got hurt Diory would be up from Gwinnett. Better hitter, late inning replacement. Got to go with Lucas.
Nice to see you concede on Conrad, as Mark quotes above,
“Conrad is beloved in the clubhouse and respected by members of upper management”. I guess I am not the only one with the Mancrush. I wish you were right on Mather, but I fear not.

I’m with Chipper, Let’s get this party started.

Yes, Bill. The Brave’s bench needs Brooks Conrad. They need his bat, they need his heart and soul. BUT they do not need him playing in the infield.

I am glad to know Lucas plays short. I honestly did not know. That is why I phrased what I said as a question. He has not played much short this Spring. Hernandez and Hicks have received the majority of the time there when Gonzalez was out. Lucas looks like the real deal to me, and knowing what you have stated, I am comfortable with either player.

I am looking forward to seeing some Gwinnett games this year, as it appears they will be fielding a major league quality team. Once again (as last year) the Braves are very deep at most positions. Bodes very well!

Barry, I am starting to think you and i are ST soulmates. Will wonders never cease? I think that a lot of what happened to Brooksy last season was based upon the pressure he put on himself. Hopefully he will shed that mantle and settle into a role which really works for him and the team. As for your boy Diory, I think he suffers a lot from the light hitting label that got placed on him when he made his first couple of tries in the Show. I too, welcome the depth that we seem to have now, even at some of our positions. Lets play ball.

My vote is for Beachy to get the fifth spot in the rotation so the Braves will have an exclusive right-handed rotation.

It more than likely will be Beachy at this point. Of course, your Phillies may be getting more right handed all the time with Brown and Utley out. It is going to be an interesting season.

pherrisphain, if that means that the Phillies can bat below .250 against the Braves again and strike out against them more than they did any other team in the division, I’ll take it.

Even if the Braves did release Proctor after March 28 and have to pay the whole salary, that’s peanuts compared to what the Mets now owe Oliver Perez.

In my estimation PROCTOR has not yet fully recovered from his Tommy John surgery, and he may never fully recover.

I followed him closely last season as he struggled to get his command back. Two walks in one inning today show me he’s still struggling with command, and an overall 4.66 ERA is not encouraging.

I think his velocity is good, but he seems to have an outing and be on the right track, then has a bad set-back the next time out. No consistancy good or bad which I suppose is progress of a sort. Last season, he’d have a step forward and two back.

I don’t think the BRAVES can take a longer look this season. If he passes through waivers he could go to GWINNETT and work some more, but I doubt that will happen. I believe his time as a BRAVE is near an end.

I was at the game Saturday against the Mets. A few things I noticed:(1) Lipka looks like a stud. It’s almost impossible to believe that he was hitting high school pitching this time last year. He flew around the bases, and turned a nice dp too. (2) Kimbrel looked like he did last year. Nasty and unhittable. (3) Conrad had a great day. Offensively he hit a bomb and defensively he got a lot of action, including a nice diving play. I still wouldn’t put him in as a late inning defensive sub… but I think he makes the team. He won me over.
As far as who make the team, Diory or Lucas, I think it needs to be a decision based on defense. We are the league’s worst defensive team and we just locked up the league’s worst defensive second baseman for the next 5 years… so any late inning defensive help we can get, the better. With our pitching and bullpen depth, there are going to be a lot of close games and defense will win out.

There has been an interesting transition with the Braves. In 2009, they had a very good spring, winning a bunch of games late with the young talent. The Braves were a better 40-50 man team than everyone else, but they weren’t among the better 25 man teams yet. It was evident that something good was on its way. Now the only blemishes in games for the most part are after the first 25-30 guys are done. Clearly, the Braves have made the transition to a team that is more ready to compete when they go north in April.

If Conrad makes the team then who plays second late in the game? Do we keep bravomania’s worst second baseman in the league (Uggla) in the game or do we bring in Brooks? This may be the reason Brooks does not make the team. Still got to love Brooks major league bat.

Ahh, I come back to meet my Brave brethren(yes, even bill), and I’m met by a Phillie troll. Hahaha, good times. Who’s your number 3 hitter, phan, IbaŮez or Luis Castillo?

Well, they do have a clean up hitter that knocks in about a run a game, and a pitching staff that isn’t supposed to give up a run all season, so they should be fine in the land of the cheesesteak. Certainly better than any team that has Brooks Conrad on it….clearly a one horse race….;)

Yeah, I was just thinking that those Frillies just about have this thing locked up. I think their new no show 2nd baseman is going to really give that team some great chemistry. Like the song from phantom….. Prima Donna, first lady of the stage……

Well, dang it, Bill, let me get your blood boiling again. What happened to Brooks last year was TOTALLY predictable. I know, because I TOTALLY predicted it.

Quite simply – if the Braves had played Diory Hernandez instead of Brooks Conrad in Playoffs, San Fran doesn’t win the series. That said, the Braves probably loose out too, and maybe the Phils go to the series, so……. it all worked out anyway, right?

That’s all behind us now – we are back and healthy! Great to get the season started. GO BRAVES!

barry, barry, barry. Simple minds only understand simple concepts. In case you haven’t noticed Brooks had never had a run like that in his quite extensive professional career. He got snake bit, it happens. What is quite apparent is that this team loves Brooks much the way I do. Sorry that you can’t understand that, but I guess it comes from never really playing a team sport. Brooks will make the team because, he is a clutch performer against ML pitching, he is a great teammate and because 2 weeks don’t define a man. Diory on the other hand has never produced at the Major League level. Every time he comes up he bats less than .150. Can’t quite make a case for that on this team can you really? He can do all he wants against minor leaguers in ST and during the regular season in the minors but if you can’t hit the big boys, you can’t hit the big boys. He is a great backup to have at Gwinnett in case someone needs 15 day rest, but he ain’t no everyday player now is he? He has a slugging % of .386 in 8 minor league seasons. Ouch. So before you pat yourself on the back some more, just remember what Brooks TEAMMATES said after the season. The said we wouldn’t even have been in the playoffs if it wasn’t for Brooks. Enjoy those games in Gwinnett, I’ll be watching the show every night.

Did Brooksy probably cost us some games with San Fran? Yes. However, he also won us some games along the way. How quickly we get ready to dump a guy because he has a bad series.

I could not agree more on the Brooks Conrad comment check out my blog about him.

I could not agree more on the Brooks Conrad comment check out my blog about him.

umm speedybream he still is makeing errors but i must admit he has a good bat but he is not experienced enough to play with the big dogs…

umm speedybream he still is makeing errors but i must admit he has a good bat but he is not experienced enough to play with the big dogs…

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