Saturday, March 8, 2008

Spring Training News and Notes

There have been about a week and a half of spring training games, and here are some of the Braves who have stood out so far, as well as an updated list of who I think will be on the teams opening day roster. The Braves open the season on March 30th against Washington in the Nationals new ballpark.

Hitting Standouts:
  • Chipper Jones has hit well, but has only had 10 ABs due to injury issues
  • Yunel Escobar has hit .545 in 22 ABs, but has made 2 errors in the field
  • Joe Borchard has hit well in 14 ABs, and 5 of his 6 hits have been doubles
  • Matt Diaz, Brian Anderson and Jordan Schaffer are all over .333 and have 1 SB
  • Tyler Flowers has hit over .300, the best of any Braves 1B by far
Hitting Woes:
  • Javy Lopez hit a quick HR but has struggled to a .154 average
  • Brandon Jones has hit only .150 with no extra base hits
  • Brent Lillibridge has hit .217, although he does have 2 doubles
  • Brian McCann has hit only .133
  • Scott Thorman has hit only .125
Pitching Standouts:
  • Blaine Boyer has thrown 6 scoreless innings in 3 games
  • Mike Hampton hasn't allowed a run in 3.1 innings, but left after pulling his right groin (he isn't expected to miss any significant time)
  • Jair Jurrjens has given up only 1 run in 5 innings
  • Phil Stockman, Jeff Ridgeway and Tyler Yates have yet to give up a run
Pitching Woes:
  • Tom Glavine has had some troubles giving up 3 runs in 4.2 innings
  • Buddy Carlyle started off good before struggling against the Reds
  • Jeff Bennett also struggled against the Reds in the split squad game today
  • Manny Acosta has given up a lot of hits, although he does have 3 k's in 3.2 innings
  • Royce Ring has had control problems, walking 4 men in 3 innings
Although there is still a lot of spring to go, some players have already began shaping whether or not they will have a shot to start out the season with the big club. Here is an updated look at who will be on the opening day roster.

Brian McCann- McCann is going to start even if his poor spring continues
Mark Teixeira- Another lock to start, regardless of what happens
Kelly Johnson- Lock
Yunel Escobar- Great Spring so far, Lock
Chipper Jones- As long as he stays healthy, he will start
Matt Diaz- Good spring so far, will make the team, although still a risk of a platoon
Mark Kotsay- Will start in center until he provides reason that he can't
Jeff Francoeur- Lock

The bench is where the spring training stats likely will affect who is there more
Backup Catcher
-Javy Lopez has really struggled, although I still think that he has the edge on the job, although if he doesn't continue it could go to Bryan Pena who has had the best spring of any catcher
Backup First Baseman
-Scott Thorman has stuggled while Tyler Flowers has hit well. Thorman is out of options, so I don't think the Braves will risk losing him unless he plays extraordinarily awful
Backup Infielder
-Omar Infante will likely be out for the beginning of the season, so the job for utility player opens up. I think that Brent Lillibridge will get the job, because he can play SS, and neither he nor Martin Prado has had a good spring
Backup Outfielder
-Josh Anderson has played much better and it appears that without Infante the Braves will likely want an OF who can play all 3 positions. Although Schaffer has played well, the Braves will probably let him play in AA because he has so little experience. Brandon Jones has played his way out of a role with his bad hitting and has seemed to be lackadaisical on defense at times
Final Bench Spot
-Before I thought that Lillibridge would get this spot because Infante should have been there and he was versatile. At this point, there is no clear choice, and I think that the Braves will reward someone who has had a good spring. So far, I think that this spot could go to Joe Borchard who has hit well, and has always had the tools to be a good MLB player

Tim Hudson-Lock
John Smoltz- Lock, even if he gave up a base hit to Tiger Woods
Tom Glavine- Lock
Mike Hampton- Lock, Assuming that he is able to stay healthy
Rafael Soriano- Lock, although he has been battling a virus
Peter Moylan- Lock, although he too has had some health issues
Will Ohman- Lock, the club acquired him to be their lefty reliever, and he will get his chance
Tyler Yates- Has pitched well and has been expected to be here, although I don't think he is a lock
Blaine Boyer- Has pitched great, and barring an awful end of spring, he is pretty much a lock

The last 3 spots (including the 5th starters spot) are looking a lot less certain at this point in time
Fifth Starter:
-Chuck James is still battling injury issues and he is looking less and less certain for the start of the season. If he is unable to go, I think that Jair Jurrjens will get the nod because he has
had a tremendous spring, while Jo-Jo Reyes and Jeff Bennett haven't
Bullpen (2 spots)
-Even though he hasn't thrown well yet, Jeff Bennett is out of options, and is a favorite of Cox, so I think he will get a spot
-Manny Acosta (who I previously predicted would get this spot) hasn't pitched well and still has options, so I think he is on his way back to the minors. I think this spot comes down to either Chris Resop or Royce Ring, who are both out of options. I think that the Braves will keep Ring because he is a lefty that they acquired last year and he will definitely get picked up if he gets waived. Resop has pitched better this spring, but I don't see him making the team over any of the other guys.


Anonymous said...

Hey man,
I like the site and your picks for the final spots in the rotation and 'pen.

How do you think Jurrjens could do in the fifth starter role?

Right now he's my favorite.

Check out my blog if you get a chance and let me know what you think about the roster.



Baseballbrett said...

I really would like to see Jair Jurrjens in the fifth starters spot. If Chuck James is healthy, I think he will take it, but Jurrjens has more upside. I think that he could prove to be the third best starter on the team this year (after Smoltz and Hudson).