Running down the rosters: Atlanta Braves

15 Comments

Since finishing off one of the biggest collapses in NL history, the Braves have responded by doing absolutely nothing, at least when it comes to adding. They did trade away Derek Lowe and let shortstop Alex Gonzalez leave in free agency. But every member of the current 25-man projected roster below was in the organization last year.

Rotation
Jair Jurrjens – R
Tommy Hanson – R
Brandon Beachy – R
Mike Minor – L
Randall Delgado – R

Bullpen
Craig Kimbrel – R
Jonny Venters – L
Eric O’Flaherty – L
Arodys Vizcaino – R
Kris Medlen – R
Cristhian Martinez – R
Anthony Varvaro – R

Disabled list: Tim Hudson (R)
SP next in line: Julio Teheran (R), Medlen, Todd Redmond (R)
RP next in line: Robert Fish (L)(Rule 5), Peter Moylan (R), Adam Russell (R), Cody Gearrin (R)

It’s looking increasingly likely that Hudson, who is coming off back surgery, will miss at least the first couple of weeks of the season. The Braves can’t be too confident about the health of Jurrjens or Hanson, either. Of course, they have great depth with Delgado, Teheran and Medlen, but it’d be for the best if it’s not tested in early April.

The bullpen is also strong, with the game’s most untouchable one-two punch and Vizcaino seemingly ready to take on a big role in the sixth and seventh innings. The only spot that figures to be up for grabs is the last one, assuming Medlen isn’t needed in the rotation. Fish, who was taken from the Angels in the Rule 5 draft, could claim it over Varvaro with a strong spring.

I’m listing Moylan with the next in lines since he’s likely to spend the first month or two rehabbing following shoulder surgery. He’s back with the Braves on a minor league contract (and thus won’t be on the major league disabled list initially).

Lineup
CF Michael Bourn – L
LF Martin Prado – R
3B Chipper Jones – S
2B Dan Uggla – R
1B Freddie Freeman – L
C Brian McCann – L
RF Jason Heyward – L
SS Tyler Pastornicky – R

Bench
C David Ross – R
INF Jack Wilson – R
1B-OF Eric Hinske – L
OF Matt Diaz – R
OF Jose Constanza – L

Next in line: INF Drew Sutton (S), INF Brandon Hicks (R), INF Josh Wilson (R), OF Jordan Parraz (R), OF Luis Durango (S), OF Stefan Gartrell (R)

For the record, that’s not how I would arrange the lineup. Fredi Gonzalez, though, likes Uggla in that cleanup spot, no matter that it would make more sense to have him lower in the order breaking up the lefties. And while McCann spent much of the season hitting third and fourth, he was dropped down to sixth at the very end.

The roster here is probably set. I’d rather see them carry Sutton than Constanza, but that would leave them without a legitimate backup center fielder. Better yet, they could carry both and go with an 11-man pitching staff once Hudson is healthy. But figure the odds…

These Braves are still very much a threat in the NL East if things break right. However, I’d be more optimistic if I felt safe in projecting any of their starters to throw 200-220 innings. And if they had a different manager.

Kolten Wong lashes out after losing his starting role with the Cardinals

Getty Images
1 Comment

Kolten Wong is no longer the only second baseman being considered for a starting role on the Cardinals’ roster, and he’s not happy about it. On Saturday, GM John Mozeliak and manager Mike Matheny hinted that Wong could lose playing time to Jedd Gyorko or Greg Garcia in 2017 — in other words, an infielder who brings a little more pop at the plate. Prior to the Cardinals’ game against the Marlins on Sunday, Wong gave his heated response to the media. Via Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

I don’t think you give somebody a contract for no reason,” Wong said. “When you are given a contract, you are expected to get a chance to work through some things and figure yourself out. Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, all these guys never figured their stuff out until later on down the road. It’s the big leagues. It’s tough, man. For me, the biggest thing is I just need people to have my back. When that comes, it will be good. But, I think right now, it’s just staying with my play, understanding I’m working toward getting myself more consistent, understanding what kind of player I can be. If that’s going to be with another team, so be it.

When pressed, Wong said that he would rather be traded away from St. Louis than step into a limited role with the team. “I don’t want to be here wasting my time,” he told the press. “I know what kind of player I am. If I don’t have the belief here, then I’ll go somewhere else.” The 26-year-old was inked to a five-year, $25.5 million extension prior to the 2016 season, complete with a $12.5 million option and $1 million buyout.

Part of Wong’s frustration stems from the Cardinals’ backtracking on their stated commitment to him as their starting second baseman last winter. Mozeliak admitted that while Wong had the defensive tools necessary to hold down the position, he failed to impress at the plate. It’s an argument that Wong hasn’t been able to rebut this spring, going 8-for-44 with two extra bases and 10 strikeouts in camp. He hasn’t looked much better in the regular season, sustaining a career .248/.309/.370 batting line with a .678 OPS and 5.1 fWAR over four years with the organization.

Still, the second baseman feels that he should have been given some heads up that he was playing to keep his starting role this spring, admitting that he entered camp with the mentality of someone who had a guaranteed spot on the Cardinals’ roster and not someone whose job security was dependent on his day-to-day results. “I need the time to consistently figure out how to be me and succeed at this level,” said Wong. “Everybody goes through it. Not everybody is Mike Trout.”

The Tigers are trying to convert Anthony Gose into a pitcher

Getty Images
1 Comment

Tigers’ center fielder Anthony Gose wants to try his hand at pitching, according to comments made by manager Brad Ausmus on Sunday. Gose is poised to start the year in Triple-A Toledo after receiving a midseason demotion to Double-A last summer following an altercation with Triple-A manager Lloyd McClendon.

While the experiment won’t detract from Gose’s outfield work in Triple-A, the 26-year-old is expected to take on additional bullpen sessions throughout the year. According to MLB.com’s Jason Beck, the left-handed hitter last took the mound in high school, where his fastball was clocked as fast as 97 m.p.h. Gose ultimately rejected the idea of starting his professional career as a pitcher, despite receiving favorable assessments from scouts.

Ausmus said the idea first surfaced at the end of the 2016 season. It appears to be a fallback option for the outfielder, who has struggled at the plate over his five-year career in the majors. Via Chris McCosky of the Detroit News:

Doolittle in Oakland did it and he was in the big leagues a couple of years later,” Ausmus said. “It’s going to take some time. He’s going to have to be a sponge and catch up on experience fast. But we feel it’s worth investigating.