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Braves Making the Team Meter: Week 4

A busy week for the MTM, there were a bunch of pitchers cut yesterday, and that tightens up the competition just a bit. The pitchers cut from last week's MTM include, Francisley Bueno, Rafael Cruz, Emiliano Fruto, Mariano Gomez, Anthony Lerew, James Parr, Juan Perez, Todd Redmond, Phil Stockman, and Luis Valdez. As for the guys remaining here is how I think the opening day roster will likely shake out, though there are a few variables. Keep in mind that the Braves won't need their fifth starter until April 19th, so that means they can carry an extra bullpen arm or an extra outfielder to weather any possible injury concern to Garret Anderson.

The rotation (4) - Derek Lowe, Javier Vazquez, Jair Jurrjens, Kenshin Kawakami
The bullpen (7) - Mike Gonzalez, Rafael Soriano, Peter Moylan, Manny Acosta, Blaine Boyer, Boone Logan, Buddy Carlyle

As you will read in the notes below, there are a lot of what if's. Does the team carry two LOOGY's? All of these pieces become harder to fit when you consider that before any center fielder is added to the roster, there are 12 position players who should make the team:

Catcher (2) - Brian McCann, David Ross
Starting Infield (4) - Casey Kotchman, Kelly Johnson, Yunel Escobar, Chipper Jones
Backup / Bench (4) - Greg Norton, Matt Diaz, Omar Infante, Martin Prado
Right Field (1) - Jeff Francoeur
Left Field (1) - Garret Anderson

If we carry 11 pitchers - 4 starters, 7 relievers - then that leaves room for 2 center fielders. But then someone has to go when Glavine or the fifth starter joins the rotation on April 19th. It's a good problem to have, having too many players than positions to fill. But there are still a few more weeks of spring training and a lot can happen.

Here is the combined MTM. For last week's MTM go here for pitchers, and here for hitters.

Player, Position Chance Notes
Manny Acosta, RHP
He's been a rock this spring and "should" make the team, but he's got options left and may get booted for other out-of-options guys.
Jeff Bennett, RHP
Bennett ain't been good this spring, and he may be pitching himself off this team. He's got time to turn it around, but he need to hurry it up. His last outing was spotless, so that's a start.
Blaine Boyer, RHP
Boyer has also been a rock. Perhaps the Boyer we saw in 2005 will be back this year, after all it will be his second full year back from TJ, and usually that's when pitchers get their full ability back.
Jorge Campillo, RHP
He's thrown well for team Mexico, but everyone thinks he's ticketed for the Gwinnett rotation. We'll have to see if he's the first option if Tom Glavine can't go, or if Jo-Jo Reyes will be.
Buddy Carlyle, RHP
Buddy's been fantastic this spring. He could be a real asset in the bullpen this year.
Tommy Hanson, RHP
He's had a good spring, but I think he could really benefit from some triple-A time to refine his game. That could help ease his transition into the majors later this year. With the good spring that Reyes has had, the Braves may feel less pressure to rush Hanson in case of an injury.
Boone Logan, LHP
He's no Will Ohman, but he'll be solid as a LOOGY. Remember that the White Sox called him up from A-ball to the majors, and he struggled. He's worked hard since then to figure it out, perhaps we get the benefit of a young hard thrower with lots of experience who has finally come into his own.
Kris Medlen, RHP
He didn't get cut with the rest of the kids. They're starting to extend him in games, so perhaps they'll keep him in the rotation.
Charlie Morton, RHP
He still hasn't seen any action this spring. Because of that and the injury, I'm taking him off of this list as his chances of making the team out of spring training are nil.
Peter Moylan, RHP
It "looks" like he'll be ready for the opening day roster, though they still have to test him on consecutive days. I think he'll be ready.
Eric O'Flaherty, LHP
He's been a bit hittable, but he's had a good spring. If we carry two LOOGY's then he makes it.
Jo-Jo Reyes, LHP
His impressive spring leads me to believe that he'll be the first option if Tom Glavine can't go on April 19th. Unless there's an injury to another starter, Jo-Jo will head the Gwinnett rotation to start the season.
Jeff Ridgway, LHP
I'm surprised Mariano Gomez was cut before Ridgway, as Ridgway has definitely pitched himself out of a bullpen spot.
Rafael Soriano, RHP
Not one, but two good outings. Like Moylan, we need to see if Soriano can go on back to back days, and that test will come later in spring training.
Player, Position Chance Notes
Josh Anderson, OF
No walks this spring, and not much more with the stick. His stock is dropping precipitously. There's still time for him to turn it around, but with Schafer tearing it up, Anderson might become the odd man out, or relegated to back-up duties (where his speed is still valuable).
Gregor Blanco, OF
Some people thought that playing in the WBC would hurt Greg, but he's doing well and he's at full speed. He could really figure in the center field mix, and he becomes more valuable if Garret Anderson can't go.
Brooks Conrad, INF
He hasn't done himself any favors at the plate this spring.
Freddie Freeman, 1B
It's nice to see the Braves keeping the kids around past the first two rounds of cuts, but I doubt they'll survive the third round.
Diory Hernandez, INF
I like the spring he's had, and if anyone in the infield gets injured, he could be an important piece of this team.
Jason Heyward, OF
For those of you who think he's ready, take another look. He's hitting for a good average, but he needs to work on his strikeouts. The kid is 19, there's plenty of time.
Brandon Hicks, SS
He's hitting a little better of late. Without much depth in the minors on the left side of the infield, Hicks is a very valuable player to have in double-A.
Brandon Jones, LF
What more can he do to convince the Braves he's ready.
Martin Prado, INF
I'm taking him off the list, not because he's not doing well, but because I say he's made the team as the second backup infielder. Prado becomes much more valuable with the questionable health of Chipper Jones.
Jordan Schafer, OF
He leads the team in doubles, he leads the team in stolen bases, he leads the team in runs. Schafer is playing his way onto the opening day roster. With the absence of Blanco and the shoddy spring of Josh Anderson, the Braves are leaving the door wide open for Jordan to win the center field job. I get the feeling the Braves want to give him the job.

We'll have a lot more to talk about next week as more folks come back from the WBC.

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