Atlanta Braves (NL)
They need to address a huge hole at shortstop, adding a few defensive minded guys to the bench and targeting a solid pair of starters.
FA RP David Itou (32) Might still have some gas in the tank, but his talent is a dime a dozen and could be had for less than his 2.2M asking price. With 11 Players Arbitration eligible, Atlanta will have a lot of questions going into the off-season. Huge impact players such as Sp Tony Hujimoto, RF Theodore Grace, C Alex Delahanty, RF Kurt Tanner, and LF Edgar Nunez , all need to be evaluated and decided if they will be part of the future or should be shipped out for younger talent. Someone might be willing to sell high for some of this talent or Atlanta might be able to piece themselves a winner with a few more parts.
2B Gabby Sanford, 33 is coming off a huge injury and might struggle to provide the speed and hits he had in the past. At 6.6M his contract might be tough to move by itself. Atlanta has to hope he has enough in the tank to provide 20 SB and at least a .275 average (an average he has not maintained in 3 seasons).
The days of Travis Green (19 – plays in S18) starting at SS need to end, his bat does not even come close to covering for his poor glove. A move to the bench or to the minors would better fit him. SS Kennie Ramirez met the same fate early in the S18 campaign. !b/DH Matty Evers might be a better fit for the Al , being Arbitration eligible will make keep him and giving him Ab's or dropping him a big choice. He has averaged just over 100 Abs in 5 seasons in Atlanta. He might be the best offensive weapon they have to put at 1B. For a team who starts the worst defensive SS in the Game they are cautious to start a slightly below average 1B?
The outfield unit of Evers, Grace and CF Dickie Tartabull make for a strong unit. Tartabull struggled through a down season batting .233 with dips in all his production categories. Watch for him to rebound.
The rotation is flawed, but has some talent. Everett Ritz (7M a season through S19), 30 might be one of the top NL pitchers and would be coveted if he was on another team. Instead he is saddled with being the anchor on the lowly Braves. His talent might be hard with Atlanta to part with, but I can't imagine him being here for the fruits of this rebuild. Arbitration eligible Tony Hujimoto, 25 is a must resign and should be able to build on his solid S18 campaign. John Cho might be a diamond in the rough, he has potential to perform in the right conditions and would be a solid bottom of the rotation guy with no pressure.
Theo Cooper(22), Bruce Spencer(29), and Doug Tobin(32) should comprise the LR staff and be able to solidify innings that the rotation could not complete. None though have had much success as starters and would struggle being stretched again into that role. The final 2 spots might be filed with these guys or possible AAA John Carter who had a solid AAA campaign, Another option might be AA Buck Smith, who is coming off an elbow surgery shortened S18. He was unhittable when on the mound compiling an 18-2 record with a sub 2 era.
The rest of the Pen will be the real strength Setup guys 22 year old Ricardo Martinez and 25 year old Ivan Johnson are super inning munching relievers. What they don't pitch will fall to Victor Vega and Hong-Jin Xaio. Last season Johnson served as the closer moving him out of that role might better utilize his stamina and allow for a specialist to take the closer role. A few options might be AA Prospects Antonio Vaughn, who already burns a 40 man spot or Quinn LaRocca who closed out AA games at 32/35 clip.
Summing it up with a Quote:
"Queue the Benny Hill music Green's at short today" - TBS broadcaster on Live pregame coverage before the Braves /Dolls games last season