We’ll get used to hearing that pick-me-up shouted from the dugout whenever our young shortstop steps up to the plate.
It pained me to see Fookey go to LA after 2005…
and I’ll admit I was a little sad to watch Renteria pack his bags and head north this past offseason.
But I definitely think we’re richer in the middle infield with Yunel Escobar stepping in to start full time.
If you’ll recall, all the 25 year old Cuban did last year when filling in for the injury riddled Renteria was hit .326 in 94 games and proved to be a veritable doubles machine with 25 of them last year.
Decent speed, doubles production, and he can hit for average; that’s exactly what I’d like to see in the number 2 spot this year.
With 11 errors in three different positions (although he was .977 at shortstop his natural spot) there’s a little room to grow.
However, if you ask anyone who watched Yunel around the diamond in ‘07 they can tell you he’s got the talent, the promise, and the energy to make Braves fans want to keep him around the clubhouse for a long time.
Side Note: I was lucky enough to see Yunel play in Single A ball up in Rome in 2005, while Chipper was on one of his rehab stints. I remember thinking back then that I was sure we’d see him hustle up to Atlanta rather quickly. It’s pretty neat to have the chance to see a kid from early in his career in Rome move up to an everyday starting spot in Atlanta.
I’ve never before been given the opportunity to see our farm talent develop until these past few years now that our Single A team is just in Rome. I’m looking forward to next year when we have the Gainesville Braves so we can just head up 85 and see how our Triple A boys are doing on the farm.
End of digression.
With a lot of heart and and real competitive fire, Escobar makes this generation of the Braves’ middle infield an exciting one to watch. Needless to say, for me it’s gonna be fun to see “Yuney” in his first full season at short. Who else is excited?
Count down to Home Opener: 16 days
JB in ATL
I suppose “Coxsy” is doing a lot of running his fingers through his hair these days as he looks over his potential Opening Day roster and figures out who stays and who goes in the 2008 bullpen.
What if I were making the 25 man roster, you ask? Well, here’s how I’d handle the pitching situation before March 31st.
I’d say of the guys on the bubble (Yates, Boyer, Resop) first we keep Yates who, with only 2ER’s this spring (the five walks might not factor if he can just shake the rust off) is looking pretty good as a right handed middle reliever. Boyer is out of options but Cox has given him some chances lately and been he’s holding his own (2IP’s 0ER’s 1H’s 3K’s against the Tribe on Tue. night.) If Jair Jurrjens gets a starting spot, which doesn’t seem unusual, he’s not in the bullpen but he should be a lock either way. James may end up going to Richmond (soon to be Gainesville) so he’s not in just yet but also not out of options so I’m ok with sending him down as a possible 5th starter if Jurrjens is too young to handle it. Peter “Thunda from Down Unda” Moylan who really shined in ‘07 will be back along with Manny Acosta (as set up man).
My prediction for the ‘pen:
Yates- 6th & 7th inn. relief righty
Ohman- lefty relief, specialist
Moylan- possible setup, middle relief, specialist
Ring- lefty relief, specialist (iffy)
Boyer- relief/inning killer
So you’ll have to say goodbye to Reyes, James, Ridgway, Bennet, Carlyle, Lerew, Resop, and possibly Ring (I put him in there because I want two lefties in the pen). Five of the aforementioned started in ‘07. Unfortunately, Ring, Resop and Boyer, are out of options so this is their last chance with the Braves. In truth I’m really rootin’ for Boyer to stick around. He’s an Atlanta guy and been with us a few years and I think he’s got some talent when in good health. I’m also going with two lefties because I like having more than just one option if I need that arm to come in for situations.
Well, Coxsy does have his hands full. It’s nice to have some good talent to sift through. It’ll be interesting to see who we take into April. But there’s my prognostication. Please feel free to share yours with me as well.
JB in ATL
Good News: The two homers turned out to be enough to get the win and break their uncharacteristic home run drought.
Bad News: Not really bad, but I like seeing Brave wins without relying on the long ball. It’s a bit more NL and in my opinion, it’s what makes great teams have great years and produces great postseasons when they can manufacture runs.
Better News: Cox passed Sparky Anderson on the all time managerial wins list with 2,194…he got 2,195 today.
Tonight, the stories were Chuck James; 7 IP 1 H 0 R’s. It’s very encouraging to see James get a strong start and go deep into the game especially after seeing Davies have a good night. Maybe our starting pitching is going to carry us a little more than I first thought. Lerew is on the hill tomorrow. Let’s hope for another strong outing!
Willie Harris. I’ve mentioned his name in at least 4 of the last 5 blogs so of course he went 4-5 and now has a .467 avg in 30 AB’s. I’m loving Willie, the homegrown GA native, and his 4 SB’s to go along with a blistering BA to make a case for everyday play.
After a 9-2 spanking tonight, the Braves go for the sweep tomorrow afternoon and then head on to Washington to face the fledgling Nationals. Bring out the brooms!