The only infielder on the 40-man roster I see as having any chance of making the team in spring training is Wilson Betemit, and his chances are slim. He’d basically need someone (probably Furcal) to get hurt for an extended period, or to be so good they can’t keep him on the farm. I think that the Braves probably were hoping he’d be ready by 2003, but he hit .245/.312/.370 in AAA last year (better in the second half) and was hurt.
Jesse Garcia, who spent time in the majors last year, is a possibility as a utility infielder. There just doesn’t seem to be the space on either the 40-man or 25-man for him. To make space on the former, they’d have to designate someone for assignment or put someone on the 60-day DL. As for the latter, if the Braves carry 12 pitchers again they’ll only have space for five reserves. They’re already going to have to either unload a catcher or keep Estrada in Richmond. Personally, I’d rather have an extra bat than the extra reliever. Heck, I’d rather go with ten pitchers, at least early in the season… If DeRosa wins a starting job, the Braves may be more likely to keep one of these guys as a utility infielder. Betemit probably needs more seasoning, while Garcia is as seasoned as he’s going to get. Jesse isn’t much of a hitter, but he can run a little and play shortstop.
I believe Jesse Garcia was non-tendered and departed as a free agent.
Ramon Castro (not the same guy as the Marlins catcher) stands a chance to earn the utility infielders role. Purportedly a slick fielding middle infielder. Not much of a hitter.
A follow-up …
Castro’s hitting in Greenville was – despite my crack above – pretty good. He batted .324 with a .446 OBA and .495 SLG.
His performance in AAA Richmond left something to be desired, but as a 22 year old splitting the season between AA and AAA, he wasn’t overmatched.
Garcia was non-tendered, but signed a minor league deal with the Braves (Richmond) shortly after. Here’s a link from the official site that mentions him in the running for an infield job. I can’t seem to find the signing date anymore though.
Here’s the roster as I see it so far:
RP:Smoltz, Holmes, Gryboksi, King, Venafro, Hernandez (6)
C:Lopez, Blanco (2)
IF:Fick, Giles, Furcal, Vinny, DeRosa, Franco (6)
OF: AJ, Chipper, Sheffield, Bragg (4)
That’s 23 spots, with 2 remaining. Although Chipper is flexible to back up 3B and Fick flexible to back up the OF, I think we’ll see at least one more utility player added. So Garcia or Castro or Ryan Langerhans would appear to be candidates. One or two of those guys could fill out the remaning two spots, depending on how big a starting staff Cox wants.
There’s also the weird question of the Francos. I deliberately didn’t label which Franco in the IF list above. I know Julio signbed a minor league deal, but I honestly have no idea at all of the status of Matt Franco.
Matt is on the 40-man roster, so he signed a major league deal. I assume that Julio (and Darren Bragg) have been promised their release if they don’t make the major league team. I haven’t gotten to the outfield yet, but there are more potential major leaguers there than on the infield… I assume Merv is right about Jesse Garcia, since he’s my source for saying he’s on the minor league roster.
The new edition of Win Shares has 2002 data, but I don’t know that you’d want to spend 20 bucks on so little new material. Maybe there’s an update, but I don’t see it.
Freaking Sporting News.
Does anyone know where to find Win Shares for 2002; I’ve thought about doing a Win Shares based preview for the 2003 Braves to send in to the bullpen but need 2002 Win Shares.
As best I can figure out the most likely way for this years team to beat the Phillies is if Andruw, Chipper, and Gary all have MVP type season and get about 100 win share amongst them.
Somebody on the baseball primer website said they got the list of 2002 win shares by sending an e-mail to stats inc and telling them “I bought the book but it doesn’t have the 2002 win shares like it said on the website” and they responded by sending him an excel file with the 2002 win shares. Now, stats may have been flooded by primerites after that, and may no longer be so forthcoming, but if you’re so inclined it might be worth a shot. Alternatively, just post on primer and ask someone to send them to you. Good luck.
Shouldn’t Scheurholz’ kid be coming up the pipe sometime soon? Huh??? 🙂