Playoff roster speculation post/thread

Announcers in recent games have taken to speculating about the number of pitchers the Braves will take to postseason. It is my understanding that this is fixed by the roster on Sept. 1, so the Braves will have 14 players and 11 pitchers. Given that, the players seem pretty well set:

1. Furcal
2. Giles
3. Drew
4. Chipper
5. Estrada
6. Andruw
7. LaRoche
8. Julio
9. Thomas
10. Marrero
11. Perez
12. Green
13. Betemit
14. Wise

The bench, beyond the platoon guys, is very weak. The loss of DeRosa hurts the team somewhat, but it probably won’t be a concern unless Furcal gets hurt, or unless they get to the World Series. (Bobby would likely have used Chipper as the DH and played DeRosa at third; now, the DH would probably be one of the platoon guys.) DeRosa is a pretty good pinch-hitter against lefthanded pitchers, but the Braves are pretty deep in that department. He’s a pretty good utility infielder, but Furcal and Giles don’t need to rest in postseason, nor do they need to be pinch-hit or pinch-run for. I would greatly prefer that the Braves had called up Ryan Langerhans instead of Wise, but they didn’t, and he’s not going to be on the postseason roster unless someone else gets hurt.

The pitching group is more complex, and I think we need a team effort to thrash it out. I think that the most likely group of eleven is:

15. Wright
16. Ortiz
17. Byrd
18. Thomson
19. Hampton
20. Smoltz
21. Reitsma
22. Alfonseca
23. Gryboski
24. Martin
25. Cruz

Needless to say, this isn’t the group I would go with. I’ve never had much use for Gryboski anyway, and Ortiz has been awful for a month now. It will be particularly interesting, if Hampton is healthy, to see what the Braves do with the postseason rotation. Obviously, at least one of the starters, possibly two, will be in the bullpen. By all rights, that should be Ortiz, who has been the worst starter for the last several weeks. His season ERA is 4.19, which beats only Hampton’s, and with each looking at one more start they might yet switch places.

But Ortiz was the opening day starter, he’s the guy who’s supposed to be the ace, he’s the guy who makes the most money except for Hampton. And he’s a free agent who would no doubt be very upset to be removed from the rotation in postseason, which might cost him a couple of million dollars in the market this offseason. Will Bobby make the call to yank his least effective but most “proven” starter?

The Braves could do some other shifting in the pen. They could, for instance, dump Cruz — who only has the best stuff on the staff and has been generally effective — in favor of the rehabbing Horacio Ramirez, in an attempt to get another lefty. They’d be better off dumping Gryboski, of course, but tell that to the guy in the dugout. There’s every difference between facing the Giants — where you have to deal with that Bonds guy — and facing the Cubs or the Dodgers. If you have the Giants, you’d probably want to have an extra lefty for the late innings. Against the other possibles, it’s less of a concern.


8 thoughts on “Playoff roster speculation post/thread”

  1. My guess is that Ramirez gets the chance to prove himself as an effective lefty reliever over the final week. I would certainly want to give him a few innings if I were BC to see if he can come close to what he was doing earlier in the season.

    He could potentially be the new Tom Martin. I’d really hope that he could replace Martin instead of Cruz, but I’m afraid you might be right Mac that it would be the latter. In that case, I’d surely rather have Cruz.

    The Ortiz matter is troubling. At this point it seems obvious to any observer that the team would be better served by starting pretty much any of the other four in front of him, but we all know that BC likes to stick with players who have performed well in the past. I really hope this is the year they take a break from that and at least get Wright and Thomson in there early. Let’s go with what’s working now.

    One other complication is the Cubs factor. If they end up being the wild card, we’ll have played them 3 games at Wrigley, then head to ATL to start the division series; potentially 8 straight games between the two clubs. I don’t know what effect that might have on the pitching rotation, but we might try to hold back someone they haven’t seen much (Thomson?) during that final series. Just a thought.

  2. I agree – the roster seems pretty clear. With the injury to DeRosa along with Ramirez’s unreadiness, there’s nobody else particularly deserving of a spot. That is, unless Cox secretly added Dann Bilardello or Joe Ayrault to the 40-man roster so he can have his third catcher….

    My main concern is how Cox will set the rotation. To me it’s clear that Wright and Thomson are #1 and #2, and I only hope (as you say) that Cox’s loyalty doesn’t compel him to start Ortiz before Game 3 of the Division Series, if at all.

    Really, you could just put Ortiz, Byrd, and Hampton’s names in a hat as far as I’m concerned. Any start by any of them is a crapshoot. If we face the Cubs, though, I would remove Hampton from consideration, what with the Cubbies preponderance of RH power.

  3. Based on the AJC article this morning, it appears that Ramirez will not be on the playoff roster. He apparently felt some significant discomfort after pitching yesterday.

    I think the rotation will depend on how Ortiz pitches his next start. I can’t believe Bobby would let loyalty dictate that he start a guy that is really not up to it. As for the free agent situation, they probably don’t plan to resign him anyway. But I do think he would like to have Ortiz start because of his playoff experience. It probably depends on who they play, but since they may not know until Sunday, it’s going to be hard to manipulate the rotation based on the opposition. In my opinion, unless Ortiz turns around, he will go with Wright, Hampton and Thomson. Those are the guys pitching the best right now. I don’t think the Cubs’ right handed power bothers me much about Hampton because he throws that cutter in on their hands and I think, when he is pitching well he is normally pretty effective against right handed hitters. I would like to see Byrd pitch a potential Game 4 because I think it’s a mistake to use three guys if you have four competent starters; I think there is a significant advantage in having a guy pitch on his normal rest. But Bobby doesn’t seem to look at it that way.

  4. If you guys who live local ever wanted to help us out with info; now’s your chance. We’d like to know who’s ailing (Hampton?) and who’s pouting. I remember a few years back during the Yanks- Mets series with almost free-agent Neagle needing 2 outs to make it through the 5th (and get credit for the win.) He’d already given up a blast to Piazza and was in trouble with Mike up to bat again.
    It may have been that Neagle slighted his Yankee team in print, but Torre walked out, looked him right in the eye, and took the ball.
    I hope Bobby has the stones to do that if Ortiz gets as wild as he’s been lately.

  5. If you guys who live local ever wanted to help us out with info; now’s your chance. We’d like to know who’s ailing (Hampton?) and who’s pouting.

    Hampton threw well in his first start back, so he seems okay. I think you’d have to call him a slight injury risk, though.

    There’s some speculation that Smoltz isn’t right — his control has not been sharp lately, but he’s not letting on if something is wrong.

    Of course, Ortiz has been wild, too, but he freely admits he doesn’t always know where the ball is going, so….

    Not a lot of pouting going on, save DeRosa’s benching earlier this season and Smoltz’s occasional fit of pique. It’s a remarkably even-keel group, even for the Braves IMO. Juan Cruz is the only player on the roster who you might think would have a gripe, but nary a peep….

  6. This is not entirely orthodox, but I can see how the Braves could have a 5-man rotation in the first round. The series may not even go five games, but to set it up that way could keep up morale and have the #1 (Wright, most likely) fully rested for the NLCS. Ortiz looks bad right now, but if he is lights-out his next start, he’s back on track again. With these five starters, the difference between each is so small that I’d be happy to see each one get a shot at a game. I don’t see how Cox can “demote” any one of them at this point.

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