Raul Mondesi was designated for assignment today as the Braves needed to clear roster space to reactivate pitching ace Mike Hampton from the 15-day disabled list.
Mondesi was told this weekend that he had lost his starting job to 21-year-old Kelly Johnson, who had never played a major-league game in his life. Mondesi did not travel with the team to Washington to play the Nationals, and his agent could not be reached for comment.
The Braves have 10 days to trade Mondesi, put him on waivers, or send him outright to the minors -- the last of which he is unlikely to accept, the team says. Some are saying this could signal the end of Mondesi's career, or at least force him into retirement until the length of his current contract runs out.
Mondesi hit 211/271/359 (630 OPS) in 142 at-bats with 7 doubles, 4 homers, and 35 strikeouts (plus 12 walks and 1 sac fly) this year for the Braves. Stretching that out to 600 at-bats would give him about 30 doubles, 17 homers, and 145 strikeouts.
Mondesi was actually hitting 269/406/500 (906 OPS) versus LHP, an indication that he definitely has some pop left in his bat and needs to be picked up by someone. So he's like Julio Franco in that he should play every time a lefty is on the mound (which amounts to very few at-bats and therefore a small sample size), but be used sparingly when a righty is pitching.
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I don't believe Mondesi's career should be over. He has had a very tough time this year, but he has hit the ball hard quite consistently, and while his defense needs significant improvement, I believe he could be at least moderately successful as a DH if someone gives him a chance. His days as a star are over, but I've watched him play all year, and he's made a lot of tough-luck outs on hard hits. I believe he can still contribute. But not in Atlanta.
Raul, I had high hopes when you came to Atlanta, and I hope the current situation works out for the best for you. Good luck with your future in baseball!