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c-n-c-mailbag-2009-lineup | August | 2007 Articles

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C-n-C Mailbag: 2009 Lineup

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M. Malone Writes, Because of all the recent activity, I thought it might be interesting to take a realistic look at what the Braves' starting lineup and prospects list might look Opening Day 2009. Tough question because there are so many unknown factors that could change a roster from year to year but I'll give it a go. Let's start with the lineup and those who absolutely will be here without a question. Those players would be Brian McCann, Jeff Francoeur, Matt Diaz, Kelly Johnson, and Chipper Jones. The option has been tossed around to move Chipper to first but that would do worse for his feet than staying at third. That leaves first base, shortstop, and an outfield spot open. I think the Braves will opt to go with the cheaper option, trading Edgar Renteria within the next two years and starting Yunel at short. Andruw isn't going to be back next year so we can knock him out of the picture. That being said, Brandon Jone or a free agent are the two options. Now that Mark Teixeira has been brought in for next year, Jones is easily the most likely option with the amount of money the team would save. First base is the only lineup spot left. You have Mark Teixeira, who is a free agent after the 2008 season and a Scott Boras client, Scott Thorman, or Kala Ka'aihue. I gave it absolutely no chance of happening before, but recent events have tilted me towards believing that Mark Teixeira, who will be 29 at the beginning of the '09 season, will sign with the Braves long term. His love for Atlanta is well known due to his days at Georgia Tech. Not only that but his wife is a Georgia native and he was looking for a house in Atlanta before this season (not sure if he ever bought one). That's all good and well but what it comes down to is money. Before 2009, the Braves will save a net of $9 million on Mike Hampton, around $6.5 million on Renteria, $13.5 million on Andruw, and $6.5 million on Wickman. That is $35.5 million and we are seeing the first signs of a rising payroll. I think it is very much within the realm of possibility to see the Braves give a seven year deal worth between $18 and $20 million a year depending on his performance in a Braves uniform up until that point. I just don't see the team, if they have an option, making the switch from a proven All-Star and Gold Glove first baseman to Ka'aihue when Chipper won't have many more productive years left in him. Of course, if Ka'aihue absolutely mashes in his time in the minors up until that point, things could change but I don't see him putting up those kind of numbers (which would include cutting down strikeouts). 1. 2B Kelly Johnson 2. SS Yunel Escobar 3. 3B Chipper Jones 4. 1B Mark Teixeira 5. CF Jeff Francoeur 6. C Brian McCann 7. LF Matt Diaz 8. RF Brandon Jones 9. SP Tim Hudson That right there is one heck of a lineup. I think Bobby, if he is still managing, will come to his senses and bat Kelly leadoff and drop Yunel to number two. Kelly has a very good skill set for leadoff with good speed, home run and extra base power, and the walks. Yunel and his line drive swing is much better suited batting one spot behind in the order. Right now McCann is batting in front of Francoeur, but I think by that time McCann will have settled in as a .290, 25 home run guy, while Francoeur will have put everything together to be a .300, 35 home run hitter. As far as top prospects, I think it is safe to assume that by that point, Jo-Jo Reyes, Joey Devine, Brent Lillibridge, and Brandon Jones will have shed their eligibility. Of course we can't know who the Braves will take in the 2008 draft, and how some of the younger "raw players" will perform. Based on just the players right now, their stats, tools, and my gut feeling, this is my top ten list. The only player I am omitting is Kala Ka'aihue because if Teixeira is signed long-term, I think it is safe to assume he will be traded. 1. RHP Tommy Hanson 2. OF Jordan Schafer 3. OF Jason Heyward 4. RHP Cole Rohrbough 5. 3B Eric Campbell 6. RHP Cory Rasmus (Really like him if he can avoid more injuries) 7. OF Cody Johnson (Big breakthrough in '10 or '11?) 8. LHP Jeff Locke 9. RHP Jamie Richmond 10. 1B Freddie Freeman (Power breakthrough in '09) None of the pitchers really have violent deliveries so most of these guys should be safe from injuries. The only concern is Rasmus because he has already had them. Placing Heyward was the biggest question for me. He probably won't get much time in pro ball this season so next season will be an adjustment for a lot of the season. I think he'll show a lot in the second half of '08 and '09 he'll establish himself as one of the elite prospects in the game. I like Campbell a lot but he'll be stuck behind Chipper. I think they may work him into the majors that season and he'll get a good amount of playing time behind Chipper. Schafer seems like a guy who could really start becoming the total package and future leadoff man for the Braves. I am liking him more and more. The biggest risk to bust there is Johnson. If he becomes more consistent then he rockets up prospect lists, if he doesn't he is a future bench player. Could go either way but I'll go the optimistic route. If you would like your Braves question answered in the Chop-n-Change mailbag, send the question to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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