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braves-utility-woes | June | 2007 Articles


Braves Utility Woes

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Update: Martin Prado was sent back down to triple-A Richmond before Sunday's game versus the Cubs to make room for Lance Cormier. After Buddy Carlyle's start on Tuesday, Prado will probably be recalled with Carlyle going down. Exactly two months into the 2007 season, the Braves infield bench has been disappointing to say the least. Pete Orr (.225/.244/.250), Martin Prado (.179/.233/.179), and Chris Woodward (.235/.264/.294) have done next to nothing off the bench and all of them, even Martin Prado who was touted for his glove, have been mediocre at best in the field. Coming into the year we were all so optimistic with a bench that was to feature Craig Wilson, Willy Aybar, and Chris Woodward. Now, 55 games later, Wilson was so bad the Braves swallowed his $2 million contract, Aybar is in rehab and still hasn't put on a Braves uniform, and Woodward has performed below expectations. Martin Prado got the call recently but as some expected, his minor league success just doesn't seem to translate in the majors because of plate discipline problems and a lack of power. The question is what does Schuerholz do about it. Yunel Escobar has a good chance of sticking with the big club even after Chipper comes back off the DL. Willy Aybar was supposed to see fairly regular time at third and give Chipper some days off and now that Escobar is up, he could move into that role so that he can still get regular playing time while also helping in Atlanta. Escobar isn't spectacular in any facet of his game but is good all-around. This still leaves a question as to Woodward. He is starting to show that he isn't the player he once was, although he hasn't been as terrible as the other utility men so far. He will probably stay because not only is he OK as far as utility men go at the plate, but the Braves would be hard-pressed to go within the organization for another guy with his versatility, something you need when Escobar only plays on the left side of the infield. This is probably an area the Braves will look to strengthen around the deadline like Schuerholz did last year by acquiring Daryle Ward. You can always find a cheap utility guy at the deadline it seems from a team not in contention. We'll probably see Escobar stay depending on what he does in his given time with Atlanta but I doubt Woodward will be released to make room.

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