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Braves 2008 Bullpen

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The rotation is just this year's version of the 2006 bullpen. The Braves pen was atrocious in '06, finishing 11th in the NL in bullpen ERA at 4.39 and last in the league in blown saves with 29. Despite the fact that Bob Wickman, last year's savior, didn't keep up his 2006 success and was released mid-season, the pen made a huge turn-around this year. Atlanta finished second in the league in bullpen ERA behind San Diego with a 3.54 mark and third in the league in OPS allowed at .694. Rafael Soriano, Mike Gonzalez, Peter Moylan, Ron Mahay, and Manny Acosta all proved to be valuable additions at one point or another to the Braves pen. After a year in which decent bullpen arms were hard to come by, it now seems that they are falling from the sky in Atlanta and there are going to have to be some tough decisions before opening day 2008. Let's start with those who will be leaving. Octavio Dotel has a $5.5 million player bonus for next year that can and almost certainly will be voided by the team and Ron Mahay is also a free agent. I'd think that a decision on re-signing him hinges on Bobby Cox's level of trust in Royce Ring. I'd be inclined to say he won't return. The value of good bullpen arms has gone significantly up in recent years and Mahay certainly qualifies under that. The Braves just don't have enough money to spend on something they could supply comparably from within the organization. This leaves quite a few possibilities to fill the bullpen in 2008. The ones in bold, I believe to be locks for a spot. Right-handers: Manny Acosta, Jose Ascanio, Blaine Boyer, Joey Devine, Peter Moylan, Chad Paronto, Rafael Soriano, Phil Stockman, Oscar Villarreal, and Tyler Yates Left-handers: Jo-Jo Reyes and Royce Ring Over the course of the off-season, I'll be taking a look at each one of these options as well as others if they arise. For right now, lets see what your 2008 bullpen would look like.

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