Playoff hopes are still alive and well in Atlanta, but it's also time to start looking toward the offseason. A playoff appearance won't change the fact that Frank Wren & Co. in the front office have plenty of work to do this winter, and that work starts with evaluating the talent they've already got on hand. So we'll give him a head start with this series: "40 Players in 40 Days," in which we'll take a detailed look at every player on the Braves' 40-man roster, one per day. We'll discuss the results of the '09 campaign, the expectations for the player going forward, and their role on the 2010 Braves and beyond.
We're aware that posting has become irregular here, and trust us--that frustrates us writers as much as it does you readers. These posts really are coming one per day, and we hope the regularity will keep you checking back, and even better, get you joining in the discussion in the comments. When the series is over, we'll do something of a recap and that will hopefully lead to a coherent offseason plan for the Braves. Without further adieu, Chop-n-Change looks at reliever Manny Acosta:
Manny Acosta has caused Braves fans more than his share of headaches since he was first called up back in 2007 and then pressed into closing duties at one point in 2008. He's certainly nothing special as relief pitchers go; his 4.15 FIP this year is the definition of pedestrian. Let's face it: he's always going to have control problems that lead to undue stress. At the same time, though, he still throws gas (averaging--averaging--94.5 MPH on his fastball), and he does a decent job keeping the ball on the ground (1.67 GB/FB). On top of that, he's pretty durable (his DL stays in recent years have been unrelated to his arm), and he's the kind of guy you keep around as long as he's only making $400,000, which he will be for one more year yet.
I would prefer if a guy as erratic as Acosta weren't in the Opening Day bullpen, but he may be needed if the team doesn't find proper replacements for the potential departures of Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez. Ideally, though, he'd be a guy who helps keep the fans in Gwinnett entertained for much of the year while putting plenty of miles on whatever bus runs between the Ted and Gwinnett County.
The bottom line: A useful bullpen piece, as long as he's not asked to do too much, but a guy you'd preferably call on only when your better options are injured or otherwise ineffective.