You want panic? We've got your panic RIGHT HERE.
Its been reported this morning that Chipper Jones has a torn ACL and will be out for the remainder of the 2010 season. How huge of a blow is this to the Braves? Well...I don't think "massive" describes things well enough. Chipper was OPSing .924 since the All-Star Break, and was finally starting to hit like he was used to his entire career. Could this injury destroy his career? It really could...he's 38 years old, and a torn ACL isn't a walk in a park to rehab.
Now, the more important question...just who in the hell is going to replace Chipper? The answer for the next couple of days, with Martin Prado still being injured, would be Brooks Conrad, who will likely be getting regular playing time at the hot corner. After Prado comes back, I imagine that he will be getting time at third, with Omar Infante continuing to start at second. None of these 3 players possesses the patience that Chipper Jones or the power potential that he can offer, though he wasn't showing a lot of that power this season. As for a replacement on the roster...I assume Chipper will be placed on the disabled list today or tomorrow, and with Prado not scheduled to come off until Sunday or so, that leaves a couple of days of wiggle room...I assume that Brandon Hicks will be called up to replace him in that spurt of a few days.
Lineup construction...losing the 3 hitter absolutely hurts. I can only assume though, that this will shift Jason Heyward into the 3-spot in the lineup, which many fans have been clamoring for with Chipper's early season struggles. Infante and Prado will likely be 1-2, and I'd prefer Prado hitting second...more power potential, I'd rather have him hitting lower in the order. The rest of the lineup should stay the same.
Can the Braves make the playoffs without Chipper? I really don't know. Deep down, I think they can. If Troy Glaus can swing a bat that isn't covered with cobwebs and moss, the Braves can survive. If Glaus continues to struggle, runs could be an issue...its going to be an interesting 7 weeks until the playoffs start.