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baseball-america-looks-at-the-future | November | 2010 Articles

2010 Archives

Baseball America Looks at the Future....

Written by Joe Lucia on .

I've been doing a lot of moving around of things in my room, and in the process, ran into my 2007 and 2008 Baseball America Prospect Handbooks. I love these things so much. One thing they do every year for each team is take a look at what they project will be the starting lineup 3 years ahead of time. Well, since we just concluded the 2010 season and are coming into 2011, I thought it would be fun (or a little depressing) to take a look at what they slated for the Braves in those years. Without any further ado...

2010 Projected Braves Lineup (in 2007 handbook)
C: Brian McCann
1B: Adam LaRoche
2B: Edgar Renteria
3B: Chipper Jones
SS: Elvis Andrus
LF: Jarrod Saltalamacchia
CF: Andruw Jones
RF: Jeff Francoeur
SP1: Tim Hudson
SP2: Kyle Davies
SP3: Matt Harrison
SP4: Jojo Reyes
SP5: Chuck James
Closer: Rafael Soriano

So of the 14 projected starter slots, a whopping 3 of them were Braves in 2010: Hudson, Jones, and McCann. 13 of the 14 spent at least some time in the majors in 2010, wiht only James not making his way to The Show. LaRoche was traded to Pittsburgh shortly after this book went to print in the Mike Gonzalez deal, and returned to the Braves for the final 2 months of the 2009 season. Renteria would spend one more year in Atlanta before being shipped out immediately after the World Series in the deal that brought Jair Jurrjens to the Braves. Job well done, Frank Wren. Renteria started at short for the 2010 Giants in the playoffs and won the World Series MVP award, so good for you Edgar. Andrus, Saltalamacchia and Harrison were shipped to Texas at the 2008 trading deadline for Mark Teixeira in a trade that the team really had to make at that point in time...it just didn't work out well. Andrus is the Rangers starting shortstop, with plus defense and no bat. Harrison is an oft-injured long reliever. Saltalamacchia, the biggest name in the deal at the name, is now with the Red Sox as a backup catcher who just can't stay healthy. Andruw Jones walked after his 2008 season and performed terribly with the Dodgers in 2009 before catching on with the White Sox in 2010 before rebounding pretty well and getting talked about (on Chop-N-Change at least) for a possible return to Atlanta in a bench role. Jeff Francouer was banished to the Mets last July and continues to be one of the worst players in baseball. Fans talk about bringing him back, and every time I see a tweet or post suggesting it, I wish I could tase someone across the internet. Finally, we get to the pitchers...Davies was traded to the Royals at the 2007 trade deadline for Octavio Dotel, which didn't work out too well for the Braves. Davies has been adequate as a starter for the Royals, but the Braves have no room for hiim anyway. Reyes was shipped to Toronto in the Alex Gonzalez deal this July, and finished the year in AA. He got hammered his only two appearances with Atlanta in 2010, and fans and coaches never wanted to see him again. Then there's Chuck James, who the Braves released prior to the 2009 season, which he missed after shoulder surgery. He came back in 2010 with the Nationals AA club (in my hometown of Harrisburg!!) and could fit into their 2011 plans. Finally, Soriano. He was traded to Tampa Bay for the horrible Jesse Chavez during last year's offseaosn, and was the best closer in the American League. Well, that didn't work out too well.

Now, we take a look at the 2008 handbook and the 2011 projected lineup...remember, this is what Baseball America thought the Braves starting lineup would be 5 months from today. Scary when you really think about it.

2011 Projected Braves Lineup (in 2008 handbook)
C: Brian McCann
1B: Mark Teixeira
2B: Kelly Johnson
3B: Jon Gilmore
SS: Yunel Escobar
LF: Jason Heyward
CF: Jordan Schafer
RF: Jeff Francoeur
SP1: Tim Hudson
SP2: Jair Jurrjens
SP3: Cole Rohrbough
SP4: Jeff Locke
SP5: Jojo Reyes
Closer: Rafael Soriano

So looking at this team, 6 of the players are still with the Braves organization, though only 5 have played in the majors. Of the 14 men listed, 11 have played in the majors, with the exceptions being Gilmore, Rohrbough, and Locke. We already touched on McCann. Teixeira was dealt to the Angels at the 2008 trading deadline for the fantastic bounty of Casey Kotchman and Stephen Marek...IE, a relief prospect and a no bat, all field first baseman. Great haul. Johnson wasn't tendered a contract last offseason and signed with the Diamondbacks, and became one of the best second basemen in the league in 2010. If only he was still a Brave. Jon Gilmore was traded during the 2008 offseason in the Javier Vazquez deal to the White Sox and spent 2010 not hitting very well in A+ ball. I was actually really pissed off that he was in the deal...oops. Escobar was traded to Toronto this past July because he had attitude issues and was hitting horribly. Heyward is the team's superstar, but is currently playing right field. Schafer was the 2009 Opening Day starter in center before breaking his wrist and dealing with issues pertaining to that wrist all of 2010 in the minors. His prospect status is unknown until that damn wrist is 100%. We already touched on the awfulness that is Jeff Francoeur, and the greatness that is Tim Hudson. Jair Jurrjens has spent the last 3 seasons in the Braves rotation, and could possibly be traded this offseason to make room for someone, though with Kris Medlen's injury, it doesn't appear too likely. He's been an above average starter when healthy. Cole Rohrbough completely lost his prospect status after a horrible start to the 2010 season, but appeared to be back on track near the end of the season after a 4 month respite in Florida. He's one to keep an eye on. Jeff Locke was traded to the Pirates in the Nate McLouth deal in June 2009, and has been fantastic for the Pirates since the deal. This one hurts a little less due to the pitching depth the Braves system has, but Locke really is a special one that could be in Pittsburgh in 2012 after spending this season in AA Altoona. And finally, we already talked about Reyes and Soriano.

This is just more of a forewarning to fans like myself who get caught up in prospect hype...there are hits, but more often than not, there are huge misses. Baseball is not a constant game. Everything is very static, and things can change in an instant.

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