Bobby Cox has picked his final team. He's named the three players who will fill the final three open roster spots remaining for Opening Day. The last job on the bench goes to Brooks Conrad over Joe Thurston, with Frank Wren saying during today's telecast that the two primary factors were that Conrad was already on the 40-man roster, and can switch-hit. Not entirely sure I agree with that decision, since I like Thurston's utility in the field, but at the end of the day, you're talking about a guy playing a couple times a week at most, and Thurston stays around at Triple-A as a hot-swappable piece should Conrad falter. The two spots in the bullpen go to Jesse Chavez and Jo-Jo Reyes, leaving Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters on the outside looking in. I think this is the right decision with Reyes; he's got nothing left to prove at Gwinnett, and it's high time they figured out what if anything he is good for. Chavez I'm not so excited about. His work in Pittsburgh last year was decidedly pedestrian (if not worse), and he's done nothing this spring to suggest he's made significant strides since then. Some of the scoutier types might be intrigued by his stuff, but isn't that something you can see just fine at Gwinnett, and let him use it in The Show when he's proven it works? I'm not sure Kimbrel is the solution either, and Venters would give the 'pen four lefties, but how about a guy like Cory Gearrin? Maybe I'm reaching, but Chavez seems like a bit too much like a second coming of Manny Acosta for my liking. Hopefully Cox will restrict Chavez to low-leverage work in the earlygoing to see what we've got on our hands.
All in all, I'm feeling optimistic in spite of myself. Bring on baseball!