Friday, March 10, 2017

Braves Spring Training: First 2 Weeks

We're 13 games into Spring Training, about two weeks into the process, and I figured it's a good time to step in right now and give you a few talking points as we head into the season. Also, I like to remind you of something very important so you don't turn into panicky idiots. And it's this: SPRING TRAINING RECORDS ARE MEANINGLESS!

If I hear another fan ask me about the fact we're 3-10 in Spring Training, and if it's a bad thing, I'm going to scream. No, it's not bad. The starters barely even play past the 4th inning in most of these early games and the rest of the rosters are filled out by AAA players and pitchers you'll not see in the majors any time soon.

The Cubs won the world series last year, and their spring training record was 11-19. The Nationals, Giants, Mets, and Dodgers also made the playoffs, and their combined spring training records last year were 53-58. Not even above .500 in total. It doesn't MATTER. What matters in spring training is how many ABs you're getting for the backups, how much time your starters are getting, and how everybody looks in your pitching staff in the last week or so leading up to the season. Oh, and if your guys are making decent contact. That's about it.

In that vein, who am I watching early on? Micah Johnson, Jace Peterson, and Johan Camargo are getting a lot of ABs so far, and they all fall into the second baseman category on the roster. Considering we have Brandon Phillips as the starting second baseman for the team, my guess is the Braves are looking at a couple of these guys as a potential backup and maybe utility guy for the infield/outfield.

Were I to pick one of those guys, I'd probably lean to Jace early on because he's got the experience with the team. However, Jace isn't having a great start to the spring with a .167 average and absolutely zero power. I think Camargo still has to spend some time at AAA before he gets called up which means Micah Johnson might get a shot if he can prove himself. He's got the experience at the MLB level and I don't want to see Emilio Bonifacio back here again.

Adonis Garcia also has 21 ABs in 7 games, which leads me to believe he's your #1 starter at third base unless something changes. He's also hitting the ball fairly well with a .333 average in that stretch and only one strikeout. I like to see that kind of contact early on in Spring Training because it lets me know he's seeing the ball clearly.

On the pitching side Josh Collmenter has yet to give up a run in 2 games and 5 innings of training, which is a good sign for him making the club as a possible 5th starter or long reliever. The Braves also gave a chance to John Danks to get some spring training innings, but he hasn't looked sharp and unless he puts together 3 good outings in a row, I think he's destined for AAA to figure things out after his injuries in prior years.

Folty and Teheran have both looked sharp in their outings, while RA Dickey and Aaron Blair have looked anything but sharp in their two attempts. Also, Wisler and Newcomb got rocked in their early outings, but like anything else it's early. I'm not drawing any conclusions on the starting rotation battles until we get to the end of spring and things look a little more settled. I'll just say that early on nobody outside of Folty and Teheran are really impressing me. At least Bartolo Colon looks like Bartolo Colon which makes me happy regardless of outcome.

So yeah, no panic from anybody because it's spring. But I do want to see a few bench guys step up and really make names for themselves so they can play a bigger role on this squad. Nothing on this team is set in stone as we walk into this new stadium, other than Freddie Freeman is our first baseman, and Nick Markakis will be your right fielder. Anything else? Totally in flux.

GO BRAVES!

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