It is one week until Opening Day, otherwise known as the longest week of the year. You may not see another blog from me before then because I will be cryogenically frozen until after the first pitch. It has the same statistical meaning as a get-away-day in June, but Opening Day has the build-up and aura of a World Series game.
One year ago to the day the Braves opened the National’s ballpark on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, but due to the WBC we all have to wait an extra week for it this year. Even though we have to listen to Joe Morgan tell us that the team who scores the most runs will most likely win, it can’t take away the excitement of this one being real.
Nobody is surprised that Derek Lowe is getting the ball for the opener, but now it’s official and I’m confident he will have a solid season as the Braves #1. Since Cole Hammels has been taking it slow this spring, Lowe will probably be opposed by Brett Myers. All I have to say is PHEW! Anytime you play Philly without facing Cole Hammels it’s a moral victory. We couldn’t touch him last year and I’d rather not start this year by facing him.
2009 Roster: The Braves are going to have to trim down their roster to 25 this week and unlike some years; there are only a few battles yet to be won outright: Centerfield, Long and Lefty Reliever.
The highly-publicized Centerfield battle had been between Josh Anderson, Jordan Schafer and Gregor Blanco until the recent trade of Anderson to the Tigers makes it look as if the job belongs to Schafer. Even before the trade the battle wasn’t that close. Schafer was hitting over 100 points higher with more runs, doubles, walks and steals. The Braves still have highly-touted prospect Gorkys Hernandez developing in the minors and Blanco is a reliable plan B, so trading Anderson looks like a great move.
Jorge Campillo was an invaluable asset last year and I don’t see Buddy Carlyle or the struggling Jeff Bennett taking a spot away from him. I like Jeff Bennett; he is versatile and probably one of the best guys I’ve ever met in baseball, but to me Campillo wins this battle hands down.
Anyway…Now that that’s out of my system; the last thing I want to say about the 2009 Grapefruit League season is this: Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman…WOW! I cannot put into words how excited I am about these guys. They are both 19 years old and showed they belonged in spring camp with the Braves. Both will likely start the season in A-ball with Myrtle Beach, but they will fly (like Pelicans) through the system within the next couple of years.
The Other Anderson: It was nice to see Garret Anderson in his first Grapefruit League action on Saturday. He went 0-3 with a walk, but I’m not worried about him at all. Anderson will put up a solid season in LF hitting his .290 15HR 75 RBI and I will gladly take that. He will suit the Braves well in that they don’t have an All-Star at every position, but the potential to be a great TEAM.
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Until next time…Go Braves!