The Atlanta Braves cut Gregor Blanco from their major league roster today, and according to the AJC, Bobby Cox said that more roster cuts would be coming on Monday. I was going to do a Making The Team Meter, but I wanted to talk about these a bit more (but you can consider this a bit of an MTM).
Infield/Outfield: I would imagine the team would officially cut Freddie Freeman, Matt Young, Brandon Hicks and any other extraneous catchers still left on the roster -- pretty much purging their major league roster of everyone but the two battling for the final infield spot, Brooks Conrad and Joe Thurston. I would expect that battle to be fought all the way up to the final roster cuts of the spring just before opening day.
Bullpen: This is where the other battles are, and where we might see some surprising cuts on Monday. Scott Proctor has had some good outings and some bad outings. I've been thinking that he might be able to start the year in the majors, but after seeing him struggle recently I have to think that he would be better served to get in 20 or 30 innings of work in the minors before moving up to Atlanta. If the Braves are thinking long-term with him, then they should wait until mid-season to call him up, and therefore retain his rights for next season.
Another bullpen guy who I think might get cut is Jesse Chavez. He was expected to earn a spot before spring started, then he seemed to pitch his way out of a spot with some bad outings early in the spring, then he seemed to straighten things out, but now he's looking bad again. He might just get cut if the Braves don't think he can be reliable, and right now I certainly don't think he is reliable.
Cutting Proctor AND Chavez is a risky strategy, which would leave the last two bullpen spots to Jo-Jo Reyes, Jonny Venters, and Craig Kimbrel. That's two unproven rookies and the sometimes combustible Reyes. Many people this spring have said that Jo-Jo has grown up a lot and seems much more mature, so perhaps he is ready to take on a bullpen role. Kimbrel would be an interesting add, though he is still somewhat raw. Venters is the dark horse in this race.
Could the Braves also choose to carry one less pitcher and opt to keep both Thurston and Conrad? Or am I just crazy to say something like that? My thinking here is that our starting pitching staff is reliable enough, and all of them can go deep enough into games, that the extra reliever is not necessary. We all know that Bobby Cox is going to use the same four relievers all the time anyway, so what's the point of have three extra bodies down there. That would be a long shot scenario, but I thought I'd bring it up.
Anyway, what do all of you think. We'll find out Monday, but there are some interesting scenarios that could be created here. Suddenly, I'm thinking we could use another veteran bullpen pitcher.