ATLANTA, GA - MAY 04: Tim Hudson #15 of the Atlanta Braves pitches in the ninth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Turner Field on May 4, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
First day of Winter Meetings, and while many of us expected rumors about trades, specifically about the Braves surplus of starting pitching, there is news that may indicate we won't hear any rumors. From MLB's Mark Bowman:
When Hudson underwent surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back last week, Braves general manager Frank Wren said early reports indicated Hudson will be ready at the start of Spring Training.
But a Major League source said Monday morning that Hudson has told some close friends that he is not confident he is not sure he will be ready to be in the starting rotation at the start of the regular season.
As Bowman points out later in the article, the Braves have the depth to cover for Tim Hudson in the rotation, but subtracting one more additional pitcher from the rotation through a trade could leave the Braves suddenly thin in the starting pitching department. There are still questions about how healthy Tommy Hanson's shoulder is, not to mention the lingering questions from last year about the overall health of Jair Jurrjens.
The Braves starting pitching depth is a luxury, and one that many people have rightly suggested that they should use as trade bait to strengthen other areas of the team. Remember that the Braves starting pitching depth, while awesome, it also quite young. There may be nothing left for guys like Julio Teheran or Mike Minor to prove in the minors, but there's also no guarantee they can repeat their success in the Majors. Too many young arms in the rotation could be risky.
I can understand the Braves' caution to clear two rotation spots in one year, after the trade of Derek Lowe and a possible trade of Jurrjens. They suffered through the loss of two starters for much of the second half of last season, and could still be smarting from the starting pitching attrition that took place in 2008. Keep in mind the answer to this twitter question, "Which two pitchers started the most games for the Braves in 2008?" The answer after the jump. The Braves don't want a repeat of that.
Trivia answer: The two pitchers who started the most games for the Braves in 2008 were Jair Jurrjens (31) and Jorge Campillo (25). Campillo threw only four and third more innings in the Majors Leagues after that season.