Perhaps now we are seeing the reluctance of the Atlanta Braves front office to make any additional trades (beyond Lowe) this off-season. Here is Roger McDowell from Braves pitching camp at Turner Field yesterday regarding Tim Hudson:
"We'll progress as the doctors say he can progress," McDowell said. "Whether it's the middle of April or first of May, we'll probably be a little more cautious so that we can have him at the end. There's no reason to rush things and then have a setback."
"Middle of April or first of May," that's a long time to be without your ace. This could be the big reason that all the Jair Jurrjens trade rumors went nowhere, and were pretty much unsubstantiated rumors to begin with. Hudson's recovery from back surgery to repair a herniated disk in early November may put him a couple of months behind the rest of the team when spring camp begins next month.
It certainly seems like the Braves aren't counting on Hudson to start the season. Add to that the uncertainty of Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson to return from their late season injuries, and the only pitcher from last year's season-opening starting staff who seems to be a sure bet to be healthy to begin the season is Brandon Beachy. It's a good thing the Braves have great starting pitching depth.
This depth could be put to the test early in the year, as the kids will have to be ready when the bell rings if the veterans on the staff can't go. The Braves rotation to start the season could conceivably look something like this: Beachy, Mike Minor, Kris Medlen, Julio Teheran, and Randall Delgado. Then as Jurrjens, Hanson, and Hudson got healthy, the guy doing the worst in the rotation would likely be replaced with the veteran.
If that mix of youngsters is actually the rotation to start the season, then the Braves will not have a single starting pitcher in their rotation over the age of 26 ... and it would still be a really good staff. Even when Jurrjens and Hanson return, the staff would still be 26 or younger. Take a minute to marvel at that amazing young starting pitching depth...
It's going to be a spring training with lots of reports about injury recoveries. Reports of pitchers ahead of their rehab schedule, and reports of others behind in their rehab. Get ready for a lot of conflicting reports, but in the end remember that the Braves will probably err on the side of caution with Hudson, Hanson, and Jurrjens, and even if they throw well in the spring there's still a chance that all three could start the year on the disabled list.
The early season scheduled off-days don't really give the team the ability to use a four-man staff to start the season, so a full five-man rotation will probably be needed from the opening bell. By the way, if the opening day rotation is Beachy, Minor, Medlen, Teheran, Delgado, who would be your opening day starter?