The Braves will likely welcome Jose Constanza back to Atlanta when rosters expand this Saturday.
This Saturday the active 25-man roster will expand to include everyone on the 40-man roster ... if the team wants to do that. Of course, no team ever calls up all 40 guys, they usually just call up a few extra players to help out. Who will the Atlanta Braves call up on September 1st? We take a look at some likely options.
The Injury Comebacks
Atlanta is eagerly waiting for Andrelton Simmons to return to the lineup. While he likely won't be ready on September 1st, he should be ready shortly thereafter. Simba will likely get to play in some minor league playoff games the first or second week of September, and then join the Braves by the middle of the month.
Ben Sheets could also figure into a minor league game or two as he works his way back into form for Atlanta. With a crowded rotation though, I wonder if he could return to Atlanta in the bullpen instead of the rotation. If that's the case, he likely wouldn't need any minor league rehab games before he comes back. He's eligible to return on September 10th.
Shortstop Jack Wilson will also likely be added to the roster. Jack has been hitting like, well... Jack. It hasn't been too pretty, but he's there for his defense more than his offense. Sadly, as a player who has never played in the post-season, he might get shutout again. IF the Braves make the post-season, they would probably go with Paul Janish as their backup shortstop.
Pitcher Jair Jurrjens could also get called back up when rosters expand. He was beginning to work in relief before his latest injury. He made a short rehab start on Monday, which wasn't too impressive. Of course, he hasn't been too impressive all year, so the Braves might just keep him in the minors and sweep him under the rug at the end of the year. I wonder if the suddenly deep pocketed Dodgers would be interested in giving us a warm bodied C-level prospect in exchange for JJ...
The Braves recently stashed first baseman Lyle Overbay in triple-A with the hope of adding a jolt to the bench in September. He was signed last week and has played just about every game since then for Gwinnett. The results have not been fantastic -- he's hitting just .188 in five games -- but like most veterans he won't be judged on his minor league stats.
There are a couple of veteran pitchers who are long-shots to get called up. Neither are on the 40-man roster, but Buddy Carlyle and Peter Moylan should be familiar names to Braves fans. Both have been pitching better of late, and if the Braves want more veteranness in the bullpen, they could be options.
The Four-A Guys
Mr. Four-A himself, Jose Constanza, will likely get the call on Saturday. Whatever your opinion of Constanza, when rosters expand he's the perfect guy to have around and use as a pinch-runner. Georgie slumped horribly last September, but if he's used more exclusively as a pinch-runner then he should provide decent value.
The Braves also called up speedster Antoan Richardson last year, and used him primarily as a pinch-runner. He's no longer with the Braves, but another speedster, Luis Durango, who leads the International League in stolen bases with 43, could fit the bill as a guy the Braves might want to add to their 40-man roster and utilize as a pinch-runner.
I wasn't shy during spring training about hiding my preference for Durango over Constanza, and I still prefer Luis over Jose. They're minor pieces, but I'd like to see what Durango can do.
Perennial Four-A outfielder Felix Pie is also stashed away in Gwinnett. He's got some speed and a little bit of gap power. He's struggled to hit this month, so he's probably not on the short list.
We'll almost certainly see catcher J.C. Boscan.
Atlanta will likely add at least two extra relievers on Saturday, right-handers Cory Gearrin and Anthony Varvaro. Both have spent time in Atlanta during different parts of this season, and should be welcome additions to the pen.
There was some mention that both Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran could also get called up and added to the bullpen, but each have another start to make before the Gwinnett season ends, and I would expect the Braves to keep let them finish out the Gwinnett season. The Braves may want to keep one or both stretched out and ready to start if needed in case of injury in the Atlanta rotation, so I'm betting they get sent to the instructional league in Orlando so that they can stay ready.
The only other healthy pitcher on the 40-man roster is Erik Cordier, who is coming back from injury and not pitching well at double-A.
I mentioned several players above who are not on the 40-man roster, so they would need to be added if they are to join the team in Atlanta. The Braves currently have one open spot on their roster, likely earmarked for Overbay, but that doesn't mean there is no additional room. Injured pitchers Brandon Beachy and Robert Fish (who hasn't pitched all year) could both be moved to the 60-day disabled list to open up a spot. Matt Diaz, who underwent season-ending surgery two weeks ago, could also be moved to the 60-day disabled list to make room for another player.
I'm guessing we'll see Constanza, Boscan, Wilson, Overbay, Jurrjens, Gearrin, and Varvaro on September 1st, then Simmons and Sheets towards the middle of the month. Obviously I'd like to see Durango, and I wouldn't mind seeing the old tattooed Aussie side-armer either.