Braves Younger In 2004

The Atlanta Braves will be a younger bunch when the 2004 season begins in April. BravesCenter Editor Bill Shanks takes a look at the new additions, and how their ages reflect the youth movement the team is now incurring.

The Atlanta Braves will be a younger bunch when the 2004 season begins in April. Gary Sheffield, Vinny Castilla, and Greg Maddux were all in their mid-30's last season, and Javy Lopez was 32. Losing those four players automatically makes the Braves younger this season.

John Thomson, the pitcher signed to replace Maddux's spot in the rotation, is six years younger than the 36-year old Maddux last season. Roberto Hernandez (38) and Darren Holmes (36) are now gone, replaced by Antonio Alfonseca (31) and Armando Almanza (31). Shane Reynolds (35) will certainly be replaced by someone younger in the rotation, whether it's Andy Pratt (24) or Bubba Nelson (22).

Predicting the Braves roster just a bit, the average age of the 2004 roster will be right at 29 years old, an average of almost a year and a half younger than the 2003 roster. If Julio Franco does not make the team, the difference will be even greater. But the real difference is in the projected batting order. This coming season's lineup will be 2.25 years younger than last season's batting order.

Here are the ages of the 25 main players on last season's roster, along with the ages of the projected 25-man roster for 2004.
BRAVES AVERAGE AGE COMPARISON 2003:2004								
								
	2003 				2004 			
	PLAYER	AGE			PLAYER	AGE		
	Ortiz	28			Ortiz	29		
	Hampton	30			Hampton	31		
	Maddux	36			Thomson	30		
	Ramirez	23			Ramirez	24		
	Reynolds	35			Pratt	24		
	Smoltz	35			Smoltz	36		
	King	29			Almanza	31		
	Hernandez	38			Alfonseca	31		
	Bong	22			Bong 	23		
	Hodges	24			Hodges	25		
	Holmes	36			Wright	28		
	Marquis	24			Cunnane	29		
	Lopez	32			Estrada	27	
	Blanco	31			Perez	35	
	Fick	29			LaRoche	24	
	Giles	24			Giles	25	
	Furcal	24			Furcal	25	
	Castilla	35			DeRosa	29	
	J. Franco	44			J. Franco	45	
	M. Franco	33			Marrero	30	
	DeRosa	28			Garcia	30	
	A. Jones	25			A. Jones	26	
	C. Jones	30			C. Jones	31	
	Sheffield	34			Drew	28	
	Bragg	33			Matthews	29	
	AVERAGE	30.48			AVERAGE	29	
							
							
	STARTING				STARTING		
	FURCAL	24			FURCAL	25	
	GILES	24			GILES	25	
	SHEFFIELD	34			C. JONES	31	
	C. JONES	30			A. JONES	26	
	A. JONES	25			DREW	28	
	LOPEZ	32			ESTRADA	27	
	FICK	29			LAROCHE	24	
	CASTILLA	35			DEROSA	29	
	AVERAGE	29.125			AVERAGE	26.875	

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