- Remember this lineup?
That's the lineup used on Opening Day, back on April 5 in Philadelphia. When Lowe takes the mound this afternoon against his former team, half of the eight position players will be new.
Martin Prado took over as the starter at second after Kelly Johnson wet the bed in May. Nate McLouth was acquired on June 3 from Pittsburgh to take over for Jordan Schafer in center. Ryan Church was acquired for Jeff Francoeur on July 10th, and then yesterday the Braves swapped first basemen with Boston, bringing back Adam LaRoche.
That's a 50% turnover in the lineup from Opening Day. The 25-man roster has eight players on it today that were not on the roster April 5. That's a 32% change in the 25-man roster, which is significant. Is today's roster better than the one the Braves opened with four months ago?
- We've been talking on our radio show for a month about the Braves going after LaRoche. It just made sense. Kotchman was hurting this lineup with the lack of power, and an upgrade was needed. Plus, replacing Kotchman with LaRoche in that clubhouse is going to mean a huge difference. Kotchman was not a bad guy, but he just didn't interact much with anyone not named Garrett Anderson. LaRoche is a great clubhouse guy. He knows how to act in the clubhouse, as he grew up watching his dad, former major leaguer Dave LaRoche, for so many years. That leadership is needed, and LaRoche will provide it.
- The Braves are not done. Expect them to get a reliever in August. We've heard the names of Michael Wuertz and Jason Frasor this week, and there are others on the Braves' list.
- Atlanta has added several players during the regular season (LaRoche, McLouth, Church, and Tommy Hanson), but they will get two significant players back this month. Tim Hudson could be back in three weeks, and Omar Infante might beat him back to the roster by a few days. Those additions can do nothing but help this team. Bobby Cox says Hudson, who was the ace of the staff before his injury, will go back to the rotation. So that means someone (Kenshin Kawakami?) from the current rotation might go to the bullpen.
- And, of course, there is a chance the Braves could still add another significant player. Jason Heyward continues to tear up Double-A, and if he continues the Braves are going to be tempted to see what he does in the major leagues. Heyward turns 20 next Sunday, but people around the team continue to use this same line to me when talking about Heyward's chances of being a big leaguer at such a young age: "If Andruw Jones did it (came up at 19), and Rafael Furcal did it, there is no doubt Jason Heyward can come up and contribute." So, we'll see. Heyward would be yet another power-hitting threat from the left side of the plate.
- We all hoped last November when the Braves broke off talks with the San Diego Padres that it would be a blessing in disguise. The Braves desperately needed ace pitcher Jake Peavy, but the talks dragged on and on in one of the most unusual trade discussions in a while. And now, with Yunel Escobar, who was in the trade for Peavy, doing so well, we know the Braves lucked out. But how did San Diego fans feel Friday when the injured Peavy was finally traded to the White Sox for four pitchers, knowing any package the Braves had on the table including Escobar was a heck of a lot better? I guess for Kevin Towers, Padres' GM, the train has left the station. And the pitcher the Braves 'ended up with,' Javier Vazquez, could not be having a better season. So it was clearly a blessing in disguise the Peavy to Atlanta trade did not go down.
- It is interesting to look back and see how Cleveland and Pittsburgh did in the fire sales. Here are the top ten prospects those two teams got, as rated by Baseball America:
Jeff Clement - #1 for the Mariners in 2008
Tim Alderson - #4 for the Giants
Gorkys Hernandez - #4 for the Braves
Kevin Hart - #6 for the Cubs
Jeff Locke - #7 for the Braves
Carlos Carrasco - #2 for Philadelphia
Lou Marson - #3 for Philadelphia
Chris Perez - #3 for St. Louis
Nick Hagadone - #3 for Boston
Justin Masterson - #3 for Boston in 2008
Jason Donald - #4 for Philadelphia
Jess Todd - #4 for St. Louis
Jason Knapp - #10 for Philadelphia
- It's amazing to me the Red Sox got Victor Martinez without having to give up Clay Buchholz or Daniel Bard. I'm a big fan of Justin Masterson, but if I'm the Cleveland GM I demand Buchholz in that deal. Hagadone is good, but might as well go for the best.
- If you didn't realize, yesterday's deadline was the first real "Twitter deadline." Fans used twitter to find out who was traded. As I was on my radio show, I just sat and waited for tweets on my phone for the scoop. It beats the hell out of calling the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's toll-free number on deadline day to find out if anything had happened. That's what I used to have to do back in the day. My how things have changed!
- And you can follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/billshanks
Bill Shanks hosts The Bill Shanks Show on
WFSM Fox Sports 1670 in Macon, Georgia and The Braves Show Talk Show. Shanks writes a weekly baseball column for The Macon Telegraph and is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team. You can email Bill at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/billshanks.
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