Matt Kemp and Nick Markakis are over 30 years old. Ender Inciarte has yet to play more than 132 games in a season. So the odds are strong one or more of the Braves starting outfielders gets injured. Then what happens?
Right now, we’d get a daily dose of Emilio Bonifacio. One day is too many.
There’s no replacement on standby in Triple-A, where Dustin Peterson, who’s not major league-ready to begin with, will start the year on the DL. Coppy’s refusal to give Angel Pagan a major league contract cost the Braves a chance to add a legit fourth outfielder. Pagan’s demand was reasonable, considering he hit 12 homers and stole 15 bases with a .331 OBP last year.
There were other options, like Gregor Blanco and Chris Coghlan, but they ended up signing minor league contracts with the D’backs and Phils. Blanco would’ve made a lot of sense because he can play center and right now, Ender is the only legit CF on the roster. That’s the only thing saving us from another year of Jeff Francoeur.
The presence of Ozzie Albies and, to a much lesser extent, Rio Ruiz, makes the loss of a infielder (save for Freddie), a bit more palatable. But let’s face it: the Braves bench is abysmal. With plans to carry 13 pitchers, there are only four openings and right now the smart money is on D’Arnaud, Peterson, Suzuki and Bonifacio.
The Bomb Squad, they are not. Snit will think twice before pinch hitting any of this crew.
It’s hard to contend with that kind of depth, and there’s not much more on the pitching side. Blair and Wisler have been hit hard this spring, and with two 40somethings in the rotation (who’ve been getting shelled so far), you better have some options ready to go.
I don’t see this team contending in 2017. Frankly, I think .500 is a stretch. One key injury could send them spiraling back to total suckitude. But hey, it’s still early.