The Atlanta Braves opened the season April 4. Today is May 3. Of their 25-man opening-day roster, nine men are gone. That’s a turnover of 36 percent in less than a calendar month. That’s amazing.
Some of the shuffling has to do with injury (Ender Inciarte, Gordon Beckham) and suspension (Hector Olivera). Jhoulys Chacin opened the season in the minors to get a start before being slotted into the Braves’ rotation. Still, let’s run the numbers:
Of the five pitchers who constituted that original rotation, three — Chacin, Matt Wisler and Julio Teheran — remain in place. Williams Perez was sent down after three starts. Bud Norris was demoted to the bullpen after five. Aaron Blair and Mike Foltynewicz were summoned from Gwinnett to take regular turns.
Through 25 games, the Braves have used 14 relievers (counting Wisler’s save in Miami). The list of relievers deployed this season but no longer on the big-roster: Ryan Weber, Chris Withrow, John Gant, Casey Kelly, Jose Ramirez, Matt Marksberry and Daniel Winkler. The latter broke his elbow.
Among position players, yesterday’s round of changes saw the demotion of Jace Peterson, who’s 25 and who hasn’t done much since June 2015. The journeyman Drew Stubbs, who’s 31, was designated for assignment. (Of the Braves’ five home runs, Stubbs owns the only non-solo shot.) Promoted were Reid Brignac, Chase d’Arnaud and Matt Tuiasosopo — three more journeymen.
(The Braves did promote Ozzie Albies to Triple-A Gwinnett and Dansby Swanson to Double-A Mississippi over the weekend. Those guys are coming fast, but the Braves really don’t want to force-feed their top prospects into the major leagues.)
In sum, we’ve begun to see the arrival of some of the heralded young arms (Wisler, Blair, Foltynewicz), but the Braves’ position players continue to skew old. Here are the ages of the Braves’ non-pitchers:
Catchers: A.J. Pierzynski, 39; Tyler Flowers, 30.
Infielders: Freddie Freeman, 26: Brignac, 30; Erick Aybar, 32; Adonis Garcia, 31; Kelly Johnson, 34; Daniel Castro, 23.
Outfielders: Jeff Francoeur, 32; Mallex Smith, 22; Nick Markakis, 32; d’Arnaud, 29; Tuiasosopo, 29.
That’s 13 position players, only two of whom are younger than 26. Only three are younger than 29. We say again: This is not the Braves team we’ll be seeing next year and maybe not next month.
Credit to the Braves for trying something. (When you’re 6-18 — now 6-19 — you have to try something.) According to the AJC’s David O’Brien, the impetus for Monday’s mass movement came from Fredi Gonzalez and his coaches, so don’t say John Coppolella and John Hart aren’t trying to give their manager at least some of what he wants. (Pretty sure Fredi G. really wants Mike Trout, but he’s not available.)
Inciarte, who’s 25, could be back by week’s end, and he’s a good player. Nobody knows what’s apt to happen with Olivera, who’s 30. (The Braves are trying to trade him; there will be no takers.) And, as was seen Monday night in New York, change in and of itself is no guarantee of better results.
The Braves lost 4-1 to Bartolo Colon, who’s 42. Foltynewicz yielded three first-inning home runs. The Braves are on pace to finish 39-123 and hit 32 home runs.
Further grim reading: