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The Braves Blog » Blog Archive » Down to the last roster spot | ajc.com


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March 21, 2006

Down to the last roster spot | ajc.com

by @ 8:40 pm.   Filed under braves news, braves players

Down to the last roster spot | ajc.com

With Matt Diaz a lock for the final outfield spot, the final roster spot has come down to the backup 1B position. The two players fighting it out are veteran Brian Jordan and new comer James Jurries. Jordan comes into the spring as a career outfielder with little experience at first base, and Jurries has never even played a game above AAA. However, both players have put in a lot of work at first base, and both have had pretty good springs at the plate as well:

Jurries has a sizzling .452 average (14-for-31) with two homers and a team-high 12 RBIs in the Grapefruit League. He hit .284 with 21 homers and 72 RBIs in 106 games at Class AAA Richmond, where he was the team’s player of the year.

[Jordan] has a .357 average (10-for-28) this spring, albeit with one extra-base hit (double) and one RBI.

It has not be decided yet whether or not this position will be a platoon with Adam LaRoche as Julio Franco did for the past few years, or if it will be a pure backup/pinch hitting role. Either way the Braves need a player they can depend on to provide solid defense and hit left-handers, whether its for an entire game, or off the bench in the late innings.

Now, I like Brian Jordan a lot. I think he is a great person, and just having him in the clubhouse can make a difference in how the team performs. At the same time, Jordan is getting older and has plenty of problems with his knees in the past few years. I don’t know if Jordan can be depended upon to fill the role. If he can’t fill the backup or platoon role, its not as big of a deal, since LaRoche can play everyday if needed. However, we can’t afford to have someone grounding into a double play in the late innings and killing a possible rally, something Jordan has shown to be rather prone to do. I still believe that if Langerhans had started the first game of the NLDS last year, the entire series might have had a different outcome. Don’t forget that Jordan has knee surgery yet again over the off-season. While his surgically repaired knee has held up so far this spring, there is a long season ahead.

At the same time, we don’t know much about Jurries. He has played will at AAA, but not all players can convert a successful minor league career into a successful major league career. He has had the better spring at the plate, and he has also played more games at first base than Jordan’s measly two.

So, who do we pick? I honestly don’t know. I am leaning towards Jurries, but I hate to lose Jordan’s presence in the club house. However, if Jurries can show that his offense is just as consistent off the bench as when he starts, I think Jordan’s leadership might be worth sacrificing if it guarantees a consistent bat off the bench.



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