In a move that surprised a lot of people, especially me, the Atlanta Braves have released veteran starting pitcher Freddy Garcia. With the number of injuries the Braves have had so far this spring, it was assumed that they would need all the warm bodies they could get, especially warm bodies with experience.
The Braves thought differently, and seem to be signaling that they will go with rookie Gus Schlosser as the fourth starter in the four-man opening day rotation. Let me try to explain what the Braves might be thinking here…
They must believe that Garcia’s stuff just won’t cut it for any length of time in the Majors. He had inconsistent stuff last year when he pitched for Baltimore and Atlanta, but that depleted and inconsistent “stuff” seemed to work for Atlanta late in the season. There must not be any confidence that he can repeat that performance.
With the prospect of a veteran who is sub-optimal in every way taking up a spot in the rotation, and possibly getting hit hard from one start to the next, the Braves likely figured they might as well fill that spot with a young pitcher who could at least get some OJT while possibly getting hit hard.
Schlosser is a prospect the Braves are very high on, and want to see ascend to a rotation spot eventually. At the very least they want to see how Schlosser’s stuff plays in the Majors, so here is the perfect opportunity to stick Gus in the rotation for a month until Mike Minor is ready to return at the beginning of May.
The organization gains nothing in the long term if Garcia is in there, but if Schlosser is in there they get to see if he’s ready to handle the job while at the very least getting him Major League experience.
The Braves are essentially saying they don’t want to risk another Mark Redman experience. Back in 2007 when Redman stunk it up for month and a half in the Atlanta rotation, the Braves didn’t have a young pitcher they could plug in — they were forced to use the lukewarm veteran carcass of Redman. But this year, even with the injuries, they have a young prospect whom they believe is ready to step in — that’s a better option every time.
Still, I probably would have kept Freddy Garcia around as a reliever, just in case.
The Braves also optioned out Ryan Buchter, Jose Constanza, Tyler Greene, and Joey Terdoslavich. In cutting Buchter from the spring roster that increases the chances of Ian Thomas, Cory Gearrin, and Anthony Varvaro to make the bullpen.