Chopcast: Bullpen, bench key elements to Braves' season
FEB 11, 2014 3:57p ET
The bench is often out of sight and out of mind when discussing a team's offseason moves, but a smartly-constructed unit and a quality farm system can pay off over the course of a 162-game schedule.
The Atlanta Braves found that out last season, when every position player not named Chris Johnson hit the disabled list at one point or another. Starters can struggle from time to time, too, in case you haven't heard.
A waiver wire pickup like Jordan Schafer or a free agent acquisition like Gerald Laird can provide pivotal pieces to division-winning team. It happens all the time. And the Braves will, once again, have options heading into spring training, where a few young players look to be vying for just a couple spots.
As Cory McCartney wrote earlier in the week, if Laird, Schafer, infielder Ramiro Pena and trade acquisition and utility guy Ryan Doumit have four bench spots all but accounted for, that leaves just one or two for the Braves to fill. That's not much to play with. Who should the Braves carry into Opening Day on the bench?
As for the bullpen, with Craig Kimbrel's arbitration hearing set aside (there will be a ruling either way), the Braves looked stocked: bringing back the top closer in the game in Kimbrel, potential setup men David Carpenter, Luis Avilan, Jonny Venters and Jordan Walden, and other relief options in Anthony Varvarro, Cory Gearrin, David Hale, Alex Wood (who will likely start the season in the rotation) and a slew of up-and-coming prospects. How will the Braves reconstruct what was one of the best bullpens in baseball a year ago? The Chopcast team -- Zach Dillard, Cory McCartney and Jay Clemons -- discuss all that, snowstorms and more: