With economics playing a larger role in how teams are constructed - here's my 25 players who are going to be on the Braves active roster leaving Spring Training and in the dugout on Opening Day 2010. There are a couple of additions, that, by the September, may bring the Braves back to the playoffs and possibly a World Series title in Bobby Cox's final season.
Hudson just signed a 3-year extension. He'll be in the front of that great rotation.
Hanson was one of the best pitchers in the NL last year and still can get better. He's deceptive, smart, versatile, mature and a dominating mound presence. That's why he might take home the Rookie of the Year and someday a Cy Young.
Jurrjens had another great season that went largely unnoticed. He's consistent and won 14 games this year with poor run support, and still only 23.
McCann is the NL's best offensive catcher and works well with the pitchers. Hopefully he'll see better after the eye surgery.
Escobar rode a hot July to a overall very productive season. He flashed power, defense and clutch hitting to make a name for himself among the best shortstops in the majors.
Vazquez is trade bait - yes. But, he's happy and productive in Atlanta as a Brave and a workhorse. Another 15 wins is a serious possibility in 2010.
Age is catching up with Chipper, but even in a down year, he still had his moments. I don't see him hitting .360 again, but 25HRs and 90RBI is not out of the question. He'll bounce back, but how far is the question.
Moylan, the submariner righty, got off to a bad start in 2009. The rest of the year he was effective out of the bullpen. He'll be back in a setup role in 2010.
The Braves learned they had a player who could really hit once he got his chance in the lineup. He was impressive playing 2nd and other positions should get plenty of playing time in 2010.
A Max Scherzer fastball ruined half a season for Omar Infante in 2009. He signed a 2-year deal prior to the 2009 season and will be back as a super-sub in 2010. When he went down, he was the Braves' best hitter.
McLouth never quite got in a groove in Atlanta. He's on record as saying that he was disappointed with his overall performance in a Braves uniform. I look for him to be a big part of the offense in 2010. Whether he plays center or another position remains to be seen.
The lefty was pretty consistent and effective as a middle reliever in 2009. He'll be back in the same role in 2010.
When he wasn't overworked by Bobby Cox, Soriano was dominant as the 8th inning setup guy and later as the Braves closer. He's a free agent - along with Mike Gonzalez. But I see the Braves keeping the one who was the better pitcher.
David Ross proved to be an excellent signing as a backup for Brian McCann. He's under contract for 2010 and will fill the same role.
Schafer got off to a great start. However, after a demotion it was found that he had a wrist injury that required surgery - an injury that happened less than 2 weeks into the season. He'll get a significant amount of playing time in the outfield in 2010, and should be productive with his glove, bat and legs. If he's not healthy - this may be Brandon Jones in left field.
Medlen had his ups and downs in 2009. However, he showed lots of reasons why he ascended to the big league level quickly. He'll likely be the long reliever out of the bullpen in 2010 and make the occasional spot start.
Diaz rebounded from his injury-plagued 2008 to post great offensive numbers in 2009. He'll be back playing the corner outfield position(s) in 2010.
Logan had some pretty good outings in 2009. He'll likely be the 2nd lefty out of Bobby Cox's bullpen.
While LaRoche may leave, I still see the Braves re-signing him to a 2-year deal. Freddie Freeman is not ready yet and LaRoche was rejuvenated returning to Atlanta. He's got a great glove and is a productive hitter with power - but much better when he's not "The Guy" - which he won't be in Atlanta.
Dye is a viable, short-term solution to fill the 3rd outfield spot. He'll likely bridge the gap until Jason Heyward is ready - sometime in the middle of the season. While he is a right-fielder, he could play left while some combination of McLouth, Schafer and Diaz could man center and right to save his legs. At 35, he's getting older, but he's still got quite a bit left in that swing-a middle of the lineup, right-handed bat.
The gritty Conrad made quite an entrance by belting a pinch-hit, 3-run homer to beat Washington in his first at-bat with the Braves. It's that ability to hit from both sides of the plate that make him a viable option off the bench. His hustle only helps.
Kawakami had a rough start to the season, but he got better as the season progressed. Now adapted to the American game, he'll post a better W-L record in 2010 as the No. 5 starter.
The Braves did sign him to a minor league deal. However, they didn't bring him in to necessarily pitch the 2010 season in the minors. He'll likely show why he was an effective setup guy during spring training - similar to the form he showed before arm surgery.
The way I envision things, this also could be Corey Hart heading the opposite way for Derek Lowe. It also could be Juan Rivera coming from the Angels. However, I'll stick with Marmol because while the Cubs pitching was good at times, it was very erratic and there were a lot of injuries to that staff. They have two closers and Kevin Gregg could still be kept or they could sign the one bullpen arm that the Braves don't re-sign. He'll get some save opportunities giving Soriano the day off.
Kelly Johnson is in a difficult position. He could be non-tendered, traded, or be on the 2010 Braves as a big or small part of the offense. If he's willing to play the outfield like he did in 2005, that will enhance his chances of being on the 2010 Opening Day roster. Other internal possibilities for the last roster spot include OF Brandon Jones, 1B Barbaro Canizares, and SS Diory Hernandez. However, when Jason Heyward is ready, Johnson may be the among the first considered to be heading elsewhere.
He is the next big thing in Atlanta. But, an injury during the AFL slowed his progress. He'll be in Atlanta's outfield at some point during 2010, but not on Opening Day. He'll likely dominate AAA pitching for a few months before the Braves call him up to replace an injured or unproductive player. His future is extremely bright.