My article about Andrelton Simmons hitting lead-off got me thinking. Who is going to hit lead-off on Andrelton’s off days? What if he gets hurt or goes into a hitting slump? When you take a look at the Brave’s roster it is hard to imagine who that would be.
Reed Johnson seems like the solution, but could that hurt the team? That means that you have to sit Jason Heyward or one of the Upton’s to allow Johnson to play in the outfield. I really don’t believe that is an option Fredi Gonzalez is willing to consider.
Fredi’s next option would basically be to allow guys to “try out” for the position during Spring Training. Maybe B.J. Upton gets a solid amount of at bats at the leadoff spot early in Spring Training to see if that is a possibility. Could the Braves reach into their minor league system to resolve this issue or find one more free agent?
Fredi Gonzalez has a lot of pressure on him to succeed being in Atlanta-based on his predecessor’s playoff success. His biggest challenge this year is not getting to the playoffs and winning, because I think with this lineup and rotation that’s almost a given. However, getting to the World Series will be very dependent on their leadoff man. His biggest challenge is going to be juggling this lineup if Simmons can’t fulfill his projected duties in the lead-off spot.
The Braves pay Gonzalez the big bucks to figure these things out. The lead off role is a lot of pressure to put on a young player and Simmons will have his ups and downs. HE WILL NEED A BACKUP PLAN! Fredi has spring training to experiment with his options. If Atlanta only had the same problem with their lead-off hitters as they do with finding their fifth starter. It is nice to have more than you can use, which is what the Braves have when it comes to their starting pitching. Finding another lead-off man won’t be easy, but nothing worth doing ever is.