a disappointing inaugural season, GCG made a brief play-off appearance in 2004.
In the second round,
While the 2005 version should put up similar numbers, the team’s line-up is significantly different and the starting rotation deeper. Gone is Eric Chavez, GCG’s first overall pick and all-world 3Bman. The principal acquisition in the Chavez trade was Brandon Webb. Webb is young and cheap and has been doing very well this spring. The trade was made to bolster the pitching staff and was made possible by Chipper Jones move back to 3B.
The big free agent signings were Jeromy Burnitz (1 year) and Steve Trachsel. Burnitz will bat 5th and play LF, Trachsel has since been traded to acquire a closer, John Smoltz.
Here is the projected line-up and rotation for 2005.
Easley / McLemore 2B Brandon Webb
Cruz CF John Lackey
Guillen SS Joe Kennedy
Burnitz LF Brett Myers
Bagwell 1B Closer
C Jones 3B John Smoltz
D Miller C
Coming off the bench, Russell Branyan, Adam Melhuse, and Josh Phelps will play a big role in the 2005 offense. Carlos Guillen will step into the number three hole and should contribute much more than past years. Gary Sheffield, batting in the number 4 hole, should put up similar numbers to last year. Jeff Bagwell’s injured shoulder might be a problem, but he will be adequate in the last year of his contract. Josh Phelps will help some at 1B. Second base will be manned by the trio of Cuddyer, McLemore, and Easley; these three will provide superior offense and adequate defense 2B.
As for the rotation, Andy Pettitte is also expected to get 12-15 starts. The acquisition of Brandon Webb should solidify a shaky rotation. The group is slightly better than last year, with Webb, Lackey and Johnson all with the potential to win 15 games.
GCG is slightly upgraded team from 2004, with Guillen, Webb, and a deeper bullpen all improvements over 2004.
Prediction – GCG
is in a very tough division. Two teams (GRA and PIG) won 100 games in 2004 and
Bottom line – a whishey washy prediction - GCG could finish anywhere from 2nd to 5th.