As a rule, Bobby Cox doesn’t consult me on roster matters, such as, who’s the better fit to open the season as the center-fielder, Josh Anderson or Jordan Schafer? Which is the most likely instant major leaguer, Josh or Jordan?
That’s what spring training is for—to make such vexing choices between two exciting prospects. Actually, Josh Anderson has done time in the major leagues, 21 games with the Astros last season with impressive results. Schafer has never played above class AA, and that was interrupted last season when he served a 50-game suspension for an alleged violation of baseball’s drug policy. Only fair to say, that he pleaded innocence, so wave it off.
I’ll come clean. Before spring training, my choice of a Braves centerfielder was Anderson. His experience with the Astros influenced me, but more than that, he had speed, could cover ground and steal bases. Which he has done a lot the last three seasons, 50, 43 and 40 in a row, those first two seasons at Round Rock, the triple-A farm. “He can go get ’em,” as Dale Murphy has said in his appraisal. Both can. Not having seen enough of them at work, I can’t say if either has the stronger arm, and that’s important from centerfield. I’m going to surmise they’re about equal.
Why, then, am I leaning toward Anderson? First, it’s experience. He has had a taste of the big leagues, and has thrived. He is not necessarily long on power, but neither is Schafer. Furthermore, it’s my judgment that Schafer owes the Braves some penance. Show them that what happened at Mississippi was just an aberration, that he is a nice, clean-cut kid. He shows traces of brashness that could be cleared up with a few months in Gwinnett.
While Anderson fills the role in centerfield, let Schafer put in some maturing time at Gwinnet and earn his way across the county line to the Braves. There has been mention often of Gregor Blanco as a possibility. No way. Not at any time did Blanco impress me last season while Matt Diaz sat out with an injury. Diaz is back in explosive form, so with an outfield of Diaz, Anderson and Jeff Francoeur, the Braves could be looking pretty formidable out there.
It just pained me to see Anderson let go without giving him his run in centerfield. There, I’ve said it and I’m glad.