All about the Braves and baseball events.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Another LaRoche Rumor, This Time It's Tolerable

That's right. It's tolerable. The best thing for the Braves according to the article is this trade:

ATL gets:
P Hayden Penn
P Chris Ray
BAL gets:
1B Adam LaRoche

Now, I have said before on Braves Journal, I believe, that Hayden Penn is another Kyle Davies, and so far, he has pitched like it. But, just like Davies, Penn is said to have the tools to become a great pitcher. Chris Ray, though, would appear to have immediate impact with the Braves if he has traded to them. Last year he had an ERA+ of 166 in the American League, which is excellent. He would be almost-gaurateed closer insurance in case the good ol' veteran Bob Wickman falters.

I do not trust Scott Thorman with the first base job, which he would get automatically get if LaRoche is traded. But, I believe that the gains that Ray and even Penn would give the Braves pitching staff would offest any negative impact that Thorman has on the offense.

LaRoche for Penn and Ray. Do it.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

First Marcus Giles Is Let Go (Okay), Then This Rumor (Not Okay)

Marcus Giles was not offered a contract for the 2007 season and he was let go. I'm okay with that. The Braves didn't have enough room on the payroll and you can't keep everyone, no matter how much you like (or dislike, in the case of Giles' bad year).

However, THIS rumor then shows up:

ATL gets:
LF Melky Cabrera
NYY gets:
P Mike Gonzalez
PIT gets:
1B Adam LaRoche

I have been on record at the message board saying that Cabrera would solidify our left field mess, give Bobby Cox the "fast" person that he so desperately desires (like a security blanket ;) ) in the leadoff position, possibly put Kelly Johnson at second base, and give the Braves a viable replacement for Andruw Jones when he leaves in free agency. However, I oppose this deal.


It would severly compromise the Braves' offense.

In the leadoff spot, the Braves might actually improve there with Cabrera; Giles had more doubles, home runs and RBIs in his worst year since 2002 than Cabrera did in 2006. Cabrera is a plus in that he got walks similarly to Giles in 2006 (56-62) in 102 less plate appearances (524 to 626), struck out less (59 to 105), and hit better (.280-.262).

However, Cabrera hit mostly in the eighth and ninth spots in the lineup. He did have 34 starts in the first and second spots in the batting order, so he may be able to adjust to being a top of the order hitter.

So what's the problem?

Scott Thorman.

It is to my understanding that the Braves feel comfortable in putting Scott Thorman at first base immediately. Over the long term, that might be a good plan. They think Thorman is just like LaRoche. But this is a crucial time for the Braves. They need to keep up their offensive production to win games because of their very questionable pitching staff. Trading away one of the crucial pieces of your offense and replacing him with a slightly seasoned rookie just screams "huge risk". Who knows, Thorman might prove me wrong if this goes down. I hope he does. And I hope if Cabrera joins the team, he'll be a very nice leadoff hitter. I want to be proven wrong. But I think that all indications say I won't.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Braves Pull Off Big One; Acquire Soriano From Mariners

The first trade of the off-season, and I am SO glad it was made:

Braves get:
RP Rafael Soriano

Mariners get:
SP Horacio Ramirez

This is the utter steal of the off-season. Soriano in just 60 innings had 65 strikeouts and 21 walks and a 2.25 ERA, which translates to a 193 ERA+, in the American League, exactly what is needed in a reliever. Exactly what the Braves need. They don't need Ramirez, of whom I said is inconsistent and injury-prone. How the Mariners and their GM Bill Bavasi decided to do this trade is beyond me, but I'm not complaining. ;)

I'm sad to see any Brave I'm familiar with go, but that's baseball and THIS is what appears to be a classic great Schuerholz trade. :D


ESPN: Trade is completed

Friday, December 01, 2006

Glavine Re-signs With Mets, What Was All The Fuss?

Us Braves fans may have held out hope that Glavine was going to return to Atlanta. And that would have made the Braves better, but not over-the-hump better. I had waffled about this issue for a while, but I decided the Braves were better off without Glavine.

But look at it this way: Glavine is around 41 years old, at the end of his career. Sooner or later, he's going to run out of gas. Everyone does. Besides, only the Mets would by $10.5 million to a 41-year old pitcher. ;) Makes Tim Hudson seem like a bargain! :D

And there's also this. The Mets paid $10.5 million just to keep Glavine in New York when they could have had 28-year old Barry Zito for just a few million a year more. Utterly baffling.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Special Report: Georgia Tech @ Georgia, 2006

This is my first live blogging. And it is going to be of the most aniticipated football game in Atlanta and Athens, Ga.

Here in Anderson, S. C., the sports editor at the newspaper, John Brasier, with whom I worked with during my internship, said in the preview that Georgia Tech was possibly looking past Georgia to the ACC Championship game. With all due respect to him, and I mean that, Mr. Braiser is wrong. First, Georgia Tech cannot possibly be looking to the ACC Championship Game because they don't even know who they're going to play. Second, the Georgia game is the most meaningful game of the season to Georgia Tech. No other game means as much. To players and fans of the rivalry, the reason the season exists is to play the game of Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate! :)

Now is it possible that John is right? Sure, it's possible. But I believe that it is highly unlikely. Plus, there is the fact that Georgia Tech hasn't won against Georgia since 2000. I think they'd be eager to break that streak.

Even the CBS people say that this game is more than just a game. And Georgia Tech is going to look past it?! Yeah right.

The show's featured important players of the game are Matthew Stafford, quarterback for Georgia, and Tashard Choice, running back for Georgia Tech. No argument there. Choice is one of the best running backs in the ACC and Stafford is a promising freshman quarterback for Georgia.

Twice already the announcers have mentioned that this group of seniors has never lost to Georgia Tech. Well, la-dee-da.

Steve Buerlein says that the team that keesp their emotions in check enough will win.

The usual praise for Calvin Johnson. He does deserve it all. He is that good. He leads the ACC in receiving yards and touchdowns, just to name two things.

Georgia Tech has eleted to receive. I don't think that's a good idea. They would need the ball to start the second half. Especially here.

Jamaal Evans broke a nice run to the 41 yard lime. Ball tried to go for an early dagger and neither Johnson nor Battle got it, so he almost blew it. Three and out, as I thought.

Now for Durant Brooks, one of the best punters in the nation. Boom. At the nine. Brooks is the man.

Wow, even I fell for that play fake. Even the announcer was fooled by it. NOW they give it to Lumpkin. Figures.

Georgia: "Don't Give it Away."
Georiga Tech: "Get to Stafford."
So says CBS, makes perfect sense

Right now, Georgia is doing what Georgia Tech should be doing. Smart, efficient and good passing. Running the ball isn't that succesful right now. The best thing that Georgia needs to do is pass.

Third and 21 thanks to a 15-yard personal foul, Georgia gets it to Massoquoi, but just for 11 yards. Ely-Kelso punts it to the nine. It might be a battle of great punters.

Georgia Tech: "Make the Right 'Choice'"
Georgia: "Find Johnson's Kryptonite"

Tashard Choice gets it two timnes in a row. He'll get it a lot more since Ball can't pass. 2nd and 8 after a Choice first down.and as usual, Ball can't pass. 3rd and 8. Passing time. And it looked like Ball just threw it away. This is why he's not a good quarterback. Sure, CBS showed that Ball has 20 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions, which is an improvement, but what Ball is doing right now is what kind of quarterback he is: bad throws, tends to throw it away too much, scrambles. And when Ball can't do anything, they go to Choice. A lot. And that's easy to sniff out.

Lumpkin is getting stuffed running, so he's passed to and he gets a first down, then he's stuffed again. I sense a trend.

Timeout with 2:31 in the 1st by Georgia on third and 8 after a recovered fumble. Pass. First down. Like clockwork. Might be under review, but it'll be a first down. And it is. Georgia just has to keep doing what they're doing and they'll get a touchdown.

Lumpkin: kept from a first down twice, 3rd and 3. FINALLY a sack!! First one that Georgia has allowed in two games, and thank goodness they'll have to punt. End of the 1st quarter.

Punt, GT ball. Reggie Ball sacked. What a surprise. He'll need a long pass now. Punt coming up for certain. Calvin Johnson got some yards, but now it's 3rd and 9 after 2nd and 19. And James Johnson drops it and gets slammed by Battle. Punt by Brooks to the 15-yard line. Time for another Georgia march. Georgia Tech has to get their offensive act together. Eventually, they'll allow a touchdown.

Stafford fumble!! And Georgia Tech recovers!!! Phillip Wheeler!

Wow, another throw to Calvin and another miss too! How exciting! Right to Tashard Choice, he gets just a yard. Time for a big play.

Big play my ass. Reggie Ball was just running around, he wasn't doing anything. According to the replay, someone was WIDE open in the endzone, Choice was open early on. Ball's a fool.

Travis Bell's up and the kick... the guy might be inconsistent, but he got the 35-yard field goal in. 3-0 Yellow Jackets

Stafford incomplete. Survivor: Cook Islands advertisement. Whoo-hoo. Kenny Scott, GT's best cornerback, broke up another pass. And a freaking good catch, I thought Stafford was throwing it away.

Danny Ware gets to the 35-yard line. This is why Georgia Tech needs to pony up on offense. Their defense is not going to keep this up. 3rd and 5, Georgia calls a timeout because of the play clock. At least this will give the Jackets defense a brief rest.

... false start on the offense. 3rd and 10, and How I Met Your MOther, something I won't be watching! Kenny Scott covered Massoquoi and Georgia will have to punt, thankfully again! Downed at the 11. And I won't be watching the Amazing Race either. Choice gets two more, 3rd and 1. Naturally, they sniffed that out. Ball sneaks up for a first down.

Calvin stumbled and he missed it with a dive! Dangit.

Choice gets to the 40 though, then again to the 49, then to the 39! At last, they appear to be moving the ball nicely! Another home run ball and it appears to be defensive pass interference, but they're not challenging. Little option does absolutely nothing. 3rd and 10. Time for another pass. And they won't get it.

Incomplete to Calvin Johnson, who had Paul Oliver practically climbing Johnson's back as the ball got there. Brooks for a punt and he got a touchback.

Lumpkin stuffed again behind the line. Might as well just call him Kregg "Stuffed" Lumpkin. :D Pass for a catch and run for a first down, what a surprise. Lumpkin gets six yards. This is almost predictable. Incomplete pass, but it was off, Massoquoi could have gotten to it, but didn't. Short pass and catch, I bet here.

I was almost right. Short pass and drop. ;) Punt for Ely-Kelso. This game might as well be called Battle of the Feet. Ely-Kelso vs. Brooks.

Short pass to Calvin, he gets two. At least he caught another ball. Makes me feel better. :) However, Choice runs for a first down at the 31! :D And time for a time-out with 1:00 left.

Colorado, Ole Miss, Florida.

Nice pass to James Johnson, 2nd and 1. Johnson didn't get the next pass this time. 3rd and 1. Choice is stopped at the line of scrimmage. It's time for 4th and 1. Personally, I think it's too risky to go for it. The Yellow Jacket defense is going to give up a touchdown sooner or later.

Georgia Tech runs the clock down to 11 seconds and calls another time-out. Very smart. Playing for the last play of the half. As long as it's way down the field, if a pass is intercepted, it's unlikely to be brought back for a touchdown. Of course, this is Georgia Tech's last chance until Georgia's first series ends in the second half. This is why I think it's a better idea to kickoff in the first half.

But... someone decides to punt. Brooks punts it to the 12 and that's the end of the first half. That's fine, I guess. Playing it safe. However, the other side of the coin is you get a good play that scores a touchdown and you get a bigger cushion and some more momentum.

Analysis: It's fine that Georgia Tech has the lead, but they need to put some more points on the board. Ball needs to pass better, Calvin and James Johnson need to catch better. I'm convinced their defense can't keep this shutout up, though I commend the fact that they've kept the Dawgs out of the endzone and between the uprights on the road. Very good job by Tashard Choice running. Held Lumpkin to 27 yards on 11 carries, they need to

Second half up. Not excited. Very nervous. I get the impression that TV announcers expect Calvin Johnosn to dominate every say. It's almost insulting. The guy isn't Superman, as some like to call him.

Minter gets a first down, but Lumpkin is stuffed again and again. And another pass for a first down. Why can't they stop them on the short passes to spot third-down conversions? And Lumpkin not stuffed, 10 yards. Looks like what I said is coming true. Tech needs to score points. Their defense can't hold it up forever.

Offsides by Georgia Tech, first penalty of the day, what did I say?

However, Stafford is stuffed at the 49 to negate the free play. :) 2nd and 16. Stopped at the Georgia 49! 3rd and 19: Jahi-Word Daniels stops the pass, which ends up being short, just like before. Ely-Kelso punt time. Fair catch at the 20.

Now Choice is stuffed for a two-yard loss. He had to talk to Ball in order to hear the play, so it was kind of obvious. Choice to the 27 for a 3rd and 2.

And the ball is tipped and intercepted. What a surprise. What a sur-prise. And it's in the 25 yuard line too. Danny Ware is now stuffed, thankfully.

Short pass and run for a first down. They'll get a touchdown. This is the game right here. Because Ball can't do shit.

Incomplete pass, 2nd and goal. Tipped and Kenny Scott almost intercepted it. Third and goal. Stafford kept it but he just got to the 8th. Time for Ely-Kelso to ... MISS A 23-YARD FIELD GOAL!!!!! HE MISSED A CHIP SHOT!!!!! SHOCKER!! Well, maybe not a shocker, he isn't really a kicker, but DAMN!!

Who is the only player to have his number retired in Georgia and not in the College Football Hall of Fame? is the ALFAC!! trivia question. I don't know. Charley Trippi, I guess.

Six yards for Choice and then one yard for Choice. Another short drive? Well, Choice fumbled at the end of the third-down play (YIKES!) but he got it right back and that actually gets GT a first down! (WHEW!) Challenged by Mark Richt, of course. According to the announcer, Choice couldn't get that ball in the NFL because he had his foot out of bounds. In college, you can come back in bounds.

The Georgia fans are chanting something during the challenges and I can't tell what it is. Call confirmed, Georgia is charged a timeout because they blew it. Of course, Reggie Ball negates that whole thing by losing six yards. Predictably, Choice is stuffed. If Ball can't do anything, they run the ball, it's almost transparent. Long pass play time.

Fumble, flags are out, touchdown singal. What the hell?! Tony Taylor just dug it out of the pile and ran it in from 29 yards out for a touchdown. Damndest thing I've ever seen. 7-3 Bulldogs This is the game swinger. Georgia will win since Ball can't do squat.

Boy, I'm Mr. Pessimist. Jamaal Evans got to the 34 yard line. Nice jumping up and down there for me. Of course, Ball incomplete. Ball run to the 28. 3rd and 6. Choice to the four! Ball squirts for a yard. This is better. :D

False start, still 2nd down, feh. And Calvin gets his play and freaking misses the catch. At least it wasn't intercepted. And he MISSED it again thanks to a classic bad Ball!!! God, I'm pissed off as much as Calvin is. Bell getting a field goal try, he gets it. 7-6 Bulldogs Kickoff. End of the 3rd Quarter. Ball can't do squat.

By the way, the answer to the AFLAC!! trivia question is Theron Sapp. Was I ever wrong.

Lumpkin. Stuffed. Loss of two. Complete. Lumpkin first down, wasn't stuffed that time. Quick throw and attempt to run dropped. Lumpkin. Stuffed! I LOVE saying that! :D Incomplete!! They stopped them on third down!! Thank you!!!!!!!!!

Punt time for Ely-Kelso. Bad punt, good field position for Tech. Again. But they won't get anything except maybe a field goal. HOWEVER, that is all they need.

The announcers REALLY wanted offense. Pffft. Tashard Choice to the 50. 2nd and 4. Ball runs for a first down to the 43, his most successful run all day. Again to Choice. To the 39. 2nd and 6. He really is a very nice running back.

Deep ball, Calvin dives and misses again! But he wouldn't have gotten it anyway he landed out of bounds. However, Calvin gets an reverse run and he gets to the first down. Choice to the 21! At last, efficiency!! 2nd and 1. First down at the 14 for Tashard! Choice is the man today. :) Choice to the 10.


Two points...

No two points. "Bad Reggie" Ball slipped and fell. Still, 12-7 Yellow Jackets.

Asher Allen returns it to the 36. Pass to the 50. Here we go. Pass to Massaquoi, another first down at the 40. Touchdown impending for Georgia. Danny Ware to the 25. Touchdown still impending for Georgia. Ware to the 20. Touchdown still impending. Ware 4 yards. 3rd and 2. Easy first down for Georgia, I'm guessing. Ware first down. 15 yard line for Georgia, they'll just keep running down the clock. Now Ware is stuffed one yard in. Lumpkin stuffed with just 3 yards advanced there. 3rd and 6. Massaquoi gets the first down at the 4. FUCK!

Georgia touchdown denied to Danny Ware. 2nd and Goal. Ware stuffed. At the three. 3rd and Goal.

Massoquoi pass touchdown. FUCK! The two is good with Massaquoi. Georgia Tech's defense didn't hold. I knew they wouldn't. Bulldogs 15-12.

I'm so pissed off I can't see straight.

Georgia Tech may just as well give up. Bad Reggie isn't going to do anything.

Last drive. Futile drive. I may as well just stop writing right now.

Again, the announcers are invoking Calvin's name. He's not going to do anything. He has been quite corraled in by that Paul Oliver guy. 85 yards to go. Sixth striaght loss here we come. James Johnson missed the pass. Holding on Andrew Gardner. Refused. Third and 2. This is it. Sacked at the 15, what a surprise. Reggie Ball sucks. Reggie Ball just sucks. This is the game. I predict: Long Ball to Calvin and it will be intercepted because it will be a classic Bad Reggie pass.

WOW, an automatic first down!!!!!!! WHAT A GIFT!! Georgia calls a timeout. I don't think GT will do anything, though.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

There Will Only Be One Jones In Atlanta

About in the middle of the 2007 season or later. How do I know?


I bet you all money that Scott Boras is going to try to get Andruw a contract with at least $19 million a year, maybe even $20 million. Thanks a lot, Alfonso, you've destroyed the Braves' offense in the future.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Will He Stay Or Will He Go? DANANA-NANA-NANANA

To Mark Bowman's Mailbag! What nice ditties hath he for us today?

With Tom Glavine filing for free agency, what are the odds of him becoming an Atlanta Brave?
-- Jordan U., Scranton, Pa.

As much as I'd like to see Glavine back in Atlanta to win his 300th game, I just don't see it happening. The Braves don't need him as much as the Mets and won't be able to financially match the offers made by New York.

The Braves don't need him as much as the Mets? Ummmmmm... I'd say Glavine is needed by both teams equally. I have zero confidence in Kyle Davies and Horacio Ramirez, and I would like to see Ramirez gone. Someone else in the Braves system can be developed to be better than him, I'm certain of that. Whoever it is, I don't know, but anyone can probably be more consistent than Ramirez was last year.

There's no doubt in my mind that Glavine would love to end his career with the Braves. Thus, he's holding out hope that Atlanta would overwhelm him with an unexpected offer.

Or not. They don't have the money to spare, that is the impression I get.

But by keeping the Braves in the mix, he's also putting pressure on the Mets to make their best possible offer. This combined with the fact that Pedro Martinez's future is unknown provides him great leverage in his negotiations with his current employer.

Ding ding ding! Give the man a prize, he knows something! :D

Until the Mets decline to exercise their option on Nov. 20, the Braves can't even give Glavine any indication of what they'd be willing to offer. But unless a high-salaried player like Tim Hudson or Andruw Jones was moved, it doesn't look like they would be able to offer anything more than a $7 million annual salary.

That would be stupid to move Andruw just to get Glavine for one or two years. No one will take Tim Hudson and his huge contract, as I said, after his career-worst year.

Of course, if Atlanta deals somebody like Hudson or Jones, Glavine may see this as a move that decreases the Braves' chances of getting into the postseason. Thus, that could lead him back to the Mets, who have the finances to fill their many needs.

HA! Moving Tim Hudson INCREASES the Braves' postseason chances just by getting rid of his horrible inconsistency! As I said, I'm certain that anyone can step in and perform better than him. ANYONE. Make Oscar Villarreal a starter, I don't care, just get Hudson as far away from the Braves as possible.

As for getting into the postseason altogether, the Braves need pitching, pitching and more pitching. Their offense was very good last season. Even without a true leadoff hitter and super, they still were third in runs per game in the National League.

If the Braves were in desperate need to strengthen their starting rotation,

If? IF?! They ARE!!

they may be more apt to do whatever necessary to bring Glavine back. But with John Smoltz, Mike Hampton and Hudson currently in place, there isn't a need for desperation.

Smoltz good. Hudson crap. Hampton BIG question mark. Davies and Ramirez super crap. Seems like a good time for a remedy to me.

Over the next few weeks, you'll continue to hear Glavine say he'd like to do whatever is best for his family, which still resides in Atlanta. This obviously leads one to believe he'd be willing to provide the Braves a great discount.

Although he's likely already financially set, I just don't see this happening. He's a sharp individual who understands his business both on and off the field. Thus, he'll keep a poker face over the next few weeks and force the Mets to provide him their best possible offer.

I agree with this, but that's all. The Braves need to have Glavine, or at the very least someone like him; a stablilizing force in the roation. Kyle Davies and Horacio Ramirez are NOT stabilizing forces by any stretch of the imagination. Someone else needs to be in there.

Friday, November 10, 2006

McCann earns Silver Slugger Award

Well-earned, Brian! :D The Braves have had three of the last four Silver Sluggers for catcher:

2003 - Javy Lopez
2004 - Johnny Estrada
2006 - Brian McCann

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Game 5: MLB All-Stars 5, NPB All-Stars 3

Jose Reyes hit a sayonara two-run homer and the MLB All-Stars completed the first sweep of a series against the NPB in history. It was a see-saw affair, with the NPB taking a 2-0 lead, then the MLB took a 3-2 lead and the NPB staved off another loss by singling in the tying run with two out in the ninth off of John Maine. In the 10th, Jose Reyes came up with Bill Hall on first and clubbed the series-ending homer to right.

Ryan Howard, who hit .556 with 8 runs, 3 doubles, 4 homers and 8 RBIs, was named MVP and received 3 million yen, which, at the current rate, is $25,462.50. Not bad for a week's work. ;)

W - Scot Shields (1-0)
L - Hisashi Ogura (0-1)
HR - MLB - Jose Reyes (1)
NPB - Takahiro Arai (1)
Shuichi Murata (1)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Game 4: MLB All-Stars 7, NPB All-Stars 2

The NPB is still fighting, and that's good, but the MLB shows why it has the best A and B-team. The teams were tied 2-2 after six. In the eighth, the MLB broke through with five runs, helped by Ryan Howard's fourth homer, which pretty much gives the series MVP to him. ;) This makes the fourth win for the MLB. They could seep, and that is probably the first time in history that they would do that. :D

History of the Japan Series on

W - Mike Myers (1-0)
L - Kazuo Fukumori (0-1)
HR - David Wright (2)
Ryan Howard (4)

Monday, November 06, 2006

More tidbits from Mark Bowman and the Braves Mailbag

If you were the general manager and could make only one trade, would it be to get a true leadoff hitter? Upgrade the pitching staff with a starter or reliever? Or would it be some other move?
-- Randall C., Dallas, Ga.

Being Braves GM John Schuerholz this winter would be a daunting task. Over the past few years, he's had to make tough decisions regarding whether to bring the likes of Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and Gary Sheffield back to Atlanta. But with the many different decisions he has to make, I'd say this winter will be his most challenging of the past decade.

No question about that. There are three factions of the Braves that need to be improved desperately:

1. Bullpen
2. Starting pitching
3. Leadoff spot

There are certainly reasons to trade Andruw Jones and Tim Hudson. There are even more to cut ties with Marcus Giles and Horacio Ramirez. And at the same time, Glavine is going to continue to leverage the Braves to get the best possible contract from the Mets.

There are reasons to trade Andruw, but that doesn't mean that they're necessarily good reasons. Players like him don't grow on trees. It is quite possible that if he can't play center field anymore, we could just move Jeff Francoeur there instead.

And no one would take Tim Hudson in a million years. Not after he just had the worst season in his career; the Braves are stuck with him.

Cutting ties with Giles is a good idea. He could be easily replaced and not really be missed all that much. Horacio is expendable, and he could easily be traded because there is always a demand for left-handers.

Glavine is going to get as much money as he can from the Mets. And they're going to give it to him. Since Pedro Martinez's career is in danger of ending, the Mets need Tommy more than ever.

Fortunately, you've simplified things and asked me to make just one trade, and with little surprise, I'll tell you I'm keeping both Jones and Hudson. While doing so, I'm risking losing Jones for nothing more than draft picks and knowing that another mediocre season from Hudson will mean even less trade interest heading into the 2008 season, when his back-loaded contract starts becoming loaded.

The Braves would be foolish to let Andruw walk away. They need him. And as I've said before, the Braves are stuck with Hudson, so all of the Atlanta faithful should hope and pray that 2006 was a fluke; that Tim has something left.

Earlier this week, I was talking to a Braves representative about trading Ramirez. Last week, I indicated it was certainly something I'd explore, and I still feel that way. But at the same time, this individual reminded me that doing this would significantly cut in the staff's starting pitching depth.

Yeah, from mediocre to less than mediocre. I'd contend that the Braves really don't need Horacio and his incosistency. He hasn't even done that well in his four years in the majors. It's time to let him go.

But with Lance Cormier and Oscar Villarreal both around to provide some depth if a starter should get injured, I'm going to go ahead and trade both Ramirez and Giles. Throwing an economical defensive whiz like Ryan Langerhans in the deal may allow me to get a rather healthy return.

Not a bad idea. Someone would go for that, and it would get rid of the Braves' logjam in left field, giving the position all to Matt Diaz, despite his questionable defense (as I'm reminded of a crucial error he made on a ball that bounced off his glove and that caused the Braves to lose the game), and give the second base position to Willy Aybar, a situation that I would be comfortable with because the two have proven that they can play at the major league level.

My biggest desire is to get a leadoff hitter, but I don't know if a trade is necessary for anything more than to gain the payroll flexibility that would allow such an acquisition. Trading both Giles and Ramirez would free nearly $8 million and allow me to seek the services of a free agent like Gary Matthews Jr. or Julio Lugo, both of whom could capably fill the leadoff role.


Matthews, Jr. - .313/.371/.495 (19 HR, 79 RBI) - a career year for him, but he is 31 years old. If he stops hitting, he needs to walk some more, and he'd be fine.
Lugo - .278/.341/.421 (12 HR, 37 RBI) - 30 years old, he's not that much better than Giles. Probably costs more.

Obviously, I'd like to get Tampa Bay's Carl Crawford. But there doesn't appear a good fit with the Rays, who wouldn't be wanting to add salaries like those possessed by both Giles and Ramirez. They'd be looking to acquire more economical commodities like Kyle Davies, Chuck James and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Pffft, I say get rid of Davies. And do we really need Salty? He'll end up being traded anyway, I would guess.

Knowing there's a chance for me to fill my need for a leadoff hitter without having to give up young stars and these three aforementioned top young players would keep me from making such a deal.

Davies is looking less and less like a top young player, and that's all I can say about that.

Acquiring Matthews may be difficult. First, the Rangers would obviously like to keep him, and there is the issue that the Braves cut him in Spring Training a few years back.

The Rangers will most certainly overpay for him, that's for sure. I don't think the cutting issue would matter. Honestly. Matthews DID stink up the joint in spring training. Besides, the Braves wouldn't cut him this time if they do sign him. :p

Also if Andruw Jones is still around, Matthews may not be interested in playing left field.

That would be strange.

So maybe Lugo is the best choice to acquire as a leadoff hitter who would play second base. But in order to afford his contractual demands, which would likely be around $5.5 million a year, trading guys like Giles and Ramirez is a must.

Ew. Lugo really doesn't fill the need for a leadoff hitter at all. First off, he doesn't hit much more better than Giles. Second, he can't steal bases anymore. The Braves need a base-stealer. Lugo isn't one.

In return, I'd be looking to get top-notch prospects who could team with Davies and James to provide great hope with the starting rotation for many years to come.

I wonder if there are any that the Dodgers would be willing to give up. ;)

That's all. :)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Game 3: MLB All-Stars 11, NPB All-Stars 4

At first, starter Hiroyuki Kobayashi was excellent for the NPB, allowing no hits through four innings. Not to mention that Norichika Aoki led off the game with a home run, giving NPB a 1-0 lead. Then, reality set in. Joe Mauer hit a two-run shot and Jacque Jones had an RBI single to put the MLB up 3-1. The NPB tied the game with an Ogasawara sac fly and a single to Utley by Shuichi Murata, off of starter Erik Bedard and reliever Clay Hensley. Then in the bottom of the inning, Ryan Howard singled in a run and Andruw Jones tied the game with a shot to left. An Eishin Soyogi single got a run back for the NPB, but a Jermaine Dye RBI single and a three-run moon shot by Howard put it waaaaaaay out of reach, making it 10-4. David Wright's solo shot was just icing on the cake.

W - Clay Hensley (1-0)
L - Hiroyuki Kobayashi (0-1)
HR - MLB - Joe Mauer (1)
Andruw Jones (1)
Ryan Howard (3)
David Wright (1)
NPB - Norichika Aoki (1)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Game 2: MLB All-Stars 8, NPB All-Stars 6

This time, Ryan Howard led the MLB attack with two homers and drove in three runs. Tadahito Iguchi drove in two runs with a double and Lyle Overbay hit a solo homer to put the MLB up 8-6 in the eighth. The lone homer for NPB came on catcher Tomoya Satozaki's two-run blast in the third off of Bronson Arroyo to make it 7-4.

The NPB is down 2 games to 0 in the series, but I gaurantee you folks they'll still be playing their hearts out.

W - Bronson Arroyo (1-0)
L - Kentaro Nishimura (0-1)
S - Brian Fuentes (1)
HR - MLB - Ryan Howard 2 (2)
Lyle Overbay (1)
NPB - Tomoya Satozaki (1)

Friday, November 03, 2006

Game 1: MLB All-Stars 3, NPB All-Stars 2

Jermaine Dye hit a two-run homer in the third off of Tetsuya Utsumi to make it 3-0 and that was all the MLB needed as John Lackey pitched five innings, allowing just one run on two hits. John Maine pitched two innings of relief and allowed one run on two hits. With the score 3-2 after the seventh, Scot Shields and Joe Nathan shut out the NPB All-Stars the rest of the way.

W - John Lackey (1-0)
L - Tetsuya Utsumi (0-1)
S - Joe Nathan (1)
HR - Jermaine Dye (1)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Yomiuri Giants 7, MLB All-Stars 7

It was a tie, folks. For those of you who don't know Japanese baseball, games can end in ties because people need to catch the bullet trains. I kid you not.

I'm proud of Andruw Jones for hitting two homers, one off of starter Chiang Chien-ming. ;D

HR -
MLB - Andruw Jones 2 (2)
Ryan Howard (1)
David Wright (1)
YG - Shinnouske Abe (1)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Updated Rosters for MLB-Japan All-Star Series


Bronson Arroyo CIN 3.29 14-11 0 184
Erik Bedard BAL 3.76 15-11 0 171
Chris Capuano MIL 4.03 11-12 0 174
Brian Fuentes COL 3.44 3-4 30 73
Clay Hensley SD 3.71 11-12 0 122
Ray King LHP 4.43 1-4 1 23
John Lackey LAA 3.56 13-11 0 190
John Maine NYM 3.60 6-5 0 71
Mike Myers NYY 3.23 1-2 0 22
Joe Nathan MIN 1.58 7-0 36 95
Scot Shields LAA 2.87 7-7 2 84
Chris Young SD 3.46 11-5 0 164

Takahiro Mahara Fukuoka Softbank Hawks (0-4 29 62 1.65)
Kazuo Fukumori Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles (0-3 21 55 2.17)
Hiroyuki Kobayashi Chiba Lotte Marines (10-7 0 120 2.78)
Katsuhiro Nagakawa Hiroshima Toyo Carp (5-6 27 86 1.66)
Tetsuya Utsumi Yomiuri Giants (12-13 0 179 2.78)
Tsuyoshi Wada Fukuoka Softbank Hawks (14-6 0 136 2.98)
Kei Igawa Hanshin Tigers (14-9 0 194 2.97)
Darvish Yu Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters (12-5 0 115 2.89)
Tomoya Yagi Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters (12-8 0 108 2.48)
Hideaki Wakui Seibu Lions (12-8 0 136 3.24)
Kouji Mitsui Seibu Lions (4-1 1 42 1.73)
Hisashi Ogura Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles (6-7 4 51 2.18)


Kenji Johjima C SEA (.291 18 76 3)
Joe Mauer C MIN (.347 13 84 8)
Brian Schneider C WSH (.256 4 55 2)
Ryan Howard 1B PHI (.313 58 149 0)
Lyle Overbay 1B TOR (.312 22 92 5)
Chase Utley 2B PHI (.309 32 102 15)
Tadahito Iguchi 2B CWS (.281 18 67 11)
Rafael Furcal SS LAD (.300 15 63 37)
Jose Reyes SS NYM (.300 19 81 64)
David Wright 3B NYM (.311 26 116 20)
Jermaine Dye OF CWS (.315 4 120 7)
Chone Figgins OF/INF LAA (.267 9 62 52)
Bill Hall OF/INF MIL (.270 35 85 8)
Andruw Jones OF ATL (.262 41 129 4)
Jacque Jones OF CHC (.285 27 81 9)

Shinnosuke Abe Yomiuri Giants (.294 10 56 0)
Tomoya Satozaki Chiba Lotte Marines (.264 17 56 2)
Takeshi Hidaka Orix Buffaloes (.240 1 29 3)
Michihiro Ogasawara Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters (.313 32 100 4)
Atsushi Fujimoto Hanshin Tigers (.237 3 30 3)
Munenori Kawasaki Fukuoka Softbank Hawks (.312 3 27 24)
Shuichi Murata Yokohama Bay Stars (.266 34 114 1)
Tomohiro Nioka Yomiuri Giants (.289 25 79 0)
Kazuya Fukuura Chiba Lotte Marines (.312 4 52 0)
Yousuke Takasu Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles (.300 1 38 10)
Takahiro Arai Hiroshima Toyo Carp (.299 25 100 1)
Norichika Aoki Tokyo Yakult Swallows (.321 13 62 41)
Yuuki Yoshimura Yokohama Bay Stars (.311 26 6 5)
Teppei Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles (.303 2 29 10)
Naoyuki Omura Fukuoka Softbank Hawks (.294 6 60 22)

First game is November 2nd! I'll be on top of all the coverage!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Cardinals win World Series, and Everyone's Favorite Little Guy MVP

Boy, I was SO wrong. The Tigers hardly scored anything. And on top of that, they committed 8 errors in the Series. Five of them were committed by the pitchers, a new and dubious record. :(

Congrats to the Cards, who rebounded from their tough season finish to slam the Padres and squeak past the Mets and then kick Tiger fanny. Look for naysayers to paint the Cardinals, with their 83-78 record, as the "worst World Series Champions." One could call them the worst World Series Champions nine ways to Sunday, but it doesn't take the "World Series Champions" out. If you go through three rounds of playoffs and come out on top, you're damn good.

But it was almost a forgone conclusion who would win the World Series MVP after Game 4, as the sportswriters in general had a public orgy writing about the diminutive, but oh so gritty, Cardinals shortstop David Eckstein. The great guys at Fire Joe Morgan can parody it better than I ever could.

Not to say he didn't deserve it. He did. But come on, we all saw it coming. ;)

Congratulations, St. Louis, your 10th World Series title was well-earned. But everyone else will be gunning for you! ;)

EDIT: I just realized something!! This means the media won't harp on the Case of the Pine-Tarred Hand! WHOO!!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Nippon Professional vs. Major League: Choose Your Warriors

This is it, folks, the day is approaching where Major League All-Stars will travel to Japan and take on the Nippon Professional All-Stars, an exhibition series that I'm looking forward to very much. I enjoyed keeping track of it back in 2004 and I plan to keep track of it again. :) The MLB All-Stars will play the Yomiuri Giants on Nov. 2, then play the NPB All-Stars Nov. 3-8.

(!) denotes All-Stars during regular season.
(W-L, ERA, SV, K) for pitchers
(AVG, HR, RBI) for batters

The NPB All-Stars:


Yu Darvish, Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters (12-9, 2.85, 115)
Kazuo Fukumori, Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles (!) (0-3, 2.17, 21, 55)
Kei Igawa, Hanshin Tigers (14-9, 2.97, 194)
Hiroyuki Kobayashi, Chiba Lotte Marines (10-7, 2.78, 120)
Takahiro Mahara, Fukuoka Softbank Hawks (!) (0-4, 1.65, 29, 62
Koji Mitsui, Seibu Lions (4-1, 1, 1.73, 42)
Katsuhira Nagakawa, Hiroshima Toyo Carp (!) (5-6, 1.66, 27, 86)
Hisashi Ogura, Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles (6-7 2.18, 4, 51)
Tetsuya Utsumi, Yomiuri Giants (!) (12-13, 2.78, 179)
Tsuyoshi Wada, Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks (14-6, 2.98, 136)
Hidekai Wakui, Seibu Lions (12-8, 3.24, 136)
Tomoya Yagi, Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters (!) (12-8, 2.48, 108)

Shinnosuke Abe, Yomiuri Giants (!) (.291, 10, 56)
Takeshi Hidaka, Orix Buffaloes (!) (.240, 1, 29)
Tomoya Satozaki, Chiba Lotte Marines (!) (.264, 17, 56)

Takahiro Arai, Hiroshima Toyo Carp (.299, 25, 100)
Atsushi Fujimoto, Hanshin Tigers (!) (.237, 3, 30)
Kazuya Fukuura, Chiba Lotte Marines (!) (.312, 4, 52)
Munenori Kawasaki, Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks (!) (.312, 3, 27)
Shuichi Murata, Yokohama BayStars (!) (.266, 34, 114)
Tomohiro Nioka, Yomiuri Giants (!) (.289, 25, 79)
Michihiro Ogasawara, Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters (!) (.313, 32, 100)
Yosuke Takasu, Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles (.300, 1, 38)

Norichika Aoki, Tokyo Yakult Swallows (!) (.321, 13, 62)
Naoyuki Omura, Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks (!) (.294, 6, 60)
Teppi Tsuchiya, Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles (.303, 2, 29)
Yuki Yoshimura, Yokohama BayStars (.311, 26, 66)

The MLB All-Stars:

Bronson Arroyo, Cincinnati Reds (!) (14-11, 3.29, 184)
Erik Bedard, Baltimore Orioles (15-11, 3.76, 171)
Chris Capuano, Milwaukee Brewers (!) (11-12, 4.03, 174)
Brian Fuentes, Colorado Rockies (3-4, 3.44, 30, 73)
Clay Hensley, San Diego Padres (11-12, 3.71, 122)
Ray King, Colorado Rockies (1-4, 4.43, 1, 23)
John Lackey, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (13-11, 3.56, 190)
John Maine, New York Mets (6-5, 3.60, 71)
Mike Myers, New York Yankees (1-2, 3.23, 22)
Joe Nathan, Minnesota Twins (7-0, 1.58, 36, 95)
Scot Shields, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (7-7, 2,87, 2 84)
Chris Young, San Diego Padres (11-5, 3.46, 164)

Kenji Johjima, Seattle Mariners (.291, 18, 76)
Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins (!) (.347, 13, 84)
Brian Schneider, Washington Nationals (.256, 4, 55)

Rafael Furcal, Los Angeles Dodgers (.300, 15, 63)
Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies (!) (.313, 58, 149)
Tadahito Iguchi, Chicago White Sox (.281, 18, 67)
Lyle Overbay, Toronto Blue Jays (.312, 22, 92)
Jose Reyes, New York Mets (!) (.300, 19, 81)
Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies (!) (.309, 32, 102)
David Wright, New York Mets (!) (.311, 26, 116)

Jermaine Dye, Chicago White Sox (!) (.315, 44, 120)
Chone Figgins, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (.267, 9, 62
Bill Hall, Milwaukee Brewers (.270, 35, 85)
Andruw Jones, Atlanta Braves (!) (.262, 41, 129)

It's going to be one hell of a six-game series. :D MLB has a lot of slugging and the NPB has the pitching. They say good pitching beats good hitting. But I still say the MLB takes the series four games to two and beats Yomiuri. The Giants may be Japan's most popular team, but they were in shambles in 2006, going 65-79 and finishing 23 1/2 games behind the Chunichi Dragons.

EDIT: Deleted a blank line in the NPB Pitchers list and organized and alphabetized MLB outfielders.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Now for a nugget from the Braves Mailbag

Does Jeff Francoeur's power make up for his lack of patience and gain him a break? If he gets off to a slow start next year, does he get sent down to learn patience?
-- Anonymous

When Francoeur hit .216 with 19 strikeouts and no walks in April, there were many wondering whether the Braves would send Francoeur back to the Minors [sic]. Some of the speculation was fueled by an erroneous comment made on ESPN.

No surprise, ESPN is goofy like that. Onward!

As the speculation mounted, I asked the appropriate parties, and they emphatically insisted they had no such intentions. At the time, there was at least justification to ask the question, but after Francoeur went on to hit 29 homers and collect 103 RBIs, there's obviously no reason for us to ever go down that avenue again.

Nope. Young homer-hitters don't grow on trees. And even if they did go down that route, who would replace Frenchy? Gregor Blanco? Hahahahaha!!!


Ahem. Moving on.

Instead, I think we should focus on just how much progress Francoeur made in his first full big-league season. During the season's first two months, he struck out 42 times and drew just three walks. During August and September, he struck out 45 times and drew 14 walks.

GASP! Call the newspapers!

Notice that he combines the months to make the walk total improvement better. That's fine. Frenchy did improve on getting walks. But do you know how many walks he had?


So that means from April to the start of August, Francoeur drew NINE walks!

So which Francoeur will show up next season? The walk-almost-never or walk-a-little-more model? This is really nothing to crow about. If Francoeur had 14 walks every two months next season, he'd barely crack 40. That's an excellent improvement for him, but the Braves need more than that. Much more. Something in the range that Chipper Jones had last season (61). And that was when he was injured for a couple of months!

Obviously, there's still plenty of room for improvement.

What did I say?

But the important thing is that he's already starting to show plenty of it. In the first 94 games of Francoeur's career, he drew a total of 11 walks. In his final 29 games this season, he drew eight.

That does make it look better, but again, that's a very low walk amount for someone who hits more than 20 homers!

There's no doubt that Francoeur's current level of patience prevents him from being somebody who will hit .280. He hit that mark in just two of this past season's six months.

That's the meat of the way he gets on base too. If he doesn't learn to walk, he's screwed.

But if you take away his aggression, you also take away his potential to hit 30 homers and ability to come through in the clutch. He hit .319 with runners in scoring position this year.

I'm not much of a believer in clutch hitting, but I do recognize that you have to get hits with runners in scoring position, especially with two outs. You HAVE to. If Francoeur's batting average goes up with runners in scoring position, that's great.

During Dale Murphy's first two full big-league seasons, he compiled 914 at-bats and hit .247 with 44 homers, 136 RBIs, 212 strikeouts and 80 walks. He was just 23 years old in the second of those seasons (1979).

I have just one thing to say to that: Strikeout to Walk ratio.

Murphy's K/BB ratios in first three full seasons:

1978: 145/42 = 3.45
1979: 67/38 = 1.76
1980: 133/59 = 2.25

Francoeur's K/BB ratios so far:

2005: 58/11 = 5.27
2006: 132/23 = 5.74

Seems like ol' Murph's got a leg up on Frenchy, doesn't it?

Three seasons later, Murphy won the first of his consecutive National League MVP Awards.

I still think he should be in the Hall of Fame, but that's another subject.

It remains to be seen whether Francoeur will ever win an MVP award, but he's following a path similar to the one taken by a former winner.

I think I have just demonstrated that the only thing they have in common is that they have K/BB ratios over 2 in that stage of their careers. Francoeur needs to up his walk total drastically if he is going to have any real success in the major leagues, I am convinced of that.

In his first 908 career at-bats, Francoeur has hit .271 with 43 homers, 148 RBIs, 190 strikeouts and 34 walks.

With a K/BB ratio of 5.88.

Jeff, please, learn to draw a walk.
The Case of Kenny Rogers and the Pine-Tarred Hand

I have a simple question for this: Why would Rogers have pine tar on his hand for the whole world to see, especially during the World Series? Kenny Rogers isn't that stupid. Even Joe Niekro hid the sandpaper in his pockets when he got caught. There has got to be another explanation.

Maybe baseball fans have gotten cynical. No one can do amazing things anymore without cheating.

Friday, October 20, 2006


This blog my be called "Nothing but the Braves", but that won't stop me talking about baseball here, because I love baseball. And I have a lot to say. :)

The 2006 World Series, the St. Louis Cardinals against the Detroit Tigers, a rematch of 1934 and 1968, will be the biggest thing during the weekdays. I'd be willing to bet, however, that Georgia Tech vs. Clemson in college football on ESPN will clobber FOX in the ratings. I'm willing to say that because that's what I'll be watching at the Anderson (S. C.) Independent-Mail sports desk. I live in Clemson territory, but I'll be breaking out my Georgia Tech sweatshirt and cap for tomorrow, heh heh heh.

Let's discuss the 2006 World Series first.

(Playoff stats in parentheses)

Cardinals Lineup

C Yadier Molina (.333, 2, 7)
1B Albert Pujols (.324, 2, 4)
2B Ronnie Belliard (.316, 0, 4)
3B Scott Rolen (.188, 0, 0)
SS David Eckstein (.195, 1, 2)
LF Preston Wilson (.200, 0, 1)
CF Jim Edmonds (.257, 2, 6)
RF Juan Encarnacion (.222, 0, 4)
DH Scott Spiezio (.235, 0, 55)

Anthony Reyes (0-0, 4.50, 4)
Jeff Weaver (2-1, 2.16, 5)
Cris Carpenter (2-1, 3.70, 17)
Jeff Suppan (1-1, 1.86, 9)

Tigers Lineup

C Ivan Rodriguez (.172, 1, 4)
1B Carlos Guillen (.367, 1, 2)
2B Placido Polanco (.471, 0, 4)
3B Brandon Inge (.222, 1, 3)
SS Ramon Santiago (.000, 0, 0)
LF Carig Monroe (.300, 3, 7)
CF Curtis Granderson (.313, 3, 7)
RF Magglio Ordonez (.250, 3, 8)
DH Sean Casey (.350, 0, 4)

Justin Verlander (1-0, 5.91, 11)
Kenny Rogers (2-0, 0.00, 14)
Nate Robertson (1-1, 5.91, 5)
Jeremy Bonderman (1-0, 3.00, 7)

Prediction: I will say this: The Cardinals do deserve to be in the World Series because they earned it. They clobbered the Padres, as they should have, and beat the Mets in seven games. Not very many other teams can say they've fared better against the Mets. Suppan and Weaver have been very, very good for the Cards this postseason, and the Redbird offense was very timely. But the offense has to shoulder some more of the workload against the Tigers, and I don't think that's possible at this point.

The Tigers on the other hand, worked with both cylinders chugging. They've only allowed more than 5 runs just twice in eight postseason games and only one of their wins was by less than three runs (one). The final win was a bit deceiving, as Ordonez had the walk-off three run homer. The Cards have lost twice when they have allowed less than three runs. This would mean that the Cardinals probably have to pull their offense up a notch more than the Tigers do. And I guess that won't happen. Detroit will celebrate their first World Series championship in 22 years.

Tigers in six.

EDIT: Added a proper title.

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