All about the Braves and baseball events.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Mr. Pinch-Hitter Re-Signs

LF-1B Greg Norton

The Atlanta Braves re-signed utility player and pinch-hitter Greg Norton to a one-year deal.

The 35-year old Norton was claimed off of waivers from the Seattle Mariners on May 5, 2008. In 202 plate appearances, Norton hit at a .246/.361/.427 clip, with a 108 OPS+ and three pinch-hit home runs, for the Braves.

If the Braves don't have a better option in left field, Norton may be asked to play there. However, the organization has signed him for his pinch-hitting prowess and he should be productive in that role that very well. This is a small, but very responsible, signing.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Braves Sign Niekro To Contract

1B (P) Lance Niekro

No, it's not Phil.

The Atlanta Braves signed retired first baseman Lance Niekro to a minor-league contract and invited him to spring training. They want to turn him into a knuckleballer.

The 30-year old Niekro's previous pitching experience came in a minor league game against the Salt Lake Bees, a Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim affiliate. Lance pitched just two-thirds of an inning for the Fresno Grizzlies. He allowed three hits and two runs. He also hit a batter.

Lance's father is the late Joe Niekro and his uncle is Hall of Famer Phil Niekro.

I'm not expecting much from him (what is there to expect?), but it will certainly be fun to see how he does in 2009. Maybe, just maybe, he can continue the Niekro's knuckleball tradition.

EDIT: Cleaned it up a little.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Furcal Stays With LA, Situation Angers Wren

Rafael Furcal must have had Should I Stay Or Should I Go? by the Clash stuck in his head the past few days. He has decided to stay.

According to the AP, Furcal agreed with the Dodgers on a three-year, $30 million contract Wednesday night. The deal is worth $6.5 million next season, $8.5 million in 2010 and $12 million in 2011. There is also a vesting option for 2012 and a $3 million buyout. The option will be picked up automatically if Furcal meets certain requirements.

On Tuesday, it was believed (and reported) that the Braves had reached an agreement with Furcal for a three year contract worth $30 million in total. However, Furcal's agent, Paul Kinzer, disputed that claim on Wednesday:

"They know we didn't have a signed contract, that we didn't have even a verbal agreement. We had, 'Things look very good and Raffy's going to sleep on it,'"
Frank Wren, Atlanta's general manager, told AJC Braves beat writer David O'Brien that there was a gentleman's agreement in place with Kinzer:

“I think you have to be upset with the turn of events,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said. “We usually don’t do business this way. You don’t expect people you have to deal with to do business that way.”

Wren said he and Kinzer negotiated all contract details Monday night and the Braves sent a term sheet to the agent’s office for Furcal to sign Tuesday morning. Term sheets are the final step, after an agreement is reached.

Wren said the term sheet was never returned.

“We were very surprised,” he said. “After reaching an agreement on Monday night, and being asked to produce a term sheet for signature on Tuesday morning, which we did, we were surprised that they didn’t return the term sheet. … All of a sudden, they said they needed to go back to the Dodgers.”

That's exactly what Furcal did.

There is plenty of blame to go around in regards to this situation. Wren should have known better than to trust Kinzer like that in this situation. At the same time, Kinzer's actions were very dishonest and self-serving.

Now that this situation is over, my guess is that Wren is just going to sign a few "mediocre" free agents like Jon Garland or Randy Wolf. He may make a run for Ben Sheets, Pat Burrell or Adam Dunn since his original plans have been shot down.

EDIT: I updated the salary info, which is now reflected in the article.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Braves Get Their Backup Man To McCann

C Dave Ross

Free agent catcher Dave Ross, who last played on the Boston Red Sox, signed a two-year contract with the Atlanta Braves on Thursday. He'll serve as the backup to Brian McCann. The deal is reported to be worth $3.5 million over two years.

Ross will be another participant in the long line of backup catchers that Braves manager Bobby Cox likes to employ. Ross would be a decent weapon coming off the bench; he can draw a few walks and hit one out every now and then. In fact, he's already an instant upgrade over Corky Miller. ;)

The skill level of a backup catcher is only noticed when the starter is injured. However, if Ross can produce when called upon, he'll be very valuable.


EDIT: Updated links and formatting to reflect Ross signing with the Braves.

Braves Swap For Vazquez; Send Four, Including Flowers

Starting pitcher Javier Vazquez, an 11-year veteran of four teams, now has a fifth team to add to his resume. The Atlanta Braves and Chicago White Sox agreed to a six-player swap that makes Vazquez an Atlanta Brave:

RHP Javier Vazquez
LHP Boone Logan

C Tyler Flowers
SS Brent Lillibridge
3B Jon Gilmore
LHP Santos Rodriguez

The blue chip prospect in this deal is catcher Tyler Flowers, who tore up the Arizona Fall League this past month, batting .387 with an AFL-leading 12 homers and 1.433 OPS in 20 games. He should start the 2009 season with the AA Birmingham Barons of the Southern League.

Shortstop Brent Lillibridge fell from top prospect status last season; his 2008 campaign was his worst as a player. Lillibridge batted just .220/.294/.344 in 403 plate appearances with Richmond last year. He was called up periodically because of injuries to Yunel Escobar and Martin Prado, but Brent only had a .200/.238/.338 line with six doubles and one home run in 85 plate appearances with Atlanta.

The other two prospects, Jon Gilmore and Santos Rodriguez, are promising youngsters. Gilmore, a two-year pro, finished his Age 19 season in Low A Rome. He batted .337 with four home runs in Danville, the top rookie farm club for the Braves, before being promoted. Rodriguez, a 20-year old lefty reliever, completed his second tour of duty with the short-season Gulf Coast Braves last year. In 29 innings in 2008, he struck out 45 batters and allowed just nine earned runs.

Javier Vazquez's most recent season was a bit of a bad-luck streak. He lost five starts and had three no-decisions in which he gave up three runs or less. That contributed to his less-than-sparkling 12-16 record. His main problem seems to be the gopher ball; he hasn't gone a single season without giving up at least 20 home runs. Still, if he can continue to keep his walks down and eat innings up, he'll be a welcome addition to the Braves (whose offense may also give him some more hard-luck losses) for the next couple of seasons.

Lefty reliever Boone Logan, who is turning 24 next year, had a decent first half in 2008 with the White Sox, but he completely imploded in the second half of the year. He may be best used as a LOOGY in Atlanta. Ironically, the Braves already have two relievers that fit that bill already (Royce Ring and Jeff Ridgway). Still, a strong showing in spring would guarantee him a spot in the pen, where Cox may use three lefties next season.

After having an evening to digest the idea of having Vazquez on the team and the "price" it took to get him, I've come to a conclusion. I believe that this trade is not horrible because it does give the Braves exactly what they need: a #2 starter who pitches like an ace at his very best and a #3 starter at his worst. It is also not a forgone conclusion that the Braves will only have him for just two years. It is quite possible that the Braves may be able to retain him for a few more years if he wants to stay. A lot can happen in just two years, whether it be good or bad.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Tazawa Rejects Braves' Offer; Close To Deal With Red Sox

I hoped that Tazawa would sign with Atlanta, but it is now evident that he will not be signing with the Braves. According to NBC Sports:

The 22-year-old right-hander contacted the Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners and Atlanta Braves on Friday to reject their offers, Kyodo News agency reported Friday.

Tazawa is expected to hold a news conference early next week to announce his decision. He reportedly received offers from the Rangers, Braves, Mariners and Red Sox.
Naturally, this means that the Braves will have to look elsewhere for future pitching options. However, that is the only bad thing about this. I hope that if Tazawa signs with the Red Sox that he has a long and fruitful MLB career.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wren's Waiting, Towers... - Everything went downhill in a hurry in San Diego

Sean McAdam's article talks about how much turmoil the Padres have incurred lately. Problems include owner John Moore's divorce, the team's unceremonious dumping of their Hall of Fame closer Trevor Hoffman (let's face it, he's going to be elected into the Hall), and the inability of Towers to trade ace Jake Peavy:

To cut costs, Moores has ordered a slashing of the payroll. Hoffman, baseball's all-time saves leader and the face of the franchise, was angered when the Padres pulled back their $4 million offer for next year. He expects to finish his career elsewhere. Towers has been openly soliciting offers for Peavy.

The payroll, which was $73 million for the 2008 season, is likely to be sliced nearly in half for the 2009 season, forcing Towers' hand.

"It's kind of difficult to have one player eat up a quarter of your payroll," Towers said. "We lost 99 games with Jake, and we're not going to get better by keeping him and his salary."

Although talks with Atlanta and the Cubs have been on-again, off-again, the hope is that Towers can land three or four low-cost, high-ceiling players and begin the team's rebuilding. There's precedent: Before the 2006 season, he swapped pitchers Adam Eaton and Akinori Otsuka to Texas and got Young and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez in return.

Talks are off right now, officially, but I have a strong suspicion that Towers will be the one going to Wren in order to get a deal done. Corey Brock writes about the problems as well on

The lack of progress in a deal involving pitcher Jake Peavy has had a significant effect on the Padres' ability to address their other roster needs this offseason.

And for a team coming off a 99-loss season in 2008, there are several areas that need to be filled, as general manager Kevin Towers wants to add starting pitching, relief pitching and shore up his bench for 2009.

But not knowing if the team can or will move Peavy and his $11 million contract for 2009 has all but left Towers in a standby mode until the future of the 2007 National League Cy Young Award winner is decided.

"That's pretty much it," Towers said. "It's certainly a large sum of money we would be moving. Once that's decided, we will have a better idea of what holes we would be plugging."

If the Padres decide not to move Peavy in a deal -- Towers said late last week no deal is imminent -- then the 27-year-old will be the highest-paid player on a team that is looking at a dramatically-reduced payroll in 2009.

To date, the Padres and Braves have had extensive talks, but Atlanta GM Frank Wren indicated a week ago that the Braves were moving on. Still, Towers said the two sides had agreed upon at least part of the compensation package, and that he wouldn't rule out future talks with the Braves.

While the Padres haven't publicly committed to an official payroll total for 2009, it's expected to be in the range of $50 million, perhaps lower. The payroll in 2008 was $73.6 million.

Towers has said that he wants some starting pitching in return for Peavy, and he certainly would not turn his back on Major League-ready relief help to assist a bullpen that struggled mightily in 2008 and will likely be without closer Trevor Hoffman, who is a free agent and is not expected to return.

"It's more pitching than position players," Towers said of what he would be looking for in the event the Padres get permission to trade Peavy, who has a no-trade clause.

If we take all of this at face value, it seems as if Towers still wants Escobar and some of the Braves' pitching, like Charlie Morton, Jo-Jo Reyes and Jeff Locke. I think it's all a matter of him going back to Wren, because he needs to move Peavy and he seems very reluctant to take the Cubs' inferior package of Pie, Marshall and others because Chicago doesn't want to trade pitcher Jeff Samardzija.

As for Peavy having to approve any trade, I still question his concerns about playing in Atlanta. I've touched on that before, but I'll say it again: Why in the world was he acting like the Braves would never get past the Phillies and Mets while he pitches for them? Why in the world was he acting like the only thing the Braves would do is trade for him?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Braves Take Another Mariner Thrown Overboard

The Atlanta Braves claimed left-handed reliever Eric O'Flaherty off of waivers from the Seattle Mariners yesterday and placed him on the 40-man roster. This means that he isn't exposed to the Rule V Draft.

O'Flaherty had his best season in 2007, when he pitched 52 1/3 innings and allowed 45 hits. He allowed just one hoome run and walked 20 batters. He struck out 36. He had an awful time last season, with a 20.25 ERA in 6 2/3 innings. He battled back problems last season, however.

Even though I view the back problem as a huge red flag, O'Flaherty performed superbly against left-handers a season ago, holding them to just a .182 average (.221 BABIP). Eric could very well make the squad and be a new LOOGY for the Braves. However, if he is used like Royce Ring was last year, I fear for O'Flaherty's production.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

No Peavy, At Least Not Yet

Braves GM Frank Wren said that he has ended trade talks with San Diego about Jake Peavy.

It's just as well.

The trade talks had gotten to the point where the Braves were offering a package of shortstop Yunel Escobar, minor league outfielder Gorkys Hernandez, either Charlie Morton or Jo-Jo Ryees, and minor-league pitcher Jeff Locke. Still, the rumors that said Peavy would reject any trade to Atlanta if Yunel Escobar was included and the Cubs offering a package centered around outfielder Felix Pie and pitcher Sean Marshall persisted.

It's pretty clear out of all the information available that the Braves offered the best package for Peavy. I can only speculate that Padres GM Kevin Towers was trying to force the issue and make Wren cave and give up either one of two prized prospects: pitcher Tommy Hanson and catcher Tyler Flowers.

Instead of pursuing Peavy (at least for now), Wren is going to try to sign a free agent pitcher, most likely either A. J. Burnett or Ryan Dempster.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Braves May Be Looking Across The Pacific For Pitching

Mark Bowman, the Braves beat writer for (known at Braves Journal as "Peanut" because all he does is parrot the Braves' front office) writes that "[the] Braves are believed to have offered a Major League contract to Junichi Tazawa, a 22-year-old Japanese right-hander who is also drawing interest from a number of other big league teams".

According to the BR Bullpen wiki entry on him, Tazawa pitched for the Nippon Oil team in 2008 and helped them win their first industrial league title in 13 years. He has a fastball (which tops out in the mid-90s), a curveball, slider, changeup and a forkball.

Here is a vclip posted on YouTube of Tazawa pitching for Nippon Oil (the ENEOS on his uniform is their brand name) against JR Shikoku, or Shikoku Railway Company. I can safely say I have never seen anyone with the kind of delivery that he has, and I don't know whether that is a good or bad thing. Tazawa throws with speeds from the mid-70s to the low-90s. He seems to live on control, as evidenced by this clip. That is what the Braves covet. An article says one official even described him as similar to Tim Hudson but "with a better curveball".

However, It's unlikely that Tazawa is going to be in the majors immediately. He'll be treated like a first-round draft pick and be placed on the 40-man roster because he's signed to a major league deal. If the Braves are smart, and I think they are, they'll have Tazawa be in the minors for a year or two to see if he can really cut the mustard.

I would just absolutely love it if the Braves sign Tazawa and he pans out. It would go a long way to helping the team compete in the future.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Will Peavy's Concern About Atlanta's Team Prevent Trade?

In an article discussing how Braves general manager Frank Wren will approach the GM meetings in November, Jake Peavy was mentioned in a small snippet in the middle:

During a conversation with a friend in Atlanta last week, Peavy reiterated his desire to pitch for the Braves. But at the same time, he indicated he was concerned that the Braves might not be able to compete with the Phillies and Mets.
This goes without saying. On paper, Atlanta is the most inferior of the three teams, and it's arguable that the Marlins are better than them. The article continues, though:

Seemingly lost here is the fact that Peavy would be the key ingredient that could help the Braves as they prepare to dethrone the two-time defending National League East champion Phillies.
Not only do I find it curious that Peavy's acting like all the Braves are going to do this offseason is trade for him, but I also find it strange that he has even mentioned them as a trade partner in the first place. After all, out of all the teams he has listed as trade partners for San Diego (Braves, Dodgers, Cardinals, Astros and Cubs), Atlanta seems to be in the worst shape. The Dodgers fought for the NL West title last season, the Cubs won the NL Central and the Cardinals and Astros had outside shots at the NL Wild Card. The Braves were out of the playoff chase by August. Why would he mention the Braves as a trade partner for the Padres if one of his top concerns (seemingly) is getting into the playoffs immediately?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Despite The Braves' Failure, Chipper Has Success

No one expected this, not even the most diehard of Braves fans. Chipper Jones, a cornerstone of the Atlanta Braves for 15 seasons (including his cup of coffee in 1993), put together a season that hasn't been seen since the days of The Mick.

The base of his impressive 2008 run started in the 2007 season, which saw Jones post a career high batting average (.337) and his first .600+ slugging average in six years (.605 in 2001). He also had a career high in doubles (42).

Chipper's focus on batting average helped him start the 2008 season on a hot streak. Jones remained hot; he hit over .400 for a couple of months. He got as high as a .421 average on June 6th. After that, he was only able to maintain the .400 pace up to June 18th. Even though his doubles and home runs were down because he was battling injuries all year, Jones was able to maintain a high average. Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday, the reigning NL batting average champion, hung around at the top of the average leaderboard, but only Pujols was able to mount a serious challenge. Pujols took the lead on August 30th with a .362 average, but lost the lead again on September 10th.

Chipper didn't start games in the final week of the season due to a shoulder injury he suffered against the Mets. By the last series of the season for both players, with the Braves playing the Astros and the Cardinals playing the Reds, Chipper had a .365-.353 edge on Pujols. Jones didn't start the first game of the series and pinch-hit, drawing a walk. His average stayed at .365. Pujols went 3-3 with a homer and two walks, putting his average at .357. Jones didn't start the next game, either. He pinch-hit in the ninth inning, flying out to the scoreboard in left field at Minute Maid Park. Pujols went 1-4 with a home run in his next game, dropping his average to .356. It was still possible for Pujols to come back and win the title, but he would have to go 5-5 and Jones would have to go 0-3 for him to do that. But when Chipper didn't start against the Astros in the last game of the season, he virtually clinched the title. He pinch-hit in the Braves' final game of the year, a 3-1 loss to the Astros, and drew a walk, ending the year with a major-league best .364 average and the best average by a switch hitter in 51 years. Pujols went 1-2 with double and a walk in his last game, finishing with a .357 average.

Jones also finished the year with the highest on-base percentage in baseball (.470), making the batting average and OBP crowns for the National League the first two categories in which he has lead the Senior Circuit in anything.

The two stats also earned a top ten placement in the single seasons in franchise history:


1. Hugh Duffy, 1894 - .440
2. Rogers Hornsby, 1928 - .387
3. Dan Brouthers, 1889 - .373
4. Billy Hamilton, 1898 - .369
5. Rico Carty, 1970 - .366
6. Billy Hamilton, 1896 - .365
7. Chipper Jones, 2008 - .364
8. Hugh Duffy, 1893 - .363
9. Hank Aaron, 1959 - .355
10. Chick Stahl, 1897 - .354


1. Hugh Duffy, 1894 - .502
2. Rogers Hornsby, 1928 - .498
3. Billy Hamilton, 1898 - .480
4. Billy Hamilton, 1896 - .477
5. Chipper Jones, 2008 - .470
6. Dan Brouthers, 1889 - .462
7. Billy Hamilton, 1897 - .461
8. Rico Carty, 1970 - .454
9. Billy Hamilton, 1900 - .449
10. Chipper Jones, 1999 - .441

So, despite the Braves finishing with their worst season since 1990, Chipper finished with one of his best seasons since his MVP year.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Double Whammy: Hampton Hurt And Pirates Win


Mike Hampton, who was to make his first start since August of 2005, was removed from his start when he aggravated a pectoral muscle, and was placed on the 15-day DL shortly after. Jeff Bennett had to make an emergency start, and the Braves bullpen had to work some more. The Pirates, however, ultimately came out on top 4-3 in ten innings. Jeff Bennett pitched four innings after pitching the previous two games, allowing two runs. Zach Duke allowed three runs in 5 2/3 innings on ten hits. The bullpen was worked to the point where Chris Resop was moved to left field so that Royce Ring could pitch an out and then moved back to the mound.

W - Tyler Yates (1-0)
L - Chris Resop (0-1)
S - Matt Capps (1)

Gold - CF Nate McLouth, PIT - 1-5, 2B, R, two excellent plays in center field that prevented at least two runs.
Silver - P John Grabow, PIT - 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 SO
Bronze - P Jeff Bennett, ATL - 4 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Braves Turn Close Game Into Laugher, Beat Pirates


The Braves rode good starting pitching, timely hitting, and a big inning to their first win of the season, defeating the Pirates 10-2.

Jair Jurrjens made his first appearance in a Braves uniform and started out very well. He went into the sixth inning and kept the Braves in the lead, but left with two men on base and a one-run lead. Jurrjens struck out five Pirates in total and allowed two runs, both on a single by Xavier Nady in the sixth.

The Braves got on the board when Chipper Jones drove in Martin Prado from third with a single, and then drove him in again later in the third with a sacrifice fly. Matt Diaz provided the "game-winning" RBI in the fourth inning with a solo home run. (Author's note: That's part of the reason why he's the Silver Star. I know that's nuts, but for some reason, I wasn't comfortable with Escobar being a star.)

The eighth inning had another bullpen shuffle as Braves manager Bobby Cox played matchup baseball, using three pitchers. Chris Resop was able to finish the inning after Peter Moylan and Royce Ring (who played the LOOGY role) pitched before him. In the bottom of the inning, the Braves exploded for seven runs, with Mark Teixeira and Yunel Escobar driving in five runs total with home runs.

The Braves complete their series with Pittsburgh tomorrow. Mike Hampton will be making his first start since the 2005 season, going up against former rookie sensation Zach Duke.

W - Jair Jurrjens (1-0)
L - Tom Gorzelanny (0-1)
HR - Matt Diaz (1)
Mark Teixeira (1)
Yunel Escobar (1)

Gold - P Jair Jurrjens, ATL - 5 1/3 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 SO, wins in Braves debut
Silver - LF Matt Diaz, ATL - 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI
Bronze - 2B Martin Prado, ATL - 2-4, 3B, 3 R, BB, RBI

Monday, March 31, 2008

Wild Home Opener Ends In Pittsburgh's Favor


Strange occurences, frantic rallies and lead changes ended in the Pirates' favor, as they pulled out a 12-11 win in 12 innings.

The game started out innocently enough. Tom Glavine pitched five innings and despite allowing seven hits and two runs, one unearned, he left with a 4-2 lead. Ian Snell pitched six innings and allowed seven hits and four runs. In the eighth, with the game tied 4-4, thanks to Yunel Escobar's errant throw that Teixeira couldn't dig out, Nady led off the inning with a solo homer that just cleared the right field wall and McLouth added on a three-run homer later. Both came off of Braves reliever Manny Acosta, who is not known for giving up home runs. The Pirates added another run in the ninth to make it 9-4.

Then came the bottom of the ninth.

Damaso Marte entered the game for the Pirates and couldn't throw a strike, walking Mark Kotsay to lead off the inning. Matt Diaz struck out, but pinch hitter Ruben Gotay walked as well. New Pirate manager John Russell, who caught for the Braves once upon a time in 1989, called on closer Matt Capps to finish the game. Normally, Capps has impeccable control, but he couldn't find the strike zone either. He walked Martin Prado to load the bases and then walked Yunel Escobar to force in a run to make it 9-5. Chipper Jones then laced a single to right and drove in two to make it 9-7. Mark Teixeira then flew out to center to make it two out. Brian McCann then hit a soft fly ball to left field and slammed his bat in disgust. The ball traveled out to left and Jason Bay and Nate McLouth started to jog in and then the ball plopped in right between them. Escobar scored and Chipper got around from first to score the tying run.

Both sides battled on and then Xavier Nady smashed a three-run homer in the 12th off of Blaine Boyer that ended up being what the Pirates needed. In the bottom of the frame, Francoeur hit a solo homer, off of Franquelis Osoria, to left field and Mark Kotsay followed that with a double. Matt Diaz scored him with a single up the middle. But pinch hitter Corky Miller flied out to center, though, and the Braves came up on the losing end of the duel.

Kelly Johnson had to leave the game in the fourth inning with a strained knee. He'll be listed as day to day.

More news: It was announced during the game that the Braves signed Scott Spiezio to a minor league contract in hopes that he is over his addiction problems and he'll be able to shore up the bench with his versatility and decent power.

W - Franquelis Osoria (1-0)
L - Blaine Boyer (0-1)
HR - PIT - Xavier Nady 2 (2)
Nate McLouth (1)
ATL - Brian McCann (1)
Jeff Francoeur (1)

Gold - RF Xavier Nady, PIT - 4-7, 2B, 2 HR, 4 R, 4 RBI
Silver - CF Nate McLouth, PIT - 3-5, HR, BB, 2 R, 4 RBI
Bronze - SS Yunel Escobar, ATL - 3-4, 3B, 2 R, 2 BB, 3 RBI

Sunday, March 30, 2008

After Pitching Battle, Zimmerman Walks Off For Nats


Ryan Zimmerman hit a 1-0 pitch to center field off of Braves reliever Peter Moylan in the bottom of the ninth to win the Nationals' first game at Nationals Park 3-2. The game was a pitching duel from the start.

Washington struck first in the opening inning when Cristian Guzman singled. Tim Hudson's throwing error allowed him to go to third. With two out, Nick Johnson doubled Guzman home and Austin Kearns singled him home. Braves starter Tim Hudson held Washington hitless for the next six innings. Nationals starter Odalis Perez allowed just four hits in five innings and Saul Rivera supported him with two scoreless frames.

Chipper Jones hit a solo home run to make the score 2-1, but the Braves didn't score again for a while. Ray King walked Brayan Pena, but he and Luis Ayala kept pinch runner Gregor Blanco at first.

In the ninth, Jones led off the inning with a liner, but reliever Jon Rauch, who came in to close, snared it with a flick of his wrist. Mark Teixeira then launched a ball to right field, missing a home run by inches. He ran to second with a double. After Martin Prado pinch ran for him, Jeff Francoeur grounded to second and that allowed Prado to move to third. With Brian McCann batting, Paul LoDuca couldn't corral a slider and Prado scampered home with the tying run. McCann then flied out to left field.

In the ninth, Peter Moylan continued his work from the eighth. He got Guzman to strike out looking and Ronnie Belliard to ground out to Chipper at third. That made it 24 straight Nationals set down since the first inning. Then Zimmerman used his bat to say "Good night, folks" and sent the home crowd happy.

The Braves will fly back to Atlanta to face Pittsburgh for their home opener.

W - Jon Rauch (1-0)
L - Peter Moylan (0-1)
HR - ATL - Chipper Jones (1)
WAS - Ryan Zimmerman (WO, 1)

Gold - 3B Ryan Zimmerman, WAS - 1-4, WO HR, R, RBI
Silver - P Tim Hudson, ATL - 7 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 SO
Bronze - P Odalis Perez, WAS - 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Braves' Roster Before The REAL Opening Day!

( ) - denotes players on 15-day DL
(( )) - 60-day DL

Starting Lineup

C - Brian McCann
1B - Mark Teixeira
2B - Kelly Johnson
3B - Chipper Jones
SS - Yunel Escobar
LF - Matt Diaz
CF - Mark Kotsay
RF - Jeff Francoeur


C - Corky Miller
C/CI/LF - Brayan Pena
IF - Ruben Gotay
IF - Martin Prado
OF - Gregor Blanco
(IF - Omar Infante)


(SP - John Smoltz)
SP - Tim Hudson
SP - Tom Glavine
SP - Jair Jurrjens
SP - Mike Hampton
SP - Jeff Bennett
(SP - Chuck James)


CL - Rafael Soriano
RP - Peter Moylan
RP - Will Ohman
RP - Manny Acosta
RP - Royce Ring
RP - Chris Resop
RP - Blaine Boyer
(RP - Mike Gonzalez)
((RP - Anthony Lerew))

Looks good to me except for the bench. That is one thin bench; it's just a bunch of singles hitters. Maybe there will be another move today. I certainly hope so.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Yeah, The Motivation Hasn't Been There

I think the blame lays on Super Smash Bros. Brawl. ;)

But, don't worry. I'll be here for every regular season game that I can. I'm going to do the Braves Stars thing again this season because I had a lot of fun doing it last season. For each game, three players will be given a Gold Star, a Silver Star and a Bronze Star. The tally will be kept the entire season. At the end of the year, we'll see who has a lot of the best performances. At least, in my perspective. ;)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Braves Claw Back, But Astros End On Top

The Braves scored five runs in the eighth inning to tie the game against the Houston Astros 7-7, but the Astros scored a run off of Buddy Carlyle in the bottom of the frame and held off Atlanta for an 8-7 win.

W - Wesley Wright (1-0)
L - Buddy Carlyle (1-1)
S - Doug Brocail (1)
HR - Miguel Tejada (1)
Hunter Pence (3)

Three Stars
RF Hunter Pence - 3-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI
SS Miguel Tejada - 4-4, HR, R, 2 RBI
P Shawn Chacon - 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 SO

Monday, March 17, 2008

Hampton Very Solid, But Cards Beat Braves

Mike Hampton pitched 4 1/3 innings and allowed just one run, walking three and striking out three. Anthony Reyes, though, pitched four shutout innings and the Cardinals got more runs first, beating Atlanta 4-2. Rick Ankiel drove in two runs with a double.

W - Russ Springer (1-0)
L - Blaine Boyer (1-2)
S - Kyle McClellan (1)

Three Stars
P Anthony Reyes - 4 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO
P Mike Hampton - 4 1/3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 3 SO
RF-CF Rick Ankiel - 1-4, 2B, 2 RBI

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Rest Of The Bench; Glavine In Command, Frenchy Hurt But OK

I've decided to consolidate the rest of the potential benchies into this one post. I'll take pitchers two at a time in a post in order to finish the previews before the season starts.

#26 OF/1B Joe Borchard

Borchard is attempting to force the Braves' hand. He leads the team with seven doubles this spring. It's quite possible that he could usurp Scott Thorman's job on the bench.

#4 OF/IF Omar Infante

Infante is out for the spring while his hand, which was broken in winter league action, heals. He'll have a backup infielder and emergency outfielder spot ready for him when he returns.

#26 OF Brandon Jones

Jones just about played himself out of a platoon spot this spring, batting below the Mendoza Line and looking clumsy on the field. However, he does have eight walks this spring, which is second on the team (Gregor Blanco has nine.). So, all is not bad news for Jones.

#68 IF/CF Brent Lillibridge

Surely, he'll get a new number if he makes the big club. So far, Lillibridge leads the team in strikeouts at the plate, but he can still prove to be a capable backup infielder if handed the job. He'll likely spend most of the season at Richmond unless Yunel Escobar hits a wall.

#8 C Javy Lopez

Lopez, who hasn't played baseball professionally since 2006, is most likely going to be the backup catcher because he's the resident veteran. It's not such a bad idea; Lopez has displayed this spring that he can get ahold of a pitch or two. He has also been working on his defense a whole lot this past off-season and spring.

However, it ultimately doesn't matter who gets the backup catcher job. Clint Sammons, Corky Miller and Javy Lopez would probably have the same level of production. :)

#1 IF Martin Prado

Brought up in trade rumors because there seems to be no place for him, Prado made a splash in the International League last year when he was in the race for the batting title. Unfortunately, that kind of "success" hasn't translated to the major league level. Prado is a serviceable backup, but that's all he'll probably ever be.

#20 1B/LF Scott Thorman

Rumored to be on the move after Borchard's showing this spring, Thorman is the kind of guy who blasts the ball a long way when he connects, but he REALLY misses all the other times. I must say, one of my favorite home runs that I've ever seen was his first-pitch SMASH off of Francisco Cordero to tie a ballgame against the Brewers. I just laughed and laughed at it because I didn't expect it to happen. We'll see what happens with him.

In today's game, Tom Glavine allowed two runs in five innings and that's all the Braves allowed, winning 3-2. Chipper Jones (solo homer) and Yunel Escobar's two-run homer provided all the offense for the Braves.

There was a scary moment in the second inning as Jeff Francoeur was hit in the face by a pitch. Fortunately, X-rays were negative and there was no damage to his teeth or jaw. He should be back in action soon.

W - Tom Glavine (1-0)
L - Todd Wellemeyer (0-1)
S - Royce Ring (1)

Three Stars
P Tom Glavine - 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 SO
SS Yunel Escobar - 1-3, HR, R, 2 RBI
3B Chipper Jones - 1-3, HR, R, RBI

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Braves Drop Both Sides of Split Squad

The Braves lost both sides of a split squad game, losing to the Houston Astros 15-6 and the Tampa Bay Rays 11-10.

John Smoltz made his spring training debut after a much ballyhooed session where he worked on refining pitches on the side. He was great for four innings, but the Rays touched Smoltz for five in the fifth, including a two-run shot by Carlos Pena. Roy Oswalt had a great outing, allowing no hits. Corky Miller hit a grand slam in his time against the Astros.

W - Calvin Medlock (1-0)
L - Blaine Boyer (1-1)
HR - TB - Carlos Pena (2)
ATL - Corky Miller (GS, 1)

Three Stars
P Jason Hammel - 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO
2B Martin Prado - 2-5, 2 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI
PH-C Corky Miller - 1-2, GS HR, R, RBI

W - Roy Oswalt (1-0)
L - Jair Jurrjens (2-1)
HR - Lance Berkman (3)

Three Stars
P Roy Oswalt - 6 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 SO
SS Edwin Maysonet - 2-5, 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI
CF Jose Cruz, Jr. - 1-2, 3 BB, 3 R, RBI

Friday, March 14, 2008

Escobar Slams, Thorman Blasts, Braves Win 9-1.

Yunel Escobar hit a grand slam and Scott Thorman hit a three-run homer as the Braves won 9-1 over the Philadelphia Phillies. Escobar's slam came with two out in the second and Thorman hit his home run in the third. The Braves pitchers combined to hold the Philies to one run.

W - Royce Ring (1-1)
L - Victor Rosario (0-1)
HR - ATL - Yunel Escobar (GS, 1)
Scott Thorman (2)
PHI - Greg Dobbs (1)

Three Stars
SS Yunel Escobar - 1-2, GS HR, R, 4 RBI
1B Scott Thorman - 1-3, HR, R, 3 RBI
P Dan Smith - 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 SO


OF Gregor Blanco

It's unlikely that Blanco is going to make the team at this point, so I guess I'll just make mention of the fact that he's with the team in spring. He's a singles hitter with good speed and a good defensive reputation. Some may have preferred putting him or Anderson in center over Kotsay, but that's life.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


OF Josh Anderson

Acquired from the Astros for Oscar Villarreal in November of last year, Anderson was originally slated to take over in center field after Andruw Jones left in free agency to the Los Angeles Dodgers. However, with Mark Kotsay imported from the A's, Anderson is probably slated for a backup outfielder spot. There is some schools of thought that say Anderson is going to platoon with Matt Diaz, but that is very unlikely.

All through his career, people have raved about Anderson's speed. He'll bring that with some outfield reputation. However, he won't have much power, no matter how much he plays.

Note: Anderson's ratings will be based on his entire 2007 season for some things, so they could be sweked.

AVERAGE - 6 - Anderson has decent batting skills; his .358 BA in 75 plate appearances outshone his .273 BA in 564 PAs at Round Rock by a wide margin.

POWER - 3 - Let's face it; Anderson has doubles power and not much homer power. He hit 20 doubles total last year (three in Houston), but only had three homers at Round Rock.

BASERUNNING - 7 - Anderson swiped 40 bases at Round Rock and was only thrown out eight times. It's possible for his raw speed displayed here to translate well to the majors if he has some baserunning skills.

THROWING - 6 - Anderson had 8 assists in his Pacific Coast League season. It is unknown how well he'll be in the majors.

FIELDING - 4 - Anderson made nine errors in the minors, unfortunately. That doesn't bode too well.

TOTAL - 26 (C) - Anderson seems to be a bench player through and through, but he can still be very serviceable. Hopefully, that's what he provides with Atlanta.

BP: .266/.310/.332, 0 HR, 16 RBI
RW: .266/.304/.323, 1 HR, 25 RBI

Obviously, Anderson isn't looked upon favorably by anyone.

Sam: .275/.320/.348, 1 HR, 18 RBI

Braves Tie Tigers; Lillibridge Drives In Three

In spring training action on Thursday, Atlanta tied with Detroit 6-6. Brent Lillibridge, playing short, drove in three runs. Joe Borchard had two extra base hits for Atlanta. Gary Sheffield hit a two-run home run for Detroit, Magglio Ordonez had three hits and Placido Polanco had two RBIs and two runs.

Three Stars
DH Gary Sheffield - 1-2, HR, 2 BB, R, 2 RBI
2B Placido Polanco - 2-2, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI
LF Joe Borchard - 2-3, 2B, 3B, 2 R, RBI

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Braves Ride Nine-Run Fourth To Victory, Beat Indians

Atlanta put a nine-spot on the board in the fourth to re-take the lead and they eventually defeated Cleveland 11-4. Four homers were hit in the game; three were solo homers for Cleveland. Mark Teixeira had three hits and Brian McCann hit his first homer of the spring. Blaine Boyer had two innnings of shutout relief with three strikeouts, making his case for a bullpen spot.

W - Blaine Boyer (1-0)
L - Aaron Fultz (0-1)
HR - CLE - Asdrubal Cabrera (1)
Brad Mills (2)
Grady Sizemore (3)
ATL - Brian McCann (1)

Three Stars
C Brian McCann - 2-3, 2B, HR, R, RBI
1B Mark Teixeira - 3-3, 2B, 3 R, 2 RBI
P Blaine Boyer - 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 SO; 1-1, R, RBI
1B Mark Teixeira -

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Hanrahan Steals The Show For A While; Game Ends In Tie

Washington's Joel Hanrahan struck out eight of the nine Braves that he faced to preserve the Nationals' lead.

However, the game ended in a 2-2 tie. The Braves were down nearly the entire game with Washington getting an unearned run off of Tom Glavine and another run off of Zach Schreiber. However, in the bottom of the ninth, Luis Ayala was touched for two runs, and that's how the game ended. Joe Borchard drove in two runs. Tom Glavine allowed just two hits in four innings, walking and striking out two. He allowed one run.

Three Stars
P Joel Hanrahan - 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 SO
LF Joe Borchard - 1-4, GT single, 2 RBI
P Tom Glavine - 4 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO


RF Jeff Francoeur

Well, I was right about Frenchy having an improved season. At first, I didn't particularly care for his improvement last season. I thought he didn't do enough to improve the way I originally wanted. However, I then realized that the fact that he improved is still a good thing. His average rose and his plate discipline improved. Francoeur got his Gold Glove because of his arm, but his arm is already one of the best in the game, so I'll let it slide.

The best part is that Jeff is 24 years old and he's getting better. Here's to him putting everything he has learned all together for 2008.

AVERAGE - 7.5 - Francoeur improved his average by focusing less on power and more on contact (.337 BABIP, a 53 point increase from 2006).

POWER - 8 - Playing a full season with his improved batting, he had 40 homers and 19 home runs. At 23 years of age, that is pretty impressive.

BASERUNNING - 3.5 - Although Francouer doesn't steal many bases at all, he is a little agressive in trying to take bases. He was 10-28 in going from first to third, 12-20 from second to home and 2-5 from first to home. However, he was out advancing once and doubled off twice.

THROWING - 10 - He has one of the best arms in the majors already. Enough said.

FIELDING - 8 - Francouer gets to a lot of balls, and whatever errors he occurs, it is usually due to being unable to field a ball cleanly. Fortunately, he doesn't do that too often.

TOTAL - 37 (B+) - Just think, if Francoeur was able to run the bases better, he would rate just as well as Chipper or Teixeira. ;)

BP: .283/.330/.473, 22 HR, 86 RBI, 8 SB
BJH: .288/.333/.475, 22 HR, 98 RBI, 5 SB
RW: .297/.335/.486, 25 HR, 107 RBI, 4 SB
SN: .279/.314/.451, 22 HR, 100 RBI, 4 SB

Sam: .285/.336/.479, 27 HR, 105 RBI, 7 SB

Jair Jurrjens Sharp; Braves Beat Cardinals Again

Jair Jurrjens, the Braves' potential fourth or fifth starter, pitched very well yesterday. He gave up just two hits in four innings of work as the Braves won 3-1. Adam Wainwright, the Cardinals' starter, gave up two runs in five innings and took the loss. Ryan Drese had two innings of shutout relief. Jordan Schafer went 1-2 with a double and Javy Lopez hit a solo homer, his second of the spring.

On a side note, why do people insist on misspelling Jair's name "Jurrgens"?

W - Jair Jurrjens (2-0)
L - Adam Wainwright (0-1)
S - Jorge Campillo (1)
HR - Javy Lopez (2)

Three Stars
P Jair Jurrjens - 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO
LF Jordan Schafer - 1-2, 2B, 2 BB, R
C Javy Lopez - 1-1, HR, BB, R, RBI

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Braves Pound Cardinals

The Braves simply beat the Cardinals down 12-5. Tim Hudson had an all right start; he allowed just three hits and two walks and allowed two unearned runs. Matt Diaz had three hits, including a double, while Scott Thorman hit a three-run homer. Josh Anderson drove in three runs with two hits, including a double. Chris Resop had two innings of shutout relief.

W - Tim Hudson (2-0)
L - Clayton Mortensen (0-1)
HR - Scott Thorman (1)

Three Stars
RF Gregor Blanco - 2-2, 2B, 2 R, 2 BB, RBI
1B Scott Thorman - 1-4, HR, BB, R, 4 RBI
CF Josh Anderson - 2-5, 2B, 3 RBI

Saturday, March 08, 2008


CF Mark Kotsay

Kotsay has been a sore spot among most Braves fans that I know. It has been said that Kotsay is not needed; that Gregor Blanco or Josh Anderson could do just as well. It has been said that Joey Devine and Jamie Richmond has been too high a price for Kotsay. It has been said that Kotsay will just get hurt again because back problems are something that linger.

Well, it's all moot right now. Kotsay is here to stay for 2007. At his best, Kotsay is able to make contact and hit for average and the occassional double and home run.

Although he may have lost a step thanks to the back injry, Kotsay is stull fine definsively. He won't be Andruw Jones, but he'll do. If Jordan Schafer gets the experience he needs to thrive, then all should be well.

AVERAGE - 6 - I'm going to use a mix of 2005 and 2006 for these rankings. Kotsay makes good contact and when healthy, he has put up BABIP in the .300s for most of his career. Even in his subpar 2006, he still had a .294 BABIP. My conclusion from that is that he can be serviceable.

POWER - 5 - Kotsay hit 35 doubles and 15 homers in his last healthiest season in 2005. I think we can expect some more of the same if he can stay on the field.

BASERUNNING - 3.5 - In 2006, Kotsay didn't move from first to third very often (6-24), but he did go from second to home half the time (12-24) and from first to home two out of five times. He was out advancing four times. Even running for stolen bases doesn't do much for him (6 out of 9 in 2006).

THROWING - 7 - Kotsay has had a great reputation for his throwing arm. However, he hasn't had too many assists to show for it recently, due to injuries.

FIELDING - 7 - Despite all of the injuries, there's no reason to believe that Kotsay's fielding has slipped too much.

TOTAL - 28.5 (C+) - Kotsay isn't the complete package, like McCann, but if he can do what he is capable of, he is what the Braves need.

BP: .258/.326/.358, 4 HR, 35 RBI, 3 SB
BJH: .275/.339/.396, 6 HR, 36 RBI, 4 SB
RW: .259/.317/.376, 6 HR, 43 RBI, 3 SB

Sam: .269/.340/.401, 12 HR, 48 RBI, 4 SB

Braves Drop Both Split Squad Games

Atlanta played in two different places and they lost in two different places. The Reds defeated them 13-8 and the Astros won 7-4.

W - Mike Lincoln (1-0)
L - Jeff Bennett (0-1)
HR - ATL - Diory Hernandez (1)
CIN - Brandon Phillips (2)

Three Stars
2B Brandon Phillips - 2-3, 2B, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI
1B Scott Hatteberg - 3-3, 2B, 2 R
3B Diory Hernandez - 1-3, HR, BB, 2 R, 2 RBI

W - Wandy Rodriguez (1-0)
L - Royce Ring (0-1)
S - Brian Moehler (1)
HR - Brandon Hicks (1)

Three Stars
RF Hunter Pence - 2-4, 3B, BB, 3 RBI
P Wandy Rodriguez - 4 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO
P Blaine Boyer - 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO

Friday, March 07, 2008


LF Matt Diaz

He may be jsut a platoon outfielder, but he's OUR platoon outfielder. Diaz played about the same amount as he did in 2006, but he had to endure having Willie Harris as a platoon partner, so Diaz stayed on the bench while Harris put up a .190/.288/.335 for the rest of the year after he had six hits in one game. Diaz did make the most out of his bench role by being a pinch-hitter, which he was all right with. Diaz batted .338/.368/.497 last season in his roles and he also had 14 pinch-hits in 51 plate appearances.

There is no gaurantee that Diaz is going to get a full-time starting role. There are three players who are battling for a left-handed platoon spot: Brandon Jones, Josh Anderson and Joe Borchard. Yes, Joe Borchard. That doesn't seem like a good idea, as he has never established himself as any kind of talent in the majors. I'd rather have Anderson or Jones be the ones to "take away at bats" from Diaz. At least they have some upside.

Wait, why haven't I been talking about Diaz? Well, the fact is that Diaz is going to do what he does; hit a lot of singles and some doubles and homers with his free-swinging ways and that back bend of his.

AVERAGE - 10 - Diaz can simply rake the ball, even if it's just for a lot of singles. He'll succeed with his batting in any role that he's put in.

POWER - 7.5 - In his part-time role, Diaz hits a lot of line drives with his powerful swing, and a few of them add up to his doubles and homers.

BASERUNNING - 4.5 - Diaz stole four bases without being caught once, so he can run when the opportunity calls for it. He rarely moved from first to third (4-20), but he did go from second to home a lot (11-18). He was thrown out advancing twice.

FIELDING - 7.5 - Diaz may run around like a chicken with its head cut off out there, but he rarely makes a mistake out in the field. I don't put too much emphasis on routes to the ball. All that matters to me is that a fly ball is caught in the outfield.

THROWING - 5 - Diaz doesn't have too much of an arm, but it's not terrible. That's all I can really say.

TOTAL - 34.5 (B) - Diaz isn't the best left fielder in the league, but he is certainly the best one the Braves have had since Chipper went back to third. And all it took to get him was Ricardo Rodriguez.

BP: .296/.338/.465, 11 HR, 55 RBI, 5 SB
BJH: .330/.364/.505, 13 HR, 57 RBI, 5 SB
RW: .313/.341/.477, 11 HR, 41 RBI, 4 SB
SN: .295/.325/.459, 14 HR, 62 RBI, 5 SB

Sam: .309/.340/.479, 12 HR, 59 RBI, 5 SB

Hampton Out With Groin Strain, Braves Lose To Tigers

The Tigers posted a win on the Braves 9-6 once more and history repeats itself as Mike Hampton is out, once again, with a groin strain. Mike had to leave in the second inning of his second start. This may lead the Braves to sign Kyle Lohse, who is reportedly seeking a one-year contract worth $4-$10 million, if Hampton is out for any significant amount of time.

Ivan Rodriguez, who was batting leadoff, and Brandon Inge hit home runs for the Tigers. Rodriguez and Freddy Guzman drove in two runs each for the Tigers; Ivan also had two doubles. Chipper Jones drove in two runs for the Braves and Matt DeSalvo pitched two scoreless innings for the Braves.

Chipper Jones returned to action and went 2-2 and drove in two runs.

W - Virgil Vasquez (2-0)
L - Will Ohman (0-1)
HR - Ivan Rodriguez (2)
Brandon Inge (1)

Three Stars
C Ivan Rodrigez - 3-3, 2 2B, HR, 3 R, 2 RBI
CF Freddy Guzman - 2-4, 2B, R, 2 RBI
3B Chipper Jones - 2-2, R, BB, 2 RBI

Thursday, March 06, 2008


SS Yunel Escobar

Take note, fans. This is what happens when you have such a good debut that your team thinks so highly of you that it's willing to trade away an All-Star shortstop who has just had two of the best seasons of his career.

This isn't a bad thing, though. Yunel Escobar proved himself to be quite capable last season, batting .326/.385/.451 in just 355 plate appearances. Escobar's a line-drive hitter who is able to spray the ball to all fields. Don't expect him to keep his batting average that high, but don't expect him to tank it, either. As for defense, he'll be slightly better than Renteria. He has more range and a better arm, so with more experience, he should prove his worth.

Besides, even if he does tank, the Braves still have Brent Lillibridge. ;)

AVERAGE - 7 - According to last season, he has a high propensity for average, but that is in about half a season, and he also had a very high BABIP (.364). Be that as it may, I look for him to have the same average about Kelly Johnson because there is no denying that Escobar is a talented hitter.

POWER - 6 - For a shortstop, Escobar's penchant for doubles and the occassional home run will go a long way to show that he is worthy of being the starting shortstop for the Braves.

BASERUNNING - 6.5 - Escobar doesn't have that much speed, but he appears to have some good baserunning skill (12-16 from second to home). There was also the famous incident where he took second base when Valverde wasn't paying attention. Did Glenn Hubbard advise that? Well, if he didn't, that was pretty astute of him to do that.

FIELDING - 7 - Escobar showed very good range last season and will be a boost from Edgar Renteria's defense, even if it's only a slight boost.

THROWING - 9 - By most accounts, Escobar has a rocket for an arm.

TOTAL - 36.5 (B) - This total may be because of his stats from last season, but I think he'll be able to live up to the rating.

BP: .286/.347/.402, 8 HR, 59 RBI, 10 SB
BJH: .307/.376/.420, 5 HR, 46 RBI, 9 SB
RW: .291/.353/.405, 6 HR, 53 RBI, 10 SB
SN: .282/.348/.384, 6 HR, 57 RBI, 9 SB

Sam: .295/.368/.407, 7 HR, 51 RBI, 11 SB

Braves defeat Tigers 5-4, Game called

The Braves put a five-spot up in the fifth inning and it held up as the Braves won 5-4. The game was called in the bottom of the ninth due to rain.

Yunel Escobar drove in three runs for the Braves on two hits, including a double and scored a run. Joe Borchard drove in another run with a double and he leads the majors with . Honestly, he could bat his way onto the bench, but I don't know what kind of pitches he's hitting. There has to be a reason that he didn't do so well before with the White Sox and Florida.

Zach Schreiber had two innings of scoreless relief for the Braves. Tom Glavine started and allowed two runs in the third inning and had to be taken out.

Dontrelle Willis pitched three scoreless innnings in his start. Shortstop Ramon Santiago had and center fielder Brent Clevlen had three singles each for Detroit.

W - Ryan Drese (1-0)
L - Armando Galarraga (0-1)
S - Damian Moss (1)

Three Stars
SS Yunel Escobar - 2-3, 2B, R, 3 RBI
P Dontrelle Willis - 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 SO
P Zach Schreiber - 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 SO

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Braves one-hit Indians, win 4-1

I know that Mac Thomason of Braves Journal likes to say (joke?) that these games are meaningless, but it's nice to see a good pitching performance all around. The Braves let in one run on one hit, a Danny Sandoval single with two outs in the ninth, making the final score 4-1.

Jair Jurrjens, Jeff Bennett, Jeff Ridgway, Royce Ring, Francisley Bueno, and Jairo Cuevas all allowed no hits. Jurrjens pitched three innings to start the game.

Mark Teixiera homered for the Braves and drove in another run with a single.

W - Jair Jurrjens (1-0)
L - Joe Borowski (0-1)
HR - Mark Teixeira (1)

Three Stars
P Jair Jurrjens - 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 SO
1B Mark Teixeira - 2-3, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI
RF Joe Borchard - 1-2, 2B, BB, 2 RBI

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Braves Pound Phillies

The Braves led 7-1 after three innings and won 10-1. Jeff Francoeur, Joe Borchard, and Mark Teixeira drove in two runs each for the Braves, while Martin Prado had three hits. Ryan Howard drove in the only run for the Phillies.

Tim Hudson started for Atlanta and allowed one run on four hits in three innings. Buddy Carlyle pitched two scoreless innings and struck out three. Kyle Kendrick allowed seven runs in 2 2/3 innings for the Phillies. Francisco Rosario pitched 3 1/3 innings for the Phillies, allowing just two hits and he struck out four batters.

W - Tim Hudson (1-0)
L - Kyle Kendrick (0-1)

Three Stars
P Francisco Rosario - 3 1/3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 SO
P Buddy Carlyle - 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 SO
P Tim Hudson - 3 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO

Monday, March 03, 2008

Mets Squeak By Braves In 10th

The Mets scored the winning run in the bottom of the 10th on a questionable call at home plate. Nevertheless, they still won 3-2. Mike Pelfrey pitched three scoreless innings for the Mets. Nelson Figueroa pitched two scoreless innings for the Mets. Blaine Boyer, Charlie Morton and Matt DeSalvo all pitched two scoreless inning each for the Braves.

W - Ivan Maldonado (1-0)
L - Johanthon Rouwenhorst (0-1)

Three Stars
P Mike Pelfrey - 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 SO
SS Ruben Tejada - 1-2, GW 2B, RBI
P Blaine Boyer - 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Braves Defeat Astros Again

The Braves posted their second straight win over the Astros, defeating them 6-4. The most important start of the day was by Mike Hampton. He pitched two scoreless innings, allowing just one hit. He struck out one batter.

The Braves had four doubles on the day; they were hit by Yunel Escobar, Jeff Francoeur, Josh Anderson and Joe Borchard. Escobar drove in two and Matt Diaz also had a two-run single. Anderson had another hit and scored two runs. Jordan Schafer and Borchard both had sacrifice flies as well.

Shortstop Tommy Manzella and left fielder Jose Cruz, Jr. both had two hits for the Astros.

W - Zach Schreiber (1-0)
L - Chad Paronto (0-2)
S - Sung Ki Jung (1)

Three Stars
P Mike Hampton - 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO
RF Josh Anderson - 2-2, 2B, 2 R
DH Matt Diaz - 1-2, 2 RBI


3B Chipper Jones

Chipper had his best season since 2002. Coincidentally, the 2007 season was the first one since 2003 where Jones had more than 600 plate apperances. That probably had something to do with the fact that he did so well. The usual injury bug bit, though, when Jones was accidently upended by Jose Bautista and injured both his wrists and his left quadriceps. I can't confirm this, but I think that Chpper had said that he contined to play with sore wrists after he came back at June 13th and didn't miss much time after that. If it's true, that's incredibly impressive.

Chipper led the National League in OPS (1.029) and was in the race for the batting average title until the final days of the season, when Matt Holliday cemented his hold on the title by his stellar performance in the wild-card playoff against San Diego.

I'd like to say that Chipper has improved his stamina over the past few seasons. I slso think that Jones missed a lot of time exclusively because of fluke injuries, not because his body gave out on him. If he can avoid the unlucky injury bug, Jones can enjoy a similar season; he still has a few of them left.

AVERAGE - 10 - Chipper has an uncanny knack when it comes to putting the ball in play and driving it. If he's not the best batter in the entire Atlanta Braves organization, then I can't imagine who is the best batter.

POWER - 9.5 - Chipper has an extremely high amount of doubles for his age and injury history and still pops a lot of balls out of the park. Here's to him continuing that work.

BASERUNNING - 7.5 - Chipper doesn't move often from first to third (5-27), but he does score from second when the situation calls for it (18-28). He even made it from first to home a few times (3-6). He was only doubled off once, and he knows when to swipe a base (5 for 6). Jones is smart when he's on the basepaths.

THROWING - 8 - Chipper has had a very srong and accurate throwing arm and he continues to have one.

FIELDING - 6.5 - Chipper only gets to balls that are hit right at him. Otherwise, he's a reliable fielder who isn't as bad as Baseball Prospectus says. ;)

TOTAL - 41.5 (A-) - Even though Chipper's nearing the end of his career, he still has a potent bat and is all right with the glove. That's all he can do, and that's why Atlanta loves him. Chipper's #10 will soon be beside the rest of the Braves' greats.

Chipper tweaked his right hamstring during batting practice today, but he says that it's not :a big deal". Let's hope not.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Braves Post Come-From-Behind Victory Over Astros

The Braves posted a late win Saturday, scoring four in the top of the ninth off of two Astros pitchers to win 7-5 over the Houston Astros. Jeff Francoeur opened the scoring for the Braves with a three-run homer in the fourth. Josh Anderson and Martin Prado also had two-run singles for the Braves. Ty Wigginton opened the scoring with a solo homer off of Braves' starter Tom Glavine. Glavine pitched two innings, allowing two hits and a run, but he also had two strikeouts. Hunter Pence had two hits for the Astros.

W - Francisely Bueno (1-0)
L - Chad Reineke (0-1)
S - Colter Bean (1)
HR - ATL - Jeff Francoeur (1)
HOU - Ty Wigginton (1)

Three Stars
RF Jeff Francoeur - 1-2, HR, R, 3 RBI
RF Josh Anderson - 1-2, R, 2 RBI
2B Martin Prado - 1-3, 2 RBI


2B Kelly Johnson

Johnson began the season at a position previously unfamiliar to him: second base. However, with the tutelage of Glenn Hubbard, he turned in a decent season on the field. At the dish, Johnson relied on very nice plate discipline (.375 OBP, tied for sixth among all regular second basemen) and did very well in the leadoff and second spots. A chunk of his RBIs came from batting seventh in the lineup (15 of 68), though 40 of them came from the leadoff spot. He even had 10 triples. Kelly won't be making the All-Star team this season, but you can bet your bottom dollar that he'll continue to improve going into his Age 26 season.

AVERAGE - 6 - Kelly had a decent average for a second baseman, but s prone to striking out a bit. That could have possibly been the product of fatigue.

POWER - 7 - Johnson's power was very good for a second baseman. Although it isn't quite top tier, a .457 SLG for a second baseman is still at the top of the league, and he could do better.

BASERUNNING - 7.5 - Johnson only stole nine bases and was caught five times. However, he had much better base-running skills in general. Johnson went from first to third in 12 of 27 opportunities and was able to go from first to home 4 out of 8 times. He wasn't caught advancing or doubled off once.

THROWING - 7 - Johnson has a good arm for guy who had a shoulder problem just a couple of years ago. He is usually very accurate.

FIELDING - 5 - Johnson had a few problems picking up grounders backhanded going to his right and as a result garnered 14 errors on the season. However, with a year of experience under his belt, he should improve next year.

TOTAL - 32.5 (B-) - Johnson provided an overall upgrade to Marcus Giles's subpar 2006 campaign and Kelly should only get better.

BP: .279/.376/.467, 18 HR, 72 RBI, 11 SB
BJH: .282/.384/.473, 19 HR, 76 RBI, 10 SB
RW: .272/.367/.473, 18 HR, 61 RBI, 7 SB
SN: .270/.357/.454, 15 HR, 56 RBI, 8 SB

Sam: .278/.380/.462, 17 HR, 65 RBI, 9 SB

Friday, February 29, 2008

Braves Pound Dodgers 10-2, Have Good Practice Day

This is what you like to see in spring training: the bats clicking. There were a few errors today, which is not what you want to see, but it's all right. The Braves got ten hits and ten runs on the day, winning 10-3. Javy Lopez got the scoring started with a two-run homer in the third off of Esteban Loaiza and the Braves just poured it on after that. Kelly Johnson and Joe Borchard both had RBI doubles, with Joe's being of the ground-rule variety. Lopez also drove in another run with a sac fly and Jeff Francoeur, Josh Anderson and Yunel Escobar chipped in with run-scoring singles.

On the pitching side, Hiroki Kuroda, who started for the Dodgers, and Buddy Carlyle, who relieved Jair Jurrjens, pitched two innings of scoreless ball. Jurrjens allowed one run on two hits, walked one and struck out one in two innings of work. Tyler Yates, Will Ohman and Damian Moss each had an inning of scorless work.

W - Buddy Carlyle (1-0)
L - Esteban Loaiza (0-1)
HR - Javy Lopez (1)

Three Stars
C Javy Lopez - 1-1, HR, SF, 2 R, BB, 3 RBI
2B Kelly Johnson - 2-3, 2B, R, 2 RBI
P Buddy Carlyle - 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO


1B Mark Teixeira

Us Braves fans must enjoy Teixeira while we can, because it's most likely that this is his last season in Atlanta. I don't regret at all that the Braves traded for him, nor do I believe that it will hurt them in the long run. In the meantime, Teixeira will be able to provide the Braves with the top first base power they have lacked since Andres Galarraga. It's that simple. Teixeira can slug the ball to all fields and he is one of the best fielding first basemen around, if not the best.

AVERAGE - 8 - Teixeira upped the stakes for himself last season when he hit .317 with the Braves, after a .297 clip with the Rangers. He has hit more than .300 just twice in two of his five major league seasons, but the batting talent is there.

POWER - 9.5 - Teixeira proved that he could hit outside of The Ballpark in Arlington in his few months wtih Atlanta. Count on him to keep it up.

BASERUNNING - 6.5 - Teixeira doesn't steal any bases, but he can be counted on to move from second to home usually; he succedded in 9 of 14 chances. He was caught advancing and doubled off once each.

THROWING - 8 - Teixeira had 77 assists last season, but an arm for a first baseman doesn't really seem to be that important. Still, he does have a good arm.

FIELDING - 9 - Teixeira had five errors, one of a handful of first baseman to have so. However, it is arguable that only Albert Pujols is better with the glove in the National League.

TOTAL - 41 (A-) - Teixeira is the real deal and in the prime of his career. Atlanta fans will enjoy this season at the first sack.

BP: .294/.394/.546, 30 HR, 96 RBI, 3 SB
BJH: .289/.382/.545, 36 HR, 120 RBI, 1 SB
RW: .303/.389/.577, 39 HR, 114 RBI, 1 SB
SN: .302/.386/.574, 37 HR, 124 RBI, 0 SB

Sam: .295/.388/.563, 38 HR, 118 RBI, 0 SB

Thursday, February 28, 2008


C Brian McCann

Brian McCann enters into his third season in the big leagues and well-set into the Braves' catching role, despite his defensive shortcomings. It appears as if 2006 was a fluke season more than anything else, as McCann put up stats closer to his rookie campaign. Brian was slowed by hand and ankle injuries last season, so it's likely that he'll be able to put up stats somwhere between his 2006 and 2007 campaigns. It's that simple.

I'm going to try to do some "five tool" ratings just to give myself something to do. Maybe they'll be useful and informative to all of you. The rate is on a scale of 1-10.

For the record, I don't believe that the five-tool system is very effective in evaluating players. I just thought that it would be fun to do this.

48-50: A+
44-47: A
41-43: A-
38-40: B+
34-37: B
31-33: B-
28-30: C+
24-27: C
21-23: C-
18-20: D+
14-17: D
11-13: D-
0-10: F

AVERAGE: 7 - It's evident now that a lot of McCann's 2006 season was based on a lot of great hits and luck (.332 BABIP, for a .333 AVG). His BABIP was .282 last season, with a .270 average. Look for something between .270 and .333, because McCann is a very good batter. He isn't overly patient, but he does have a knack for smacking pitches a long way.

POWER: 8.5 - For a catcher, it's excellent. McCann finished fourth among all catchers in baseball in SLG (.452), and fourth in doubles (38).

BASERUNNING: 1 - Let's just say that McCann might be the slowest catcher since Ernie Lombardi. What I can say is that he doesn't take many risks on the basepaths. According to Bill James's Player Baserunning stats, McCann rarely tried to take extra bases and, thus, he didn't run into any outs. McCann at least gets a courtesy point for that.

THROWING: 2 - McCann seems to have a poor throwing arm; his CS% was just .20, one of the lowest totals in all the majors. If errors are a reflection of his accuracy, then 13 of them say that it's not very good.

FIELDING: 6 - Believe it or not, McCann only had six recorded passed balls. He was also able to make a lot of putouts, though (907). Few catchers got more than 900 putouts last season.

TOTAL: 24.5 (C) - McCann is focused mostly on offense.

Now, just like last year, here are four sources for projections and my own projection.

Baseball Prospectus (BP): .282/.345/.472, 19 HR, 80 RBI, 3 SB
Bill James Handbook (BJH): .297/.360/.586, 21 HR, 92 RBI, 1 SB
Rotowire (RW): .297/.349/.501, 20 HR, 88 RBI, 1 SB
The Sporting News (SN): .285/.340/.482, 20 HR, 93 RBI, 0 SB

Sam's Projection: .293/.352/.513, 19 HR, 92 RBI, 1 SB

Dodgers Defeat Braves, Score Three In Ninth

I believe that it's safe to say that Matt DeSalvo has punched his ticket to the minors or his release today. The former Yankee walked five batters in 1 1/3 IP, and Colter Bean hit a batter and career minor leaguer John Lindsey smacked a two-run double to win the game for the Dodgers by a score of 5-4. Braves first baseman Tyler Flowers hit a two-run homer to break a 2-2 tie in the top of the inning to give the Braves the lead briefly. Chris Resop and Blaine Boyer both had two inning stints that weren't perfect, but neither allowed a run. Jordan Schafer had two singles for the Braves. James Loney and Matt Kemp had two hits each for the Dodgers. Former Brave Andruw Jones walked twice.

W - Brian Shackleford (1-0)
L - Matt DeSalvo (0-1)
HR - Tyler Flowers (1)

Three Spring Stars
1B John Lindsey - 1-2, GW 2B, 2 RBI
1B Tyler Flowers - 1-1, HR, R, 2 RBI
P Chris Resop - 2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 SO

Exhibition Season Opens; Braves beat Bulldogs

Continuing a tradition of even Bulldog years and odd Yellow Jacket years, the Braves began their season by pasting UGA, winning 6-0. Chipper Jones and Gregor Blanco drove in two runs apiece for the Braves, each with a double. Josh Anderson had two singles and Joe Brochard had two hits, including a triple, and scored three runs for the Braves. Senior third baseman Ryan Presiel had three hits for the Bulldogs.

W - Charlie Morton
L - Dean Weaver

Friday, February 08, 2008

Braves Player Progresses And Projections

Yes, "progresses" is a real word.

Here's the lineup, we're going around the positional horn:

C Brian McCann
1B Mark Teixeira
2B Kelly Johnson
3B Chipper Jones
SS Yunel Escobar
LF Matt Diaz
CF Mark Kotsay
RF Jeff Francoeur

Next, various members that I think are in the pool to make the bench:

OF Josh Anderson
OF Gregor Blanco
OF/IF Omar Infante
OF Brandon Jones
SS/CF Brent Lillibridge
C Javy Lopez
IF Martin Prado
1B/LF Scott Thorman

And then, the pitchers:

RP Manny Acosta
RP Jeff Bennett
RP Blaine Boyer
SP Buddy Carlyle
SP Tom Glavine
SP Mike Hampton
SP Tim Hudson
SP Chuck James
SP Jair Jurrjens
SP Anthony Lerew
RP Peter Moylan
RP Will Ohman
SP Jo-Jo Reyes
RP Jeff Ridgway
RP Royce Ring
SP John Smoltz
RP Rafael Soriano
RP Phil Stockman
RP Tyler Yates

Brian McCann's up first!

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