Archive for March, 2009

Chipper’s signed through 2012


  Kissimmee, Fla. — So now the Braves have their two best hitters under contract for four more seasons, and it should be noted that one of those hitters (Brian McCann) credits the other (Chipper Jones) with being the single biggest factor in B-Mac going from merely good minor league hitter to one of the two best-hitting catchers in the majors.
  That’s a good middle-order tandem to build a lineup around, provided Chipper can stay reasonably healthy for the length of the three-year, $42 million contract he signed today, which runs through 2012, with a vesting option for 2013 (when he’ll be 41).
   Chipper’s deal has a $3 mill signing bonus and salaries of $13 million for the 2010-2012 seasons, plus incentives ($750K each season for 135 games played, another $750K for 140 games), a $9 mill vesting option, and escalator clauses that could push the total to a max of $61 million over four years.
  The option vests with 123 games played in 2012, or 127 games averaged in …

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Smoltz back in Braves camp … sort of

That was then….

   Orlantokyopolis, Fla. – Greetings from the Japan section of Epcot. Wish you could be … what’s that? Oh.
   Greetings from Champion Stadium, where we have about 75 media members who’ve turned out today to welcome John Smoltz back to … wait, what’s that? Oh.
   Welcome to Champion Stadium, where 50 or so members of the Japanese media and a couple of dozen American ink-stained wretches are all set to watch the Pacific Rim pitching showdown, with Boston’s Daisuke “Dice-K” Matsuzaka to face Braves newbie Kenshin Kawakami in a matchup of former Japanese League pitching stars.
   Oh, and that old dude Smoltz showed up, too.
  For the first time in a long time, Smoltz was in an environment where only a few reporters were actually interested in talking to him. Not that he’s not a big story in Boston, because he is, or has been.
   But Boston media have already done their updates on every step of his rehab process to date, and this is the former Braves …

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Lowe to start both openers

  Lakeland, Fla. – Good morning from not-so-sunny Tiger Town and Joker Marchant Stadium, where the rain is supposed to stop in time to have the field ready for the 1:05 p.m. scheduled first pitch.
We need to get this started on time and play it relatively quickly, so I can get outta here and go watch the OU-UNC/Blake-Tyler matchup.
  Garret Anderson is in the lineup at DH, batting third (Chipper has the day off), and Casey Kotchman is in the lineup at first base, batting sixth.

Garret Anderson

Garret Anderson

   Easy drive over here this morning, with Otis cranked on a Sunday morning. The remastered “Otis Redding Sings Soul” is just about a perfect album, the second disc a beautiful stereo version (original disc was mono, and it’s disc 1 in this package; both discs have some great additional live stuff and other tunes).
   Anyway, we already had news this morning with the expected, official announcement of Derek Lowe as the starter for both opening day April 5 at Philly, and April 10 …

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Yanks here; Braves CF race update


   Lake Buena Dark Star, Fla. — The Yankees are here, the Braves’ center-field situation is coming down to decision time, and we’re taking this whole show north in just five more days.
  Yes, there’s plenty to break up the monotony that in most springs would make this last weekend in Florida seem so tedious. (Not to mention plenty to make me get my mind off last night’s KU loss to Michigan State. Blew a 13-point lead … arggh.)
  Anyway, we move forward (as opposed to surviving and advancing, which my Jayhawks did not).
  Talked to Frank Wren while ago, and the GM insisted the CF situation hasn’t been decided yet. Said they want to see how guys do in this last week with the intensity ratcheted up some and the opposition looking more like what the Braves will see in the regular season.
  But for what it’s worth, I couldn’t help but notice that Jordan Schafer is playing center and leading off today, while Josh Anderson and Gregor Blanco aren’t in the lineup and Matt …

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Soriano: I’ll be ready


   Orlandisnopolis, Fla. – It can be taken as a good sign, a good start to the day, when Braves reliever Rafael Soriano hangs up his cell phone and signals to waiting reporters to come over, then politely answers their questions.
  So much for surly or unapproachable. He was quite pleasant today, and said his strained side feels a lot better and that he should be back pitching in a day or two. Said he actually told the trainers yesterday that he could throw today, but that they told him to wait and not push this thing.



  Most importantly: Can he, will he, be ready for the start of the season? “Yeah, yeah, couple more days I think I’m going to be ready to throw,” he said, which I took as his confirming he believes he will be ready.
   To say that he’s important is like saying the Braves have struggled to keep a full-time, healthy closer in recent years. An understatement.
  Not that he’s expected to fill that role. Not after he had it entering last season …

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Hanson, Heyward sent to minors

   Orlandisnopolis, Fla. – For those who still hadn’t seen the figurative writing on the wall regarding the Braves’ rotation plans, things should be clearer after Tommy Hanson and Jo-Jo Reyes were included in today’s roster cuts.
  Ascendant 19-year-old hitting prospects Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman will also be included in the round of eight cuts, to be announced after today’s game against the Blue Jays.



   But we all (surely?) knew Heyward and Freeman were going to be sent down, since they’re not on the roster and  both played at low-A Rome last season. They’ll begin this season at high-A Myrtle Beach.
   Anyway, regarding Hanson: Most figured there was no way the Braves’ uber-prospect was going to be in the major league rotation to begin the season, not after Tom Glavine re-signed with the Braves last month.
   The Braves didn’t add Derek Lowe, Javier Vazquez and Kenshin Kawakami this winter — that trio will make about $33 million this season — or …

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CF and other important Braves stuff

  Reclaimed Swampland, Fla. – A few thoughts from our rental estate hard by Midieval Times and the Mile 15 marker on U.S. 192, the spectacularly gaudy traffic artery choked with more go-kart track/miniature golf/British pub/Asian massage parlor/American chain restaurant/Chinese takeout/factory outlet/independently owned motel-not-hotel establishments than ol’ Walt could possibly have ever imagined would sprout up over the decades after he had them fill in this formerly wet land and build a colossus that would be The Happiest Place On Earth, dammit.

Be happy. Or else.

Be happy. Or else.

  So anyway, do you think Gregor Blanco threw his hat back in the CF ring last night, or what?
  Yes, he had a triple to the right-center gap last night against Pittsburgh, after hitting .400 with six hits including two triples and a double in 15 at-bats for Venezuela in the WBC.
   But how many believe that Blanco is viewed as a serious candidate for the center-field job, alongside Josh Anderson and …

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Welcome back, Chipper and Mac

 Lake Buena Dark Star, Fla. – After seeing the Braves drop two out of three over the weekend, figured I better get back to town before the coveted Grapefruit League title is frittered away like a Mets division title in September. Oy!
  No, but seriously … spring training moves to another level this week as teams get back the rest of their World Baseball Classic players and we start to see lineups that look a lot like ones that we’ll be seeing when the season begins.
  Before I forget, wanted to recommend the new movie, I Love You, Man, that I saw Monday when morning rain put a damper on my ride-to-Daytona motorcycle plans. If you like Wedding Crashers/40-Year-Old Virgin/Knocked Up, you’ll like this.

Duplicitous? Fine

Duplicitous? OK, fine

  We also saw Duplicity, with Julia Roberts and Clive Owen, on Saturday back in Atlanta. Liked it a lot, but it has so many plot twists that you might find yourself distracted a few times wondering what just happened or what it meant. But anyway, Ms. …

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Musings from Mets camp, JJ vs. Johan on the mound

    Port St. Lucie, Fla.  – Greetings from Port St. Lonely, as I’ve heard Tom Glavine call it, where the Braves will play the Mets for the fifth time in eight days (relax, sticklers, I’m kidding.) The Braves will face ace Johan Santana, whose elbow was apparently not as bad as some predicted. It’s also much more of a usual Mets lineup with Carlos Beltran back from the WBC.

   Carlos Delgado, who also played for Puerto Rico, has gotten a few more days off, but the Braves will see Reyes, Castillo, Murphy, Church etc. (scroll down and see lineup). So it’ll be a good test for Jair Jurrjens and the Braves and their sparkling 16-4 record. Only the Angels and their 16-4 record are as hot, all across spring training (Cactus League included).

   OK wait, scratch that. Mets PR guy just came through the press room and told us Beltran had been scratched due to a stiff neck. Jeremy Reed will get the start in center field and the cleanup spot.

   (And can I also say …

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Glavine takes the mound vs. the Mets

   Lake Buena Vista, Fla. – Guess who’s up and running again? FedEx package with a “new” laptop arrived a little early, actually, so I’m back in business. It’s a little bit like driving someone else’s car at the moment, but hey, at least I got wheels!

   A little background for those whom I didn’t leave hanging yesterday afternoon: my laptop crashed yesterday mid-game, mid-blog, probably mid-Jason Heyward bomb. I tried to revive it with everything but the shocking paddles, and it was a no go. So the powers that be got me a laptop down from AJC headquarters, so that I could bring you important Braves action today!

   We got Tom Glavine on the mound for the first time this spring (in a “real” game) and against his old Mets, no less. But it’ll be a chance for us to see how effect Glavine is, keeping in mind that he’s about two weeks behind everybody else in camp. He’ll be going about two innings.

   I know there has been some speculation on the …

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