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. Roberts is quite fetching and has great chemistry with Owen, while Paul Giamatti and Tom Wilkinson are spectacular as ruthless, rival CEOs.
  I’d give I Love You, Man a B-plus or A-minus, and Duplicity a solid B.
  Where were we? Oh, yes: The Braves could get Chipper Jones back from his oblique strain for tonight’s game against the Pirates. We’re posting this blog early, and we’ll give you an update on Chipper this afternoon.
  Garret Anderson could also make his Grapefruit League debut later this week. At that point, we should get a better idea of the batting order that Bobby Cox plans to run out on regular basis, or at least the middle of that order.
  However, until we find out if Josh Anderson is going to get the center-field job, we’re obviously not going to know about the leadoff position. So with a dozen days until the season opener, still some important decisions to be made.

Who will start more games in center field for the Braves in 2009?

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  I think we know where the majority of you stand on the CF job — most of you seem to be saying you want the center fielder, whoever that is, who makes the Braves better right now, regardless of any possible ancillary sort of ramifications, i.e. options, future arb eligibility, etc.
  But I’ll ask once more: who do you think will be the the opening-day center fielder, and who do you think will be the opening-day leadoff man?
  How ’bout the Nos. 3-5 hitters? That’s not an easy answer, is it? Do you think Jeff Francoeur has made that decision more difficult because of the good contact he’s made all spring, even if the power has been lacking most of the way?
  And what about left field? Diaz has had a hell of a spring. But if G. Anderson is healthy, do you think spring results change anything in terms of how Cox intends to use them, be it a platoon or Anderson playing more an every-day role?
Decisions, decisions….
 – With their grip on the prestigious Grapefruit League crown beginning to slip, the Braves get back their best two hitters (Chipper and Brian McCann) just in time to reboot this Grapefruit title run after Monday’s off day.
   Despite the long trip back from the WBC semifinals in L.A. on Monday, I’m not going to be surprised if McCann is back in the Atlanta lineup tonight. That’s because Javier Vazquez, one of the new starters he’s had very little chance to work with, is starting tonight against the Pitt Pirate.
   Kenshin Kawakami is scheduled to start Wednesday night against Washington over at Viera, after Kawakami missed his last start with “shoulder fatigue.” Dave Ross might catch Kawakami, if Cox is planning to use him as the pitcher’s personal catcher this season (no announcement has been made yet).
   — Something was sent to me promoting the new Bill James Gold Mine 2009, a book that has smart, original essays, statistical profiles, and unique tidbits of information like these Braves items:
   ♦ Buddy Carlyle was a reliever in 2008 after primarily starting in 2007. He threw his cut fastball 19 percent of the time in 2008 (as opposed to 6 percent in 2007) while pretty much ditching the curve. The changes seemed to work: His groundball rate rose from 32 to 44 percent and his ERA dropped from 5.21 to 3.59.
   ♦ Chipper Jones hit twelve home runs to center field last year; only Ryan Howard hit more. It was also more than Jones hit to left and right fields combined.
   ♦ Braves rookie Charlie Morton didn’t put up impressive numbers (4-8 with a 6.15 ERA), but he also didn’t get any favors from the schedule. Twelve of his 15 starts came against teams that finished with a winning record, including five starts against teams that ultimately made the playoffs.
  ♦ When Kelly Johnson’s plate appearances lasted three pitches or less, he batted almost 200 points higher than when they were longer than three pitches.
 ♦ 58.2 percent of Yunel Escobar’s batted balls were groundballs. Only Derek Jeter had a higher percentage (58.3 percent).
 That’s good stuff.
 Speaking of Escobar (yes, my transitions are sharp, ready to go north), I had a bunch of quotes about Yunel Escobar that didn’t make it in the story I wrote about him last week, because of space limitations.
    • 2B Kelly Johnson on Escobar’s defense: “I think the thing that stands out about him is just that, it seems like he is positioned in the right place all the time. He has to be, because he gets to a lot of balls I don’t expect him to. And it’s not like he just comes across as real quick kind of shortstop, an all fast-twitch [muscle] kind of player. So he must be thinking a lot more than some people might give him credit for, because it seems like he’s always at the right spot at the right time… He’s got that arm, if you can just stop the ball you can throw anybody out. He doesn’t try to do too much. He plays the position right.”
   1B Casey Kotchman on Escobar and that cannon arm: “He’s got obviously a plus-plus arm over there, and he can get rid of the ball quickly, too. He throws a ball at times that look like it might be short, but it carries. That’s obviously a big attribute to have over there at short, because he can get balls in the hole and guys are out…. Yunel, he just has to play, and the more he plays, the more he’ll be able to just show people how good he is and how good he can be.”
  • GM Frank Wren on Escobar’s toning things down a bit: “I think he’s making a concentrated effort. It’s a whole cultural difference. If you watch the Cuban national team take infield, it’s like watching the Harlem Globetrotters warm up for a basketball game. They’re throwing balls behind the back — it’s entertainment. That’s probably the truest form of expression that you can have in that country, is to stand out playing baseball. I’ve always understood that, just from a standpoint of a number of Cuban players I’ve been associated with, really beginning with Livan [Hernandez]….
   “There’s a period of adjustment. It doesn’t all happen the first year. Over the course of two or three years, they get more and more comfortable playing the game in a different style…. It’s just the way he grew up playing. I’ve never thought it was malicious or intended to offend anyone. It’s just the way they play in Cuba….
   • Wren on what separates Escobar: “He has strength. That’s one of the things that’s a little different. You think of shortstops being guys who have to hit in the top or bottom of the lineup. He has strength to hit in different spots in the order.”
   • Wren on Escobar’s reaction to offseason trade rumors: “I had discussions with his representative along the way during the process, and I think they were able to convey to him and make him understand you just can’t believe everything that’s going on.”
   • Marlins special asst. Tony Perez on Escobar: “He’s a good all-around player. He’s a good fielder, got a good arm, good hitter… He’s got good bat control. He uses the whole field. I can see him hitting second or even third, if you don’t have that powerhouse [type of] lineup. He can hit anywhere.”
   • Perez on Escobar being a Cuban position player in majors: “He knows about the guys coming out of Cuba — most of the guys who have success here [in the majors] are pitchers. Hitters, position players, you don’t have too many, like him and a few other guys. Some guys come up and play for a while and disappear. He knows he wants to play here, he wants to stay. It’s not easy being a position player coming out of Cuba and play here. Pitchers are different.”
    • Perez on Escobar’s response to friend Brayan Pena being traded last summer: “Last year I was talking to both of them before a game. We were talking about Cuba. They were good friends. But I don’t think it’s going to be any trouble [for Escobar to get past the Pena trade]. He knows why he’s here. If you don’t do a job, you’re going back to the minors, or whatever. They know how it works here. You can be a good friend, but you’ve got a job to do. I think he understands that.
    ”You miss the guy you grew up with, but he can call him on the phone all the time and talk about it, see how they’re doing. I don’t think it’s going to bother him at all.”
   • Bullpen coach Eddie Perez on Escobar’s talent: “He can do everything. He can run, he can do all that stuff, but he’s afraid to do stuff sometimes because he doesn’t know when it’s [OK] to do it. But he’s learning. He’s going to be one of our leaders in the next couple of years. He’s still learning, and hopefully one day he can be the leader here.”
   • Hitting coach Terry Pendelton on Escobar’s ability: “Once he settles down, I think he’ll be a .300 hitter in this league. Very talented kid who loves to work, loves to play. He’s going to do whatever it takes to improve his game every day. As a hitting coach, I love it because there’s one thing he will not do — he will not stop working to get better… He understands the opportunity that he has, and he’s going to make the best of it every day. And that’s why he comes out here with a joy, and fired-up pride, and yelling and screaming, because he appreciates the opportunity.”
  • Pendleton on Escobar’s future: “He’s going to be a better player. I don’t know if he can get any stronger, because he’s strong as an ox now. But he’s going to learn more as he goes along. He’s going to learn pitching as he goes along, learn how they approach him and what he needs to do to be effective. And defensively, he’s going to learn hitters and how to play them. So he’s going to get better as a ballplayer, because he wants to. He really works hard to do so.
   “He is [good already]. He can play.
   • Pendleton on Escobar’s drive to win: “That’s what he shows up for every day. He loves playing the game, and he loves to win. That’s what he shows up for every day, to win. So whatever it takes to win, he’ll do. He will do.”
  •LF Matt Diaz on Escobar’s defense: “Oh, playing defense behind him gets me excited. I’m going to field a ground ball, to take a knee and flip it in, and all of a sudden he’s making a backhanded play and throwing a guy out at first. Playing defense behind him, it’s amazing to watch his range. I’ve never seen a shortstop with that much range.”
   • Manager Bobby Cox on Escobar: “He plays hard. He does want to win. He goes hard all the time.”
Curse averted
    Braves have day games Thursday and Friday at Dark Star, which means we’ll get to watch all the Sweet 16 games those nights in a proper environment. However, Mark Bowman’s Dayton and West Virginia teams have been eliminated, from what I hear.
   If the Jayhawks get past Michigan State, the Braves play Sunday at Lakeland, which means KU’s Disney curse won’t be a factor. (For those unaware, when I watch KU play an NCAA tourney game while I’m on Disney property or within sight of said property, i.e. the Ale House or Buffalo Wild Wings locations next to Disney World, Bill Self and my Jayhawks are doomed through no fault of their own.

 


“SMELL OF COFFEE” by Greg Brown
Bouffant hairdo, ne’er-do-well
Warm the car up, perfume smell
Work is there when love is gone
Smell of coffee, crack of dawn

Pheasant clucking, ice cold dew
Backseat shotgun, frosty slough
Chevy coughing, let’s move on
Smell of coffee, crack of dawn

Hey there, Benny, is this your home?
Railroad cinders, styrofoam
Train a-comin’, where’s Lost John?
Smell of coffee, crack of dawn

Blue blue window, factory
Big bad boss man can’t find me
Boxes piled up, paycheck gone
Smell of coffee, crack of dawn

Woman works and man does too
Yellow paper, same old news
Forty years to cross the lawn
Smell of coffee, crack of dawn

 

 

915 comments Add your comment

Random

March 24th, 2009
9:15 am

Baseball Prospectus’ Joe Sheehan has his own take on the Braves’ CF/LF:

This effect [playing in the WBC rather than competing for a roster spot] may be impacting one team’s roster decisions in a way that hurts both the team and the player. While Gregor Blanco was helping Venezuela into the WBC semifinals—a run that ended last night in a 10-2 loss to Korea—he was losing ground in the Braves’ outfield. Despite being the best of the three players involved, despite having the longest track record of success in Atlanta, and despite the team’s need for his exact skill set, Blanco is behind Josh Anderson for the center-field job, and behind silly signee Garret Anderson in left.

. . .

. . . it’s clear that Blanco is the best player—essentially the same hitter as Garret Anderson, and likely to be a better defender if allowed to play left field. When the Braves signed Anderson, I compared his production to that of Brandon Jones, the player whose at-bats he seemed most likely to inherit, and discovered that it was acceptable, if not a big step forward. It actually never occurred to me that Blanco’s job would be in danger after playing well a year ago. In fact, comparing the Andersons didn’t go particularly well for the veteran, as his edge with the bat over Josh would be more than wiped out by the difference in defense between the two alignments (Garret in left and Blanco in center, versus Blanco in left and Josh in center).

. . .

. . . When Blanco gets back to Braves camp this week, Bobby Cox needs to walk over and give him a big hug. Blanco may be a no-profile player who has been traipsing all over the hemisphere for a month, but he’s also the second-best outfielder on the team, and the Braves aren’t so deep that they can be cavalier about a .360 OBP from a player with some speed and the ability to save runs in left field.

Jordan Schafer’s not even on Sheehan’s radar.

18 Wheels of Love

March 24th, 2009
9:29 am

Peterbilt

Peterbilt

DAP

March 24th, 2009
9:30 am

random re: your post on the last blog…sheehan is obviously clueless.

tvsportscaster

March 24th, 2009
9:39 am

Random, Joe Sheehan is obviously on drugs. Saying, Gregor Blanco is a better player than Garret Anderson, is like me saying I’m better than Chipper Jones.

JCG

March 24th, 2009
9:39 am

Dave, did you get the chance to watch any of the Crossroads show on CMT last night. I am not a huge fan of Shooter but Jamey has the best country voice I have heard in a long time.

ncscoots

March 24th, 2009
9:40 am

Sheehan also called Escobar a “utility player” prior to last season, then upgraded him to “stretched physically at SS” as the season went on. Tends to color my opinion of the guy’s evaluation skills. Blanco is “the same hitter” as Garret Anderson? Only on planets not inhabited by humans. And that’s from a guy not a huge fan of Anderson’s.

Bubba, please.

18 Wheels of Love

March 24th, 2009
9:41 am

Saw Duplicity Sat. night as well. Entertaining movie with plot twists galore. I did however figure it out 10 minutes into the movie, but with all of the twists and turns I walked out thinking I was wrong. Regardless, it is a good watch. “Are you gaming me?”

I’m for Schafer starting in CF and trying to slip Josh through waivers or trading him. Schafer has shown me enough – see OB% above – to deserve the nod.

And as far as the lineup goes….I have no idea. Not a clue. And you can’t really get a read on what Bobby will do after the leadoff spot because Chipper and Mack and Garret have all been out. Does it really matter how you hit them if they all hit doubles?

Mitchie-san

March 24th, 2009
9:49 am

Good morning.

David O'Brien

March 24th, 2009
9:50 am

Flip Murray had 30 (and five assists) for the Hawks last night? Flip Murray?

BamaBrave

March 24th, 2009
9:51 am

Sheehan’s take is interesting, but the prognosticators rarely address the need for depth. Garrett Anderson was a “silly signing?” We shall see. One pulled hamstring here and a tweaked knee there, and it won’t seem so silly. After last year’s destruction-by-injury, give me as much depth as possible.

GSU-Lee

March 24th, 2009
9:52 am

MOrning all and welcome back DOB

Hey I got your Jayhawks going down in my bracket, but that means they should win the way my picks have gone this year…

David O'Brien

March 24th, 2009
9:52 am

Of course, anything possible in the alternate universe we’ve apparently entered. Consider the bottom-screen crawl I just saw on the newschannel: “Kimono dragons kill Indonesian fisherman….”

ncscoots

March 24th, 2009
9:55 am

Be careful what you wish for, I’m thinking. Even if Schafer breaks with the big club (I don’t think he should), can anyone see Bobby hitting him at leadoff to start the season? A rookie making the jump from AA, and 2/3 of a AA season, at that? Huh-uh. He hits 8, at least until later in the season. Heck, Bobby might do the same even if Josh makes the squad. JA’s OBP screams 8, not leadoff.

David O'Brien

March 24th, 2009
9:58 am

JCG, I forgot about that CMT show I’d noted weeks ago, forgot it was only last night. Shooter Jennings and Jamey Johnson. Was it good? I’ll have to find out when it’s on again. Unfortunately, can’t set my DVR to find it, since I’m not home again until after we’re done here in Florida.

You’re right — Jamey’s got a voice that reminds me of some of the old-school country giants. I love his current CD, which someone on the blog pointed out was actually his second. So the other day I ordered his first one. Haven’t heard that yet.

18 Wheels of Love

March 24th, 2009
9:58 am

You are only guaranteed to hit leadoff once in a game. And Josh is only slightly less green than Schafer.

Random

March 24th, 2009
9:59 am

BamaBrave (9:51 am): “Sheehan’s take is interesting, but the prognosticators rarely address the need for depth. Garrett Anderson was a “silly signing?” We shall see. One pulled hamstring here and a tweaked knee there, and it won’t seem so silly. After last year’s destruction-by-injury, give me as much depth as possible.”

Well, yeah — but it looks like Garrett himself is the likeliest to suffer a pull or a tweak. Most insurance policies won’t cover self-inflicted wounds.

(Implication being that the Braves shot themselves in the foot by signing Garrett.)

(Still makes no sense, huh?)

18 Wheels of Love

March 24th, 2009
9:59 am

DOB, if you have a Direct TV DVR you can set it to record online.

clay

March 24th, 2009
10:00 am

I am actually going to the games in Indy this weekend DOB. Being from Indiana I am a Indiana fan, but it might be a few years before they are good again. Kind of up in the air who to root for. Mich. St. being a big ten team but I really don’t dislike Kansas like I do other teams. Anyway don’t be jealous.

clay

March 24th, 2009
10:01 am

DOB-
If you have directv you do know you can set your dvr on the computer right?

Doc Holiday

March 24th, 2009
10:02 am

Got to admit there more players with rings that are not HOF material than I thought. But when you mention Jack Morris, DOB, thats some good company dont you think? But as you noticed, there is not that many, specially pitchers. It is like the probability law, there will be some percent going to wrong way. Thing is that the teams that Schilling helped win the WS, would have not won it if Schilling was not around.

BTW, you forgot to mention that Shilling had an 11-2 postseason record with a 2.33 ERA. If that is not HOF material im not sure what is.

ncscoots

March 24th, 2009
10:06 am

You are only guaranteed to hit leadoff once in a game

True, but you are guaranteed to hit in front of the 2-3-4 hitters every AB, and you are guaranteed to get the most plate appearances in any game. That’s a lot more important than whether the hitter is starting an inning or not.

GSU-Lee

March 24th, 2009
10:07 am

DOB…the Hawks were playing the T-Wolves…I am pretty sure a 3-A High School PG could put those numbers up against the T-Wolves

Saltywoody

March 24th, 2009
10:10 am

Hadn’t ever listened to Jennings or Johnson at any great length before last night, though I’d heard of them previously.

Watched the entire episode. Dang good show. Anybody that’s got a cigarette lit in their hand while they’re singing is at least mildly bada$$.

18 Wheels of Love

March 24th, 2009
10:11 am

Good point nc. I still think Schafer speed and OB% will benefit more than Josh, who hasn’t had the best OB% over the years. I just think Schafer is more dynamic and I’m not as concerned about him being a rookie because Josh is still fairly inexperienced as well. It’s a gamble either way.

Wayne in Utah

March 24th, 2009
10:16 am

At what point are folks going to quit paying guys like Sheehan for their weak azzed reporting?

ncscoots

March 24th, 2009
10:21 am

18 Wheels, you’re preaching to the choir on Schafer, LOL. I love the guy. I just think a month, or even two, at AAA would make him more likely to perform well hitting high in the order, when he does come up.

I’m not one of those concerned about the arb and FA ramifications of his starting the season in MLB or AAA; impossible to factor in all the variables that would decide if present wins are worth more or less than future wins. Or the kid could flame out, or sign a long-term contract, or whatever, that would render the discussion of the future moot.

Tracy

March 24th, 2009
10:21 am

DOB, have you heard anything about Glavine’s progress? Things still going good? Wonder when he may pitch next.

Wayne in Utah

March 24th, 2009
10:25 am

Just thinking out loud here, but is there anybody else out there that thinks Tommy Hanson’s first start might be around April 18th, what with Tommy G’s comeback uncertainty and KK’s “tired” shoulder??

Wayne in Utah

March 24th, 2009
10:25 am

Or maybe Ho-Ho?

rammerjammer

March 24th, 2009
10:27 am

My lineup:
2b – Kelly
ss – Yunel
3b – Chipper
C – Mac
lf – GA
rf – Frenchy
1b – Kotch
cf – Josh

Schafer is playing better than Josh and brings more to the position, but 39 ST ABs and half a season in AA is not enough evidence for me. The ghosts of James Jurries and Scott Thorman are a reminder not to put too much stock in ST stats.

Let Schafer start in Gwinnett.

Doc Holiday

March 24th, 2009
10:28 am

ncscoots,

Chances are that a leadoff hitter will bat 320 times leading of an inning in a single year and 320 times not. If you include unofficial ABs of course

David O'Brien

March 24th, 2009
10:28 am

An e-mailer just asked me about correlation between spring records and regular season, etc, because he wanted to believe in this Braves team, liked what he saw, but had some reservations and didn’t want to get too carried away by spring results.

I answered him thusly:

“There’s really not much correlation at all between spring and reg-season records, though you can find plenty of examples where a terrible spring was a harbinger of a terrible season to come, or great spring preceded great season. Can also fine as many or more examples of quite the opposite.

If a great spring was followed by a great season, or terrible spring by a terrible season, usually it was just because those teams were particularly bad or good, or had a lot of injuries. This Braves team, it’s good. Not the best team in baseball, as their spring record might have suggested to some who place importance on spring records. But good.

I do believe this team can contend if the upgraded pitching (and Chipper) stay reasonably healthy.

I covered the 1997 Marlins team that just blitzed everyone all spring training. It was something to behold. Teams would shake their heads after playing them and say, ‘See ya in the World Series,’ becuse it was so obvious how loaded they were. Those Marlins won the World Series.

This team’s not like that. Not overwhelming, by any stretch. But it’s a good, balanced team, or can be if health holds up.

Bobby's Belly

March 24th, 2009
10:29 am

The GA signing was silly imo. No one touched GA for 5 months. Have a hard time believing he wouldn’t of been available 3 weeks later. He’s a Brave and I understand the support, but if he was a FA right now how many people would be pushing for a GA signing today? Not many I bet. Re: CF, I think Schafer is clearly the best answer. Outside JA’s experience as a base stealing threat, Schafer leads overwhelming in all other categories and Schafer is showing he can steal bases too. As for leadoff, I don’t like JA or JS. I think Escobar is the answer. Have enough 3-6 hitters on this team. Schafer should hit 2 or 7. I lean towards 2 because I think he’ll see alot more fastballs here.

dogsbrekky

March 24th, 2009
10:31 am

Who is Sheehan, some peasant from somewhere ?

Great song Dobi One Knobi……. an awesome lyric

David O'Brien

March 24th, 2009
10:32 am

Clay, no directv for me. Cable. Got tons of trees around my house, no desire for aiming a dish and all that. Plus, I like cable. It’s enjoyable dealing with their customer-service people when something goes awry (OK, kidding there)

dogsbrekky

March 24th, 2009
10:33 am

Bobbys’ belly – GA is a professional hitter like always… I will bet he has the highest BA and RBI of our OF in 2009

BA

March 24th, 2009
10:34 am

DOB, Flip Murray will make you shine! Just wait ’till the playoffs…

Dan_in_NC

March 24th, 2009
10:37 am

You guys can hate on Gregor Blanco all you want to but Mr. Sheehan hit the nail exactly on the head. Blanco by playing in the WBC has quite possibly worked his way out of a roster spot in Atlanta. And I know I am in the minority here but I think its a mistake that he’s being pushed to the side so easily.

Everyone says that Blanco only made the team last year because of a couple weeks of Spring Training…yet what about all the buzz about Josh Anderson going in to this year? Uh…it was created by 4 weeks of ball last September, what the difference?

Hillbilly

March 24th, 2009
10:37 am

Can’t believe I missed that Crossroads show. Jamey Johnson wrote “Give it Away” (a song that George Strait took to Number 1.) I’m not a George Strait fan, but I like that song, and there are some kick-@$$ live versions of it being performed by JJ on Youtube. I also recommend his performance of David Allan Coe’s The Ride (on Youtube.) I would link to it here, but I’m restricted at work.

He also wrote Honkytonk Badonkadonk for Trace Adkins, but hey, everybody has a bad day every once in a while.

McFann :Ô:

March 24th, 2009
10:38 am

18 Wheels

Remember, “There’s no ‘K’ in ‘Mac’”…

;)

fleming

March 24th, 2009
10:38 am

Only problem with calling Schafer better than Anderson right now is we are only seeing him in spring games. How many remember last year when Blanco tore up spring training to beat out Anderson and everyone was calling for his head a month later. Spring training games are only an indicator and if Bobby and Wren thinks Schafer needs more seasoning then that’s what is gonna happen regardless of our opinion. Personally I want to see Schafer stick but I don’t have all the info that Bobby and Wren have.

JCG

March 24th, 2009
10:39 am

It was a good show. Couple of good segments of them sitting at a bar talking about their music and how they meet. Jamey was invited to a party at Shooter’s house, Shooter did not know him at the time. Jamey started picking and singing and Shooter said everybody at party just gravitated to Jamey. They played a little of each others stuff and a couple of Waylon’s songs. Jamey is a big dude, said he was getting beard growing tips from one of the guys with the Oak Ridge Boys. Jamey said he was now at the point in his career to be able to play music the way he wanted to without producers trying to commercialize him or change his style.

fleming

March 24th, 2009
10:43 am

As far as spring games translating to season success- not only do they not translate but also early regular season games don’t always translate over an entire season. 162 games is a long time and how many 3 month wonders do you see every year who fold at the all-star break including last seasons Braves.

Hillbilly

March 24th, 2009
10:43 am

JCG,
If Jamey Johnson is big, I bet he looked huge standing beside Shooter. I’ve see Shooter in concert twice and he is tiny little dude. Kind of scrawny.

BravesFan InRockies

March 24th, 2009
10:43 am

Wayne in Utah, great point. Sheehan was clueless about Yunel last year, and anyone who thinks Blanco is anything like GA as a hitter just isn’t paying attention. At this stage in his career, GA could hit 15-20 HR, 25- 30 2B. Won’t draw a lot of walks or strike out very much. Not a difference-maker but far from terrible.

Blanco takes a ton of walks, strikes out a lot and has almost no extra-base power. A nice complementary player if you have excellent power surrounding him, but brings little to the table if you’re starved for power.

They’re completely different hitters.

DAP

March 24th, 2009
10:44 am

i think garrett will be an important veteran for us, even if he is in a platoon with diaz. (which i would like to see, since i think diaz deserves to least split time). garrett is a winner, and with the young team that we have, that experience will be valuable.

DAP

March 24th, 2009
10:52 am

flemingHow many remember last year when Blanco tore up spring training to beat out Anderson and everyone was calling for his head a month later.

you mean a month later, when he was hitting around .370 with a .929 OPS? no i dont remember calling for his head at any point last year. blanco was great at the beginning and consistently had a good OBP until september rolled around.

cvbraves

March 24th, 2009
10:59 am

DOB: Good blog and good quotes on Escobar. In answer to your questions:

Think Josh will be opening day starter and leadoff hitter, unless he’s traded. Don’t think he’ll start, but Bobby could decide to keep Blanco up in lieu of Glavine (but I really think Bobby will keep up an extra reliever).

If Josh is traded (hope not), the cf starter/leadoff will be Blanco. Think either way, Jordan starts at AAA.

3-4-5 hitters: Thinking that Brett Myers will pitch and barring injuries, I believe lineup will be Josh, Yunel, Chipper, Jeff, Brian, Garret, Casey, Kelly, Lowe.

PTBNL

March 24th, 2009
11:00 am

Bobby’s Belly, how many HRs has Schafer hit? How about Anderson?

If I remember correctly, it seems that someone leads that category both in ST and in ML play.

Do I think that is an indication of things to come? Nope. But you are putting so much emphasis on ST that my questions have to have relevance to your points. JS has not even done that well in the minors, nor even all that well this past winter, but because he has done some pretty good stuff for a few weeks of ST you seem to think he is a sure thing in ML. What either of these guys can do is an unknown. JS has not even faced many good ML pitchers. Right off the top of my head I remember him facing one (Oswalt) and he struck out twice against him.

All of that to say that the decision before the Braves is not as simple as looking at ST performance. It is not even as simple as some seem to think in terms of wins for the team if he is the better of the two right now. I am not saying that it will happen this way, but it is possible that he could go to AAA now and the Braves may lose a couple of games because of the difference between him and Anderson, but because of what he gains by being sent down (not only because of the extra experience — which actually may be invaluable — but also because it seems from this past year that adversity encourages him to improve) when he comes up later he may make more of a difference than those two games when he actually comes up. In other words, if he stays up after ST, he could help the team to win 4 games more over a season that JS would have helped the team win. But because of the fire of coming in later in the season and the experience gained, on the other hand, he could help the team win 5 or 6 games even though he did not start the season on the ML team.

Again, there is no way for me to know that this will happen. The point is that the decision is not as simple as “who is the best now”.

As others have said, essentially I am aware that I have not seen either of these guys develop like the Braves staff have. I have seen the Braves make decisions through the years. It is true that some times it seems that they botch the decisions, but overall they have done very well and have made better decisions than I could have made with my much more limited view of the circumstances. Thus, it seems unwise for those of us who have such a limited view of the large scope of things to make absolute statements about what the decision should be…. either way.

Epinephrine

March 24th, 2009
11:00 am

Yup, Sheehan was the one who called Escobar a utility man. GA was a good signing, and a lot more reliable than any of our secondary option.

And yes, it’s clear Sheehan isn’t even aware of Schafer’s likely role.

Bobby's Belly

March 24th, 2009
11:05 am

DOB: My pre-game scouting report for you. Pirate MLB.com reporter bio:

About Jen Langosch
The 2009 season will be my third covering the Bucs for MLB.com and my fourth season with the company altogether. After growing up in Marietta, Ga., during the Braves’ epic string of division titles, I left for the University of Missouri to pursue a career as a sports writer. There I graduated with degrees in news-editorial journalism and French, though that French degree is still looking for some use. I’m an avid tennis player, having played since I was seven, and still try to get on the court as often as baseball season will allow. I plan on traveling to seven continents (yes, all seven) during my lifetime, and I am a junky for adventurous sports. Oh, and I’ll talk college football or college basketball with you any hour of the day, though I still have a deep dislike for anything to do with a jayhawk.

Sounds like a challenge you might be up for.

fleming

March 24th, 2009
11:06 am

DAP- This may be hard to read but here it is

Split PA AB ISOP HR BB% K% BABIP GB% LD% AVG OBP SLG wOBA
April 44 35 .058 0 20.5% 20.5% .500 61% 26% .371 .500 .429 .412
May 94 77 .091 1 14.9% 19.1% .293 48% 15% .234 .351 .325 .305
June 109 98 .051 0 8.3% 20.2% .342 52% 21% .265 .330 .316 .296
July 122 104 .048 0 12.3% 17.2% .325 61% 18% .260 .361 .308 .314
August 110 82 .049 0 20.9% 20.0% .283 53% 19% .207 .373 .256 .309
September 39 33 .061 0 10.3% 17.9% .269 42% 25% .212 .308 .273 .272

fleming

March 24th, 2009
11:08 am

The stats were for Gregor Blanco

Braveshoo

March 24th, 2009
11:13 am

I like our chances this year. Starting pitching is not the best in the league at the top, but is more solid than most 1-5, and has lots of depth in case of injury. I THINK relief pitching will be excellent, if the left handers hold up. I would feel more comfortable with Ohman. I think we will score runs. Less strikeouts and more basehits top to bottom puts a lot of pressure on an opposing pitching staff. We have less power, but I like ABC baseball. The key will be hitting with runners in scoring position. I am a little concerned with defense in CF. I think Schaffer is the best from the games I have seen, but he will start at AAA and be brought up before the Allstar break. I like our bench, and I think Cox will use it this year. Cox has been playing Prado and Norton and

Epinephrine

March 24th, 2009
11:13 am

PTMNL, what are you talking about? Schafer has done very well in the minors, apart from the first games back from his suspension. If you don’t see those numbers and think, this could could be something else, then you are reading the numbers wrong. In 2007 and 2008 he put up very impressive numbers (2008, despite the slump). In 2007 he had a .374 OBP, hit .312, and put up 15 homeruns, as a 20 year old. Last year, despite the slump and in a shortened season, he put up a .378 OBP /.849 OPS despite only hitting .269. He also put up 10 homers in only 84 games.

And none of this even makes mention of his absolute scorching of the AFL last year. So yeah, his numbers in the minors have been just fine.

Bobby's Belly

March 24th, 2009
11:13 am

PTBNL – When I’m told a competition is “wide open” I jump to a conclusion the decision is as simple as “who is the best now”. Silly me.

David O'Brien

March 24th, 2009
11:14 am

Bobby’s Belly: She (Jen) was an mlb.com intern with Braves a couple of years ago. Nice person, and both a solid reporter and writer. Good enough to overcome the impediment of Mizzou “higher learning.”

Bryan (from Kansas)

March 24th, 2009
11:15 am

on MLB Audio it shows the feed it is using for tonites game is WPGB. Is that a new audio feed for the Braves?

Random

March 24th, 2009
11:20 am

Bryan (from Kansas) (11:15 am): “on MLB Audio it shows the feed it is using for tonites game is WPGB. Is that a new audio feed for the Braves?”

Wouldn’t you figure that’d be a Pirates station?

Cru Jones

March 24th, 2009
11:21 am

Fleming
To back you up on this; I believe Blanco’s good numbers were achieved before he moved to the lead off spot.

eltrompoBRAVESfan

March 24th, 2009
11:24 am

Hey DOB, does AJC put up for your rental house? I would imagine that the answer would be yes, but because of the economy I have wondered.
And on the subject of ST results correlating or not with the regular season, I seem to remember that during the string of titles we pocketed during the 90’s, we always had a below .500 winning average during ST. Anyone back that up or refute it? Just wondering.

Coach (Skip and Pete will be missed)

March 24th, 2009
11:24 am

Joe Sheehan needs a new set of duracell’s, not to mention a few brain cells.

I’ll never forget his description of Escobar as a utility player. The man has missed his calling…and that would be the comedy circuit.

Bobby's Belly

March 24th, 2009
11:25 am

We’ll give you a pass on sporadic play by play tonight.

Knuckle Sandwich

March 24th, 2009
11:25 am

Hey DOB, Did you have a chance to catch the Jamey Johnson show at Wild Bill’s while you were back home this weekend? That dude is bringing back Outlaw Country.

DAP

March 24th, 2009
11:28 am

fleming

yes, it was hard to read so i didnt. im assuming they were blanco’s month by months totals, which i have seen. im not sure of your point.

my point is, i dont think folks here were calling for blanco’s head at any point in the season, especially not during the first month when he put up GREAT numbers.

later in the season, when blanco wasnt as hot, most people realized that with the injuries to diaz, kotsay, and jeff frouncouer absolutely sucking, blanco would have to do. and, he was still grinding out at bats and getting on base at a reasonable, sometimes very good rate.

PTBNL

March 24th, 2009
11:29 am

Epi, the numbers are fine, I did not mean that he had done poorly, but to me, he did not scorch the league last year, nor in Winter ball. But that is not even important to what I was saying.

BB, “wide open” to you and wide open to the Braves may mean totally different things. I don’t know why you latch on to that so strongly. To me, it only means that CF is not a “done deal”. What it certainly does not mean is “whatever Bobby’s Belly thinks wide open means is what we mean”. He used those words in an interview, they are not contractual terms. If anything, the way they have played both of them has shown that they have been true to their word. It is not a done deal.

Yes, it is obvious that you “jumped”.

Steve from OH

March 24th, 2009
11:30 am

I’ve had a lot of respect for Sheehan’s opinions in the past, but he dropped the ball on that one. I wouldn’t let a bad article or two tarnish his rep; I think he’s a very good baseball writer.

fleming

March 24th, 2009
11:30 am

Cru Jones – There also might be a link between Blanco’s falling off and Dias going on DL and Blanco playing more. What some people don’t realize and what I been trying to say when talking about Schafer is that spring training numbers for rookies don’t always translate into full season numbers because teams begin to get a book on players the more exposed they become. No one knows what a rookies strengths and weakness are at the start but they find out soon. Thats one reason Frenchie was very good in 2006 before anyone found out he would swing at arm movement.

Eric B

March 24th, 2009
11:34 am

I think with the recent struggles of our young lefties in the pen we should sign Ohman. We can ill afford to have a pen collapse again this season, regardless of the strengthening of our rotation, we need a proven leftie out of the pen imo. I also would like to see us make a move for a 3rd base prospect in exchange for some of our pitching that will be sent down to Gwinette i.e. Reyes, Morton, etc. or one of our rightie long relievers. While we could always take a wait and see approach, I think it would benefit us to pe pro-active rather than re-active at both of those positions of need.

ncscoots

March 24th, 2009
11:34 am

Actually, it was two months before there were calls for the head of Gregor Blanco, but close enough, LOL.

When he made the club last spring, it was my opinion that ML pitchers would knock the bat out of his hands. But, he fooled me with that first six weeks, and I stated in this forum that I had changed my mind. Oops. Pitchers started adjusting around the middle of May, and Gregor had trouble adjusting back. Yes, he was still able to get on base at a reasonable clip, but, his bat was just gone: a .250, no-lumber, defensive OF.

I’d worry that pitchers missing the strike zone is not exactly a repeatable skill, LOL. But, hey, maybe a year of experience and a good WBC helps his skill set enough to improve on last year. Who knows?

TheBigDawg

March 24th, 2009
11:35 am

DOB – Who do you see getting the majority of Chipper’s playing time when he goes down with his usual ailments – Prado or Infante?

bulldogbubba

March 24th, 2009
11:36 am

Bryan, the radio station is the Pittsburgh affiliate.

Daybed Wagmoe

March 24th, 2009
11:37 am

Opening-day leadoff man AND centerfielder: Josh Anderson. I think the Braves are gonna play it safe and conservatively on this one — if they go with Anderson and he stinks, they can bring up or Schaefer (or stall for him until he’s ready for MLB), but if they cut Anderson and go with Schaefer, and Schaefer stinks, then they’re in a bad situation.

David O'Brien

March 24th, 2009
11:37 am

Eltrompo: Seriously, think about that question.

Why would I spend $5,000 of my own money, or whatever the exact amount is that we’re spending on the house, in order to do my job? I understand why you’re asking — the economy is so bad, papers aren’t doing well, etc — but if anything the paper would surely choose to not cover something, or hire free-lancers, rather than expect, or even allow, an employee spend thousands of his/her own dollars to do his/her job.

We’ve had to prioritize coverage, cut back in a lot of areas. But the Braves, like Georgia football, are a priority because of the great level of interest among our readership.

oldschool

March 24th, 2009
11:38 am

I think we need to rope morton,uh-oh jojo and anderson up in a package deal and get some serious pop like ankiel

kdbanks

March 24th, 2009
11:39 am

DOB -

Can you clarify Eddie’s comment on Escobar where he said “…he’s afraid to do stuff sometimes because he doesn’t know when it’s [OK] to do it.”? Is he talking about stealing bases, and Yunel’s not sure when he’s allowed to take off? Just wondering what is meant by the comment, if you happen to know.

Thanks.

Random

March 24th, 2009
11:39 am

DAP (9:30 am): “re: your posxt on the last blog…sheehan is obviously clueless.”
x
Here’s his response to a commenter who brought Schafer to his belated attention:

metty5: “Don’t you have to mention Joxrdan Schafer in an article like this?”

Joe Sheehan: “Maybe. I really tend to avoid using spring stats, and the impression I’ve gotten is that he’s going to Triple-A to start the season, which is why I didn’t include him here.

“Adding him to this mix makes the presence of Garret Anderson that much more ridiculous.

“Re: Blanco’s lack of power. I’ve beat up Jacoby Ellsbury for a similar flaw. Blanco does have a much higher walk rate, but the general point is a good one. If you don’t have some minimum of power, it’s hard to see enough pitches ouxtside the strike zone to draw walks.”

I do think he may be on the money in regard to Garrett Anderson, but that is probaxbly just hindsight based on how well the OF candidates have performed in ST/WBC (and GA’s gimpiness).x

ncscoots

March 24th, 2009
11:40 am

Steve-OH, was it Sheehan, or someone else, that spoke of a Blanco/J Anderson OF as best for the Braves because of defensive runs, etc.?

Kenny Powers

March 24th, 2009
11:41 am

Kenny Powers feels that Schaefer should be the starting CF. If the job was really “open” prior to camp then Kenny thinks Schaefer is close to closing said door.

oldschool

March 24th, 2009
11:42 am

I think your right K.P

BG FSU

March 24th, 2009
11:42 am

CharlieAlphaBravo (from last blog): Yeah, I recognized you from the Facebook group. It would have been way cooler, though, if I could know who your mom was from your blog handle. You went to DHS too, right? I don’t think we’ve ever crossed paths, however.

3trees

March 24th, 2009
11:44 am

Yeah, it WAS the T-wolves and Flip never met a shot he didn’t like (or take), but he’s been a real help for the Hawks this season.

And someone mentioned bad azzed, well, those Komodo Dragons qualify big-time. Mouth full of more infectious germs than, well anything except maybe a human! And they run pretty fast. Maybe one of them for centerfield?

Go Braves!

Mekons

March 24th, 2009
11:46 am

I’m glad Sheehan likes Blanco, who is really the forgotten man on the team, but to say he is the SAME hitter as Garrett is just plain silly. They’re not even similar. From his WBC performance, it seems Gregor is turning into a more valuable hitter, but he will never have GA’s power.

I’m just happy he has options left, because it would be criminal to lose him just as he’s becoming a true major league hitter.

chris from md

March 24th, 2009
11:46 am

DOB,

Buster Olney had an interesting stat last year which said teams that finished 10 games or more over .500 in Spring Training almost always win their division. He wrote that in light of the Rays successful ST last year. I don’t know the exact stat but it is food for thought.

Chris from MD

eltrompoBRAVESfan

March 24th, 2009
11:48 am

Hey I thought it might be stupid to ask, but I know how bad the papers are doing! I didn’t expect you personally to be responsible but was curious the administrative side of things!

rammerjammer

March 24th, 2009
11:52 am

Whether it’s Josh or Gregor, they’re just keeping the seat warm for Schafer. Josh is fast…that’s all. Gregor gets on base…that’s all. Schafer has more tools and is on track to be in the bigs in a year, maybe less.

If it’s Gregor instead of Josh, I won’t quarrel. Both are fine, short-term solutions. Both should bat eighth because their weaknesses are less damaging down there.

taylor s

March 24th, 2009
11:53 am

Does any one know if we will be able to watch the G Braves on tv in Atlanta ? It would be great to be able to watch Hanson, Morton, Reyes every week.

eltrompoBRAVESfan

March 24th, 2009
11:55 am

I know a lot of fans want to see Schafer sooner than later but I wouldn’t mind a bit of training down in the minors for another half to full year. I’d hate to see him crash and burn in the middle of a big-league season and get his confidence rocked.

Shamus Thacker

March 24th, 2009
11:57 am

Speaking of curses, don’t let the Chief or that damn teepee ANYWHERE AROUND Turner Field!

Bobby's Belly

March 24th, 2009
11:57 am

PTBNL – You’re giving me the Bill Clinton it depends on what the definition of is is argument. Everyone here understands what wide open means. Should Cox have said that? No way. It was stupid. If the plan was to send Schafer to Gwinnett all along it makes it tough to explain on decision day if Schafer and Anderson’s #’s play out. Either one may make the decision easier over the next 10 days. I’m really not to worried about replacing a 6 yr minor leaguer. Fast guys who can’t get on base are on the waiver wire daily.

Braveshoo

March 24th, 2009
12:00 pm

I like our chances this year. Our starting piching may not be the best in the league at the top, but 1-5 it is as good as anyone, and we have excellent depth if we have injury. Our bullpen will be excellent, if our LHs hold up. I would feel more confident with Ohman. We will score runs. We have less power, but top to bottom more consistent hitting. Less strikeouts puts a lot of pressure on opposing pitching staffs, and I like ABC baseball. The key as always will be hitting with runners in scoring position. I like our bench, and with this team I believe Cox will use it more. Prado, Infante, and Norton have all been playing multible positions in the spring. We do have some tough choices. I hope we can keep Brandon Jones at AAA if he doesnt make the team. My lineup against RHs would be: Anderson-CF, K.Johnson-2b, Chipper-3b, G.Anderson-LF, McCann-C, Kotchman-1B, Frency-RF, SS, Pitcher. Against LHs, SS,Prado-1b,Chipper, Diaz, Frenchy, McCann, Infante-2b, Anderson, Pitcher. Starters: Lowe, Vasquez, JJ, Kwalkami, Glavine. Relievers:Gonzo-closer, Soriano-8th, Crazy Aussie-7th, Boyer, 2 LHs, tough choice for long relief. I would keep whoever is out of options, and sockpile the others at AAA. I like the lineup. 6 LH bats against RHs, and 6 RH bats against LHs. Norton is SH coming off the bench. Team gets even stronger in June-July when Schaffer and Hanson are called up. Extra bonus if Hudson can make it back for the SEPT push. Next year our team is even stronger. Starting rotation is as good as anyone in baseball: Hudson, Lowe, JJ, Hanson, Vasques/Kwalkami.One of these last two will traded to free up salary to resign Hudson, and we will get a top notch 3B prospect to eventually take Chippers place+ another pitching prospect. Schaffer will be in CF, and Heyward in LF. We are definitely on the right tract. GO BRAVOS!

David O'Brien

March 24th, 2009
12:04 pm

Taylor s, that’s an interesting question about the Gwinnett Braves and whether they’ll play much on TV. Seems to me it could be a relatively solid ratings-maker if, say, Hanson is pitching and the game’s on Comcast’s regional sports channel or somewhere else. I don’t know. Hopefully someone reading this who works there will let me know here or in an e-mail whether such plans are being considered, etc.

18 Wheels of Love

March 24th, 2009
12:04 pm

Personally I think our starting pitching will be the best in the league.

KC

March 24th, 2009
12:05 pm

chris from md, That is interesting. Can you paste or link to the Buster piece that contains that stat?

Kentavo

March 24th, 2009
12:07 pm

I say platoon G. Anderson and Diaz – gotta give ol’ Matty a fair shake, and he’s shown he can thrive in such a role.
As for tuneage, sitting here listening to something that I wanted to pass along. I wouldn’t suspect DOB of being a fan of the pomposity of the Moody Blues, but I’ve got a disc of bluegrass artists covering Moody Blues songs, called “Moody Bluegrass” that is stellar – the songs stripped down to melody, guitar, mandolin, and occasional banjo. It’s not hokey like the Pickin’ on series.

Eric from MO

March 24th, 2009
12:07 pm

Bobbys Belly thats why i said all off season to not sign a LF and wait and see what we have in ST. Hell, Nady and Swisher are still available. Even if Anderson would of been signed.

Oregon_Braves

March 24th, 2009
12:11 pm

David – In response to your headline about the poor dead fisherman being killed by “kimono dragons”…

Was this a komodo dragon or an actual dragon wearing a kimono?

Bryan

March 24th, 2009
12:11 pm

New MF DOOM cd out today . . . for those who like underground hip-hop . . . same dude who did DangerDoom a few years ago. CD features Ghostface and Raekwon . . .impressive

Buffalo NY Braves Fan

March 24th, 2009
12:17 pm

In other news….

My pet komodo dragon is on the loose…. got free the other day. He answers to spike if anyone finds him…….

ncscoots

March 24th, 2009
12:19 pm

Eric from MO, it’s easy to see that your offseason opinion on LF might have been missed here. Six gazillion guys were frothing at the mouth for a big bat in LF, and you were the only guy to think that there was no urgency to upgrading a pretty bad 2008 OF.

As it turns out, you may have been right. Awfully tough to take the same position on the precipice if you’re Frank Wren, though.

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