9:13 am March 24, 2009, by David O'Brien
March 24th, 200912:21 pm
“Skirt-wearing lizards is no way to go through life, son.”
March 24th, 200912:22 pm
Eric – I’ve been preaching the same thing. FW got nervous / shell shocked re: the past 3 months. Plain and simple.
March 24th, 200912:23 pm
Daybed: Good point
Not to mention . . . if Anderson really stinks it up . . . we will have a better shot moving him through waivers in May than March.
March 24th, 200912:26 pm
Of course . . . if he stinks it up for a month at this point in his career . . . PEACE!
I mean . . . what’s the worst that could happen (enter Mark DeRosa)
March 24th, 200912:30 pm
DOB, did you know it’s universally true that your batting average and slugging percentage go down during longer at-bats but your on-base percentage goes up? Bill James did a lengthy study on it that I’ll find later. Also, I think Escobar’s LD% was much higher in 2007 when he was more productive. All signs point to him having a lower gb% and higher LD% in 2009, which will help. Ground Balls only fall for hits about 10% of the time. This also contributed to Escobar leading the team into GIDP.
March 24th, 200912:31 pm
If we wait until Anderson “stinks it up” he loses trade value.
March 24th, 200912:38 pm
Also, PWH, longer at-bats are of course more of a strain on the pitcher. If you’re going to get out, might as well make him work for it and foul off a handful of pitches.
Whoever does the play by play on sports south beside Dominique Wilkins has a huge man crush on Flip Murray.
March 24th, 200912:41 pm
Wayne In Utah…..as I have eluded to so many times it has made me the Glavine-hater of the blog. Yes I can see Hanson starting. In fact I can see any number of people starting ahead of Glavine. Other positions like LF and CF are the same. The best player PERIOD should be starting like DOB said – regardless of arb issues etc.
If they put the teepee in LF at Turner I am afraid New Cars may take up residence. There wouldn’t be a pigeon or dog in sight. Ya’ll thnk about that the rest of the day.
March 24th, 200912:44 pm
I wasn’t debating the merits of short and long at-bats. I think it’s important to have long at-bats when you’re dealing with the starting pitcher but it doesn’t really matter against relievers. The reason avg and slg is higher during short at-bats is because during short at-bats the ball is always put in play. You can’t walk or strike out on a short at-bat. During longer at-bats, the ball is put in play less frequently, but the probability of drawing a walk increases such that the on-base percentage of those at-bats increases. You want your guys having both types of at-bats. If you see a good pitch early in the count, hit it. If not, wait on your pitch. That’s what Chipper does and that seems to work out alright.
chris from md
March 24th, 200912:45 pm
It was an article or blog of his last year. I’ll see if I can track it down.
Chris from MD
BB, no, that is not what I am doing. You even admitted that you “jumped”. I did not jump. He did not say “whoever does the best this ST will win the job”. He said it is wide open. They are not going to base the “winner” solely on ST. He never said that. Nor is it implied by what he said. Even in considering ST, they are not just looking at performance. All along, for Schafer, they have had developmental goals (just as with any minor league prospect. They will not only consider how well he has done in terms of stats, but how far along he has come in his development. That would be included in “wide open”, but it would not be included in “whatever the fans see as being better, we will go with that” as you have interpreted his words to mean. It is not a matter of playing with words. It is a matter of their perspective as to what is best for both the players involved and for the team as a whole which is much bigger than which one has the best stats this ST. Anyone who has been aware of the going ons of the past knows that when they say a position is wide open they do not mean that whoever does the best statistically will win the job. That has not been how they have done it. Other things are involved in the decision. All “wide open” means is that the decision has not yet been made. It includes what is seen in ST (statistically and otherwise) as well as things that you and I are not privy to know. If everything was as simple as some people make it out to be anyone could be a GM. The whole point of my original post is… it isn’t that simple… and we don’t have all the information needed to make dogmatic statements about such decisions.
March 24th, 200912:49 pm
DOB – Thanks for the extra bits on Escobar. I think there is not enough coverage on him, but that is probably helped by his own doing (language issues) and preference to focus on the game. Which brings me to my question…How is he coming with the language issues? Do you notice any improvement? Is he trying or still shielding himself with the other Spanish speaking guys to translate for him? I remember reading a comment a year or so ago that he was watching MTV and movies to help with English. Not what I would recommend, but such a 20-something guy answer.
PWH- Teach that to Frenchy. He could learn a few things about actually getting on base via longer at-bats. Hopefully this new stance will work out for him.
March 24th, 200912:52 pm
is there an illusion of trade value for Josh Anderson? If he aint making it at this age, on this team (needs speed and an outfield), who would want him?
March 24th, 200912:57 pm
If I were Wren/Cox here’s what I would do:
1. CF – Schafer
2. SS – Escobar
3. 3B – Jones
4. C – McCann
5. RF – Francoeur
6. 2B – Johnson
7. 1B – Kotchman
8. LF – (Platoon of G. Anderson and Diaz)
I believe either Blanco or Josh Anderson should be traded for minor league depth, along with Campillo. (Jo Jo can be called up for spot starts.) Blanco has a better OBP and defense, Anderson has better speed and AVG. I really think B. Jones has deserved a spot on the team, but I don’t know if Cox can keep 3 reserve OF’s on the team. If the Braves want to contend in the playoffs, I honestly believe they will need to call up Hanson before then and use his power arm.
March 24th, 200912:59 pm
Bryan- I think the real illusion is that the Braves need speed from their outfield. Truth is, their middle infielders should have that much covered. The real need from the outfield is a big bat, and if they can’t get it from Anderson, most people believe he shouldn’t play much. While Frenchy’s average during ST is promising, his slg% isn’t too promising, as we need some power to come from somewhere.
March 24th, 20091:00 pm
PTBNL – I did not jump. I was mocking you. And for you to not be able to figure it fails to make it fun for me.
DOB…would love to get an update on the Braves plans for Gregor Blanco. Has he also returned from the WBC? He had some FABULOUS games in that tourney against some of the world’s best. Any chance he gets into the outfield reserve mix after those performances??
March 24th, 20091:01 pm
Josh Anderson doesn’t have a lot of trade value. We got him for O. Villareal. He will only bring an equivalent player — no big prospect. (Think the troubled 3B whom I’m blocking on for Ridgeway last year.)
The Pirates and Giants have a 3B prospect some on the blog would like to have, but why would a non-contender this year trade a prospect for bullpen depth? Most of the 3B prospects mentioned on the previous blog are more highly rated prospects by Baseball America and others than Jordan Schafer. Would any of you suggest we trade Schaefer for some package of our surplus if we were the other party in such a trade? I hope not, and we, unlike the Pirates and Giants and possibly the Astros and Brewers are more likely to be contenders for the post-season.
March 24th, 20091:02 pm
DOB, I realize the 97 Marlins DID in fact win the World Series, but if they were so obviously loaded and destined for a world title then how did they lose their own division by 9 games?
You made it sound like they ran away from all of baseball that year, which does happen from time to time but wasn’t the case in 1997.
Perhaps I’m being nitpicky?
March 24th, 20091:03 pm
Spring records don’t correlate to regular season success or failure. What they do tell you is how deep your team and organization are? Why is our record so good? Pitching depth within the team and throughout the non-roster invitees. Our bench is one of the best in baseball, so when our starters aren’t in the game we are still getting solid contributions. Our bullpen depth is really good as well. So deep that we will probably make a trade with guys we don’t have room for.
March 24th, 20091:11 pm
The reason for short at bats to long at bats versus the walk/k ratio is perpindicular to the percent of slg./obp. equals the higher win totals to less run production which would in turn result in less wins… Oh, sorry PHWjort, was that going to be your next post? MY BAD, didn’t mean to steal your thunder.
March 24th, 20091:16 pm
Christian hit the nail right on the head w/ his lineup and trade ideas…just perfect…
Oh, and DOB, I am an alum of the team that defeated KU in the first round of the 2006 NCAA Tournament, therefore I just feel like I need to remind you of that first round 4 v 13 game Marcellus Sommerville should ring a bell because the Jayhawks couldn’t stop him all night…
Also, if you get a chance, watch SC’s top plays today…we won a game last night w/ a 80-footer banked in at the buzzer…was at the game and was the most incredible thing I’ve seen in a game since our backup PG banked in the shot at the halftime buzzer against KU.
Lastly, I will say again, Schafer should be our CF now…otherwise I will never again listen to Bobby Cox when he says that a position is “up for grabs”…its a joke if Schafer doesn’t win the job because he already has won it given his numbers! GO BRAVES!
March 24th, 20091:18 pm
Talking to one of the Japanese reporters here just now, and he said that despite a lot of denials, Yu Darvish, the 22-year-old phenom, is expected by many over there to come to the U.S. majors next year, mainly because his team (Nippon) knows it can get a huge posting fee if they let him go now.
March 24th, 20091:21 pm
P-Town Brave, thanks for the reminder (smile).
For what it’s worth, I think most KU fans probably wouldn’t mind enduring something like what happened in 2006 (first-round tourney exit) again if it meant there was something around the corner similar to what happened in 2008.
Yu Darvish in a Braves uniform. What a great sight that would be.
March 24th, 20091:26 pm
“Yu Darvish in a Braves uniform. What a great sight that would be.”
Don’t know how likely that is (huge cash involved), but it points out one good aspect of the WBC. 4 months ago I read the name “Yu Darvish” and had no idea about him, except for some sketchy scouting reports, usually poorly translated from Japanese. Just like we got regarding Kawakami, for the most part.
I think it’s pretty cool to see the best players from around the world – and increasingly, those guys are gonna be potential MLB players.
March 24th, 20091:29 pm
The problem is . . . our 2b and SS are above average hitters for their position but not the speed/SB threat you would normally find at 2b and SS.
Also, we are talking about the CF position – not a corner outfield spot where the power, on most teams, should reside.
What i think we need: An Otis Nixon type in center with a Ron Gant type in left.
Those were the days . . .
March 24th, 20091:30 pm
Bobby’s Belly (11:57 am): “Everyone here understands what wide open means. Should Cox have said that? No way. It was stupid.”
Well, I’m sure he wouldn’t'a said it at all if he’d'a known how upset it was gonna make you.
No doubt he regrets it now. As do we all.
March 24th, 20091:32 pm
all ive got to say is…GO DUKE!!
Braves need to stop relying on the three run homer and be a team that steals bases, hits a lot of doubles. Homers can be rally killers sometimes.
I expect the pitching to be strong 1-12.
NCAA’s — go UCONN!!!
March 24th, 20091:42 pm
I think I’d rather settle for an Andruw Jones type in center and anybody with a pulse in left, LOL.
Seriously, having AJ’s lumber in CF all those years gave the Braves a lot of flexibility in their other OF slots, because they didn’t have to be concerned with getting corner offense from both corner OFs. They didn’t have to be satisfied with a defensively inferior player, just to have a bat in the lineup. I think people forget that sometimes.
March 24th, 20091:43 pm
getnathan, it takes speed to steal bases, can’t just decide to start stealing bases with what you got, if what you got ain’t speed. If our current braves “decided” to become the 84′ Cardinals, we’d be wallerin in a mud-bath of caught-stealing sorrow…
What we got, and what we do’n, is just fine as is…
March 24th, 20091:44 pm
“Braves need to stop relying on the three run homer and be a team that steals bases, hits a lot of doubles. Homers can be rally killers sometimes.” – getnathan
Braves finished 14th (of 16) in the NL in home runs in ‘08, and yet were 6th in runs scored. I just don’t get “quit waiting for the 3-run homer” cliche’.
Braves generally have guys who get on base pretty well, hit to the gaps, are good baserunners (which is not the same as good base-stealers).
They simply are not gonna be near the top of the league in stolen bases unless they completely revamp the roster. You can’t ask McCann, Chipper, Kotchman, GAnderson, Francouer, Diaz or even Escobar to steal a lot of bases. KJ is a pretty good base-stealer long as he picks his spots; our CF this year should be pretty good (whether Josh or Jordan), but beyond that, asking the Braves to steal bases is like asking the Nationals to pitch better. Ain’t got the personnel.
And the HR as rally-stopper… well, I’ll take a HR with a man on 2nd, over a double to the gap, every day and twice on Sunday.
March 24th, 20091:45 pm
Homers can be rally killers sometimes.
March 24th, 20091:46 pm
bryanis there an illusion of trade value for Josh Anderson? If he aint making it at this age, on this team (needs speed and an outfield), who would want him?
the reds signed willy tavares this offseason. he is a great basestealer(probably the best in baseball), but otherwise doesnt have the skill anderson does. anderson does have value…its just a very specific vlaue. you have to need what hes got, and already have what he doesnt.
March 24th, 20091:47 pm
Kenny Powers knows that HR are rally killers. Kenny Powers has killed a lot of rallies in his day.
March 24th, 20091:48 pm
BB is right on. I also think decision is being delayed until last minute in hope schafer falls or anderson steps up his game. normally you would want the comp over a week or so before opening day so whomever is starting can relax a bit.
Ritchie from Scotland
March 24th, 20091:49 pm
if Anderson’s best asset is his speed and Schafer has stolen more bases than him this spring whilst posting a better AVG and OBP surely Schafer has to start?
March 24th, 20091:50 pm
I can here Bobby now, “C’mon Chipper, big hit here, but, for God sakes, keep it in the park”.
March 24th, 20091:51 pm
Kenny – Tough break on getting dissed by Tampa in Sunday’s episode. Can’t believe you bailed on big booby April too
18 Wheels of Love
March 24th, 20091:53 pm
91 nlds….what if Pendleton had homered and not tripled? Not agreeing with the ‘homers kill rallies’ but I have heard someone debate that specific scenario before in regards to Pendleton.
March 24th, 20091:56 pm
Mark it down folks the Connecticut Huskies will cut down the nets in Detroit on April 6th just before midnight with the womans team doing the same thing the next night !
I remember reading a comment a year or so ago that he was watching MTV and movies to help with English. Not what I would recommend, but such a 20-something guy answer (ESCO FAN)
I was talking about something similar the other day with someone at work. We were both remarking on how it seems the Southern accent is disappearing, at least in the Atlanta area. But we’ve noticed it in other regions of the South as well. You just don’t notice strong accents as much anymore, especially with the younger generation. When you do hear a strong Southern accent these days out of younger folks,it really stands out as being out of the norm.
We speculated on why that is. At least in Atlanta, you can partially blame how much of a melting pot the city has become for folks from all over the country. Folks are also far better educated and less landlocked and travel alot more as well. But you also have to heavily blame television and radio for the disappearing accent. You’re just so much more exposed to how folks from the rest of the country talk and you learn not talk with a Southern accent almost by accident.
So in many ways I don’t think Yunel or any Spanish speaking player is any different than most of us in learning how to speak from television, movies, radio, etc., etc. Yunel’s just more honest or at least more cognizant than the rest of us that he’s learning the way he speaks English from television or movies
March 24th, 20091:57 pm
One of the best things about watching a few ST games live was Jeff Francoeur’s new plate discipline and stance. More than all the stats and “where is the power” talk, I like the fact that he no longer looks confused. He actually looks like he has some confidence in what he is doing and backing it up with good at bats. Got to see his bases loaded off the wall double and some great long at bats that he coaxed walks on. Whether he is able to carry his successes into the season or not I dont think we will be seeing those awkward at bats that made us want to change the channel last year.
March 24th, 20091:58 pm
I’ve been waiting 2 years for Darvish to come to the mlb. I wanted the braves to sign KK so they’d have a shot at signing Yu in the future. But, seems like he’d be coming here too soon for the braves to have a shot (financial reasons, overloaded rotation).
March 24th, 20092:01 pm
91 World Series, 7th game. What if Pendleton had homered instead of only doubling?
March 24th, 20092:05 pm
exactly BB, it isn’t worth debating, it goes both ways.
Damn, I wish he had homered. Or that Lonnie Smith had been paying attention.
We’re not really gonna debate the value of a home run vs. the value of a double, are we?
March 24th, 20092:06 pm
Has Will Ohman been blackballed or something? I thought he was a real good lefty reliever.Am I missing something? I can’t believe nobody has picked him up.
March 24th, 20092:09 pm
Yeah, 18WoL, there is no play in my “major league bb watching career” that haunts me more. Lonnie, by not watching his 3rd base coach, violated something we learned in Little League.
March 24th, 20092:10 pm
BB5795- your comment at 1:50pm was hilarious!
I feel ya.
I know the value of a good defense, good speed, high OBP center fielder.
I don’t know if Anderson can get on base enough. Yeah, his numbers are strong in limited experience – the whole point of my argument going back to Daybeds remarks . . .
Give Anderson the chance to play, because he has one of the things we need – but if he stinks it up . . . i think we have a better chance of getting him through waivers in may than in march.
What i really wish would play out: Anderson/Diaz (LF), Anderson (CF), Schafer (RF) . . . but we all know that aint happenin.
DOB….Good News about “24″ , start in May they going to shoot the 8Th Season, that mean Jack is not dead and he will have a Girlfriend, i bet is Renee, The FBI lady.
On the plus side, maybe if they put the teepee up at Turner Field it could replace the stupid cow.
It is “would have”, not “would of”.
March 24th, 20092:12 pm
That is one thing we can certainly both agree upon w/ your national title last year…We soon come to realize that players like Mario Chalmers don’t come around very often.
March 24th, 20092:13 pm
this is not meant to be disrespectful to bobby cox (or bobby’s belly) in any way, but this whole thing about him saying that CF was “wide open”… how long have you been paying attention to the braves? you should have learned pretty quickly that noting bobby says means anything. all bobby cares about is his players, and what he says to the media is just talking to give them something to write. his one and only concern is the guys who play for him, and he will say whatever reflects the best on them. the truth is, we can only use reason to guess what is going on in CF, which is that since anderson is out of options, he would have to faceplant and either shafer or blanco to greatly impress to win the job.
eltrompoBRAVESfan, well thank you very much!
March 24th, 20092:17 pm
TnBrian, thanks for trying to pick a fight and getting personal, but your post made absolutely no sense. Grow up, bud.
March 24th, 20092:18 pm
many immigrants learn or get ‘tutored’ in english from the tv. was just listening to a 1984 show at the atlanta civic center by eddie murphy were he does a routinue about that very item. (and the ramifications if they saw him on hbo and used that to learn english.) it’s the most readily available source for hearing english. just hope esco wasn’t watching soap operas.
Was taking a different exit this morning because of a meeting. Missed the exit because I was too busy cranking some Social Distortion at 0730. I sit and I pray, in my broken down Chevrolet.
I say give Anderson first crack at starting CF. Let’s see if the Braves can put his speed to use before turning it over to Schafer.
March 24th, 20092:19 pm
The ST stat I like is runs scored vs runs against and especially runs against. ESPN MLBs site standings has this. The Braves pitchers have only given up 79 runs in ST (including the wacky 9 run O’Flatery outing). Only one other team is under 94 and most are way over 100. Only the Cubs who have been having 15-20 run scoring games have a better differential than the Braves. I think BC subs his ST lineup and pitchers as much as any manager so there’s no grandstanding effect. And, with the Phillies, Mets, and Yankees repeatedly on the schedule, the Braves haven’t been playing all Astros either. Anyway, pitching is pitching, and the lowest runs against is an exciting figure for the upcoming season. BTW, I would also play Schaffer. All upside potential with power vs JAnderson’s slightly above average play at best. Blanco would be my backup outfielder/PH/PR.
March 24th, 20092:21 pm
Here’s the average / stats for 1 pitch at-bats, 1-3 pitch at-bats, 4+ pitch at-bats, and 7+ pitch at-bats for 2007:
1 and done: .344/.349/.543 .892 OPS
Short(1-3): .301/.317/.467 .784 OPS
Long (4+): .223/.352/.348 .700 OPS
7 Up (7+): .230/.406/.372 .778 OPS
March 24th, 20092:22 pm
When Francoeur hit homers, they cried he’d didn’t walk or hit for average. When he hits for average and walks, they cry he doesn’t hit homers. I hope things aren’t like this at home for Francoeur. If his wife is like his fans, she nagged when he clogged the toilet by using four sheets of two ply instead of just two sheets, but now that he’s using just two sheets, she nags that he leaves behind skid marks in the laundry.
Bobby’s Belly (2:10 pm): “Everyone,
“It is “would have”, not “would of”.”
Yes, and “would’ve”, “would’a” and “woulda” also work.
March 24th, 20092:26 pm
DAP – He cares so much about his players he lies to them? Won’t say JA has faceplanted, but it’s been between bad and mediocre I think is fair to say. If Schafer (and Blanco for that matter) haven’t greatly impressed you must say they’ve both been impressive.
I know this might not be the best question………..Can the Braves start the season with Gregor Blanco and Josh Andreson? Schafer can go to the minors. He is still way too young–like Andruw and Furcal young. Let him go down to the minors at least two three more months.
March 24th, 20092:27 pm
wascally francouer has never walked much.
March 24th, 20092:28 pm
PWHjort (2:21 pm): “Here’s the average / stats for 1 pitch at-bats, 1-3 pitch at-bats, 4+ pitch at-bats, and 7+ pitch at-bats for 2007″
Hmm — looks like ISOP also decreases as the At Bat lengthens. Wonder why that is — maybe because in the longer At Bats, eventually all you’re looking for is to make contact?
bobby’s bellyHe cares so much about his players he lies to them?
no, but he lies to you. do we know what he has said to anderson or schafer about the job?
March 24th, 20092:29 pm
The 2:10 wasn’t the “official” Bobby’s Belly. As great as my baseball mind is my grammar is as bad. I may question your opinions, but I won’t question your grammsr.
Jersey- That’s good news. Not that I thought Jack was going to die or anything, even after last night. That does give me a slight bit of reassurance that the writers aren’t planning on doing anything with Renee anytime soon. She’s about the only good looking female left on the show.
March 24th, 20092:30 pm
On Bowman’s blog it says Heap texted him, and yes, he will be behind the place tonight. Although, McCann needs a new nickname…he’s not so much of a “Heap” anymore.
March 24th, 20092:31 pm
Everyone, It is “would have”, not “would of”.
Of course it is, but, this blog originates in the South and posters may be “speaking” in the vernacular. “Would of” works fine for “would’ve”, when you approach it phonetically, LOL.
As a sidenote, grammarians/spelling police/the like have tended to be short-lived, hereabouts. I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’…
DAP – If Anderson or Schafer would take my calls I would ask. Maybe DOB could ask them for us?
March 24th, 20092:33 pm
For those of you curious about Darvish here’s an explanation of NPB (Japan’s MLB) free agency taken from npbtracker.com, a great resource for anything NPB related:
“NPB free agency is a little different from MLB free agency. Starting this year, there are two categories of free agency: domestic and international. NPB players qualifying for domestic free agency can only move to other NPB teams, while players qualifying for international free agency are free to try their luck abroad as well.
Domestic free agency requires 8 years of service time, while international free agency requires 9 years. One year of service time is defined as 150 days on the team’s top roster. Time spent on the farm time or injured list does not count as service time toward free agency. This is why guys like Kenshin Kawakami and Koji Uehara won’t be free agents until after this year despite having started their careers in the late 90’s.”
The other way Darvish could come to the US would be if his parent club “posts” him. If he were to be “posted”, MLB clubs would have the opportunity to bid for his control. The club that submitted the highest bid would pay that much to his NPB club and he would be under the control of the MLB team with which he would sign a contract. Hideki Matsui and Dice-K both came to MLB through posting whereas Kawakami signed as an international free agent.
Darvish would require a HUGE posting fee. Patrick at npbtracker has said multiple times that Darvish said he doesn’t want to play in the MLB. I think that will change when he’s an international free agent and the Yankees open their checkbook, though.
Ranking the National League East
By Paul Hagen
Philadelphia Daily News
1. Marlins: Ricky Nolasco, Josh Johnson, Chris Volstad, Anibal Sanchez, Andrew Miller (L)
2. Phillies: Cole Hamels (L), Brett Myers, Jamie Moyer (L), Joe Blanton, J.A. Happ (L) or Chan Ho Park
3. Braves: Derek Lowe, Javier Vazquez, Jair Jurrjens, Kenshin Kawakami, Tom Glavine (L)
4. Mets: Johan Santana (L), Mike Pelfrey, John Maine, Oliver Perez (L), Livan Hernandez
5. Nationals: John Lannan (L), Scott Olsen (L), Daniel Cabrera, Jordan Zimmermann, Shairon Martis
Nolasco, Johnson and Volstad were a combined 28-13, 3.40 for Florida last season. Although only Nolasco made 30 starts in the big leagues, that’s impressive. And while Sanchez and Miller still must prove they can compete at the big-league level, both have significant upsides. The Phillies are strong 1 through 4, and Hamels is a legit staff ace if healthy. But Myers is coming off a Jekyll-and-Hyde season and Moyer is 46 years old, so both have to be considered at least minor question marks. Atlanta completely retooled its rotation after betting, and losing, on the continued health of veterans like John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Mike Hampton. Lowe, Vazquez and Jurrjens can be counted on to fill 200 innings and Kawakami is an interesting, under-the-radar acquisition. The Mets got a scare when Santana came up with a sore elbow early in spring training. He’s apparently fine and remains one of the best pitchers in baseball and Pelfrey is starting to establish himself, but Maine could still go either way and Perez needs to be more consistent. The Nationals believe they have a rich lode of young pitching coming through the system but, for this year at least, are more about potential than proven track record.
1. Mets: Closer Francisco Rodriguez. J.J. Putz, Sean Green, Pedro Feliciano (L), Bobby Parnell, Brian Stokes, Darren O’Day
2. Phillies: Closer Brad Lidge. Ryan Madson, Chad Durbin, Scott Eyre (L), Clay Condrey, Chan Ho Park or J.A. Happ (L)
3. Braves: Closer Mike Gonzalez (L). Rafael Soriano, Peter Moylan, Blaine Boyer, Boone Logan (L) or Eric O’Flaherty (L), Buddy Carlyle or Jorge Campillo
4. Nationals: Closer Joel Hanrahan. Joe Beimel (L), Saul Rivera, Julian Tavarez, Jason Bergmann, Garrett Mock, Mike Hinckley (L)
5. Marlins: Closer Leo Nunez. Logan Kensing, Renyel Pinto (L), Taylor Tankersley (L), Kiko Calero
If both Rodriguez and Putz are healthy and pitching to their capability, the Mets acquired an end-of-game hammer that will put pressure on opponents to have a lead by the seventh. K-Rod must show he can succeed in the New York pressure cooker and Putz has to adjust to setting up after closing for the Mariners. The Phillies don’t expect Lidge to be perfect again, but he appears to be all the way back from whatever ailed him in Houston. Madson has to demonstrate consistency; Durbin faded in the second half last year; and there’s no established lefthander to go along with Scott Eyre until J.C. Romero returns form his 50-game suspension. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Braves ended up with the best bullpen when all is said and done, but Gonzalez, Soriano and Moylan are all coming off injuries. If – and it’s always a big if – all three remain healthy, they could end up being Atlanta’s strength. The Nationals got a lot better when they signed free agent Beimel (5-1, 2.02 for the Dodgers in 2008), but Hanrahan remains an unproven quantity as the closer. Injuries sabotaged the Marlins, at least for the early going when projected closer Matt Lindstrom had to drop out of the WBC with a rotator cuff problem and penciled-in setup man Scott Proctor went down with elbow soreness. That makes Leo Nunez, with no experience closing, as the go-to guy in save situations.
1. Phillies: 1B Ryan Howard, 2B Chase Utley, SS, Jimmy Rollins, 3B Pedro Feliz, C Carlos Ruiz
2. Mets: 1B Carlos Delgado, 2B Luis Castillo, SS Jose Reyes, 3B David Wright, C Brian Schneider
3. Marlins: 1B Gaby Sanchez, 2B Dan Uggla, SS Hanley Ramirez, 3B Jorge Cantu, C John Baker or C Mike Rabelo
4. Braves: 1B Casey Kotchman, 2B Kelly Johnson, SS Yunel Escobar, 3B Chipper Jones, C Brian McCann
5. Nationals: 1B Nick Johnson, 2B Anderson Hernandez, SS Cristian Guzman, 3B Ryan Zimmerman, C Jesus Flores
Considering that the Phillies probably have the best first baseman, second baseman and shortstop in franchise history at or near the peaks of their careers, this is a pretty easy call. They might also expect to get more production from both Feliz, who played with back problems in 2008, and Ruiz. Wright is one of baseball’s brightest stars and Reyes can be an electric player, although he occasionally disappears. Delgado, 36, was written off when he got off to a slow start last season but came on strong in the second half and Castillo is on the bubble. For the Marlins, Ramirez is an MVP waiting to happen. Uggla outslugs his defensive shortcomings. Cantu (.277-29-95) was great in ‘08, but can he do it again? For the Braves, Kotchman is unlikely to make up for the production lost when free-agent-to-be Mark Teixeira was traded and Jones, still one of the best when healthy, turns 37 next month and can no longer be counted on to play 150 games. Johnson and Escobar are underrated. Zimmerman is the Nationals’ centerpiece, but Johnson has been injured repeatedly the last few years. Guzman has batted .328 and .316 the last two seasons and Flores has tons of potential.
1. Phillies: LF Raul Ibanez, CF Shane Victorino, RF Jayson Werth
2. Nationals: LF Adam Dunn, CF Lastings Milledge, RF Elijah Dukes
3. Braves: LF Garret Anderson, CF Josh Anderson, RF Jeff Francouer
4. Mets: LF Ryan Church, CF Carlos Beltran, RF Daniel Murphy
5. Marlins: LF Jeremy Hermida, CF Cameron Maybin, RF Cody Ross
Before signing with the Phillies, Ibanez had driven in more than 100 runs three consecutive seasons for the Mariners and averaged 25 homers per season in spacious Safeco Field. At a minimum, he should be more consistent than Pat Burrell. Victorino scored 102 runs, stole 36 bases and won a Gold Glove and Werth earned the right to prove he could play every day. Dunn gives the Nationals a much-needed lefthanded power threat; how good the outfield turns out to be will depend on how Milledge and Dukes develop. Braves outfielders combined for just 27 home runs all last season. Anderson hit 15 (and drove in 84 runs) for the Angels last year. Adding him late makes the outfield stronger, but they desperately need Francouer (.239-11-71) to bounce back from a down year. Beltran gives the Mets solid production and strong defense, but Murphy is unproven and it’s a little surprising that New York didn’t upgrade in left. The Marlins are counting heavily on Maybin, a talented rookie who will also be asked to lead off.
1. Phillies: IF-OF Greg Dobbs, IF-OF Eric Bruntlett, IF Miguel Cairo, OF Geoff Jenkins, OF Matt Stairs, C Chris Coste or C Ronny Paulino
2. Nationals: IF Ronnie Belliard, OF Willie Harris, OF Austin Kearns, OF Josh Willingham, C Josh Bard or Wil Nieves
3. Mets: IF Alex Cora, OF Fernando Tatis, OF Jeremy Reed, OF Nick Evans, C Ramon Castro
4. Braves: IF Martin Prado, OF Omar Infante, OF Matt Diaz, C David Ross
5. Marlins: IF Wes Helms, IF Emilio Bonifacio, OF Alfredo Amezaga, OF Brett Carroll
Dobbs led the majors in pinch hits and was second in RBI and Bruntlett has the versatility to play both infield and outfield. It remains to be seen if there’s a spot for Cairo and if the team can carry two more lefthanded bats off the bench in Jenkins and Stairs. Harris was one of Washington’s best players last year, Kearns has had some success as a starter in his career, and Belliard and Willingham have also started. Cora gives the Mets the experience of a player who had more than 150 at-bats coming off the bench for the Red Sox last season and an option at second if Luis Castillo stumbles, and Tatis figures to share playing time with Ryan Church in left. Diaz was Atlanta’s starting leftfielder at the beginning of last season before being sidelined by injuries; Prado batted .320 in 228 at-bats and Infante hit .293 in 317 at-bats. For the Marlins, Bonifacio could be an alternative if Cameron Maybin struggles out of the leadoff spot while Helms can play first or third.
The Braves don’t have the biggest payroll anymore and they are coming off their first 90-loss season since 1990. They still have future Hall of Fame manager Bobby Cox, though, and a club president in John Schuerholz who, as general manager, presided over their 14-year dynasty. And, because they are such a solid organization, their farm system is about to graduate another class of terrific prospects, including righthander Tommy Hanson, first baseman Freddie Freeman and outfielders Jason Heyward and Jordan Schafer. The Marlins operate differently than most organizations, but they have shown a knack for stockpiling talent. If they get their new stadium approved, it will be interesting to see what happens once the increased revenue associated with a new building keeps them from having to shed salary almost every offseason. The Phillies have a brand new World Series trophy and you can’t take that away from them. Now it’s up to new general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. to make sure the team doesn’t skip a beat after the retirement of Pat Gillick. The Mets’ front office doesn’t always seem to be on the same page and September collapses in each of the last two seasons haven’t helped. Even getting K-Rod and J.J. Putz for the bullpen didn’t satisfy some fans, who also wanted a bopper. Nationals president Stan Kasten is one of the most respected executives in pro sports, but the front office was Balkanized until controversial general manager Jim Bowden stepped down. Look for things to get better.
March 24th, 20092:35 pm
GAME 7 1991 WS – What if Lonnie Smith scored on the DOUBLE if he doesn’t get deked by Chuck Knoblauch!!! And I said “homers can be rally killers SOMETIMES”. You all are making a mountain out of molehill. If we are down 5 runs, and we get a couple of runners on, what good does a 3 run HR do at that point?
PWHjort-”Whoever does the play by play on sports south beside Dominique Wilkins has a huge man crush on Flip Murray.”
Thats Bob Rathbun, he’s got a man crush on whoever’s on the court at any given moment. He was much better for the hawks when he worked with Steve Smith, hes always kissing up to DW on air, he seemed much more comfortable with the less accomplished SS. It used to be physically painful to listen to him and Torborg do the Braves games together, atleast for me.
March 24th, 20092:37 pm
this guy is a joke
March 24th, 20092:39 pm
interesting quote from Bowman’s blog about Ohman (Bowman had apparently been in touch via text):
There’s no doubt that Ohman is kicking himself for not accepting the contract offers the Braves made him in July and November. I wish I could tell you where he might pitch this year. But right now, I’d have to guess he’s going to wait until a team loses a left-handed reliever via injury.
March 24th, 20092:40 pm
That Paul Hagen failed to mention that the Braves have the best hitting catcher in the NL…possibly ML.
Andy K Although, McCann needs a new nickname…he’s not so much of a “Heap” anymore.
He’ll be catching tonight, eh? So-weet! But what kind of a starting time is 6:05? Hello! That’s like, dinner time!
March 24th, 20092:41 pm
Thanks for the info, ATL. I’m not much of an NBA fan but I like watching the hawks and I noticed that Bob Rathbun likes Murray a little too much. Andrew, that preview is pretty bad.
Puts us down 2 runs?
March 24th, 20092:43 pm
getnathan- Say your team is down 3 runs with 2 RISP. What good does a 2-run 1B do? The tying run is still 270 ft. away.
Point is, this debate could go on. A HR is, for obvious reasons, the “best-case scenario” for a hitter at any given plate appearance, because it maximizes the number of runs that score during the at-bat.
March 24th, 20092:44 pm
Random, good observation. I don’t really have a hypothesis as to why. I’ll think about it/ask Bill.
i cant take it anymore
March 24th, 20092:45 pm
tough call on the lineup.
i would say…
Janderson (yep, all one word)
ganderson usually gets off to a slow start, so keep him where he can be slow.
You guys do remember how he got the nickname “Heap”, right? I doubt slim-and-trim has much effect on his neatness quotient, LOL.
March 24th, 20092:49 pm
Wascally Wabbit, I don’t think we’ll ever hear your comparison on ESPN’s, “Baseball Tonight”, but I liked it. (2:22)
getnathan, loosen up a little, will you? No mountains, just a little fun.
Why are so many talking about Bobby lying? Was there a decision made that I didn’t hear? We should wait until that happens before we start calling the man a liar. Also, Bobby may want to keep Schafer but get voted down from up above. Bobby runs the game, not the business. If Schafer stays in the minors for just 2 months (I know, that’s 1/3 of the season), it will be one full year before he can be a free agent. That may seem like a long way away now, but something we may be thankful for later.
PTBNL Re: Your 12:45 post. Exactly. Don’t know why so many here can’t understand that. (Maybe they refuse to understand it.)
March 24th, 20092:50 pm
Sure, termites will eventually hollow out the tree, and maybe someday cause it to fall, but give me Paul Bunyan everyday to knock the darn tree over with one swing of the ax.
March 24th, 20092:51 pm
nscoots, he got the nickname because of his housekeeping skills AND his appearance….
March 24th, 20092:53 pm
… here’s Braves hitting ‘MVP’ for spring training through yesterday …
March 24th, 20092:56 pm
hk,all i have to say is wow
March 24th, 20092:59 pm
BB5795 “all those people” (its really just me) talking about bobby lying are not talking about the situation with CF. bobby is hardly ever real with the media. its part of how he protects his players. i dont clal it “lying”, i call it being great at what he does. but, technically, yeah, he lies alot.
March 24th, 20093:00 pm
I thought the Phillie’s writer bull pen for the Braves was interesting:
Braves: Closer Mike Gonzalez (L). Rafael Soriano, Peter Moylan, Blaine Boyer, Boone Logan (L) or Eric O’Flaherty (L), Buddy Carlyle or Jorge Campillo
If the Braves could get more than a LOOGY (like Ohman maybe) forget the 2 lefties on this list and stick with a 6 man bull pen (maybe let Ohman pitch 60-70 innings again this year?) they could keep J Anderson as a fifth outfielder.
To me Josh is a GREAT fifth outfielder. He is the guy that can pinch run in the 8th or 9th inning and steal a base (SMALL BALL) and then play good defense in the outfield.
But with the injuries to Soriano and Moylan and Ohman not being on the team, IT AIN”T GOING TO HAPPEN.
Josh will either start or be gone.
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