Reclaimed Swampland, Fla. – A few thoughts from our rental estate hard by Midieval Times and the Mile 15 marker on U.S. 192, the spectacularly gaudy traffic artery choked with more go-kart track/miniature golf/British pub/Asian massage parlor/American chain restaurant/Chinese takeout/factory outlet/independently owned motel-not-hotel establishments than ol’ Walt could possibly have ever imagined would sprout up over the decades after he had them fill in this formerly wet land and build a colossus that would be The Happiest Place On Earth, dammit.
So anyway, do you think Gregor Blanco threw his hat back in the CF ring last night, or what?
Yes, he had a triple to the right-center gap last night against Pittsburgh, after hitting .400 with six hits including two triples and a double in 15 at-bats for Venezuela in the WBC.
But how many believe that Blanco is viewed as a serious candidate for the center-field job, alongside Josh Anderson and Jordan Schafer.
That’s assuming you don’t think the Braves are set on sending Schafer to Triple-A to begin the season — we still don’t know the answer to that, or even whether the Braves are still trying to decide themselves, in light of Schafer’s impressive performance this spring (.372 avg., five extra-base hits, five steals, but with 12 strikeouts and three walks in 43 at-bats).
As most of you know, Anderson is out of minor-league options, and Schafer and Blanco are not. Means Anderson can’t be sent to the minors without being exposed to waivers, and most will tell you that his speed and defensive skills would make it likely a team would snatch him off waivers if the Braves tried that move.
Anderson had a sluggish few weeks of Grapefruit League games, but turned it up recently and has lifted his average to .292 with six extra-base hits (two homers) in 48 at-bats, albeit with only one walk (.306 OPB) and one stolen base.
Blanco has more major league experience than either of them (Schafer hasn’t played above Double-A). But is that a good or bad thing for Blanco, considering the Braves saw enough of him last season in the majors to form opinions?
I’m not sure if a winter-ball season (he was good again in Venezuela this winter, as he has been in previous winters) and 15 at-bats in the WBC is enough to change those opinions to any great degree. But maybe it is.
Blanco, who is 25, had an impressive .366 OBP as a rookie in 2008. It’s the other numbers that might raise some red flags. He hit .251 in 464 at-bats with very little power, as evident by a .309 slugging percentage that was the third-lowest among all MLB outfielders who had at least 300 at-bats.
He had only 19 extra-base hits (one homer) in 430 at-bats, which wouldn’t be so bad if Blanco didn’t strike out much (he had 99 strikeouts, 74 walks) or if he caused havoc on the basepaths (he had only 13 steals in 18 attempts).
Hey, it was only his first season in the majors, and he did hit over .280 in each of the previous three seasons in the minors. But it’s worth noting, he also had only 54 stolen bases (in 87 attempts) during those three seasons combined, not to mention only 58 extra-base hits including three homers in nearly 1,000 at-bats (I know, they don’t need him to hit homers, but that’s extreme).
OK, let’s get to some other stuff quickly:
So have the past few days been a bit of a reality check for some here on the ol’ blog, as we head into the homestretch of this spring race?
Links and other stuff, before we fire up a stogie, crank the CD player, and drive over to Viera:
♣ If you think the Braves have a surplus of outfielders, consider this situation/predicament the Nationals are in. What was Jim Bowden thinking? No, seriously, what was he thinking? And unlike the Braves, the Nats are trying to trade a guy (Austin Kearns) making $8 mill. In this economy? Good luck with that, Stan Kasten….
♣ Most of us saw the WBC, or highlights, so we’ve got a decent idea what Jake Peavy’s been faring this spring. But has anyone wondered how A.J. Burnett is doing, since he’s been a bit overshadowed in Yankees camp? The answer: Quite well….
♣ Having spent 13 years in South Florida and a little over seven covering the Marlins, I’ve said all along that I won’t believe they’re getting a new stadium built until the cranes are on the site, the foundation is laid and the seating bowl is being constructed. Maybe not even then. Maybe not until the sod is laid on the field. But it does appear they’re closer than ever to getting that long-delayed ballpark (I’d suggest a seating capacity of about 12,000).
Anyway, fellow KU alum Rob Neyer, in his ESPN blog, linked to this stark analysis at the Field of Schemes website that details why that ballpark deal ain’t as sweet for taxpayers as the ballclub and politicians have indicated….
♣ Speaking of KU: It went largely unnoticed outside of the greater Kansas City and Austin markets, and was overlooked by many of us who attended KU or Texas, since our basketball teams were involved in a little tourney over the weekend. So as a public service, I’m linking this story about the weekend sweep by the Jayhawks against the Longhorns, Baseball America’s No. 1-ranked team. You’re welcome, ‘Horns fans. It’s the least I could do.
♥ One more thing, on a serious note: The Braves announced today that they’ll honor retired broadcaster Pete Van Wieren in a ceremony before the home opener April 10th against the Nationals. That’s great to hear. Pete is already sorely missed by many of us who were accustomed to him coming to spring training every year to do some Grapefruit games and get the real rundown on the team before the real season started. Pete spent 33 years in the Braves broadcast booth, most of it, of course, alongside Skip Caray, who died in August. Salute to Pete, and one more tip of the cap to Skip.
“A MAN NEEDS A MAID” by Neil Young
My life is changing
in so many ways
I don’t know who
to trust anymore
There’s a shadow running
thru my days
Like a beggar going
from door to door.
I was thinking that
maybe I’d get a maid
Find a place nearby
for her to stay.
to keep my house clean,
Fix my meals and go away.
A maid. A man needs a maid.
It’s hard to make that change
When life and love
To give a love,
you gotta live a love.
To live a love,
you gotta be “part of”
When will I see you again?
A while ago somewhere
I don’t know when
I was watching
a movie with a friend.
I fell in love with the actress.
She was playing a part
that I could understand.
A maid. A man needs a maid.
When will I see you again?