Archive for May, 2009

Medlen, Braves need win — badly

 

  Phoenix — When the Braves won five of their last six on the homestand and swept Toronto, did anyone imagine they’d be in the position they’re in today? That is, having lost five of six on this trip to San Francisco and Arizona?
  Even the most pessimistic person on ye olde Braves/MIB blog probably figured the Braves could win two or three games on this trip. Right?
  Well, they can still win two. But they’ll need to do it today with the rookie, Kris Medlen, facing Max Scherzer, a good young pitcher whose awful luck seems finally to have turned.
  Remember Scherzer from a couple of weeks ago, when he beat the Braves with six scoreless innings of four-hit ball? Up until then, Scherzer had been 0-7 in 22 major league games (13 starts) despite a solid 3.39 ERA, .235 opponents’ average and 95 strikeouts with 34 walks in 87-2/3 innings.
  The Diamondbacks had almost never scored more than a run or two while he was in games, and about half the time they scored none while he was …

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Schafer rests, Diaz in CF

 

  Phoenix – If the Braves don’t win today, blame Will Farrell, Vince Vaughn and the rest of the cast of Old School, the film du jour in the visitors’ clubhouse this morning. Funny movie, but probably not the run-through-a-wall tour-de-force motivating boost provided by Al Pacino’s Tony “Scarface” Montana on Friday.
  Or, you mind end up blaming the lineup, which includes no Chipper Jones nor Brian McCann (Chipper’s resting the sprained toe against a lefty; McCann’s getting a day off) and has Matt Diaz in center field.
  No, that’s not a typo. Diaz is in center field, his first major league start at the position.
  Manager Bobby Cox wanted to give Jordan Schafer a day off, since the struggling rookie has played every game. With Omar Infante on the DL, the next in line was … well, the Braves really didn’t have an obvious, next-in-line backup.
  ”Yeah, stick him out there, let’s go,” Cox said this morning, when I asked him about Diaz playing center. “He played there in the …

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Can (potential) All-Star Jurrjens stop skid?

  Scottsdale, Ariz. — I was sitting here digesting my huevos con masa (late breakfast; a great dish served with chorizo quesa served atop jalapeno cornbread) and wondering how to start today’s blog. And right at that moment, the Ohio Players’ “Love Rollercoaster” came up on my Ipod shuffle.
  Appropriate for the Braves’ season, don’t you think? (Well, at least the rollercoaster part; not much love around here for the Bravos lately.) Certainly it was more appropriate than, say, the previous song that played, Yo La Tengo’s “Watch Out for Me Ronnie.”
  But wait, now the Ohio Players’ tune is overand Uncle Tupelo’s “Outdone” is on, with the first line, Everything’s fine for now, no one’s really laughing.
Everything’s just all right, or is it now….
  Hey, I’m not making this up, folks. No writer’s embellishment required.
  We need to crank out this blog and get to the ballpark, and I’m telling, it’s not too easy in this surroundings. I probably need to shut the blinds, because I …

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It’s hot, but Braves’ bats are not

  Phoenix – We’ve taken this roadie from the cool, crisp days and foggy nights in San Francisco to the 100-degree heat of Arizona, and the Braves can only hope their bats also experience a drastic warming trend.
  How ugly was their offense in San Francisco? Very. The Braves hit .165 and scored five runs while being swept by the Giants at AT&T Park. Oh, it was bad.
  This after they had hit .308 and scored 35 runs during a 5-1 finish to their homestand, including a sweep of the Blue Jays (which looks less impressive by the day, as Toronto continues to skid).
  Chipper Jones, playing on a sprained right big toe, rarely looked as bad as he did during the San Francisco series, going 1-for-9 with six strikeouts, including his first four-strikeout Golden Sombrero last night, when he was 0-for-3 with three strikeouts against Randy Johnson (he hit six homers in 33 at-bats against Big Unit before last night). It took him 2,060 games to get one; Jordan Schafer already has …

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Trade for bat might require patience

  San Francisco — While trade proposals ranging from the plausible to the utterly absurd continue to hum here on the ol’ Braves/MIB blog, the fact of the matter is, it’s probably going to be a while before any deal gets done, at least in terms of a significant deal, i.e. a power-hitting outfielder.
   Friends, countrymen, denizens, newcomers, and everyone in-between: It’s still May. If you’ve followed baseball for very long, try to remember how many big trades have been made in May. Or in June, for that matter.
  While I know that it doesn’t suit the timetable of many concerned and/or impatient fans, the fact is, this is the way it’s done in baseball. There are more than two months until the non-waiver trade deadline, and there are only a handful or so teams that are clearly out of any sort of playoff contention, and most or them aren’t ready to publicly wave the white flag of surrender and start trading away big bats or power arms or whatever else is highly sought by …

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Braves look for outfield fix

 

  San Francisco — When Jeff Francoeur and Jordan Schafer combined for an 0-for-8, six-strikeout performance in Monday’s loss to the Giants, it underscored the Braves’ serious need to add an outfield bat between now and the July 31 trade deadline, and ideally a lot closer to now than to July 31.
  Yes, when your right fielder is hitting .259 with a .647 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS), and your center fielder is hitting .205 with a .625 OPS, well, it’s a damn good thing that your left fielder is piling up big power numbers.
  What’s that? Oh, yeah. The Braves’ left fielders are Garret Anderson (.256, .598 OPS) and Matt Diaz (solid at .299, .863 OPS).
  If someone told you before the season that, 44 games into this thing, Diaz would be the only Braves outfielder with an OPS above .650, what would you have thought about the team’s chances of staying in the division race?
  But he is, and they are. So they count their blessings and should leave no stone unturned in trying …

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Surging Braves hit Frisco

 

  San Francisco – Good afternoon from the shores of San Francisco Bay, where the sun’s out after the earlyfog, and it’s going to get up to 60 degrees. I hope it’s as nice where you are, because here it sure is a crisp, gorgeous Memorial Day here by the bay.
 Before we go any further, Chipper Jones and Yunel Escobar aren’t in the lineup. Just got back from clubhouse, talked to Chipper, whose sprained big toe is still black and blue, and quite sore.
 While he was in an initial lineup that was posted, that was more hopeful on Bobby Cox’s part, and once Chipper got here and told him it wasn’t any better, that was that. Martin Prado in there again, hitting second this time behind Kelly Johnson and ahead of Matt Diaz and Brian McCann.
 ”It’s probably the worst one he’s had,” Cox said, referring to Jones and comparing this to his previous toe injuries (not including that ligament injury beneath his foot a few years back, that nearly required surgery).
  I just got back from …

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Lowe goes without Chipper, Yunel

 

  Yunel Escobar (strained hip flexor) and Chipper Jones (sprained toe) are out of the lineup for tonight’s game and latest forecast calls for a 50-percent chance of rain, which is normal because Derek Lowe is pitching. He pitches, it rains.
  But the Braves also frequently win when he pitches (6-3 in his starts).  So he and they, of course, hope to get this game in tonight. For that and other reasons.

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  Because not only is Lowe facing a Toronto pitcher, Casey Janssen, who hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2007 and hasn’t started a big-league game since 2006, but they also are facing the possibility of playing a getaway-day doubleheader tomorrow if they don’t get this one in tonight.

  And then flying to San Francisco after a long day at Turner Field, with a Memorial Day afternoon game awaiting Monday in San …

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Much rain, few long balls at Turner Field

 

  Where Home Runs Go To Die, Ga. It’s Friday and the Braves are at home, so of course there’s rain the forecast. Seriously, what the (Robert) Fick is up with that?
  Let’s all hope and/or pray or whatever it is you do invidually to help us avoid a delay. There’s already been a couple of two-hour rain delays on Friday nights at Turner Field this season, washing out the postgame fireworks, which doesn’t really affect me, of course, but is still a shame for fans, especially since they are about the only fireworks we’re seeing at Turner Field this season.
  Ouch.
  Did I mention the Braves are only 2-1/2 games out of first place with 40 down and 122 to go? OK, well, I did now. They’re only 2-1/2 games out in a division that’s not looking nearly as tough as we anticipated,
  Now, back to my point. It’s rained all season in our drought-stricken city (there’s a Yogi Berra joke in there somewhere, along the lines of his famous comment about how nobody goes to that club anymore …

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Infante out — it could’ve been worse

  What’s not for a Braves fan to be pleased about today, when you wake and your team is only 1-1/2 games out of first place, your top three starters are all healthy pitching well, your shortstop is starting to sizzle, and … oh yeah.
   You did lose your versatile veteran utility man and best leadoff hitter, Omar Infante, last night to a broken finger that could sideline him until the All-Star break or longer.
  Hey, it could be a lot worse, folks. Think of where the team would be if it were not Infante lost for two months, but Chipper Jones, Yunel Escobar, Brian McCann or one of the top starters, Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens or Javier Vazquez.
  See what I mean? Could be a lot worse. Look at the Mets, dealing with injuries to Carlos Delgado (out for two months or more) and perhaps Jose Reyes.
  Yes, could be a lot worse.
  Not that this isn’t bad. But it’s part of baseball. Teams deal with injuries, and losing a utility player for two months, even if it was one as productive and …

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