Archive for May, 2009

Francoeur saga continues, for now

  If it seems like we’ve been down this Jeff Francoeur road before and flogged this horse to its death, well, it’s probably because we have, or at least come close. But at a certain point, the numbers just can’t be avoided, dismissed, or explained away.
  Sooner or later, and I’d think sooner than later, the Braves right fielder is going to have to produce better statistics for an extended period, or the Braves are probably going to have to go in another direction.
  But that probably goes without saying, right? I mean, it’s not jumping to any rash conclusions to say the Braves will have to get more at some point this season than they’re getting now from Francoeur, or than they got from him last season, or his stay in Atlanta’s lineup won’t continue in perpetuity.
  Does he get more scrutiny than others? Sure. Because the bar was raised so high by his first half-season performance in 2005, and by all of us in the media, and by fans who bought thousands of jerseys, and …

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Waiting on some runs, and Huddy

    So the Braves have scored one run in three days. The denizens are rightly restless for some semblance of offense…(Sure, there was the rainout Sunday, but didn’t that wait after a 12-0 loss Saturday just serve to stir up the masses and stretch out this offensive malaise even more?)

   The Braves managed only 12 hits in the last two games against the Rockies and Diamondbacks and 11 of them were singles. The lone extra-base hit was a double by Yunel Escobar on Saturday night.

   Doesn’t it make it worse when you consider Mark Teixeira homered from both sides of the plate last night for the Yankees? Is it really that easy?

   The Braves and their 28 homers are ranked 26th in the majors, ahead of only the Mets, Pirates, A’s, and Giants. Their .395 slugging percentage is ranked 24th in the majors ahead of only the Padres, White Sox, Mariners, Marlins, Giants and A’s.

   What can I tell you? Maybe the best news of the day this Tuesday is that there’s a …

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Bring on the Rockies

    Well, good Monday morning to you on this crisper than normal May day. If you were looking for something to perk you up, to help you through a case of the Mondays, how about this? Just read that this year’s World Series games will start before 8 p.m., about 40 minutes earlier than has become the norm.


   Hey, ‘bout dang time.

   Maybe some kids will actually get to watch the games before they have to go to bed. (And hey, maybe some newspaper reporters will make their deadlines.)

   This is a deal that MLB and Fox agreed to, so it will be in effect for both World Series and ALCS games. Now we need TBS to step up – the network that gave us 7:35 p.m. starts for the Braves all these years. What was that for, Fresh Prince episodes? Follow their lead in the NLCS and Division Series games, TBS. It’s the right thing to do. 

   Fox’s pre-game show will start at 7:30. The first pitch will be just before 8 p.m. The report says it’s the first time in 30 …

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Another kid in the clubhouse

Would you card him?

  Resurgent, Ga.Another rainy weekend in Atlanta. But it doesn’t feel so gloomy around here when the Braves are playing well, does it?
  By the way, before I forget, did anyone note that with the arrival of Kris Medlen, Jordan Schafer will be neither the youngest looking Brave nor the only one who wears his cap with the brim flat, like it came straight out of the box?
    Medlen is 23, but seriously, he looks about 17. And regardless of what he’s listed as, he’s actually about 5-feet-8, 5-9 tops (the latter figure is probably being generous).

  Gotta love a kid like this. Undersized and fully of moxy. Of course, if he wasn’t blessed with a lot of talent, moxy wouldn’t be enough to get him to the majors. He throws hard, regardless of size, and has a full repertoire of pitches.
   It’s going to be fun watching him make his major league debut Tuesday. When I talked to him out in the fall league in November, I didn’t think he’d be up quite this …

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Trying to bring the mojo home

   So the Braves are home from a 6-2 road trip against the Marlins, Phillies and Mets. Now we know they can do it.


   They can grind out some tough wins, they can find clutch hitting to go along with their quality starting pitching. They can play smart baseball, and they can get gutty performances from Mike Gonzalez and their bullpen. And yes, absolutely, they can benefit from having both Garret Anderson and Brian McCann back in the lineup.

   But can they do it at home? Dare we welcome them back to Turner Field for this 10-game homestand, folks? Where the Braves lost four in a row before heading out on that last trip, and where they’ve lost nine of their last 11 games.

   Overall, the Braves are 12-8 on the road this season and 5-9 at home. (And just an aside, the Mets are the only team in the NL East with a winning record at home – they are 12-8 at Citi Field – so the Braves are not alone.)

   So is this just geography? Or is it timing – that it just …

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Braves go for series win after Tuesday meltdown

  New York – Good afternoon to all you folks, especially those who were up with us Tuesday night for a strange game that had some controversy among the late-innings Braves meltdown.
   Yes, the replay showed that Carlos Beltran was out at third base. Yes, it might have been a different outcome if they right call was made.
   But as Mike Gonzalez told me while ago, if he, the Braves closer, had done his job better, there wouldn’t have been an opportunity for the umpire to miss that call on the Carlos Beltran stolen base, because Beltran wouldn’t have been on.
  Beltran doubled on a 0-and-2 slider that Gonzalez said was a bad pitch selection and poorly executed. He wanted to throw it in the dirt, but left it up too far for such a hot hitter as Beltran. If he had it to do over, he wouldn’t have thrown that pitch.
   But that was the pattern for Gonzo the whole inning, getting ahead of hitters 0-and-2 and not putting them away. He also hit Fernando Tatis on an 0-and-2 …

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Braves are rollin’ on road

  New York – The back page of the NY Daily News today put it in typically less-than-subtle terms, in all caps: STIFFED AGAIN, next to a full-page picture of Johan Santana on one knee as he watched a grounder skip past one of his infielders during last night’s 8-3 Braves win at Citi Field.
  I think it’s possible for sympathetic Braves fans to feel bad for The Great Santana while not feeling bad enough for his buzzard’s luck to change. After all, he pitches for the NL East leader, and the Mets are still 1-1/2 games ahead of the Braves with two games left in this series.



  But he does deserve better, seeing how he’s got the best ERA (0.78) in the league, but the worst run support (2.15 runs per nine innings pitched). Do you realize that Santana, before this season, had never lost a game in which he gave up no earned runs? It’s already happened to him twice this season.

  Then again, he’s the one who chose to take the big money and hook up with the Mets, a franchise …

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Shea’s dead, Mets are not


  New York - It won’t be the same, that’s for sure. When we step off the subway and head over to that sparkling new ballpark with its modern pressbox, with no leaky roof to threaten your laptop every time it rained, and its spacious clubhouses that lack that distinct, charming mold and mildew and other unmentionable aromas found in the cramped visitors’ quarters we were used to.
  Yes, Citi Field ain’t no stinkin’ Shea Stadium. Evidence that our God is a merciful God.
We’re gonna ride the 7 Train out to Flushing here in a minute and take our first look at the interior of Citi Field, the Mets’ plush new ballpark.
  Until now I’ve only seen it from outside as it was being built the past year, and from flying over the completed project today when I landed at LaGuardia. (Why I booked a flight this year from Philly to N.Y. instead of taking the train like I usually do, I have no idea. Senility, good to meet you.)
  Anyway, good that the Braves and Mets both are playing …

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Braves go for series win in Philly

  Philadelphia – Good day to all you sweet moms out there … and hey, good day even to any mean mother…. It’s such a beautiful day in Philly, I’ve got no ill will with anyone. But give me an hour, that could change.
  No, no. Just kidding. It’s a gorgeous day at the ‘yard, mid-60 degrees with low humidity for this series finale between the Bravos and the Phils at corporate bank ballpark, where the Braves already won one series this year and could win another if they take this game today.
  That seems hard to believe, doesn’t it? With the way the Braves have played for much of the first five weeks of the season, they are in position to win their first two series in Philly against the defending World Series champions and, more importantly, are only 2-1/2 games off the division lead.
  Despite a 5-9 home record.
  Despite an offense that’s 10th in the NL in runs, 10th in homers, 13th in sac flies, last in steals, ninth in slugging percentage, and next-to-last in …

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Mac’s back for big series


  Philadelphia – So much for brotherly love. The cab driver who brought me from the airport informed me after I got into his beat-up vehicle on a muggy day in Philly and he pointed a little fan at me in the back seat, a little fan that literally had wires dangling from the roof, that’s when he informed me he had no air conditioning, that he had to put freon in it and hadn’t gotten around to it.
  By then we were already pulling away from the terminal, and I was already nearly three hours late, and not about to say stop, let me walk back to the cab stand and get a real ride.
  So we pull onto I-95 and, of course, it’s gridlock headed to downtown. An accident or something. Horrible, stop-and-go traffic on a steamy day with no AC.I see DOB's problem....
  And that’s when I thought, this is one of those payback days for any time I’ve ever been rude or short-tempered after getting no sleep or whatever.
  I’ll keep this brief before we get into Braves talk and Brian McCann saga. Suffice to …

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