Archive for June, 2009

Searching for something on this 1-3 trip

   Cincinnati – Not sure which was more brutal – my run this morning, on little sleep, a couple of pretzels and in the heat, or the way the Braves are playing.

 

   Braves are stumbling through this road trip 1-3. Nothing much to feel good about since Tommy Hanson got a shaving cream pie in the face on Friday night. How long ago does that feel now?

   The Braves haven’t led in a game since Eric O’Flaherty and Peter Moylan gave up the six-run inning on Saturday night in Baltimore. They went 3-for-9 with runners in scoring position last night against the Reds, and frankly it didn’t seem that good. Maybe that’s because two of those hits were infield hits by Casey Kotchman and Jeff Francoeur.

   The Braves are fourth in the NL East behind  Florida now, 6 ½ games behind the Phillies. And it seems now everybody, fans, maybe players, everybody is waiting for the other shoe to drop.

   A trade of Francoeur or Kelly Johnson might be on the horizon. But that could take some time. And …

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Escobar, Braves looking to regroup

   Cincinnati – Well, I for one, think the off day yesterday came at a good time. And I’m not just saying that because it gave me a chance to eat dinner with a cousin I bumped into who just happened to be in town on business. (Hey, all the way from Arizona!)

   Everybody got to cool down, shake off the bad taste from Baltimore and take a deep breath. Chipper Jones got an extra day to take some swings and try to get right at the plate, Bobby Cox got a chance to treat some Braves staffers to dinner at Morton’s.

   And Yunel Escobar, well….Escobar had might rather the Braves play the Reds last night, so he wouldn’t have another day to think about getting benched Sunday in Baltimore for his accumulation of mental mistakes. Gosh, isn’t that like getting sent to your room and having to wait, not just until dinner, but on into the next day to come out?

   It’ll be interesting to see how Escobar responds to this, but I imagine he’ll use it as the wakeup call that it was. I’m sure …

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Chipper looking to bust streak

  Baltimore – It’s a lovely afternoon for baseball in Baltimore. Humidity is much lower, and it’s breezy. Great. Wish you were here….And hey, at least one of you is, if I remember right!

   So let’s talk Chipper Jones. He comes into today’s game hungry for a hit, and in the rarest of positions for him, an 0-for-18 slump. It’s Jones’ longest hitless streak since he went 0-for-18 in 2005, and if he has a handful more of fruitless at-bats, he’s in danger of matching his career-high streak of 0-for-23. The last time he went that long without a hit was August 3-9, 2000.

 

   Chipper being Chipper, and great to the media, he doesn’t flinch or bristle when you walk up to him and start asking about it. He knows it’s news, the way he’s swung the bat the last couple of years especially. So his take?

   “My mind is telling me one thing, and my body is doing another thing,” Jones said. “I’m thinking up the middle and the other way, and my body is in pulling mode.”

   The result is that …

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Crab Cakes, the DH and Mr. Hanson, Take II

    Baltimore – Greetings from the inner harbor! It’s a beautiful day and it’s hopping here around the hotel, people cruising up and down the street, abuzz with the start of a weekend….and dare we say, interleague play?

 

   I know it might be tired to some, but there were quite a few Braves fans on my flight up today – either that or Jeff Francoeur has shrunk, dyed his hair blond, and taken to wearing his Braves jersey on flights.

   MLB says in a release that the 100 millionth fan will take in interleague play this weekend. That in the 13 years since interleague play started (1997-2008), attendance at interleague games is 11.8 percent higher than for intraleague games – that’s a 33,252 average at interleague games, 29,739 at intraleague games.

   The American League has a five-year winning streak in interleague play, by the way, and leads this year 22-20 after the first round in May.

   So we get back to it for the Braves with as tough an interleague schedule as it gets, …

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Canizares gets call — and Andruw’s No. 25

Canizares, the 29-year-old callup

  The Braves have a new No. 25 today, and he’s not going to remind anyone at all of former Gold Glove center fielder Andruw Jones.
  In fact, newly arrived — he just got here at 12:30 p.m. – Barbaro Canizares might possibly be one of the worst defensive players the Braves have had on their major league roster in quite some time, based on what I’ve heard of the 29-year-old Cuban rookie first baseman
  ”I heard he can’t run, can’t throw and can’t field, but the sumbitch can hit,” is what one Braves player told me this morning.
  The Braves put Greg Norton (and his .098 average) on the disabled list (sore ankle) and called Canizares this morning from Triple-A Gwinnett, where the big dude (6-3, 240) was, indeed, hitting like a man possessed.
  He was second in the International League with a .344 average and team-highs of 17 doubles, eight home runs, 37 RBI and a .945 OPS, including a .412 on-base percentage and .533 slugging percentage.
  ”We got …

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Soriano silencing skeptics

  A few things before we head out to the ballpark to see if the Braves can make it four wins in a row tonight when they face none other than Charlie Morton, who’s starting for Pittsburgh a week after the Braves traded him in the Nate McLouth.
  It’ll be the season debut for Charlie, whose 4-8 record as a Braves rookie last season included a 1-6 mark and 7.02 ERA in eight home starts, though he did match Milwaukee’s C.C. Sabathia pitch-for-pitch one memorable Sunday afternoon.

JJ faces ol' Charlie tonight

JJ faces ol' Charlie tonight

  The Braves have shown some encouraging signs during their three-game winning streak since moving McLouth to the leadoff role. They’ve hit .322 with 19 runs and 39 hits in those three games, after batting .211 in their previous 11 games (3-8), including seven games in which they scored two or fewer runs.
  But we’ve seen this kind of mini-surge from them before, only to see them go into a tailspin just when it looked like they might be ready to reel off an impressive run and …

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Medlen and the 15-inn. marathon

 

  My favorite part of the highlights that ESPN showed of last night’s 15-inning Braves win was the shot of the maintenance guy vacuuming the area behind the bullpen mounds in the 13th inning.
  He was vacuuming it because there was no one left out there in the bullpen. No one.
Kris Medlen was the eighth pitcher and seventh reliever used by the Braves, and the kid was impressive, working three scoreless innings of one-hit ball.
  He kept the Pirates on lockdown until the Braves pulled out the 7-6 win on David Ross‘ one-out, bases-loaded grounder ruled a hit, as the usually stellar Pirates SS Jack Wilson made a throw just wide enough to pull his catcher’s foot off the plate and allow Jeff Francoeur to score the winning run.
  Now, about Medlen: I think we’re seeing, in his last two outings, exactly what it was that earned him his call to The Show to begin with, aren’t we?
  The little dude went 0-2 with a 9.72 ERA in his first two starts after getting called up in mid-May, …

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Hanson: Flashes of brilliance

  A few thoughts on the Braves while continuing to smile as I remember parts of the terrific movie we saw last night, Anvil! The Story of Anvil. If you haven’t heard, it’s a documentary about a Canadian metal band (Anvil) that had 15 minutes of fame in the early 1980s, faded into obscurity, but have never stopped playing. Seriously, it’s a great movie. A lot like Spinal Tap, only it’s real.
  Now, about the Braves and Tommy Hanson. Those of you whose synopsis of his performance was something along the lines of “another overhyped Braves prospect” or “not ready for prime time,” etc., did you actually watch the game?
  (For once I was glad to be able to watch on TV instead of from the pressbox. Not only could I see the movement on his pitches, etc., I could smoke a cigar while doing so, then was able to get up to Virginia-Highlands just in time to see Manchester Orchestra play some good (and free) rock ‘n roll at the summer festival thing going on there yesterday. And then make …

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Mr. Tommy Hanson takes the mound

    So here we are. It’s June 7, 2009. You might want to make a mental note of that – the day Tommy Hanson made his debut for the Braves.

 

   Nobody involved is backing down from how significant it is for this organization and how much promise this guy holds, so why should we here at the Braves/MIB blog? (Even the backup blogger, hint, hint.)

   I drove into the ballpark behind Hanson today, with Kris Medlen riding shotgun, watched him take a right turn into the player parking lot at 10:08 a.m. Oh, to be a fly on the wall in his Infinity, to know what that feels like, to be right there on the cusp of something so special: the start of his major league career.

   Last I saw Hanson before coming up to write this blog, he was sitting at his locker, facing in, listening to his Ipod, thumping his right knee to the beat. Just biding his time.

   So now I’m doing my best to get this blog up before he takes the mound and the buildup is obsolete!

   Before we go anointing him this or …

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Hanson ready for his moment

 

This Tommy not starting Sunday

 It’s Saturday, slowest day on ours and others websites, so I’m gonna keep it real.
 Real short, that is.
   Just saw the FoxSports.com report that Tom Glavine’s agent might file a grievance against the Braves over his release, because the collective bargaining agreement prohibits teams from releasing players for financial reasons.
  My first reaction: Zero chance he “wins” that grievance. Second reaction: So much for a quick reconciliation between the team and its future Hall of Famer….

 ♣ Kid sounds ready: Just talked with Tommy Hanson a couple hours ago, about his major league debut start tomorrow against Milwaukee. First thought I had: The uber-prospect could not seem more different the day before his debut than his roommate Kris Medlen seemed before his.
  Medlen was visibly nervous and fidgety, and seemed to be speaking faster than he could compose his thoughts. Hanson acted like he was being interviewed before his 10th start of his fifth …

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