Archive for July, 2009

Awaiting trades and Dodgers

   (Staff writer Carroll Rogers is filling in for David O’Brien this weekend for the Dodgers series.)

 

   Well, it’s trade deadline day, and here we are. Not exactly brimming with anticipation at a pending move, but hey, that’s probably a good thing. I still bet the Braves add a piece for the bullpen if they can. I can’t remember the last July 31st where they did nothing.

   Though I have to say we’ve had much more activity on the trade front earlier this season than normal, for the Braves, so that might skew things. Nate McLouth was a big trade, so was Jeff Francoeur, all things considered.

   And it does seem this trade deadline around baseball has featured more early moves than some years. Every day this week has been boom, boom, boom.

   DOB is going to follow the trade situation today – the deadline is 4 p.m. – and I’ll be covering the game, but either way, you folks will be getting your news.

 

DODGER BLUES: 

 

   So we have the Dodgers in town this weekend, as the big …

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A dastardly ump and the Braves


  Fort Lauderdale – A figurative fist-bump to all as we prepare for tonight’s Braves-Marlins series finale while also listening to televised fallout from news that the heart of the 2004 World Series champion Boston lineup was (allegedly) ‘roided up at least during the previous season.

  As you’ve surely heard by now, The New York Times reported today that Manny Ramirez (no surprise) and David Ortiz (mildly surprising, given his strong aniti-roid comments) were among the 100 or so players who tested positive in 2003, a list that was supposed to remain anonymous, but of course has not.

  That’s four named so far, Manny and Big Papi joining A-Rod and Sammy Sosa. Maybe they’re being leaked by nationality, with all the Dominicans up first? No? Hey, just a reckless, unsubstantiated theory (those are big these days on blogs, Twitters, et al).
  (Timeout: I keep getting asked if I think any Braves will be on the list. Hey, just over 100 players on the list, and there’s 30 major …

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Tough task tonight to avoid series loss

  Fort Lauderdale – A day after Rafael Soriano served up a reminder that he’s human, the Braves face a tough task if they hope to avoid what would be their first series loss since the July 4 weekend.
  They’re facing the Marlins’ Josh Johnson tonight at — ahem — Land Shark Stadium. (Seriously, can they ever have another Super Bowl at this place as long as it’s named Land Shark Stadium?)
  The Florida right-hander is 9-2 and ranks eighth in the NL in ERA (2.80), fifth in home ERA (1.98), sixth in opponents’ average (.228) and fourth in opponents’ average with RISP (.168).
Yeah, he’s real good.

This didn't make Soriano happy last night

This didn't please "The Scowl" last night

  And the Braves counter with Kenshin Kawakami, which means they are more than likely to score two runs or fewer while Kawakami’s in the game regardless of who the opposition is.
  Unless, of course, the Braves’ recent offensive improvement can finally pay dividends for Kawakami like it has lately for other previously non-supported Braves …

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One month of strong ‘ball for Bravos

  Fort Lauderdale — I’m gonna bet most of you aren’t aware that today marks the one-month anniversary.
  One month since the Braves started playing a more consistent brand of baseball that’s made them a legitimate wild-card contender.
  On June 28, Tommy Hanson pitched six scoreless innings in a 2-1 win against Boston as the Braves avoided being swept by the Red Sox and began a 25-game stretch that’s seen them post a 17-8 record while batting .293 with 30 homers and posting a 3.06 ERA.
 That’s the second-best record in the NL during that span.
  Unfortunately for the Braves, the best record in that period belongs to NL East frontrunner (and defending World Series champion) Philadelphia, which has made a habit of second-half surgest in recent seasons.
  The Phils are 18-6 since June 28, with a .282 average, 34 homers and a 3.38 ERA.
  It’s important to note that the Braves have scored at least four runs in 17 of their past 24 games since that 2-1 win against Boston on June 28, …

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Chipper and Church rest, plus the Lowe-down

 (Staff writer Carroll Rogers is filling in for David O’Brien today while he hobnobs with Hall-of-Famers.)

 

   Milwaukee – Good afternoon from a breezy and beautiful day in brats land, where the roof is open at Miller Park and the guys are taking a little bp while the city still buzzes from German Fest.

   Omar Infante actually got a little applause from his teammates this morning as he headed out to take his first batting practice since he broke his finger. They can give you a chuckle from time to time, the ballplayers.

   OK, business at hand. Chipper Jones is out of the lineup today, but that’s just to give him a two-day breather, with the off day coming tomorrow before the Braves open a three-game series against the Marlins.

   “It’ll recharge me real good for the Florida series,” Jones said. “I’m relatively healthy, I’m just kinda beat up a little bit. Two days will do me a world of good.”

   Of course Bobby Cox will have him as a pinch hit weapon off the bench and will …

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It’s Miller time

   (Staff writer Carroll Rogers is filling in for David O’Brien this weekend in Milwaukee.)

   Milwaukee – So David O’Brien is in Cooperstown this weekend and I’m in Milwaukee. Hm. Fair trade? This time it’s just the calendar, but I was about to start wondering if it’s a coincidence I’m in Milwaukee for the second consecutive year.

 

   Not that I have anything against the fine folks from the Midwest. Just saying it’s not exactly Chicago or San Diego is all.

   Well, heck, at least the hotel went a little nuts and put me in a two-room suite. And while, I still say our friends from the north don’t know how to air-condition – they like to make it feel like winter indoors in the summertime – I’ve got a good setup with a mall right next door, the ballpark here is nice, this year I (so far) don’t have two birds chirping outside my window, and hey, maybe I’ll run into Kelso somewhere.

   Anyway, onto things baseball-related. The Braves open this three-game series with the Brew Crew …

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K.J. is back, Conrad sent down

 

  If you’re Brooks Conrad, you’d be excused today for thinking something like, “Damn, what do I have to do to keep a spot on this team?”

Conrad

Conrad

Conrad was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett this morning to make room for second baseman Kelly Johnson, who was activated from the disabled list two days before his rehab stint would have expired at Gwinnett.

 Conrad, a 29-year-old rookie, hit .344 (11-for-32) with two triples, two homers and eight RBI in 14 games for the Braves. The hard-nosed dude with the shaved head had a .382 OBP and .688 slugging percentage.

  When I asked him this morning if he’d been surprised when told he was being sent down, he smiled and said, “Yeah, a little bit. But, you know, it wasn’t that big a deal. I guess it’s a way they   can keep everyone.”

Johnson's back, but on bench

Johnson

  He meant that the Braves could keep veteran pinch-hitter Greg Norton, plus solid backup shortstop Diory Hernandez, and not use an option to send Kelly Johnson to the minors, which they would’ve had to …

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Hot Braves, Jurrjens vs. The Freak (Lincecum)

 

  Let me start by wishing a happy funkin’ 68th birthday to George Clinton – shine on you (seriously) crazy diamond and Freak of the Week.
  Speaking of freaks, the Braves get the Freak tonight, Giants ace Tim Linceum. And there’s a couple of ways of looking at this: 1. The Braves are overdue to break through and he’s overdue for a bad game (against them and against anyone); or 2. Jair Jurrjens better not give up more than two runs, or history says the Braves have almost no chance of winning against this guy.
  Considering how the Bravos have played lately, it’s a the first option seems more reasonable than it would have a month ago, for sure.
 They are 14-6 with a .297 average and 3.16 ERA since June 28, and the only NL team with a better record in that period is Philadelphia, which has won 10 in a row (but was losing 7-3 to the Cubs when I checked a few minutes ago).
 Again, two ways of looking at it from Braves perspective: good thing they ramped up their own game before …

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Braves in thick of wild-card race

 If the Braves lose tonight, or get shut out by Tim Lincecum tomorrow, you can rest assured that it will elicit the familiar refrains from that certain segment of our blogulace (blog populace, get it?).
They will groan, “Season’s over.” “Time to sell.” “Fire Pendleton.” “Fire Bobby.” This team would have to play 20 games over .500 the rest of the way,” and blah blah blah.
  It’s entirely, utterly predictable.
  And a bit silly, for the time being. Because while the Braves looked to be a fairly hopeless case a month or so ago, things have changed, folks. Most observers see that. But if you can’t or just won’t acknowledge it, well, that’s fine. But it’s kind of silly.

Escobar's kept producing amid "controversy"

Escobar

  Fact is, the Braves have a 13-6 record since June 28, better than any other NL team except the one that’s in front of them in the NL East. The Phillies are 14-4 in that same stretch, riding a nine-game winning streak, and playing now like the team that won the World Series.
  It’s going to be very …

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The Freak and the Giants are inbound

(Staff writer Carroll Rogers is filling in for David O’Brien today.)

 

   Just when it seemed like the Mets were here for about a week – hey, four-game series, what can you say – we get the Giants for another “week.” Four days to contend with, at least statistically, the best pitching staff in baseball.

   The Giants’ starting rotation’s ERA of 3.55 is the best in the majors. Their bullpen ERA of 3.27 had been best in majors until the Dodgers moved ahead of them at 3.25, but it’s darn good. (The Braves, by the way, are second in the majors among rotations with a 3.69 ERA. So not too shabby either.)

   The Braves get the National League’s reigning Cy Young winner and All-Star starter on Wednesday in Tim Lincecum (the Freak), a guy tonight in Jonathan Sanchez, who’s coming off a no-hitter in his last start.

   They’re also expected to face rookie Ryan Sadowski tomorrow – though the Giants have been saying TBA. He’s made three starts as the Giants’ fifth starter and wasn’t …

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