(Staff writer Carroll Rogers is filling in for David O’Brien today.)
So I’m actually squinting as I type, which is a good sign that we might actually get this game in today, or at least the first part of it! I’ve heard that if we could somehow get this game to be played by 3:30 or 4 p.m. we might be OK. Now, I haven’t covered a two-hour game in about 15 years, ahem, but I think we’ve got the man on the mound to deliver a fast game and that’s Mr. Tommy Hanson.
Mr. Cliff Lee should do his part as well. It’s been an unbelievable week, leaving the ballpark at 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday night and actually coming back the following night as a regular gal, with a guest in town who wanted to come, and sat through another two-hour rain delay.
But somehow, some way they’ve been getting them in, and I trust that’ll continue today.
The lineup looks a little different today. Adam LaRoche has a sore back which he injured diving for a ball Friday night. He aggravated it last night when swinging at a changeup and had to come out of the game. Today he took some swings in the indoor cages to try and make a go, but he felt it as soon as he built up to game intensity. So he’ll sit this one out and see what New York brings tomorrow.
Yunel Escobar is also out of the lineup because of a sore left elbow. He took a pitch by Pedro Martinez off his elbow in last night’s game and said this morning it hurts to grip the bat tightly. Brian McCann gets the day-game-after-night-game rest.
Here’s the lineup:
1. McLouth CF
2. Prado 1B
3. Jones 3B
4. Diaz RF
5. Anderson LF
6. Infante SS
7. Ross C
8. Conrad 2B
9. Hanson P
LaRoche wants multi-year
First off, Chipper Jones is in full-out lobby mode on behalf of his buddy and friend Adam LaRoche. He wants the Braves to re-sign LaRoche to a long-term deal and he has told Braves general manager Frank Wren so.
Jones didn’t divulge what was said in that conversation this morning but he did have plenty to say about the subject. And before we even get into it, he said he’s not lobbying because Adam is his friend.
And it’s not because he wants a reason not to move to first base. He doesn’t plan to do that anyway, and he puts that in no uncertain terms.
“That’s not an option,” Jones said. “I guess if I have to say this through the newspaper (so be it), don’t even approach me. I’ve never played on that side of the field. I would be lost. People think that playing first base is an easy position; it’s not an easy position by any means. It’s a lot of footwork and a lot of things you take for granted as being easy that are not easy. I can still play third base. And I’m going to play third base. What if (Freddie) Freeman comes up in 2010 or 2011, you move me back? I’m not going to be a pogo stick.”
He got enough of that with the left field thing.
But he thinks LaRoche has been a big reason why the Braves, in his words, that the Braves went from a .500 team to one that’s 10 games over .500 this morning. LaRoche is hitting .356 (57-for-160) since the Braves traded for him on July 31, and he’s led the team in home runs (12) and RBIs (33) since then.
“I’m doing this because this team is a completely different team since he got here,” Jones said. “He’s a good chemistry guy, and given 162 games here, a fresh contract, peace of mind, would do a world of good. You might even see him take it to the next level. He’s got that kind of ability.”
Jones acknowledges Freeman who’s on is way through the system and in Class AA Mississippi this past year. But Jones argues there are no guarantees there.
“We don’t have a first baseman next year and there’s no guarantee we’ll have a first baseman for a couple years,” Jones said. “And you have the best first baseman that’s going to be on the market in house now. So why not do all you can to lock him up. What else does a guy have to do? He’s produced since he’s been here. He’s been one of the key reasons we’ve gone from a .500 club to 10 games over since he got here. He’s an incredible defender. A 30-home run guy in a pitcher’s ballpark is a commodity that needs to be treasured.”
At what price? LaRoche is making $7 million this season. You’d think the Braves would need to be in that neighborhood to sign him beyond this season. Chipper alluded to the fact that they’re not there yet.
“I know he loves playing here,” Jones said. “I know he loves the guys. I know his family likes it here, but he’s not going to give us as big a hometown discount as what I think the Braves are thinking.”
I asked LaRoche about it this morning and he said he doesn’t even have a figure in his head yet, as far as salary goes. His main objective, after going year-by-year for the first six years of his major league career, is to get a multi-year deal. And he wants three years.
“As much as I like it here, if there’s an opportunity to play, to actually settle in somewhere for a few years, I’d have to really look into that too,” said LaRoche, who has a wife and two young kids looking for the same thing. “Ideally, if it was up to me, I’d want to do a few years here. Again a lot of that will be determined this offseason when we find out what teams need and the Braves sit down and figure out their long-term plans. I’m not one, though, that is out for all the money I can get period.”
I think with Freeman waiting in the wings, the Braves would have a hard time going three years. And whether or not they’ll have the money to re-sign LaRoche for one or two years depends on a lot of what they do with Javier Vazquez and the back end of their bullpen.
LaRoche also knows after watching free agency last winter, multi-year deals might be scarce. And he might be forced to take a one or two-year deal. But if somebody else comes up with a three-year deal to his liking, he’s gone. But if it’s a one or two year deal, and that’s the best he gets, and it’s the Braves, then there you have it.
Game is about to start. Better file!