Wanted by Braves: Big bat, righty preferred

We’ve got some Junior Wells wailing on the stereo, Dodgers-Cardinals muted on the TV, door to the patio open and a nice Punch cigar burning. It hasn’t been a week since the season ended, but doesn’t it already feel like long time since the Braves were serious contenders for a postseason spot? And no, that’s not the cue for some lovable cynics here to say, “Because it has been a long time – about four years!”

No, I was referring to that fleeting time less than two weeks ago when the Braves were on a 15-2 tear that brought them within two games of Colorado for the wild-card lead. Two games. Then they lost one when the Rockies won one, and that was that. Flameout Even as Bobby Cox talked about how badly the Braves wanted to make sure they held on to second place in the East, they lost their last six in a row (their longest skid of the season, by the way) and finished in third place behind Florida.

But while the Marlins’ clueless owner debated whether to fire manager Fredi Gonzalez – the man got 88 wins out of a team with the lowest payroll in the majors, a $35 mill payroll about one-sixth the size of the Yankees’ small-nation GNP of a payroll — the Brave are genuinely optimistic and excited about their prospects next season. And wait, that group of cynics I referred to earlier, before you pounce on that remark.

Because I can honestly tell you, the past couple of seasons didn’t end with that kind of enthusiasm from certain members of the Braves. Off the record, players had concerns entering the past couple of offseasons, concerns about how the team could fill its needs within its payroll restrictions, or whether they could still get free agents to come to Atlanta like they used to, or whether the pitching staff could be reliable with so many old and/or surgery-rehab guys being counted on the next year. On and on. They had concerns.

Could Fredi G. be Braves manager in 2011?

Could Fredi G. be Braves manager in 2011?

Not now, or so they say. You talk to guys and they’ll say, on and off the record, that this Braves team still has holes, but not many, and not gaping. They believe that with the addition of another power bat and, they hope, the re-signing of Adam LaRoche or acquisition of another proven first baseman (though all the Braves really want Frank Wren to re-sign LaRoche) that this will be a playoff team next year.

Most don’t even seem too concerned about the situation at the back end of the bullpen, where closers Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez are both eligible for free agency. I don’t know if they just assume that one of them will be re-signed or believe that some combination of Peter Moylan and a lefty-to-be-determined can get the job done, or what. But no one seems too worried about that area (personally, I think it’s crucial that the Braves get that taken care of, and not just go to spring training hoping to do it with what they have or to pick up a guy late – and I think team officials see it that way, too, and will have that high on the priority list, whether that’s stated or not).

Speaking of things being stated, I should tell you all right now that GM Frank Wren is probably not going to be as open in discussing some needs and possible targeted individuals as he was a year ago, when so many offseason pursuits blew up in the Braves’ faces. Even if ultimately they were probably better off not landing Jake Peavy or A.J. Burnett – if they’d gotten Peavy and his big contract, they probably wouldn’t have traded for Javy Vazquez, and say what you will about Derek Lowe, but he did a lot more this season for his team than Peavy did for his – the sting of those and the Rafael Furcal debacle wasn’t forgotten by Wren.

Or rather, he didn’t forget the criticism that he took after that string of misfires, even if the Peavy thing had more to do with the GM on the other end, and the Furcal thing with the player and/or his agent. If at all possible, I think Wren will try to operate a little more covertly this winter, ala his predecessor, John Schuerholz (though it’s impossible in this day and age of media proliferation and Internet chatter to operate off the radar quite like Schuerholz did).

But anyway, it’s pretty clear the Braves’ primary pursuits will be a right-handed power bat (and this time they mean it – right-handed and power) to balance a left-heavy lineup, and someone to handle first base for another year or two until Freddie Freeman is ready. If that someone isn’t LaRoche, then it best be a reasonable facsimile, or else how have the Braves made themselves significantly better offensively if they had a right-handed power bat but subtract LaRoche, the only guy in the lineup who hit more than 21 homers this season, albeit for three teams (he hit 12 of his 25 homers for the Braves, in 57 games).

LaRoche had a .957 OPS for the Braves. Anyone care to guess who had the second-highest OPS on the team after the All-Star break?

That’d be Matt Diaz, who hit .321 with nine homers and a .909 OPS afer the break, the only Brave other than LaRoche to have either a .900 OPS or .500 slugging percentage (.507). If someone would have told you this spring that Diaz would be the only Brave on the opening day roster to have a .500 slugging percentage or .900 OPS after the All-Star break (not that those are easy figures to reach, because they’re not – that’s lofty stuff. I’m just saying, who’d have thought Diaz would be the lone Brave to do it?)

Oh, and the only players on the team to have .400 or higher OBPs after the break? LaRoche (.401), Diaz (.402), Yunel Escobar (.401) and … are you ready? … Greg Norton (.400). But Norton did it with a .206 average in 46 at-bats (seven hits, all singles) after the break, so….

Anyway, as you no doubt  realize, the ‘09 Braves were a flawed team with great starting pitching that covered those flaws many nights. Specifically, they didn’t have enough hitters getting extra-base hits and driving in runs, and didn’t have enough who got on base consistently, even if their raw team OBP at season’s end (.339) wasn’t bad (only four NL teams had a higher OBP).

They ranked 10th in the league in slugging (.405), 10th in homers (149), and for a team without a lot of power, they sure were awfully slow. The Braves were dead last in triples (20), and only the Cubs stole fewer bases than Atlanta (58 in 84 attempts).

Now, I’m not a big believer that speed is going to win a whole lot of games in this era, without the artificial turf that made it a key component of several teams in the ’70s and ’80s. But the absence of speed coupled with a lack of significant power – hey, that’s just a bad combo.

Hey, six NL teams stole more than 100 bases, and three are in the playoffs – Dodgers (116), Phillies (119) and Rockies (106).

The other NL playoff team, the Cardinals, stole 75 bases in 106 attempts, and had 160 homers and a 3.66 team ERA, fourth in the league behind the Dodgers (3.41), Giants (3.55) and Bravos (3.57).

The Cardinals were more balanced and had a far more potent middle of their batting order after getting Matt Holliday to team with the bad hombre, Sir Albert.

Think about what a Carl Crawford could mean to the Braves’ lineup…. Alright, now stop, because he’s a lefty and would probably too much to pry from the Rays anyway. But do you realize he stole more bases (60) than the entire Braves team?

♣ The Braves will have their organizational meetings next week at Dark Star in Florida, and during those four days they’ll get down to brass tacks discussing the likes of Tim Hudson, LaRoche, Kelly Johnson, Gonzalez and others that may or may not be back with the Braves in 2010.

Wren, Cox, Wren’s top assistants and the team’s scouts will all convene and talk about what they think, guys they’ve seen this season around both leagues who will or might be available as free agents or via trades, and where Martin Prado should play next season under ideal circumstances (second base) or where he might need to play if the Braves think it’d be easier to put together a solid lineup with him elsewhere (doesn’t make sense to me, either, at least not the option that was mentioned last week by the manager, who mentioned sort of unconvincingly (at least that’s how it sounded to me) on Monday morning that Prado could play right field, had played it there in winter ball, and that the Braves can’t give up on Kelly because he had such a good season in 2008 and would’ve put up the same doubles, homers, etc, if he’d had another 250 at-bats. Hey, that’s what Bobby said; I’m just repeating it to you.)

73395083CM023_Texas_Rangers

Might Nelson Cruz fit the bill?

Anyway, here’s a name that I think will come up next week: Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz. Yes, the guy that our own Coach (of the blog, or at least he used to be, haven’t seen him around much lately) suggested Cruz as the answer a year ago. If the Braves had traded for him instead of signing Garret Anderson, hey, they’d have probably been a better team. But the same could be said for Bobby Abreu and other relatively low-cost options).

But anyway, Cruz is right-handed and hit .260 with 33 homers, 20 stolen bases and an .856 OPS in 128 games, and while his .931 OPS at hitter-friendly Arlington was a lot higher than his .778 on the road, he hit almot as many homers (15) on the road than at home (18) in virtually the same number of at-bats.

True, he hit far better against righties (.270 with .898 OPS and 26 homers in 330 at-bats) than against lefties (.235 with .752 OPS and seven homers in 132 at-bats), but I doubt that would sway the Braves either way, if they’re interested. Sometime it’s just a matter of a team wanting a big right hitter up there to make the other team think about it, to break up a bunch of lefty hitters, or vice-versa. And he’s a big dude, a specimen. And the Rangers might have an extra outfielder or two a willing to part with him in a trade. Might.

Did I mention he also stole 20 bases? I did? Good. That’s one more than Nate McLouth stole this season for the Pirates and Braves, by the way. And Cruz goes about 235 pounds.

♣ What about Heyward? Yes, when Jason Heyward gets here, he should eventually give the Braves a rare blend of power, pure hitting ability, and speed. He’s a guy with .300-.400-.500 potential who could steal 20-25 bases and (eventually) hit 30-35 homers in the majors, maybe more of the latter if he keeps growing (if you’ve not seen him, dude is 6-4 and 225, and has a V-shaped back and thin waist. Looks like a young Derrek Lee, and I’m betting that Heyward will be up around 235-240 in a few more years).

He hits (and throws) left-handed, not that it much matters. Heyward, the Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year, is going to be a fixture in the middle of the Braves lineup for a long time, say most who’ve seen him and/or talked to Braves officials and to scouts around baseball about him.

Only a matter of time until ... Heyward

Only a matter of time until ... Heyward

I’ve done both, and I’ll say it again, he’s the best prospect I’ve seen since I saw Vlad Guerrero come up with the Expos when I lived in Fort Lauderdale and they were training in West Palm Beach. Heyward is that special.

So when’s the 20-year-old manchild gonna be manning right field (or possible left, but I think they’ll keep him in right) for the Brave? Opening day? June? Or not until September or even 2011?

If I had to guess, I’d still go with June, as I’ve been saying since, oh, about last March, when it became apparent the Braves were almost certainly going to have Tommy Hanson get another couple of months in at Triple-A before they brought him up. You feel I the blank on why – Heyward is only 20; he’s had abou one week above Double-A; keeping him down until June could save the Braves an entire year of affordability if he’s not a Super Two arbitration guy in a few years, etc.

But most of what I hear leads me to believe they’ll keep him down at Triple-A to start the season.

I’ve got a story in Friday’s paper about Heyward and some other Braves prospects that could be up soon. I had a few good quotes that got left out because of space. Here’s one from Wren, when I asked him about whether a big performance in the Arizona Fall League could possibly help get Heyward to the majors quicker:

“I think you saw what the Fall League did for Tommy Hanson last year,” Wren said. “It’s a great springboard. Is it the ultimate answer? I don’t think that’s the case. It’s not the answer to tell you whether a guy’s ready for the big leagues. It does give you a good indicator, and it is a good springboard for young players to get to the next level.

“Jason really hasn’t played at Triple-A, except for just the last week [of the season]. So it may be a springboard to get him to Triple-A to where he’s more comfortable. We’ll wait and see and evaluate where we think he is in that ascension to the big leagues when we get to spring training.”

You guys tell me, does that sound to you like they’re maybe leaning one way over the other?

That came from an interview I had with Frank on the last road trip. He was asked again this past Monday about his “mindset” regarding Heyward and when they might bring him up.

“I think it’s premature to have any real mindset about Jason, other than we know he’s an outstanding young talent and we just want him to go play in Arizona and continue to get as much experience as possible,” he said this time. “And we’ll see where that takes him.”

He did say that Jordan Schafer’s struggles last season with the Braves would have no bearing on when they decide to bring up Heyward. In other words, they won’t be afraid to bring him up with little experience in the high minor leagues, if they think he’s ready.

“That’s the one thing you learn in this game, every single player is an individual, and different,” Wren said of the Schafer/Heyward line of questioning. “There’s obviously some things you learn from past events, but I think individual player’s struggles don’t necessarily change your decision process….

“We think a lot of it had to do with [Schafer's] wrist. Because he had proven to a lot of us that he had earned the right to get a chance.”

I then asked if that got Schafer a reprieve from the Braves (I used that specific word), to which Frank sid: “Oh sure. And I’ve had conversations with Jordan. We still think very highly of him, and we’re looking forward to getting him out there healthy again, so he can show us what he can do.”

Cox said that same day (last Monday) of the young CF: “We haven’t given up on Schafer. But the fact is, he hasn’t played much in two years. Kind of unfair for him – he played almost the whole time he was with us with a bad wrist.”

Bottom line, as I see it: Schafer’s only had 400 at-bats in the major and minors the past two years, and is going to need more time in the minors before he’s back up. He can’t play winter ball this year because he’s recovering from wrist surgery, so I’m not expecting a spring training as good as the one he had last year.

Alright, we’ve got plenty more stuff, including some info on Craig Kimbrel and other pitching prospects. But we’ll give you that a little later. Need to get this up and go run some miles on the treadmill before a veg in front of the TV watching baseball and a bunch of strong Thursday night shows on DVR when the game’s over.

Oh, before I forget, one startling stat to lay on ya: From July 23 through the end of the season, the Braves went 13-19 at home and 24-11 on the road. To me, that’s amazing….

♣ Diversions: Planning to go see the Lucero, a great Memphis band that plays raw, greasy blend rock, on Saturday at Masquerade in Atlanta. I’ll skip Kings of Leon at Philips on Friday, just because I don’t want to see them in an arena. They might be that big now, but I still think of them as a smaller-venue band, and that’s how I want to see them (saw them at the Fillmore in San Francisco with Secret Machines six years ago, and at the Fox in Atlanta a couple years ago).

James McMurtry and Jamey Johnson are playing (separate shows) at the 40-Watt in Athens soon, and a bunch of other great acts are coming to Atlanta and Athens in coming weeks…. Anyone see thae lineup for that VoodooFest in New Orleans at Halloween? Insanely good and eclectic lineup.

Oh, and someone give us a review of Zombieland, the Woody Harrelson movie. I’m hearing nothing but great things about it.

Alright, talk to ya soon.

BigStar.gif

“BIG BLACK CAR” by Big Star (Alex Chilton)

Driving in my big black car

Nothing can go wrong

I’m going and I don’t know how far

So, so long.

Maybe I’ll sleep in a Holiday Inn

Nothing can hurt me

Nothing can touch me

Why should I care?

Driving’s a gas

It aint gonna last.

Sunny day, highway

If it rains it’s all the same.

I can’t feel a thing

I can’t feel a thing

I’ve got a big black car.

Nothing can hurt me

Nothing can touch me

Why should I care?

Driving’s a gas

It ain’t gonna last.

The lights above, oh yes.

I see the stars above

3,751 comments Add your comment

Danga

October 8th, 2009
9:04 pm

I hope he is wearing a cup.

Vinings Jim

October 8th, 2009
9:04 pm

Whoa, Matt Holliday! Fun catch!

cabravesfan

October 8th, 2009
9:05 pm

Moments like that make me really glad I’m not a guy ;)

HTF

October 8th, 2009
9:06 pm

Absolutely love the Nelson Cruz suggestion. Perfect fit for us.

chin music

October 8th, 2009
9:12 pm

enjoyed the new blog! packed with goodness!

saw kings of leon at a sparsely peopled smith’s olde bar after their first ep came out. it was painful. they’ve come a looong way.

jed

October 8th, 2009
9:13 pm

holliday with the super choke!

Il Cattivo

October 8th, 2009
9:15 pm

DOB,

As you mentioned, Nelson Cruz was Coach’s suggestion earlier. He then updated it to Luis Durango – outfield prospect from the Padres. I believe he played in the futures game this year too. Dont know much about him though.

Danga

October 8th, 2009
9:17 pm

Wow. Goat is now spelled Holliday.

Il Cattivo

October 8th, 2009
9:17 pm

Awesome job by Ryan Franklin. Didnt they extend him for a couple more years??
He might soon be reporting on the wallpaper of LaRussa’s doghouse.

TnBrian(Vazquez ace 2010)

October 8th, 2009
9:17 pm

I wouldn’t want to be Holliday right now.

Love the idea of Cruz in the middle of the lineup. If Texas wanted too much, then I’d try for Ludwick. But, Cruz would look good hitting between CJ & Mac.

Soph

October 8th, 2009
9:18 pm

Awww. Brendan Ryan’s crying. So sad.

Il Cattivo

October 8th, 2009
9:21 pm

The cardinals have a team identity of brash, white (mostly) rocker dudes. You get the feeling that guys like Jayson Werth and Bronson Arroyo will fit in with the team seamlessly.
Also they all see conscious that they are one wrong step away from a LaRussa chewing-out.(Like Rasmus in this game).

Jake W.

October 8th, 2009
9:25 pm

Ugly loss for the Cards. Holliday should have had that ball but Franklin should have gotten Blake when he got ahead of him. The guy made an error but he didn’t blow the game. I’ve seen Soriano and Gonzo both overcome 9th inning errors this year. To bad the Cards couldn’t. That great effort by Wainwright wasted.

abwright

October 8th, 2009
9:26 pm

I bet Loaf makes that catch.

Looking grim in Card-land.

David O'Brien

October 8th, 2009
9:27 pm

Wainwright is so damn exceptional now. That cat can flat-out pitch. That hook is just ridiculous.

Joseph G

October 8th, 2009
9:29 pm

The idea of Nelson Cruz is a great one but who do we give to Texas?

Danga

October 8th, 2009
9:29 pm

Yep. Wainwright turned out alright. Wish we had that one back.

Jake W.

October 8th, 2009
9:31 pm

“I bet Loaf makes that catch.”-abwright

Oh, he makes that catch easy. Running in, right at him. Thats his forte. Anything to the left or right, start the clock. That Cards offense though, they’ve been struggling, even the almighty Pujols. They are starting to remind me of the braves. Good pitching but the offense just isn’t coming through right now.

Curt

October 8th, 2009
9:31 pm

Anybody know what Cruz’s contract situation is?

Jake W.

October 8th, 2009
9:34 pm

Wainwright, when you look at all the trades we made. That looks like the one that really got away. I know people bring up the Teix trade but everytime I see this guy pitch can’t help but think what if. Good stuff, good makeup. He was the reason I was rooting for the Cards…things don’t look to good now though.

Vinings Jim

October 8th, 2009
9:35 pm

cabravesfan – I’m glad you’re not a guy, too… ;)

Couch Tater

October 8th, 2009
9:35 pm

Heyward the best prospect since Vlad Guerrero. High praise and exciting.

O'Brien

October 8th, 2009
9:42 pm

Does anyone know Cruz’s salary next year? I think he would be a very good addition. Some speed and some RH power.

Wainwright looked good. I hope Frank Wren does not make those kinds of trades (trading Wainwright for a 1 year rental of JD Drew, trading 5 prospects for 1 1/2 seasons of Tex).

It would be nice if we can trade Lowe. But some other scenarios are:
1) Trade Vazquez for a big bat
2) Let Hudson go, and use his salary to sign a big bat
3) Trade KK and another piece for a (medium) bat

Andre "Pulpwood" Smith

October 8th, 2009
9:45 pm

Now that was a gut punch loss for the Cardinals.

Efrim

October 8th, 2009
9:49 pm

I think Bobby’s Cox also brought up Nelson Cruz. He also was a huge Martin Prado fan, which obviously worked out. Be interested to see what it would take to get Cruz. Carlos Quentin would be a nice buy low candidate. But I’m just not sure what we could give the White Sox for him.

How about Ryan Franklin? I know Holliday should of caught that ball, but a walk to Blake, a base hit to Ronnie Belliard and a base hit to Mark Loretta? Yikes.

atlbubraves

October 8th, 2009
9:50 pm

will you PLEASE proofread your blogs before you post them.

WOW

October 8th, 2009
9:53 pm

I wonder how bad Matt Holliday feels, bad break.

WOW

October 8th, 2009
9:54 pm

Although Franklin still should hve closed it out he might have been the best closer this year and had a bad game at the wrong time.

Efrim

October 8th, 2009
9:55 pm

Cruz is under the Rangers control through 2013. Not eligible for arbitration until the 2011 season.

jed

October 8th, 2009
9:58 pm

the big bat we need should not only be right-handed, but have an arm strong enough to play right field as well. i never want to see matt diaz in RF again!

Soph

October 8th, 2009
10:01 pm

Hmmm, this sounds oddly familiar…

From a bulletin board on stltoday.com -

Post subject: Re: GDT: GAME 2, Wainwright vs Kershaw
Posted: 08 Oct 2009 20:16 pm

I am an old woman. I have loved the Cardinals since before you were all born.
I am done until tony is gone

jed

October 8th, 2009
10:07 pm

soph–i thought at first glance that was an alternate take on “angel from montgomery”

macdwolfpack

October 8th, 2009
10:10 pm

You know we pine about the fact that Wainwright is doing so well with the Cardinals, and he is a good talent. But one has to ask how much of an effect their pitching coach has had on Wainwright, especially when you look at how he has resurrected so many other pitching careers.

Random

October 8th, 2009
10:11 pm

Steve from OH (October 8th, 2009 5:05 pm): “Well, you know that you and I aren’t exactly on the same level in regards to succinctness, cleverness, or general intelligence either.”

Well, of course not.

But won’t you at least give me some credit for trying attain your heights?

Gimme an “A” for Effort?

(And also for Acknowledging my Errors, like so:

“. . . in like a thousand fewer words . . . “)

PS: I’ve got a confession to make . . . . .

Salamander

October 8th, 2009
10:19 pm

Circulatory System’s 2009 release Signal Morning is a solid album with Brit pop/psychedelic rock undertones. Took the dudes almost a decade to release their second album, but was worth the wait. Apparently they’re from Athens, GA (I hadn’t heard of them until recently).

They released the 6th track Overjoyed as a single. Good song – one of the best on the album, and it represents a good sample of what lies in waiting on the rest of the album (18 total tracks). .

Couch Tater

October 8th, 2009
10:20 pm

DOB,

Two items on this page that may interest you. Rupert Murdoch’s war on the internet and the featured photography at the right of the page.
http://www.vanityfair.com/business/features/2009/11/michael-wolff-200911

Random

October 8th, 2009
10:34 pm

glord1(October 8th, 2009 6:34 pm): “If [Wren] can’t move [Lowe] he will try to trade KK who does have value. He only makes 6.6 since his bonus has been paid up front.”

Nope — he won’t even try.

Tomas (October 8th, 2009 7:10 pm): “How about Kawakami for Mat Gamel?”

Kawakami will not be traded.

NJ

October 8th, 2009
10:36 pm

DOB, did you get a chance to catch Metallica on Sunday? If so I’d be curious to hear your thoughts. Those guys still know how to put on an amazing show.

Steve from OH

October 8th, 2009
10:37 pm

Well, of course not.

But won’t you at least give me some credit for trying attain your heights?

Other way around, big guy.

Glord–well, count me in as happy we agree, LOL!

Il Cattivo

October 8th, 2009
10:42 pm

Hey.. awesome that we compare to the angels in atleast one stat ( No grand slams).

Steve from OH

October 8th, 2009
10:43 pm

Oh, and good to hear they think so highly of Schafer. I hope he gets (and he deserves) another good, long look. And I also think Wren all but said that Heyward’s a June call-up as well.

Nelson Cruz? .260/332/.524 in a small ballpark…but he also does play good D. The BABIP was a little low, so the AVG/OBP would go up a bit next year, all other things equal I think. He certainly fits the mold of a player Wren is looking for, but I don’t think he’s as great as y’all make him out to be. But a very solid player–and one that would help us. But who would Texas want that we’d have available?

Doc Holiday

October 8th, 2009
10:46 pm

LOL…….. were are already eliminated and they just humiliated us on national TV……..

Angels load the bases and they go………”Angels and the Atlanta Braves are the only teams without a Grandslam this season”………

The humiliation never ends……..a season to forget for sure.

Tomahawkin

October 8th, 2009
10:50 pm

Wow!

People just now have decided to jump on the “Trade for Nellie Cruz” Bandwagon

The late “Coach” and myself wanted that trade done 2 years ago and people on here thought I was crazy…

D.O.B.

Your Quote…It’s Funny for you to refer to saomeone as a cat. I’m Rubbing Off on you more and more with each year that I post on here. Before long you will be saying the “Bank On It” Phrase when you do you blogs (joking)

And D.O.B. Were you ever a Fan of old Queen Latifah, Public Enemy and Mary J? And to Add to that old Maxwell, Keith Sweat and R. Kelly? Old R Kelly is Good Shyt D.O.B.

The 80’s and 90’s was the best decade for Black music…Nuff Said…

I don’t think I can see D.O.B. listening to that Soulja Boyor Lil Wayne Garbage!

GoldenGlove002

October 8th, 2009
10:55 pm

Thanks for the new blog DOB.

So, I think what happens this offseason all depends on Derek Lowe. If he is traded the Braves open up a lot of money (as we already know). If his salary doesn’t come off then it’ll be interesting to see what FW can do. Not a great amount of money available for spening right now would be my guess.

Bets are on the first move the Braves make being a Tim Hudson extension for 3 year/ $25-27 MIL

nolie

October 8th, 2009
10:57 pm

I am done until tony is gone (Soph quoting Card Fan)

I’ve said it many times, go to any other teams board and you will see the managers vilified just like the doo doo heads do to Cox here. Some people just can’t handle disappointment without finding a scapegoat to hate on. :roll:

Steve from OH

October 8th, 2009
10:58 pm

DOB–when you call the Braves’ minor league system “full” or whatever, are you getting that from Wren? I think they’ve got a lot of top talent (Heyward, Freeman, Schafer, Teheran and maybe Kimbrel and Minor) but I don’t think they have a lot of depth…any insight from Wren on that?

nolie

October 8th, 2009
10:59 pm

But one has to ask how much of an effect their pitching coach has had on Wainwright, especially when you look at how he has resurrected so many other pitching careers. (macD)

he is considered by many in baseball as the best in the business.

nolie

October 8th, 2009
11:01 pm

but I don’t think he’s-Cruz- as great as y’all make him out to be. (STEVE)

neither do I, but he would probably help like you said

rico carty

October 8th, 2009
11:03 pm

DOB, thanks so much for the hard work, keeping baseball season close by at all times. My wife and I have 3 month old twins (to go with a 2 year old and 3 year old) and I can always count on your blogs to get a little escapism! Love the suggestion on Cruz.

nolie

October 8th, 2009
11:04 pm

The humiliation never ends……..a season to forget for sure. (Doc H)

86 wins is a season to forget??. man are you spoiled. LAST season was one to forget, this season was one of marked improvement. When did you become a fan??

JasonInFL

October 8th, 2009
11:04 pm

So Coach was the first…I was on here espousing that targeting Cruz, especially after getting an e-mail back from a Texas beat writer that said Cruz is NOT a favorite of Ron Washington’s, would be advantageous to our Beloved Bravos and their substandard lineup.

JasonInFL

October 8th, 2009
11:07 pm

and my tone was not meant to be negative, but rather in a tone that one gets when having an epiphany…I knew someone was on here last year talking about Cruz, but I couldn’t remember who it was.

glord1

October 8th, 2009
11:08 pm

Random – Someone is going to go out of the rotation. It will not be -

Hanson
Jurrjens

I will be very surprised if Hudson is not extended. Very surprised. That leaves Vazquez, KK and Lowe. I bet they want to keep Vazquez and will try to extend him. If they cant or they get a great offer he could be moved. They would be happy to move Lowe. If they can not move either dont be surprised if the move KK. They are going into an awful lot of detail explaining how good he was last year. Just dont be surprised.

Random

October 8th, 2009
11:08 pm

DOB: “Even if ultimately they were probably better off not landing Jake Peavy or A.J. Burnett – if they’d gotten either of them, they probably wouldn’ have traded for Javy Vazquez . . . “

Well, no.

Wren traded for Vazquez/Logan on 2 Dec, and while the Braves had suspended trade talks for Peavy on 13 Nov, they did not make Burnett an offer until 3 Dec. (Burnett signed with NY on 12 Dec.)

Acquiring Vazquez was a done deal before Wren was turned down by Burnett. So signing Burnett would not have prevented the Braves from trading for Vazquez.

P. W. Hjort

October 8th, 2009
11:10 pm

Great blog, DOB.

Doc Holiday

October 8th, 2009
11:14 pm

nolie,
86 wins?
Dont get yourself fooled, we were not an 86 win team. We only got there because the muts were nursing all season long. This team was on its way to another sub .500 season when they woke up in september. Mediocre baseball was played all season long. And they finished playing as bad as you can. Maybe I overstated, but you wont tell me that this season was a great improvement from last. Pitching was much better, but lack of clutch hitting has characterized the braves the last few seasons. I like our chances next season because there is not much to be done in order to become the team to beat. I just hope they do it.

David O'Brien

October 8th, 2009
11:17 pm

NJ: Didn’t go to Metallica on Sunday. Wasn’t sure when I’d get out of there, so i didn’t want to buy tix early in case of rain delay or … well, 15 innings.

That, plus I didn’t want to pay the prices they were charging. Very steep….

MZ: Would you believe that CD you sent me got broken? Kid you not. And I was looking forward to hearing it after seeing the list you sent with it. It couldn’t have had all that stuff on it, though, right? Or am I just not versed on the new CD recording technology? I mean, you had a lot of CDs listed there.

Anyway, it had a big crack all the way across it, even though you sent it in padded mailer.

Supes

October 8th, 2009
11:18 pm

Maybe the Braves can deal Derek Lowe straight up for Cruz, while eating some of D-Lowe’s salary?

If the Braves were willing to take on let’s say….3 million each for the next 3 years from D-Lowe’s salary the Rangers could go for it?

I don’t believe the Rangers would want prospects, they are close to winning a playoff spot in the AL and need dependable SP.

Braves have a surplus of SP.

If not Derek Lowe…the perhaps a package can be arranged around Kris Medlen (Rangers would probably use him as a starter), where the Braves throw in another player to sweeten the pot.

I don’t see that Kawakami would be enough to net a Nelson Cruz, so I’m not going to bring him up.

Obviously we aren’t dealing Jair or Tommy and Vazquez has that limited no trade clause to AL and NL West teams, correct?

Jake W.

October 8th, 2009
11:28 pm

“Dont get yourself fooled, we were not an 86 win team. We only got there because the muts were nursing all season long. This team was on its way to another sub .500 season when they woke up in september”- Doc Holiday

This makes no sense at all, so should we go back and subtract those wins the phillies got from us when we had all those injuries in 2008. Last time I checked, a win is a win. You think the dodgers are out there saying, hey we should be 1-1 right now heading to St. Louis. We weren’t the only team that benefited off the mets. What would the Phils record be or the marlins? Sounds like a weak argument to me. The facts are the facts, braves won 86 games. They were above .500 this year and it was a nice improvement over 2008.

David O'Brien

October 8th, 2009
11:30 pm

Tomahawkin: I’ve said many times, man, P.E. was one of my favorites. Those dudes put out some of the most essential music for a decade, regardless of genre. It Takes a Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back is as vital if you put it on now as it was then. Or pretty close, at least. Awesome.

Saw them three times, by the way. Once at the Long Beach Coliseum, with three or four other bands including Fishbone, Stetsasonic and Living Colour. At least I think that’s where it was. Memory a bit fuzzy. Maybe it was L.A. Coliseum. Anyway, they had a sign at the door: No caps, no colors. (This was about 1988, when major stuff was happening daily between the Crips and Bloods. I went to the show with another guy I worked with during my 10 months out of journalism, when I was selling commodity options. He was a former San Diego State lineman.)

NWA’s Straight Outta Compton came out that same year that I lived out there. Heavy stuff.

nolie

October 8th, 2009
11:35 pm

(Doc)

your opinion guy, buy I worked in baseball long enough top know what is a big improvement . and the Mets collapse is hardly anything to blame the number of wins on, we beat then last year and this year and not all that much different totals:in fact we beat the damn near every year It might have affected the standings but not the win totals in any likely hood. I
You a die hard fan B4 91?

RHR

October 8th, 2009
11:43 pm

Good stuff DOB, and you know I love ya but before ESPN picks that up for trade rumors … please change waste to waist in that bit about Heyward towards the end…and delete this comment if you want. :D

Wayne in Utah

October 8th, 2009
11:43 pm

Nelson Cruz would be a good addition to our team, if we could come up with the right package. How about Andrus and Cruz for Jurrjens (just kidding folks)?

I can see Lowe being a possible project to deal, but he definitely was a solid starter for about 2/3 of the season. We overpaid because we had to, but I don’t see Lowe or Kawakami as being disappointments.

If we can’t sign LaRoche, then I could see Prado manning first, or maybe a deal for Konerko.

David O'Brien

October 8th, 2009
11:44 pm

Good catch, RHR. And I love you, too.

RHR

October 8th, 2009
11:46 pm

You feel fill I in the blank on why – Heyward is only 20; he’s had abou about one week above Double-A;

StingerSplash

October 8th, 2009
11:46 pm

DOB,

You make the U2 show at the Dome on Tuesday? Talk about an intimate setting!

RHR

October 8th, 2009
11:48 pm

I hate words like that, the ones word or whatever don’t catch because they are other words. And you know what you mean and you know the difference when typing it but its common to do that. Yesterday at work I was so tired I was questioning my spelling when writing out simple 5 letter words like ‘health’ and ‘concern’ … I was so tired everything looked wrong.

RHR

October 8th, 2009
11:49 pm

Oh and did you see KOL tonight? You probably mentioned it if you did…I’ll go back and finish reading then I’m out. Gotta get more than 5 hours sleep at least one night this week.

nolie

October 8th, 2009
11:52 pm

was questioning my spelling when writing out simple 5 letter words like ‘health’ and ‘concern’ … I was so tired everything looked wrong. (RHR)

no wonder they looked wrong, they ain’t 5 letter words.

David O'Brien

October 8th, 2009
11:54 pm

StingerSplash: No dome shows for me at this point. Saw them on the Achtung Baby and Pop Mart tours at Joe Robbie Stadium, and saw Guns N Roses there, too. But those were last stadium shows I went to, and that was more than 15 years ago.

RHR

October 8th, 2009
11:57 pm

lmao shut it nolie

and about fans and managers. i’ve seen a lot of comments from phillies fans who want manuel gone. is that how you spell his name? or is that the mets guy’s spelling? or are they the same? i don’t even know. but i do know that even the reigning WS champs who are making a run for another (but will fall short), have fans who want their manager fired.

jeffrey d

October 8th, 2009
11:57 pm

So you just missed Slash

jeffrey d

October 9th, 2009
12:01 am

Oh…”more than 15 years ago” so maybe not. I like GNR during the Slash/original members era

Jake W.

October 9th, 2009
12:03 am

Oh yeah RHR, I believe their pet name for Manuel is “Uncle Cholly”. I get a kick out of the fact that some want him gone so bad 1 year removed from winning it all. Also read some comments earlier in the season where some philly fans wanted to fire their hitting coach. Yep, because thier offense sucks….

jeffrey d

October 9th, 2009
12:05 am

Jake – you’re acting like we’re always 100% rational in every comment/accusation made on here.

JMayne

October 9th, 2009
12:05 am

Dont forget about crawford. Hes good. Rays love prospects. Money ball. He steals bases. Plays the outfield. Could platoon McLouth and Diaz in left, crawford in center, and heywar in right. Pic up a decent hitting first baseman, or trade for one of the pitchers. Crawford, Prado, Chipper, McCann, Escobar. Thats a pretty good start. With Diaz, Mclouth, KJ, a good 1B sprinkled in. Look out Phils

Jake W.

October 9th, 2009
12:19 am

jeffrey d, did I say we were? I get a kick out of some of the competely dumb comments that are made on here too. I just find it both good and funny to know that we aren’t the only blog that has it. Thats it man, calm down. I don’t believe i’ve ever said that all said on this blog is sane and makes sense. If anything, i’ve pointed out similar comments like that to show where they are wrong.

David O'Brien

October 9th, 2009
12:20 am

Just missed Slash? No, Jeffrey D, I’d have never gone to see them after they splintered. I’m talking full-on GNR at their peak. Just checked out the ticket (I’ve got a hundred or so tix in a frame, used to save them) and it was New Year’s Eve 1991 (Dec. 31, 1991). The Use Your Illusion albums came out that year.

P. W. Hjort

October 9th, 2009
12:22 am

Doc Holiday -

Dont get yourself fooled, we were not an 86 win team. We only got there because the muts were nursing all season long. This team was on its way to another sub .500 season when they woke up in september.

Well, the team’s record was 69-62 on August 31, so no. And I don’t see what the Mets’ struggles had to do with it.

Pitching was much better, but lack of clutch hitting has characterized the braves the last few seasons.

Certainly not this season. This season, the Braves hit .263/.339/.405 overall. They hit .278/.369/.420 with runners in scoring position and .278/.382/.425 with runners in scoring position and 2 outs. They hit .265/.346/.408 when the game was tied and .266/.344/.408 when the game was within 1 run. They came to the plate with a runner on 3rd and less than two outs 300 times and got him home 190 times, a 63% conversion rate.

I like our chances next season because there is not much to be done in order to become the team to beat.

So there’s been little improvement between a 72 win team in 2008 and the 2009 team, but little needs to be done to turn the 2009 team (the team that, according to you, hasn’t improved very much since 2008) into the team to beat in 2010? Is that what you’re saying? Well, that’s what you said, but is that what you really mean? Or would you just like to retract the post?

Mike S

October 9th, 2009
12:22 am

NJ/DOB, I was on the floor for the Metallica show on Sunday. They were awesome as usual. It really is amazing how they can bring so much energy and play that kind of music for two hours straight at their ages. You can tell that they absolutely love what they’re doing; especially James. This was the fifth time I’ve seen them on this World tour (which started last fall), but the first time on this North American leg that started back at the end of the summer. Going to see them next Sunday up in Charlotte with a buddy who lives up there. Can’t wait.

As always, they do a nice job of blending in stuff from the new album (which I thought was fantastic; light years beyond St. Anger, and a real throwback of sorts. Incredible album all the way through.), the classics, and then mixing it up with a sampling of other songs from over the years. The three song encore is always fantastic, normally playing a rare song from one of the old albums or a cover and finishing with Seek and Destroy with the house lights up and these giant black Metallica/World Magnetic beach balls falling from the ceiling. My buddy actually caught one of the bigger ones and gave it to me, which was pretty cool.

I can’t recommend going to see a Metallica show highly enough. Even playing these expensive arena shows, they still can bring it and I guarantee you won’t go home disappointed…

David O'Brien

October 9th, 2009
12:25 am

MikeS, now I’m regretting not going. Good to hear that it was a stellar show. They don’t cheat their fans, that’s for sure.

Quisp

October 9th, 2009
12:27 am

So far my Dodgers pick is looking good for the NL but whats up Red Sox?

Mike S

October 9th, 2009
12:30 am

Well DOB, Charlotte’s only a 3 1/2 hour drive… ;)

TnBrian(Vazquez ace 2010)

October 9th, 2009
12:35 am

Well damn, I’ve mentioned Cruz before on here & got no repsonse or that he’s not that good, etc. but when Dave brings him up then people jump on the Cruz bandwagon. Go figure. I will say that Steve from OH is consistant with his thoughts on Cruz, so I’ll give some props to him.

StingerSplash

October 9th, 2009
12:41 am

Saw U2 (finally, after 20 years … they don’t exactly come close to the southern half of the Empire State of the South much and that also made it hard to be the metro folks for the tickets to anything in the ATL back in the days before Al Gore gave us the internet. Thanks, Al) a few years back on the Vertigo tour, in a more arena-like setting. Great show. Tuesday’s show was … OK.

P. W. Hjort

October 9th, 2009
12:45 am

DOB and others -

Interesting article on Cruz’s contact rates. The comments section is insightful, too. I gotta say, I was never really a huge fan of Cruz, but the more I read/study about him, the more I dig him. Like DOB mentioned, he steals bases, he also hits homers. Of the 33 home runs he hit in 2009, only 5 were classified as “Just Enoughs”, 15% of them. That’s a very sustainable rate.

Mike S

October 9th, 2009
12:48 am

StingerSplash, how was Muse? I considered going to that show just to see Muse. But i couldnt pull the trigger on tickets that expensive (much more than Metallica) just to see an opening act playing less than 10 songs. Big Muse fan though.

P. W. Hjort

October 9th, 2009
12:51 am

Oh yeah, Cruz also plays very good defense (both +/- and UZR are overwhelmingly positive in RF and LF). Something the Braves drastically need to improve on.

K.Street

October 9th, 2009
12:59 am

*DOB*,

What about Dan Uggla, word is that he is available? Would the Braves ever consider trading for him if they do not resign LaRoche and have Prado fill the position at first base?

[...] Read more here: Braves looking for power hitter and playoffs in 2010 | Atlanta … [...]

Doc Holiday

October 9th, 2009
1:36 am

nolie,
Im a fan since 1982………I grew up watching them say after day on tbs.

P. W. Hjort,
What I mean is that their play, their ability to win games didnt change much from last few years, thats why they missed the playoff. Talent has improved…….bench is strong. Less holes than last season………much better pitching. But we wont go anywhere until we stop patching important things as RF, cleanup hitter, leadoff hitter, CF, etc with less than average……….CF I think could be solved with schafer and nate, and I would solve leadoff with diaz and not nate nor schafer. RF we cant not fix with other than a very good RBI guy and not some lucky guess.

WHAT DO YOU GUYS THINK ABOUT BRINGING UGGLA TO PLAY 2B AND MOVING PRADO TO RF?

Uggla could replace chipper batting 3rd so we could move chipper down in the order.

Diaz
Prado
Uggla
Laroche
Chipper
Mc
Yunel
Nate/Schafer

StingerSplash

October 9th, 2009
1:44 am

Mike S,

Muse only played about eight songs, but they were pretty good. The lead singer/guitarist has some decent chops on the guitar. The crowd on the floor seemed to be into them. Buddy I went with didn’t know much about them. But he came away with an appreciation for Muse.
One of the better opening acts I’ve seen (Living Colour for the Stones, Blues Traveler for the Allman Brothers and … Primus for Rush were the tops. Muse was right there with those).

StingerSplash

October 9th, 2009
1:47 am

So if the Braves are looking at a bat, preferably a right-handed one, who’s available?

Bad Scooter

October 9th, 2009
1:48 am

DOB, saw Springsteen at the Meadowlands last weekend for the first time. Epic show. Every classic Springsteen song was played, it was a great show. He’s still got it.

Doc Holiday

October 9th, 2009
1:49 am

StingerSplash,

What about that Uggla bat inserted into 2b and moving prado to RF?

uga-brave

October 9th, 2009
1:59 am

just a couple of quick comments,

i am officialy over the georgia lsu thing….

i think we will get beat on saturaday. but that is another story…

gotta love larussa staying with adam in the eighth….

the dude was pitching a 3 hitter. brought in the lefty and he got the first out.

brought in his closer and chaos happenened….

cant blame tony on this one, but holy heck would of happened if bobby made that choice….

baseball is funny, carpenter and waignright cant get one win, never saw that coming.

on top of that the cards and king albert cant score runs…..

postseason is a crapshoot, in this era.

there was time when there was two divisions, a 5 or 7 seven game series.

so now all you mensa members please congregate.

it is hard to win a short series.

not the best team always win.

the cards are the better team, they have the better chance of winning the series, but they are now down 0-2.

it happens.

nolie

October 9th, 2009
2:00 am

Certainly not this season. This season, the Braves hit .263/.339/.405 overall. They hit .278/.369/.420 with runners in scoring position and .278/.382/.425 with runners in scoring position and 2 outs. They hit .265/.346/.408 when the game was tied and .266/.344/.408 when the game was within 1 run. They came to the plate with a runner on 3rd and less than two outs 300 times and got him home 190 times, a 63% conversion rate. (PWH)

good point

Mike S

October 9th, 2009
2:11 am

Thanks, StingerSplash. Good to hear they delivered live. Been following them for a few years, but haven’t been able to see them live yet. And you’re right, Matthew Bellamy, the singer/guitarist is one talented individual. The man does it all.

Hopefully they’ll do a headlining tour soon…

gotigers72

October 9th, 2009
2:14 am

I know he’s not a right handed power hitter, but he is a switch hitter and would be a perfect leadoff man. Shane Victorino! I love watching him play. He would really fit into that leadoff role perfectly. The Braves DO need a power bat, but they desperately need some speed also. A centerfielder that is a great defensive player, .300 hitter with some pop and can steal more than a few bags for you.

Don’t know that the Phils would trade him, but would something like Schafer/McClouth and Hudson,Lowe or Kawakami do it? Maybe throw in Medlen also? Let’s go with Schafer, Hudson and Medlen. That ought to do it, because you have to admit, the Phils need some stinkin’ pitching. Starters AND relievers. Especially with Hamels tankin’ as he did this year. At least compared to last year. He really let them down against the Rockies today. Hudson is still good for a couple of years, Schafer could replace Victorino and Medlen is a future #3 or #4 starter. I still am pissed about Huddy yelling at our favorite writer, the DOB himself. Did he ever apologize for that DOB?

Anyway, what say ye?

Coach (2010-Mr.Overrated retires)

October 9th, 2009
2:17 am

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