Clark left Braves, Hudson hopes to stay

For a slow Braves week with nothing going on, there sure was a hell of a lot going on. Whatever happened to the days of sitting back and getting a little time off after the baseball season ended and before the free-agent and trade discussions began?

Oh, that’s right. Little thing called the Internet.

Hudson says he'll take "hometown discount," but....

Hudson says he'll take "hometown discount," but....

Anyway, it is what it is today, and what it is is a 12-month baseball season, for all intents and purposes. College football fans like to say there’s three sports seasons – football, spring football and recruiting. Baseball fans are intelligent enough to divide their attention between their favorite sport and the others, but most also realize baseball never stops anymore, from pre-spring training Fan Fests and pitching camps, to spring training, the regular season, various firings and hirings, the postseason, more firings and hirings, free-agent filing, trade rumors, GM meetings, trade rumors and free-agent rumors, Winter Meetings, trade rumors and free-agent signings, then Christmas (OK, baseball does stop for about one week, more or less, so I can snowboard), then the mad scramble to sign the remaining available high-profile free agents and other Scott Boras clients, while all simmers on a pot of more trade rumors, and of course steroid rumors, which have usually been sprinkled across the blogosphere for the entire previous – well, when did they begin, anyway?

Whew.

So there you have it. And right now, we’re in the postseason portion of our program, which hasn’t stopped rumors and hirings and other matters that have, along with the rain, prevented me from riding my motorcycles nearly as much as I should have been able to since the season ended with the Bravos again on the outside looking in. Come to think of it, I wish they’d made it if for no other reason than, it would’ve been less work and a few days in L.A. And right now, the Braves would be preparing to face the Phillies in the NLCS, after winning a division series against the Dodgers.

But anyway, where were we? I mean, before my phone rang just now, and I had to ignore the call from some kid at my alma mater, calling for the fourth consecutive night, surely to get some cash out of me (I haven’t bothered answering, just saw the KS UNIV on the caller ID and let it go. I support my school and the mighty Jayhawks, and just sent them a check a few weeks ago, but it never stops, man. Just send me the envelope, people, and I’ll send you the check on my time. No phone call required.)

Where we were was dealing with the Roy Clark and Tim Hudson matters.

First, the Hudson thing, which actually occurred second, after the Clark thing.

Huddy told me Wednesday that that the FoxSports.com report Tuesday, the one that claimed he was preparing to veto the option the Braves were about to exercise on his contract, so he could test the free-agent waters, was misleading and/or innacurate because: a. He has made it clear – which he did again – that he wants to stay here and will accept a “hometown discount” to stay with the Braves (long as his idea of such a discount isn’t entirely different than what the Braves have in mind); b. He wasn’t under the impression the Braves were or are planning to exercise that $12 million option anyway, so why would he have told someone that they are and that he’s gonna veto it?, and c. Even if they do exercise the option, he’s not sure he’d veto it. At least that’s what he told me – that he hadn’t really thought about it or discussed it with his wife or agent, because he didn’t really think that was something the Braves would do, pay him $12 million in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery, after seeing him make a total of seven late-season starts.

Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and wife Jamie McCourt, the Dodgers' CEO, are separating, which gives us a somewhat legit reason to run this photo. That's Jamie on the left.

Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and wife Jamie McCourt, the Dodgers' CEO, are separating, which gives us a (somewhat) legitimate reason to run this photo. The CEO's on the left. The owner's not in the picture.

Anyway, Hudson said he hasn’t begun talks with the Braves yet, but that he didn’t expect to until after they had their organizational meetings this week in Orlando and perhaps after they do “some other things” they had to take care of  (he didn’t say what, but we’ll assume he meant things such as figure out if they, the Braves, can trade one of the other pitchers they might be willing to trade or want to trade and get a power hitter in the deal, or at least drop a big salary and open a spot for Hudson while clearing up some cash to pursue a hitter one way or another).

But here’s where things get a little tricky. Because the Braves have only five days after the World Series to exercise or decline the Hudson option, which has a $1 million buyout if they decline. Since it’s presumably going to be impossible to make much if any progress in a trade discussion by then, the Braves will probably have to just go on gut feelings about whether they think they’ll be able to move one of the pitchers they’re willing to move (a list that doesn’t include Tommy Hanson and almost certainly doesn’t include Jair Jurrjens, but might include any of the other three – Derek Lowe and the three years and $45 million remaining on his contract, Kenshin Kawakami and the two years and $13.33 mill he has  left on his, or Javy Vazquez and the one year and $11.5 million left on his deal).

As I’ve said, I think that trading Vazquez is something the Braves would only do reluctantly, if they felt it was the best way to both clear a rotation spot and add a big bat at the same time. Trading Lowe or Kawakami isn’t going to bring a legit power hitter back in a trade, and trading Lowe might be close to impossible unless the Braves are willing to eat part of his contract, something they’ve not been willing to do in the past. But then again, GM Frank Wren has shown a few times in the past couple of years that’s he’s not averse to doing things his own way, so we’ll see.

Jurrjens seems like one they build around, not trade

Jurrjens seems like one they build around, not trade

I’ve heard from someone else in the organization that, indeed, as one of our blog denizens has suggested, there would also be some reluctance from some in the front office to trade Kawakami because of reasons other than strictly baseball, such as the effect it might have on the relationship the Braves have built with some in the Japanese community, and perhaps with any future pursuit of Japanese players. But as to the latter part of that, I’m not as sure about.

Anyway, it’s going to be interesting to see how the Braves go about this vis-à-vis Hudson. I get the impression that a three-year, $30 million offer from the Braves would get him signed quickly, but I don’t know if they’d go that high. Would a three-year, $27 million offer get it done before he’d check around baseball to see what he might command on the open market? I don’t know. But given the lack of front-line starters expected to be available, Hudson would probably command more than $27-30 million on the open market if he has his agent shop him around.

But he insisted to me that he isn’t looking for top dollar, just something fair from the Braves, a fair “hometown discount.” Here’s some stuff he said Wednesday that I wasn’t able to get into my story:

“I understand there’s things they have to do first, and the option doesn’t have to be dealt with until after the World Series,” he said. “I think people are just wanting to know where we’re at or where I’m leaning. But I think everybody understands this is the place I would want to be.

“At the same time, if both sides are so far apart, to where a deal can’t ge worked out, then obviously free agency is next step.”

Then he pointed out what many seem to be forgetting — that if the Braves don’t pick up his option, he becomes a free agent. That’s how it works. But that wouldn’t prevent him from continuing to negotiate with the Braves. In fact, that seems like it might be the way they go, unless they work out an extension between now and five days after the World Series (or 10 days, really, since the Braves could tell him they’re picking up the option on the fifth day, but he’d have five more days to decide whether to accept it; they could agree to do that and keep talking in those five days, if you get what I’m saying).

But if five days or 10 days pass, so what? He can keep negotiating with them, particularly if the sides are making headway. In that case, Hudson and his agent might stall with other teams while they keep working with the Braves. I’m just thinking aloud here, just trying to illustrate how, if these guys want to get this done, it’ll get done.

“If I did go to free agency, there’d probably be more money out there on the free-agent market,” he said. “But that’s the whole thing of working with the Braves — my family’s comfortable here, I’m comfortable, and I would be willing to take less to stay here.”

But yes, he’d prefer the multi-year security, rather than just the one-year option. That also became clear. It’s important to him. Understandable, given his age (34) and what he just went through with surgery and a year-long rehab.

“I’d rather do the extension than the option,” he said. “If that is something that were to happen, where they just want to do the option — yeah, that’s another whole bag of worms that I haven’t tackled yet, haven’t talked to my agent or [wife] Kim about.”

But has he rejected the idea of accepting the option? “Absolutely not,” he said.

He added, “I’m not saying I want A.J. Burnett money from these guys. But I do understand that going to free agency is something I’ve never done, never had the chance to do. And if we’re talking and we’re far apart, it’s something I would have to do. But I’ve said that all along. Hopefully we can work something out.”

Dude’s a realist, too. Been around long enough to know it’s a business and sometimes things can take unwelcome turns.

Jamie and Frank. Not McCourting anymore. Did I mention, that's  the Dodgers' CEO on the left?

Jamie and Frank. Not McCourting anymore. Did I mention, that's the Dodgers' CEO on the left?

“They don’t have to bring me back to have a good starting rotation, and I understand that,” he said. “And because I do understand that, I understand free agency is an option. They have some real good starting pitcers now. To bring me back, they have to make room for me. What happens if they can’t make room for me? I hope that doesn’t complicate things.”

He really does want to stay here, folks. That much is clear to me. He’s an Alabama native, he and his wife have set up their foundation here, they’re moving into their new house in Auburn, raising kids, etc.

And beyond all that, Hudson said, he really believes the Braves can and will win.

Here’s what he said when I talked to him in the last week of the season about possibly returning next year and about being part of a talented team the Braves seem like they’re going to have back.

“It definitely excites me,” he said. “Obviously where this team has come in the past few months, the changes that have been made and how this team played in the second half — I think everybody’s excited about what kind of club we’re going to have going into spring training next year. Obviously that makes me want to come back even more.

“If I didn’t think we were going to have a chance to win next year, it wouldn’t be so appealing for me to come back. But I see where we’re heading, and the chances of being really good around here – I’m excited about it. It makes me want to be a part of it.

Then I said to him, so it’s not just about being comfortable here, having the family here, the new house, being in your mid-30s, etc.?

“No,” he replied. “I’m at the point of my career now that I’m not going to play just to play, just to be at home. I want to win, and obviously the convenience of being here in Atlanta has been great for the last five years since I’ve been here. But you play the game to win.

“You want to win a championship. That’s something that I haven’t accomplished in my career, and I think we have just as good a chance as anybody to win here. Especially with how I’ve seen this team transform into an exciting, high-energy, good baseball team. It’s something that I want to be a part of. If I thought we were going to be a .500 club next year and struggle at times, not have good team chemistry and not go out there and feel like we can beat anybody in the game, I’m not so convinced that I’d want to be a part of it.

“But I think we’re going to be really good, and I think we’re going to be a team that other clubs aren’t going to be excited to see us come to town.”

Then Hudson starting yelling at me in front of the rest of the clubhouse. (Ha — got you, didn’t I? Just checking to see if you’re still reading.)

Finally, in that same interview in the last week of the season, I asked him if that meant he liked the direction the team has taken, with young players like Brian McCann taking on leadership, and Hanson and Jurrjens tilting a youthful pitching staff.

“Absolutely,” Hudson said. “You have great young pitching – I mean not just good young pitching; great young pitching. And you’re going to win a lot of ballgames just with that. But aside from that, our position players, I think, from position to position, are really good and have been able to come in and fill their roles, know their roles, and know what it takes to go out and execute and do their job and set the table for guys like Chipper and B-Mac and those guys.

“Obviously we weren’t a perfect ballclub, by any means. But I think the changes that were made throughout the year improved us drastically. And I think with a tweak here and there this offseason, I think the sky’s the limit for us.”

OK, you think that about covers it for now on the Huddy situation? I hope so, because I think I developed carpal tunnel syndrome while typing all that.

♣ Coffee good: And we mean strong coffee. We – and by we I mean me – are starting our second pot now, having finished the morning pot of Joe about an hour ago, those last two cups requiring the microwave to reheat, so caught up in working, booking flights, paying bills, etc., that I was in some sort of zone for two hours in which I forgot to drink the cup of coffee in front of me or to notice that the sun was setting, etc.186-019~Coffee-Posters

Anyway, need this second pot because we’ve got a long night of TV watching ahead of us, beginning with the Phillies-Dodgers, followed by DVR viewing of The Office, the season premiere of 30 Rock, Community (is this the best new comedy since It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia?), the aforementioned It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, and FlashForward . (Yes, I got caught up in it, now I’m hooked. Damn.)

The new Avett Brothers CD is playing, and it’s terrific, yet mellow enough to work to, or at least write a blog to (I can’t write much of anything with harder stuff playing). The new Built To Spill CD, on the other hand, is terrific but wasn’t helping my work production. The Big Star box set is sublime, but a mixed bag for work purposes (and thus not one I needed to keep playing while trying to finish an ALCS preview before an afternoon deadline, then trying to get this blog out several hours after I promised you I’d have it out).

♣ The Roy Clark situation: Did you like my transitioin from music to Roy Clark? Thank you.

I’ll be honest and tell you I don’t know a whole lot about the new scouting director, Tony DeMacio, other than he’s a veteran scout who’s highly regarded and obviously knows the ins and outs of the business.

So I wouldn’t expect any difficult sort of transition in the Braves scouting department from Clark, who stepped down to take a large-title job with the Nationals (vice prez of player personnel and asst GM in charge of charge of everything that president Stan Kasten and GM Mike Rizzo aren’t in charge of) to DeMacio.

And unless Clark takes a bunch of the Braves’ scouts with him to the Nationals (and I don’t think that’ll happen),  it’s probably not a job switch that we’re going to notice much. Probably.

Having said all that, I’ve talked to a few people in baseball who see this as a real loss for the Braves. Clark is highly regarded, a veteran who’d been in his position for 11 years and who has headed up a decade of drafts for the Braves that’s produced more top talent than most other teams have drafted in that same span, unless they were awful teams drafting near the top of the first round year after year, and even some of them haven’t had the talent yield the Braves had since Clark became scouting director in 1999.

The first player he selected as scouting director? A lanky pitcher named Adam Wainwright, in the first round of the 2000 June draft. Clark took Adam LaRoche in the 29th round that same year.

LaRoche was a 29th-round pick in Clark's first Braves draft

LaRoche was a 29th-round pick in Clark's first Braves draft...

He got Kyle Davies in the fourth round in 2001, and in 2002 he drafted Brian McCann, Jeff Francoeur, Charlie Morton and Dan Meyer within the first three rounds.

The Texas Rangers today are thankful for Clark’s work in 2003, when the Braves selected Jarrad Saltalamacchia in the first round and Matt Harrison in the third (Jo-Jo Reyes was a second-rounder that year …. hey, he’s still young?)

In 2004, Clark and the Braves selected Tyler Flowers in the 27th round. And 2005 yielded Joey Devine (first round), Yunel Escobar (second), Jordan Schafer (third) and Tommy Hanson (22nd).

.... and Hanson was a 22nd-round pick in one of Clark's last Braves drafts

.... and Hanson was a 22nd-round pick in one of Clark's last Braves drafts

They got big-power prospect Cody Johnson (first) and Kris Medlen (10th) in 2006, and a couple of hitting prospects in 2007 whom you may have heard of – Jason Heyward (first round) and Freddie Freeman (second).

Craig Kimbrel, a third-rounder in 2008, shot through the organization in 2009 and is regarded as a possible future closer, and another National League GM said Mike Minor, the Vanderbilt lefty the Braves selected with the seventh overall pick in this past draft, might be as close to being major-league ready as any pitcher (I haven’t seen him, so I’ll reserve judgement at least until I go out to Arizona in a couple of weeks and hopefully see him pitch).

All in all, the Braves have had a good run under Clark, himself once an All-ACC infielder at North Carolina and a friendly guy with a great sense of humor. We’re gonna miss him.

♣ Regarding A-Rod: He’s never been a favorite of mine, but it’s probably time to put to rest the thing about Alex Rodriguez not being capable of coming through in postseason or other big games.

I was doing my ALCS preview for the paper and I started looking at his postseason numbers.

Now, granted, he was awful for a while in the postseason. And I mean awful. He went 4-for-47 (.085) with one double, no RBI, 10 walks and 15 strikeouts in 14 postseason games from Oct. 18, 2005, to Oct. 5, 2007.

But since then, he’s 9-for-20 with three homers and seven RBI in five games, including four wins. He homered in each of the last two games of the sweep against Minnesota last week.

But the fact is, for his career Rodriguez now has a solid .291 average and .890 OPS (.381/.519) in 42 postseason games, with nine doubles, nine homers and 23 RBIs.

You want to know who the real postseason flameout of this ALCS has been in terms of postseason career numbers? Vlad Guerrero, who has a .259 average and .663 OPS in 23 postseason games, with one double, one homer and nine RBI.

Not only that, but the homer came in his third postseason game. In 20  games going back to Oct. 4, 2005, Vlad has a .273 average and .369 OBP, but just one extra-base hit (double), three RBI and a .288 slugging percentage in 73 at-bats.

To bring it closer to home, Rodriguez’s career postseason totals (.291/.381/.519, 9 HRs, 23 RBI, 42 games) compare favorably with a couple of Joneses — Chipper (.288/.411/.459, 13 HRs, 47 RBI, 92 games) and Andruw (.273/.365/.433, 10 HRs, 33 RBI, 75 games).

♣ OK, onward and upward. The floor is open. And we’ll get into any rumors and such as soon as we start to hear any that sound like they have substance. Of course, you’re free to engage in all the speculation you want until them. In fact, we encourage it. It’s good stuff.

And it was almost cool enough today in Atlanta to light the hot stove. So what the hell.

Oh, and talk about curiously long posts…. I’m too tired to look this one over for errors. Besides, thegame just started.

This is a Cat Stevens tune, but I really love the cover version by Johnny Cash with Fiona Apple off of Cash’s spectacular Unearthed box.

He wrote it, sang it well....

Cat wrote it, sang it well....

... but Cash sang it better

... but I think Cash sang it even better

“FATHER & SON” by Cat Stevens

Father

It’s not time to make a change,

Just relax, take it easy.

You’re still young, that’s your fault,

There’s so much you have to know.

Find a girl, settle down,

If you want you can marry.

Look at me, I am old, but I’m happy.

I was once like you are now, and I know that it’s not easy,

To be calm when you’ve found something going on.

But take your time, think a lot,

Why, think of everything you’ve got.

For you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not.

Son

How can I try to explain, when I do he turns away again.

It’s always been the same, same old story.

From the moment I could talk I was ordered to listen.

Now there’s a way and I know that I have to go away.

I know I have to go.

Father

It’s not time to make a change,

Just sit down, take it slowly.

You’re still young, that’s your fault,

There’s so much you have to go through.

Find a girl, settle down,

if you want you can marry.

Look at me, I am old, but I’m happy.

Son

All the times that I cried, keeping all the things I knew inside,

It’s hard, but it’s harder to ignore it.

If they were right, I’d agree, but it’s them you know not me.

Now there’s a way and I know that I have to go away.

I know I have to go.

2,531 comments Add your comment

Mixxo

October 15th, 2009
8:52 pm

Finally…..REAL baseball!

Go Dodgers!

Mixxo

October 15th, 2009
8:54 pm

Loved that “catcher” analysis earlier too.

“….need defense first….in the big leagues…”

Thank you!

McFann Ô

October 15th, 2009
8:55 pm

Thanks for the new Blog, Chief!

“Another whole bag of worms”? :lol: Never heard it put that way before…but maybe I need to get out more…

Anyway, I’d like to see the Braves hold on to Timmy. But I guess if they can’t, they can’t…

flange1

October 15th, 2009
8:55 pm

Thanks for the new blog DOB!

We needed a change of pace from the last one!

Mixxo

October 15th, 2009
8:55 pm

Cat Stevens > The man in black IMO.

Mitchie-san

October 15th, 2009
9:01 pm

Whoa! New blog! Thanks DOB. Lets leave all the negativity on the last one.

Mitchie-san

October 15th, 2009
9:03 pm

Thanks for the info on the ESPN mag. I just booked two years for 8 bucks.

David O'Brien

October 15th, 2009
9:12 pm

Sorry, the blog wasn’t completed when I posted it. It is now. Take another look if you get a chance.

Braveheart

October 15th, 2009
9:19 pm

Thanks for the new blog DOB. I neglected to thank you and Carroll for another great season with the blog, so thanks. I wasn’t able to participate in the blog as much this season as I have in the past due to work and life, but I did read daily, and the thing you learn is that this blog is great whether you are engaging in minute-to-minute hand-to-hand combat with fellow denizens like I used to love doing, or whether you’ve turned into a drive-by shooter who throws a few thoughts out there every few days or so, or whether you’re just casually reading along throughout the workday while either trying to get work done or trying to survive suffering through your girlfriend making you watch every friggin’ stupid show on the Bravo channel. But, hey, that’s the deal. If I wanna make her suffer through watching the Bravos as much as I do, I’ve also gotta suffer through watching way too much Bravo.

And, yes, that show Community is hilarious. I can’t get enough of that high strung Asian instructor.

McFann Ô

October 15th, 2009
9:19 pm

At least Werth ended up getting out anyway, but dang…Opie Kershaw had Howard struck out twice!

C’est dommage…

ncgary

October 15th, 2009
9:19 pm

how much of lowes salary would have to be eaten to trade him? 4 million in 11 and 6 million in 12?

Mid Town Joe

October 15th, 2009
9:21 pm

Question still remains, though I could surf til I found the answer, is Stan Kasten still with the Nats? The answer is yes, and I’m sure this has much to do about Clark heading to DC.

David O'Brien

October 15th, 2009
9:27 pm

Mid Town Joe: If you’d read the blog, you would have your answer.

Danga

October 15th, 2009
9:28 pm

Did I just hear one of those guys call Ronnie Belliard a professional hitter? If I were Garret Anderson, I would be insulted.

David O'Brien

October 15th, 2009
9:33 pm

For the record, I picked Phillies in six games and Angels in seven in my two LCS preview stories.

DOBsIntenionalGrammarError

October 15th, 2009
9:38 pm

I hate proofreading. Nicetouch.

P. W. Hjort

October 15th, 2009
9:38 pm

The Braves outrighted Reid Gorecki, Jorge Campillo, and Buddy Carlyle.

Mitchie-san

October 15th, 2009
9:38 pm

DOB, have you checked out Modern Family? Its very funny, too.

TnBrian

October 15th, 2009
9:39 pm

McFann, good call on that Kershaw kid. He does resemble Opie.

Alright, I know they haven’t been good for that long, those damn Phillies, but I’m seriously over watching this bunch in the playoffs. Howard squating at the plate like he’s letting loose his lunch, Manuel bobbin his head & body all over the place, & really just that entire team in general. It’s time for the Braves to wipe those turds out starting in 2010. I think the new Heyward/McCann/Hanson/JJ/Yunel era will do just that.

BravesFanChris25

October 15th, 2009
9:40 pm

New Bloggage 8-)

Andrew

October 15th, 2009
9:41 pm

Heyward already living up to hype at AFL

Thursday, October 15, 2009 | Print Entry

Posted by Jason Grey

Three reasons to pay close attention to this year’s Arizona Fall League campaign:

1. Tommy Hanson
2. Gordon Beckham
3. Andrew Bailey

Those were just some of the names who announced they were ready to make an impact at the big league level in 2009 after starring in the AFL in 2008. The league is known as a finishing school for some of the game’s top prospects, because every year there are players who parlay strong AFL performances into rookie of the year consideration in the big leagues the following season.

Thirty-eight of the participants at the 2009 MLB All-Star Game were AFL alumni, and 18 players who played in the AFL have gone on to win rookie of the year awards. Fantasy players who want to get a jump on their competition and find some potential bargains for next year would be well advised to follow the happenings in the Valley of the Sun.

That’s where this blog will come in. It will be updated five days a week during the next five weeks with scouting reports, interviews and various observations about what’s happening in the AFL.

• The league began its 18th season Tuesday, and obviously the big story is the presence of the best pitching prospect in baseball, Stephen Strasburg.

On Opening Day in Phoenix, no fewer than four people came up to me behind the plate to ask me when Strasburg would make his first start. That will come Friday night. Even scouts are asking one another, “You’re going to be there on Friday, right?” even if they’re not officially assigned to scout his team. Strasburg has pitched in two instructional league games since signing, so this isn’t technically his pro debut, but it’s still shaping up to be an event. I’ll have a full scouting report afterward.

• The starting rotations for each team are set, but don’t read too much into them if you’re trying to determine who the “best” pitchers are on each team. There are a lot of factors, ranging from workload limitations to luck of the draw to organizational priorities, that factor into who gets selected to start, and the rotations are always very much in flux and subject to change. Here are the starting fives to open the AFL and the major league teams with which they’re affiliated:

Scottsdale
1. Joe Martinez, San Francisco Giants; 2. Donald Veal, Pittsburgh Pirates; 3. Michael Cisco, Philadelphia Phillies; 4. Chaz Roe, Colorado Rockies; 5. Bryan Augenstein, Arizona Diamondbacks

Mesa
1. Randon Bierd, Boston Red Sox; 2. Mike McCardell, Minnesota Twins; 3. Tommy Mendoza, Los Angeles Angels; 4. Andrew Cashner, Chicago Cubs; 5. Andrew Miller, Florida Marlins

Phoenix
1. Ryohei Tanaka, Baltimore Orioles; 2. Robert Ray, Toronto Blue Jays; 3. Mitch Talbot, Tampa Bay Rays; 4. Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals; 5. James Simmons, Oakland Athletics

Peoria Saguaros
1. Mike Minor, Atlanta Braves; 2. Jeff Lyman, Atlanta Braves (The Cleveland Indians’ Zach Putnam was the original starter, but was scratched); 3. Mike Leake, Cincinnati Reds; 4. Steve Garrison, San Diego Padres; 5. Wilton Lopez, Houston Astros

Peoria Javelinas
1. Scot Drucker, Detroit Tigers; 2. Justin Cassel, Chicago White Sox; 3. Nick Hill, Seattle Mariners; 4. Josh Butler, Milwaukee Brewers; 5. Travis Schlichting, Los Angeles Dodgers

Surprise
1. Ian Kennedy, New York Yankees; 2. Jenrry Mejia, New York Mets; 3. Danny Gutierrez, Texas Rangers; 4. Blake Wood, Kansas City Royals; 5. Mike Parisi, St. Louis Cardinals

• Another twist to AFL rosters this year is the presence of five pitchers from Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league. It’s the first time players from outside Major League Baseball have been invited to participate on Fall League teams.

Some quick notes from action on the field the first couple of days:

• Not only is the best pitching prospect in baseball here, the best hitting prospect is as well. Atlanta Braves outfielder Jason Heyward has taken all of two games to impress the heck out of everyone. Whether it was a hustle double on a blooper on one occasion, stealing third almost standing up by reading the pitcher well on another or showing the patience to work the count before ripping a line drive to right field, Heyward has been as advertised, and it’s hard to see him not opening next year in right field in Atlanta. Keith Law put forth a potential career path similar to Justin Upton, in which he’ll hold his own his first year in the bigs (Upton slugged .463 as a 20-year-old rookie) before breaking out in his second. I wouldn’t argue with that.

TnBrian

October 15th, 2009
9:41 pm

One more thing… somebody, anybody explain to me what in the hell is in Utley’s hair. It’s like he squeezed out grease from a burger into a bowl & dipped his head in it.

David O'Brien

October 15th, 2009
9:42 pm

Thanks, Braveheart.

And your contributions here are much appreciated.

Roman Gal

October 15th, 2009
9:43 pm

Then Hudson starting yelling at me in front of the rest of the clubhouse. DOB

This joke was definitely funnier than your Mac joke earlier. Good job.

McFann Ô

October 15th, 2009
9:46 pm

TnBrian good call on that Kershaw kid.

Thanks. Though I can’t take full credit for it…I think it was my Mom who first ended the mystery of who he was reminding us of during that August 8th start against the Braves…

I know they haven’t been good for that long, those damn Phillies, but I’m seriously over watching this bunch in the playoffs.

So am I…Elgth! I’m just sicka the Fillies–period, stop. I mean, yuck! I sicka the sight of their faces–especially the Reaper’s. He’s just so annoying…

Ah yes¬and another RBI double. :x OK, I get it…guys hit doubles. Sheesh. Leave me alone, already. :roll:

TnBrian

October 15th, 2009
9:50 pm

I’ll tell you what the leauge ought to do this offseason… watch some videos of how Braves pitchers pitched to Howard & the Philles during the first few series we had with them in ‘09. They owned them, but somehow got away from it.

McFann Ô

October 15th, 2009
9:54 pm

TnBrian They owned them, but somehow got away from it.

Yeah…that was annoying when they got away from it. BMac quit hittin’ ‘em towards the end there, too. I mean, he wasn’t that bad in the last series against them, but he wasn’t exactly his usual Fillie-killin’ self. That last series in CBP left a lot to be desired…

Steve from OH

October 15th, 2009
9:55 pm

Anyone watching 30 Rock? Really good tonight…

Loved the Nixon joke.

McFann Ô

October 15th, 2009
9:55 pm

Oh for the love of Pete…

This is torture, I tell you. Torture! :x

Drive-by

October 15th, 2009
9:56 pm

Where did those 14 years go? I wish I could go to a playoff game…..

Braveheart

October 15th, 2009
9:58 pm

Thanks DOB.

Cool to see Heyward getting compliments for his hustle and smart baserunning in the AFL. It’s interesting because the one game I saw him play at Gwinnett this year, all he did was leg out two infield hits with hustle, steal second, and score from second on an infield single by Matt Young. Really cool to see that not only will he create and get runs in with his hitting, slugging, and walking, but will also manufacture some cheap runs with hustle and above average speed combined with intuitive baseball smarts.

Roman Gal

October 15th, 2009
10:03 pm

…and while this team had many problems in 2009, McLouth’s defense wasn’t one of them. Ronald

I disagree. Just because it wasn’t the biggest problem doesn’t mean it wasn’t a problem. I’m not going to say that Schafer didn’t have his problems while he was with the big club (offensively and defensively), because he did. And I’m not saying that I’d rather Schafer start the year playing center field for Atlanta, because I don’t think he should. But I still say it would be a mistake to trade him right now for various reasons.

First, you’re right. He didn’t have a good year and he had surgery to top it off. His trade value is very low. Second, when you think about the outfield for the Braves in 5 years, who do you see out there? Heyward, obviously. McLouth, possibly. Matt Diaz? Ryan Church? Our farm system isn’t exactly overflowing with outfield prospects at the moment. Sure, we have some left fielders or potential left fielders (Adam Milligan and Riaan Spanjer-Furstenburg come to mind) there, but Schafer is much more than that. He’s a great center fielder. Better than McLouth.

Don’t get me wrong, I love McLouth. But I’ll love McLouth more when I don’t have to deal with his defense in center anymore.

I also wonder how good Schafer will be offensively, whereas McLouth is more of a known commodity

That’s fair enough, but I’m not suggesting we replace McLouth, I’m suggesting he move over when Schafer is ready. Schafer isn’t as bad as his numbers would have you suggest.

Obviously, free agency could change all that. For all I know, the Matt Holliday will be a Brave next season.

P. W. Hjort

October 15th, 2009
10:04 pm

Steve from OH,
That was a great episode. It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia looks hilarious. Just started.

Danga

October 15th, 2009
10:05 pm

Manny makes me sick.

David O'Brien

October 15th, 2009
10:05 pm

Unbelievable.

Hamels is a shell of the pitcher he was on this stage a year ago.

Couch Tater

October 15th, 2009
10:05 pm

Manny being Manny…crowds back in it.

Soph

October 15th, 2009
10:06 pm

Manny makes me sick.

Me too, Danga. Me too.

Braveheart

October 15th, 2009
10:06 pm

Since we’re talking about Hudson, might as well go ahead and give a link to the benefit concert he and his wife are throwing (and that he’s been pimping on sports radio here in Atlanta all week):

http://hudsonfamilyfoundation.com/upcoming-events

Danga

October 15th, 2009
10:06 pm

Well said Roman Gal. I couldn’t agree more.

Roman Gal

October 15th, 2009
10:07 pm

McFann @ 9:46

I’m very surprised at you! You didn’t edit that “D” word in your italics section…I guess the Reaper just has that effect on people, eh?

driver8

October 15th, 2009
10:08 pm

Had to think Manny would show up in this game. I think if the Dodgers lose this game they lose the series.

Steve from OH

October 15th, 2009
10:08 pm

Our farm system isn’t exactly overflowing with outfield prospects at the moment.

Our farm really isn’t overflowing with bats period, outside of Heyward and Freeman.

McFann Ô

October 15th, 2009
10:09 pm

Roman Gal

Uh…shoot…um… :oops: Didn’t see that one.

Oh, I’m so embarrassed! But you’re right, uh…about the Reaper…

driver8

October 15th, 2009
10:09 pm

Here is hoping that Huddy stays with us. That being said which pitcher is going to be the trade value for the bat we most desparately need? My guess is Javy?

Chris Chambliss

October 15th, 2009
10:10 pm

DOB – thanks for a great blog. Man, I love Huddy — I wish we could trade Kawakami and keep him around. Huddy 3 years 24Mil with some incentives would lock him up. But if Wren isn’t able to move KK and his $8M a year (?) then I guess I understand. No matter what happens, I know Wren is going to add a big stick and so far he’s shown that he’s fully capable of making a move. Let’s go get big Adam Dunn and be dunn with it — the NL East will belong to the Bravos in 2010.

Most excited I’ve been about the Bravos chances in a long time. GO BRAVES!

driver8

October 15th, 2009
10:10 pm

In a perfect world we can keep ALL of them but we all know that wont be the case here.

Roman Gal

October 15th, 2009
10:12 pm

Thanks, Danga.

I think I’ll hop off my soap box now. I get a little nutty when people start dissin’ on Dumbo Schafer…

driver8

October 15th, 2009
10:15 pm

I just dont think with KK’s contract and the fact that he is hardly the choice that other clubs will covet. KK is with us for the long run … you gotta give something with value to get something. My guess would be sign Huddy (however they will do it) he has stated he would take a hometown discount.

Javier Vasquez is the most obvious choice to get something. The guy is coming off pretty much career numbers, so lets see what we can get with him and possibly some lower minor prospects.

What do you think DOB?

Rick

October 15th, 2009
10:16 pm

Why is it that whenever a player leaves Atlanta and goes to another team he is an instant success. However when a really great player comnes to Atlanta they go downhill. Oh it couldn’t be that sorry excuse for a manager, Bobby Cox, now could it? That boob Cox should be arrested and charged with impersonating a major leauge manager.

Roman Gal

October 15th, 2009
10:16 pm

Our farm really isn’t overflowing with bats period

True. It’s a little sad that Hicks is actually considered one of our top bats. I have a hard time coming up with 5 good hitting prospects at or above single-A. Heyward, Freeman, Milligan, Johnson…

Soph

October 15th, 2009
10:18 pm

However when a really great player comnes to Atlanta they go downhill.

Like who?

Vinings Jim

October 15th, 2009
10:18 pm

DOB – thanks – one of my all-time favorite songs…and excellent blog

Roman Gal

October 15th, 2009
10:21 pm

McFann-

Just don’t let it happen again. We’ve got enough potty-mouths around here already, and we don’t have enough soap to go around…and trust me, it doesn’t taste good.

nolie

October 15th, 2009
10:22 pm

Lose a Lentz, gain a Lentz. (KL)

nature abhors a vacuum

driver8

October 15th, 2009
10:23 pm

Rick… I know where you are going with this so I will flip it around a bit …. How about the JD Drew when he was a Brave = his best output of power in his career. Lets not forget Sheff who was all world down here as well. His numbers were just sick!

Rick, when you say PLAYERS please address the player(s) you are talking about. That would make for a much better post. Otherwise its up in the air.

Jake W.

October 15th, 2009
10:25 pm

“Why is it that whenever a player leaves Atlanta and goes to another team he is an instant success. However when a really great player comnes to Atlanta they go downhill.”Rick

You mean like Willie Harris, Betemit, Edgar Renteria. They’re terrific now

Not to mention that Vazquez guy sucks now and Diaz, don’t get me started on him.

Jake W.

October 15th, 2009
10:28 pm

Dodgers are into that weak philly pen, something the Rockies couldn’t do enough. We will see what happens.

jeffrey d

October 15th, 2009
10:28 pm

Don’t forget Andruw!

driver8

October 15th, 2009
10:30 pm

Jake W. Check your stats and the teams they play on my friend. Willie Harris played for the worst team in baseball (Washington) Renteria … we had his final best year when he was in the ATL.

Vasquez could have won 20 games this year with a little more offensive support. The Dude still pitched over 200 innings and 200 K’s … how does that suck????

Mitchie-san

October 15th, 2009
10:30 pm

Andruw stunk it up in Atlanta, too.

McFann Ô

October 15th, 2009
10:32 pm

Roman Gal Just don’t let it happen again.

Oh, I won’t. I’ll try to watch myself better…been a long week, though. But that’s no excuse…

we don’t have enough soap to go around…and trust me, it doesn’t taste good.

I wouldn’t think it would…taste good, I mean. And I sure don’t wanna try it…

Jake W Not to mention that Vazquez guy [sinks] now and Diaz, don’t get me started on him.

:lol:

jeffrey d

October 15th, 2009
10:32 pm

Yeah but at least he had decent power his last year. Once he went to LA, though….Stinktown.

Soph

October 15th, 2009
10:32 pm

Millwood, J. Wright, and Estrada too.

driver8

October 15th, 2009
10:33 pm

2010-2012 Braves wont have to worry about that. Good young players here and coming up and the postseason will be back to us sooner than later.

That being said screw the Phillies GO DODGERS.

McFann Ô

October 15th, 2009
10:33 pm

driver8

I think Jake W was making a joke.

Roman Gal

October 15th, 2009
10:33 pm

This might be a little scary for y’all…

The top hitting prospects for the Braves going into 2009 were (in no particular order):
1. Jason Heyward
2. Freddie Freeman
3. Jordan Schafer
4. Gorkys Hernandez
5. Tyler Flowers
6. Brandon Hicks
7. Eric Campbell
8. Kala Ka’aihue
9. Jon Gilmore
10. Brent Lillibridge

Heyward and Freeman are still Heyward and Freeman. Schafer’s no longer a prospect. Hernandez, Flowers, Lillibridge, and Gilmore were traded away. Campbell and Ka’aihue are no longer in the organization. And Hicks hasn’t exactly dazzled anyone.

Mitchie-san

October 15th, 2009
10:33 pm

For what its worth, it looks like Rudy Jaramillo might go to the Cubs.

jeffrey d

October 15th, 2009
10:34 pm

Estrada got huge after he left Atlanta too.

Mitchie-san

October 15th, 2009
10:34 pm

Oops, according to Heyman.

Soph

October 15th, 2009
10:34 pm

Um, I’m 99% sure Jake was being sarcastic. I don’t think he really meant Vazquez sucked.

Jake W.

October 15th, 2009
10:34 pm

driver8

Dog on computers, hard to pick up sarcasm.

Let’s try this:
You mean like Willie Harris, Betemit, Edgar Renteria. They’re terrific now.

driver8

October 15th, 2009
10:34 pm

Jake and McFann… my bad for not seeing the funnies in it .. so sorry all.

Roman Gal

October 15th, 2009
10:35 pm

Oh, and Cody Johnson…

Meh, my point’s still the same.

jeffrey d

October 15th, 2009
10:35 pm

We traded Lillibridge? He was a flat-hatter anyway.

Soph

October 15th, 2009
10:37 pm

Oh, and let’s throw in Marcus Giles too.

driver8

October 15th, 2009
10:37 pm

Jake W … i didnt catch the sacrasm …. my bad. I really think we are going to be fine. I have total trust in this organization…lets hope they leave Orlando with a good gameplan in mind for next year.

Go Braves…..

Go Dodgers …dont want the Phillies to get to the WS.

Soph

October 15th, 2009
10:37 pm

Lilly-bridgeeeeeeeeee. I love his name.

Jake W.

October 15th, 2009
10:37 pm

driver8, Thats cool. Where i would have a problem is if you agreed with that post.

Former brave up to bat now

nolie

October 15th, 2009
10:38 pm

Huddy 3 years 24Mil with some incentives would lock him up. (CC)

I don’t agree with that at all. It’s gonna take 27-30 with the very poor free agent talent available this winter IMO

jeffrey d

October 15th, 2009
10:38 pm

As Skip would say, it’s time for the ol’ Merry-Go-Round play

Roman Gal

October 15th, 2009
10:39 pm

I’ll try to watch myself better…been a long week, though. But that’s no excuse…

McFann, you’re a hoot.

McFann Ô

October 15th, 2009
10:41 pm

jeffrey d Estrada got huge after he left Atlanta too.

That was mean…

driver8

Hey, no sweat. :) Happens to the best of ‘em…us…

keylargo

October 15th, 2009
10:41 pm

driver8

JakeW is an exception. Hardly anyone else on here is cynical or sarcastic. :twisted:

McFann Ô

October 15th, 2009
10:42 pm

Roman Gal

Thank you! :)

Soph

October 15th, 2009
10:45 pm

Esco would’ve gotten that…

jeffrey d

October 15th, 2009
10:46 pm

Well, he did.

Soph

October 15th, 2009
10:50 pm

Well, he did.

Yeah, even though it was mean, I have to agree with jeffrey on this one.

jeffrey d

October 15th, 2009
10:52 pm

I was looking for photographic evidence and came across a cuddly former Brave.

http://media.scout.com/Media/MLB/231914_JEstradaRayKing.JPG

Soph

October 15th, 2009
10:53 pm

Ray Ray! I was never too fond of him.

jeffrey d

October 15th, 2009
10:53 pm

I was at a game a few years ago, and they were announcing some sort of contest over the PA. The grand prize? An autographed picture of Ray King.

I was like, “Really? Of all the Braves, they think Ray King is going to garner the most interest?”

jeffrey d

October 15th, 2009
10:53 pm

I called Ray “Cheeseburger”

Wide Right

October 15th, 2009
10:54 pm

watching Dodgers game…is that Mary Hart of Entertainment Tonight at the pitcher’s right of the backstop signage? Blue sweater, front row…excessive towel waving.

I had a buddy who played Cat Stevens greatest hits all the time and i always had an issue with this song. Kind of melodramatic…and I never understood the father’s point of view. “You’re still young, that’s your fault” he says…well, gee, dad I’ll work on that. But I do like the Cash/Fiona Apple version. Shes underrated…did a great cover of Elvis Costello’s I Want You. And Extraordinary Machine is a great album.

Thx for the Huddy update, DOB. If Hudson takes, say, 9MM a year…didnt he get 15MM this year? Assuming payroll stays the same I really hope they take those savings and make a good offer to LaRoche.

Soph

October 15th, 2009
10:55 pm

Will the blog let me type the name of the Phillies pitcher that’s pitching right now or will it eat it?

Danga

October 15th, 2009
10:56 pm

An autographed picture of Ray King.

Sweetness. I would display that bad boy with pride.

jeffrey d

October 15th, 2009
10:56 pm

Bastardo.

No, you can say it.

jeffrey d

October 15th, 2009
10:57 pm

Did I say picture? I meant baseball.

McFann Ô

October 15th, 2009
10:58 pm

I didn’t say I disagreed with jeffrey, I just meant it was in bad taste…Just bein’ a pain… :P

Anyway, time to close up shop on my end. Night, all!

McFann Ô

October 15th, 2009
10:58 pm

Count de Monet

October 15th, 2009
10:59 pm

DeMacio and not Paul Lentz…I don’t get it.

jeffrey d

October 15th, 2009
10:59 pm

And McFann ends the evening with a big error :roll:

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