Wren’s plan for Braves: Get better

As we begin typing, the Phillies are two outs from returning to the World Series, this time for a likely Amtrak series against the New York Yankees, who with a win against the Angels on Thursday can wrap up their first AL pennant since 2003 — six years and only a billion or so dollars’ worth of Yankee player salaries ago.

Oh, well, at least I predicted half of the field correctly (I picked Phillies and Angels in my AJC previews last week).national-league-champions-2521a259f40c245f_large

And if a commuter-train series isn’t the Dodgers-Angels Freeway Series that many of us had sort of hoped for, at least it’s not the supremely annoying NY Subway Series we dread (though with the current state of the Mets, I don’t think we need fear a Subway Series soon, unless it’s a Cubs-White Sox version, which wouldn’t be bad).

I’ll get to Martin Prado and why I think he’ll be the opening day second baseman in just a second. (That’s what I’ve thought ever since about late July, when he was one month into thriving as the everyday 2B, and my thoughts were strengthened by something that Frank Wren said to me today. So just keep reading, if you would.)

Jayson Werth just hit his second home run of this game as I started writing,  and the Phillies were up 9-3. Thanks for showing up, Dodgers. Oh, and that two-year, $45 million contract the Dodgers gave Manny Ramirez less than eight months ago … that’s sure looking like a sound investment these days, ain’t it?

Hey, Leonard Cohen, at age 75, put everything into a terrific concert we attended last night at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, a concert that lasted over three hours and ended with one of the great singers of our lifetime skipping joyfully off the stage three times (and returning three times for encores). And Manny can’t run out a grounder in the NLCS, or even stay on the bench to watch his teammates, rather than take a shower during the final outs because he’s no longer in the game?

Cohen at sold-out Fox show. Manny Ramirez could take lessons in professionalism.

Leonard Cohen at sold-out Fox Theatre show Tuesday. Manny Ramirez could take lessons in professionalism from the legendary singer.

Anyway, I talked with Wren for a while this afternoon, and asked the Braves GM about the postseason and about the Phillies, and what he thought. I asked him if he thought the Braves were competitive with the Phillies and if he could have envisioned them doing as well in the postseason if they had made it.

(Or something like that. I sort of rambled when I asked him the question, and he probably was on the other end of the phone thinking, is there going to be a question with an end to it anytime soon?)

He replied: “I don’t want to necessarily compare us to any particularl club. We just felt that with our pitching could have allowed us to compete with any club in the playoffs. We had a winning record against all the clubs [in the NL playoffs] except Colorado, which we split against.

“But you also have to be playing well in the postseason, and we felt we were playing well [toward the end of the season].”

For the record, the Bravos were 10-8 against the Phils this season, 4-3 against Los Dodgers, 4-2 against the Cardinales, and 4-4 against the Rockies. If only they had fared as well against a few non-playoff teams, including the Marlins (8-10) and Cincinnati (3-6), not to mention that 10-8 record against the Nationals (yes, same record vs. Nats as Phils).

“We’ve got to continue to improve,” Wren said. “We didn’t quite get there [to the postseason], and so we do we need to continue to do what we’ve got to to get better. We think we have a lot of the ingredients of a playoff team. We just need to continue to add different pieces that will make our club better.”

This was the first time I’d talked to the GM for any length since the Braves finished their four-day organizational meetings last Friday at their spring-training headquarters on the property of an enormous theme park you are probably familiar with outside Orlando.

Wren and his top assistants were there, with the Braves’ seven major league scouts and, of course, manager Bobby Cox, presumably the last organizational meetings he’ll attend as manager (he’s announced he’s retiring as manager after next season, as you know).

“It’s not just talking in the meeting room [during the four days],” Wren said. “Sometimes it’s at dinner, or breakfast, or while we’re watching instructional league games. Guys kick ideas around. It’s really just four-day brainstorming session of how we might put the team together….

“It went very well. We got everything accomplished that we wanted to, as far as talking through every situation, the free agents and how they would fit on our club. We’re prepared, once the free-agent period begins, to start making our calls and getting in the mix for guys we’re interested in.”

Will Braves try to re-sign free agent LaRoche?

Will Braves try to re-sign free agent LaRoche?

Teams have exclusive negotiating rights for a couple of weeks after the World Series to talk terms with their own players who became free agents, after which other teams can jump in.

As you might imagine, Wren did not go into specifics about which players the Braves plan to pursue. But he did agree with me that the Braves have a couple of situations – for example, the Tim Hudson matter, and the status of free agents Adam LaRoche and relievers Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez – that must be addressed before the Braves know exactly what holes they must fill. (I should add, those specific situations are just me thinking aloud, not anything Wren cited.)

When I asked him if he could at least say in general terms what the Braves’ priority needs are this winter, his answer was one that probably won’t surprise any of you: “We’re gonna have to address some needs in our bullpen, and we’d like to improve our offense” he said. “Those are really the two key areas.”

No, he didn’t say which part of the offense, and I don’t know if the Braves are certain about that yet. I mean, if they re-sign LaRoche, they obviously don’t need a first baseman. But if they don’t – and if I had to guess right now, I’d say they won’t – then they need a first baseman, which might end up being the big bat they seek for the middle of their order, or might not.

And if they don’t re-sign either Soriano or Gonzalez, they obviously will need a closer, since there’s no obvious replacement in the organization right now (you should check Peter Moylan’s numbers against lefties if any of you are about to suggest that the Aussie sidearmer is ready for the role. Lefties hit .309 against him with twice as many walks as strikeouts).

I don’t know if the Braves will try to re-sign either, but I’m sure they won’t try to re-sign both. If I had to guess one over the other, I think Gonzalez is more likely to get an offer from them. But that’s just a guess, more than anything else.

Just so you know, Wren and the Braves have no reason to state which, if any, of their free agents they might try to re-sign. And plenty of reason not to say as much. Because as of now, they believe that both relievers are probably going to be Class-A free agents, and LaRoche and OF Garret Anderson could also be classified,  probably as Class-B free agents.

In any event, the Braves would get draft picks — two for Class-A free agents, one for Class B’s — from any team that either signs any of their free agents before the Braves declare whether they’re going to offer arbitration, which isn’t until Dec. 1. So why would the Braves say before then what they plan to do with any of the trio? I’ll answer my own question – they probably won’t, not unless it’s to say they’ve signed one or more of them before then.

If they have no intention of signing any one of them, the Braves would want to take it right up to the deadline before saying as much, unless of course LaRoche or Anderson ends up not being classified, in which case there’d be no compensatory pick coming from any team that signed him, and no reason for the Braves to keep their intentions private if they don’t plan to sign them (and with Anderson, it seems fairly certain he’ll be elsewhere). But again, if they think either will be classified, in which case any team that signed them between now and Dec. 1 (unlikely in case of Anderson) would owe the Braves a draft pick if either is a Class-B free agent.

OK, if I didn’t totally confuse you all, we’ll move on. Even if I did, we’ll move on.

Oh, but for the record, here’s what Wren said about Soriano and Gonzalez: “We’re still looking and consider the best way to put it ogether, and they’re included in our thoughts as to how we might best put it together.”

And on LaRoche, when I asked him if they’ve moved on from him: “We’re still considering all the guys that were part of our club last year and factoring in players who might be available this year. We have to be open minded as to how to put it together.”

♣ The Hudson situation: While Wren wouldn’t comment on the situation or even say if negotiations have begun, I talked to a couple of other people who told me the same thing Huddy himself did last week – that talks haven’t begun yet, that that’s not unexpected, and that there is no rush.

No word yet on when Hudson matter could be settled.

No word yet on when Hudson matter could be settled.

The Braves have until three days after the World Series to announce whether they’re picking up his $12 million option (which has a $1 million buyout, should they decline it). And Hudson has five days after that to accept or decline the option (if he declines, they don’t have to pay him the buyout).

But I’ve heard nothing from either party to lead me to believe that Hudson and the Braves won’t try to work out a multi-year extension with a salary below $12 million, and probably below $10 million (if it’s not below that, I’m not sure that the Braves would be willing to do such a deal).

As you probably know, Hudson reiterated last week that he’s willing to take less money from the Braves – a “hometown discount” – than he could get from other teams, but he just hoped what he and the Braves thought was a reasonable hometown discount are not too far apart.

Hang on, folks. We could get some actual news on this before much longer. I talked to Huddy’s agent today, and he seemed anything but concerned. He said he’s known and negotiated with Wren for a long time, and he expected they’d sit down before too long and “roll up their sleeves” and get to work on this.

♣ The Prado situation: As promised, I wanted to share something I heard today from Wren that, to me at least, seemed to support the belief that Prado is the incumbent and clear frontrunner to be the second baseman when the 2010 season begins.

“I think we watched Martin Prado become our everyday second baseman in the second half,” Wren said, “and I think that going into spring training, there’s no reason to think anything’s changed.”

Prado hit .307 with 38 doubles, 11 homers, a .358 OBP and .464 slugging percentage in 450 at-bats in 2009, the first season in which the erstwhile utility man was used as a lineup regular. In 239 at-bats as a second baseman, he hit .331 with 31 extra-base hits (nine homers) and a .914 OPS (.378 OBP, .536 slugging).

Kelly Johnson, the Braves’ opening-day second baseman the past two seasons, hit just .224 with 31 extra-base hits (eight homers), a .303 OBP and .389 slugging percentage in 303 at-bats this season, down sharply from his 2008 numbers.

In 284 at-bats as a 2B in 2009, he hit .215 with a .666 OPS (.286 OBP, .377 slugging).

Johnson lost 2B job to Prado at midseason.

Johnson lost 2B job to Prado at midseason.

Johnson was struggling when Prado had a four-hit game on June 30. Cox said that night that Prado would be in the lineup for the time being, that he was too hot to sit.

Johnson was sent to Triple-A to work on his swing after resting a sore wrist. He never reclaimed his starting job and was used as a backup when he returned to the majors a month later.

From opening day through June 29, Johnson hit .216 with a .288 OBP and .362 slugging percentage in 66 games (232 at-bats). From June 30 through the end of the season, Prado hit .318 with a .363 OBP and .478 slugging percentage in 78 games (318 at-bats).

For his career, Prado has a .307 average and .811 OPS (.360 OBP) in 779 at-bats, including a .285 average and .834 OPS in 309 at-bats against lefties and a .321 average and .894 OPS in 470 at-bats against righties.

Johnson has a .264 career average and .776 OPS (.346 OBP) in 1,661 at-bats, including a .299 average and .808 OPS in 462 at-bats against lefties and a .251 average and .765 OPS in 1,199 at-bats against righties.

OK, I know – stat overload. But hey, just wanted to give you plenty of numbers and not just a half season or one season worth to compare.

And why all the discussion about Prado and Johnson to begin with? Well, if you recall, the day after the season ended, Cox mentioned something about the possibility of Prado moving to right field, where he’d played some during winter ball, and how the Braves couldn’t just “give up” on Kelly despite his disappointing season, citing his strong 2008 season.

Personally, I took that comment made to a few of us reporters as little more than Cox being supportive or protective of a player (Johnson) he’s always stood by, rather than an option (Prado in RF) that was being seriously discussed by the Braves.

To me, it just seemed that everyone I’ve talked to in the organization since summer, players and coaches and front-office officials alike, all believed Prado made the most of his first real opportunity, and did just about everything he could do to keep the job.

Unless something unexpected comes up this winter, some sort of opportunity for the Braves to make themselves better by moving Prado, I don’t see really see how he would go to spring training penciled in as anything but the Braves’ starting second baseman.

“He earned the playing time he got,” Wren said, “and right now I don’t think anything in that regard is going to change.”

♣ This is the thanks DeWayne Wise gets? In case you missed it – and I don’t know why you wouldn’t have missed it unless you live in Chicago – former Braves outfielder Dewayne Wise dropped from the White Sox’ 40-man roster this week and opted for free agency rather than a minor-league contract.

This is the same Wise who made the catch of the year in baseball, going over the wall to rob a home run and preserve Mark Buehrle’s July 23 perfect game

OK, so he pretty much stunk otherwise.  And actually, it’s no surprise at all that the White Sox would drop him from their 40-man, like the Braves did recently with Buddy Carlyle and Jorge Campillo. You can’t use valuable 40-man roster spots on well-traveled guys in their 30s who haven’t produced for whatever reason, even if it’s injury (Campillo is recovering from shoulder surgery). There’s no DL in the offseason, so guys have to be put on the 40-man or outrighted, in which case they can opt for free agency if they have the service time.

Wise, 31, hit .225 with two home runs and 11 RBIs in 84 games with the Sox. He was the Sox’s Opening Day center fielder but missed two months after separating his shoulder April 13 at Detroit.

So we’re not  surprised he got taken off their 40-man. This note was just our way of referencing a one-time Brave who was a good guy.  And that catch, which was sublime.

Sort of like that Leonard Cohen concert. And the second season of Sons of Anarchy. Or the most recent episodes of Mad Men. And the new Coen Brothers film, A Serious Man.

And this classic from Graham Parker:

GrahamParker03

“THREE MARTINI LUNCH” by Graham Parker

I live near Hollywood out in the Canyon

It’s a good life if you’re winnin’, it’s a killer if you’re not

My wife up and left last night, couldn’t stand another fight

The studio boss fired me, my future’s been shot by…

The three martini lunch

Things will get better soon, I got a hunch

The three martini lunch, wasting another afternoon

Punching a hole in my life

I came from the backwoods, my prospects seemed real good

For actor or director the future looked bright

But I ran in with a bad crowd and since then it’s just been down

Alone in the canyon my only companion…

The three martini lunch

Things will get better soon, I got a hunch

The three martini lunch, wasting another afternoon

Punching a hole in my life

I know what they’re saying yeah, I’ll never get back again

I pushed my luck this time and I’m on the skids

But I know what I’m doing I just can’t stop doing it

Me and my companion, hell bent to ruin it…

The three martini lunch

Things will get better soon, I got a hunch

The three martini lunch, wasting another afternoon

Punching a hole in my life

Wasting another afternoon

Punching a hole in my life

Wasting another afternoon

Punching a hole in my life

2,586 comments Add your comment

Bay Area Steve

October 22nd, 2009
2:10 am

Jurrjens4NLCY

October 22nd, 2009
2:13 am

After further reading, I found out the ghost “Mr. George Drews” is a fantastic guy, and truly dedicated to the theater and to his students…

Jurrjens4NLCY

October 22nd, 2009
2:18 am

This is the thanks DeWayne Wise gets? In case you missed it – and I don’t know why you wouldn’t have missed it unless you live in Chicago

So he deserves a contract for making a catch?

Andrew

October 22nd, 2009
2:19 am

man DOB thanks for the 2 am blog,love it

Nebraskabrave

October 22nd, 2009
2:19 am

Couldn’t resist the temptation of possibly being first.

Andrew

October 22nd, 2009
2:34 am

i cant understand the hudson thing..DOB if they work out a deal its automatic that we have to trade javy,lowe,or kawakami right? lowe would be most likely i think but javy would get the bat we need..then if we dont sign larouche we have a hole at first..unless we get a first basemen for javy…but then there is that powerless outfield…what are the chances jason heyward is on the opening day roster next year?

David O'Brien

October 22nd, 2009
2:39 am

This blog dedicated to Bay Area Steve, uga-brave and the rest of the regular night-owl denizens.

Bay Area Steve

October 22nd, 2009
2:46 am

Man, JJ4CY, I didn’t like you pimpin’ your blog, continuously. But, you stopped, and I appreciate it. But, I don’t know if I can forgive this.

Sarcasm, dude. Always look for the sarcasm. Do you really think the guy is D’Wise’s mom, or som’n'?

Blog dedicated to the late-shift; my life is now complete. I believe I’ll have a drink.

nolie

October 22nd, 2009
2:50 am

Blog dedicated to the late-shift; my life is now complete. I believe I’ll have a drink (BAS)

At least you got a mention. I was completely ignored, and by a former KISS fan too. Oh the humanity.
I think I will retire to my vibrating bed and cry myself to sleep. Nite

Bay Area Steve

October 22nd, 2009
2:51 am

Bay Area Steve

October 22nd, 2009
2:53 am

You’re the man, nolie.

Always good for a laugh. I think you’re not just a late-shifter. You’re good, all day, every day. Dude was just throwin’ us drunks (or those in Hawaii and Japan) a bone.

Bay Area Steve

October 22nd, 2009
2:56 am

I wonder if I could get 60+ posts on this page… Hmmm, does this make me:

a) bored
b) alone
c) an idiot
d) drunk
e) all of the above

P. W. Hjort

October 22nd, 2009
2:59 am

No, BAS, it makes you:

f) ambitious!

Bay Area Steve

October 22nd, 2009
3:03 am

I know I’m a year late, but Traitor was a solid movie.

For a subject that’s been beat to death more than DAP and Mike Cameron: better than good. My girl didn’t think as much, but she was wrong. She’d probably make me watch that Bravo stuff y’all were talkin’ about, anyway, so screw her.

Don Cheadle’s a good actor, huh? Who knew? (I hope this doesn’t start a Braveheart/Daniel Day-Lewis rant.)

Bay Area Steve

October 22nd, 2009
3:07 am

I knew I liked that PWH dude…

Ambitious, I like it. Although, now I feel compelled to actually get 60 on this page.

Can you believe, this frickin’ blog actually told me, the other day, that I was posting too frequently, and that I needed to slow down? C’mon Wordpress, it’s me. If I post, it’s necessary. I’d never post worthless drivel. I’m not a scoots, or a nolie, or a Braveheart, or a DOB.

Anywho, I’m gonna be somebody. F’ 60. I’m stayin’ up for 70 on this page.

Bay Area Steve

October 22nd, 2009
3:09 am

Ok, in hindsight, 70 ain’t gonna happen; I temporarily forgot how lazy I was. But, #8, baby; 50%.

P. W. Hjort

October 22nd, 2009
3:11 am

World series predictions?

I’ll go Yankees in 5. Sabathia takes game 1. Burnett lays an egg in game 2. Pettitte shuts down the Phillies in game 3. Sabathia takes game 4. The Phillies give up after that.

Bay Area Steve

October 22nd, 2009
3:13 am

Any of you pitch f/x cats know if D’Lowe’s velocity is down? I don’t watch much ball ‘cept the Braves, so I’d not seen much of the dude. I’m just concerned, ’cause it seemed like his sinker was sinkin’, but the results… Saw a lot of 89, with lazy movement. Anyone know if that sinker used to have the same movement, but was at 91, and a bit sharper. I suspect, with a sinker, a coupla feet difference can be a difference-maker.

jeffrey d

October 22nd, 2009
3:14 am

I can’t sleep, then I see that DOB has a new blog up….nice

Bay Area Steve

October 22nd, 2009
3:17 am

I predict the Braves aren’t in the WS.

How can you sit there and watch the post-season? All I can see is teams the Braves beat heads-up, yet our boys are home again. Screw it; I’m watching hockey. I’m in frickin’ San Jose. How do I even know what hockey is. C’mon Braves, I need October ball.

Bay Area Steve

October 22nd, 2009
3:17 am

Go to sleep, jd. I’m shootin’ for 70 here.

Coherent thoughts are not needed. Step away.

Jurrjens4NLCY

October 22nd, 2009
3:17 am

San Fran Steve,

Ummm…. WHAT?

Bay Area Steve

October 22nd, 2009
3:18 am

What else can I ramble about?

Bay Area Steve

October 22nd, 2009
3:20 am

Ummm, JJ, thought I was clear.

Your post indicates you thought ‘OB was supporting D’Wise. Yet, his blog clearly states otherwise. Thought I’d say som’n’.

Bay Area Steve

October 22nd, 2009
3:23 am

I don’t like the “Recent Posts” thing over on the right. I mean, I used to. But now, I no longer want to see:

•Next hurdle: Josh Johnson
•It’s the Marlins…and it’s serious
•Braves winning and watching scoreboard
•Braves still in running with 10 to go

P. W. Hjort

October 22nd, 2009
3:24 am

BAS,

WRT D-Lowe’s velocity, yes and no. He averaged 88.6 MPH on the fastball this year. His career average is 88.4, so he was up from that, but he averaged 89.2 in 2008, 89.2 in 2007, and 88.8 in 2006. What concerned me more than the velocity was the fact that at times, the pitch seemed to tail more than sink. It looked like he was getting more lateral movement than vertical. Which ain’t good for a guy who relies on the sinker.

However, the real secret to good Derek Lowe is the curveball/slider (he calls it a curveball and grips/throws it like a curveball, everyone else seems to think it’s a slider, calls it a slider, and it charts as a slider). In 2008, his best year in recent memory, the slider was 29.0 runs above average. This year? 10 runs below average.

The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, but I do find it interesting that his K rate declined while his slider/curveball fell off the map.

jeffrey d

October 22nd, 2009
3:24 am

My bad BAS….back to bed

Bay Area Steve

October 22nd, 2009
3:26 am

Wayne, to answer your question from the other night:

I actually looked up, and posted, dude’s address the night he went rumbletard. I was seriously considering knocking on his door.

Jurrjens4NLCY

October 22nd, 2009
3:30 am

Josh Johnson won’t be playing for the Marlins next year, although, the Fish are a big threat, THEY NEVER DIE!

Bay Area Steve

October 22nd, 2009
3:31 am

Interesting stuff, PWH. The movement of the sinker (tail/sink) doesn’t worry me as much long-term. That’s gotta be fixable, and for a guy who works as hard as he does, I’ll work on the assumption that he can, and will, fix it.

I suppose the same could be said about his slider-movement. But, it never occured to me that that’s where part of the problem lies. I’ve only seen his slider (at least, enough for me to judge) this year, and seemed acceptable enough. You have velocity numbers there? And, how ’bout sinker numbers for above/below average? Thanks for the info.

Bay Area Steve

October 22nd, 2009
3:35 am

Man, this whiskey is conspiring to ruin my blog-domination. Am I close to 70 yet?

P. W. Hjort

October 22nd, 2009
3:38 am

Slider velocity is right at the career average (81.6 this year, 81.5 career average), but last year when it was so effective, he averaged 82.9 mph with it.

Bay Area Steve

October 22nd, 2009
3:38 am

Holy Cornelia, PWH, I tried lookin’ at the site you linked, just as I’ve tried before. There’s a lot goin’ on there. Would you please dumb it down for a lesser mind, such as my own? Tell me, can D’Lowe be better next year? And, where do I look for improvement?

I think we have to assume he’s on the squad, at least another year. Prolly less than 5% dude is traded.

P. W. Hjort

October 22nd, 2009
3:40 am

I agree with you on the sinker movement thing, that seems like it can be fixed easier than most problems. In fact, he experimented with at least two (maybe more) grips this year for his sinker. Maybe it’s as simple as going to a different grip, applying a bit more pressure here, shifting a finger a few millimeters that way, etc..

Jurrjens4NLCY

October 22nd, 2009
3:44 am

Don’t you have class tomorrow Peter?

Bay Area Steve

October 22nd, 2009
3:46 am

Oh, and PWH, I’m not listening to you; you don’t even remember Kenny Lofton. Is that the player dude was giving you a hard time about?

‘Twas sad to read, really. Clearly Preacher Roe was a regular, and a knowledgeable one at that. A shame he was bein’ an ass. I don’t care if someone is 25 months old, if they can show me something…

Anyways, just sayin’, screw him, and keep doin’ what you do.

P. W. Hjort

October 22nd, 2009
3:46 am

Yeah, I think he’ll be better next year. Lowe was 2nd in the league in BABIP last year, which has a lot to do with defense and bad luck. The Braves’ defense was rather crappy, but especially so when Lowe pitched. He also led the league in hits allowed. I expect the defense to be better next year with no Loaf, Schafer/Heyward getting some playing time, Escobar getting his head screwed on correctly, Chipper regressing to the mean, etc.. It ain’t all defense, Lowe’s line drive % was up, his strikeouts were down, his walks were up, among other things. I expect both the things Lowe controls (defense independent pitching stats) and the things he can’t control (BABIP) to get better next year. He’s due for a solid rebound and there’s no reason he can’t be a legit #2 starter.

Bay Area Steve

October 22nd, 2009
3:48 am

JJ, did I answer your 3:17?

P. W. Hjort

October 22nd, 2009
3:51 am

Jurrjens4NLCY,

Nope!

At the beginning of the semester I was signed up for too many classes so I could decide which one to drop. I had lectures 9-1 on MWF and labs from ~8-2 on Tuesday and Thursday. I walked into the Monday 12:00-1:00 lecture and it was a physics class. The first thing the professor does is write an extremely complex differential equation on the board, I hardly even understood the equation even knowing what all of the involved variables meant. He says, “This is our new F=MA. F=MA works for most things, except when the mass is extremely small or extremely large, so we’re using this now”. I didn’t stay long enough for him to finish writing down the 2nd equation. Dropped that sucker. It was one of the two lab classes and that lab met on Thursday, so no class on Thursday for me this semester.

Mitchie-san

October 22nd, 2009
3:55 am

Nice to see nolie, BAS, P. W. Hjort and the other late night crewmembers get a shout out!

(me being pne of the “others”)

Bay Area Steve

October 22nd, 2009
3:55 am

And, where in the heck is You Know Who?

Dude shows up, stirs the pot a bit, promises a return…

10, we love ya, let us know you’re still the man.

I don’t think I can express how much respect I have for an athlete who said what he said this season. No doubt, he rebounds, and if he doesn’t, I don’t care. C’Jones is the one left. Was never my favorite Brave. I was a Murphy, Benedict, Smoltz, Javy Lopez, Andruw guy. But, outside of one incident, dude is the Braves. Have a year, 10.

Bay Area Steve

October 22nd, 2009
4:06 am

Man, how good was Andruw Jones?

I truly think dude deserves HOF votes. Prolly, as nolie described, an emotional vote, instead if a logical one. But, I can’t believe anybody, ever, played as good a CF as that guy. Maybe, I’m wrong; Mays? Maybe goin’ back further… But 12 years of the best CF in the game (Edmonds can suck it, Griffey fell off), and way, way, way above-average stick?

I’ll forever miss ‘Druw in CF.

P. W. Hjort

October 22nd, 2009
4:09 am

Chipper rebounds no doubt. JC Bradbury blogs it well.

He was such a beast in 2008. Because the Braves were so bad that season, I think it gets lost just how GD amazing that season was for Chipper Jones. How incredible was that season? He hit only 22 HR, but managed to slug .574(!). He only struck out 61 times in 128 games! He won a batting title. I don’t know, you can get lucky and win a batting title, but this wasn’t just a “luck” batting title. Dude was hitting .400 on June 18. That’s nearly half a season of hitting .400. He posted a .470 OBP. The last NL hitter to do that was of course Barry Bonds (in 2004 when his OBP was over .600, I think he’s the greatest hitter ever). No NL hitter has put up a .470 OBP this decade except Barry Bonds (who did it from 2001-2004) and Chipper Jones in 2008.

That wasn’t just a good season, that was a f’n historic season. A season for the ages. And if it weren’t for a few injuries to the pitching staff, some bad luck in 1-run games, and Francoeur sucking a left nut and being an insufferable jerk, people would remember that season as one of the greatest seasons for a hitter and not the season that the Braves were so terrible.

Bay Area Steve

October 22nd, 2009
4:10 am

I’d “like” to “take a moment” to mention how “feeble-minded” I find Paul Lentz’ “contributions” here.

P. W. Hjort

October 22nd, 2009
4:15 am

Oh yeah, and the last time a NL hitter other than Chipper Jones or Barry Bonds posted a .470 OBP? Mark McGwire, 1998. He shattered the HR record with 70 that year and was intentionally walked 28 times for fear of the HR. And the years Bonds did it? He hit 73 (2001), 46 (2002), 45 (2003), and 45 (2004) HR’s. And he was intentionally passed, get this, 35 (2001), 68 (2002), 61 (2003), and 120 (2004) (one hundred and twenty freaking intentional walks!) times. Chipper Jones did it hitting 22 HR’s and intentionally walked 16 times. Like Poz notes, Chipper’s brilliance sometimes gets lost because of the era we play and played in, the era of huge power numbers. Chipper did everything he did without the roids, just pure hitting ability.

Jurrjens4NLCY

October 22nd, 2009
4:17 am

Steve,

Yes you did, thanks

P. W. Hjort

October 22nd, 2009
4:26 am

Take away Bonds’ intentional walks and the only season he has an OBP over .470 was 2001. .471

Jurrjens4NLCY

October 22nd, 2009
4:28 am

Pete,

Sweet!

P. W. Hjort

October 22nd, 2009
4:32 am

And the last time a NL hitter other than Chipper, Bonds, or McGwire had an OBP over .470? 1935. Arky Vaughan – .491. Before that? Hornsby in ‘28, ‘25, and ‘24. And since 1901, that’s the list of players with OBP of .470 or greater. Chipper, Bonds, McGwire, Vaughan, and Hornsby.

Samuel Stiles

October 22nd, 2009
4:42 am

Keep up the good work DOB! Been reading all year. Always a late nighter as well.
Loved “a serious man”! Great film. Headed to my hometown next weekend to parlay in the festivities of voodoo/ new orleans. Should be great, the lineup is quite stellar.
WE WILL MAKE THE PLAYOFFS NEXT YEAR! However, it’s pretty great to be a saints fan these days.

Jurrjens4NLCY

October 22nd, 2009
4:43 am

Watching my shows…. SO HILARIOUS!

P. W. Hjort

October 22nd, 2009
4:47 am

Nine times a NL player has posted an OBP of .470 or more. Three times by a roided out Bonds getting intentionally walked 35 times or more, once by a similarly roided out Mark McGwire, once by a 23 year old whiz kid who led the league in everything, three times by Rogers Hornsby, the greatest 2B of all time, 1st ballot hall of famer, and a living legend. And once by Chipper Jones in 2008.

The Braves were bad in 2008. And that’s what everyone remembers. How miserable it was to watch that team. I don’t blame them. The injuries and terrible fortunes in 1-run games was extremely frustrating. But we lose something when we do that, and that’s just how amazing of a season Chipper Jones had. When you step back and look at Chipper’s 2008, it wasn’t just a good season, or a MVP-caliber season, or a HOF caliber season, it was a historic season. Probably one of the greatest NL seasons of all time, I’d say. And that’s what we should remember 2008 for. A first ballot hall of famer turning in one of the finest seasons we’ve ever seen. Perhaps at an inopportune time, but nonetheless, a season for the ages.

P. W. Hjort

October 22nd, 2009
4:55 am

I meant 10 times and 4 times by bonds.

Bay Area Steve

October 22nd, 2009
5:08 am

Ya know what I hate: that I can’t trust 10.

Dude’s given us no reason to doubt him; certainly no proof exists. But, I can’t make myself exclude Bonds and McGwire, while accepting Chipper. The use was (and perhaps is) so widespread that I can’t assume 10 didn’t use. I hate that.

Albert Pujols is incredible, but I can’t assume he didn’t use. People I respect here have accused him, and where before I would’ve stood behind the guy…

And, what I hate even more, is that I can’t fully believe 10′ll rebound. Dude is old, in ‘ball years. I hope he comes back, just like I hope with D’Lowe, but, at some point, players’ abilities decline. Now, as a homer, both’ll be their old selves. Count on it.

Bay Area Steve

October 22nd, 2009
5:09 am

Oh, I also hate Paul Lentz.

Bay Area Steve

October 22nd, 2009
5:10 am

I also hate that whiskey is bad for you.

Bay Area Steve

October 22nd, 2009
5:13 am

Finally, I hate that all of you have conspired to dissuade me from pursuing my 70-posts-on-the-front-page goal.

They f’ you at the drive-through.

Ok, I know that doesn’t apply, but I like it. And, it’s true: they f’ you at the drive-through.

P. W. Hjort

October 22nd, 2009
5:13 am

I gotta agree with you on both subjects, BAS. After all, how do we know Chipper didn’t roid? Of course, I’m virtually amoral with regards to things of the sort and I don’t really care if players used roids or not. I sort of assume mostly everyone did, because it was so widespread, to the point that I don’t really care. Bill James made a good argument with regards to the roids. I’d post it here but it’s subscription only. Worth the $3 just for the article, if you ask me.

Jurrjens4NLCY

October 22nd, 2009
5:30 am

After all, how do we know Chipper didn’t roid?

Because he strains his oblique by the slightest movements…

Jay212033

October 22nd, 2009
5:31 am

DOB, Wren and company was down in Orlando this past weekend watching the players in instructs, were their any players that stood out to them, that they mentioned by name?

Jurrjens4NLCY

October 22nd, 2009
5:31 am

Bill James made a good argument with regards to the roids.

Was it that everyone was using steroids so it didn’t matter?

P. W. Hjort

October 22nd, 2009
5:39 am

Was it that everyone was using steroids so it didn’t matter?

No. It was 5 different arguments as to why HOF voters wouldn’t hold it against players for using steroids in 20 years. They were all excellent.

berrygin

October 22nd, 2009
5:45 am

I knew BAS would wimp out and not get to 70! ;)

Dean

October 22nd, 2009
6:26 am

The Braves simply won’t compete next year with their off-season plans as they are. Anyone who honestly looks at this Philly team, whether they are playing hot or cold, has to admit that the Braves are a far cry from overcoming them. And, remember, next year they will have a full year of Cliff Lee. And, not only does that give them more wins, but I think in the long run it bolsters Hamels. And, of course, the offense, well what can you say – it’s very very good even when it’s a little slow.

So, don’t tell me stuff like the Braves are looking to improve their offense. That’s just dumb. The only way to be legitimate is to Overhaul the offense. It’s gonna take at least 2 big bats. And, anyone that doesn’t call Wren on this is a fool.

Niedermeyer

October 22nd, 2009
6:55 am

Dean Wormer has spoken, you’re all worthless and weak. Now drop and give me twenty!

Bellboy

October 22nd, 2009
7:30 am

“I know what I’m doin’….I just can’t stop doin’ it” is perhaps my favorite line from any song. I believe Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I am a Met fan, but it works for any team, and frankly any situation.

O'Brien

October 22nd, 2009
7:55 am

The way the Phillies are dominating in the playoffs should make it clear to Frank Wren just how far our offense has to go. Sure, we have good pitching, but the Dodgers had one of the best bullpens all year. how did that turn out?

And let’s not forget, the Phills will have Cliff Lee and JA Happ next year, plus maybe Cole Hamels returns to form. The Braves need offense.

DOB raised an interesting point. The Braves could let LaRoche go, and sign/trade for a big bat to play 1B. But who would be available?

I cant wait for the offseason.

Nativebird

October 22nd, 2009
8:03 am

Going into offseason LAST YEAR everyone and their brother knew this team needed two things, Starting Pitching and a Big right handed RBI Bat. Well, one dissapointing ‘almost-made-it-again’ season later and a bunch of useless press, talking, yapping about former-should-be-retired-over-40-Braves-starters (and their attitudes)-nonsense, plus more ink and nonsense spilled about other HAS BEENS like Griffey and Garrett Anderson, all the while maintaining their “big bat first basement” Casey Kotchman will do the necessary job (PULEEASE), this organization continues to MIS-fire on the things it needs to do.
ALL STAR MONEY needs to be paid to get ALL STAR talent…and that is the simple uncomplicated truth Mr. Wren. If Liberty doesnt have it for you, then there’s NO Band-aid available that will fit your problem.
the Last two (realistic) World Series chance teams in Atlanta had ONE thing in common; a big-time, big-bat ALL STAR quality first basemen: Fred Mcgriff, and the Big Cat Gallaraga.
Unti THAT is fixed, keep making excuses sir, it won’t matter. and it aint Adam LaRoche version 3.0!

Preston Hannatized

October 22nd, 2009
8:04 am

Quick thoughts — go for O-Dog to play 2B/OF. He fell out of favor in LA. He can still play and he gives the Braves some much needed “diversity.” The AJC editors will love that. Let Huddy walk – good guy, fine 14 win pitcher, post-season bust back to his Oakland days. Keep Laroche if possible. What’s Soriano’s story, DOB? Some stretches he’s unhittable. He doesn’t fit the “image” for the button-downed Schuerholtz/McGuirk types — so, he’s out, I guess. The Red Sox have any interest in Escobar?

Steve from OH

October 22nd, 2009
8:20 am

I heard that Kelly is going to be a daddy soon. I wish I knew if the mom was PW, Steve, or Wayne. Guess I’ll have to watch Maury to find out.

Ouch.

(For the record, I think it’s scoots…)

toga party

October 22nd, 2009
8:22 am

Thanks for the new blog DOB. Great reading. I find Wren’s comments about Prado to be slightly more re-assuring than Bobby’s.

And a well-intentioned golf clap for Bay Area Steve’s whiskey-assisted 27 posts on the front page. Nice effort. Well short of 60, but a nice effort nonetheless.

stew

October 22nd, 2009
8:25 am

Bay Area Steve said something I totally agree with. Andruw was the greatest centerfielder I ever saw bar none including the Say Hey Kid (Willie). Andruw just doesn’t get his props. He was light years better than punch and judy Joe D.

Jeff R

October 22nd, 2009
8:36 am

Here’s my concern about not pursuing LaRoche for a re-up, even if it’s a three-year contract.

Talk during the season was that the Bravos needed a righty power bat to add to the mix. The mix included LaRoche.

Adding a power bat without LaRoche means another hole in the offense, unless management can come up with a free agent who can satisfactorily fill LaRoche’s shoes.

If I’ve followed the thinking correctly, replacing LaRoche with a big bat doesn’t entirely address the whole need for more offensive power. So, wouldn’t Wren have two power bats to add?

Jeff R

October 22nd, 2009
8:38 am

“Adding a power bat without LaRoche means another hole in the offense, unless management can come up with a free agent who can satisfactorily fill LaRoche’s shoes.”

I should say “a free agent or a 1B acquired in a trade who can satisfactorily fill LaRoche’s shoes.”

Kashi

October 22nd, 2009
8:38 am

With our current offense and position player, we won’t be able to bet resurgent Mets and Marlins. Shall I throw in Nationals too? We are looking at rock bottom next year if Huddy, LaRoche is gone. Huddy is most likely to sign with Nationals or Mets.

bravofan

October 22nd, 2009
8:45 am

The Phils are like the new yankees I hate em!

raleighbravefan

October 22nd, 2009
8:53 am

stew – I’m guessing if you saw Willie Mays, it was only near/at the end of his career. Andruw, at his best, was close but not equal to Mays. He never came close on offense.

Rock On......

October 22nd, 2009
9:18 am

DOB….thanks for the awesome blog. One of your best ( I mean among many good ones). Great to hear about Prado’s position on the team from Wren. Based on the assertion from Wren that Prado is the “everyday 2nd baseman” then I have to assume that we will not see Prado as a utility guy. re: 3rd/1st baseman replacement. It is always tough to get consistent offensive production from a super utility type player. Better to focus in on one position and do it well.

Not sure I am reading Wren between the lines correctly but that was my first take.

Frank Robinson (Rockmart)

October 22nd, 2009
9:20 am

DOB,
Great Blog. Especially like the way it ended.

On Prado: It seems to me that he might be the best option in the leadoff spot. Does anyone agree? I mean, we may go out and get a leadoff-type guy in the offseason. I really hope they focus on adding power, though. Looks to me like we have an adequate leadoff hitter penciled in at 2B (or RF if we don’t “give up on Kelly”).

Jeff R

October 22nd, 2009
9:26 am

Prado deserves Wren’s vote of confidence. Initially, given the bias for Johnson, Prado made the team the only way possible: as a utility player. He was always starter material, and he took advantage of his opportunity and worked hard to prove himself. The guy has grit.

NEW CARS

October 22nd, 2009
9:27 am

Is there a chance that we could make a blockbuster. I wouldn’t want to give up Juurjens, but if we could get a Ryan Braun in return, would it be worth it. Barring that, it would be nice to catch lightning in a bottle with someone like Connor Jackson. I would be satisfied if we had Laroche and a strong rh bat in leftfield. I like McLouth, but if we have to trade him and put Jordan in cf, I would be okay with that. A pipe dream I had was trading D Lowe straight up for D Lee. He’s a gold glove first baseman and had a big season. Would you trade Lowe for Vernon Wells, if they evened out the contracts. I think that dude is a player who needs a new address. If he cost the same as Derek Lowe, with another year or two added, I would take a flyer on him. I’m excited with the options we have this year as compared to a year ago, when we had holes everywhere. We didn’t lose many of our bargaining chips either, just Tyler Flowers and Charlie Morton. With Laroche at 1b, a real stick in lf and Heyward in rf, and please help us, no Norton on the bench, I believe we can compete with the Phils.
I don’t believe any of our free agents are going to get offered in November, so I would be willing to offer arbitration to Soriano, gonzalez and Laroche…I would think that a least one of the relievers would pass it up to sign somewhere else and there are teams that would take them..

Rock On......

October 22nd, 2009
9:27 am

Jeff R…..great point on LaRoche at 8:36. Truth is that LaRoche was probably auditioning for a job the last half of the year. Not sure the Braves will bite on 3 years but I do believe that LaRoche is in the aforementioned mix otherwise, based on LaRoche’s numbers, they would need two more bats. This is in addition to Heyward in RF should that come to be.

PMC

October 22nd, 2009
9:31 am

Let’s see. Phillies are better at every single position have virtually no holes in thier line up they added Cliff Lee and thier bullpen is good enough. MVP’s from Short to 1st. A really good third baseman…. yeah sorry I don’t see it for the Braves for a while. Let’s hope for 90 wins and a wild card birth.

The best player on the team is 3 steps from retirement. We have no outfielders. We don’t steal bases, we have no power… the lineup was riddled with holes and those holes were inserted daily. The only really solid thing about this team is starting pitching.

Vaya con Dios senior Wren… you’re going to need a heck of a lot of luck.

Rock On......

October 22nd, 2009
9:32 am

NEW CARS….my man, where the hell have you been? I voted you as the funniest post of the year. You are the blog’s sargeant-at-arms.

Don

October 22nd, 2009
9:47 am

Braves efforts to “get better” are hampered by several significant factors asider from what trades, acquisitiosn, signings etc are possible.
The most significant thing is that Bobby Cox is back with his incompetent management procedures and lack thereof. It is unbelievable that someone could manage for over 20 years and not understand the necessity of teaching/ emphasizing/ demanding making the opposing pitcher throw some pitches/ working the count/ being selective – which has multiple advantages. His failure to do this guarantees that the Braves run production will be inconsistant. Watching the Phils hitters work the count/ be patient and selective is like daylight from dark compared to Cox teams. And this does not even mention all of his continuous management blunders in so many other ways.
Also, the Braves are already in the hole as far as making their salary budget work to have a good team – with a hunge chunk of the total budget already obligated for the next 3 years to a player who is already just a “part time” player and is also a poor defensive 3rd baseman who apparently no longer a very good hitter – even when he is able to play.
With Bobby Cox managing, the only chance the Braves have is if their Pitching schould be so far far superior to the other teams that it makes it impossible to lose over the long 162 game regular season – and overcomes Cox’s incompetence as a manager.
Wrens efforts to build a winning team are almost impossible when his hands are tied by having to keep Cox as manager.

Rock On......

October 22nd, 2009
9:50 am

Again last night Torre is asleep at the wheel. Give him credit for pitching around Howard but then with two outs and an open base Padilla falls behind Werth 3-0. It screams for an intentional walk to bring up Ibanez (regardless if it loaded the bases). Nope, Padilla throws all fastballs to try and get the K and one didn’t return. When you are playing a superior team on their home field you can’t have a manager go brain-dead. Probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway but Joe Torre was severely out managed in this series.

macdwolfpack

October 22nd, 2009
9:53 am

I’m hoping but not sure that Wren realized if they don’t resign LaRoche then they have a need for two big bats to sign or trade for in this lineup. If you are one big bat away from competing and you add one and lose one, you are still one big bat away from competing.

Jeff R

October 22nd, 2009
9:54 am

Rock On…… That’s what I thought. I’m not sure way Wren wouldn’t bite on a reasonable three-year deal for LaRoche. At this point, Freeman isn’t being fast-tracked, so he may not be in Atlanta until 2012, depending on how he performs.

Even if Freeman starts to light the world on fire, and management wants to bring him up, say for 2011, Wren could likely move LaRoche. Got to believe LaRoche’s value would be pretty good. Don’t you?

Mid Town Joe

October 22nd, 2009
10:03 am

That Jason Werth is some studd! I was trying to place the current Braves in last night’s scenario, and it just didn’t play out, especially with our fan base. They sure have the total package in Philly, and they’ll be tough to overtake next season. I’ll be rooting for them in the WS.

Philly Braves Fan

October 22nd, 2009
10:03 am

I hope Wren makes some solid moves so we can send Bobby out with a bang

Rock On......

October 22nd, 2009
10:03 am

Don….I think most on here would agree Cox is not a great tactition and his best skill set is in personnel. Chipper is what he is but only a year removed from the NL batting title. He is not a defensive whiz but then again never has been really. We have far greater needs than trying to replace Chipper (although I think the Braves will get a player via trade that will handle some utility duties if Chipper is out).

As for your pitching thought, yes, I feel the Braves are superior to every team in SP 1-5(assuming they don’t do something stupid like trade Vazquez) and their top 3 can compete with anyone. Firm up the closer position, sign LaRoche, Heyward being ready, and a big RH bat for LF and you have a world series caliber team no doubt. Can the Braves/Wren accomplish that? We’ll find out soon enough.

DAP

October 22nd, 2009
10:03 am

pwhjort great info last night. i love how the more you pick apart chipper jones’ numbers, the more impressive it gets. i read an article recently talking about players in the history of the game that have managed a career .300/.400/.500 line. there arent many, and chipper is one of them.

Anders

October 22nd, 2009
10:09 am

at least it’s not the supremely annoying NY Subway Series we dread (though with the current state of the Mets, I don’t think we need fear a Subway Series soon, unless it’s a Cubs-White Sox version, which wouldn’t be bad). (DOB)

Why don’t you worry about filling one ballpark in your fair city and leave the subway series issues to the big boys. {:

DAP

October 22nd, 2009
10:11 am

frank robinson

the way this team is made up right now, i think mclouth is a good leadoff guy. i would definitely stick with him unless the braves get a guy who is perfect for the leadoff spot, which isnt likely, since we are after a power hitter, and schafer aint ready.

ill also agree that i dont see how wren could pass up laroche, unless he has a plan to get fielder or gonzalez.

O.J.

October 22nd, 2009
10:13 am

I wonder how many free agents the Braves will not sign to long term contracts due to the fact that they know Bobby is going to be here only 1 more year. That might have been a selling point before, but now they know he will be gone, so not so much a selling point anymore.

Rock On......

October 22nd, 2009
10:14 am

Jeff R….hard to say if LaRoche would have any value at all if they brought up Freeman in 2011 and they gave LaRoche a 3-year deal and had to trade him to make room for Freeman.

Andruw had a tremendous run but it took him only two years or less to fall off the planet. Could happen with LaRoche. Who knows. Will LaRoche take a two year deal from Atlanta as opposed to three? Probably if the money is right but Atlanta may find a trade partner to bring in a 1st baseman that can work for two years until Freeman is ready.

Jeff R

October 22nd, 2009
10:14 am

Rock On…… “…Cox is not a great tactition and his best skill set is in personnel.”

Exactly.

Soph

October 22nd, 2009
10:16 am

Oooh, I like this waking up to a new blog thing. Thanks, DOB.

DAP

October 22nd, 2009
10:16 am

i am one who believes the braves are on the edge of being the best team in the NL. that includes the phillies. we have offensive issues, but we have several very good offensive player and a dominant pitching rotation. wren is right…keep the bullpen strong, and improve the offense, and we could be really good. if the braves could find a way to land jason bay, and keep the rest of the team intact for the most part, they would be a very dangerous team.

Anders

October 22nd, 2009
10:16 am

Speaking of the Mets (DOB brought them up not me), I guess you guys heard that not only didn’t the Wilpons lose any money to Madoff but apparently they made $50 mil! Well that was a surprising turn of events. Sounds like the economy is coming around after all.

Now where is that FA bin again?

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