Heyward’s growing as fast as expectations

Is this the future face of the Braves franchise? Photo by Tom Priddy/Four Seam images

Is this the future face of the Braves franchise? Photo by Tom Priddy/Four Seam images

Henry County’s heavy hitter is only 20 years old and has limited experience above the low minor leagues, but Braves officials have said that Jason Heyward will enter spring training with every opportunity to win the right-field job. And said it repeatedly, to any and everyone.

And if that’s the case, most who’ve seen Heyward hitting – or seen him simply existing – in recent weeks would probably put money on him being in right field for the Braves’ opening series with the Cubs April 5-8 at Turner Field.

Because the masher from McDonough is impressive. Straight up.

“He’s virtually skipping Triple-A if he makes the team,” manager Bobby Cox said of Heyward, who played in three late-season games at Triple-A Gwinnett and has only 50 games and 173 at-bats above Class A.

“That doesn’t happen often. But in his case we just feel that he should, if he’s going to come to spring training, be given a crack at it,” Cox said.

As we mentioned here a few weeks ago, in the past decade only one position player drafted out of high school — Tampa Bay outfielder Rocco Baldelli – made an opening-day major league roster after having fewer than 200 at-bats above Class A, then played at least 30 games in the majors.

But Heyward is obviously special, evident from his No. 1 rating in baseball prospect lists by ESPN’s Keith Law, MLB.com and Baseball America, which also made him its 2009 minor league Player of the Year.

He’s talented, mature, smart — the son of two Dartmouth graduates, by the way -– and big.

Very big.

At 6-4 and 245 pounds, he’s about 20 pounds heavier than when we saw him last spring. But he’s still got the narrow waist and V-back. I used to say he looked like a young Derrek Lee when Lee came to the Marlins from San Diego. But now he looks more like full-grown Derrek Lee. And then some.

Jordan Schafer hopes to play center plenty this spring with Heyward in right. But Schafer, who missed much of last season with a wrist injury, hopes dearly to avoid any miscommunication on fly balls to the gap.

jasonheywardjesusmontero

Heyward set to uncoil on one last spring. He's bigger now.

“I saw him a couple of weeks ago and I was like, ‘Dude, you’ve got to call for the ball really loud,’” Schafer said, laughing. “Because I’m not trying to get ran over by him. I don’t want no part of that.”

And while we’re on the subject of Schafer, 23, think about how much has happened to him since this time last year.

Schafer entered last spring as a bit of an underdog in a three-way battle for the center-field job. Remember, Josh Anderson was out of options and widely regarded as the favorite because of his speed and his performance in callups with the Astros.

That plus the fact that Schafer had served a 50-game suspension the previous season for HGH, and no one knew if that missed time might set him back.

It didn’t. He was terrific for the first few weeks of camp and won the job, leading the Braves to trade Anderson and give Schafer the center-field job. He hit two home runs in the opening series at Philadelphia, but hurt his wrist in the home opener and was never the same after that.

He’ll enter spring with a surgically repaired wrist and only a slight chance to make the roster, because the Braves have incumbent center fielder Nate McLouth and versatile Melkey Cabrera, and because they want Schafer to get plenty of at-bats and regain his form and confidence.

“I want to play as much as I can in spring training,” Schafer said. “I understand I’m probably going to have to start off a little slow, just because I haven’t played in a while. But I want to play as much as I can.”

Schafer and Heyward, former and current organizational No. 1 prospects, have something else in common: Both say they’re unconcerned about the decisions that will determine if they begin the season at Triple-A Gwinnett.

“Go out there and have fun, and everything else will take care of itself,” Heyward said, downplaying a question about whether he might be nervous as the center of attention when full-squad workouts begin.

Schafer said: “I just want to play. I don’t care where it is, I just want to play.”

When would you prefer to see Jason Heyward in RF for Atlanta?

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Expectations for Heyward have grown as fast as he has. He’ll have camera crews and reporters following his every move at spring training.

Heyward hit .323 with a .408 on-base percentage, 17 homers, a .555 slugging percentage and as many walks (51) as strikeouts in 99 games at three levels in 2009, including 49 games in high-Class A and 47 games at Class AA.

He missed time with several nagging injuries last season, then was pulled out of the Arizona Fall League after only four games as a precautionary measure after straining his lower back, which sent pain radiating down to his glute and upper hamstring.

But he’s been working out now for several weeks without any problems.

While Heyward has only 173 at-bats above Class A, that’s seven more than catcher Brian McCann had before being brought to the majors in June 2005 directly from Double-A.

Lack of upper-minor league at-bats didn't keep this guy back.

Lack of upper-minor league at-bats didn't keep this guy back.

McCann hit .278 with five homers in 180 at-bats in a part-time Braves role that season, and has made four consecutive National League All-Star teams since.

Heyward would be used in a starting role, since the Braves surely don’t want to have their most talented position prospect since Andruw Jones riding the pine often while he’s still developing.

The Braves’ current other option for right field is Cabrera, acquired from the New York Yankees in a December trade for pitcher Javier Vazquez.

Team officials express hope that Heyward has a solid spring to nail down the right-field job, in which case they could use switch-hitting Cabrera to complement Matt Diaz in left field and to spell Heyward against some lefties.

But if the Braves decide to start Heyward at Gwinnett, they could trade for or sign acquire another outfielder — you blog denizens  might have heard,  free agent Johnny Damon is still available –- or use Cabrera in right and Diaz in left, with Gregor Blanco or someone else in the organization as a backup with utility players Eric Hinske and Omar Infante.

There might also be a chance, however slight, Schafer could convince the Braves he’s ready to open the season on the 25-man roster. But that seems highly unlikely. He’ll probably go to Gwinnett for at least the first part of the season to regain his swing and confidence.

And while he reiterated this week that he hopes to stay with the Braves, he also said he knows that it’s a business and that he could end up elsewhere. Braves officials say Schafer is still a strong prospect in their view, and that he just needs to play and stay healthy.

♣The inevitable Damon update: I’ve said several times that the Damon-to-Braves possibility ain’t over till he signs elsewhere or the Braves come out and say they have no interest. Either of those developments could happen soon, but hadn’t just yet.

Last week, assistant GM Bruce Manno said on Bill Shanks‘ radio show that the Braves like their team as is, but added, “never say never” regarding the Damon situation.

Gather around, you unwashed hacks. I'm only going to say this once.

Gather around, you unwashed hacks. I'm Scott Boras and I'm quite busy. (OK, he didn't actually say that, as far as we know.)

Hey, there’s no question that agent Scott Boras never anticipated Damon being unsigned this long. That’s obvious. And wherever he ends up, he’s going to likely be making about one-half (or less) of the $13 mill salary that he made during his previous contract. Also now obvious.

But remember, last year Bobby Abreu didn’t sign until Feb. 11, and Boras client Garret Anderson didn’t sign with the Braves until Feb. 24. (And spring training started almost a week earlier last season, so were more than a week into camp when Anderson signed.) Damon has plenty of time.

Boras is trying to convince the Braves, the Tigers and one other team — the Rays? — that Damon is the difference-maker between them winning their division or at least making the playoffs, or staying home in October. From that group, Detroit probably has the most money it’s willing to spend.

With the Braves, who knows if Boras is right about the playoffs? He could be, if Nate McLouth has a season like last year, when he was slowed by hamstring problems and, perhaps, vision problems (he was fitted for contacts after the season). But if McLouth is healthy, the Braves might already have a strong leadoff hitter.

Damon would give the Braves a proven leadoff option, allow them to move McLouth down in the order, and eliminate any need to push Heyward too soon if he has any problems during spring training and looks like he could use more seasoning. But can he play every day? Or hit much outside Yankee Stadium?

If the Braves had Damon and then decided this spring that Heyward’s ready, they could either trade Cabrera or Diaz late in spring training, or go into the season with both of them as backups — although that might necessitate starting the season with only one backup middle infielder (Infante), something they might not be comfortable doing.

But maybe it’s a moot point, if they don’t have enough interest in Damon to make an offer, or one that’s even close to what Boras is looking for.

It’s funny that two teams — Atlanta and Detroit — connected to Damon these days have GMs, Frank Wren and the Tigers’ Dave Dombrowski, who refuse to comment about such matters in the media. Wren was a Dombrowski assistant with Montreal and Florida, and the two are friends.

That publicly silent GMs situation probably isn’t  the ideal situation for Boras to do his negotiating magic, which works best when he can work one team off another.

But Boras has been through enough of these situations to not get antsy as spring training nears. Damon isn’t going to get anywhere remotely close to what he and Boras believe he’s worth, but in the end he’ll get signed.

And if he helps a team reach the playoffs, will anyone be surprised?

Atlanta+Braves+Practice+x_IOC5mG7iNl

They asked, and Javy answered.

♣ Javy Lopez, retired and not too restrained: For those who might have missed my mention of it in the comments section of the last blog,  Curt and Steve over at the Atlanta Baseball Talk podcast did an in-depth and revealing interview last week with former Braves catcher Javy Lopez.

The retired slugger was open and informative in an interview — you can  listen to it here — that stretched for about 50 minutes, addressing such topics as steroids, working (and not working) with Greg Maddux, catching Kent Mercker’s 1994 no-hitter against the Dodgers, and, did we mention, steroids?

Javy hit 212 of his 260 career homers during 12 seasons for the Braves, including 43 homers in 2003 at age 32 (he totaled 17 and 11 homers the previous two seasons, and 23, 15 and 8 homers in the next three seasons with Baltimore and Boston, his last three seasons in the majors).

When asked about Mark McGwire’s recent admission to use of ‘roids and human growth hormone, Lopez had this candid reply:

“Back in the days, steroids wasn’t — I wouldn’t say wasn’t illegal in the big leagues, but it wasn’t a concern,” he said, and paused. “I guess that’s the right thing to say. I guess what Major League [Baseball] was actually looking at players for [at that time], was to make sure they don’t have any kind of drugs like marijuana or cocaine. I guess that’s what Dwight Gooden got suspended for, and a lot of players got suspended for drugs, but never for steroids until the [Jose] Canseco comments in, what, 2002, 2003?”

One of the hosts (Curt or Steve) then asked Lopez, “So you say there wasn’t that much concern or spotlight on it. Was it around? Was it something the players knew was around in the late 90s, early 2000s? Was it spoken about?”

To which Lopez replied, “Well, everybody seen players getting big, hitting the ball harder, home runs and stuff. All of a sudden – boom — they got the big contract and everybody’s like, ‘You know what, did that, it worked for him, why not do it?’ Everybody … you know, starting from the minor leagues, the minor leaguers were the first to try all that, because they’ve got this hunger to be in the big leagues. So they do whatever it takes to make it to the big leagues and to not only make it to the big leagues, but to be the best in the big leagues. And that’s what steroids do to you.

“I mean, that’s what steroids were doing to a lot of players in the big leagues.”

(Can I just add here: Oi! Ok, had to do that.)

Lopez was then asked flatly if players were looking at steroids as an option and using them.

“Uh, yes,” he said. “In my opinion, yes…. I mean, how can I explain this? It’s like if you’re going to race cars, if you’re going to race a car and some people are using nitro in the fuel [Lopez laughed], and you see them winning all the time, and you’re using regular gas – you know what? If they’re using nitro and they’ve been winning, well, I’d be stupid enough not to use nitro, too.”

To which one of the hosts replied that he [the host] couldn’t believe everyone else didn’t think that as well.

“Exactly,” Lopez said. “But the game of baseball — just because you use steroids doesn’t mean you’re going to hit the ball hard. I know a lot of players – not a lot of players, but I know players — who use steroids and you know what? They struck out more. Couldn’t hit the ball.

“The bottom line is that in baseball, you still have to hit the ball. Steroids do not help you hit the ball or make you the ball better. You still have to have the talent. You still have to have the talent. But it does help you to hit the ball farther.”

Asked about pitchers also using steroids in that period, Lopez said, “Pitchers obviously throw a lot harder, throw a lot faster [on steroids]. You face a pitcher who’s using steroids. The pitcher’s facing a batter that uses steroids…. It’s a mess. We talk about that. But you know what? I’m glad that everything came out. Now when you see a player out there, you can’t say 100 percent, but at least you know [with some degree of certainty] they’re clean.”

Lopez also was asked if he had any idea who’d replace manager Bobby Cox if he retires as planed after the 2010 season.

“Somebody told me she heard Bobby mention Eddie [Perez] as his replacement,” Lopez said. “I was like, ‘Wow. Let’s go, Eddie. I need a job.’ ”

Lopez added, “Don’t be surprised if Bobby decides to go another year. Why not? It’s tough to be retired. I didn’t realize that until I didn’t play in 2007.”

The site is www.atlantabaseballtalk.com.

A Southern Sun Devils reunion: At some point during the 2010 season, the Braves’ major league roster could include two of 25 members of Arizona State’s 2000-2009 All-Decade team. And I’ll bet you can’t name either one of them without going to Google or some other source.

Take a few minutes. Think hard.

Give up?

Utility man Brooks Conrad and outfielder Mitch Jones. (I said you wouldn’t have guessed it.)

Conrad played at ASU from 1999 to 2001 and had a big year in 2000, batting .336 with 10 homers and 67 RBI in 59 games, with a .442 OBP and 1.017 OPS.

Jones is a minor-league free agent who signed with the Braves this winter, after leading the minor leagues with 35 homers in 2009 as a 31-year-old outfielder on the Dodgers’ Triple-A Albuquerque affiliate.

Jones broke Bob Horner's ASU home-run record

Mitch Jones broke Bob Horner's Arizona State home-run record

Jones hit 27 homers at ASU in 2000 to surpass Bob Horner’s 22-year-old school record of 25. In two seasons at Tempe, Jones hit .348 with 38 homers and 131 RBI, including a 92-RBI season in 2000 when he was a first-time All-American. His single-season school homer record still stands.

The most familiar name on that Sun Devils All-Decade team: Dustin Pedroia (2002-2004).

♣ Etc.: With 426 homers, Chipper Jones is the active leader for a player who spent his entire career with one team. Phillies legend Mike Schmidt (548) is the all-time leader…. Jordan Schafer told me that he lost about 30 pounds, down to 169, during the weeks after his season-ending wrist surgery. “I didn’t do anything,” said Schafer, who said lost his appetite until he was cleared to resume workouts. The 5-foot-11 outfielder is back up to a solid 202 pounds now.

Speaking of BBQ (we are now): I’m down to my last half-pound or so of the pure pork pleasure of Parker’s, out of the two containers I bought — one from Bill’s, one from Parker’s — when we were up at my parents’ house in Wilson, N.C., for Thanksgiving

parker-s-show-up-earlyI tried to make them last — the BBQ, not my parents — and kept them in the freezer — again, the BBQ, not my parents — bringing about a half-pound or so every few weeks from freezer to ‘fridge. But we’re running out now, after a couple dozen or so BBQ sandwiches on hamburger buns. Every time I heat it up, the smell of that vinegar and pork ‘Q just makes the house smell like heaven.

Maybe we could get Parker’s or Bill’s to sponsor the blog in the future? Have a menu and phone number up in the right-hand corner with delivery procedure and all that? (Actually, the AJC would probably not take kindly to us working out such an arrangement on our own.)

Baseball on the brain: With spring training just around the corner, thought I’d do a little baseball tuneage for today’s lyrics.

Of all the great baseball-themed songs over the decades, including Steve Wynn, Peter Buck and Co.’s clever, well-researched <em>Baseball Project</em> alt-rock album from just a couple of years ago, I still haven’t heard a ‘ball tune better than Tom Russell’s heartbreaking ode to Mickey Mantle, “The Kid from Spavinaw.”

Russell is one of the finest singer-songwriters alive, and when you listen to this and other songs by him you might just wonder, like I have, how such a brilliant guy never got more widespread fame. Of course, I think the same thing when I listen to Joe Ely sing something like “She Never Spoke Spanish to Me.” Check it out here.

You can sample Russell’s “The Kid From Spavinaw” and a bunch of other great tunes of his including “The Pugilist at 59,” “Out in California” and “The Death of Jimmy Martin” at this site. You won’t be sorry.

russell

“THE KID FROM SPAVINAW” by Tom Russell

I was born in Oklahoma, 1931

Outside the town of Spavinaw

Where the red dust clouds the sun

And I ran beneath your diamond skies

And I drank your waves of grain

My name is Mickey Mantle, boys

And baseball is my game

My father’s name was “Mutt”, boy

And he worked down in the mines

He pitched to me in the evening

At least a thousand times

A thousand times again, in my nightmare and my dreams

You’re going to live in the house that Ruth built, kid

You’re going to make that Yankee team

Sure enough, the Yankee scout comes drivin’, right down route 66

He’d have never come to Spavinaw class D ball in the sticks,

but I happened to be playing in an old wood ball park way out on the mother road

That Yankee scout he signed me and I went up to the the show

Strike 1, that was the drinkin’

Strike 2, there go the knees

Then my old man died in Denver

Some type of lung disease

When God starts throwing change ups

You can’t swing with fame or wealth

If I’d known I’s going to live this long

I’d have taken care of myself.

I don’t miss the lights of Times Square

I don’t miss Toots Shore’s bar

I miss my old man pitchin’ baseball

Near the shed in our backyard

I wish that he were still alive

To see these trophies on my shelf

If I’d known I was going to live this long

I’d have taken better care of myself

I was born in Oklahoma, 1931

Outside the town of Spavinaw

Where the red dust clouds the sun

4,478 comments Add your comment

nolie

February 5th, 2010
2:01 am

is this what you and nolie referred to as traditional jazz? TOM

I tried to explain it in previous blog. Brubeck would be considered Be-Bop or cool jazz I guess. That is what many think of as traditional jazz. His is usually a bit more melodic than some. Try Miles Davis Kind of Blue if you can find it. It along with Take Five are two of the most popular and most respected albums cut.

HTF

February 5th, 2010
2:02 am

Not starting him in Atlanta if he has a good camp would just be plain dumb.

Tom O'Hawke

February 5th, 2010
2:05 am

nolie, I’ll try. I do have (inherited) Miles Davis’ “Bitches Brew”. Do you like that one?

Josh

February 5th, 2010
2:06 am

Jarryd

February 5th, 2010
2:07 am

on the subject of jazz, its not very traditional, but has anyone listened to Addison Groove Project? more of a jam band if you are into that kind of scene, but definitely a lot of jazz influence.

NO MORE BOBBY

February 5th, 2010
2:08 am

My all star Bobby Cox managed team.

C – Javy Lopez (sorry Mac)
1B – Fred McGriff
2B – Glen Hubbard
SS – Rafael Furcal
3B – Chipper Jones
LF – Gary Matthews
CF – Dale Murphy
RF – David Justice
P – John Smoltz

I know Matthews played RF but I wanted him on the team. Ha!

Chuck James can Potentially be Solid until the 6th again!!!

February 5th, 2010
2:09 am

Damn, good stuff DOB!

N8

In regards to your post on the last blog, let’s not talk if Chipper gets hurt, let’s not go there…. I don’t think June will be to late either. Guess we’ll have to wait and see. In regards to your Hudson predictions, homer or not, I’m right there with you. Just hearing the way he’s talking AFTER his extension is very encouraging. I could see if he was saying this lobbying for a new contract but he’s set and poised to have a career year and quite frankly I can’t wait. I think this will be Hudson’s best year this year…..

In regards to Glaus, if he can hit .270 with 25 HR’s 85 RBI and 130 Games I’ll be thrilled… Hinske spelling him at 1B the other 30 games. That is what I am expecting and hoping from 1B this year. To think they have gone in with Kotchman and Thorman in past year, YIKES! This team is overall improved in regards to balance. There is no guy like Kelly, Francoeur, Schafer or even Kotchman for that matter where you look at them and go “This won’t be hard…”. Everybody top to bottom is a legitimate threat..

Jarryd

February 5th, 2010
2:10 am

thorman, people that that was a good idea?

nolie

February 5th, 2010
2:11 am

Damn! Guess i shoulda thrown a FIRST! in there at the beginning. Missed my first first. I’m Sooo embarrassed. :oops:

Jarryd

February 5th, 2010
2:11 am

thought that*

Tom O'Hawke

February 5th, 2010
2:15 am

nolie, that album was easy to find. Listening to “So What” (1st song) now. I’ve heard this quite a bit on XM.

richbrave, I could only play “Tangerine” and “Autumn Leaves” off the “Together” album. However, the last song, “Concierto De Aranjuez”, I was able to listen to by Jim Hall (?). Man, that’s a nice, mellow song.

WOW

February 5th, 2010
2:18 am

Very nice blog!!! Way to go DOB. Im ready for Damon to sign wherever he may so i can quit looking for updates hourly everyday.

Tom O'Hawke

February 5th, 2010
2:19 am

Damn! Guess i shoulda thrown a FIRST! in there at the beginning. Missed my first first. I’m Sooo embarrassed

nolie, your sophistication is showing.

nolie

February 5th, 2010
2:19 am

TOM Bitches Brew is very good but kind of a change to a bit more popular sound by Davis. Some credit this as the beginning of Fusion, not sure I agree with that but it is less traditional than his previous work. You might enjoy it more than Kind of Blue although I don’t like it quite as well. Neither are as melodic as Brubeck usually is and you might like him best .

David O'Brien

February 5th, 2010
2:19 am

nolie, I’d go with Kind of Blue first, but also In A Silent Way or Miles Ahead. Then Sketches of Spain and The Birth of the Cool.

But Bitches Brew is also terrific when you’re in the mood for it. I also like his Tribute to Jack Johnson.

Gotta love Miles Davis.

And Coltrane — Giants Steps and Blue Train. Especially Blue Train.

How ’bout Thelonious Monk? Cannonball Adderley? Great stuff.

I love working to some mellow Ellis Marsalis on piano. He always played at Snug Harbor on Fridays when my sister lived in New Orleans.

For vocals, especially late at night or in the morning, you can’t beat Billie Holliday, Nina Simone, Ella, Dinah Washington … all jazz to varying degrees, and all terrific.

nolie

February 5th, 2010
2:23 am

Tom Jim Hall is great. There are a lot of great jazz guitarists. Some more traditional like hall, others more Fusion oriented oriented like DiMeola.
three of the top Jazz guitarists in the world. John McLaughlin, Al Dimeola, and Paco de Lucia combine their talents in several albums. What great playing. I believe THE GUITAR TRIO is the name of one of them.

jj

February 5th, 2010
2:25 am

That was a good piece on Javy and makes you wonder who else on Braves got a big contract after a monster year.That was baseball and that’s life.Some walk,some talk and some go to Canton,maybe.

nolie

February 5th, 2010
2:26 am

DOB yeah you gotta kinda be in the right mood for Bitches Brew. Kind of I don’t know..hectic at places??

Shanks A Lot

February 5th, 2010
2:31 am

No more

How do you leave Andruw out?

C- McCann
1B- Galarraga/McGriff platoon
2B- Lemke
3B- Chipper Jones
SS- Furcal
CF- Andruw Jones
LF- Dale Murphy
RF- David Justice

Tom O'Hawke

February 5th, 2010
2:34 am

Look at DOB rattling off the jazz. I’m quite sure I don’t know anyone with such far-ranging musical tastes as you, Mr. O’Brien.

nolie, I like Miles Davis more than Brubek. My father was a sax player and taught me, when I was very young. I always loved to play, and listen to, “Take Five”.

Shanks A Lot

February 5th, 2010
2:34 am

Btw what is Gary Mathews sr doing on your all Cox team? Also I’ll take Maddog in his prime over Smoltz any day of the week

David O'Brien

February 5th, 2010
2:36 am

If anyone missed it, I put up a poll after posting the initial blog, about Heyward’s ETA. It’s up there now. Exercise your voting rights.

Shanks A Lot

February 5th, 2010
2:40 am

DOB

You’ve been burning the midnight oil lately. Any special reason?

Tom O'Hawke

February 5th, 2010
2:47 am

DOB, I’d like to see you run that poll again, near the end of ST.

nolie, I have some John McLaughlin albums. Man, sometimes he really gets out there, ya know? Guitarists are my favorite, both rock and jazz (and what I used to call, jazz-rock, before the term “fusion”). I’m not familiar with Paco de Lucia. I’ll have to check him out. Dimeola is one of my favorites. Do you like Coryell?

uga-brave

February 5th, 2010
2:50 am

dob, loves the replacements, gotta love the album tim. for you haters give it a chance.

if not give rem’s . new adveture in hi-fi a chance.. wake up bomb.

David O'Brien

February 5th, 2010
2:52 am

O’Hawke, I don’t know jazz like I do rock, country or R&B/soul, that’s for sure. Not like Nolie or some others here. But I do love older jazz, mostly some of the masters like Coltrane, Duke Ellington (dig the big band sound), and Miles and “Bird,” Charlie Parker (he’s from Kansas City). And love some of the singers, especially Holliday and Simone. Also have several albums by Chet Baker, who looked like James Dean and could both sing and play the trumpet like a bad mother. But the drugs did him in way too early, like so many others.

David O'Brien

February 5th, 2010
2:54 am

Shanks a Lot: By the end of the offseason I’m generally staying up to 3-4 a.m., getting up about 9. Whole schedule will shift dramatically for seven weeks of spring training, then back to about 2-3 a.m. falling to sleep once the season begins, and up about 9. Except on travel days, when I usually am up at some ungodly hour like 4 a.m. for a flight.

Gil In Mechanicsville

February 5th, 2010
2:55 am

DOB… You’ are a better man than I, I could not get my BBQ to last that long. I am too much of a “cue” junkie…. However, there is a little place in Ashland VA called the Virginia Bar-B-Cue Company that makes some really good bar-b-cue. Not to be confused with the “Smokey Pig” which has really gone down hill in the past several years.

I do love Parker’s however and Bill’s too. I try to make a stop a one or the other in my trips to Holden Beach. By the way, hope to see you at spring training this year as the wife and I are headed to Sarasota to visit the youngest son in March…

uga-brave

February 5th, 2010
2:56 am

then again there was a geaat drummer? bill berry?

nolie

February 5th, 2010
3:09 am

TOM yeah I like Coryell. some other great jazz guitarists
Kenny Burrell
Herb Ellis
Stanley Jordan
Barney Kessel
Steve Khan
Earl Klugh
Eric Gale
Pat Martino
Steve Morse
Pat Methany
Wes Montgomery
John Tropea

nolie

February 5th, 2010
3:15 am

Oh and Can’t forget Joe Pass Tom

N8

February 5th, 2010
3:16 am

Anybody else thinks that smile on Heyward in the photo DOB put with the blog, reminds them of the young smile on one Ken Griffey Jr.?

I guess if I was that good, and getting a shot to win a job with my childhood favorite team, knowing that big money is around the corner, I’d smile too.

Other than Chipper coming up as a September callup late in 93, this has to be the first 1st round draft pick to be this close to making his debut for the Braves since the run began. I think Avery made a quick rise up the minors. But it’s crazy to think that 2 years ago we were all saying that in 3 or 4 years this kids going to make an impact, and here he is. And he wasn’t even a top 10 pick.

That’s awesome.

N8

February 5th, 2010
3:19 am

I can take the Dixie Dregs in small doses. That was Steve Morse wasn’t it nolie? I had a couple albums growing up, but now that I mention it I don’t think I have any of it on CD or on my iPod. Same goes for Al Di Meola. Guy is just incredible. But after a while you can’t take it anymore. LOL

nolie

February 5th, 2010
3:20 am

And he wasn’t even a top 10 pick. N8

and that in itself is very perplexing. He was rated higher than our pick by everybody on the planet. I was amazed he lasted. I wonder if he let it be know to teams that he would be harder to sign if not by the Braves? He did have college option. It sure wasn’t just on talent level that it took so long to chose him.

nolie

February 5th, 2010
3:23 am

N* yeah Morse was in Dixie Dregs out of Miami U I think. I’m that way with all those machinegun picker no matter the genre. I can only listen for so long at a stretch, though I do go back regularly. Some of the mellower guys like Pass or Hall are easier to listen to for longer stretches

Tom O'Hawke

February 5th, 2010
3:27 am

nolie, stop it will’ya? I’ll never leave the damn house, now, as it is. :D I’m listening to “Orient Blue Suite”, from the Passion, Grace and Fire album, with de Lucia, McLaughlin and Dimeola. This is great stuff. Hell, I’ll be up all night.

nolie

February 5th, 2010
3:29 am

Tom you could just copy the list of guitarists-don’t forget Joe Pass- and spread it out over a long time rather than stuffing yourself all at once. Just saying…

Tom O'Hawke

February 5th, 2010
3:37 am

Tom you could just copy the list of guitarists-don’t forget Joe Pass- and spread it out over a long time rather than stuffing yourself all at once. Just saying…

nolie, that’s a good idea. I figured I could come back to DOB’s 1st page, at any time, but I like your list idea better.
I almost hate to bring this up, but another of my favorites was Frank Zappa. Anyone like him? Not the “Mother’s” stuff, the serious Zappa.

nolie

February 5th, 2010
3:41 am

I liked most all of Frank’s stuff including much of the Mutha’s stuff. He was a gifted musician and writer

nolie

February 5th, 2010
3:42 am

TOM, yup eventually this blog will disappear, but a list is forever…or at least till your hard drive crashes.(knock on wood)

Tom O'Hawke

February 5th, 2010
3:45 am

nolie, the list is saved, including Joe Pass and Jim Hall. Ya know, the only one on your list I was familiar with is Pat Metheny. If you think of anyone else, please do so before I pass out.

Hey, seriously, man … thanks a lot.

nolie

February 5th, 2010
3:54 am

TOM
Rick Strauss
Daryl Stuermer
Gabor Szabo
these guys have some pretty cool stuff out though they are not strictly jazz guitaristd..well Szabo is I guess

nolie

February 5th, 2010
3:56 am

If you like Blues…well that opens up a whole n’other group.teehee
Gary Moore has done some pretty good blues albums, a guy who gets less appreciation here in the USA than overseas. :)

nolie

February 5th, 2010
4:00 am

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1pk6E8K9ZE

one of my favorite Tina Turner songs with Robert Cray on guitar.

Tom O'Hawke

February 5th, 2010
4:03 am

nolie, got ‘em, thanks again. They don’t have to be jazz guitarists. It’s just that our conversations started out that way. Heck, one of my all-time favorite guitar pieces is Roy Clark’s “Malaguena”. (The guy from “Hee-Haw”, not the ex-Braves’ scout.) ;)

nolie

February 5th, 2010
4:04 am

listen to Cray on that link. another good guitarist

Tom O'Hawke

February 5th, 2010
4:08 am

If it has good guitar, I like it. Don’t really care where you find it. Off the top of my head, speaking of Blues, Stevie Ray Vaughn has to be one of my favorites (RIP).

nolie

February 5th, 2010
4:17 am

BLUES
Danny Gatton
Buddy Guy is awesome
Roy Buchanan
The Kings…BB, Freddi & Albert
Albert Collins

I also love harmonica especially wailing in the blues.

Tom O'Hawke

February 5th, 2010
4:17 am

nolie, I put your link on the list. I’ll definitely check it out, a little later. Right now, my speakers have standing room only.

nolie

February 5th, 2010
4:21 am

Leo Kottke is great guitarist who has had some all instrumental albums though it is kinda hard to put him in a specific genre.
and anybody interested in the blues has to listen to some John Mayall, one of the most influential talent developers in history and a good guitarist himself.

OK enough for tonight. There will be a quiz eventually :)

Tom O'Hawke

February 5th, 2010
4:21 am

harmonica …. John Popper

nolie

February 5th, 2010
4:29 am

harmonica …. John Popper

Junior Wells
Sonny Boy Williamson
James Cotton
Lil’ Walter
Big Walter Horton
Charlie Musselwhite
Sonny Terry
Jimmy Reed

Tom O'Hawke

February 5th, 2010
4:31 am

I have 3 or 4 old John Mayall albums. If you quiz me on those, I can cheat.

nolie

February 5th, 2010
4:32 am

how could I leave off Howlin’ WolF?

Tom O'Hawke

February 5th, 2010
4:32 am

What, no “Harmonicats”???

nolie

February 5th, 2010
4:33 am

Tom I’m headed off to beddybye pardner. Enjoy.

Tom O'Hawke

February 5th, 2010
4:37 am

how could I leave off Howlin’ WolF?

Obviously, you should go to bed, after that foe paw (is that how Jim says it?) Good night, buddy.

Johnny Rocker

February 5th, 2010
6:13 am

My all star Bobby Cox managed team:

RHP – Maddux
LHP – Glavine
C – Murphy
1B – McGriff
2B – Giles
3B – C. Jones
SS – Furcal
LF – Sheffield
CF – A. Jones
RF – Justice
DH – Klesko
Closer – Rocker (0.00 ERA in 20.2 postseason innings)
Pinch Runner – Otis Nixon
Pinch Hitter – Pocoroba
1st base coach – Hubbard
3rd base coach- Jimy Williams
pitching coach – Leo
hitting coach – Don Baylor (helped Chipper win ‘99 MVP)
GM – Cox (the man was his own boss in 1990!)

pfunkatl2

February 5th, 2010
6:55 am

Nolie,
Long-time Tina fan, but hadn’t seen that performance. Cray was BRILLIANT and Tina…well she’s TINA!

shmoe

February 5th, 2010
7:07 am

Good Blog DOB,

Any relation to Chloe O’ Brien? tsk

I’m really excited about this season, and Heyward. I think we have a really solid club. Can’t wait to see the three-headed monster of Hudson, Hanson, and JJ every day either. If only we had a lefty in there…oh well.

Steve from OH

February 5th, 2010
7:15 am

Try Miles Davis Kind of Blue if you can find it.

That’s a great album, you should definitely give it a listen. And props to nolie for giving Pat Martino props. He’s a great player. You guys would probably like Allan Holdsworth as well.

Jay212033

February 5th, 2010
7:22 am

Happy 75th BDay Hank Aaron!!!

njbraves

February 5th, 2010
8:05 am

I can’t wait to see Heyward in Atlanta, but I’d be shocked if he broke camp with the club. The fact that he’s only 20 years old, combined with the financial aspect of waiting two months, leads me to believe they will handle this the exact same way the handled Hanson.

sidslidkid

February 5th, 2010
8:13 am

I thought today was Hank’s 76th bday…. either way Happy Birthday to the best Brave ever!

McCann Fan

February 5th, 2010
8:18 am

I will be in the right center seats on Opening Day and I really hope I’m congratulating Heyward on his first game as a Brave instead of Melky.

If this kid is as much the “real deal” as everyone is saying there is no reason to wait. Get him up, let him learn, and watch him flourish. I can hardly wait for April 5th!

McCann Fan

February 5th, 2010
8:20 am

Forget the money aspect. Maybe if Hanson had made the club from the start we would have won a few more games in April and May and made the playoffs. If he’s ready he’s ready.

Wayne in Utah

February 5th, 2010
8:20 am

Braves starting outfield for opening day: Heyward, McLouth and any of Diaz, Cabrera or Schafer!

I hope Schafer flat out kills it in the spring and makes it hard to send him up the road to Gwinnett!

Wayne in Utah

February 5th, 2010
8:22 am

Let Johnny Damon play in Detroit……we don’t need a noodle armed left fielder.

FJR

February 5th, 2010
8:35 am

DOB,

A more modern jazz name you might enjoy is BIll Frisell. Think you’d especially enjoy Blues Dream and Disfarmer. They both have a kind of country/rootsy feel, with a little laid back dixieland here and there. Some great guitar on both, but especially blues dream where Frisell and Greg Liesz take turns blowing minds. Both albums are both highly interesting, innovating and surprising, but somehow manage to feel comfortable at the same time.

FJR

February 5th, 2010
8:41 am

since this has somewhat turned to guitarist generally, this guy needs more attention:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=glBwJWdSqCY

Big Ed

February 5th, 2010
8:43 am

DOB What about Jermaine Dye I do not think he has signed . I think he could help the braves if the price was right.

O.J.

February 5th, 2010
8:46 am

Big Ed, no no no no no no no no no, and NO on Dye. Would much rather go with Diaz and Cabrera than Dye as we do not need another defensively incapable player like G Anderson was last year, and his production fell way off the 2nd half, not something we need.

Kashi

February 5th, 2010
8:55 am

Don’t you think we need one more relief arm in bull pen? I just checked it today and it seems little shacky to go day1 to playoff.

sidslidkid

February 5th, 2010
9:07 am

Kashi, we could always use an upgrade, but I think our pen is purty damn good. Wagner, Saito, Moylan, Medlen, Acosta, O’Flaherty, Chavez, Logan, Kimbrel, Dunn, and Valdez provide plenty of options in my opinion.

Moe Berg

February 5th, 2010
9:07 am

“Don’t you think we need one more relief arm in bull pen? I just checked it today and it seems little shacky to go day1 to playoff.”

If Wren spends more before spring training, I don’t think it will be here. They have Wagner, Saito, Moylan, Medlen, O’Flaherty as pretty much definite. Scott Proctor should be back by late May. There are some of the new acquisitions to check out, like Jesse Chavez, Mike Dunn or Juan Abreu. There are prospects like Lee Hyde. The players developing as starters that have not been quite what was expected–Jo-Jo Reyes, Todd Redmond or James Parr. They will be fine in the pen.

Moe Berg

February 5th, 2010
9:10 am

Thanks sidslidkid–I forgot Valdez. Kimbrel still has some control issues–too many walks. Doubt he’ll make the team out of spring training. I’m not sure that Acosta will be able to get a roster spot with all of the new acquisitions. He did not imbue the view with confidence last season.

Wayne in Utah

February 5th, 2010
9:12 am

Kashi

Wagner, Saito, Moylan, O’Flaherty, Medlen, Acosta, Proctor (in May or June is like adding an arm), Dunn, Chavez and Valdez. Minor leaguers who might be close: Kimbrel, Reyes, Hyde, Gunderson and maybe some I am not thinking about.

They will probably go north with 7 bullpen arms.

They invited Resop back, after a year in Japan. Has a live arm. But, there are a lot of guys unsigned, who will probably fall to minor league contracts with a spring invite. I wouldn’t be surprised to see 1 or 2 more invitations or minor league contracts.

Smack

February 5th, 2010
9:16 am

Hey Dave, anything in this sentence sound off? “Jones is a minor-league free agent who signed with the Braves this winter, after leading the majors with 35 homers in 2009″. Majors->Minors.

sidslidkid

February 5th, 2010
9:18 am

Moe Berg, I”m not sure who’s going to get a roster spot but one thing is for sure, we have plenty of options: Wagner, Saito, Moylan, Medlen, Acosta, O’Flaherty, Chavez, Logan, Kimbrel, Dunn, Valdez, Abreu, Hyde, Proctor, Reyes, Redmond and Parr… that’s a lot of arms to pick from

Wayne in Utah

February 5th, 2010
9:20 am

sidslidkid

Logan went to the Yankees…….

sidslidkid

February 5th, 2010
9:20 am

Wayne in Utah, you are correct sir. It’s still early, my brain isn’t full out of bed.

Moe Berg

February 5th, 2010
9:21 am

sidslidkid–I completely agree. Plenty of options there, as well as some that can be bundled into future trades, if need be.

bigchiefrg

February 5th, 2010
9:26 am

I dont have any reasons to back this up other than just a gut feeling that we will see the braves start the year with McLouth, Melky, MattyD, and Schafer. I dont know why but that is a gut feeling. I like that outfield, esp if you can keep chipper and glaus healthy.

Also, hoping for the best, if glaus, chipper and Bmac stay healthy, do people really think that McLouth would best serve the braves as the 6th hitter in the order and yunel 7th? I say let’s stay pat with what we have, see how the OF plays out at Dark Star, and not tighten the purse strings too much with a Damon signing. Then if Chipper goes down or Glaus goes down or some other unthinkable happens, there is some room for maneuvering.

If Wren gets Damon now, he is painted in the corner.

Caleb Land

February 5th, 2010
9:31 am

Thanks for the song. Another great baseball themed song is “Cooperstown” by the Felice Brothers. It’s about Ty Cobb and how his tragic early life influenced him. You can check it out here:

http://www.myspace.com/thefelicebrothers

lexbrave

February 5th, 2010
9:31 am

at this point its safe to forget about damon in a braves jersey next year, according to a report in a detroit paper the tigers say they will glady pay 7 mil or more for his services in ‘10 and the only sticking point sounds to be boras pushing for a 2 year deal.

i think we all know that everyone of us here has a better shot at getting a spring training invite than the braves matching or beating 7 mil for one year of damon.

but if you want some optimism to hang on maybe boras will stick his feet in the mud to the point that the tigers take their offer off the table and then damon, having no other viable options will have to lower his price tag even further.

ok so it’s not a lot of optimism.

Andre "Pulpwood" Smith

February 5th, 2010
9:32 am

Say it ain’t so, DOB. Onoe of the ’80’s most overplayed songs turns out to be plagerized:

“Australian band Men at Work copied a well-known children’s campfire song for the flute melody in its 1980s hit ‘Down Under’ and owes the owner years of royalties, a court ruled Thursday. ‘Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree’ was written more than 70 years ago by Australian teacher Marion Sinclair for a Girl Guides competition, and the song has been a favorite around campfires from New Zealand to Canada.”

dmack2027

February 5th, 2010
9:39 am

Enter your comments here

DAP

February 5th, 2010
9:42 am

kashi, Don’t you think we need one more relief arm in bull pen? I just checked it today and it seems little shacky to go day1 to playoff.

definitely not. the bullpen is very solid and there are already some tough decisions to be made about who makes the ‘pen.

Mikeyc588

February 5th, 2010
9:44 am

DOB,

Ellis Marsalis still plays at Snug Harbor, as far as I know. Or at least he did a couple of years ago. My mother lives in mid-city and I took her to see him a couple of years back for a birthday present. What a night! Ellis even invited a young kid out of the audience to play trumpet for him on one of two numbers. Really warm, engaging man and still a great musician.

Frank Robinson (Rockmart)

February 5th, 2010
9:46 am

DOB,
Thanks for the link to those Tom Russell samples. Never heard of this guy before, but I love his voice. The lyrics to The Kid from Spavinaw are great.

DAP

February 5th, 2010
9:46 am

DOB, that song you posted is pretty cool.

AtTheMike

February 5th, 2010
9:48 am

Damn- it really sounds now that damon is headed to the tigers. I just heard a one year 7.5 mill. No way anybody can put blame on the braves here except the fact that wren gave lowe all that money an offseason ago.

That’s about what damon is worth now and it appears he’s headed to motown.

Hope nate can adjust to leadoff duties better than what we all witnessed last year.

dmack2027

February 5th, 2010
9:50 am

Simply put, the Braves need another OF bat. I have said this before, the lineup was the main concern last fall. Since then, all that has been done is replacing LaRoche with Glaus. If healthy, Glaus is a better hitter. However, that is a big if. If things play out the way the Braves hope, I’d guess that Glaus and LaRoche end up with similar offensive numbers this year. So, I consider that move to be a wash, except that the Braves saved some money on Glaus.

Other than that, nothing else has been done to revamp the offense. Granted, all the infield positions are occupied. I’d hope that Wren doesnt think an outfield of McClouth, Diaz, and Melky Cabrera is going to win the division. Even if Jason Heyward starts the year with the Braves, which I think would be a mistake, it is not fair to count on him to carry the offense for the corner outfield spots.

The Braves need another OF bat, and I think Frank Wren knows this. They should have some money remaining. Sign Damon, he would make this team a lot better. He would also give the Braves a chance to let Heyward remain in AAA a while to find his stroke.

Magic Man

February 5th, 2010
9:50 am

DOB,

You may have discussed it on here already, but I have not seen it. Did Brian McCann get his eye situation straightened out?

He either had to have the corrective Lasik surgery (”tune-up”), or he is going to still be wearing those glasses that don’t seem to be too comfortable.

Thanks in advance.

Arkansas Transplant

February 5th, 2010
9:50 am

Yeah, I don’t think we really need any help in the pen. I just wish we had a lefty in the starting rotation. I know the braves are going to watch lowry’s workout, don’t know exactly what they would do with him unless they moved KK to the pen and Medlen then could go to AAA and work on being a starter.

Bill

February 5th, 2010
9:54 am

Wren will pick the next Manager. Don’t believe Bobby will?

DAP

February 5th, 2010
9:56 am

dmack I’d hope that Wren doesnt think an outfield of McClouth, Diaz, and Melky Cabrera is going to win the division.

hes probably thinking that a rotation of hudson, jurjens, lowe, hanson, kawakami, with wagner and saito ending the game…oh yeah and peter moylan lurking in middle relief is going to win the division.

the pitching staff…not just the starters…is stacked, when you break it all down.

choppertochipper

February 5th, 2010
9:56 am

Actually, it does look like the Tigers are expressing interest in Damon and are willing to sign him for about 7 million, but Boras is pushing for a second year. No way the Braves match that.

AtTheMike

February 5th, 2010
9:59 am

ESPN radio just said damon to the tigers appears all but done. Of course boras is working on them for a few more pennies then it’ll be official. If not today, probably over the weekend or monday.

Chopper

February 5th, 2010
10:04 am

Here’s my opening day lineup:

MCLOUTH CF
PRADO 2B
JONES 3B
GLAUS 1B
MCCANN C
ESCOBAR SS
HEYWARD RF
DIAZ LF

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