Braves tired of planning while others play for pennant

When GM Frank Wren, manager Fredi Gonzalez and the rest of the Braves’ brass and top scouts gather this week outside Orlando, they will do what Braves officials have gotten too used to doing at this time of year for the past  decade: Begin putting together a sweeping plan to tweak or revamp last year’s team into a serious playoff contender while operating within what’s become a fairly tight budget.

Oh, and doing it while watching other teams play for the pennant. Ouch.

Yes, Braves officials will watch the NLCS games at night while gathered in a large meeting room at their hotel in downtown Celebration, Fla. The Braves themselves were last in an NLCS in 2001, and Wren said they’d obviously prefer to put off future annual organizational meetings in Florida a few weeks while occupied with the postseason.

Think about that: It will have been a decade since they last made it to the league championship series when Gonzalez tries to guide Braves back there in his first season at the helm in 2011. A decade.

And while Gonzalez will likely find it impossible to build icon status and the level of universal respect around baseball that Bobby Cox did in a quarter-century or so – to start with, no manager stays in one place long enough to do that anymore – his mentor scoffs at the idea that Gonzalez is in an unenviable position. That of being the proverbial man that replaces John Wooden, rather than the man who replaces the man who replaced Wooden.

Cox (background) says Gonzalez is the perfect managet to take the reins and lead the team into the future.

Cox says Gonzalez is the perfect managet to take the reins and lead the team into the future. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

“Just let me add, about replacing me,” Cox said during Gonzalez’s introductory news conference Wednesday, and here Cox went off in a different direction than the question he’d been answering, because he had something he wanted to say about an opinion he’s heard often, at which he, as we noted, scoffs.

Walter Alston was replaced by Tommy LaSorda, who was a scout and a minor league manager, and did a great job,” Cox said. “They forgot all about Walter Alston. And that’s what’s going to happen here, OK?

“I told Fredi when he first got the Florida job, that you are who you are. You’ve got to be yourself. You take little things from managers, players, and you put them in a little bag here. It’s a little bag. But Fredi’s 6 feet 2, 235 pounds; it’s a big bag.” [Can I just say,  here I  was smiling, because Cox was loose and on a role, going off on tangents unlike we're accustomed to hearing from him. OK, carry on:]

“But you are who you are, and Fredi’s got all the right makeup to be a great manager. He already is. He’s got all the respect around baseball that you can get. It’s not going to be as difficult [as people think]. I’m going to be in the background. There’s always new starts, and Fredi’s getting a great start here.”

Gonzalez, seated next to Cox, smiled and said: “I’ve been called worse than a big bag.”

And there was much laughter in the room.

♣Turner Field = elimination: Anyway, so the Braves last made it to the final step before the World Series in 2001, when they lost the NLCS to Arizona in five games. The elimination loss came at Turner Field, which probably comes as no surprise to most of you.

In my first couple of seasons covering the Braves, I noted (before we had blogs, or I would have written it here) that Turner Field was the place where playoff runs came to die. Braves playoff runs, that is.

The last time the Braves faced elimination in a home postseason game and won? That’d be the 1996 NLCS against St. Louis, when the Braves won in six seven games. In their final year at old Fulton County Stadium.

We’re not saying Turner Field is cursed. We’re just saying the Braves have faced elimination in eight postseason home games since moving into Turner Field in 1997. And they’ve lost all eight of those games.

The eight times: They lost Game 6 against Florida in the ‘97 NLCS. Lost Game 6 against San Diego in the ‘98 NLCS. Lost Game 3 of the 2000 division series vs. St. Louis. Lost Game 5 of the ‘01 NLCS vs. Arizona. Lost Game 5 of ‘02 division series vs. San Fran. Lost Game 5 of the ‘03 division series vs. Chicago. Lost Game 5 of the ‘04 division series vs. Houston. And lost Game 4 of this year’s division series vs. San Fran.

Those are the seven times the Braves have faced possible elimination in postseason games at Turner Field. And eliminated, they were.

Braves have lost eight consecutive home postseason games since moving from their old stadium (above) to Turner Field.(a

Braves have lost eight consecutive home postseason games since moving from their old stadium (above) to Turner Field.

So that’s one part of the past that Gonzalez can only improve upon. Nowhere to go but up, in that specific category.

Of the Braves’ past five postseason trips, four ended at Turner Field. The only exception, the only time they were eliminated in a road game in the past 10 years, was the 18-inning loss in Game 4 at Houston in ‘05. That is not Devine (ahem, pardon the pun; I couldn’t resist).

Gonzalez, Wren and about a dozen other Braves officials and top scouts will convene at Celebration, Fla., and nearby Dark Star (aka, Braves spring training headquarters at the monolithic Disney fun sector) and jump bull-bore into planning and putting together next year’s team.

They will scour the 40-man rosters of every team for players who are pending free agents, or who might be non-tendered or otherwise available in trades. During morning and evening sessions, and over lunch or while sitting at the ballpark watching instructional league games, Wren will talk to scouts and other team officials about dozens and dozens of players, seeking any insight and recommendations they have.

There will be freewheeling sessions in that big room at the hotel, and at restaurants over meals and possibly drinks. The Braves will try to leave no stone unturned as they search to improve their offense, specifically with the addition of at least one proven, productive outfielder — preferably (but not absolutely) right-handed and with more power than the Braves got from all of their outfielders not named Heyward.

They’re going to have to be creative, Wren said last week. Which wasn’t surprising, given that the Braves will probably have a payroll in the $90-93 million range, which, Wren said, in terms of “real dollars” will be slightly higher than the payroll this season, which was slightly higher than 2008.

(As we’ve written here many times, including last week, Wren and other Braves officials insist that when insurance payments are included, along with late-season additions, etc., the Braves’ payroll actually increased, even though none of us amateur accountants has been able to figure out exactly how they come up with the figures they presumably are working with; they don’t give us those figures.)

Anyway, the Braves have close to $55 million committed next season to five players, when you include prorated signing bonuses and buyouts to these salaries: Derek Lowe ($15 mill), Chipper Jones ($13 mill), Tim Hudson ($9 mill), Brian McCann ($6.5 mill) and Nate McLouth ($6.5 mill).

Add another $5 million combined for the options the Braves will pick up on versatile veteran Omar Infante (wil he be at third base? second base? back to utility role? outfield?) and shortstop Alex Gonzalez, and you’re at about $60 mill for seven players.

OK, now add in raises for the arb-eligible players they choose to keep from this list: Martin Prado, Jair Jurrjens, Peter Moylan, Eric O’Flaherty, Matt Diaz, Melky Cabrera, Scott Proctor.

One can see where the Braves could get to $70 million a hurry if they keep at least a few of those guys, which we know they will.

Oh, and I haven’t even included the $6.67 million the Braves still owe Kenshin Kawakami, a portion of which they will surely have to eat in order to unload him on a team here or in Japan. If you included Kawakami’s salary, the Braves would already be at about $75 mill including three or four of those arb-eligibles.

“I think we owe it to him, and to us, to explore what possibilities there are out there,” Wren said of Kawakami. “Because with the development of our young pitchers, it’s become more difficult for us to project him in the rotation, and that’s really the best role for him.”

Two winters after trading for Kawakami, the Braves will try to move him this winter with one year left on his contract.

Two winters after trading for Kawakami, the Braves will try to move him this winter with one year left on his contract.

I then asked if sending him to a Japanese team was an option.

“I don’t know that yet,” Wren said. “We haven’t had a change to explore exactly what our options are going to be there, but I think … he very well may be back here, but we’ll at last explore alternatives for next year.”

(Me talking here: I’m not going out on a limb here by saying I really believe Kawakami will be elsewhere.)

Then there are the Braves’ pending free agents other than Infante and Gonzalez (those two are technically considered pending free agents, until the options are picked up after the World Series): Billy Wagner (planning to retire), Takashi Saito, Kyle Farnsworth, Troy Glaus, Derrek Lee, Eric Hinske, Rick Ankiel.

The Royals sent $1 mill to the Braves as part of the trade that brought Ankiel and Farnsworth, in order to cover the $500,000 buyouts of their 2012 options (Farnsworth’s option is $5.25 mill and Ankiel’s is $6 mill).

Lee’s still a full-time player, and the Braves don’t have a full-time position available because they’re planning on rookie Freddie Freeman to be their primary first baseman and play perhaps 140 or more games.

Wagner void: The Braves will miss retired farmer Billy Wags, both for his obvious work on the field but also his work with their young pitchers in the bullpen, in the clubhouse, and going all the way back to workouts in the spring

Saito would be great to have back in a mentor/backup closer role, but he’ll be 41 next season and I don’t know that the Braves can commit significant dollars to someone that old in the bullpen.

Also, keep in mind the mentor thing probably won’t be quite as big a deal in 2011, with potential closer/setup duo Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters (or Venters and Kimbrel) already having some seasoning and other youngsters not expected to have as significant a role in next year’s bullpen.

(Then again, you never know: Who among us, a year ago or even last spring, ever thought Venters would have as big a role as he filled?)

“It was so valuable having Billy Wagner out there for the development of these young guys,” Wren said. “And it started from the time they threw their first bullpens in spring training. Billy was out there and he was talking to them. He really enjoyed that mentor role. He enjoyed it, and those young pitchers just ate it up. It’s great to see.

“You want your young pitchers to be open and trying to learn. Not all players are that way. Some guys come to the big leagues and think they’ve got it all figured out. To our guys’ credit, none of them had that approach. They were sponges to whatever Billy had to say.

“I think that’s why we saw them perform like they did down the stretch. Especially a guy like Craig Kimbrel. I mean, he came down the stretch and was able to perform at a really high level, and obviously gained the confidence of the manager and pitching coach, who felt like they could use him in any situation at the end. I think a lot of credit goes to Billy.”

Then Wren was asked about getting another veteran to help in that regard.

“I’m not sure it’s going to be a guy of that ilk,” he said. “I mean you’re talking premium, Hall of Fame closer credentials. You don’t find those guys very often.

“There might be a veteran addition to the bullpen, but that’s not a given. Because we’ve got a lot of good arms out there. Peter Moylan might be the veteran. He’s been around long enough to know what goes on. There’s some depth that we have out there that we feel real good about.”

Whither Hinske? Hinske was a big part of the team, both in terms of leadership in the clubhouse and performance on the field, particularly during the first half when he helped spark the Braves after their nine-game April slide.

Hinske told me immediately after the playoff loss to the Giants that he really enjoyed his entire Braves experience and the guys in the clubhouse, and would certainly be interested in returning.

Hinske had a big hand in getting the Braves to the postseason (his fourth consecutive postseason appearance with four different teams). But do the Braves have a spot in 2011 for the pending free agent?

Hinske had a big hand in getting the Braves to the postseason (his fourth consecutive postseason appearance with four different teams). But do the Braves have a spot in 2011 for the pending free agent?

Here’s what Wren said Thursday when I asked about possibly re-signing Hinske:

“Eric Hinske was great for this team. He’s expressed an interest in coming back,” Wren said. “I just don’t want to predetermine a lot of this until I’ve had a chance to sit with the staff and sit with our scouts and look at our next year strategies to make sure it all fits, and make sure there is a good role for him on the team. It’s a little different, just in the fact our regular first baseman is going to be a left-handed hitter. That’s different than last year.

“It was a combination of Glaus and Hinske that was attractive to us a year ago, and that’s what made that work so well. The great thing for ‘Ski is, he can play different positions, and he can do some different things. But the biggest impact was coming off the bench.”

Then Wren was asked about acquiring someone to help out at first base, to back up the 21-year-old Freeman.

“I think we’re going to at least discuss that,” Wren said. “Not a platoon; I don’t think there’s a platoon in his future. But I’m thinking you may not want a young player to play 162. Maybe he plays 140 and you kind of take care of him against selected guys and give him a break.”

♣ Getting back to the big need, and McLouth: Of course the Braves would like to add not just one, but two proven outfielders. But we also have to take into account the situation with Nate McLouth, and the fact that only one spot might be open in the Braves’ outfield — center or left, with McLouth in the other, at least as the Braves sit and plan now for the coming season.

He’s owed a $6.5 mill salary in 2011, plus there’s a $1.25 mill buyout on a $10.65 mill club option fro 2012. No team is going to take on that full salary after McLouth’s performance since he was traded to the Braves in June 2009, including a .190 average in 2010 with 12 doubles, six homers, 24 RBIs and a .298 OBP in 288 plate appearances.

So unless the Braves find an extremely creative way to package him in a trade with someone else, the reality is that they are going to have to hope he improves in 2011 because they can’t afford to pay him $7.75 mill to go away.

(In that scenario, he could sign with any team for the big-league minimum, and the Braves would still be on the hook for that $7.75 mill. Imagine if he went elsewhere and suddenly hit like he did in 2008, or like he did for a couple of weeks in September? The Braves aren’t going to have that happen. They’ll keep him and hope, or, like I said, have to come up with a very creative way to move him and most of that salary.)

After McLouth’s demotion to Triple-A, he returned in September and hit .367 with seven extra-base hits (three homers) and 10 RBIs in a 10-game stretch from Sept. 5-18, and also had two other would-be homers taken away by catches above the center-field fence.

“We saw him get off to a great start when he got back and everybody said, ‘That’s the Nate McLouth that we saw in Pittsburgh,’” Wren said. “So we know that it’s in there. Now it’s really our task to unlock it and keep seeing it.”

The Braves don't have many options with McLouth, under than to hope that he improves. Outside of one 10-game stretch, he hit .165 in 2011.

The Braves don't have many options with McLouth, under than to hope that he improves. Outside of one 10-game stretch, he hit .165 in 2010.

The bad news: In his other 75 games this season, before and after that 10-game stretch, McLouth his .165 (35-for-212) with nine doubles, three homers, 14 RBIs, 31 walks and 55 strikeouts.

Of the 285 major league players who had at least 275 plate appearances this season, McLouth ranked 285th in batting average (.190) and 269th in OPS (.620).

Since he was traded to Atlanta on June 3, 2009, McLouth has hit .229 with 17 homers and 60 RBIs in 169 games, with a .330 OBP and .709 OPS.

In his last 169 games for Pittsburgh before the trade, he hit .257 with 27 homers and 98 RBIs, with a .339 OBP and .891 OPS.

He also stolen 28 bases without getting caught once in his last 169 games with the Pirates. With the Braves he’s stolen 19 bases in 27 attempts.

♣ So how do they do it? How can the Braves add a potential bat or two while operating under a presumed $90-93 mill payroll? That restriction pretty much assures they won’t be in the bidding wars for the biggest free-agent outfielders available, Jayson Werth and Carl Crawford, who are both expected to get long-terms (six- or seven-year) deals worth more than $100 million. Both will be overpaid because of the limited market, and so will Adam Dunn, who many believe will re-sign with the Nationals.

The Braves aren’t included to overpay for any free agents, with the recent exception of  Lowe, who signed in unusual circumstances when the Braves were rather desperate to land a front-line pitcher after losing out on others. (And by the way, the two years and $30 mill left on his contract sure don’t look nearly as onerous for the Braves as the three and $45 mill did at this time a year ago.)

At first glance, it seems obvious the Braves are going to have to trade some of their young talent to get a top, affordable outfielder in a deal. And teams will line up if the Braves make available young pitchers on the current roster or from their bevy of top minor-league arms.

But the Braves aren’t going to trade potential future No. 1 starters Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado, and Wren makes it sound like they’re inclined not to trade other young arms already in the majors, such as rumored potential trade target Jair Jurrjens.

Though again, keep in mind that Wren is probably not going to come out and say anything otherwise, not at this stage of the offseason.

“We’re going to have to be creative,” Wren said. “We’re going to have to take a look at every possibility. At the end of the day, I’m not sure what those are going to be and how it’s going to shake out. But we’re going to be at least exploring everything.”

As for the idea of trading from a position of strength, their starting pitching, he said: “We’ve kind of based our whole turnaround the last two years on pitching, and I think that’s something we’re going to try to continue, to at least out-pitch people. And we want to get a more well-rounded team.

“Our first-half team, we really were happy with our first-half team and the way they produced. We were in the top tier from a standpoint of offense and runs scored. We didn’t have the power, but we hit doubles and made things happen. So I think we’re going to try to continue to have strong pitching and know that we have to look to improve our offense.”

What does that mean, exactly? Well, here in the middle of October, it’s difficult to say. Give it a little more time, and we might start hearing things that give us a better idea how the Braves are going to go about this.

“It’s way too early to even contemplate what we might do, because you just don’t know,” Wren said. “We’re going to be very hesitant to trade pitching, because I think that’s our strength. There’s a reason why we matched up, as highly thought of as the Giants’ rotation and the Phillies’ rotation were, the last two weeks of the season we matched up with those rotations very well. Our guys pitched pitched-for-pitch with those rotations, which were thought to be the two best rotations in the National League.

“And that’s without J.J. [Jurrjens] being available for us. He’s likely going to have the knee ’scoped and just get it cleaned, so he’s 100-percent healthy coming into spring training. You roll the clock back a year, J.J. was right there at the top of that rotation, too. So that’s an area where we feel really good going into the spring.”

♣ OK, let’s get this filed. Sorry for the delay in getting up a new post, but we (Carroll and I) had a real busy week after the Braves’ playoff series, obviously, and are supposed to try to take some time off.

In case you missed it, check out this link to Steve Hummer’s terrific feature story on Fredi Gonzalez from the Sunday AJC. Here’s the link itself if you’re having any trouble with that link and want to paste it in your browser: http://www.ajc.com/sports/atlanta-braves/gonzalez-fresh-style-familiar-684078.html

Oh, and if you’re a film buff and haven’t seen The Social Network, I’d urge you to. It’s one of the best movies I’ve seen this year, for sure. And speaking of best-of-the-year, the San Diego band that I think made probably the best rock album of the year, The Soft Pack, is at The EARL in Atlanta on Thursday.

And this great singer-songwriter, Elizabeth Cook, is at Eddie’s Attic on Wednesday. I’ve told you her album, Welder, is one of the best country albums of the past few years, but I had no idea that clogging is another of her talents. Check out this video, and get in line behind me if you’re planning to propose.

Here’s the Soft Pack on one of the many great cuts off their self-titled album, and here they are doing it on Letterman. The lead singer used to pitch for the University of Richmond baseball team, by the way.

images

“ANSWER TO YOURSELF” by The Soft Pack

You gotta answer to yourself

You can’t depend on anyone else

You gotta know where you stand

And what’s in your hands

Yeah you gotta answer to yourself

You gotta write down what you know

You gotta make sure that it’s known

Because they’re coming along to see what you’ve done

And they’re gonna claim it for their own

You got a rabbit in your hat

You got a few tricks up your sleeve

Don’t get stuck in a rut

Or stuck in the same

You got exactly what you need

You got a talent don’t you know?

You’re more talented than you know

And you give it a shot

And give it the time

And be surprised how far it goes

But I think I’m gonna die

Before I see my time

But I think I’m gonna die

Trying anyway

You gotta answer to yourself

2 days a week outside yourself

You take an hour a day, an hour a day

And you don’t respond to anyone else

You got a few things on your shelf

You got to look through for yourself

You gotta choose what to read

Choose what to believe

And you don’t take it from anyone else

But I think I’m gonna die

Before I see my time

But I think I’m gonna die

Trying anyway

5,394 comments Add your comment

MIBravesFan

October 17th, 2010
6:39 pm

Without even having read it yet, thanks for the new blog, DOB!

jeffrey d

October 17th, 2010
6:47 pm

I then asked if sending him to a J*panese was an option.

A J*panese team? Investor? Restaurant?

Seriously though…thanks DOB. Great blog

Rob from SC

October 17th, 2010
6:47 pm

Bring back Fulton County Stadium

Mark

October 17th, 2010
6:49 pm

Nice work, DOB…I know FW probably hasn’t given any specific names, but do you have any ideas of potential trade targets for the Braves?

jeffrey d

October 17th, 2010
6:49 pm

But what could we get from a J*panese team? I’m not sure if I’ve heard of trading between countries very much.

Mark

October 17th, 2010
6:50 pm

They wouldn’t trade, they would just sell his contract to them…

LTBF

October 17th, 2010
6:52 pm

Thanks for new blog DOB,very infomitive.

GovClintonTyree

October 17th, 2010
6:53 pm

Wow, that’s a long blog. Thanks DOB.

Rob from SC

October 17th, 2010
6:53 pm

We can also improve our offense if certain players start working pitchers. Heyward and Jones should be good for close to 200 walks. However Gonzalez and McLouth are free swingers. McCann can improve by chasing less often. I am not talking about close pitches. I am talking about balls that are 6 inches to a foot off the plate.

jeffrey d

October 17th, 2010
6:54 pm

Oh, I guess I was confused because DOB said that the Braves would have to eat money if they sent him to a J*panese team. But I guess that means that they’d sell his $6 million contract for $4 million. Or something like that

China Grove

October 17th, 2010
6:55 pm

Great blog.

Maybe we’ll finally trade for Swisher? haha…

Also, did anyone see how well Cody Ross is doing? Where are the doubters on him now?

MIBravesFan

October 17th, 2010
6:57 pm

China Grove – he still wasn’t worth Kris Medlin.

MattyRoss

October 17th, 2010
6:58 pm

Thanks for the fix, DOB. Another day of Braves withdrawal endured.

nolie

October 17th, 2010
7:00 pm

If they want to raise the odds of staying in the playoffs they need to consider raising the payroll. I don’t think you can assume that a higher payroll will necessarily make a difference to every team, but as well as the Braves do with the funds they have, I think having another 10mil would be a real differeence maker to the Braves. So many years it seems like they are just one decent/good player from being a powerhouse but are satisfied with just being in the hunt. . I don’t usually criticize their approach, I just think it’s a shame that we no longer feel comfortable at all with having the ability to sign a difference maker. Obviously ain’t gonna happen, but I wish it would

nolie

October 17th, 2010
7:01 pm

A J*panese team? Investor? Restaurant? jeffrey

sushi bar

Rob from SC

October 17th, 2010
7:02 pm

nolie

I wish MLB would reqire individual ownership. For the most part corporate ownership is not good for baseball.

jeffrey d

October 17th, 2010
7:02 pm

Over the offseason, I think we should make some flashcards to get us ready for blogging in 2011. On one side it’d have a picture of the player/coach smiling and on the other side it’d have the correct spelling of his name.

Medlen, Jurrjens, Fredi, Schuerholz, McLouth, Schafer. And maybe even vintage Braves. Maddux, Andruw, Francoeur, Saltalamacchia

nolie

October 17th, 2010
7:03 pm

Where are the doubters on him now?

right here. he is erratic as hell and what he is doing now in no way means he will have a good season this coming year.If he turns out to be “the big bat” it likely ain’t gonna be enough

jeffrey d

October 17th, 2010
7:05 pm

KK: I used to be Major League pitcher
Customer: Well right now you’re choppin my sushi!

McFann O O – 6

October 17th, 2010
7:06 pm

Thanks for the new Blog, Chief!

(it didn’t look like we’d get to 10,000 anytime soon, so I wrote a new one)

:lol: Yeah, things were gettin’ a little slow over there.

nolie

October 17th, 2010
7:06 pm

individual owners can be cheap too Rob. think Miami and Minnesota when Pohlad had them

Bama Brave

October 17th, 2010
7:08 pm

CARL CARL CARL. the one that makes the most sence is Carl Crawford.

MIBravesFan

October 17th, 2010
7:09 pm

I knew it was going to be a very good blog! You pretty well covered everything there is to cover at this point! Thanks again!

jeffrey d

October 17th, 2010
7:09 pm

What about Carl Sagan?

CB

October 17th, 2010
7:10 pm

I guess we need to post more to get this blog up to 10,000.

CB

October 17th, 2010
7:11 pm

MIBravesFan

October 17th, 2010
7:11 pm

“jeffrey d

October 17th, 2010
7:09 pm
What about Carl Sagan?”

What about him?!

jeffrey d

October 17th, 2010
7:12 pm

It’s already up to 27. only 9,973 more to go.

jeffrey d

October 17th, 2010
7:13 pm

Bama Brave said that Carl Crawford is the Carl that made the most sence, but I think that Sagan can make a lot of sence too

Gary O

October 17th, 2010
7:16 pm

…”I think that’s something we’re going to try to continue, to at least out-pitch people.”…Frank Wren

In theory, outpitching people (and playing good defense) is the correct recipe. But sometimes, we must be able to outhit people. So I hope we get at least one lefit OF (since we will probably be stuck with Nate and his contract).

MIBravesFan

October 17th, 2010
7:16 pm

jeffrey d – interesting way to prove a point.

LAG

October 17th, 2010
7:17 pm

What, can we not say “the demonym pertaining to the country of Kenshin Kawakami’s birth” anymore?

Keith

October 17th, 2010
7:18 pm

Can you imagine Crawford at the sparkplug in this lineup? I might rather have Dunn even though I know they’re hanging their hopes on Freeman @ 1st.

Keith

October 17th, 2010
7:18 pm

*as the sparkplug*

Yes, they need to raise payroll.

MIBravesFan

October 17th, 2010
7:19 pm

jeffrey d – I don’t really think KK is going to be reduced to chopping sushi anytime soon, btw.

nolie

October 17th, 2010
7:20 pm

no LAG we caint. no J@P the right way cince all those racial posts awhile back

McFann O O – 6

October 17th, 2010
7:20 pm

Rob from SC McCann can improve by chasing less often. I am not talking about close pitches. I am talking about balls that are 6 inches to a foot off the plate.

This is true…I think getting a “big bat” to really help him carry the offensive load will help. I think he felt more pressured this year to be “the guy”, and while some of that was due to guys going down with injuries, I think a lot of it was Frank Wren’s fault, although he didn’t have a lot of choice for a big bat last year apparently. But he counted to heavily on Chipper and even BMac—who is a very very good hitter, of course, but he’s also a catcher…not that that’s a bad thing, but they do tend to wear down a bit—and got Troy Glaus, who had a good month and a half, but is on the downside of his career.

Then there’s also another angle—well, sort of a co-angle, I think…because I don’t think you cann hang all 98 K’s on one of these two cases alone. I know BMac wouldn’t be too thrilled with me bringing this one up (though I doubt he’d like that first excuse a whole lot, either, as he’s a guy that doesn’t like any kind of excuse), but uh…you kind of have to point a little bit at his vision problem as a reason for a lot of those K’s, don’t you? I know cutting out caffeine was supposed to lick that for the most part, but one still has to wonder…

jeffrey d

October 17th, 2010
7:21 pm

Keith – when KK would pitch a couple racist doofs (I don’t think they were really racist though….just immature) would come on and say stuff like “Of course we’re going to lose with a J*p pitching”

jeffrey d

October 17th, 2010
7:21 pm

Sorry that was LAG, not Keith

nolie

October 17th, 2010
7:23 pm

not all that interested in Crawford for this team, they already get guys on base. he ain’t a run producer like they need most and he will be incredibly overpaid by one of the big market teams.

jeffrey d

October 17th, 2010
7:24 pm

not all that interested in Crawford for this team, they already get guys on base

Melky, Ankiel, McLouth, and Diaz don’t. People long for Crawford so much because we desperately need an OF that can hit his weight (I know….that’s not fair to Melky), and CC won’t cost any prospects

Chop Chop

October 17th, 2010
7:25 pm

I’d take Crawford, but not at the price he’s going to command.

Sure would be nice if we were spending $150 million-plus and didn’t give a damn about some overpaying, but that ain’t the case.

old brave, retired

October 17th, 2010
7:26 pm

I really like the idea of creatively trading Nate McOut. I just can’t sit through seeing him with constant
0-2 counts for another year. It is difficult to envision him getting better. I think we need to re-sign Gonzo at short and of course Omar. Omar can play anywhere and hit. I think Prado is for real and will continue to hit. The outfield is a problem other than Jason. But outfield is the easiest position to fill. Pitching is the hardest, catcher is next hardest, shortstop is third hardest to fill and you get the picture. We have pitching and young ones coming up. I don’t want to trade any of them. I think Venters, Kimbrel and Moylan are the basis of a great, young bullpen. So our only real problem is the contracts of Kawakimi and McClouth and finding an outfielder or two. Better than a poke in the eye with a stick.

Chop Chop

October 17th, 2010
7:28 pm

I’m sorry that I missed the wackiness of the NLDS, but I went on a weeklong trip to the Boston area. I’m just glad that the end was painless. I’m still shocked we didn’t get past the Division Series, but alas, Brooks was here :cry:

Anyway, the offseason is always fun and interesting. Better to lose early than late, I say.

MIBravesFan

October 17th, 2010
7:29 pm

“nolie

October 17th, 2010
7:23 pm
not all that interested in Crawford for this team, they already get guys on base. he ain’t a run producer like they need most and he will be incredibly overpaid by one of the big market teams.”

Hope you’re doing well, Nolie. Agree about Crawford. There is no point in people wanting players out of the team’s price range, and he’s probably going to be overpaid by the team that signs him. Anyone remember Beltran? How has that turned out for NYM?

Gulfwaves Gary

October 17th, 2010
7:31 pm

I would like to know where Frank Wren was when Cody Ross was available on waiver. He killed the Braves and doing the same to the Phillies. If I hear the announcers say again how S.F. stole him from the Padres and the Braves were not even interested. I guess the dead outfielders we have had Frank Wren sitting pat.

MIBravesFan

October 17th, 2010
7:33 pm

Gulfwaves Gary – do you actually read this blog and have any idea what went on with the Cody Ross thing, at all?!

Bravefaninok

October 17th, 2010
7:35 pm

I would like to know where Frank Wren was when Cody Ross was available on waiver. He killed the Braves and doing the same to the Phillies. If I hear the announcers say again how S.F. stole him from the Padres and the Braves were not even interested. I guess the dead outfielders we have had Frank Wren sitting pat.

The Giants had the worse record at the time Frank Wren never got to put in a waiver claim& if he did the Giants still had first dibs.

CB

October 17th, 2010
7:35 pm

I still believe it will come down to trading some of our pitching or top pitching prospects. We have very little else to offer and very little money for free agents. Lowe will have more appeal with only 2yrs left,but it may take losing several of our best prospects to get the young OF we need. Wren is going to need some guts to do what has to be done.

American Legion

October 17th, 2010
7:36 pm

I’m surprised there has been less chatter about Medlen’s return to the health. He looked great for a young pitcher both in the pen and in his starts this year until his injury.

Is the severity of his injury such that the Braves are looking to him in 2012 more so than next year?

nolie

October 17th, 2010
7:36 pm

I would like to know where Frank Wren was when Cody Ross was available on waiver

what?? he was never available to the Braves on waivers

tmoneylove

October 17th, 2010
7:37 pm

no more former roiders, please!!!

adam

October 17th, 2010
7:38 pm

we need zack greinke

CB

October 17th, 2010
7:40 pm

nolie,get a couple homers in the playoffs and you look like Babe Ruth.

Feeanch

October 17th, 2010
7:44 pm

That might have been the best blog of the year, DOB. We appreciate all that you and Carroll do. I’m still in mourning from this season.

Bama Brave

October 17th, 2010
7:44 pm

some people on here dont get it. WE need out fielders right? we need smart and fast ones to. look at what we had last year. I agree that he will cost. If we was to sign him and trade for matt kemp. then our outfield would look pretty nice. we have the cash!

nolie

October 17th, 2010
7:52 pm

you are right some don’t.anybody who thinks they are gonna spend what it takes on two guys like that do not get it at all. just cause a guy is better than what we had does not mean he is the right choice all things considered. That is what having a clue is all about.

nolie

October 17th, 2010
7:53 pm

I mean who in the hell wasn’t better than what we had?

Jeff R

October 17th, 2010
7:53 pm

Well, add up what the team owes Chipper, Kawakami, and McLouth – that’s – what? – $26 million down the drain.

I think there’s a better chance Chipper retires than Wren moving Kawakami or unloading McLouth.

Though Wren is intent on building for the 2011 run, I think he’d be better off pursuing a power-hitting OF prospect on the verge.

stuart

October 17th, 2010
7:53 pm

Well Dave on the premise that the Braves dont want to have organizational meetings while others are still playing; they are the only ones who can fix it.

Greene Hornet

October 17th, 2010
7:53 pm

I know I’ve said it before, but to close this season out I’m sure we all here thank you, Carrol, and others for their work here. Thanks for keeping us up to date and all of your writing and interactions with us fans. I know this age of technology gives fans a voice (some of which should chose to excercise their right to remain silent) and some fans say things they shouldn’t, but I hope we all can continue to support the Braves and you guys that bring us close to our favorite team. Thansk again for the work you guys do.

CB

October 17th, 2010
7:54 pm

Couch Tater

October 17th, 2010
7:55 pm

Thanks again, DOB.

“During those long summer tours, there’s nothing on television that doesn’t rot your brain except for baseball. And I love the game. I love the history of the game. I love the fact that anything can happen but probably won’t. But sometimes does. I love that you don’t have to be a perfect human specimen to be a good player; you can be overweight, you can be too short, too skinny.

Let’s just say I’m a National League girl, because I don’t believe in the designated hitter. And you can quote me on that.”
Read more: http://www.esquire.com/features/what-ive-learned/ESQ0604-JUN_WIL#ixzz12f38P1yk

nolie

October 17th, 2010
7:57 pm

I guess I would have to take exception to her lambasting of summer tv. I think there are some pretty darn good shows on in summer nowdays :)

nolie

October 17th, 2010
7:58 pm

Sorry Bama, that post sounded rougher than I meant it to :oops:

Gary O

October 17th, 2010
7:58 pm

The Braves have to get a legit OF in here, because this offense has too many question marks. In my opinion, AGon and Brian are the only guys we dont have any questions about, because we have a pretty good idea what to expect out of them.

Heyward – Sophomore slump?
Chipper – Will he stay healthy and play well?
Prado – Will he stay healthy?
Freeman – What kind of year will he have?
Nate – Will we get any production out of him?

I understand we dont have the money to sign a premier FA. But we have enough talent in the minors to make a move for a legit OF.

And Rasmus would not be my first choice, because he is left handed.

Mikeyc588

October 17th, 2010
7:58 pm

DOB – Thanks for the heads up about the show at The Earl. I hadn’t heard The Soft Pack, but I live near EAV so I’ll probably have to go. I like that track. Sounds a lot like The Strokes to me…

Branch Rickey

October 17th, 2010
7:59 pm

It’ll take more than Carl Crawford to inject life into this lifeless, lethargic lineup.

If the 2011 team includes McLouth, Melky, Ankiel, etc., there is no way we compete with the Phillies. Too much payroll is locked up in Lowe, Chipper and Kawakami for Wren to make any meaningful acquisitions.

LTBF

October 17th, 2010
8:00 pm

Still would like to see a poll on this blog where we can pick all-time Atlanta Braves team position by position. It would be interresting and give us something to do.

MIBravesFan

October 17th, 2010
8:02 pm

“nolie

October 17th, 2010
7:57 pm
I guess I would have to take exception to her lambasting of summer tv. I think there are some pretty darn good shows on in summer nowdays”

“The Closer” and “Leverage” and “Royal Pains” are my personal favorites.

David O'Brien

October 17th, 2010
8:02 pm

American Legion: It’s no slight on Medlen at all, but rather just the reality that his Tommy John surgery is almost always an 11-13 month recovery period. So the earliest the Braves expect him back would be August, and more likely it’ll be September, if he returns at all in 2011.

GarynpOH

October 17th, 2010
8:05 pm

wow still would want to PAY for Dunn when we have the top prospect for 1st base in Freeman, i don’t understand that one.

David O'Brien

October 17th, 2010
8:07 pm

What, can we not say “the demonym pertaining to the country of Kenshin Kawakami’s birth” anymore? LAG

No, because we don’t have time to play grade-school teacher and delete every post from the bitter bigots who couldn’t resist ruining it for everyone by spewing ignorant bile every time one of the Japanese pitchers took the mound this season.

JasonInFL

October 17th, 2010
8:07 pm

DOB, your work is stellar, as always. Seriously, we have had a couple of back and forths, but your blog is the best. Period. And with the work you do in the offseason, well, it helps get people like me through until next April.

David O'Brien

October 17th, 2010
8:08 pm

Jason, thanks.

Bat Masterson

October 17th, 2010
8:09 pm

Thanks for the new blog David, you covered a lot of ground, good stuff. Thanks for the Elizabeth Cook clogging link too, man who knew, I could get behind some more of that.

nolie

October 17th, 2010
8:10 pm

I really like all those and several more like Burn Notice, plus several of the new ones this summer were pretty decent I thought

JasonInFL

October 17th, 2010
8:11 pm

I really wish the Braves could have gotten Nelson Cruz before this season began. He won’t be available now. He was put on waivers a couple of times in the past as well. Could have been our Ortiz (in terms of productive player picked up off of the waiver wire…)

I really do, for some reason, think there is a chance the Braves get Kemp. Don’t know why, but I think he may be one of their targets. Guy still has potential to be a .300 30 100 with 25+ SBs. But, he reminds me a little bit of ‘Druw in his attitude towards working out, staying in shape, and overall approach to baseball.

Rob from SC

October 17th, 2010
8:12 pm

McFann O O – 6

I agree to the wearing down issue. We need to do a better job next year of resting players.

Couch Tater

October 17th, 2010
8:12 pm

nolie –

I meant to write that was from a 2004 interview with Emmylou. I can’t remember what was on TV then, except a PBS special on memory exercises.

nolie

October 17th, 2010
8:13 pm

I could live with Kemp if they don’t hafta give up too much. He’s a risk to some extent. but getting away from the glamour life might settle him some. and he should bounce back at least some

MIBravesFan

October 17th, 2010
8:15 pm

nolie – cable has really added a lot to the quality of tv, hasn’t it? Is tonight the season finale of “Mad Men”? I think it is. I’m not missing that! I hope the Giants win tonight, but I’m not missing “Mad Men”!

nolie

October 17th, 2010
8:15 pm

yeah I kinda agree if it was 6 years ago, most of the good summer stuff has come out since then. Emmylou is a sweetie no doubt. Saw her in some coffee shops in NYC back in the days when she was a folkie. sweet voice then too.

Piedmont Blues

October 17th, 2010
8:16 pm

Branch,

Of the three you listed, only McLouth has a prayer to be on the 2011 team. Ankiel and Melky are gone. Ankiel’s buyout is much cheaper than his (overpriced) option. And Melky will be nontendered. I’m willing to bet on that.

And if there was a way to justify eating McLouth’s contract and releasing him, the Braves would do that. Just don’t think they have the stones (or the bank account) to justify that.

nolie

October 17th, 2010
8:17 pm

ok now Mad Men is not one I care much for. but you enjoy anyway ;)

Piedmont Blues

October 17th, 2010
8:18 pm

McFann,

I think you’re onto something when you say McCann pressed when he was expected to carry the offense. If he goes back to being the second or third most important run producer on the team, he’ll probably rake once again.

nolie

October 17th, 2010
8:19 pm

yeah Pied, 7.75 mil I think it is would be a big chunk to swallow for them if they cut McNate. Hey maybe be will bounce back some. he doesn’t really need to get back to that career year numbers, 255/355/425 would be an improvement and those numbers used to be doable for him

dobearsbare

October 17th, 2010
8:19 pm

Wren has recovered from the PR gaffes with Smoltz and Glavine and now says the right things, and I think an argument can be made that he’s made the best moves he could given the team’s payroll constraints. if he’s tired of other teams in the LCS and WS, he’s not alone. I’m sure the players are tired of it and the fans certainly are. Someone needs to ask these questions to Liberty Media, though. Because they don’t seem the least bit interested in winning anything with the Braves.

MIBravesFan

October 17th, 2010
8:19 pm

“nolie

October 17th, 2010
8:17 pm
ok now Mad Men is not one I care much for. but you enjoy anyway”

Thanks Nolie :)

Bat Masterson

October 17th, 2010
8:21 pm

Another year of creative financing, well I guess we should be used to it by now.

I have been thinking about that Liberty Media, Sirius XM deal less than two years ago. Liberty got their loan back plus interest in less than six months, plus their stake in siri. What’s that worth today, off the top of my head, based on Fridays close, about 3.75 billion. Would not surprise me to see it go to 5 billion by the first quarter of next year. Man would 1/4 or 1/2 of 1 % of that look good on top of the Braves budget. Ah what the hell, means nothing.

VaBravesFan

October 17th, 2010
8:23 pm

We need a Everyday Outfielder that can hit around 25 homers and drive in 100 runs.

LT A Blogger

October 17th, 2010
8:24 pm

DOB, CR- I’ll second the love for all the great work this season- makes the season that much more fun.

MIBravesFan

October 17th, 2010
8:25 pm

Bat – you know their financing doesn’t equate to the team’s financing, right?! Corporate ownership! Numbers do very strange and interesting things!

Kyle

October 17th, 2010
8:26 pm

DOB- Any idea on who the Braves are after for hitting coach?

Mr. Obvious

October 17th, 2010
8:26 pm

Bat Masterson

October 17th, 2010
8:31 pm

MIBravesFan _

Yeah, I know and it’s not like that siri deal had anything to do with the Braves, but man they got fat on that deal. Of course I’m glad they made it, because I played along.

Heck, I don’t think they would miss 18 million or so.

JD

October 17th, 2010
8:32 pm

Hey DOB – sometimes it takes balls to be a woman brother!! wonder if she can cook too?

Bat Masterson

October 17th, 2010
8:33 pm

Couch Tater
October 17th, 2010
7:55 pm

Thanks for the link, good read.

JD

October 17th, 2010
8:33 pm

Not that it matters of course…

Bat Masterson

October 17th, 2010
8:35 pm

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