Braves’ Wren on payroll, ownership; DOB’s Top 50 CDs

Denizens and everyone else, here’s to a Merry Christmas, happy holidays, rockin’ New Year and all that.

Now, a new blog and Top 50  CDs of 2010 list for you to peruse, use or abuse as you see fit.

In spring training or during the season, there’s usually too much rather than not enough for us to write and blog about. But coming up with a fresh topic during the holidays can be difficult, particularly when you cover a team that moved quickly to complete its major offseason moves by early December.

But we got what we needed for this holiday blog via a conversation with GM Frank Wren, as he literally sat on a beach in Cozumel this week, following a couple of morning scuba-diving sessions with his vacationing family. He said the reef off that Mexican resort is one of the best anywhere for diving, and also added that it was 80 degrees and he had a bit of a sunburn.

Braves GM Frank Wren introduced new manager Fredi Gonzalez in October, the first in series of Braves offseason moves that came in rapid succession.

Braves GM Frank Wren introduced new manager Fredi Gonzalez in October, the first in series of Braves offseason moves that came in rapid succession.

I put my cold hand over my phone – temp’s about 60 in my 1950s-era ranch house, where we’re trying to minimize furnace use to get a couple more years out of that contraption – and cursed Wren for rubbing it in. Then I thanked him in advance for being gracious with his time while on vacation. (Really was cool of him to do this.)

The interview was for a Q&A that will run in the Christmas day print edition of the AJC, and should be posted online at some point in next couple of days. For now, I thought I’d tease it with a few topics that have been discussed quite frequently on the ol’ blog – Liberty Media, payroll, Zack Greinke, and the Braves’ increased emphasis on speed.

I asked Wren: Is it difficult working within the constraints of a mid-size payroll in a division with two high-payrolled teams, the Phillies and Mets, or is that not as big an issue as some might imagine, and something you just get accustomed to dealing with?

“The one thing about it is, as long as you know what you have” it’s workable, he said. “And we have an ample payroll to win, there’s no question about that. We’ve seen all kinds of signs of that in recent times. San Francisco was marginally higher than us, and plenty of other [winning] clubs are in our payroll range. Texas and Tampa Bay were lower. You look at clubs that are well constructed, if you have young players coming up in your system – only way any team can consistently compete, that’s not in the really high payroll levels, is by having a strong farm system, where you’re continually bringing young players to the big leagues who can contribute to your team.”

I followed that by asking him if the payroll limits force a team like the Braves to be even more diligent in terms of making good draft picks and trades that add, rather than subtract, depth in the minor league system?

“What you have to be diligent about is, you have to know your players better than anyone else knows them,” he answered. “You make sure you don’t trade those players who have a chance to be real productive, game-changing types. You’re going to make trades, but you just make sure you don’t give away players who are going to have a huge major league impact in the future. But sometimes players develop at different paces, and you’re not going to see it, they come around and develop at a different time than you thought they would. We’re not going to stop being aggressive and making trades, getting players to help us win.

John [Schuerholz] and Bobby [Cox] were so good and so consistent for so long, but that’s not the norm. That’s really hard to do, and every other club will tell you that. Being there 14 years in a row just doesn’t happen. Our goal is to be consistent, year-in and year-out, but to do that you’re also going to have to keep developing players and getting players.”

Jason Heyward is a legitimate five-tool player, one of those tools being ability to run. The Braves are emphasizing speed more in their drafts and international free-agent signings.

Jason Heyward is a legit five-tool player, one being ability to run. The Braves are "re-emphasizing" speed in their drafts and international signings.

When I asked him if there were specific areas or things the Braves would like to accomplish in the future, that’s when Wren brought up the subject of speed.

“We’ve talked about it — and it’s a hard thing to do — as we transition to a more athletic team,” he said. “Where speed and defense and those areas are so valuable in the overall scheme of things the way the game’s played today, transitioning more to that type of team as we go forward, while also maintaining our strong pitching base. Not to say you can’t have a very successful team without that, but if there’s one attribute that plays so well in our game it’s speed. In the last five or six years, there’s been a re-emphasis on speed.

“But speed without the presence of other skills really doesn’t do you a lot of good, either. That’s why those players are so rare. They’re hard to come by. That’s been a focus of Tony [DeMacio, Braves scouting director] last year in the draft, as well as for Johnny [Almaraz, Braves international scouting director]. That’s hopefully the direction we’re headed more and more as we go forward. But it’s five or six years to turn that around, from the time you sign a player to when they become an impact player in the big leagues.”

While on the subject of payroll restrictions, I asked him about Liberty Media, the Denver-based conglomerate that owns the Braves. I asked how much interaction he had with Liberty officials, or whether that was left primarily to Braves CEO Terry McGuirk.

“We all in the front office have interactions with them several times a year, whether we’re playing [against the Rockies] in Denver, or they’ll come to Atlanta or at our annual meetings,” Wren said. “But primarily they have given us the ability to run this franchise, especially Terry, to put together the budget and basically just keep them informed. It’s an ideal situation for a baseball operation, to be able to make decisions internally.”

I asked him if it was a good ownership situation, from his perspective, since we often hear from fans who’d prefer to have a big-spending local owner, preferably one person, rather than some far-flung corporation.

“It’s an outstanding situation,” Wren said of the current ownership arrangement. “It’s never been a time that I know of where there was a [phone] call saying, ‘Why are you doing this or doing that?’ They’re confident in the leadership situation in Atlanta, to make decisions in those situations. I think [criticism from media or fans] is misdirected – the budget is set internally, not by Liberty Media.

“There are a lot of teams with single owners who are local are doing exactly the same thing we’re doing – with a similar payroll and how they’re doing things. We get very high marks for how our franchise is run throughout baseball….

“The economics are really a function of our market size and the revenues that are coming in. It’s not because there’s an owner saying ‘You’re not going to do this.’ It’s just a function or our market. And like I said, I can reel off half a dozen other markets very similar to us that do have local owners, who are doing it the same way we’re doing it. So that’s a bit of a red herring when you always want to throw it on Liberty.”

Oh, and as long as he seemed so relaxed on the beach, I figured I’d ask about Greinke, the former AL Cy Young Award winner who’d just been traded from Kansas City to Milwaukee. I asked Wren, if the Braves ever considered making a run at Greinke this winter.

“His name was brought up,” he said. “We talked

about it. I just think it was going to be cost-prohibitive for us, because some of those players it would have taken to make that deal are players we’re going to be counting on in the next year or two, and we think they’re going to be premium talents at the major league level.”

There’s a lot more coming in that Q&A with Wren that we’ll get posted this week. He was candid and, uh, Frank (did I really just use that? Oy.)

♣ Whither Uggla? Don’t panic, folks. There have not been any setbacks in negotiations between the Braves and Uggla on a potential contract extension. A report in a Boston paper last week got everyone excited, because it made it sound like a deal was imminent on a five-year extension worth $60-61 million.

Fact is, the Braves and Uggla agreed after he was traded to the Braves in November that there was no great urgency to get an extension done, and both sides said they wanted it to happen and didn’t see any reason it wouldn’t.

That hasn’t changed. Uggla, who’s eligible for free agency after the 2011 season, wants to stay with the Braves for a lot more years, and they want to keep him. Will they guarantee a fifth year, something the Marlins would not do? I think in the end, they probably will, especially in light of the seven-year contracts that were just handed out to Jayson Werth and Carl Crawford. Werth, 31, is 10 months older than Uggla.

Although Werth has an .848 career OPS to Uggla’s .837, and a .369 OBP to Uggla’s .349, Werth has only two seasons with as many as 27 homers (Uggla has done that in all five seasons in the majors). Werth has driven in more than 70 runs only twice in the past five seasons; Uggla drove in at least 90 runs in four of those five seasons, and 88 in the other.

Werth never scored more than 73 runs before totaling 98 and 106 runs in the past two seasons. Uggla has scored 100 or more runs three times, and totaled 97 and 84 runs scored in his other two seasons.

I’m not suggesting that Uggla should be paid what Werth’s getting, and I realize that Uggla isn’t a free agent yet. But he will be 10 months from now if not signed to an extension, and five years at $60-65 million sure sounds like a bargain about now, compared to the staggering seven-year, $126 million contract that the Nationals lavished upon Werth.

And for those who suggest that Uggla won’t be worth $12 million by the fourth or fifth year of that deal, you might be right. Or you might not be. No middle infielder has ever hit as many homers in his first five seasons as Uggla, but just as importantly, for contract purposes, it’s worth noting that very few current players have put up as consistently productive numbers in their first five seasons as Uggla has.

But the bottom line is this: Whether you’re comfortable paying him a guaranteed fourth or fifth year, right now that appears to be the going rate for such a player. So you pay it, or you risk him putting up the same kind of season he’s produced every year, then commanding an even greater contract next winter, when multiple teams will surely be ready to offer that kind of cash for a consistent 30-homer, 95-RBI middle infielder, regardless of his mediocre defense.

Dude’s a run-producer and a big-time power threat. He’s going to get paid. And the Braves have searched too long for a right-handed power bat to let this one slip away after one season.

I’m confident they’ll get a five-year extension done, whether that’s next week or next month.

♣ Braves and the NL East: We were having a discussion on the blog a few days ago about the Braves’ postseason chances in 2011, when I suggested that the Braves, with starting rotation returning intact, and Uggla added to the lineup, should be better than they were during an injury-plagued 2010 season in which they won 91 games and the wild card.

The Nationals gave Jayson Werth a huge contract to lure the free agent from Philadelphia, but Washington still has too many holes in its pitching staff and elsewhere to compete for the division title.

The Nationals gave Jayson Werth a huge contract to lure the free agent from Philadelphia, but Washington still has too many holes in its pitching staff and elsewhere to compete for the division title.

One of our regulars, screen name MFin04, replied with this: “Contending this year and contending last year are two different beasts. Teams continue to get better every year. Phillies got better, Nationals got better, Marlins always find a way to win with young guys, the Mets are going to be healthier this year I’d presume. So while the Braves got a little bit better with Uggla, the rest of the division did too.”

I just wanted to repeat here the answer I gave him (since we were up to about 60 pages of comments, I’m sure many of them went unnoticed by a lot of our readers). My reply was:

“Please. The Nationals finished 28 games out of first place (and 22 games behind the Braves), lost Stephen Strasburg to injury, Adam Dunn to free agency and Josh Willingham in a trade, and added Jayson Werth and some far lesser pieces. Even if they were to sign, say, Derrek Lee, they still haven’t closed much of the gap on the Phillies and Braves. Look at their pitching staff.

“You say the Marlins (who finished 11 games behind Atlanta) “always find a way to win with young guys” and the Mets (who finished 12 games behind Atlanta) “are going to be healthier this year, I’d presume,” and then you conclude with, “So while the Braves got a little bit better with Uggla, the rest of the division did too.” Why, just because the Marlins always find a way to win with young guys and the Mets are going to be healthier? Those are the reasons you believe they’re going to close double-digit gaps on the Braves in the standings?

“One could certainly argue that the Phillies improved by adding a tremendous starting pitcher, Cliff Lee, although they lost one of their key lineup cogs in Werth. But the rest of the division? What did those teams do to put them ahead of the Braves, who won the wild card, kept their starting rotation intact, and added a 30-homer hitter? The Braves lost a very good closer to retirement, and it remains to be seen whether Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters can handle the closer role without much dropoff. Otherwise, the Braves’ only significant loss was All-Star utility man Omar Infante.”

OK, other blog participants, your thoughts?

♣ Etc. The Braves have signed a load of 6-year minor league free agents this winter that seem a cut above the usual flotsam

This dramatic homer by Rick Ankiel was the highlight of his brief time with the Braves, who declined a 2011 option on the outfielder.

This dramatic homer by Rick Ankiel was the highlight of his brief time with the Braves, who declined a 2011 option on the outfielder.

that falls into that category. The latest is lefty Yohan Flande, signed from the Phillies organization last week. He’ll be 25 in January — old for a custard treat; just checking to see if you’re paying attention still — and went 10-8 with a 4.38 ERA and 1.402 WHIP at Double-A Reading in 2010 in 27 starts, with 84 strikeouts and 44 walks in 158-1-3 innings. Those aren’t impressive numbers, obviously, but he was rated among the Phillies’ top 20 prospects before last season, and has a 34-17 record, 3.28 ERA and 1.250 WHIP in five minor league seasons. So who knows? Certainly worth taking a look at. The Braves plan to have him in their Triple-A Gwinnett starting rotation…. In case you missed it, former Braves lefty Chuck James signed a minor-league deal last week with the Twins…. Center fielder Rick Ankiel signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Nationals, which is one-fourth of the amount of the $6 million option the Braves declined on Ankiel for the 2011 season…. Speaking of the Nats, they will pay Jayson Werth $21 million per season in 2015-2017, when he’s 36, 37 and 38.

♣ The best CDs of 2010, period: It’s too bad that fewer people buy music these days, because they’re missing out on a great period of new music in all genres. Seriously, this was one of the best years I can recall for new, bold and just plain terrific new music.

Which only made it that much harder to put together my annual list of the best 50 CDs/albums. But here it is, after much coffee-fueled late-night cramming (had to play a bunch of them again, since it’s been months since I last listened to a few of them – you who buy too much music know what I mean).

My rules are simple: It must be a CD or LP that I possess in its entirety (confession: I cheated on two CDs this year, borrowed them from a lovely lady). It can not be a recording that I heard a cut from, or that I just read about. No, no, no. Can’t be something I downloaded one or two songs from or heard at a listening station at Decatur CD or Criminal Records, or that the dude played at Wuxtry.

That means two things: First and foremost, I spend irresponsible amounts of money on CDs. Secondly, there are going to be plenty of great CDs that I missed, that I haven’t found so far at a reasonable price. I’m a sports writer, not a rock critic getting dozens of CDs sent to me gratis every week. Dammit.

Lastly, we’ve got no genre restrictions. If I like it and think it’s good enough — top-50 good — I rank it. Plenty of CDs not listed here got great critical reviews, but I either didn’t hear them in their entirety or didn’t like them enough to rank. And yes, I know a few I’ve ranked in the bottom half of my list finished in the top 10 of others. So? Maybe I just didn’t like them as much, or maybe I don’t have conflicts of interest, like a magazine that gets a cover story from this or that artist in exchange for a better-than-deserved review or ranking (not that that would ever happen; ahem).

I'm not sure why DBT's Big To-Do didn't make many best-of-2010 lists, but it made ours.

I'm not sure why DBT's Big To-Do didn't make many best-of-2010 lists, but it made ours.

There might also be one or two I simply overlooked when I was going back through my stacks and stacks of CDs, trying to figure out exactly what came out this year. It happens every years. I reserve the right to change one or two if I immediately realize that I overlooked one or two last night when I was finishing this exhaustive task. But only one or two, and only for a day or two. Can’t be changing my list for anything else.

Two other things: We tried to avoid all reissues or tribute albums this year (or else the John Prine and Loretta Lynn tributes would both have made my list). The Bruce Springsteen gem is not a reissue. And lastly, the CD of the year was a really tough call for me between terrific work from The Black Keys and The National, with Jamey Johnson’s hard country double-CD also great enough to be No. 1 in a lot of years.

Among the many other CDs I really like this year that fell just outside the list were new ones by Alejandro Escovedo, Bad Religion, Gil Scott-Heron, Broken Bells, Josh Ritter, Warpaint, Tom Petty, Graham Parker,  Wolf Parade,  New Pornographers, Merle Haggard, Midlake,  The Thermals, Mary Gauthier, Jason & The Scorchers, The Roots with John Legend, Maximum Balloon, Mynabirds, Sharon Van Etten, Surfer Blood, Ryan Adams, Wavves, Dangermouse & Sparklehorse, Eels, John Mellencamp, Future Islands, Everest, The Tallest Man on Earth, Futurebirds, Free Energy and Budos Band, among others. But now….

Best CDs of 2010

  1. The Black Keys: Brothers
    the-black-keys-brothers-300x300

    Black Keys: Unusual CD cover, terrific CD

  2. The National: High Violet
  3. Jamey Johnson: The Guitar Song
  4. Big Boi: Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Dusty Chico
  5. Grinderman: 2
  6. Arcade Fire: The Suburbs
  7. Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
  8. Bruce Springsteen: The Promise
  9. Beach House: Teen Dream
  10. The Soft Pack: The Soft Pack
  11. The Roots: How I Got Over
  12. Cee Lo Green: The Lady Killer
  13. Justin Townes Earle: Harlem River Blues
  14. No Age: Everything in Between
  15. The Walkmen: Lisbon
  16. Drive-By Truckers: The Big To-Do
  17. Phosphorescent: Here’s To Taking It Easy
  18. Local Natives: Gorilla Manor
  19. Swans: My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky
  20. Paul Weller:  Wake Up The Nation
  21. The White Stripes: Under Great White Northern Lights
  22. Elizabeth Cook: Welder
  23. LCD Soundsystem: This Is Happening
  24. Titus Andronicus: The Monitor
  25. Mumford and Sons: Sigh No More
  26. Deerhunter: Halcyon Digest
  27. Spoon: Transference
  28. Johnny Cash: American VI: Ain’t No Grave

    Spoon's Transference came in at No. 27

    Spoon's Transference came in at No. 27

  29. Superchunk: Majesty Shredding
  30. Best Coast: Crazy For You
  31. Helen Stellar: If The Stars Could Speak They Would Have Your Voice
  32. Gorillaz: Plastic Beach
  33. Caribou: Swim
  34. Neil Young: Le Noise
  35. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti: Before Today
  36. Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings: I Learned the Hard Way
  37. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band: Preservation Hall: An Album To Benefit Preservation Hall
  38. Crime in Stereo: I Was Trying to Describe You to Someone
  39. Roky Erickson with Okkervil River: True Love Cast Out All Evil
  40. Janelle Monae: The ArchAndroid
  41. Sleigh Bells: Sleigh Bells
  42. Joe Pug: Messenger
  43. Dale Watson: Carryin’ On
  44. Vampire Weekend: Contra
  45. Band of Horses: Infinite Arms
  46. Mavis Staples: You Are Not Alone
  47. Flying Lotus: Cosmogramma
    Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings

    Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings

  48. The Gaslight Anthem: American Slang
  49. The Hold Steady: Heaven Is Whenever
  50. Jenny and Johnny: I’m Having Fun Now

ADDENDUM: I picked up more CDs on my year-end vacation in Seattle, after this list was published, a few of which could’ve been in the top 50 or at least been mentioned: Robyn’s Body Talk, CrocodilesSleep Forever, and Antony and the JohnsonsSwanlights.

– By David O’Brien, Braves blog

3,528 comments Add your comment

Hillbilly

December 21st, 2010
3:39 pm

She smelled like cigarettes and wine. She kept me happy all the time.

Mitchie-san

December 21st, 2010
3:42 pm

Fresh blog. Thanks DOB.

Bayou Brave

December 21st, 2010
3:46 pm

Trey

December 21st, 2010
3:46 pm

Thank you for the new blog.

ContactBuzz

December 21st, 2010
3:48 pm

Was Hampton’s Lullaby by the Futurebirds considered?

Crime Dog

December 21st, 2010
3:48 pm

Well, I own eight of those CDs. I’ve got some work to do.

Murph

December 21st, 2010
3:52 pm

26. Deerhunter: Halcyon Digest

I should own this, but don’t.

DOB, do you still buy CD’s or are you getting all your stuff digitally?

McFann O O

December 21st, 2010
3:53 pm

Hi, Wayne! I’m good, thanks, how ’bout you? Yup, Brother got home safe and sound—his friend that was driving had some car trouble, but they made it home and that’s what counts. :)

Hope you folks have a marvelous Christmas, as I do all my friends on the blog.

Thanks! Hope you do, as well! (And I hope everyone else does.)

Heck, I even hope the folks that are jerks have a great Christmas too!

Of course. Maybe it will cheer them up…

Thanks for the new Blog, Chief!

Steve from OH

December 21st, 2010
4:00 pm

Great comments from Wren, DOB. Did you get a chance to ask him directly about draft spending? We’ve been near the bottom recently, and that figure is a bit contradictory given his statements about a strong farm system and player development.

DS1

December 21st, 2010
4:00 pm

Great insights by Frank Wren. Thanks Dave.

CD’s? CD’s? Don’t ever mess with a Chinese man’s CD’s!

dap

December 21st, 2010
4:02 pm

DOB: What minor league players have the most speed for the Braves? Lipka? The SS that came over in the trade last year? Schafer? Who else? When should we start seeing the results of the emphasis on speed?

McFann O O

December 21st, 2010
4:02 pm

Wayne Trey and Mitchie…Hey, most of us here appreciate the sacrifices you guys (and your fellow soldiers and sailors) give for our freedoms.

I DO!! :D You guys are the best there is.

MZ

December 21st, 2010
4:03 pm

No “Mojo”?

Bayou Brave

December 21st, 2010
4:04 pm

The Braves are definitely better heading into 2011 than they were heading into 2010. Does that mean they will win more than 91 games in 2011? Of course not.

But I like our chances.

DS1

December 21st, 2010
4:05 pm

Hey zookey! I was thinking about starting a twitter account. Wow! You could follow my every moves; find out all that I do. Keep up with DS1 100% of the time.

Wouldn’t that be lovely!

:lol:

ManOfTeal

December 21st, 2010
4:05 pm

No Dave the Marlins are not going to win because they are young and simply find a way to win, they are going to win, and compete well, barring unforeseen injuries. The Marlins lost 21 games that they were leading in after the 6th inning to blown saves and a crappy bullpen last year, that issue has been rectified as long as the bullpen they put together remains healthy

While the Braves improved a little offensively by adding Uggla, the Marlins improved substantially from a pitching and defensive perspective from what they were a year ago and this was aided by the fact that they were able to spend the money they were originally going to spend keeping Uggla elsewhere.

If the Marlins remain healthy, you are looking at a team much improved and very dangerous to the Braves attempts to repeat as the NL Wild Card.

Daybed Wagmoe

December 21st, 2010
4:06 pm

DOB — Very glad to see your Best Of 2010 list for music. I’d agree with many of those, though I’m not able to get as deep into it as some others…I was surprised to see Vampire Weekend on your list — thought you weren’t a fan?

T for Texas

December 21st, 2010
4:06 pm

Nice to see Roky Erickson on the list. For anybody who hasn’t seen the documentay on his life “You’re Gonna Miss Me” it is a good one. Great story.

Cecil34

December 21st, 2010
4:06 pm

DOB – good job with Wren, I can’t wait to read the whole interview.

I will say that with a guy like Uggla, the Braves can’t help but be better. This ballplayer has been the model of consistency at the plate.

He will be vitally important as the Braves ease into the Chipper-less years.

Nick

December 21st, 2010
4:06 pm

Whoever makes the payroll, internally or not, sucks azz.

David O'Brien

December 21st, 2010
4:06 pm

Murph, I get nothing digitally, unless someone gives me an ITunes gift card or something and I download some songs. I like the actual CDs. Digital downloading doesn’t do it for me, I just download songs from my CDs on my Ipod for traveling and the gym, etc.

dap

December 21st, 2010
4:06 pm

The Braves are making progress with Frank Wren. He spends our minor league players wisely. Money is coming off of the books each year and great young pitchers are coming up. We now need position players.

Kevin

December 21st, 2010
4:07 pm

Deerhunter barely beat out Kanye for my top album. Nice list. Love that the AJC has an old hipster for a Braves beat writer.

flange1

December 21st, 2010
4:07 pm

DOB,

That for a new clean blog! Hopefully this one will stay unpolluted!

TDub

December 21st, 2010
4:07 pm

That is a very fine top 50. Thanks so much DOB, your blog is an ongoing Atlanta treasure.

DS1

December 21st, 2010
4:07 pm

Here are my predictions for 2011: Braves 104-58, Phillies 89-73, Marlins 70-92, Mets 68-94 and Nats 66-96.

See how smart I am! Now they don’t have to worry about playing the season, as I have it all figured out.

Don’t ya just love predictions!!

:twisted:

Zach

December 21st, 2010
4:08 pm

Anyone who has Phosphorescent above Mumford and Sons is OK in my book.

ryan

December 21st, 2010
4:08 pm

Well if Terry McGuirk does set the budget and not Liberty Media than why can’t we just get rid of the CEO and bring in someone who does want to win and spend money and put fans in the seats obviously Terry is not doing a good job of it .

DS1

December 21st, 2010
4:11 pm

Nick

Exactly how would you construct the payroll? Lets say I gave you 95 million. Tell me exactly what you would do to improve the team. And you can’t bring back Hank Aaron……….

Mitchie-san

December 21st, 2010
4:12 pm

Thanks McFann, Thanks Wayne. Im glad there are good people on the blog and in the world.

MFin04

December 21st, 2010
4:13 pm

The bullpen is one of my concerns. Billy Wagner was incredible this year for the Braves and depending on Kimbrel and Venters, while I love them both, they are still both very young and inexperienced. The new additions may or may not pan out, that remains to be seen.

Also when you have question marks at 3B, LF, CF, and 1B the lineup overall still has its concerns. Alex Gonzalez is what he is, a low on base guy with some power and should hit no higher than 6th in the order.

If Chipper Jones doesn’t come back healthy, Prado moves to 3rd, we still have a gaping hole in LF. If McLouth continues to tank we have once again one of the worst outfields both offensively and defensively in baseball.

The good news: Jason Heyward, Brian McCann, and Dan Uggla are some of the best players in the NL at their respective positions. And Martin Prado should be excellent next year as well if he has healed up nicely for all his various nagging injuries.

So the Braves are set with a nice starting rotation and 4 of the first 5 spots in the lineup look great.

Murph

December 21st, 2010
4:14 pm

DOB, do you ever get anything on vinyl? I’ve been trying to teach my 2 and 4 year old kids about vinyl… they can operate an iPhone but the idea of a record is foreign to them.

TP

December 21st, 2010
4:14 pm

Recommendations:

Weekend, Sports
Surfer Blood, Astro Coast
Tame Impala, Innerspeaker

Great list though, good work.

DS1

December 21st, 2010
4:15 pm

Yes, that darned Terry McQuirk! He doesn’t want to win! He doesn’t like to spend money, and he could careless about putting fans in the seats.

Folks, they could spend another 10 million per year, and some of you would still be crying in your milk.

Does “Spend more money” = More Wins?
or “Spend more money” = More fans in seats?

Not sure those are proveable correlations? But I am sure someone here who is a lot smarter than me has that answer.

The critical part is putting more fans in the seats, so you can pay for the higher payroll.

David O'Brien

December 21st, 2010
4:15 pm

Daybed: I was a bit turned off by what I still think was overhype for Vampire Weekend’s very good-not-great debut. I honestly believe this second CD of theirs is better. That’s all. I gave it more of a chance, too, I must admit.

Mitchie-san

December 21st, 2010
4:15 pm

Steve from OH, I just went back and saw your last post on the old blog. Thanks, my man.

Matt

December 21st, 2010
4:19 pm

So the Braves will win over 91 games then? What about the central now being more difficult with Milwaukee vastly improving their rotation, St. Louis and the Reds remaining tough… And I no longer think it’s the Marlins winning with just young talent. Their rotation is flat out good, and the addition of Buck will help them, losing Uggla hurt though, definitely.. I don’t think it’s a given that the Braves win nearly as many games.

P-Town Brave ©

December 21st, 2010
4:20 pm

DS1-

Well, thats really subjective…

Its all about WHO you are spending that money on…

I still go back to Holliday and while the Cards overspent by 20M on him from what anyone else did, I would have liked to get in on that as he’s very consistent and has loads of power…at the time, he would have solidified our team greatly, just as I feel Uggla has…

Yet, we were not involved at all…

Its not so much for me about ending up w/ every single talented player, but at least making a run at some of them would be nice.

David O'Brien

December 21st, 2010
4:20 pm

Murph, I still buy used, collector-type stuff on vinyl. Got a bunch of good first-edition LPs, and still have hundreds of LPs I bought before I had a CD player.

scott

December 21st, 2010
4:21 pm

That Superchunk album kicks so much ass, it’s not even funny

DS1

December 21st, 2010
4:21 pm

MFin04

You can’t have it both ways: Either third base is a question mark, or LF is. Not both. We have Martin Prado. He will man 1 of those positions.

And you can’t interject injuries or returns from injuries, as all teams have those as question marks for ALL their players.

So, you’re saying that (making an assumption that LF is OK) 3B, CF and 1B are question marks. Agreed on all 3. But with our team as presently constructed, what can you do? Not enough cash to add a significant player at any of those slots when you are paying McLouth his salary.

Chipper’s situation is critical, but can’t be determined until they start playing. Freeman is an unknown, but is also YOUNG as heck. I expect him to be OK.

The bullpen will be young and will have a few questions. The rotation is strong, unless we get bit by the injury bug.

But really, what do you propose? Spend another 20 million? And pray-tell, who do you go and get?

I like our club, and if we get a few breaks, we will be in the hunt again.

Bat Masterson

December 21st, 2010
4:23 pm

Bat

Keep up the good work, my friend. With you onboard, there is no need for me to not be DS1!

Thanks, Wayne_

and I’m happy to be of assistance if it helps you maintain your desired sunny disposition. Hopefully I’m not losing to many points on the overall score card for blasting the occasional bozo.

DS1

December 21st, 2010
4:24 pm

P-town

I hear what you’re saying, but when you have payroll limitations, what are you going to do??? It is what it is. Those that seem to lament the payroll limitations are wasting time worrying about something they can’t control. Not very productive.

How ya been? Cold up in Peoria?

UKUGA

December 21st, 2010
4:25 pm

80 degrees?

Ha! I’ve got that here in Houston.

Wren is a sucker.

Go Braves!

Arkansas Transplant

December 21st, 2010
4:25 pm

P-Town Brave ©
December 21st, 2010
4:20 pm

That pretty much sums up my feelings as well. It seems to me we alway let a lot of good talent slip away just from lack of interest or lack of pursuit, which ever it may be.

Kyle

December 21st, 2010
4:26 pm

Eminem’s Recovery doesn’t make the list??

Jerry Blooger

December 21st, 2010
4:26 pm

When I got to mr. West on the list I quit. Surely you jest.

DS1

December 21st, 2010
4:26 pm

Bat

Nah, not at all. Problem is I was blasting too many folks too often. Not in my character. I can be an azz hole for sure, but the nature of the blog was making me somebody I didn’t want to be.

But I still gotta win over zookey!!! Whoever that person is???

Lew

December 21st, 2010
4:26 pm

I buy only CD’s myself. Never downloaded anything. Of course, it’s surprising that DOB have any overlap in our musical tastes (we do), because I don’t own a single album he bought this year and I seriously doubt he bought any I did.

I did get him the new Grace Potter stuff, though.

Arkansas Transplant

December 21st, 2010
4:28 pm

It was nice to know that they actually discussed the possibility of acquiring Greinke. Although I have to say, I’m glad we didn’t win that bidding war. I think the Brew Crew way over paid but I guess time will tell.

MFin04

December 21st, 2010
4:28 pm

DOB – I still don’t understand people buying digital music that has restrictions on it rather than buying the CD at more or less the same price, (and having the CD, Digital Music, and The CD Insert itself).

[Of course with music being so easy to obtain...I don't understand why people would even pay for digital music off of iTunes, but that's another story. ]

But CD vs Digital Copy, I’m CD all the way.

DS1

December 21st, 2010
4:28 pm

Arkansas

Why would you pursue someone you know you won’t have the $$ for?? Counterproductive.

And please, let’s not go back to dealing Lowe to free up money for a NEW bad contract.

I will be happy if we can sign Uggla up for a 5 year extension. That would make my day, four shore!

P-Town Brave ©

December 21st, 2010
4:29 pm

DS1-

Yeah, just a tad…not quite as bad as last week when it was in single digits, but thats because it warmed up just so it can snow again…

Snowed 4 inches between Sunday night and Monday am (were only supposed to get 1 inch) and then between last night and this morning we got the freezing rain…the commute to work has been a real joy…

Also, they’re saying Friday morning we could be in for another blizzard…calling for up to 18 inches of snow…

Anyone wanna trade places w/ me?

NoBreggie4Dogs

December 21st, 2010
4:30 pm

The Kanye West album gets high praise everywhere I read a top 10 or top 50, shame I only bought ONE cd this year the excellent Steve Earle remastered double cd, then again I spent half of it in Arabic hell, anyway I did just go out and get 2 tickets to the Gregg Allman New Years Eve show at Westhampton Beach, woo hoo, will take a look at your TOP 10 Dobi and spend some loot, I need to expand my repetoire

DS1

December 21st, 2010
4:30 pm

AT

My guess is the Braves braintrust sits down and considers 75% of the players available. Just a guess.

Arkansas Transplant

December 21st, 2010
4:31 pm

I did the same Jerry, but I’m not much of a West fan.. personally or professionally.

McFann O O

December 21st, 2010
4:31 pm

Thank you, Mitchie-san!

Im glad there are good people on the blog and in the world.

Oh yes. I think there are far more good than bad—it’s just unfortunate that the bad/insensitive ones seem to be more vocal.

UKUGA

December 21st, 2010
4:31 pm

I look forward to the day when (insert Braves GM name here) says, “Payroll is gonna be up about $10 million this year.”

Creativity is fun. The 1990’s were more fun.

AdirondackDave

December 21st, 2010
4:33 pm

Thanks for the excellent read, DOB. I imagine Dan Uggla will be signed the first couple weeks in January when offices around the country get back to normal. I could see them working out that guaranteed 5th year, conditioned on 800 ABs combined during the previous two years… or something along those lines. Both sides obviously want it to happen.

Arkansas Transplant

December 21st, 2010
4:33 pm

DS1
December 21st, 2010
4:28 pm

Why would you pursue someone you know you won’t have the $$ for?? Counterproductive.

Who are you referring to here?

P-Town Brave ©

December 21st, 2010
4:35 pm

DS1-

Sometimes you just never really know if you have a chance or not…

Think of any girl you’ve ever wanted to ask out…

If you don’t go up to her and take the risk, you’ll never know what she’s gonna say.

ITP Braves Fan

December 21st, 2010
4:36 pm

DOB:

I certainly think the Braves did well this offseason, especially considering that they had no shot of getting any of the “big name” free agents. The issue, in my mind, with the Phillies acquiring Lee is that it gives the Phillies a rotation like the Braves had in the mid-90’s but something that the Braves could really never add: a solid, powerful lineup. (The exception for the Braves, of course, was towards the late-90’s when Castilla, Lopez and Jones were mashing while the starters were on the decline.)

What a team looks like on paper in December certainly has no bearing on where the team finishes the following October. (See, 2010 Yankees.) But, it looks very difficult for the Braves to compete with the Phillies for 162 games barring injuries or some other unpredicted decline in their lineup. Unfortunately, I think that is going to be the case for the next 2-3 seasons until the Phillies’ roster starts getting older (and the contracts for Oswalt and Hamels are up).

Fortunately, I believe the Braves are primed to make their own run for the next few seasons (I always thought 2011 was “the” season), and they could potentially steal the division from the Phillies. I just wish Liberty Media would allow the Braves the opportunity to sign a top-tier free agent (Crawford comes to mind) that would give the Braves not only the chance to compete, but also dominate like they did 15 years ago.

MFin04

December 21st, 2010
4:37 pm

It’s amazing how anyone in the Yankees organization still has a job after all the money they have wasted over the years.

They are going to have a terrible rotation this year and have tied up way too much money in Mo and Jeter. (Mostly Jeter).

So while it stinks that the Braves don’t have the money that the Phillies, Yankees, Red Sox, etc have.

At least our GM has to make intelligent long-term decisions when constructing the team. And overall Frank Wren has done a great job getting players. Pretty much every move but the Escobar move I have agreed with. McLouth, Ankiel, Derrek Lee, Glaus, Hinske, Derek Lowe (ugh), Kawakami, all the moves were good at the time. Not necessarily all of them panned out, but those moves all had to be made. And to some extent the Escobar move as well.

FEAR

December 21st, 2010
4:37 pm

Man nothing on that list is even remotely good in my opinion. Guess my friends are right when they say I’m a music Nazi. Oh well…..I can live with that.

DCBrave

December 21st, 2010
4:37 pm

How about The New Pornographers ‘Together’? I dug it a lot more than ‘Challengers ‘. And it sounds great live, too.

NoBreggie4Dogs

December 21st, 2010
4:38 pm

I never liked Kanye until I saw him support the Stones at the Meadowlands 4 or 5 years back, he was brilliant live so I bought a few of his cds… quite poetic if you ignore all the trash talk and n.. words etc

Kerfeld

December 21st, 2010
4:38 pm

“Wig!” by Peter Case deserves a mention.

MFin04

December 21st, 2010
4:40 pm

Anybody but McFann and I pick up the new Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift album 8)

Branch Rickey

December 21st, 2010
4:40 pm

If the Braves are depending on Chipper’s health, McLouth “rebounding” and an unproven Freeman to generate offense, we are in serious trouble.

Mitchie-san

December 21st, 2010
4:40 pm

I never thought I would be against trading Lowe, but I personally think its in the Braves’ best interest to hang on to him. Trading young guys is not on Wren’s to-do list and he would have to if he wanted to replace him. As much as I would like Garza or someone else, Wren aint trading the yougun for anyone. The haul we would get back for Lowe wont be enough to flip for another starter and there is no one else as a free agent that will put up the innings that Lowe will.
Keep him for now, I say.

Branch Rickey

December 21st, 2010
4:40 pm

Trade Lowe to Yankees & use that money to get a REAL slugger !

Michael From Curacao

December 21st, 2010
4:41 pm

DOB, although I regularly visit this website, I have never posted here on AJC. But the way you have put my heart at ease today I have to tell you, all the way from Curacao (which is where I am from), that you rock. Keep the blogs coming dude.

Crime Dog

December 21st, 2010
4:41 pm

Man nothing on that list is even remotely good in my opinion. Guess my friends are right when they say I’m a music Nazi. Oh well…..I can live with that.

What would your album of the year be?

K.C. Frenchy

December 21st, 2010
4:43 pm

IF speed is a priority, then lets trade for Gardner, hes young, cheap, & fast & the Yanks are desparate for pitching,we need a leadoff man, lets give them J.J. if they’ll also take K.K., we dump a huge salary & get a legit leadoff hitter with speed, we have enough pitching to survive until Medlen comes back & it gives Minor/Beachey starts to develop, GIT ER DONE FW!!!!!!!!!! Go Bravos Ugga Ugga

Sid Thrift

December 21st, 2010
4:43 pm

Its amazing teams like Giants, Rays & Rangers could reach post-season on payrolls comparable or LESS than the Braves.

Tie up one-third of the payroll on hasbeens like Chipper & Lowe; stop whining !

FEAR

December 21st, 2010
4:44 pm

I do have to say that the Braves are putting alot of stock in Chipper coming back. I wonder if there is a back up plan? Prado to 4rd and then what Hinske or Mathers in LF? uh-oh.

Braveheart

December 21st, 2010
4:44 pm

I’m just so damn irresponsible and disorganized, that’s why I don’t own cds anymore. They always ended up getting lost, scratched, and cracked because I’m so careless. Plus, I’ve got a brother and two sisters who loved stealing my cds (nevermind girlfriends who never seem to give the damn things back). Have had an IPOD for about 5 years now, and have never regretted it.

Crime Dog

December 21st, 2010
4:45 pm

Tie up one-third of the payroll on hasbeens like Chipper & Lowe; stop whining !

Um. Did you watch Lowe pitch last year?

Lew

December 21st, 2010
4:45 pm

4rd Base? Dude – been listening to that Norweigian Death Metal again and your brain is still numb?

GT Alum

December 21st, 2010
4:46 pm

Yeah, I was looking at Washington after I heard they signed Ankiel, and I’m really not sure they haven’t gotten worse offensively after throwing all that money around. I haven’t heard the details of this, but ESPN had Morse as their only 1B. If that’s correct, they just got him more ABs, but they’ve essentially exchange Dunn and Willingham for Werth and Morse. They might be better defensively, but that would appear to be at best a wash offensively. Obviously, they should also be better just by having a full year of Stras, but idk that they’ve done enough to catch up with the Braves.

Arkansas Transplant

December 21st, 2010
4:47 pm

Like I said earlier, I’m not completely against keeping Lowe but if you could get a pretty good return for him now then I’d have to consider if there was some package that would net us Garza. At the same time, if you move Lowe I’d also have to consider an addition of Webb. Maybe a low risk, high reward pickup?

Lew

December 21st, 2010
4:47 pm

GT Alum – A full year of Strasbourg? Wouldn’t that be in 2012?

Stan Darsh

December 21st, 2010
4:48 pm

DOB,

Do you think Wren will see if Dayton Moore and the Royals will be more open to a Cain for Beachy swap than Melvin and the Brewers?

MFin04

December 21st, 2010
4:49 pm

Nationals picked up Vazquez as well. Can’t wait to see which one shows up against the Braves. Zimmerman and Werth are pretty darn good 3/4 hitters and they usually have some speed around them. They aren’t going to be great, but it seems like the Braves always struggle against Florida and the Nats.

Hopefully it was just Uggla and Dunn that killed us! ;)

FEAR

December 21st, 2010
4:49 pm

Crime Dog – really nothing. I dont listen to anything recent

FEAR

December 21st, 2010
4:50 pm

What’s up Lew? how ya been?

Wes

December 21st, 2010
4:51 pm

Mumford & Sons should be way higher than 25!…also cool that you like Gaslight Anthem but their 2010 effort was pretty underwhelming compared to their first album.

jimmymack

December 21st, 2010
4:52 pm

dob refreshing great work

Lew

December 21st, 2010
4:52 pm

FEAR – Doing well and rockin and rollin like usual.

NoBreggie4Dogs

December 21st, 2010
4:52 pm

Vazquez is in MIAMI not DC !

dap

December 21st, 2010
4:53 pm

CD’s? Braves!

TennesseePaul

December 21st, 2010
4:54 pm

DOB: Thanks for the blog, and the CD List. Will come in handy with the gift cards come Dec 25.

FEAR

December 21st, 2010
4:54 pm

yeah i do believe javy went to the fish

MFin04

December 21st, 2010
4:55 pm

That’s right Javy is in Florida, my bad. He didn’t have one of those “I’m taking my talents to South Beach” press conferences so I forgot which team he went to.

Darryl Blackberry

December 21st, 2010
4:56 pm

No Blonde Redhead in the top 50? That’s just silly.

Alex in DC

December 21st, 2010
4:57 pm

Dave – No “Kings of Leon”? C’mon… their new album is phenomenal! In fact the track “Back Down South” could be Brian McCann’s theme music before coming to bat.

FEAR

December 21st, 2010
4:57 pm

That would be funny if JV paid for his own hour long special introducing himself to Miami.

Braveheart

December 21st, 2010
5:03 pm

Thanks for the blog, and the CD List. Will come in handy with the gift cards come Dec 25.

yeah, I’ve always appreciated DOB’s music recs. Have found alot of good music that way. I often download a song or two from the cds he recs, and if it’s something I’ll think I like, I’ll download the rest. There have been quite a few cds I’ve downloaded that he rec’d that I wasn’t initially feeling that ended up growing on me over the years as songs from it were played on shuffle on the laptop or ipod.

DS1

December 21st, 2010
5:04 pm

P-town

So, how do we know the Braves didn’t inquire on the top free agents? We don’t. But most of the top dogs’ agents probably let it be known where the bidding would start.

Why waste your time when you know you aren’t interested in Carl Crawford for 7 years and 140 gazillion dollars?

P-town and Arkansas Transplant

Sorry gents, but I am very happy with the approach (not dealing our prospects haphazardly) and the direction (build the staff, and fill in where possible: Uggla) of our GM and his staff. For a mid market team, that is a recipe for success.

Lonegunman

December 21st, 2010
5:04 pm

The Braves came from behind to win so many games last year, with an unbelievable number of walk-off wins, that you have to wonder if that sort of thing will even out this year. Uggla will provide some much needed power, but as others have pointed out, we still have several question marks. I will be thrilled if we can win the wild card again but how many times has a team repeated as wild card winner in the National League? It doesn’t seem like there have been that many.

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