Braves’ new year promises to be compelling

The guy on the right won't be back in a Braves uniform in 2011. Will the guy on the left? Chipper Jones, approaching 39, is attempting comeback from knee surgery.

The guy on the right won't be back in a Braves uniform in 2011. Will the guy on the left? Chipper Jones, approaching 39, is attempting comeback from knee surgery.

Just back from vacation, an invigorating week in the Pacific Northwest (Portland and Seattle), and now we’re ready to kick off a new year with all of you fine denizens of the Braves/MIB blog. Again, thanks to you for making 2010 such a good year in this corner of the blogosphere.

Whaddya say we make 2011 even better? There certainly won’t be any shortage of things to discuss night and day with the Braves, from before we even get down to Dark Star next month until sometime next fall — possibly a few weeks later than it ended this year. You never know, right?

Regardless of how the NL East and wild-card races shake out, it should be a compelling season for the Bravos — the first season of the post-”6″ era, with Fredi Gonzalez at the controls instead of Bobby Cox; the second season for uber-talented Jason Heyward; the first of what the Braves hope will be multiple seasons with Dan Uggla in the middle of the lineup; and the unique situation of Chipper Jones, wherein a future Hall of Famer attempts a difficult comeback from major knee surgery at age 38 (39 in April).

In six weeks, the new Braves era truly begins. That's when the Braves will open spring training with Fredi Gonzalez (left) in place of retired manager Bobby Cox.

In six weeks, the new Braves era truly begins. That's when the Braves open spring training with Fredi Gonzalez (left) as manager.

That’s just to name a few of the many storylines that will play out, many of which no one could predict (think about Martin Prado and Omar Infante making the All-Star team last season, Jair Jurrjens‘ injury-plagued season, Derek Lowe’s late resurgence, etc.)

For the record, last year in spring training, I picked the Phillies to win the East and the Braves to win the wild card last year. Barring major injuries or unexpected moves between now and opening day, I’m going to make those same picks for 2011, Phillies winning division and Braves taking the wild card. I’ll wait a bit before making any other predicitions.

Speaking of Uggla, the contract extension he and the team have been discussing could be finalized at any time. At least that’s the sense I get. Neither side will say much of anything, but the impression I got was that neither felt any pressure to get it done right away, but that there hadn’t been any real setbacks since talks began in earnest last month.

I won’t be surprised if it gets done this week or next month. I would be surprised if it doesn’t get done at some point, because as I said, both parties have said they want it to happen.

It’s not entirely clear whether the dollars and length of enormous deals handed out this winter, particularly the seven-year contracts for free-agent outfielders Jayson Werth ($128 million) and Carl Crawford ($142 million), has had any effect at all on the Braves-Uggla talks.

If you were Uggla or his representative, do you think you might possibly be even more resolute than before about requiring a fifth year be guaranteed – the Marlins wouldn’t do that – in order for you to sign with the Braves, presumably for an average of at least $12 million annually?

Because even though he’s not a free agent, he could be in a year, if he wants to be. And just compare what Uggla’s done over the past five years to what Werth has done. And keep in mind, Werth, 31, is 10 months older than Uggla.

Werth has an .848 career OPS to Uggla’s .837, and a .369 OBP to Uggla’s .349. Werth is also a fine defensive outfielder, and Uggla is regarded as somewhere from just-serviceable to not very good defensively, depending whom you ask (Fredi G., his once-and-again manager, insists Uggla is pretty good defensively and the best going right now at standing his ground to turn the double play).

Fredi Gonzalez says Uggla's defense isn't nearly the problem some have implied, and says Uggla is among the best turning double plays.

Fredi Gonzalez insists Uggla's defense isn't a problem, and says he's outstanding turning double plays.

While Werth has the clear edge in those statistics, in several others he trails Uggla. Werth has two seasons with as many as 27 homers, while Uggla hit 27 as a rookie and at least 31 in each of his four subsequent seasons.

Werth has driven in more than 70 runs twice in the past five seasons; Uggla drove in at least 90 runs in four of those seasons, and 88 in the other.

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

If Chipper can make it back and regain this stroke, presence of Uggla should be even more beneficial.

If Chipper can make it back and regain this stroke, presence of Uggla should be even more beneficial.

Anyway, as I said, I think it’ll get done, and probably end up being five years guaranteed for an average of at least $12 million per year. I don’t know if he’s gotten any pressure from the players’ association to make sure he gets a big enough deal, but it’s possible.

I can tell you an agent (not Uggla’s) called me today to see if I knew anything more about the Braves-Uggla talks. This agent also represents a five-plus arbitration player on another team, and was hoping that an Uggla contract extension might help his own client’s leverage.

♣Young baseball executive redux: I briefly met new Braves front-office man Matt Carroll in Orlando at the Winter Meetings, and was immediately struck by how much he looked like a rising baseball executive of a similar age not long ago.

Theo Epstein was 28 when the Boston Red Sox hired him in 2002, making the Yale graduate the youngest general manager in baseball.

This is Theo Epstein....

This is Theo Epstein....

Carroll was brought in as a special assistant to GM Frank Wren for the Braves, who hired him away from the St. Louis Cardinals, where Carroll was hired in 2006 and already worked his way up to position as manager of professional scouting.

This is the kind of mid-level front-office hire that goes largely unnoticed; the Braves didn’t even make an announcement when he was hired in the first week of December. However, judging from what I’ve heard about him, from people I trust who either worked for or covered the Cardinals, this was a strong and potentially important move by the Braves.

This young guy – out of respect I’ll not refer to a front-office official as a kid, despite the difference in Carroll’s age and mine – is, by all accounts, a sharp up-and-comer with an impressive baseball acumen and work ethic.

... and this is new Braves special assistant Matt Carroll

... and this is new Braves special assistant Matt Carroll

Joe Strauss, a former AJC scribe who’s been the Cardinals beat writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for some time now (he’s a decade or three removed from being a kid – sorry, Joe) isn’t prone to giving out unwarranted praise. After learning that Carroll was leaving the Cards for a position with the Braves, Strauss wrote: “Carroll, 29, is widely considered one of the industry’s most promising young executives and projects for some as a future general manager.”

Carroll was a former pitcher and team captain at Penn State, and was younger than others in the Cardinals’ front office. He got high marks from Braves assistant GM Bruce Manno, who worked for the Cardinals through 2007, and from several others that Wren talked to before making the hire.

“As we were looking to fill that position, Matt came very highly recommended from every scout I’ve talked to,” Wren said.

Wren was considered a fairly young GM himself not so long ago. I asked him if it made him feel as old as it made me feel for him to hire a special assistant who’s 23 years younger than Wren. He laughed, then gave a serious answer.

“More and more you’re looking for young guys who have a good feel for the game,” Wren said. “He’s been doing a lot of scouting for St. Louis, kind of immersing himself in the major league scouting profession. I can’t tell you the number of people who came up to us [during the Winter Meetings] after hiring him and complimented us for hiring a terrific addition.”

Wren hired Carroll a few weeks after hiring a couple of special assistants that were more from the other end of the proverbial timeline, in terms of both age and experience: In November, former major league manager Lee Elia, 73, and veteran scout Bob Johnson, 63, were hired as special assistants to Wren.

Although Carroll has a title similar to Elia and Johnson, all three will have duties entirely different: Elia, will serve as a major and minor league instructor, and Johnson is the Braves’ advance scout.

I asked Wren about surrounding himself with new additions including sage veterans Elia and Johnson, as well as a guy young enough to be Wren’s son.

“When you’re sitting in this chair, what you’re looking to do all the time is add quality people with good knowledge,” he said. “If you have confidence in the people you’re asking to make decisions and help you make decisions, it makes your organization stronger.”

What about the idea that having respected veterans with strong personalities as special assistants, guys like Elia and incumbent Jim Fregosi — both former big-league managers – might invite some second-guessing of the GM’s decisions?

“I think that’s a recipe for disaster, if you’re afraid to hire good people and listen to good people,” Wren said. “John [Schuerholz] was a great listener. I think that’s one of the things I learned from him the last 10 years — John loved to have quality people around him, and his style was to have people involved and to listen to them. I think that’s a great quality to have for a leader.”

♣Wagner’s retirement: It’s been 2-1/2 months since the Braves’ last game, and Billy Wagner is still on the 40-man roster, meaning he’s not officially, formally retired yet.

Since Wren had explained last month that it was just a procedural matter, that Wagner hadn’t filed his retirement papers yet but had no intention of pitching again, we all assumed that Wags would be off the roster soon enough.

He’s still on it, so today I called Wagner’s agent, the splendidly named Bean Stringfellow. Just to make sure the veteran lefty hadn’t had even the slightest doubt about retiring and was waiting as long as possible to file his papers.

No, Stringfellow said. Wagner is done pitching, and is as firm in his decision today as when he first announced his retirement plans early in the 2010 season.

“He’s as retired as retired can be,” said Stringfellow, who said the confusion over his retirement situation was cleared up last week after the agent talked to a players association official, who later talked to Wagner.

Beane said Wagner’s retirement should be official very soon, at which point his name will come off the Braves’ roster. Until now, Wren has assured Stringfellow that it wasn’t a big concern, as the Braves hadn’t required that final spot on their 40-man roster.

But with spring training just six weeks away, Stringfellow said he knows the team might need it before much longer.

Billy Wagner is definitely retired, agent said Monday.

Billy Wagner is definitely retired, agent said Monday.

Stringfellow, whose full name is Thornton “Bean” Stringfellow – he pitched for four seasons in the Braves’ minor league system in the mid-’80s — also said he understood why some Braves fans held out hope of a return by Wagner, 39, whose $6.5 million club option for 2011 vested with his 50th game finished in 2010.

Wagner went 7-2 with a sparkling 1.43 ERA and 37 saves in 71 games, and racked up 104 strikeouts with 22 walks in 69-1/3 innings.

“Especially with the way Billy threw the ball – ‘He’s on the roster?’ If I was a Braves fan I’d be excited about the possibility,” Stringfellow said. “I’m pretty sure if he wanted to come back, the Braves would like to have him.”

But Wagner has not wavered since making his retirement plans known, despite the pleas of teammates who finally gave up asking by the final month of the season. Stringfellow said when they talked recently, Wagner had just returned from one of his son’s travel-team soccer games, and was working with a couple of his boys on some soccer drills in freezing weather at the family’s Virginia farm.

Stringfellow said Wagner told him, “It’s good for ‘em.”

Etc. The Braves are still trying to trade Kenshin Kawakami, who vetoed a return to Japan. (Atlanta had offers earlier this winter from three Japanese teams, each believed to have offered to pay between one-third and one-half of the $6.7 million Kawakami is owed). Given the number of teams still looking for starting pitching – at least seven or eight, including the Mets, Nationals, Rangers and Yankees – and limited quantity and quality of remainig free agents available, it’s possible the Braves will be able to trade between now and early spring training to a team willing to pay some portion of what he’s owed….

Oh, and did anyone notice that Bobby Cox was named Major League Manager of the Year by Baseball America? Well, he was. That, plus an impromptu Cox tribute and accompanying Tomahawk Chop by revered Atlanta punk band Black Lips and their fans at a sold-out show with Deerhunter last week. The man truly transcended….

Speaking of transcending, the new movie The Fighter does that. It transcends sports, like the best of sports movies do. I saw four movies — The Fighter, True Grit, Black Swan and The King’s Speech – in the past two weeks, and would rank all  in my top 10 for 2010. Social Network is my No. 1 for the year, and the rest of the top 10, in no certain order, would include the four above plus 127 Hours, The Town, Inception, Winter’s Bone and The Kids Are All Right. I haven’t seen Blue Valentine yet, which also looks really good.

What about you all? What are your favorites from this past year?

Since we just got back from the Pacific Northwest, I’ll close with a song from a little Seattle band you might have heard of. One of my favorite Pearl Jam tunes, Light Years, and here’s a video of them doing it live:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cdLSYjKpzA

images

“LIGHT YEARS” by Pearl Jam

I’ve used hammers made of wood
I have played games with pieces and rules
I have deciphered tricks at the bar
But now you’re gone, I haven’t figured out why
I’ve come with riddles, and jokes about war
I figured out numbers and what they’re for
I’ve understood feelings and I’ve understood words
But how could you be taken away?

And wherever you’ve gone, and wherever we might go
It don’t seem fair…. Today just disappeared
Your light’s reflected now
Reflected from afar
We were but stones, your light made us stars

With heavy breath, awakened regrets
Back pages and days that only could’ve been spent together
But we were miles apart
Every inch between us becomes light years now
No time to be void, or save up on life
You’ve got to spend it all

And wherever you’ve gone, and where ever we might go
It don’t seem fair, you seem to like it here
Your light’s reflected now
Reflected from afar
We were but stones, your light made us stars

And wherever you’ve gone, and wherever we might go
It don’t seem fair…. Today just disappeared
Your light’s reflected now
Reflected from afar
We were but stones, your light made us stars.

images

– by David O’Brien, Braves blog

4,874 comments Add your comment

tiger297

January 4th, 2011
1:53 am

Moe you still here or walking to get that single malt now?

nolie

January 4th, 2011
1:57 am

nolie

January 4th, 2011
2:02 am

and Uggla is regarded as somewhere from just-serviceable to pretty good defensively DOB

not to be a SA but not by anybody i know or read out of the Braves org, his metrics certainly say he is poor as do most all scouting reports

Trey

January 4th, 2011
2:03 am

Good article, DOB! I tell ya what; you can predict the Phillies will win the division, and I will go for the Braves. The Phillies have great pitching, but nothing is certain. ;)

Moe Berg

January 4th, 2011
2:04 am

tiger297–I’m still here but about to head out.

haggard

January 4th, 2011
2:05 am

nolie
Wren is hiring “sage veterans”. Still got his number on speed dial?

tiger297

January 4th, 2011
2:07 am

My seats are right next to the Braves bullpen and I’m there with my son pretty consistently. Most of the pitchers seem to enjoy watching him do the chop/sing take me out to the ballgame/etc (none more then Medlen of course with Venters a close 2nd). Anway I can tell you as a father the looks from Wagner had a very different perspective, almost a my time is coming soon perspective.

haggard

January 4th, 2011
2:08 am

DOB
Thank you. And make sure to scroll back a couple of pages to find out about “The Blind Pig”, unless you already know about it. Could come in handy for a quick getaway on the bike as Highway 36–and the Jackson Lake area–is one fine place to ride.

haggard

January 4th, 2011
2:10 am

Trey
How’s that barbequed chicken working out?

tiger297

January 4th, 2011
2:10 am

hag – did he finally find an acorn or do I have to scroll back to find out?

haggard

January 4th, 2011
2:11 am

nolie
Any luck? And which version of “Audacity” did you download?

Trey

January 4th, 2011
2:13 am

haggard, it’s been gone. After I made my sammich; I put the rest of the bowl in the microwave and ate it.

haggard

January 4th, 2011
2:13 am

tiger297
I’m still wondering myself. By the way, I enjoyed your perspective at 2:07

Trey

January 4th, 2011
2:14 am

I want to get some souvlaki.

haggard

January 4th, 2011
2:15 am

Trey
All this late-nite/early morning activity gives one an appetite. Usually–about this time–Moe Berg checks out for dinner.

Trey

January 4th, 2011
2:16 am

Haggard, it really does. Is it still considered dinner? It’s like breakfast time already.

Lawyers, Guns, and Money

January 4th, 2011
2:16 am

If you liked the flick Goodfellas………here’s 1:35 well spent on this clip………

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LngXJ4EKoM8

ward

January 4th, 2011
2:17 am

A new bog: It’s a miracle…..Looks like Uggla is a better hitter than Werth, and I’m glad we got Uggla instead of Werth…..

Moe Berg

January 4th, 2011
2:19 am

haggard, It’s an early night tonight. Finished dinner about 45 minutes ago. Thinking I will call it a night. Been listening to Maria Callas for a bit and thinking she has lulled me towards sleep. I bid everyone adieu.

Trey

January 4th, 2011
2:19 am

ward, if we got Werth; we’d be up the creek without a paddle heading towards a waterfall. Hopefully the Nats know what they are doing with him. He is one expensive mo’fo.

nolie

January 4th, 2011
2:21 am

I used up most of my sage in the turkey dressing at Christmas hag :(

Trey

January 4th, 2011
2:21 am

Damn, I really got no life. I have been on this blog practically the whole day.

ward

January 4th, 2011
2:21 am

Nolie: Did you see some of Uggla’s Web Gems? Trust in Uggla. In Uggla We Trust!

nolie

January 4th, 2011
2:21 am

now you are saying that there are “versions” ???

haggard

January 4th, 2011
2:22 am

Good night, Moe
“When it’s sleepytime down south”
Good night good folks.

David O'Brien

January 4th, 2011
2:22 am

Knowing of your love of Community Barbeque, I can say with all certainty Blind Pig would suit your palate. The funny thing was, I was traveling down to Macon to look in on Tommy Joe Tucker down at Tucker’s Barbeque when I saw Blind Pig’s sign and decided to try it on a whim, (after passing the sign for the past two years). — haggard

If headed towards Macon, you must go to Fresh Air Bar-B-Que — the original’s in Jackson, on drive to Macon, and there’s another one in Macon. Probably the finest BBQ I’ve had in Georgia. Superb pork and Brunswick Stew.

Here’s the info and map. Do yourself a favor and go: http://www.freshairbarbecue.com/locations.html

Trey

January 4th, 2011
2:22 am

I had better get to bed. I gotta get up early morning to call into work.

nolie

January 4th, 2011
2:22 am

those web gems are a blind pig/acorn scenario ward. the guy is a poor defender

ward

January 4th, 2011
2:24 am

Trey: Werth will have two good years, and than fall a part, and the Nats will be stuck with him.Like we are sort of stuck with K.K.I agee with you on Werth. Beltre is close to sign with the Rangers…..

Trey

January 4th, 2011
2:27 am

Werth, may have a good season, but it will fall apart when he romances another teammate’s wife and it causes chemistry problems on their team; knowing that he is that expensive. Hell, let’s face it, the Nats suck, and that kind of chemistry may not work out for ‘em.

ward

January 4th, 2011
2:27 am

Nolie: You will like Uggla once you see him on the Braves. If Nate can hit 25 to 30 homers,the Braves will be in good shape……

haggard

January 4th, 2011
2:28 am

nolie
I just saw your question before heading off. Yes; there’s a “1-2-3″ version as well as a “Beta”. The former is the one I use and–when you said you didn’t see a window listing “stereo mix” as a choice in the drop down–I started to wonder, (though I haven’t downloaded “Beta” and don’t know if there’s a difference in the on-screen set up) At any rate, just a while ago I tried recording the Stevie Ray Vaughan cut our early-to-bed friend Tom O’Hawke provided earlier in the evening and it did just fine..

ward

January 4th, 2011
2:29 am

At first I wanted Werth, but too high priced, and to risky at high price….

nolie

January 4th, 2011
2:29 am

I already like Uggla as a Brave, I’m just not blind to his defensive problems ward

Trey

January 4th, 2011
2:31 am

Ward, I don’t know; you didn’t seem to mind thinking about getting Pujols next off season when Jones may be gone.

ward

January 4th, 2011
2:31 am

Nats will finsih 4th, and the Mets last place .

nolie

January 4th, 2011
2:31 am

there is a drop down box showing but it does not work. are you using XP or W7?

Joe

January 4th, 2011
2:32 am

DOB
Did the Braves retain all of their Special Assistants to the GM?
Thanks

ward

January 4th, 2011
2:35 am

If Chipper is gone next year? I would like Zimmerman from the Nats. Pujals wouldn’t be a bad idea either, but the Cardinals will sign him……Braves should get Zimmerman next year.He can play third base….

Innocent Bystander

January 4th, 2011
2:37 am

Thanks for the blog, DOB. I really enjoyed True Grit, especially the back-and-forth between Matt Damon and the girl. Also, good call on putting The Social Network atop your list. Inception would be my close second.

Trey

January 4th, 2011
2:38 am

Ward, I wouldn’t mind the Braves getting Pujols, but he is out of our price range; he may as well bargain with Scott Boras.

Jdiddy

January 4th, 2011
2:39 am

Hey DOB, if Wagner had officially retired and removed from our 40 man, could we have potentially kept Scott Diamond from being claimed by the Twins in the Rule 5 Draft?

ward

January 4th, 2011
2:41 am

Trey: Exactly my point, but I think the Braves could afford Ryan Zimmerman next year….

haggard

January 4th, 2011
2:43 am

DOB
You’re “preachin’ to the choir”. I spent four years in school at Macon–nine years total in the city and I can’t tell you how many times the 45 minute ride to Jackson became a “necessity”. Bill Nigut–on Channel 2 as a reporter at the time–did a survey a goodly while back and viewers voted Fresh Air number one. In addition to the Jackson and Macon locations, there’s another in Hull–just outside of Athens–and the product tastes identical to Jackson. If you’re going, the Hull location is only open on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, (with a buffet on Thur. and Fri., including ribs only on Thursday) for $9, including drink.
And–if you’re in Athens–you would do yourself a favor to drive the extra 15 miles or so up 29 North for a visit to Zeb’s Barbeque, which has undoubtedly the best stew I’ve eaten anywhere.
It’s nice to know you hold “Fresh Air” in such high esteem as I never knew where it fit on you “Barbeque-O-Meter”. I share your opinion.

Trey

January 4th, 2011
2:43 am

Innocent Bystander, did you hear about the passing of one of the actor’s from Inception?

haggard

January 4th, 2011
2:44 am

nolie
I’m using XP

haggard

January 4th, 2011
2:47 am

DOB
One more thing about Fresh Air: their sauce renews a smile on my face everytime.

Trey

January 4th, 2011
2:51 am

Ward, Zimmerman is pretty decent, but I don’t think the Braves will go for him. If he is not a free agent next season; I doubt the Nats will want to give him up.

Trey

January 4th, 2011
2:54 am

Ward, then again, I could be wrong. One guy I’d like to get would be outfielder Nick Markakis. That is just my fantasy world though.

nolie

January 4th, 2011
2:54 am

me too but that drop down box is dead. I assume that is where you tell it what input to use. I’m gettin’ POed since I’ve downloaded it three times now and still can’t get it to work.

Trey

January 4th, 2011
2:56 am

Hell, the Nationals are talking to LaRoche.

Trey

January 4th, 2011
2:57 am

Anyway, good night folks.

haggard

January 4th, 2011
2:57 am

nolie
Don’t give up yet. Type “Recording with Audacity” on YouTube and you’ll find a couple of good 4 to 5 minutes tutorials.

haggard

January 4th, 2011
2:58 am

Goodnight Trey

haggard

January 4th, 2011
3:01 am

“Happy Trails”

ward

January 4th, 2011
3:03 am

ward

January 4th, 2011
3:08 am

Batting Freeman down towards the botttom line up is risky. People don’t hit well down there, and I hope it doesn’t hurt his performance at a Rookie level.

nolie

January 4th, 2011
3:10 am

damn thing is just not DLing correctly. no drop down menu that works.

Conyers Braves Fan

January 4th, 2011
4:40 am

ward: I understand your point about Freeman but as another view, he is unproven and if he does well he can be moved up in the batting order.

ward

January 4th, 2011
5:19 am

Let’s all hope Freeman can hit 15 homers at least this year or 20 this year. That would be fair, and a solid batting average, and good deffense. I could be happy with that.

ward

January 4th, 2011
5:30 am

Who knows Freeman might suprise all, and do better than that?

ward

January 4th, 2011
6:29 am

Nite all, and peace…….

McCann Fan

January 4th, 2011
6:50 am

DOB,
Are you going to any of the DBT shows coming up at the 40Watt? The only night I could go is Saturday, and of course the Falcons playoff game ends up being on that same night. I guess I’ll post up at the bar in front of the tv and hope DBT doesn’t go on until 11…..

McCann Fan

January 4th, 2011
6:52 am

Oh yeah, and The Fighter was tremendous. You can’t take your eyes off the Christian Bale character. If he doesn’t win Best Supporting Actor there should be no such award handed out.

fauxfrankwren

January 4th, 2011
7:22 am

Excellent read.

dean

January 4th, 2011
7:43 am

Sweats BBQ in Soperton, off I-16: Where are you? Please come back.

Looking forward to a great season!

braveshoo

January 4th, 2011
7:47 am

Dave: Are we set in CF with McClouth and Jones, or do you think there is a possibility that some more moves are made before the season begins?

Couch Tater

January 4th, 2011
7:54 am

According to Okra Winfrey:

Both, Bean Stringfellow and Billy Bean were cultivated in the 24th round of the 1985 draft. Billy played for peanuts in the majors, but his career mushroomed. Stringfellow had some leeks in his game and major league plans were squashed.

GoNavy

January 4th, 2011
8:17 am

“I saw four movies and would rank all three in my top ten..” So, which one of the four is not in your top ten?

O.J.

January 4th, 2011
8:18 am

braveshoo, McLouth and Jones in CF? Jones who?

TommyP

January 4th, 2011
8:20 am

Too many moves between now and April to do any kinds of predictions. Phils are the frontrunners right now but Wild Card is impossible to predict.

I’m still intrigued by which team will give Lastings Milledge a shot for very little $. From everything I’ve read about Milledge in Pittsburgh, he was fine in the clubhouse. A lot of Pirates fans have discussed how they got frustrated waiting for him to breakout but I’ve read he did well in the clubhouse up there. Young OF, cheap, plays all 3 OF positions, rakes against lefties….. No brainer to me.

Winter’s Bone…can not for the life of me see how anyone would rate that one of the year’s best. We almost turned it off 3 or 4 times.

O.J.

January 4th, 2011
8:27 am

TommyP, I am with you on Milledge. The guy hits lefties really well and he would probably be cheaper than 2 million to sign. So why not?

El Bravo

January 4th, 2011
8:38 am

DOB, great call on Black Swan and the King’s Speech. I have those two on my top three with the Social Network. I thought personally that Inception, while good, has been a tad overrated due to the lack of quality sci-fi depth this year. And The Town was great as well (it is obvious by now that Ben Affleck is a better director than actor).

reagan

January 4th, 2011
8:44 am

Dean………………….heard will never be again due to a family argument about the business.

reagan

January 4th, 2011
8:45 am

dean……talking about Sweats

jeffrey d

January 4th, 2011
8:50 am

Thanks for the new blog, DOB

Braveheart

January 4th, 2011
8:56 am

The Fighter, The Town, The American, The Social Network, True Grit, Black Swan, and Inception were my favorites that I saw in the theaters last year. I have no particular order, or favorite, or one that I thought stood out the best.

JesusisLord

January 4th, 2011
8:59 am

I’m praying for my brother in the Lord, Nate McLouth, to find the stroke that inspired the Braves to reward him so handsomely a few years ago. If so, the Braves can win the East. Faith, the writer of Hebrews said, is the “evidence of things not seen,” and Matthew tells us that by faith we can move any mountain.

Braveheart

January 4th, 2011
9:09 am

In this article about Bon Jovi, I thought there were some interesting parallels between how much money bands generate versus how much they actually get paid, and how much a baseball team like the Braves generates and how much gets allocated to paying the players:

http://blogs.forbes.com/zackomalleygreenburg/2011/01/03/inside-bon-jovi-200-million-payday-music-business/#more-508

Bon Jovi took in $200 million in gross concert receipts over the past year, the most of any musical act according to concert information purveyor Pollstar. The group performed 80 shows, including 27 international dates, selling an average of 36,000 tickets at $105 a pop for a nightly gross of $3,800,000. Nearly 2 million fans watched the band perform in a year that saw the top 50 tours gross $2.93 billion, down 12% from last year’s $3.34 billion.

So how much of that initial figure actually makes its way into Bon Jovi’s pockets? First of all, it’s important to remember that the $200 million is a gross figure, meaning it doesn’t account for the costs associated with holding a concert. These charges — which include money paid to venues, concert promoters (in this case, AEG), security, etc. — tend to eat up at least half of the gross. Even the most successful artists tend to take home just 30-40% of the gross.

Let’s give Bon Jovi the benefit of the doubt and say they’re getting 40%. That puts the band’s cut at $80 million. But don’t forget an additional 10-20% off the top for management and legal fees. We’ll call it 15%, reducing the total to $68 million. Bands tend to get the lion’s share of merchandise sales, and at FORBES we assign $10 per fan per show as a rule of thumb. So add another $19 million in merch for those 1,900,000 concert-goers. This brings the total to $87 million for the band for a year of the road.

Hillbilly

January 4th, 2011
9:19 am

WOOOOO, PIG SOOOOOIE!!!

God, I hope this isn’t the year that Ohio State finally decides to play good football against the SEC.

ncscoots

January 4th, 2011
9:19 am

Danga posted some fangraphs love for Craig Kimbrel yesterday, and I see today that Tommy Hanson is getting some of the same:

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/tommy-hansons-bandwagon/

McFann O O

January 4th, 2011
9:26 am

Thanks for the new Blog, Chief!

Whaddya say we make 2011 even better?

LET’S…DO IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT!!

PMC

January 4th, 2011
9:31 am

Great Song… Great Song.

TennesseePaul

January 4th, 2011
9:35 am

Thanks for the work DOB.

As to the movies, The Fighter, True Grit, and Black Swan all would be in the top for me. I have not seen The Town yet. I saw so many movies this year and in 2009 I can’t recall which ones were ‘09 and which were ‘10. I’ll get ‘em straightened out sooner or later. Black Swan though… I wasn’t sure about that one going in… not much of a ballet fan… but that was one crazy film. Really surprised me.
Watched the entire Girl who.. series this year and really enjoyed it all the way through… but I think those are spanning several years.

TennesseePaul

January 4th, 2011
9:38 am

The American

Yes. Thanks Braveheart. Forgot that one came out this year. That was a great flick.

FAT JOHNNY

January 4th, 2011
9:40 am

DOB,

There’s also a Fresh Air BBQ in Bogart, just west of Athens on the Atlanta Hwy.

None better in Georgia, as you say !

The original is (since 1929) near Jackson, GA, on the way to Indian Springs State Park.

jeffrey d

January 4th, 2011
9:47 am

God, I hope this isn’t the year that Ohio State finally decides to play good football against the SEC.

I’m no Razorback or Petrino fan, but I’m definitely pulling for the SEC

jeffrey d

January 4th, 2011
9:48 am

I went to the Sugar Bowl a few years ago when it was in Atlanta because of Katrina. Would’ve been fun if Petrino had to come back to the Georgia Dome

Donny

January 4th, 2011
9:49 am

I may be in the minority but I think the Nats are going to have a very good team this year,at least better than many believe. They are close to signing Laroche and while he won’t put together identical numbers that Dunn had at first, he will make up for it with his defense. Add Werth to the equation and thats a very dangerous team that cant be taken for granted. No longer will they be the team that just rolls over and goes through the motions. They are playing with a purpose now and want to put a winning team together year after year and they are not afraid to spend the money. The Braves had a tough time with them last year and hopefully they can step it up this year and play them tougher because you know the Nats will.

Matt

January 4th, 2011
9:49 am

Good writeup, great song. Looking forward to ‘11!

TennesseePaul

January 4th, 2011
9:51 am

Nats still need pitching. But that line up has gotten better… if Werth can continue his recent production…. And I have hopes for that Dirtbag Espinosa.

Matt

January 4th, 2011
9:55 am

Gotta jump in on the BBQ talk. I’ve been going to Fresh Air for years (the one in Bogart outside Athens), have never been to the original. I wouldn’t call myself an expert or anything, but I’ve always loved their ‘que. I’ve never really searched for new places because theirs is so good.

I gotta say, though. There’s a place right down the street from my house (right off Boulevard in Athens) called White Tiger Gourmet. Not really your typical BBQ joint. They do stuff like soups, some vegetarian stuff, and make their own chocolates. But they make one of the best BBQ sandwiches I’ve had. The dude knows his stuff. And make sure you ask for extra sauce, it’s fantastic!

Castrologist

January 4th, 2011
10:00 am

Jeff R

January 4th, 2011
10:00 am

Well, Happy New Year. Matt Carroll… up and coming? How are his knees? Think he can play third in a pinch?

Hillbilly

January 4th, 2011
10:01 am

Half the state of Arkansas is down in New Orleans right now. This entire state will be shutdown this evening.

dingo ate my baby

January 4th, 2011
10:02 am

after the shamecocks end-of-the-yr fail (a new years tradition by now) i’m ready for some baseball….go hit the ST again a crush some coldbuds in the sun

dean

January 4th, 2011
10:03 am

Reagan @ 0844/45.

When they closed the first time and reopened (after the Surf-n-Turf named died), the first thing I noticed was the absence of Lewis G’s picture. “Where is Lewis’ picture?” I received a blank stare followed by a “Who?”.

I knew then it would never be the same.

Hillbilly

January 4th, 2011
10:06 am

TPaul, You think Ian Desmond’s days in Washington are numbered with Espinosa on the brink? The main trade piece for that pitching you mentioned?

dingo ate my baby

January 4th, 2011
10:06 am

i hope arky crushes osu

Nick n Nash

January 4th, 2011
10:07 am

Small world….my former teammate at PSU Matty Carroll is in the braves front office. Holy cow! Good luck Matty! All us braves fans are lucky to have someone with your baseball expertise helping Frankie get us back to the WS.

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