Snow, ice fatigue? Think “pitchers and catchers report”

Turner Field on Thursday, covered in ice nearly four days after the storm...

Turner Field on Thursday, covered in ice nearly 4 days after storm...

Pitchers and catchers report….

Those are four blessed words for baseball fans. Particularly this year, with much of the country blanketed with snow and our fair city (and much of the South) still hobbled by ice that’s not been touched by plow on many streets, including mine, due to the fact we’re poorly equipped to handle any sort of real winter storm.

It's not too much longer, folks....

... but we'll be here before you know it, folks.

Anyway, it’s coming quickly folks. Pitchers and catchers report.

The epic, tedious bowl season finally ended with the annual crowning of another SEC team as national champion, and fewer than five weeks remain before Braves pitchers and catchers report to Dark Star, aka ESPN’s Wide World of Sports on the fringe of the Disney World fun sector at Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

They’re due in Feb. 14, with their first workout the following day. The rest of the position players are to report Feb. 18, although most will be down there before then, some of the more eager – or recovering from injuries, or just from cabin fever or Mr. Mom fatigue — reporting with the P’s and C’s and working out unofficially for several days before the first full-squad workout Feb. 19.

Just five weeks for me to watch as many Kansas basketball games as possible and clear out the remaining unwatched shows on my DVR before total baseball immersion, otherwise known as spring training for scribes in the Internet era.

When last Fredi G. wore a Braves uni at spring training, he was third-base coach.

When last Fredi G. wore a Braves uni at spring training, he was third-base coach.

Not that anyone would have any sympathy for those of us who’ll spend about seven weeks in mostly sunny and warmer-than-where-you-are Florida, but jumping back into the 7 a.m.-to-7 p.m. (or later) spring work schedule is traumatic initially for those of us (OK, me) who stay up till 3-4 a.m. all winter.

(I’ll pause for you to grab a tissue as you consider my plight….)

But we shall put nose to grindstone, and sunblock to neck and shoulders, and slog through the assignment, as always. It’ll be my 17th spring training as a beat writer, ninth covering the Braves, and first covering the Braves without Bobby Cox.

That’s going to be strange, walking into the manager’s office down there and not seeing Cox behind the desk. Or going out to the field before the first workout and not seeing him in the dugout, puffing on a stogie.

But Fredi Gonzalez also smokes cigars, so that should help in our transition to the new manager.

Five weeks to go, folks.

♣ Parrish on hitting: While most of us are familiar with Fredi Gonzalez, from his years as Braves third-base coach and, for me, his years as a Marlins coach back when I covered that team.

But the same can’t be said for the new hitting coach Larry Parrish and bench coach Carlos Tosca.

Most Braves fans and us who cover the team know little about Parrish or Tosca. I only know Tosca to the extent I said hello to him a few times when he was a minor league manager in the Marlins organization years ago, back when he and Gonzalez were both highly regarded as prospective major league managers (Tosca would go on to manage the Toronto Blue Jays in 2002-2004).

Tosca would later serve as Fredi’s bench coach with the Marlins. They were both born in Cuba, for those of you who might not know that, and Tosca is 57 — 10 years older than Gonzalez.

It’ll be interesting watching Parrish and Tosca in spring training and seeing how they work, how quickly the players get comfortable with them, all that. So far, I’ve heard good things from a few players who’ve recently met Parrish and talked to him about his approach to hitting and working with hitters.

When the Braves hired him a couple of weeks after Gonzalez was hired, I ran some of the quotes from my phone conversation with Parrish. Here are a couple of things I didn’t use from that Oct. 29 phone call.

On his general philosophy of hitting and teaching hitters:

New Braves hitting coach Larry Parrish is another former third-base coach, here chatting with Gary Sheffield.

New Braves hitting coach Larry Parrish is another former third-base coach, here chatting with Gary Sheffield.

“More than anything, I try to talk mechanics, being natural and being athletic. Sort of hitting from the ground up. By that I mean, much like golf, in hitting you use your legs, the big muscles to drive the ball. The hands are sort of what guides the bat through the ball, but to use the big muscles involved in supplying power, at the same time staying through the hitting zone so you can drive the ball to the middle of the field.”

On what he uses to study hitters and communicate ideas with them:

“So much goes into it. I watched a lot of film in recent years. In the last part of my [major league playing] career I started thinking about coaching, so I started watching players that were successful that I played against. And recently I got video of guys who were great hitters, going all the way back to Babe Ruth, up through Aaron, Mantle, Bonds, McGwire, to see the things they all have in common….

There are different ways that different guys learn. Some, you can talk to and they can feel it, while others need to see it. Whatever’s best for that particular player. If he needs to see it, or see someone else, we’ll do that. I’ll try to take some swings sometimes, to try to get my point across.”

On the idea of teaching guys one way to swing:

“Every coach has this idea of what the ideal swing is like. But it’s impossible to get every guy to dot every i and cross every t the same way. And I don’t think you can clone hitters. I don’t think you should try. There’s a whole spectrum with the Braves, young guys and veterans, who hit in different ways. I just want to do everything I can to help them be successful.”

Note: Carroll Rogers wrote a good story today on Parrish, now posted on our website. Here’s the link.

♣ Glavine on Phillies: Ex-Braves lefty Tom Glavine was on the MLB Network Radio channel on SiriusXM on Tuesday, talking to hosts Jeff Rickard and Rob Dibble. They asked the (future) Hall of Famer about comparisons between the Braves’ great rotations of the 1990s the Phillies’ rotation with Cliff Lee added to the trio of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels.

“I’ve already heard the comparisons between what we did and what those guys are gonna do and things of that nature,” Glavine said, “and I’m not sure that it’s fair. Even for us, in the early to mid-nineties, it was a different game, you know?… I mean, the game’s changed in that regard now so I think there are some numbers out there that they’re being compared to with us that are maybe, you know, maybe a little bit unrealistic for them. But I do think they’ll possess a lot of the same things that we did in that when a team comes in to play them in a three-game series they’re not going to be looking forward to the three guys they are facing.”

A few Braves numbers that Glavine referred to, that might be difficult or unrealistic for the Phillies:

Glavine (right) believes it's unfair to expect the Phillies' starting rotation to match the statistical feats of Atlanta rotations anchored by the Big 3 of him, Smoltz (left) and Maddux.

Phillies' ballyhooed starting rotation will be hard-pressed to match the staggering statistics produced by Braves rotations anchored by Smoltz, Maddux and Glavine.

• In six years from 1996 through 2001, the Braves had four seasons where at least three starters pitched 219 or more innings, five seasons where three starters combined for at least 50 wins and four combined for at least 58 wins, and four seasons where two or more starters had at least four complete games.

• In 1996, Greg Maddux, Glavine and John Smoltz went a combined 54-29 in 734 innings, each with a sub-3.00 ERA and at least 235 innings and 35 starts.

• In 1997, the quartet of Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz and Denny Neagle combined for a 68-28 record — think about that – with each totaling more than 230 innings and only Smoltz (3.02) posting an ERA that wasn’t in the 2’s.

Maddux and Neague were a combined 39-9 that season, with 404 hits and 69 walks in 466 innings, and Smoltz had 241 strikeouts with 63 walks in a whopping 256 innings. Besides them, no other Brave made more than nine starts that season.

• In 1998, Braves starters went a stunning 90-40, with five pitchers combining for an 87-37 record. Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz and Kevin Millwood all finished with at least 17 wins and single-digit losses, while Denny Neagle was 15-11.

The Phillies’ rotation is obviously outstanding, potentially the best in the majors in years, if they stay healthy. But there’s almost no way they’ll match what some of those Braves rotations did.

The game’s changed. Only Halladay is likely to produce anything comparable to the overall numbers, including innings and complete games, that those great Braves pitchers put up on an almost annual basis for much of a decade.

♣ Salary-swap date nears: The Braves have until next Tuesday (Jan. 18) to reach agreements with unsigned arbitration-eligible Martin Prado, Jair Jurrjens, Peter Moylan and Eric O’Flaherty. If they don’t come to terms before then, the Braves will swap arb-salary figures with any of those four who remain unsigned.

Arbitration hearings will be held during the first three weeks of February.

Given their history with arb-eligibles, I expect the Braves to reach agreements with all four by next Tuesday. Few players go to arbitration these days with any team, and the Braves rarely get to that stage with any player. Arb hearings are, by nature, contentious things, and neither side usually wants to go through it.

Prado (lefty) and Moylan are among four unsigned arbitration-eligible Braves. Prado could get at least a five-fold raise.

Prado (lefty) and Moylan are among four unsigned arbitration-eligible Braves. Prado could get at least a five-fold raise.

Of the Braves’ four, only Moylan has been through arbitration before. The others are first-time arb-eligible players, which means their salaries will expand exponentially.

Prado, an All-Star in his first season as a lineup regular in 2010, could see his $440,000 salary multiply five- or six-fold in 2011, perhaps to $3 million.

Jurrjens, as a starting pitcher who won 27 games in his first two full seasons (2008-2009) and posted the league’s third-best ERA (2.60) in 2009, might have seen an enormous salary increase with a similar season in 2010. He spent much of the season on the DL with a string of injuries, and couldn’t pitch during the playoff stretch drive and division series.

Still, with 34 major league wins and a 3.45 ERA, the righty can probably command a salary of at least $2.5 million in his first arb run. His agent, Scott Boras, isn’t shy about taking clients to arbitration. But again, I don’t think it’ll come to that. The Braves are adept at the system, and realize the potential pitfalls of taking a player through it.

O’Flaherty was DL’d for much of 2010, but the lefty reliever could still double his $440,000 salary.

Moylan, 32, has been one of the Braves’ most valuable relievers since the team signed him from the Australian team at the World Baseball Classic in 2006. He’s got a 2.58 ERA in 274 appearances, including 80 or more appearances in each of his three healthy seasons (he missed most of 2008 for Tommy John surgery).

The thing that will prevent the Aussie sidearmer from getting a really big raise in his second run through arbitration is the fact that he’s been mainly a sixth- and seventh-inning reliever, rather than a closer or a primary setup man. Fair or not, the bigger bucks go to arb guys who’ve notched plenty of saves.

Moylan will receive a nice raise from last year’s $1.15 million, but will likely make less than $2 million in 2011.

♣ City paralyzed: We still can’t get mail or a FedEx package, or play an NBA game at Philips Arena in Atlanta 48 hours after 4 inches of snow and ice fell on our city. But by gosh, our most famous street could’ve hosted that NHL Winter Classic. Click the link to get a load of this video.

♣ Etc. Fans are invited to a free-admission day at the Braves Museum and Hall of Fame on Saturday, Jan. 22, at Turner Field. It’ll be open for its normal hours 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and there will also be free guided tours of the ballpark….

The Braves 400 Fan Club will honor Bobby Cox at its annual winter banquet and fundraiser on Saturday, Feb. 5, with Cox in attendance. This year it’ll be at the Georgia World Congress Center in downtown Atlanta at 285 Andrew Young Blvd NW.

The event starts at 5 p.m. and tickets are $95, which includes dinner and a bag of souvenirs. The night kicks off with a gala reception and a silent auction and raffle of Braves memorabilia. The awards dinner follows at 6:30 p.m.

Braves radio man Jim Powell will emcee the event, and the 400 Fan Club says that Phil Niekro, Leo Mazzone, Gene Garber, and Darrel Chaney are scheduled to attend, with plenty more commitments expected.

Tickets must be purchased in advance, and the deadline Jan. 31. Go to the fan club’s website at www.braves400.org<http://www.braves400.org/ or mail a check to the Braves 400 Club, P.O. Box 7689, Atlanta 30309. More info at 770-416-4539.

♣ Let’s close this with Dylan’s “Series Of Dreams,” and this great video, which has a lot of footage of the young Bob, including a quick scene with him and our man Johnny Cash. If you can’t click that link, here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AgqGUBP3Cx0

images

“SERIES OF DREAMS” by Bob Dylan

I was thinking of a series of dreams
Where nothing comes up to the top
Everything stays down where it’s wounded
And comes to a permanent stop
Wasn’t thinking of anything specific
Like in a dream, when someone wakes up and screams
Nothing too very scientific
Just thinking of a series of dreams

Thinking of a series of dreams
Where the time and the tempo fly
And there’s no exit in any direction
‘Cept the one that you can’t see with your eyes
Wasn’t making any great connection
Wasn’t falling for any intricate scheme
Nothing that would pass inspection
Just thinking of a series of dreams

Dreams where the umbrella is folded
Into the path you are hurled
And the cards are no good that you’re holding
Unless they’re from another world

In one, numbers were burning
In another, I witnessed a crime
In one, I was running, and in another
All I seemed to be doing was climb
Wasn’t looking for any special assistance
Not going to any great extremes
I’d already gone the distance
Just thinking of a series of dreams

5,643 comments Add your comment

Venice Jim

January 11th, 2011
9:00 pm

So rare to actually be reading when a new blog is posted…

eskippy

January 11th, 2011
9:01 pm

Feeanch

January 11th, 2011
9:03 pm

VOL

January 11th, 2011
9:03 pm

MZ

January 11th, 2011
9:05 pm

DOB —–
you into the non-pastry version of Cake at all?

Trey

January 11th, 2011
9:05 pm

VJ, that it is. Good blog, DOB!

VOL

January 11th, 2011
9:06 pm

In 1997 Millwood made 8 starts but Terrel Wade made 9 so at least one more made more than 8.

StingerSplash

January 11th, 2011
9:07 pm

DOB, loved your twitpic of your snow-covered estate.
How bout a Denizens snowball fight in DOB’s yard! (Um, how much beer ya got?). I kid, I kid. Enjoy the winter wonderland. There’s no snow or ice in our neck of the woods south of the gnat line.
But it could be worse, DOB. They could ask you to do a recruiting story.

cabravesfan

January 11th, 2011
9:07 pm

And rarer still to be first up to post a comment :)

Tommy Boy

January 11th, 2011
9:09 pm

Trey

January 11th, 2011
9:10 pm

Sorry, Tommy Boy, but no. :(

Soph

January 11th, 2011
9:10 pm

Thanks, DOB. Good stuff.

Bravesfaninnashville

January 11th, 2011
9:11 pm

I can hear the mitts pop pin’ already,

BravesFanLostInOhio

January 11th, 2011
9:13 pm

Spring Training in 5 weeks…Sheesh, DOB! Way to send me into a fit of spring fever!

Trey

January 11th, 2011
9:14 pm

“Spring Training in 5 weeks…Sheesh, DOB! Way to send me into a fit of spring fever!”

Just let it ride in your mind, every second, every day. ;) Of course, once it comes on, people will be saying “I wish football season was here”.

nolie

January 11th, 2011
9:14 pm

So, it looks like we will draft 28th this coming year.

cabravesfan

January 11th, 2011
9:19 pm

I guess VJ finally got busy…

Venice Jim

January 11th, 2011
9:21 pm

We did have three kids show up for the last hour…

cabravesfan

January 11th, 2011
9:22 pm

I downloaded the full version of Fruit Ninja :)

Bat Masterson

January 11th, 2011
9:26 pm

Thanks for the new Blog, David. Good work as is your usual.

Venice Jim

January 11th, 2011
9:27 pm

Then I guess you’re busy, too…

N8

January 11th, 2011
9:27 pm

That’s awesome about Atlanta getting shut down with 4 inches of snow. I totally understand that cities that don’t normally get that much snow at once are not prepared (from a city worker standpoint). Not enough snow plows. Nowhere to take the snow. Not enough sand trucks, probably not enough workers to do the work even if there was enough trucks, etc..

But in 1997 we got 23 (or maybe it was 27?) inches of snow over a 2 day period and the kids missed 2 days of school.

Good luck though. It sucks big time when we get it and I’m used to it. Can’t imagine not dealing with it each year and then getting dumped on. Take advantage of the “time off” Atlanta.

Sick Tomahawkin

January 11th, 2011
9:27 pm

Damn, I’m Late…I’m of the 25 man Roster…

cabravesfan

January 11th, 2011
9:28 pm

Not anymore…got jumped on by the dog, who is now lounging on one end of the sofa, and I am watching Primeval

jeffrey d

January 11th, 2011
9:28 pm

Great blog, thanks DOB.

167

jeffrey d

January 11th, 2011
9:29 pm

It’s not the snow, it’s that the roads are covered with ice…and the DOT doesn’t have the proper equipment to take care of it (why would they?)

cabravesfan

January 11th, 2011
9:30 pm

Every time it rains more than a few inches here the freeways all flood

David O'Brien

January 11th, 2011
9:32 pm

MZ, definitely like the band Cake and looking forward to hearing their new one that came out today. First album in 6 years from those guys. Was going to get it today, but most stores are still closed here and I wasn’t about to drive anywhere if I didn’t have to.

David O'Brien

January 11th, 2011
9:37 pm

N8: Some little girls took advantage of their “time off” to walk around the neighborhood with their mom today, selling Girl Scout cookies. But there’s nothing good about these snow days for adults in Atlanta. For two days to start a week, little work has gotten done citywide, retail sales and restaurants are closed or seeing few customers, most gyms, bars, coffee shops and other such conveniences are closed, and like I said, we haven’t even had mail delivery or garbage pickup. It’s just a major pain in the rear because it’s still too cold for the ice on the roads to melt, and only major thoroughfares have been plowed at all. So other roads are just frozen, rut-filled messes.

MZ

January 11th, 2011
9:39 pm

DOB —-
I hear ya … ordered it on vinyl a little while ago; pumped for it to get here … also getting real excited for Go-Go Boots’ release, which is about a month away …
watched The Kids Are All Right the other night … couldn’t figure out who I was supposed to like or dislike other than the kids and the hispanic gardener … some of the best acting performances of the year, though … but I don’t think anybody can tough Bale in The Fighter … agree?

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Atlanta Braves Buzz, Ben Sydnor and others. Ben Sydnor said: Just 5 weeks till they report to Dark Star! RT @ajcbraves: Snow, ice fatigue? Think "pitchers and catchers report" http://bit.ly/gpCeSS [...]

jeffrey d

January 11th, 2011
9:40 pm

Some little girls took advantage of their “time off” to walk around the neighborhood with their mom today, selling Girl Scout cookies

I got some of those today too.

Nobreggie4naughtyDogs

January 11th, 2011
9:40 pm

18 inches of expected snow just started falling here in the “Smelly Apple”, smelly cause there is STILL garbage piled up in midtown west from the last storm.

Hope the ATL finds some snow blowing equipment for you guys soon

Sick Tomahawkin

January 11th, 2011
9:41 pm

Don’t start taling about Girl Scout Cookies…I will start lusting for them, you know I love Junkfood!

Especially those peanut butter Girl Scout cookies and the ones with coconuts…Them Shyts are on Fiyah!

jeffrey d

January 11th, 2011
9:44 pm

we haven’t even had mail delivery

Yeah, what’s up with that? Doesn’t the postman’s creed say “Neither snow nor rain….” will keep them from making their delieveries?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame them for not coming out in these hazardous conditions. Just don’t see why you’d put it in your motto.

David O'Brien

January 11th, 2011
9:46 pm

MZ: I don’t see how Bale can be denied best supporting actor. He’s gotta get it, and I’m sure he will.

I’ve got the Drive-By Truckers’ new Go-Go Boots, a friend had a link to download it. It might disappoint some fans because it’s more country and R&B-oriented than their usual hard-guitar-driven Southern Rock. They wanted to incorporate more the rootsy soul that comes out of Muscle Shoals. Which is cool, for sure. But just not what I expected from them. I’m liking it a little more each time I listen. It’s just that it’s different than any album they’ve done so far. Not sure yet where I’d rank it in their catalog.

banjobrave

January 11th, 2011
9:47 pm

DOB a band called the “States” or We Were the States will be in Atlanta this weekend. Not sure of the venue yet maybe over close to Tech as they play several college gigs. My daughter’s boyfriend is the bass player and I wasn’t much of a fan at first but they grow on you. They are on itunes etc. If you get a chance, if there is a guide to shows in the city, and have time check them out. If not, I know not enough info probably I understand. they are Nashville based but not country more indie whatever that means.

Tom O'Hawke

January 11th, 2011
9:47 pm

Sounds as though Atlanta needs some salt, Nobreggie4naughtyDogs. (nice handle)

jeffrey d

January 11th, 2011
9:48 pm

What’s a breggie?

jeffrey d

January 11th, 2011
9:48 pm

It sounds like a Tomahawkin word

Skeezix

January 11th, 2011
9:49 pm

Dave: Nobody writes lyrics like Dylan. The guy is really the poet of our times……Can’t wait for Baseball, this NFL stuff bores me to tears. And I really don’t think the Braves need to live in fear of the Phillies rotation. They should respect it, but not fear it. I think overall, the Bravos will have a better team (assuming CF, our only weakness, gets fixed).

Braveheart

January 11th, 2011
9:50 pm

They seem to be getting cheaper with the girl scout cookies these days. Boxes seem smaller. Not as many cookies. What was the point of that anyway other than to see whose mother can sell the most cookies for her child? And then their mothers bring that crap to work, and you have to buy a box from each of them. And then the ones you really rely upon, you have to buy a few boxes from them so that they will cover things for you without causing a fiasco when you decide to take a day or two off in the future.

MZ

January 11th, 2011
9:51 pm

DOB —-
one more thing i wanted to throw at the wall in front of you, see what you think … Black Keys are getting an awful lot of mainstream exposure lately … my way of thinking is it could go one of two ways: it could either help bring real, good music back to the mainstream or it could force them to morph into something weird … hope it’s the former

urban redneck

January 11th, 2011
9:53 pm

pitchers and catchers report……and girl scout cookies? i love this blog.

Nobreggie4naughtyDogs

January 11th, 2011
9:56 pm

breggie = brekky = breakfast

Sick Tomahawkin

January 11th, 2011
9:57 pm

D.O.B. You Live ITP Right (Around Druid Hills/Emory)…? I’m pretty sure It was probably easier to get around as opposed to the people who live OTP

Venice Jim

January 11th, 2011
9:59 pm

Time to go home very soon…I’ll be back…

Tom O'Hawke

January 11th, 2011
9:59 pm

Especially those peanut butter Girl Scout cookies and the ones with coconuts…Them Shyts are on Fiyah (T-Hawkin)

Boxes seem smaller. Not as many cookies. And then their mothers bring that crap to work, and you have to buy a box from each of them. (Braveheart)

The blog’s point/counterpoint on Girl Scout cookies.

cabravesfan

January 11th, 2011
10:00 pm

The chocolate peanut butter girl scout cookies are my favorites :D

VJ-

Come home!!

Sick Tomahawkin

January 11th, 2011
10:03 pm

Time to eat BRB

jeffrey d

January 11th, 2011
10:04 pm

The blog’s point/counterpoint on Girl Scout cookies.

It’s like having an angel and a devil on each shoulder.

POOF!
Tomahawkin: Them Shyts are on Fiyah!!

POOF!
Braveheart: Those boxes seem smaller. There’s not as many cookies.

Tom O'Hawke

January 11th, 2011
10:05 pm

How much longer did DOB say it was ’til spring training?

cabravesfan

January 11th, 2011
10:07 pm

Tom-

Counting down the days until you can head off to your cave?

Soph

January 11th, 2011
10:07 pm

cab – no food?

McFann O O

January 11th, 2011
10:08 pm

Thanks for the new Blog, Chief!

Pitchers and catchers report….Those are four blessed words for baseball fans.

How true, how true…

EGAD!! I’m so freakishly ready! 8O

cabravesfan

January 11th, 2011
10:08 pm

Soph-

I managed cheese and crackers ;) We have the last of our fried chicken for dinner when VJ gets home

RHR

January 11th, 2011
10:09 pm

Hey hey hey!

No garbage pickup or mail delivery here either, and we got about twice as much snow…but my school is open tomorrow! -_-

T-Hawkin – anyone who knows anything about Auburn would never root for them to win. Especially this year’s team. It is sweet to see the trophy is going to be at the WalMart though. Thank you sweet baby jesus! I wonder if the AU faithful will call it a Walmart national championship like they did when it was Bama’s trophy on display in Wally – per tostitos and dr pepper sponsorship.

Sorry, I’m rambling. I hate auburn and always will. Don’t get me started.

5 weeks…I can’t wait. Thanks, DOB.

nolie

January 11th, 2011
10:10 pm

Samoas are fine styff

Soph

January 11th, 2011
10:10 pm

Good lawd, Midtown still looks like an ice rink.

McFann O O

January 11th, 2011
10:10 pm

Tom O’Hawke How much longer did DOB say it was ’til spring training?

Too long! 8O

McFann O O

January 11th, 2011
10:11 pm

Hi, RHR! How’s everything?

Tom O'Hawke

January 11th, 2011
10:11 pm

No, cabravesfan. Counting down the days until jeffrey and I can stop making fun of comments about Girl Scout cookies.

THEN, we’ll begin the cave countdown.

Sick Tomahawkin

January 11th, 2011
10:11 pm

@Tom O Hawke…

I have noticed the smaller boxes

cabravesfan

January 11th, 2011
10:11 pm

Tagalongs! Only Girl Scout cookies worth eating :D

cabravesfan

January 11th, 2011
10:12 pm

Tom-

Because that kind of stuff never gets talked about during the season :)

Soph

January 11th, 2011
10:12 pm

Hola, RHR. Hope all is well.

I’m over Girl Scout cookies. Don’t love ‘em like I used to.

cabravesfan

January 11th, 2011
10:12 pm

Wait..I forgot I’m still mad at you aren’t I? :evil:

cabravesfan

January 11th, 2011
10:13 pm

Tom O'Hawke

January 11th, 2011
10:13 pm

Too long! :shock:

It would sure seem so, McFann.

cabravesfan

January 11th, 2011
10:14 pm

RHR-

You going to change your Twitter profile pic back now? That is you, right? It totally threw me off when you did that ;)

jeffrey d

January 11th, 2011
10:15 pm

Counting down the days until jeffrey and I can stop making fun of comments about Girl Scout cookies

I was more making fun of Tomahawkin’s word choice to describe Girl Scout Cookies

nolie

January 11th, 2011
10:15 pm

Leaders of the youth movement
January, 11, 2011
JAN 11

By Buster Olney
Craig Kimbrel participated in the union’s seminars over the past week, a means for educating young players like the Braves’ reliever. They talked about dealing with the media, the good and bad of social media, investing money, that sort of thing. And along the way, Kimbrel shared in a conversation about all the scions of the National League East: Mike Stanton and Logan Morrison of the Marlins, the Braves’ Jason Heyward and Kimbrel and Jonny Venters, the Nationals’ Drew Storen, the Mets’ Ike Davis.

Kimbrel could be closing in Atlanta.
As baseball has gotten younger, more and more often contending teams are relying on burgeoning players in important roles — like Neftali Feliz, the closer for the Texas Rangers.

This again will be the case in 2011. Ten young players who will need to produce for their respective teams this year:

1. Craig Kimbrel, Braves
The Phillies have the best on-paper rotation in the majors, while Atlanta’s advantage might be in its late-inning relief. Venters may have the best pure stuff of any left-handed bullpen guy in the sport, and last year he struck out 93 in 83 innings, while allowing just one home run. With Billy Wagner retiring, Venters may get some save chances in 2011, but Kimbrel figures to get more.

Don’t look for the Braves to anoint either guy as the closer any time soon — Kimbrel said he has yet to speak to Fredi Gonzalez, Atlanta’s new manager, and it’s pointless to put that kind of pressure on the pitchers in the middle of the winter. But Kimbrel’s performance at the end of last year demonstrated that he is ready to finish games in the majors: In 20 2/3 innings in the regular season, he struck out 40 and allowed just nine hits.

Kimbrel, 22, also walked 16, but 10 of those came in his first eight appearances, in the first half of the season. By the time the playoffs rolled around, Kimbrel had made progress; he allowed one hit and one walk in 4 1/3 innings against San Francisco, with seven strikeouts.

“I learned to control the game, not let the game control you,” Kimbrel said over the phone Monday. “I learned from Wagner and being around the game and watching guys that you can make the game go too fast. And you can slow it down.”

Kimbrel had heard through his years of pitching as an amateur the mantra of focusing on each pitch, rather than on an at-bat or an inning. But in his time in the majors last year, he learned to apply that — by stepping off the mound, by resetting emotionally, by not looking ahead.

He also learned from Wagner, Scott Proctor and others the importance of being mentally ready no matter the situation, because inevitably, there will be games when the adrenaline won’t be inherent. A four-run lead for a closer who needs some work. The inning that a reliever sometimes has to eat in a blowout. The recovery from a blown save situation.

“You have to have the same mindset every time,” said Kimbrel, who has started throwing but won’t begin working off a mound until later this month. He is not going to spring training, he says, focusing on the closer’s role; rather, he’s going to spring training looking to pitch well enough to make the team.

The Braves would love for that to happen, and for Kimbrel to eventually step into Wagner’s old job. Given the challenges they face in the NL East, they need for that to happen.

2. Mike Stanton
He did unbelievable damage in his first 359 at-bats in the majors last summer. At the age of 20 Stanton clubbed 21 doubles and 22 homers, but also struck out 123 times. Even if the Marlins hadn’t traded Dan Uggla, Stanton was going to play an important role for Florida, but now that Uggla is gone it figures that Stanton will hit somewhere in the middle of the lineup, either fourth or fifth.

His challenge now — the same faced by a lot of young sluggers — is to refine his strike zone. He must learn more about getting a pitch to hit in a certain part of the zone and doing something with it, as opposed to just taking advantage of mistakes. And if Stanton’s history tells us anything, there is a clear indication that he is a rigorous learner, a fast learner.

Stanton has kept a log on opposing pitchers in the past to help him understand the history of what each pitcher tries to do against him. When he was in the minors, folks within the Florida organization say, he would sometimes ask Marlins minor league hitting coach Corey Hart to go out to the field with him after games and use a special machine designed to spin sliders — the pitch that troubles Stanton the most. He would stand in the box and watch slider after slider, to help him learn to recognize the spin on the ball, and differentiate between the sliders that went out of the strike zone and those that went to the edges of the strike zone.

Stanton has the look of a megastar. Given the departure of Uggla, the Marlins need for that to happen sooner rather than later, if they are to contend.

“He has been the leader of every club he has been up [while coming up through the minors],” said one member of the organization. “He has fun, but he is serious about his work.”

3. Ivan Nova, Yankees
It’s been awhile since the Yankees have gone into a season knowing they need production from a young player the way they know they will need it out of Nova, who turns 24 on Wednesday. The right-hander pitched in 10 games last season and demonstrated that he has a high upside, but Nova is raw: He walked 17 in 42 innings, and surrendered 44 hits. If the Yankees knew they could get a 4.50 ERA over 200 innings from Nova in the upcoming year, they would sign up for that in an instant. They don’t need him to be great; they just need him to be steady.

4. Derek Holland, Rangers
The talented left-hander been around a couple of years and pitched in the World Series in 2010, but it’s easy to forget that he doesn’t have a ton of experience in the big leagues — less than 200 innings, including 57.1 regular-season innings last year. With Cliff Lee gone, the Rangers will need one of their young pitchers to contribute more innings, and Holland is the best candidate.

5. Logan Morrison, Marlins
The young outfielder was excellent in his debut for the Marlins, posting a .390 on-base percentage, and given the structure of the team, more of the same is needed.

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Scott Rovak/US Presswire
Madison Bumgarner was a World Series key before a true constant.
6. Madison Bumgarner, Giants Remember last spring, when there were concerns about Bumgarner’s velocity? So much for that.

Now the Giants are counting on Bumgarner, 21, to be a productive member of the rotation this year, and his incredible performance in Game 4 — in which he seemed to get stronger and better by the inning — gave us another hint that the left-hander is capable of excellence.

7. Desmond Jennings, Rays
Carl Crawford is gone, among many other Rays, and now the team’s future is being placed in the hands of Tampa Bay’s next wave of young players. But questions did start to come up last year about whether Jennings, at age 23, was ready to play a major role. Jennings is 24 now, and in what was probably his final stop in Triple-A before he gets his first full shot at the big leagues, he posted an OPS of .756. A mere blip? Something to be concerned about? A sign that his bat speed might be an issue against better pitchers? We’ll see.

8. Mike Leake, Reds
Cincinnati will be favored to win the NL Central by a lot of folks because of the Reds’ exceptional starting pitching depth — Bronson Arroyo followed by Edinson Volquez, Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, Travis Wood, etc. — and Leake is a part of that. Leake was one of the NL’s best pitchers early in the season, but by midseason, his time as an effective pitcher in 2010 was over: He posted a 6.91 ERA in 28.2 innings after the All-Star break before being shut down.

He is 23 years old, and the Reds love his competitiveness and his athleticism, and they will need him to bounce back.

9. Aroldis Chapman, Reds
The rangy lefty was a fun little pitching weapon for Dusty Baker at the end of last season, with his praying mantis body and overpowering stuff. For left-handed hitters, facing Chapman is a nightmare, and for right-handers, it isn’t much better; in 33 at-bats against Chapman last year, right-handed hitters racked up 14 strikeouts.

But Chapman was a supporting cast member last season, and now, with Arthur Rhodes headed off to Texas, the Reds need Chapman to contribute consistently. They need him to continue his work in limiting the extraneous motion in his delivery, to help his fastball command.

10. Cameron Maybin, Padres
He had a .302 on-base percentage last year for the Marlins, who gave the young outfielder about 600 plate appearances in the big leagues before deciding he wasn’t going to stick with Florida. Now he’s getting another shot with the Padres, and it’s a wide-open opportunity for him; the Padres need a ball-hawking center fielder for their ballpark, and they need Maybin to be that guy, and to become a more credible offensive player. If you look at his performance in the progression of his at-bats — as the ball-strike count develops — a clear picture emerges: When he had some control of the count, he had some good results. But when he fell behind in the count, he was virtually helpless:

– After the count went 1-0: .815 OPS, with nine extra-base hits in 113 at-bats.
– After the count went 0-1: .454 OPS, with six extra-base hits in 149 at-bats

P'cola Brave

January 11th, 2011
10:16 pm

Getting closer to the ST date and still plenty of FA out there. Some of them may be beneficial to the Braves. Hope the Braves continue to explore their options and see if theres and deals to be had.

Alvin

January 11th, 2011
10:17 pm

DOB- Your beloved Jayhawks are going down tomorrow…

The Mayor

Tom O'Hawke

January 11th, 2011
10:17 pm

Wait..I forgot I’m still mad at you aren’t I? :twisted:

That’s right, I forgot too. I’ll hold off on my cookie-eating crack, then.

Sick Tomahawkin

January 11th, 2011
10:18 pm

RHR, Us Up in here! (Clapping hand like a little Girl) Yay!

cabravesfan

January 11th, 2011
10:18 pm

Tom-

That would be wise, even if I was still speaking to you…

Tomahawk

January 11th, 2011
10:20 pm

How refreshing to see someone put some numbers up to show all the phanatics just how far they still have to climb to reach the lofty accomplishments of the Braves’ rotations. No one’s going to doubt that Philly is going to have a scary rotation, but let’s all wait until they’ve played baseball to start putting them among the best that our 100+ year old game has ever seen.

McFann O O

January 11th, 2011
10:21 pm

Tom O’Hawke It would sure seem so

No kidding…I need some Braves baseball! 8O

…And I miss BMac. :mrgreen:

cabravesfan

January 11th, 2011
10:21 pm

I miss Mac & Meds! :D

cabravesfan

January 11th, 2011
10:22 pm

and that sounds like I’m crazy…

richbrave

January 11th, 2011
10:23 pm

TOM O’:

Thanx again for the tunes by PAP. SOUL. Enjoying them now. Where you at [in the vernacular] that you be gittin’ all that frozen precip, may’n?

McFann O O

January 11th, 2011
10:23 pm

OK, I got half (16) of the photos I picked out from Sunday/Monday posted on PhotoBucket. So I’ve got 16 more of those, plus some from today that I wanna share. And I also have a couple videos…Hopefully it will be finished tomorrow. That many photos is hard to do in one sitting…

jeffrey d

January 11th, 2011
10:23 pm

Crazy with a hankerin for macaroni and cheese

McFann O O

January 11th, 2011
10:24 pm

cabrabesfan

I miss Medlen, too! And we’re gonna be missing him a lot longer. : (

richbrave

January 11th, 2011
10:25 pm

McFANN:

NICK gave your man some off the wall trash, but I put him in his place since you weren’t around to defend him.

Tom O'Hawke

January 11th, 2011
10:25 pm

Thanks for the article, nolie.

jeffrey d

January 11th, 2011
10:26 pm

Somebody else said McCann would lose a race to a 3-legged turtle, but I let ‘em have it.

DS1

January 11th, 2011
10:27 pm

Good “Cool Ranch” Bowl last night. Much better game than I expected. Newton is the real deal; first time I’d really seen him for a full game.

But every time I saw him, all I could think about was that 80 grand and how he didn’t know anything about it………. He looks smarter than that to me.

I don’t know all the details of his goings on, but seems to me that he might have gotten some preferential treatment.

Did Robert come on and eat some crow about the mighty SEC’s bowl record??

:lol:

cabravesfan

January 11th, 2011
10:28 pm

jeffrey, wasn’t it YOU that said that?

cabravesfan

January 11th, 2011
10:28 pm

DS1-

It was $180,000…

Tom O'Hawke

January 11th, 2011
10:28 pm

richbrave

Albany, NY. How’s your daughter doing?

jeffrey d

January 11th, 2011
10:29 pm

No, I think that was jeffrey b

RHR

January 11th, 2011
10:31 pm

Hey McFann, I’m great. How bout you?

cab – yeah, i changed it after the game last night. i mean, obviously i’m not a REAL oregon fan lol.

Tom O'Hawke

January 11th, 2011
10:32 pm

McFann

All this talk of waiting for ST and McCann must have you upset. I’ve never seen you make 2 mistakes in one post!

RHR

January 11th, 2011
10:32 pm

I’m sure he got lots more than 180.

cabravesfan

January 11th, 2011
10:33 pm

RHR-

I kept looking at it and thinking I have no idea who this person is! :) I had forgotten you changed your ID…

sheeesh

January 11th, 2011
10:33 pm

Anybody notice how bad the KC Chiefs stunk up Arrowhead Sunday? Good lord.

cabravesfan

January 11th, 2011
10:34 pm

Anybody notice how bad the KC Chiefs stunk up Arrowhead Sunday?

Matt Cassel was very, very bad

DS1

January 11th, 2011
10:35 pm

RHR and cab

Tough working under a salary cap, huh!

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