Fredi dons the uniform today as new era begins

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — At 9 a.m. today, Fredi Gonzalez is scheduled to meet with the media for the first time as uniformed Braves manager, on another spectacularly sunny day at Dark Star.

At 9:30 a.m., he’ll have his first team meeting, or at least a partial-team meeting  (pitchers and catchers).

At some point after 10 a.m., a pitcher will throw the first batting practice of  Braves spring training, facing one of the catchers or one of the two other position players, Martin Prado and Chipper Jones, permitted on the field before full-squad workouts begin (those two are permitted because they’re coming back from injuries.

Once we have all of that out of the way, I’m going to get some more coffee.

Derek Lowe believes experience that young relievers got in last year's pennant race and postseason would pay dividents in 2011.

Derek Lowe believes experience that young relievers got in last year's pennant race and postseason would pay dividents in 2011.

More importantly, once we have all that out of the way, the newness of this entire situation might begin to subside and the Fredi Era will really be underway.

But probably not.

What’s more likely is that it’ll be several weeks before it starts to feel like Gonzalez is the manager and Bobby Cox isn’t just away temporarily. Probably after the Braves have played some Grapefruit League games and we watch Gonzalez run the team.

(By the way, I didn’t see Cox on Monday, but there was a car in his assigned spot in the team’s executive row in the parking lot beyond right field, a lot with vehicles now protected by eight orange canopies, which each protect two cars side-by-side. We will henceforward refer to this as the Heyward Tents, as his quarter panel-tending and window- and mirror-shattering home runs last spring training were the reason the Braves asked the Disney folks if they could please work up some suitable device to protect those cars parked at least 100 feet beyond the right-field fence.)

(Oh, and I’m betting that Cox, now a Braves advisor, is here at Dark Star, because no one would park in his spot on the first day of camp. Or second day. Or third….)

Anyway, did we mention the spectacular weather here? Temps in 70s on Monday’s reporting day for pitchers and catchers, and a few of the fellas took advantage by getting in a round or two of golf in the morning, including Brian McCann and Derek Lowe.

Lowe stopped by the ballpark for an informal workout (any workouts Monday were informal, as there were no scheduled activities on reporting day, and players actually only had to call in or stop by to say, in effect, “I’m here. I’ve reported.”)

I stopped Lowe before he headed to some exclusive golf course where folks like him hit the little white ball.. Asked him a few questions about the team and all the usual stuff, and whether he’d been to his agent Scott Boras’s state-of-the-art fitness center out in California, where another Boras client, Tommy Hanson, spent much of this winter.

Lowe, whose rejuvenated, unexpected performance in September played a crucial part in getting the Braves to the postseason, seemed as genuinely excited as such a veteran could be on the first day of nearly seven weeks of spring training.

Oh, and his dry sense of humor and sarcasm never take a vacation.

First thing I said to him was, “The rotation.” Meaning, do you think about it. But before I could finish asking him, he responded without hesitation.

“ Philllies. Oswalt, Halladay … wait, what’s that?” He knew, of course,  I meant the Braves’ rotation.

“Oh, I love it,” he said of his own team’s starting unit of Lowe, Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens, and either lefty Mike Minor or fellow rookie Brandon Beachy.

“I hope J.J.’s back to full strength,” he said of Jurrjens, who was 7-6 with a 4.74 ERA in 20 starts during an injury-riddled season, after going 14-10 with a 2.60 ERA in 34 starts in 2009.

“I think you can just throw out his last year’s results completely. It started last year here [with a strained shoulder to begin spring training], really. He had a slow start and just never really caught up,” Lowe said. “So he’s a really important guy to stay healthy and get 32 starts from.”

In case you missed the note I wrote Monday about Jurrjens, he’s dropped 12-14 pounds since last season, down to 198 on reporting day Monday. He wanted to get a little lighter and stronger in part because of the knee injury that kept him out of the stretch drive and postseason and required arthroscopic surgery in October.

“I just wanted to get stronger, and do it while staying flexible,” said Jurrjens, whose string of 2010 injured included shoulder, hamstring and knee problems, the latter a cartilage tear that he had repaired through the ‘scope.

Jurrjens said he had a little inflammation in January after he did some heavy lifting with the knee, but otherwise it’s been stable and comfortable. He has no restrictions entering camp.

“Coming back from a knee surgery, you want to try to keep as much weight off it as you can,” he said. “My goal was to lose some weight and try to maintain it this year.”

A year ago, he came to camp with a sore shoulder, after he was hurt while lightheartedly doing a fielding drill in loosely organized winter game back home in Curacao.

Jurrjens was a little more careful and serious while working out this winter.

“I did the same stuff, it’s just that I’m smarter,” he said. “Just taking care of the body better than last year, for sure. Being smart about some stuff, especially not joking when I’m working out anymore. I’m more mature than I used to be.”

The Braves might need a strong, healthy season to have any real chance of pushing the Phillies  in the NL East.

The Braves might need a strong, healthy season to have any real chance of pushing the Phillies in the NL East.

That’s what the Braves want to hear. They probably need Jurrjens to get back to his form of the previous two seasons if they have much hope of pushing the Phillies.

“The only way you’re going to be able to compete in our division is, you’re going to have to pitch,” Lowe said. “Because you’re going to get at least three [good starts] out of their [the Phillies’] so-called Big Four every time.”

Lowe tried to put the Braves-Phillies thing in perspective, however.

“I’m going to use this analogy,” said Lowe, using a word that I wasn’t prepared to hear from the old goofball pitcher at 10 a.m. on P&C reporting day. “We’re only going to play them 18 times. Just like in my favorite rivaly we love talking about – Boston and New York. [Lowe made his name pitching for the Red Sox]. Everybody kept talking about, ‘How are we going to beat them?’ But we only play them 18 times.

“For the most part, we’re so competitive, no one’s going to win all 18 and no one’s going to lose all 18. It’s going to be somewhere around .500. So it’s what you going to do in all the other games [not a against your rival]. That’s the most important thing.”

Then he added, “That’s why I like our pitching depth, our starting pitching depth. And we’ve done a good job of getting a couple of more guys out there in the bullpen.”

Even on the first day, reporting day, when pitchers and catchers came and went at their leisure and some didn’t stick around long, Jurrjens sensed a different level of excitement in the clubhouse Monday.

“We got so close to the goal that we all wanted to accomplish,” he said of the 2010 season. “You can see a different environment this year, everybody’s so hyper to get started and try to get in the playoffs again. Especially me, since I didn’t have a chance to be a part of it. This year it’s more exciting, to be a part of a postseason team.”

A popular misconception about reporting day: Regarding the just-won’t-end rumor mill about Billy Wagner and his retirement, including a bogus rumor Monday that the retired closer – yes, he’s retired, folks – was at Braves camp (he was not).

Someone asked me if the Braves could simply drop him from the 40-man roster unilaterally on Monday if he didn’t show up for spring training – he did not and was never going to, because he’s retired – and avoid paying him a $250,000 buyout of his $6.50 million option that he left on the table after a stirring 37-save season for Atlanta.

And the answer is, no, the Braves could not.do that. Not yet. And by the time they can, Wagner’s retirement paperwork might finally have gone through and it’ll be a moot point anyway.

But the reason they couldn’t just drop him today is because baseball’s mandatory reporting date isn’t until March 1. Technically, this week’s reporting dates are “voluntary” dates, although rarely do players use that mandatory date anymore to hold out for more money or whatever.

When I starting covering baseball, there were often a few players – Jose Canseco, Pedro Martinez, Gary Sheffield come to mind – who were either upset about their contracts or otherwise didn’t feel compelled to come to camp until closer to the mandatory date.

Some just didn’t feel like they needed the extra couple of weeks of work.

I remember one year when Sheffield reported to Marlins camp at the last hour possible on mandatory reporting day. It was hilarious, almost absurd theatre, because we could see his caravan of friends and hangers-on in expensive cars snaking its way across the long, two-lane road to the Marlins’ ballpark in Viera from I-95.

The group had driven over from Sheff’s Tampa home on the afternoon of the mandatory date. We were all in the pressbox, wondering where he was or if he’d show up — he had told Marlins officials he’d be there earlier that day — when all of a sudden we could see the sun reflecting from the chrome on some of his crew’s vehicles.

Just another of the many memories of covering Sheffield while he was with the Marlins and later the Braves.

Prado’s rehab and postion change: A couple of things I took away from interview with Martin Prado on Monday. 1. He wasn’t too thrilled to move to left field when the Braves traded for second-base slugger Dan Uggla on Nov. 16.

2., It won’t do a thing to dampen Prado’s enthusiasm or keep him from playing as hard as he always does. Because that’s the kind of guy he is. They don’t come much better, or more solid in the clubhouse, than Prado.

Prado's season ended with this hip pointer and torn oblque muscle in late September.

Prado's season ended with this hip pointer and torn oblque muscle in late September.

The 2010 All-Star second baseman was rehabbing from a painful hip pointer and torn oblique muscle in November when he got the call about the Uggla trade and Prado’s subsequent position switch..

“I mean, when they talked to me, it was hard for me,” Prado said after his solo workout Monday morning at Braves camp, “I was thinking about it for a few days, thinking, ‘Ok, playing left field every day, that’s a new thing for me in the my career.’ It’s something that I have to [handle] professionally.

“I guess they see me as one of those guys that can play different positions. I’m glad they thought about me at that [left field] position, and I have to assume it, take that responsibility … and do the best I can.”

That’s right, Prado actually said he was glad the Braves thought enough of him to consider him for the left-field job after they traded for Uggla. Modest and humble, and it’s not an act with Prado.

He hit .307 with career-highs of 40 doubles and 15 homers in 140 games, but Prado didn’t complain about being moved from second base to a position (left field) where he’s rarely played during his major leaguer career.

Instead, he thought about it from the view of the Braves, who had been looking for several years for a right-handed power hitter. Uggla is that – he’s about as close as there is to a sure thing to hit 28-30 homers.

The Braves signed him to a five-year, $62 million soon after the trade, another possible factor in letting Uggla stay at his preferred second-base.position.

“I was happy for the team,” Prado said. “All my teammates — I talked to Brian [McCann] and all those guys — they were pretty excited about Uggla. For now this is not about me, this is about the team, and all those guys who put last season together. We have to get together again and do it again.”

Prado said the initial discomfort he had in his hip after he began rehabbing is gone, and he’s strengthened his core muscles and hasn’t had any problems since he resumed hitting and fielding. He’s ready to concentrate on outfield work this spring.

Well, almost. First there’s the matter of today’s batting practice against live pitching.

“In December I was afraid to swing and do rotation stuff [involved the oblique], said Prado, who was hurt in the final week of the regular season and ordered to rest for just over a month.

“I heard that’s normal. I had that thing in my mind — I didn’t want to pull it again and just feel anything bad. It took a while until I started feeling good. Now I feel like all that work is paying off. We’re going to see in the games; in games it’s different situations.

“We’ll see tomorrow [Tuesday] when I’m hitting against a pitcher. We’ll see..”

Jurrjens believes that a healthy Prado is a difference-maker.

“I think our season was over when he went down,” Jurrjens said. “I think that was the last piece. We had a lot of blows at the end of the season last year, Chipper and me and others just falling one after another.

“I’m just happy today to see [Prado] walking around like himself, taking swings. You know, having him healthy again. He’s going to be a big part of this lineup if we really want to get back where we were last year and keep moving forward from there.

“That’s the main thing, if we stay healthy I think we’re going to be a really good team.”

Oh, by the way: Did you all realize that Prado’s .320 average against righties was the third-highest in the NL last season, behind a couple of hitters who rake at the most hitter-friendly parks in the NL: Cincy’s Joe Votto (.347) and Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez (.345).

Also, Prado’s .353 average in home games was second-highest in the NL, trailing only Carlos Gonzalez (.380).

Alright, let’s close today with the title cut from Waylon Jennings‘ seminal outlaw country album, Honky Tonk  Heroes. The song and most others on the album were written by the great Billy Joe Shaver. Here’s a video for the song, and here’s a live video for it.

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Waylon Jennings, aka "Waymore"

“HONKY TONK HEROES” by Billy Joe Shaver

Low down leavin’ sun. Did everything that needs done
Woe is me, why can’t i see
I’D best be leavin’ well enough alone
Them neon lightin’ nights, couldn’t stay out of fights
Keep a-huantin’ me in memories
Well, there’s one in every crowd, for cryin’ out loud
Why was it always turnin’ out to be me

Where does it go, the good Lord only knows
It seems like it was just the other day
I was down at Green Gables, a hawkin’ them tables
And generally blowin’ all my hard earned pay
Piano roll blues, danced holes in my shoes
There weren’t another other way to be
For loveable losers, no account boozers
And honky tonk heroes like me

Where does it go, the good Lord only knows
It seemed like it was just the other day
I was down in Green Gables, a hawkin’ them tables
And generally blowin’ all of my hard earned pay
Pi-anny roll blues, I danced holes in my shoes
There weren’t another other way to be
For the loveable losers, and no account boozers
And honky tonk heroes like me

Where does it go, the good Lord only knows
It seemed like it was just the other day
I was down in Green Gables, a hawkin’ them tables
And generally blowin’ all of my hard earned pay
Pi-anny roll blues, I danced holes in my shoes
There weren’t another other way to be
For them loveable losers, and no account boozers
And honky tonk heroes like me

by David O’Brien, Braves/MIB blog

1,100 comments Add your comment

Mike S

February 15th, 2011
3:00 am

Can’t wait to see pics of Fredi in the uni once again and the first day of workouts!

Mike S

February 15th, 2011
3:01 am

Get to bed DOB, you got to get up early tomorrow!

Tommy

February 15th, 2011
3:05 am

Great write up DOB. Can’t wait for these guys to start playing some games that count.

J-Man

February 15th, 2011
3:24 am

I think D.O.B. is Batman…….He never sleeps!!!!!

nolie

February 15th, 2011
3:42 am

Thank you David. Another interesting read.

Josh

February 15th, 2011
3:53 am

Martin has grown to be one of my favorite players over the past couple of years. I love his enthusiasm, fiery spirit on the field, hard work and all-around humbleness. I hope we can hold on to him for quite a while.

Good stuff, DOB.

Subpar

February 15th, 2011
4:18 am

Dob fantastic blog congrats on getting the mix right.

A few things i am thinking.

Prado is an exemplary player, i would be interested to hear a list of all-star middle infielders who accepted a position change for the team.

Chipper is still the ultimate hitter on the team. I would pay him halve his salary to comment on batting cage shenanigans. The other halve goes to being the guy i want at the plate.

Pitching– I cannot in a decade think of a rotation that i will enjoy watching execute the craft of pitching . My money is on Jurrjens or Lowe for the MVP of the Atlanta baseball team. {with a side of of those phillfies, if i was not a braves fan that all-star parade would be an education and an enjoyment to watch}

nolie

February 15th, 2011
4:49 am

I’m not sure why so many think that Lowe will pitch this season like he did for a coupla months last year instead of like he did for the first year anda half.

Subpar

February 15th, 2011
4:55 am

Nolie

You think he forgot what he learnt that last month?

ncgary

February 15th, 2011
5:30 am

N Nine

February 15th, 2011
5:30 am

Excited to get this season started. Hoping Prado can stay healthy all season.

nolie

February 15th, 2011
5:39 am

seems to have forgotten it b4 ;)

Jeff R

February 15th, 2011
6:41 am

Lowe was critical to the Braves’ September drive. Lowe proved that he’s a crunch time producer.

Prado should be at second and Uggla in left, but… not going to happen. So, we can only hope that Uggla works on his fielding this spring. As DOB remarked after the Uggla signing, Uggla’s a better defender than Kelly Johnson but not as good as Prado (or something along those lines).

jeffrey d

February 15th, 2011
7:11 am

Just playing the pessimist here, but in 2009, when the Braves were fighting for that WC spot up until the last week, Lowe had a 6.23 ERA in September and October.

jeffrey d

February 15th, 2011
7:11 am

And a 1.81 WHIP…yikes

@fauxfrankwren

February 15th, 2011
7:21 am

Tremendous stuff. My day can only go downhill after reading that. Thanks DOB, as always.

Couch Tater

February 15th, 2011
7:30 am

Every time I read about the state-of-the-art workout facility in Newport Beach, I get this mental image of a discreet elevator that leads to the Boras Arm & Leg Conditioning Operation.

David O'Brien

February 15th, 2011
7:33 am

Sun rising over Braves/MIB blog satellite office on the shores of Lake Bryan, the Dark Star perimeter. 1st workout for Braves P’s&C’s is this a.m.

http://twitpic.com/4038tq

old man

February 15th, 2011
7:53 am

Interesting stat from Fangraphs. Of all MLB teams, here is where Atlanta ranked last year in WAR at each position:

C 1st
1B 20th
2B 1st
SS 17th
3B 3rd
LF 24th
CF 29th
RF 9th

I suppose the number for second base is a combination of Infante and Prado, and there is a lot of Prado reflected in the third base numbers. So we have 4 problems. One, LF, if fixed by Uggla/Prado. Another, 1B, is improved some by Freeman. The biggest problem, CF, is still waiting to be fixed. Interestingly, the SS problem may be fixed already. For the three months before the July 14 Escobar trade, our SS play ranked 20th, 21st, and 8th in MLB WAR. Toronto’s ranked 2nd, 6th, and 10th. So A-Gon’s value seems to clearly have exceeded Esco’s over that time frame. In the two months after the trade, our SS play ranked 4th and 27th (A-Gon clearly struggled that last month). The Jays were 9th and 20th. A-Gon’s overall WAR was 6th in MLB last year. (Esco was 10th).

So we had 4 problems last year. LF is fixed. SS and 1B are upgrades, if not completely fixed. That just leaves CF. But overall, I like the improvements in our starting eight.

Jeff R

February 15th, 2011
8:00 am

jeffrey d… You’re right about Lowe’s 2009 close, but I prefer to believe we saw the real Lowe last September. :)

Ricky T. Tibbs

February 15th, 2011
8:01 am

Let’s see, braves need Prado,Chipper,Jurrgens to return from injury. They need one rookie to step up and be the closer. They need McOut to contribute in CF and play good defense (an oxy-moron for McOut). They need Freeman to contribute a lot as a rookie 1B. That’s a whole lot of if’s and maybe’s.

Jeff R

February 15th, 2011
8:02 am

Couch Tater… When I think of Boras the Spider’s facility, I think of Dr. Evil’s HQ.

Brave New World

February 15th, 2011
8:07 am

nolie February 15th, 2011 4:49 am: I’m not sure why so many think that Lowe will pitch this season like he did for a coupla months last year instead of like he did for the first year and a half.

Check out Lowe’s career stats and you’ll get a clue – the guy’s a winner who played in pain, and has still delivered 15 wins and 16 wins the last 2 seasons.

Kat

February 15th, 2011
8:11 am

It seems I have found my lunch-time read for today. Thanks for the new blog.

The Living Legend

February 15th, 2011
8:11 am

I hope JJ is back to form this year. I think losing a few pounds helps and he is over his injuries. I think the Atlanta team can be scrappy, just need Chipper to play 130 games, at least, Prado to stay healthy, and Mclouth to hit his weight. I know it sounds like a lot, but if you go through the roster of every MLB team, they all have similar issues. Sometimes it is a little luck that is needed to win, and we had poor luck last year. Time for lady luck to smile on us, and we have minimal injuries this year.

braves4ever

February 15th, 2011
8:12 am

The news and good report plus the Sunrise pic makes me want to be there.
And the way you keep up the blog makes it seem like we are there.
thanks

Cecil34

February 15th, 2011
8:12 am

I think looking back on it, there is no question that the extra weight that JJ gained last year put strain on knees, etc.

I wonder did it ever occur to anyone last year in spring training to get this guy to drop the weight then, so that the physical issues would not compound themselves?

Although he may have initially injured himself by doing questionable “drills” in his homeland, the weight gain is what did him in last year for the most part.

Maybe more emphasis needs to be placed on conditioning in spring training now that we have someone else in charge. Maybe then they would not start out in April looking so sluggish.

Hey, I love to play golf like they do, but I must put my primary job first. I feel that has not always been the case there.

Jeff R

February 15th, 2011
8:20 am

I think Lowe’s 2011 season’s stats will pretty much track his ‘09 and ‘10 numbers. But those aren’t horrible numbers. Depending on how Hudson, Hanson, and Jurrjens throw, Lowe’s stats might be solid #4 starter totals.

What I was impressed with was how Lowe closed to the 2010 season. He stepped up while other Braves were fading. He showed grit and a strong desire to win.

Max Hafeli

February 15th, 2011
8:20 am

I’ve been a Lakers fan since ‘68,and they are the current NBA champions.
Born and raised in Wisconsin,I grew up watching the great Packers teams of the 60’s.And they were just crowned Super Bowl champions.
Is it to much to ask for as a Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves fan that my favorite baseball team can give me a World Series and complete the trifecta?
It starts today!!

larry

February 15th, 2011
8:20 am

What exactly is WAR I mean how is it calculated?

JT Grace

February 15th, 2011
8:23 am

DOB, didn’t Bobby Cox say last year that he would be on a cruise with his wife at the start of Spring Training this year.

old man

February 15th, 2011
8:30 am

“Simply put, Wins Above Replacement means: how many wins did that player contribute to his team’s win total above and beyond what they would have gotten from a “replacement value” player, someone they could have picked up off the scrap heap for next to nothing? WAR is probably the most popular total value stat out there today, a single number that attempts to quantify a player’s worth by looking at his offense, defense (or pitching), defensive position, and the context of the year and league.”

Thrillhouse44

February 15th, 2011
8:31 am

Awesome read! I can’t wait for the season to start.

Cecil, I dig your hindsight.

Steve McP

February 15th, 2011
8:33 am

JT Grace – I think you are right, Bobby has probably left his car there to save on parking at the cruise terminal.

old man

February 15th, 2011
8:34 am

“WAR basically aggregates a lot of methods and insights from other advanced stats, like wOBA, FIP and UZR, all of which basically express a player’s contributions to the team in terms of runs added or runs prevented . . . . After calculating the run measures, a positional adjustment is added to account for the relative importance of different positions and a league adjustment to account for the relative strength of the American League — which has a higher run environment thanks to the DH, higher salaries thanks to the presence of the Red Sox and Yankees and currently a greater concentration of talent — compared to the National League. For a position player, you then add their wRAA, UZR, positional adjustment, and replacement adjustment to get their Runs Above Replacement. Then you scale all those contributions to be expressed in terms of total team wins. The usual scale is that 10 runs is equal to one team win. So WAR is equal to RAR divided by 10.”

ncscoots

February 15th, 2011
8:38 am

Maybe more emphasis needs to be placed on conditioning in spring training now that we have someone else in charge. Maybe then they would not start out in April looking so sluggish.

Yes, it’s much more preferable that they die in August. Much.

You guys forget the classic quote: “I’m not an athlete, I’m a ballplayer.” :-)

Brave New World

February 15th, 2011
8:45 am

larry

February 15th, 2011 8:20 am What exactly is WAR I mean how is it calculated?

War, huh, yeah
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing
Uh-huh
War, huh, yeah
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing
Say it again, y’all

Any other questions, Larry?

old man

February 15th, 2011
8:45 am

What if in 2011 our positional WAR numbers did this?:

POS 2010 2011

C 1st 1st
1B 20th 14th
2B 1st 1st
SS 17th 12th
3B 3rd 7th
LF 24th 7th
CF 29th 18th
RF 9th 4th

It feels good, it feels right.

Art Vandelay

February 15th, 2011
8:45 am

Listened to any Frames yet Dave? Try out “Fitzcarraldo”, “Revelate”, “Lay Me Down”, “People Get Ready”, “Star Star”, or “Seven Day Mile”.

old man

February 15th, 2011
8:46 am

Yes, all stats are flawed.

ncscoots

February 15th, 2011
8:53 am

Yes, all stats are flawed.

the unfortunate thing about WAR is that it’s an aggregation, meaning that any flaws in each underlying component are compounded by the aggregation of the flaws. WAR is good as a ballpark figure for ranking purposes, or figuring percentiles to which a player might belong relative to his peers. I don’t use it as a raw counting-type stat, though.

Bravesfan

February 15th, 2011
8:55 am

DOB – just curious, why do you call the Disney complex “Dark Star”?

richbrave

February 15th, 2011
9:01 am

scoots:

How about thius one, ” I’m an athlete who happens to be a ballplayer.”

VOLinATL

February 15th, 2011
9:01 am

Same questions here…why “Dark Star”? I know it is awfully antiseptic, but it’s not that bad.

Lew

February 15th, 2011
9:02 am

Bravesfan – Think Star Wars Evil Empire. Disney has pretty well taken over central Florida and rules it in a dictatorial fashion.

codwx

February 15th, 2011
9:03 am

Hello, David. This is the editor portion of your brain speaking.

You really need to get to bed earlier, because although the content and info in this blog are at their usual high level, it is apparent that your mild dyslexia was somewhat out of control and concentration went missing at 2:49AM.

For instance, “We will henceforward refer to this as the Heyward Tents, as his quarter panel-tending (DENTING) and window- and mirror-shattering home runs…”

And then there is this one. “…said Jurrjens, whose string of 2010 injured (INJURIES) included shoulder, hamstring and knee problems.”

All kidding aside, great blog as usual, DOB. And, dude, you do need to hit the sack before yesterday becomes today.

Lew

February 15th, 2011
9:04 am

And if you lived in the area, you would not find them so inoffensive. They take up all the zoning variances, get sweetheart deals paid for by taxpayers and pay rotten wages to the indentured servants they hire.

But other than that……

Mike

February 15th, 2011
9:04 am

DOB … I dare you to close a blog with lyrics from The Roots.

Here’s a good one — The Fire: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n94URvpQOAc

Give it a shot … you’ll be impressed. And listen to the lyrics. A lot of you guys don’t give hip hop a chance. (T Pain, TI, Gucci mane … they don’t represent real hip hop).

Rob from SC

February 15th, 2011
9:06 am

I really believe this season will en with a World Series Championship. I think this team especially Prado and Heyward are playing with a chip on their shoulders.

Yes the Phillies have a great pitching staff, but their is something to be said for a very hungry team.

ncscoots

February 15th, 2011
9:07 am

How about thius one, ” I’m an athlete who happens to be a ballplayer.”

rich, lots of those, too, LOL. And I know teams these days focus more on athleticism than back in the day. Still, playing baseball demands such a specialized skillset that I would concern myself less with a guy’s speed to 1B than his ability to hit a slider.

NBA players are the best athletes in the universe, but not many of them look good even in BP.

O.J.

February 15th, 2011
9:08 am

You know what makes Prado’s .320 average against righties all the more impressive to be 3rd? Is because he is right handed himself. You expect Votto and CarGo to hit for a high average against righties, because they are left handed. But for Prado to put up those numbers against righties and being right handed himself, well thats all the more impressive.

Lew

February 15th, 2011
9:16 am

Yeah, all of the Braves injuries were caused by lack of conditioning at Spring Training, right? Like Chipper’s blown out knee, Prado’s oblique and hip pointer, Glaus’ knees and Wagner going down in the playoffs. And Jurrjens would not have injured his shoulder if he had trained better in Orlando. Oh wait. He hurt it before he reported. So much for that.

richbrave

February 15th, 2011
9:35 am

Gettin’ close to 10:00 a.m., gettin’ close.

Fredi's Fu Manchu

February 15th, 2011
9:36 am

Is the Kawakami interview going to be on carried live on ESPN?

Shake Tiller

February 15th, 2011
9:36 am

Lock up Prado long term please.

Thrillhouse44

February 15th, 2011
9:37 am

Lew, sounds like selective hindsight is 20/20. Are you making a trip to FL this year for Spring Training?

richbrave

February 15th, 2011
9:38 am

This is also the year I get to see if my eldest grandson’s truly got the juice to make it in the bigs. Middle one just crushing the ball in BP. And a new one in the house. Hands as big as catchers mitts. Now if he has the eye-hand coordination to go with those, look out baseball.

richbrave

February 15th, 2011
9:39 am

Fredi’s Fu Manchu

February 15th, 2011
9:36 am
Is the Kawakami interview going to be on carried live on ESPN?

There is one?

Fredi's Fu Manchu

February 15th, 2011
9:39 am

Sounds like Prado got blind-sided by the Uggla signing / position switch.

McFann Ô Ô

February 15th, 2011
9:40 am

Thanks for the new Blog, Chief!

What’s more likely is that it’ll be several weeks before it starts to feel like Gonzalez is the manager and Bobby Cox isn’t just away temporarily. Probably after the Braves have played some Grapefruit League games and we watch Gonzalez run the team.

I agree.

Lew

February 15th, 2011
9:41 am

Thrillhouse – Afraid not this year. Not quite up to all that walking.

I seriously wonder about all these jabs at conditioning and always wonder if those who feel that there is little to no conditioning at ST have ever even been there to see what the Braves do during workouts. Maybe they need to see one of Lowe’s workouts.

Fredi's Fu Manchu

February 15th, 2011
9:41 am

Think DOB said it would be “interesting” today.

McFann Ô Ô

February 15th, 2011
9:41 am

haggard As your personal bodyguard, all this talk of a date is something I probably should have known about.

Haha, don’t worry! I didn’t really have a date…

TennesseePaul

February 15th, 2011
9:41 am

Thanks for the work and updates DOB.

scoots: NBA players are the best athletes in the universe, but not many of them look good even in BP.

I remember watching Jordan play in the minors. The best basketball player ever and he looked ridiculous in baseball.

This season should be a blast, but I’m not sure about previous blog posts of 800 runs scored. I like this team, but the pitching they are going up against has improved throughout the league. There are a lot of AL-ace imports now in the NL. They could very well hit 800, but it won’t be easy.

McFann Ô Ô

February 15th, 2011
9:44 am

LOVE the sun-rise photo, DOB! Very nice…

Lew

February 15th, 2011
9:44 am

Shake Tiler- Why the rush? Prado is not eligible for Free Agency until 2014. This is his first year of arb eligibility. Why sign him now when we are at budgetary limits, when after 2012 there will be as much as $40 mil coming off the books?

McFann Ô Ô

February 15th, 2011
9:45 am

ncscoots NBA players are the best athletes in the universe, but not many of them look good even in BP.

Then that proves BMac’s an excellent athlete, ’cause he’s good at both sports! ;)

reckingball

February 15th, 2011
9:47 am

Thankyou Lord, I have been praying for this day for over 15 years.

Mikeyc588

February 15th, 2011
9:50 am

ncscoots

February 15th, 2011
9:55 am

They could very well hit 800, but it won’t be easy.

I think it’s pretty safe to say that an 800-run year will win the division for them. That would give them a run differential of ~150 and a Pythagorean of 95+. Assuming, of course, that the pitching is only slightly worse than last year.

cbweatherman

February 15th, 2011
9:55 am

Well, if you’re going to rub it in about the great weather, DOB, what did you think about the rivalry game last night? ;)

Happy Baseball!

Chopper

February 15th, 2011
9:58 am

DOB,

Question about spring training and rules. You said that Chipper Jones and Martin Prado were the only position players (aside from catchers) that were allowed on the field because they ended the season on the DL. What’s the rules on that, is it a MLB or union rule? I thought these guys were professionals, so why is there a restriction on when they can start practicing on team facilities?

Gene

February 15th, 2011
10:01 am

I hope that Prado and the team are rewarded for Prado’s selflessness. He is becoming my favorite player.

P-Town Brave ©

February 15th, 2011
10:05 am

THE ROCK IS BACK! and BASEBALL RETURNS!

DAP

February 15th, 2011
10:07 am

my problem with WAR is that its a moving target. a player can put up the exact same stats two years in a row and have drastically different WAR values, because the imaginary “replacement player” is just an average of what other players are doing that year. how can you really say that a certain player is better or worse than some other player that doesnt even really exist?

south georgia braves

February 15th, 2011
10:08 am

It’s now 10:08

Hillbilly

February 15th, 2011
10:09 am

Spring Training journalism/blog checklist:

-”Hope Springs Eternal” headline. —- Check. (Bowman)
-”Pop of the mit” ——————– Check.
-”Crack of the bat” —————— Check.
-”What is Dark Star?” (AJC users only) — Check
-”Brave New World” headline ———– pending
-”Best shape of his life” ————- pending

ramblingman

February 15th, 2011
10:11 am

The usual collection of whiny blah-blah posts from those who actually are not fans but refuse to admit it are rare today, and I am so excited it’s easy to ignore the few who remain.

Let’s go, Braves! Darn, I love this time of year.

McFann Ô Ô

February 15th, 2011
10:11 am

DAP

I’m with you. I think BMac had the best WAR of his career in 2010, but his stats were much better in 2006 and 2008…and even 2009…2007…

reckingball

February 15th, 2011
10:14 am

WAR, what is good for? Absolutely nothin’! Say it again!

Shaun

February 15th, 2011
10:15 am

ncscoots, well, WAR is a counting stat because it takes playing time into account. WAR actually isn’t a good for determining how valuable a player was on a per-game basis. It is an estimate of overall value, so a good player who played 100 games is going to be more valuable than an equally good player who plays 80 games, and WAR takes that into account.

You’re right about any flaws being compounded because lots of things are taken into account and if one thing is off, the final number will be off. But that’s basically true with any stat. As old man said, all stats have flaws. If a pitcher gives up a lot of weak, seeing-eye singles, his ERA is going to be high and not give us a true picture of how well he pitched. That’s why you need to strip things down and view stats for what they are and what they truly measure. That’s why it’s so funny when people criticize “new age” or “sabermetric” stats or whatever they want to call them, yet they’ll use pitcher wins and RBI. Murray Chass wrote a whole blog about how Ross Olendorf won his arbitration case and Felix Hernandez won the Cy Young because people don’t value pitcher wins. No, people just value them more appropriately these days. Basically people like that are saying your flawed stats are worse than my (truly more flawed) stats.

ncscoots

February 15th, 2011
10:15 am

Personally, I’m in the best blogging shape of my life, this year. I trimmed down a little (on my fingernails), and I went on a special P90 regimen to firm up my vocabulary.

I’m just happy to be here, and I hope I can help the blog this season. There’s no “I” in “blog”, you know.

Bailey

February 15th, 2011
10:17 am

ncscoots, there is no “I” in blog, but the “l” looks the same!

reckingball

February 15th, 2011
10:19 am

I predict that the starting lineup for the first game of the 2011 regular season, will include McLouth LF, Shafer CF, Prado 3B.
Each of these players will hit 20+ HRs, this season.

Go Braves!

McFann Ô Ô

February 15th, 2011
10:19 am

ncscoots

Glad to read it! :P

ncscoots

February 15th, 2011
10:19 am

Bailey, you are correct. No “I” in “BLOG”, LOL.

It’s the AJC’s fault for using a sans serif font in the posts. :-)

Bailey

February 15th, 2011
10:24 am

lol, i mean LOL

McFann Ô Ô

February 15th, 2011
10:25 am

OK, gotta run…talk to y’all later!!

Josh

February 15th, 2011
10:26 am

DOB, i thought Chipper was going with the old school look with high socks this year?

Shaun

February 15th, 2011
10:26 am

McFann and DAP, actually there are different versions of WAR and catchers are tricky because there aren’t reliable metrics for catcher defense.

But fangraphs’ version of WAR has McCann’s 2008 season as his best.

As far as replacement level goes, it is indeed based on what players did in a given season or seasons. Technically I suppose you can say it’s imaginary, but it’s based on what players actually did. This is a decent way to adjust for eras so that you appropriately measure a player’s dominance against his peers versus another player’s dominance against his peers.

I don’t see that having different formulations of WAR is a huge problem. I mean something like runs created has different formulations and it’s still a decent measure of a player’s offensive contributions.

All stats have flaws. The idea is find a more perfect stat, even if perfection is not attainable. And most reasonable people are going to use a variety of stats and reports, not just WAR. Now some may give WAR more weight than other stats but no reasonable person just sweeps the flaws of WAR under the rug.

But if you are going to criticize WAR for being flawed, you also need to be up front and acknowledge the flaws in all stats. You can’t discount WAR because it’s flawed then quote a player’s batting average and RBI total or a pitcher’s win total as primary evidence that he’s productive or not.

Dan Kolb's Mom

February 15th, 2011
10:31 am

Dave, dont forget to tell Lowe that the season actually starts at the end of March. If that numbnuts waits until the end of September again to start actually pitching like he cares, I’m gonna pull my hair out.

Supes

February 15th, 2011
10:34 am

Nice pic DOB!

Yes the Braves have a lot of “maybe’s” but so does every other team.

I ask you, even the “mighty Phillies” have them…starting with their pen, an injury prone Jimmy Rollins…a Chase Utley who had a “down year last season”, a Ruiz who played above his “head”, an aging outfielder in Ibanez, a ROOKIE of in the other corner spot (for everyone bringing up Freeman for us at 1B), and no Werth for RH pop in the middle of their order to protect Howard. Oh and there’s the issue of that number 5 starter…I’ll take Minor over anyone they throw out there.

jaybob

February 15th, 2011
10:35 am

If the mandatory reporting date is March 1, why do they schedule spring training games before then? What, with all the rules of who can be on the field when, who can’t be on the field when…what is an official practice, what’s not an unofficial practice. Theoretically, couldn’t teams be forced to place some games with just a handful of non-roster invitees?

CraZyTRaDeMaN

February 15th, 2011
10:36 am

THE ROCK IS BACK! and BASEBALL RETURNS!

I record Raw and Smack down and for the past few years I pretty much fast forward through the show. I felt like an 18 year old school girl last night. I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard Do you SMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEL what the ROCK……….is cookin!!!!! It was the best Raw since the late 90’s early 2000’s. I can only hope the guy is back for a while doubt it though. Probably just until Wrestle Mania! Rumors are Sting will finally make a WWE appearance next Monday.

Murph

February 15th, 2011
10:38 am

You need a catchier name for the tents instead of “The Heyward Tents”… that’s kinda boring.

- The JHey Missile Defense Shield
- The JHey Bunkers
- The JHey Bomb Shelters
etc.

P-Town Brave ©

February 15th, 2011
10:39 am

Crazy-

Actually, its going to be Taker (sadly)…and I am hearing Trips will be back shortly as well…

It’ll be like Attitude era all over again with all 3 on RAW…but I am loving it because I am sick of the PG crap!

I was so excited myself last night…it was just one of those moments that you can’t believe you’re seeing…and Rock will be in the ATL for Mania…just stepped Mania up to a whole new level…

Plus, don’t get me wrong, I like Cena…but Rock in one promo brought out everything that is wrong w/ Cena and the PG format right now…

Just all around good stuff!

SoWeGa Fanatic

February 15th, 2011
10:41 am

Shaun

February 15th, 2011
10:42 am

Supes, more has to go right for the Braves than for the Phillies. I think the Phillies are clear favorites obviously but I do think the Braves are going to be at least as good as last season, even if Chipper missed a lot of time and McLouth doesn’t bounce back that much. The way I figure, Uggla’s addition would largely absorb issues with those two players. I think the season will hinge on everyone else doing reasonably close to what’s expected of them.

The Braves have four players who are all-star caliber or fairly close even without Chipper and McLouth doing much of anything, in McCann, Heyward, Prado and Uggla. Too much is already being made of the Chipper watch and the McLouth watch this spring. Those players aren’t the core.

TennesseePaul

February 15th, 2011
10:42 am

That’s why it’s so funny when people criticize “new age” or “sabermetric” stats or whatever they want to call them, yet they’ll use pitcher wins and RBI…

…or they will foolishly use minor league fielding percentage to make a case for projected major league defense of a potential back up player.

monty

February 15th, 2011
10:43 am

Let the games begin.

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