Things learned while consuming much coffee in Week 1

It's looked like this every day so far during spring training. Sunny, temps in the 70s/80s. (Photo by Jason Getz/AJC)

It's looked like this every day so far during spring training. Sunny, temps in the 70s/80s. (Photo by Jason Getz/AJC)

DARK STAR, Fla. – Today marks the end of Week 1 in the six-week adventure that is spring training, and we – we being me — have only consumed approximately 46 cups of coffee.

It’s never easy going from a 2-4 a.m. bedtime/8-9 a.m. wakeup for 10-1/2 months of the year to a schedule of 6:30 a.m. wakeup/midnight pass-out-on-rented-condo-sofa-or-dining-table-chair-while-blogging. But we do it for the peeps. The craft. And baseball.

Oh, yeah, and to pay the mortgage and motorcycle payments.0511-0809-2414-2252_Cartoon_Man_Drinking_Coffee_Trying_to_Wake_Up_clipart_image

It’s been a week of injury-free Braves workouts in perfect weather (sunny, temps in 70s/80s every day so far) on the grounds of the Happiest Place On Earth.

(Disney World admission: $87.33 ages 10 & over; ESPN’s Wide World of Sports admission: $14.50 adults. No, no you don’t have to pay the Disney admission, but you gotta pay to get into the Worldwide Leader sports complex to see the Bravos work out.)

So let’s fill our coffee mug (again) and consider a few things gleaned during Week 1.

We learned that….

—The right side of the field might tilt beneath the enormity of pals and lineup mates Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman. V-backed right fielder Heyward came in at a chiseled 6 feet 5 and 250 pounds (up 4 lbs from last year), while 6-4 rookie first baseman Freeman added 15 pounds and checked in at 242.

“I lifted four times a week,” said Freeman, who is getting his own place to live this year in Atlanta, after staying rent-free with Heyward last year when Freeman was making minor-league coin playing for Triple-A Gwinnett.

Pals Jason Heyward (6 feet 5) and Freddie Freeman (6-4) are a combined 492 pounds. (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

Pals Jason Heyward (6 feet 5) and Freddie Freeman (6-4) are a combined 492 pounds. (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

It was the first winter in a few years that Freeman was able to work out on a regular basis, after spending previous offseasons playing fall ball and/or recovering from injuries.

“I’ve always been hurt at the end of the year, so I’d be just sitting for a month-and-a-half until I could do anything,” Freeman said.

But not this winter. He had a thumb injury that ended his Arizona Fall League season after a few games in October. That healed quickly and he got on his workout program with his trainer back home in Southern California.

On his added weight and strength, he said, “I feel great. Worked hard. So we’ll see how it pays off….. The biggest thing is to see how the ball goes to left field, left-center, see if I can get more distance, more carry on it.”

Not that he’ll be swinging for the fences.

“Stick to my line drives,” he said. “If the balls go over the fence, they go over the fence.”

Brandon Beachy and Mike Minor will compete for the last spot in the rotation, but won’t come to blows. At least they’d better not, since they will live together back in Atlanta this season, when one of them will likely be pitching for the Braves and the other for Triple-A Gwinnett.

“It’s exciting to see what’s going to happen,” Minor said. “But there’s nothing to be played up about me vs. Beachy, because me and Beachy are going to room together during the season. There’s no [tension]. It’s not like a big deal to us.

“We played together at [Double-A] Mississippi, and then both got moved up to Gwinnett. I played a couple of games with him there, then I got moved up [to the majors last summer].”

I asked him if they were looking at places to live more or less midway between the north Atlanta ‘burbs (Gwinnett County) and Turner Field downtown.

“Yeah, like the Buckhead area,” he said. “One of us will probably have to drive about 40 minutes to Gwinnett.”

Buckhead is closer to downtown than to the Gwinnett ballpark, but I told Minor that the drive might be longer than 40 minutes to Turner Field with Atlanta traffic. Don’t go near I-85 after about 3 p.m., kid.

So anyway, about that fifth-starter competition….

“It’s not like we’re going to be worried about how the other threw and want him to do badly,” Minor said. “I would say from how he acts, and I know how I act towards him, we both care about what each other is going to do, and if we really did well, we’ll congratulate the other and move on. It’s not a big deal.”

— Speaking of No. 5 starter, we learned it’s not just a two-way battle, according to Fredi Gonzalez. The new Braves manager said 35-year-old right-hander Rodrigo Lopez is also in the mix.

“I go in with no preconceived notions are anything,” Gonzalez said. “Just give them enough innings, those three guys, and see who makes the club. And I hope they all pitch extremely well. I hope the whole staff pitches extremely well, but I hope [the fifth spot] is one of those things where we’re here on cut day and we don’t make a decision until 5 in the morning trying to figure out what’s best for the team.”

Lopez signed a minor-league free agent contract after going 7-16 with a 5.00 ERA and 200 innings pitched in 33 starts for Arizona last season. He did not come to the Braves with Triple-A ambitions.

“I definitely want to make the team,” Lopez said. “I know I’ll get a chance to compete for the fifth spot. I would like to do as much as I can to help the team. If I can help the team as a fifth starter, or if there’s a spot open in the bullpen, whatever they decide. I just came here to help the team and do my best, regardless of what role I’m in.”

This isn't Rodrigo Lopez. It's Joe Mather. I just used the photo because I wanted to know if you're as startled as I was by how much he resembles Jeff Francoeur. (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

This isn't Rodrigo Lopez. It's Joe Mather. I just used the photo because I wanted to know if you're as startled as I was by how much he resembles Jeff Francoeur. (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

Not that he’d flat refuse to pitch for Gwinnett if he doesn’t get the fifth-starter job.

“Yeah, I mean….that’s not the goal,” he said. “But these guys have been honest with me. If I have to go to Triple-A, it’s definitely not what I want, but depending on the situation and everything, I probably would.”

He won 14 or more games three times in four seasons with Baltimore from 2002-2005, but has a 24-39 record with four teams since then, with ERAs of 5.00 or above in three of those four seasons.

Lopez missed part of the 2007 season and all of 2008 after Tommy John elbow surgery, and had shoulder inflammation in 2009.

— No. 1 Braves prospect Julio Teheran is the real thing. I have seen him throw, and he seriously stands out. That I can tell you. Seemingly effortless, loose-armed delivery, mid-90s fastball, great movement, hits the mitt.

But beyond his obvious physical gifts, we learned from catcher David Ross that the 20-year-old Colombian future ace seems to have things together upstairs. Teheran doesn’t act as if he’s got it all figured out, like the world is his and others are passing through.

“What impressed me the most, I guess, is he was a little wild out of the windup for about 10 pitches, then he just went to the stretch and started pitching,” Ross said. “He knew how to slow himself down and make the adjustment. Went to the stretch and just started painting his fastball in and out, and had better command of his changeup out of that.

“Another thing that impressed me a lot was, after he was done he came up to me and started asking questions, like ‘how was my stuff? I felt like I didn’t have as good a control with my breaking stuff, what did you see?’ For a young guy to ask me what I thought – that’s what you want.

“You want a guy with good stuff to come up and kind of use the knowledge that you’ve gained as veteran player over the years, to try to help guys out. If you can create that relationship with a pitcher, especially a young pitcher, it just helps out on down the line. When you feel like they have confidence in you and trust you and your knowledge, and then you’re using their stuff and their knowledge. They’re going to grow faster than other guys that just go out there and are kind of like, ‘I’m the best.’

Ross wasn’t finished discussing Teheran.

“Another thing he did, you see some of these guys come in here and they want to show off their off-speed stuff.” he said. “But until he threw a fastball for a strike, or two in a row, he wasn’t going to his off-speed stuff. He used his fastballs in and out. He wasn’t just going to throw a ball, then use his change-up, he was going to throw his fastball for a strike, then throw his off-speed pitch. It just showed me how advanced he is mentally.

“He’s real poised, too, when I talked to him afterward. He had a good feel for what he was working on.”

Teheran also speaks pretty good English, Ross said.

“I asked him how you doing, where are you from,” he said. “It’s always a plus for me – I’ve got some broken Spanish, but that’s about it. I was talking to him and joking with him on the walk over before. He told me how old he was, where he was from, how he liked this camp, how things were going.”

We also learned that we really like talking to David Ross. No, wait. We already knew that. (If the Braves had fallen short of Ross’ salary demands, I think most of us reporters would’ve collected a few bucks to try to bridge the gap.)

— Fredi Gonzalez has basically the same rules as Bobby Cox, including no music in the clubhouse. Players are free to listen to it on their headphones, just as they were with Cox. But stereos, radios, whatever, aren’t allowed. The reasoning is that others shouldn’t have to listen to your music if they don’t want to.

“I like all kinds of music,” Gonzalez said of the rule. “I’ll listen to everything from John Michael Montgomery and Kenny Chesney to Ludacris and 50 Cent, or the Eagles. I’m all over the board. But some guys might not like that.

“Bobby’s had the rule for what, 20-25 years? He might have been ahead of the curve. [Loud music] causes problems in the clubhouse, becomes a situation of, who’s turn is it to play my music? We’ve got more stuff to worry about than whose turn it is to play the music on the [clubhouse stereo]. Plus with Ipods, with MP3 players and all that….”

With all those individual listening devices, there’s no need for boomboxes in a clubhouse.

One rule that Gonzalez is adamant about is tardiness. Be on time, or call to let someone know you’ll be late.

“Nobody here has another job or a school they have to attend, right?” he said, smiling. “Or, “I don’t get out of Starbucks till 9, I’m going to be a little late.’ So those [rules] are givens, that you’re going to be on time and you’ve got to give effort. Those are rules, but that’s what you’re supposed to do, right? Unless someone’s working on a doctor’s degree that I don’t know about.”

Closer candidates Jonny  Venters (left) and Craig Kimbrel (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

Closer candidates Jonny Venters (left) and Craig Kimbrel (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

— The closer situation will be determined this spring. Yes, rookie strikeout machine Craig Kimbrel is a primary candidate, but Gonzalez might also use second-year lefty Jonny Venters in the role.

“I think we’re going to give both of those guys an opportunity,” he said. Two years ago [lefty Mike] Gonzalez and [Rafael] Soriano did it, whichever way that lineup came up [in the ninth inning]. Maybe we’ll do that, to see how it goes in the beginning.

“I hope that they both [Kimbrel and Venters] pitch so well that it’d be difficult [to choose]. I think that takes care of itself later on. I hope those two young men pitch lights-out, where you could go either way. They’re both capable of doing it….

“In a perfect world, yeah, you want it to be one guy. Because then you can set up the whole game to get to that one guy. In a perfect world.

“But you know, it’s not so perfect.”

Jordan Schafer is healthy, and that means he has his swagger back. We didn’t see that much last spring, when the center fielder sounded like a beaten man as he tried to come back five months after hand surgery, but the soreness was still there and strength was not.

Jordan Schafer is healthy, confident that he can change some opinions. (Jason Getz/AJC photo)

Jordan Schafer is healthy, confident that he can change some opinions. (Jason Getz/AJC photo)

Now he’s swinging every day, hitting the ball as hard as he ever did. He’s excited, to say the least.

“I can’t even explain how much,” he said. “I’m probably more excited than anybody to be here right now, just because, I mean, the last year and a half of not being able to do anything. Now to feel this good and healthy and come in here and have this opportunity….”

I mentioned to him that he’s become somewhat polarizing among Braves fans. Many still hope and/or believe he’ll become the standout he was projected to be before the hand fracture, but others have tired of hearing about his health and his struggles and his comeback bid. There’s a segment of fans that wish the Braves hadn’t kept him.

Being labeled injury-prone irritates Schafer.

“I’ve been injured once in my life,” he said. “You can ask anybody that’s had a hand injury, whether it’s [Joe] Mather or [Jayson] Werth or anybody. As far as hitting, hand injuries take a little while to come back from.”

Then I asked him if he wanted to prove something to skeptical fans and others..

Schafer smiled and said, “I’m sure they’ll change their minds shortly.”

♣ OK let’s close this with a Dylan cover from mighty Mark Lanegan. This  is one of the best cuts from the movie I’m Not There.  Lot of great Zimmerman covers on that soundtrack, including Cat Power’s terrific “Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again.”

Click on here for a video of Lanegan doing “The Man In Long Black Coat.”

images

Mark Lanegan

“THE MAN IN THE LONG BLACK COAT” by Bob Dylan

Crickets are chirpin’, the water is high,
There’s a soft cotton dress on the line hangin’ dry,
Windows wide open, African trees
Bent over backwards from a hurricane breeze.
Not a word of goodbye, not even a note,
She’s gone with the man
In the long black coat.

Somebody seen him hanging around
At the old dance hall on the outskirts of town,
He looked into her eyes when she stopped to ask
If he wanted to dance, he had a face like a mask.
Somebody said from the Bible he’d quote
There was dust on the man
In the long black coat.

Preacher was a talkin’ there’s a sermon he gave,
He said every man’s conscience is vile and depraved,
You cannot depend on it to be your guide
When it’s you who must keep it satisfied.
It ain’t easy to swallow, it sticks in the throat,
She gave her heart to the man
In the long black coat.

There are no mistakes in life some people say
It is true sometimes you can see it that way.
But people don’t live or die, people just float.
She went with the man
In the long black coat.

There’s smoke on the water, it’s been there since June,
Tree trunks uprooted, ‘neath the high crescent moon
Feel the pulse and vibration and the rumbling force
Somebody is out there beating the dead horse.
She never said nothing there was nothing she wrote,
She’s gone with the man
In the long black coat.

1,480 comments Add your comment

Feeanch

February 21st, 2011
7:45 am

Roman Gal

February 21st, 2011
7:46 am

Hah. Schafer. Kid makes me smile.

Feeanch

February 21st, 2011
7:47 am

Things learned during 1st week…DOB must run on about 4 hours sleep. Appreciate all the bloggers and tweets, Chief!

Roman Gal

February 21st, 2011
7:55 am

It’s a little disconcerting holding the position of Commenter #2. Now I know why people freak out at the thought of being #1.

Ehh…nevermind.

banjobrave

February 21st, 2011
7:58 am

DOB thanks and great job! How’s the “Q” at Dark Star or surrounding areas? How are the veterans “geehawing” with new hitting coach Parrish? thanks again

bravesgrl4lifeeeee

February 21st, 2011
7:59 am

Thanks for all the hard work, DOB. Us fans out here without easy access to our Braves really do appreciate it!

balla1881

February 21st, 2011
8:10 am

DOB
Great Blog! Really interesting, and enjoyed the read. My only concern is what your going to talk about for the next 5 weeks after you’ve written the perfect spring training blog

braves4ever

February 21st, 2011
8:12 am

DOB, good blog, nice

CB

February 21st, 2011
8:14 am

DOB,great blog as usual.

Marvin Mangrum

February 21st, 2011
8:24 am

I know you are having fun in Orlando, and you do deserve it, but may I say something, first thank you for the photograph, DOB it put me there, I mean, we are right there, seeing everything. And secondly, for some reason, we trust you, we trust your eyes, we trust your assumptions, we trust your guesses, man reading you, its like being right there. We know you are getting paid, but from us, two long time fans, my girl would watch a test pattern with the Braves logo for days, we appreciate. You are not just writing about the Braves, you are covering them. Thank you Sir!

Tommy Boggs

February 21st, 2011
8:26 am

DOB. I don’t like the idea of moving Prado in from left to play 3rd. I feel like if we had a back up 3rd sacker Chipper could take his one day a week off and be lifted late in the game to give his knees a rest. This would leave are much improved out field intact. What are your thoughts on this?

chixluvthebraves2

February 21st, 2011
8:28 am

Dang, Heyward and Freeman are seriously big dudes. SMH…………
I am heading down to spring training in 2 weeks, does anyone here know the best time and where to go to get some autographs and pictures?? I wanna get some sigs for my dad who is too ill to go this year.

Jeff R

February 21st, 2011
8:28 am

DOB, great blog as usual – second the comment.

Schafer, I think, would be better off starting at Gwinnett than riding the pines in Atlanta. Given McLouth’s contract, management is committed to giving McLouth a clear shot in center-field. Rather see Schafer play everyday, produce, and build his confidence in Gwinnett. If McLouth stumbles – or if Prado moves to third full time – then bring up Schafer to the bigs.

Fifth spot in the rotation. Nothing wrong with letting Lopez compete for the 5-spot, but, really, Minor or Beachy are likely ready to take the spot. Would rather go with either of those guys whose upsides are significant than with Lopez, a 35 year old with limited shelf life.

Trojan

February 21st, 2011
8:29 am

Keep up the good work, (I want your job!).

McDT

February 21st, 2011
8:30 am

DOB: Great blog – full of hope and coffee (and I agree with balla1881 – perfect spring training blog!!) And have you heard a local band out of Warner Robbins called “Rehab”? This is a new iteration — they had a hit in a previous life with Hank Jr. The newest CD is Welcome Home and each time I hear “Talk About” reminds me of your life on the road (and used to be mine — just a different profession…) “I’m all all messed up on coffee and time zones…..” Thanks for the hard work..you are the best.

David

February 21st, 2011
8:31 am

Good blog but please stop complainIng about having to “work” by watching baseball in perfect weather in FL. It’s irritating.

ATLTracy

February 21st, 2011
8:35 am

Week 1 down, 5 to go. Everytime I read DOB’s blog I feel like I’m there. Well written – thanks for sacrificing your sleep schedule and drinking of all that coffee so I can feel like I’m right there at Spring training.

Lochness

February 21st, 2011
8:39 am

Thanks for the post. I’m pretty excited about the upcoming season with so many open questions to be answered at just about every position and a new skipper at the helm. If everything worked out perfectly, which it never does, the Braves could have a scary-good team. Imagine a scenario where Nate shakes last year’s funk and Jordan Schafer has a strong spring. All of a sudden, the outfield looks pretty solid. If Freddie has a solid year and Chipper stays healthy, any opposing pitcher will be wanting to call in sick after looking at the Braves batting order. And the pitching staff, which you have already covered so well, is nothing to scoff at. If Minor/Beachy has a good year and JJ shows what he can do, Philly will have some company when it comes to the front five. And we have Teheran waiting in the wings. Yes, I’m pretty pumped about the possibilities this year…and I’ve only had one cup o’ Joe.

gotigers72

February 21st, 2011
8:47 am

“But we do it for the peeps. The craft. And baseball.” The peeps appreciate it immensely DOB. Especially when it’s as well done as you do it. It’s obvious how much effort/time you put into it by the results of the product.

I personally hope Rodrigo doesn’t make it. It would be another in the many rag arms that the Braves have given chances to in the past. Very inconsistent, ERAs of 5+ several years. Stick a fork in him, he’s done. Give the young guys a chance. We aren’t that far behind the Phils, starters 1-4, but Blanton would be much better than Lopez which would put us behind from the get-go.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ajc sports editor, Philip Tate, Atlanta Braves Buzz, vànéssa, Michael and others. Michael said: Things learned while consuming much coffee in Week 1 http://tinyurl.com/4q4rvrd [...]

Ron Crowner

February 21st, 2011
8:57 am

Damn Awesome Post! bat Throughly Enjoyed Reading Entire Article – No Joke! Wish #oriole Posters Did This Well Witheir Posts And Articles – Somebody Give This Guy “Front & Center” Print/#Blog/ #Kudos #mlb

Tomas

February 21st, 2011
8:59 am

Schafer has hit well…..What about Mclouth?

TennesseePaul

February 21st, 2011
9:00 am

Thanks for the work D.O’B.

Did you get the new Radiohead? I downloaded it yesterday; should get the physical album in May. It’s pretty short. Still letting it soak in, but so far I don’t have it as high as Insomniac or OK Computer.

David O'Brien

February 21st, 2011
9:01 am

Good blog but please stop complainIng about having to “work” by watching baseball in perfect weather in FL. It’s irritating. — David

Who’s complaining? Not me.

Your comment is irritating, however.

David O'Brien

February 21st, 2011
9:03 am

Thanks for all the kind words, folks. I appreciate it.

Otis Nixon's catch

February 21st, 2011
9:06 am

DOB, Your prose has me salivating for the first pitch on March 31st. Can’t wait! Prediction – Schafer will surprise everyone and be a starter and lead off batter on opening day.

TampaBrave

February 21st, 2011
9:07 am

The two big Ifs:

1. If Jordan can play as good or better than he did before his injury we could eliminate our worry at CF.
2. If Joe Mather can come back and play like he did before his injury we could have a really good power hitting right handed fourth outfielder, not to mention insurance incase Chipper gets hurt and Prado moves back to 3b.

Hope these two ifs become realities.

DanD

February 21st, 2011
9:11 am

Thanks for all you do – Go BRAVES!!!
The Man in the Long Black Coat ? Have you heard the Joan Osborne version? Very good

blazerpunter

February 21st, 2011
9:17 am

DOB, I totally agree with you about Mather. I saw one of the first pictures you posted whenever he was in the batting cage taking a swing and thought he looked like Jeff Francoeur in his set up at the plate and in his long lean body frame. Each picture afterwards that has been posted has not changed my mind. Lets just hope he has much better plate discipline than his look-alike.

GO BRAVES!!

BlueThrash

February 21st, 2011
9:17 am

Can you post a training/workout schedule? In Orlando this week and would love to pop over to the ballpark to watch, just not sure of the best times.

DWW

February 21st, 2011
9:19 am

Jordan should be with the big club even if he doesn’t win the starting job. With Chipper questionable or at the very least needing a couple of days a week off, Prado will be spending a lot of time at third. This presents the opportunity to move McLouth to left and Schafer to center. If he was to just sit the bench and be a backup, I agree he should go to Gwinnett, but it seems likely that he could start a few games a week in different situations. This is all assuming he has a good spring.

David O'Brien

February 21st, 2011
9:19 am

BlueTrash: Schedule is simple: Braves are on field at about 10 a.m., and work out till 12:30 or 1 p.m. They use the main field and the backfields.

David O'Brien

February 21st, 2011
9:19 am

DanD: Indeed, Joan Osborne’s version of the song is outstanding, too.

Realist

February 21st, 2011
9:23 am

Outstanding, DOB.

Good luck to Schafer, and McLouth as well.

Looks like Teheran doesn’t need it . . .

DAP

February 21st, 2011
9:25 am

thanks for the bloggage, DOB. really good stuff.

David

February 21st, 2011
9:27 am

Who’s complaining? Not me.

Your comment is irritating, however.

Truth hurts.

It’s never easy going from a 2-4 a.m. bedtime/8-9 a.m. wakeup for 10-1/2 months of the year to a schedule of 6:30 a.m. wakeup/midnight pass-out-on-rented-condo-sofa-or-dining-table-chair-while-blogging. But we do it for the peeps. The craft. And baseball.

DAP

February 21st, 2011
9:27 am

as far as the 5th rotation spot goes, i would think that minor has a leg up in reality. lefty, first round draft pick, has ML experience, ect. while lopez is a good insurance policy for the rotation, i dont think he has much of a chance to make the rotation, unless someone comes up lame.

David O'Brien

February 21st, 2011
9:33 am

DAP, I agree with your assessment of the 5th-starter competition. Fredi might have been throwing Lopez a bone with the comment. Or maybe not. We’ll see.

Barry

February 21st, 2011
9:40 am

Thanks for the great blog DOB. I love your in depth coverage. How is it going with Larry Parrish? Is there any difference from Terry Pendleton in the approach? And how is it going with TP in his new role? I wonder how he is making the adjustment. Is Prado spending any time at 3B, or is he spending all his time learning the outfield? Thanks again for your enjoyable and informative blogs.

DMAN

February 21st, 2011
9:41 am

Great job as allways Dave,I just wish you could cover the Dawgs and Falcons,man that would be great!

space monkey

February 21st, 2011
9:41 am

That first Joan Osborne album was excellent. Still some cuts in heavy rotation in my life. Too bad the follow-up CD was so dull. That was a great disappointment.

Horner's Corner

February 21st, 2011
9:43 am

DOB- You’re out of control and I can’t keep up. Everytime I visit the AJC site you’ve got 3 new pieces available. Thanks.

Jeff R

February 21st, 2011
9:43 am

David… Hey, David, guess what? You’re an idiot. Are you that idiotic making baseball comments?

bill

February 21st, 2011
9:43 am

Schafer, Heywood and Freeman on opening day. Not since francouer and our all star catcher has the potential been this high. Great blog. Come on season

doc

February 21st, 2011
9:46 am

davey boy it is always a pleasure to welcome back spring reading about baseball DOB style. keep it up.

btw remind schaeffer that fans memories have a very short half life if you do well, heh heh, one way or the other.

as far as wrist injuries and how crippling they are, us old timers just have to remember how debilitating it was to the organization to lose bob horner who with murph would have been HOF material to both if he had stayed healthy. it would have put murph over the fence literally to have been in the same line up for 10 more years. hope the kid makes it back and he doesnt have a vial around him anywhere.

Braves for life

February 21st, 2011
9:46 am

If Schafer has a good spring I expect to see him in the starting roll as Center. Nate is not as good as Jordan. He broke his wrist and thats a fact. Hes healthy now and if he earns the roll it should be given back to him. This team should not suffer because of a injury that is now healed.

Chipper will not make it out of spring training. Bet on it.

GTSteve

February 21st, 2011
9:50 am

“Hey, no one said you had to go to Disney World, but you gotta pay that admission to the Worldwide Leader sports complex to see the Bravos work out.”

Hence the name “Dark Star”

Versiroth

February 21st, 2011
9:55 am

“Nate is not as good as Jordan. ”

Schafer’s best MINOR league season doesn’t touch Nate’s best MAJOR league season. Seriously people…. when did Schafer become this outstounding player? He had ONE good year in the minors where as McLouth has had several good years in the majors.

I hope Schafer does well and I hope that he’s in center with McLouth in left if Chip misses time, but McLouth is out best bet this year in center.

Horner's Corner

February 21st, 2011
9:55 am

There is no need to have Schafer on the roster if Chipper is ready to go opening day. Probably more than anything, JS needs consistent playing time which he won’t get as a 4th outfielder. If Schafer has a great spring he can report to Gwinnett knowing that he’ll be in Atlanta sooner than later.

Lemke's Knuckler

February 21st, 2011
9:55 am

The battle between Nate and Schafer is what I’m looking forward to the most. Here’s what I’m hoping for…

Here’s what Fredi should do. Put Everyday Venters on the mound and give Nate and Jordan 30 swings each. Whoever makes solid contact the most wins the job.

And DOB, just for the record you telepathically stole that “Everday” nickname from me. I will have my wife swear on a Bible that I started calling him that at least a week before I ever read it on this blog. I’ll keep a log of everytime you use it for my eventual idea theft lawsuit. :)

Lemke's Knuckler

February 21st, 2011
9:59 am

“when did Schafer become this outstounding player?”

In the spring and first week of the regular season in 2009. If not for that wrist injury, who knows what this kid might have accomplished by now. I don’t think anyone is saying Schafer is a better proven player by any means. But you can’t argue the kid’s skill set far exceeds anything Nate could provide.

DAP

February 21st, 2011
10:00 am

DWW Jordan should be with the big club even if he doesn’t win the starting job.

no! jordan missed alot of time recently, a needs to be getting regular playing time (a.k.a. everyday), not sitting on the bench.

nemov

February 21st, 2011
10:00 am

People need to cut Schafer some slack. He might never be a great player, but injuries happen. A lot of great players with great promise have had injuries that wrecked their careers. Hopefully, he’s able to battle back.

Jay212033

February 21st, 2011
10:02 am

Great Blog DOB! Good to hear about Teheran and how he’s progressing. I’m really pulling for Schafer the kid has been through a lot and is now finally 100% healthy. How’s Delgado looking so far?

Jeff R

February 21st, 2011
10:05 am

McLouth has a big payout this year – by Braves’ standards. McLouth will be given every opportunity to be the everyday center-fielder. Now, if he tanks, that’s another story.

I’m not sure it benefits Schafer to be the fourth outfielder. I think the kid needs regular playing time. Rather see him burn up the IL than play part time in Atlanta. And who can say? Schafer may be up in a starting role before the season ends.

Mitchell

February 21st, 2011
10:07 am

I mentioned to him that he’s become somewhat polarizing among Braves fans. Many still hope and/or believe he’ll become the standout he was projected to be before the hand fracture, but others have tired of hearing about his health and his struggles and his comeback bid. There’s a segment of fans that wish the Braves hadn’t kept him.

Whoa, speak for yourself DOB.

You go Jordan Schafer! Yay!

Horner's Corner

February 21st, 2011
10:09 am

Versiroth-

Couldn’t agree more. JS has gotten almost as much mileage from his amazing `09 spring training as Frenchy did from his 6 week run in 2005. DOB says that JS is a divisive issue among Braves fans, but it’s not because folks don’t want him to succeed. He just hasn’t played much baseball over the past 3 years.

ncscoots

February 21st, 2011
10:12 am

while 6-foot-4 rookie first baseman Freeman added 15 pounds and checked in at 242

Some posters here have mentioned that the next step in Freeman’s physical maturity has been somewhat disregarded by many on the forum, when speaking of his potential power numbers.

Versiroth

February 21st, 2011
10:12 am

“But you can’t argue the kid’s skill set far exceeds anything Nate could provide.”

Oh yeah, that is easily argued. Take a look at their careers year by year. a Fast start in the first couple weeks of Schafers career does not equate to what Nate’s been able to do over several years.

McLouth has had back to back 20/20 seasons in the majors (well, the second year was 20/19) where as Schafer has never hit over 15 home runs in the minors…. He also was caught 15 times stealing the only year he was able to steal 20+.

The best we can hope for is that McLouth gets back to what he has already proven he can do. There’s a lot higher chance that this will happen over Schafer becoming a MUCH better player in the majors than he ever was in the minors.

AGTFan53

February 21st, 2011
10:12 am

Dave, I appreciate all your hard work and enjoyed the blog today. But the picture is really rubbing it in. Snow here has jsut melted out of my yard and snow is projected for tonight. Could you at leat pretend the weather sux?

McCann Fan

February 21st, 2011
10:13 am

DOB,

Man, you are really bringing it this spring. I know we are excited every spring, but I’m starting to feel really good about the team. Still worried about Chipper but with or without him we may be in for a special season.

Been listening to Go-Go Boots for a few days now and it’s really growing on me. Quite subdued, but a great example of the storytelling ability of DBT. Really loving about half the songs and the whole thing is good.

Have you seen the documentary DVD yet? I got it but promised some fellow fans I wouldn’t watch until we could all watch together over a few cold ones

Jeff R

February 21st, 2011
10:13 am

“DOB says that JS is a divisive issue among Braves fans, but it’s not because folks don’t want him to succeed. He just hasn’t played much baseball over the past 3 years.” Horner’s Corner

Correct. Barring McLouth stumbling this spring, or Chipper on the DL, Schafer needs time to play… demonstrate that he has the bona fides to be a major leaguer. Time at Gwinnett could be a very good thing to Schafer’s future.

Kat

February 21st, 2011
10:16 am

Great morning blog, David and interesting tidbit on the 5th starter spot.

Lew

February 21st, 2011
10:18 am

Yeah, Nate was great in Pittsburgh. Maybe he could go back to Pittsburgh and be great again.

Fredi's Fu Manchu

February 21st, 2011
10:21 am

Doubt Chipper’s ready on opening day. It’s been a conga line out at 3b in recent days. Seen Mather, Brooks, Prado, Diory, Hinske, and two guys I’ve never seen before taking ground balls over there. It’s apparent Fredi is preparing for the inevitable Chipper DL time – and I’m guessing to start the season too. What’s Schafer’s option situation? One left probably? A good spring and he starts in CF. Nate gets easier to trade throughout season as he is owed less and less.

Roman Gal

February 21st, 2011
10:23 am

Whoa, baby.

Definitely forgot the polarizing effect Schafer could have on this blog. Let’s just hope that Schafer/McLouth isn’t the new Prado/K. Johnson hate fest.

Herschel Talker

February 21st, 2011
10:24 am

“This isn’t Rodrigo Lopez. It’s Joe Mather. I just used the photo because I wanted to know if you’re as startled as I was by how much he resembles Jeff Francoeur.”

DOB – let’s just hope that the resemblance stops at physical appearance and that there is no resemblance in terms of attitude or in terms of swinging at balls 5 feet outside the strike zone.

ncscoots

February 21st, 2011
10:25 am

a Fast start in the first couple weeks of Schafers career does not equate to what Nate’s been able to do over several years.

While I actually agree with your premise, I don’t particularly agree with the stats you use to justify it, LOL. The year Schafer hit 15, he played most of the season in MB, a park notoriously unfriendly to hitters. Coming off the suspension, he hit 10 in about 300 ABs at Pearl, and I imagine that HR rate is about in the ballpark with Nate’s.

In any event, I think it gets a little iffy using developmental league numbers as a comparison against major league numbers. The contexts are just too diffferent.

I know that’s the long way around of saying I agree with you, but there you go. :-)

Nova Scotia Steve

February 21st, 2011
10:26 am

Freeman and Heyward look like their walking into the ring to challenge for the tag-team belts.

Scott Hall and Kevin Nash NWO style.

Versiroth

February 21st, 2011
10:26 am

“Yeah, Nate was great in Pittsburgh. Maybe he could go back to Pittsburgh and be great again.”

Or…you know.. with him being the Breaves likely starting centerfielder… maybe we could hope that he’s that great in Atlanta this year?

Just saying…

Fredi's Fu Manchu

February 21st, 2011
10:26 am

Why not KK mentioned for 5th spot?

Fredi's Fu Manchu

February 21st, 2011
10:28 am

Roman Gal – Sure both guys will be happy if in 2 yrs they are in Prado and KJ’s situation.

Roman Gal

February 21st, 2011
10:29 am

Why not KK mentioned for 5th spot?

[awkward silence]

Lew

February 21st, 2011
10:30 am

I’m hopeful but not holding my breath and turning Brave’s blue. Not as if he’s done much of anything positive since coming to the Braves

He won’t be in Atlanta next year, but Schafer will be. I’d like to see Jordan get another shot this year.

Of course, though I rarely like to say it and tempt fate – he can’t get much worse than last year.

Roman Gal

February 21st, 2011
10:31 am

Sure both guys will be happy if in 2 yrs they are in Prado and KJ’s situation.

Perhaps, but those two had a way of turning even the most amiable Braves fans against each other.

Roman Gal

February 21st, 2011
10:32 am

The Kelly-Prado rivalry puts the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry to shame.

DWW

February 21st, 2011
10:33 am

IMO with the chipper factor its not going to be a normal 4th outfielder situation. Whoever the 4th outfielder is will see significant playing time. I would rather that be Schafer if he is going well than Mather. I do agree that Schafer needs to be playing and not sitting, but with prado to third and a day off every few for Nate, I think Jordan could get the playing time he needs.

Nova Scotia Steve

February 21st, 2011
10:34 am

Roman Gal – That 10:29 comments was priceless. :D

Lew

February 21st, 2011
10:34 am

Herschel – I don’t know – If Mather came in and put up the same numbers that Frenchy did in his first full season, I’m betting the Braves win the Division at the very least. After that? Who cares.

P-Town Brave ©

February 21st, 2011
10:35 am

Well…hmm…

I do believe Kelly is playing on a sh*t team in AZ while Martin is playing in ATL still…

And I do believe the Martin made the All-Star team last year…

Martin – 2

Kelly – 0

P-Town Brave ©

February 21st, 2011
10:36 am

Fredi’s Fu Manchu-

Hmm…did you hear those crickets too?

Versiroth

February 21st, 2011
10:36 am

ncscoots , trust me when I say, I really hope Schafer surprises me and ends up being a yearly 20/20 guy who hits 300 with a 375 OBP. I REALLY do. I just don’t see why he’s being looked at as the answer in center with his career path and yet McLouth is downed constantly for having one bad year. And my only point with the comparison is that McLouth has been able to be a better player at the highest level than Schafer has been able to in the minors. If we should pick one basket to place our eggs (this year at least), it’s weird to me that more people would rather go with the guy who has never done much of anything than go with the guy who has proven that he can be an allstar type player at the major league level.

McLouth even did the mature thing and went to AAA last year to try to figure things out. It’s not like he pulled a Francouer and whined. And yet people act as thought he’s the scum of the earth.

Roman Gal

February 21st, 2011
10:37 am

Thanks, Super Nova.

I’m in the best shape of my life. Staying hunched over the computer is practically an artform, but let me tell you…I’ve got it down to a tee. If anyone needs some pointers on how to redecorate your mom’s basement, I’ve got your back!

P-Town Brave ©

February 21st, 2011
10:37 am

Lew-

Maybe I’m the only one, but I feel like best case scenario, Braves get a good enough year out of Mather to resign him and then Schafer has a bounce back year and that 2-3 years down the road Mather turns into Jayson Werth lite and we have Prado at 3b and Mather in LF Schafer in CF…

Can dream right?

P-Town Brave ©

February 21st, 2011
10:39 am

Oh, and the reason I say 2-3 years is because I figure that if Chipper has a good year, he’ll stick around to try and make it to 3,000 hits…

P-Town Brave ©

February 21st, 2011
10:39 am

And it’ll take 3 years for him to reach that with him sitting I believe 510 or so short…

Roman Gal

February 21st, 2011
10:40 am

Can dream right?

Been smokin’ the ol’ Longbottom Leaf again, I see.

P-Town Brave ©

February 21st, 2011
10:40 am

Roman Gal-

Wait…best shape of your life from redecorating?

ncscoots

February 21st, 2011
10:41 am

Versiroth, you must be a smart guy; we agree in every particular on this one topic. :-)

richbrave

February 21st, 2011
10:41 am

Go SCHAFER. We need someone behind McLOUTH to keep the heat on him. I hope JORDAN beats out YOUNG for the job because I think he’s got the best talent of the two.

Still, I like MATT because McLOUTH and SCHAFER fared so poorly last season, and because the hitting light-bulb [.319 BA] obviously came on for him in GWINNETT last season. If he stays in AAA this season, and isn’t discouraged by not making the ML roster, his hitting should solidify to the point where we can trade him for some serious lower minors young talent. Provided of course that McLOUTH and SCHAFER both prove out this season. If either falter, he’s solid insurance one level down.

Roman Gal

February 21st, 2011
10:42 am

Nah, I’ve been really working on my hand-eye coordination by beasting at Super Mario and Donkey Kong.

It takes a lot of thought and effort, really.

Nova Scotia Steve

February 21st, 2011
10:43 am

I certainly liked to hear Schafer is hit the ball on the screws so far this Spring. I honestly thought the guy was done especially after sending him to AA last season for a stint.

It would be huge for him to come back and contribute – but he’s going to have to have a hell of a Spring in order for him not to start the season in AAA – wouldn’t you think?

Joe Tess Fish House

February 21st, 2011
10:43 am

Lets reveew. The Braves hire a loosing maneger with a loosing record.

Season over B 4 it starts.

Roman Gal

February 21st, 2011
10:43 am

Baseball season? It’s on like Donkey Kong!

admiral

February 21st, 2011
10:44 am

DOB, how are things with going with/for Larry Parrish?

ncscoots

February 21st, 2011
10:45 am

we have Prado at 3b [in the future]

Depends on whether it’s easier at the time to find a banger who plays 3B or a banger who plays LF. Prado’s bat doesn’t really profile at a corner.

Horner's Corner

February 21st, 2011
10:45 am

“Yeah, Nate was great in Pittsburgh. Maybe he could go back to Pittsburgh and be great again.”
- This is almost like saying yeah, Jordan was great in Myrtle Beach. Maybe he could go back to Myrtle Beach and be great again. The difference being Pittsburgh is at the ML level and Myrtle Beach is at the high A minor league level.

As far as KJ-Prado, never understood why the Braves organization didn’t try running Kelly back out to LF.

Trey

February 21st, 2011
10:46 am

Wow, great article, DOB. It really sounds like Schafer has gotten it together. I know I was a fan who has written him off since he has been injured. He looks like he has gotten it together after all.

richbrave

February 21st, 2011
10:47 am

Fredi’s Fu Manchu

February 21st, 2011
10:26 am
Why not KK mentioned for 5th spot?

Dude……..seriously! He doesn’t have the control to hit his spots anymore, and the book is out on him. KK just never acclimated well to the ML strike zone. Strikes in NIPPON are not strikes in the US of A. Hitters just wait for him to come into the zone, or take a walk. At least, that’s the way it seems to me.

collegeballfan

February 21st, 2011
10:48 am

Jordan Schafer will be trying out for a manager that has no firsthand knowledge about his skills. He has as good a shot at CF as anybody.

The test comes when he hits a slump. That seems to be one separator.

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