McCann: emergent leader; Jason & Freddie on S.I. cover

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – So I’m talking to Brian McCann the other day, looking to get his opinion about the premise that this the most balanced Braves team in years, when the affable All-Star made a point I hadn’t really thought about.

“I feel like since the All-Star break of ’09, if you look during that time, we’ve got nothing but better and better and better,” McCann said. “And we kept a lot of guys here and added Dan Uggla. We filled a need that we had here for a while.”

Manager Fredi Gonzalez has taken the reins of a team that has the fifth-best record in baseball since the 2009 All-Star break, including the second-best mark in the NL. (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

Manager Fredi Gonzalez has taken the reins of a team that has the fifth-best record in baseball since the 2009 All-Star break, including the second-best mark in the NL. (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

All-Star break ‘09? I decided to check that out. And guess what?

McCann was spot on.

Since the 2009 All-Star break, the Braves have 134-102 record that is second-best in the National League and fourth-best  among 30 major league teams. Problem is, the second-best record in that period belongs to NL East rival Philadelphia (142-96).

The only team with a better record than Philly in that span is the Yankees (147-89), whose $206 million payroll last season was nearly 2-1/2 times the Braves’ $85 million.

Third-best record since the ’09 break belongs to the Twins (136-100), whose payroll topped $100 million in 2010 in their new stadium, and is headed toward $115 mill.

Then it’s the Braves at No. 4, just ahead of  Tampa Bay (132-103). Only the Rays have a comparable record with a payroll  smaller than Atlanta’s — and entirely dwarfed by payrolls of AL East rivals Boston and New York.

The Phillies’ payroll this year has climbed to about $165 million, while the Braves are at roughly $89 million. Even after Philly added another ace in Cliff Lee, the Braves believe they can push them in the East (last season the Braves led the division for three months).

“There’s some really good things about this team,” McCann said. “If you look at us, a lot of guys are coming into their prime. A lot of guys are getting another year under their belts. Jurrjens is older, Hanson’s older, I’m older, Heyward’s in his second year….”

How strange does this look? Ex-Brave Andruw Jones in a Yankees uniform this spring.

How strange does this look? Ex-Braves CF Andruw Jones in a Yankees uniform this spring.

Two big question marks for the Braves are in center, where Nate McLouth is coming off a horrid season, and at third, where Chipper Jones is coming back from major knee surgery and turns 39 in April.

McCann is nothing if not positive, and he thinks the Braves will get plenty of production from both of those guys.

“McLouth, the way he’s swinging the bat, he looks great,” McCann said. “That’s huge. Two years ago [with Pittsburgh], in my view he was one of the better players in baseball. I think he’s working to get back to how he was in 2008. The way he looks right now is great.”

As for the aging future Hall of Famer at third base, McCann said: “He’s got a little chip on his shoulder, letting everybody know that he can still do it. We all have total confidence in him. There’s not a prettier swing in the game when he’s got it going.”

McCann hopes that with Martin Prado able to move from left field to third base tot fill in for Chipper, and players such as Eric Hinske and Joe Mather capable of filling in at left field when Prado’s got Chipper’s back, the Braves’ senior member can stay healthier.

“I think we can give him a rest,” McCann said. “He doesn’t have to play 150-155 games. We have Prado, guys who can fill in. You can almost treat [Chipper] like a catcher – we need him fresh for as many games as we can. Obviously with him in the lineup we’re a better team.”

♣ SI cover boys: The last time a young Brave appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, it was rookie Jeff Francoeur with the headline “The Natural” stripped across him. Oy. That didn’t work out so well long-term.

However, you won’t find anyone in the clubhouse concerned in the least about a similar fate befalling Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman, who are featured in a nationwide cover on this week’s issue of Sports Illustrated, which arrives today.l10zmf[1]

The 21-year-old buds, who were roommates for several years through last season, were photographed posed, beaming on the cover with a “The Boys of Spring” title, and this written below them: “Only 21, Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward are the cornerstones of Atlanta’s Brave new world.”

Aside from the clichéd Brave new world reference, it’s a great cover. The story inside focuses on the Braves’ renewed emphasis on scouting and player development and how they’ve rebuilt their farm system.

♣ More payroll & performance numbers: Atlanta’s payroll will put them about even with Baltimore, Houston and Colorado. Six NL teams have payrolls of $104 million of above, topped by the East’s Phillies and Mets ($138.3 million), the Cubs ($133 million) and World Series champion Giants.($122 million). St. Louis is at about $109 million.

Since the ‘09 break, the Braves’ 134-102 record is better than 25 teams, including the $160 million Red Sox (130-106), Giants (131-105), Cardinals (128-105), Rockies (128-108), Padres (129-107), Angels (128-110), Reds (127-110) and White Sox (122-114).

Emergent leader: Fredi Gonzalez had seen it from afar and heard it from some Braves coaches, but now he’s seeing up close what a leader McCann has become.

If Braves players elected a captain, or if the team’s coaches and front office elected one, I’ve got a feeling it would be the same player: Brian McCann.

Slimmted down Brian McCann (right) and Jason Heyward are keys to the Braves' present and future. (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

Slimmted down Brian McCann (right) and Jason Heyward are keys to the Braves' present and future. (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

“I was here when McCann was a puppy,” said Gonzalez, Braves third-base coach in McCann’s first two seasons (‘05-‘06). “He has grown into that [leadership] role, little by little. And you know what? It’s going to be his team here soon or later.

“Chipper’s got two more years on his contract; that’ll put Chipper at 40, 41. And McCann’s going to be here for a while. It’s going to be his team, and you’re starting to see that. It’s been a natural progression from when he was a puppy here, to now he’s become a voice of the team.

“I think he’s more of a leader by example than a top-step, rah-rah type of guy. But I’ve seen a big difference.”

During the first week of workouts, Gonzalez noticed subtle things that reinforced what he’d heard about McCann from Braves coaches and Bobby Cox while Gonzalez was managing the Marlins for 3-1/2 seasons.

“I’ve seen him talk to pitchers during BP. I’ve seen him take over some drills. I’ve seen him be the lead guy when catchers go from one field to the other, he’s the first guy and the others follow him,” Gonzalez said.

Speaking of McCann, he can keep the full beard if he wants. Fredi Gonzalez doesn’t have a policy regarding facial hair. Long as it’s not a mess, guys can wear it how they want.

Roger [McDowell] has told me you give him a game plan and he’ll follow it, and when he sees that game plan is not working or the pitcher can’t do what’s in the plan, [McCann will] change it and go someplace else. To make those type of adjustments, or not be afraid to make those adjustments, that’s experience. That’s coming into your own.”

From managing against him, Gonzalez saw the improvement in McCann’s defense last season, particularly throwing out base runners.

“He gotten good,” Gonzalez said. “What’s it, five All-Stars and four Silver Sluggers? I kidded him, you’ve got all these All-Stars and Silver Sluggers, how ‘bout a Gold Glove? And he’s capable of doing that. He’s got that ability to do that.”

Five All-Star selections and four Silver Sluggers in four full seasons in the majors, and McCann just turned 27 a few days ago. Oh, and the 2010 All-Star MVP award after his bases-loaded double snapped the AL’s epic All-Star winning streak.

♣ McLouth’s road back to  respectable: Braves players and team officials can only hope that McLouth’s early work in batting practice is a harbinger of what’s to come, because they desperately need the center fielder to bounce back from his career-worst 2010 season (.190, six homers, .298 OBP … oh, you know the numbers. I can’t even type them anymore).

The Braves need McLouth (right) and/or Schafer (left) to produce in center field. It's McLouth's job to lose. (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

The Braves need McLouth (right) and/or Schafer (left) to produce in center field. It's McLouth's job to lose. (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

They need McLouth to rebound and be something closer to his 2008 form with Pittsburgh than last year’s wretchedness (there is a whole lot of ground between those numbers last season and McLouth’s career-best 2008, when he had an NL-best 46 doubles, 26 homers, 94 RBIs, a .356 OBP … and so on, and All-Star, etc.)

The Braves like what they’ve seen from him so far. He reported to camp in excellent shape, and has made consistent contact in batting practice and early work in the batting cages. I’m seeing the same things others are seeing from him in workouts – he’s hitting balls hard, he’s running hard, looks sturdy and strong and fast again.

But it’s still February, folks. And unless McLouth plays well in Grapefruit League games, the Braves had best hope that Jordan Schafer’s impressive start to camp continues and he’s ready to pick up where he left off when he broke his hand a week into the 2009 season.

Best-case scenario for the Braves is McLouth and Schafer both play well this spring, and the Braves’ outfield depth goes from its current state of potential weakness to team strength, quickly.

“I’m getting the confidence back and everything,” said McLouth, whose outlook took a beating in 2010, “I’ve felt really good so far,” he said. “I’ve gotten a lot of good work in with Larry [Parrish, hitting coach], and I’m just swinging the bat confidently. I know it’s only BP, but that’s a start.”

A high percentage of his swings in batting practice have produced line drives.

“That’s the way it feels,” he said. “I’ve been getting good cage work in the morning, and translating it to BP. I’ve felt good hitting live off the pitchers, too.”

McLouth has been working with Parrish and special assistant Lee Elia, both former major league managers, as well as Triple-A hitting coach Jamie Dismuke.

“They’re old-school hitting guys, and I love working with them,” he said.

Whatever it takes. The Braves just need McLouth to become good again.

And if he doesn’t, the Braves damn sure better hope the cocky kid that McLouth replaced, Schafer, is as ready as he exudes to step in and reclaim his spot when the time comes.

♣ OK, let’s close this with one from the great Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, and here’s a video of them doing it live. And, no, the song’s not about Ric Flair.

badseedsl

“NATURE BOY” by Nick Cave

I was just a boy when I sat down
To watch the news on TV
I saw some ordinary slaughter
I saw some routine atrocity
My father said, don’t look away
You got to be strong, you got to be bold, now
He said, that in the end it is beauty
That is going to save the world, now

And she moves among the sparrows
And she floats upon the breeze
She moves among the flowers
She moves something deep inside of me

I was walking around the flower show like a leper
Coming down with some kind of nervous hysteria
When I saw you standing there, green eyes, black hair
Up against the pink and purple wisteria
You said, hey, nature boy, are you looking at me
With some unrighteous intention?
My knees went weak,
I couldn’t speak, I was having thoughts
That were not in my best interests to mention

And she moves among the flowers
And she floats upon the smoke
She moves among the shadows
She moves me with just one little look

You took me back to your place
And dressed me up in a deep sea diver’s suit
You played the patriot, you raised the flag
And I stood at full salute
Later on we smoked a pipe that struck me dumb
And made it impossible to speak
As you closed in, in slow motion,
Quoting Sappho, in the original Greek

She moves among the shadows
She floats upon the breeze
She moves among the candles
And we moved through the days
and through the years

Years passed by, we were walking by the sea
Half delirious
You smiled at me and said, Babe
I think this thing is getting kind of serious
You pointed at something and said
Have you ever seen such a beautiful thing?
It was then that I broke down
It was then that you lifted me up again

She moves among the sparrows
And she walks across the sea
She moves among the flowers
And she moves something deep inside of me

She moves among the sparrows
And she floats upon the breeze
She moves among the flowers
And she moves right up close to me

1,477 comments Add your comment

Marshall

February 23rd, 2011
5:00 am

DOB — go to bed! Much appreciated. Best beat writer in the country! :D

Marshall

February 23rd, 2011
5:05 am

While (if) you’re still up and wish to oblige…

Just got into The Black Keys, and love the Brothers album. Which of their other 5 albums do you suggest I dig next?

N Nine

February 23rd, 2011
5:14 am

5am blog!?! You rock it DOB, you certainly deserve another strong cup of coffee this early morning.

McCann is the man in every way possible. A lock for another Allstar visit, eh?

T-Bone

February 23rd, 2011
5:28 am

Another excellent blog, Dave, MUCH appreciated!

SteelCav

February 23rd, 2011
6:00 am

Love the blog DOB, but c’mon…it’s Ric Flair, not Rick. :) WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

braves4ever

February 23rd, 2011
6:02 am

DOB,
Well to get up this morn and have such a good blog feels like a kid on Christmas morn. I’m ready to play some baseball!
thanks.

Home of the Braves

February 23rd, 2011
6:21 am

Just so you know, before someone else comes on here and says it in a much more bothersome way, if you have the records correct (134-102 vs. 132-103), the Braves have had a better record than the Rays in that time span.

Overall this post was great though. I really liked the “since ‘09 break” part.

Home of the Braves

February 23rd, 2011
6:23 am

Hmm. That post was supposed to end with “Thanks for the good work as always.” Don’t really know where that sentence went. Oh well. Thanks for the good work as always…

nolie

February 23rd, 2011
6:26 am

Hard at work already huh David? Thank you kind sir! Good wordage.

TommyP

February 23rd, 2011
6:28 am

Damn, DOB. The early spring pace you’ve set with these blogs is incredible. You need to get some sleep ’cause I know you still are up late. Coffee can only take you so far….

So who has looked not so good so far? (half serious but you always hear about this guy looking great, etc.)

nolie

February 23rd, 2011
6:38 am

gonna try for some sleep again. see y’all.

David O'Brien

February 23rd, 2011
6:39 am

Tommy P: Just from watching hitters and pitchers in batting practce (all we have to judge so far) and the condition the guys reported in, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who has not looked good thus far. Seriously, I can’t think of anyone who showed up overweight, or who’s not been throwing strikes or not been hitting the ball.

But the games start soon (Saturday), so I’m sure there will be some to fit that bill after that.

David O'Brien

February 23rd, 2011
6:46 am

From New York Baseball Digest:

——————————————————————————–
By Frank Russo ~ February 23rd, 2011. Filed under: New York Yankees, Rumor Mill.

In speaking to my Tampa sources, Brian Cashman continues to “burn up the phone lines” looking for pitching help. Yes, he did offer Kevin Millwood a minor league deal, but he was thinking bigger as he reached out to Atlanta and inquired about Tim Hudson.

The Braves don’t have interest in dealing Hudson who went 17-9 with a 2.83 ERA last season. As I mentioned before, they are willing to deal Derek Lowe, who is owed $30 million over the next two seasons. He will cost the Yankees a prospect haul that appears to be too expensive at this time.

The Yankees also discussed Hiroki Kuroda with the Dodgers, but nothing came out of those talks as well.

I have continued to be told that if the Yankees don’t acquire a starting pitcher this spring it won’t be because of a lack of effort. Brian Cashman is focused on getting something done. It appears that task won’t be easy.

old man

February 23rd, 2011
6:49 am

I know the esoteric stats are of limited value, but Mr. McCann had the highest WAR of all catchers in MLB last year. Not too shabby.

longtimefan

February 23rd, 2011
6:57 am

Thanks for the good reporting. It’s fun to read about the odds and ends tidbits. I believe it’s going to be a great season!

David O'Brien

February 23rd, 2011
7:04 am

Even if the Braves wanted to trade Hudson (they don’t/won’t), the Ala. native and ex-Auburn star has trade-veto rights as 10/5 player. NYC? Uh, no.

jeffrey d

February 23rd, 2011
7:10 am

Thanks for the new blog, DOB.

Looks like Andruw has been able to keep the weight off….good for him, hope he can rebound.

K Conway

February 23rd, 2011
7:10 am

SI cover is not a good thing! Both those guys may be in the minors by All-Star break!

semiballcoach

February 23rd, 2011
7:16 am

DOB—the Jonny Venters of bloggers

Sid's Slide Always Fun - Go Braves!

February 23rd, 2011
7:20 am

Braves Fans – the end of this video (5:20 mark on) has some great Atlanta sports moments, including Skip Carry’s call of Sid’s slide to win the Pennant. Also has a fun Falcons clip to help get you through the day. We posted a video plea for Atlanta’s leaders to step-up and lead to help find a buyer or investors to “Keep the Thrashers in Atlanta”. The clips demonstrate how sports impact our civic pride – we would appreciate it if you would forward the link below to a few of your sports buddies – they will like it (especially from 5:20 to the end – worth the effort). Hopefully, the Kincade tweets give us some hope. GO BRAVES – and Thrashers:

http://www.keepthethrashers.com/videokeepthrashersATL.html

Feeanch

February 23rd, 2011
7:22 am

DOB YOU ARE A BEAST! 5 am? Who do we write in to get you a raise? Let’s do it bloggers…

Donny Corleone

February 23rd, 2011
7:23 am

Even if Nate still stinks up the joint at least he’s got a cute new hairstyle.

richbrave

February 23rd, 2011
7:27 am

Top of the morning to those of you here.

DAVE you’re going to be a basket case by the end of the season if you keep this pace up.

This is wearing man. I wasn’t the insomniac you are, but I know what endless 14 hour days in a motel room are. Be good to yourself.

Yes, thanx for all the info. I knoiw folks here appreciate it, but another ride up into the Georgia hills might be a good break once you get off the road. Think JEROME man, and peace.

Chris from the Rock

February 23rd, 2011
7:28 am

Time to run to the newsstand and pick up a copy of SI!

jaybob

February 23rd, 2011
7:30 am

A while back there was a rumor about the Yanks being interested in KK. Any word on if his name came up during the conversation? And what’s the latest on KK anyways? Is he even gonna come back to The States?

Danga

February 23rd, 2011
7:34 am

Wren would need to be committed if he traded Hudson.

O.J.

February 23rd, 2011
7:34 am

If the Yanks were willing to sign Kevin Millwood, who had an awful year last year (4-16, 5.10 ERA), surely they would take a chance on Kenshin.

Wren had to of thrown his name in there, and I bet Brian said, well, lets see what else is out there. I am sure he will come calling again for KK.

Danga

February 23rd, 2011
7:37 am

Millwood has at least pitched well in the past, and he wouldn’t cost them anything except cash.

richbrave

February 23rd, 2011
7:39 am

KK to N.Y.? Sweet!

AFSOC 1st Sgt

February 23rd, 2011
7:45 am

DOB! Awesome blog…as usual. Don’t know if you got up early or stayed up late for this one, but I hope you have the bike down there with you. Nothing like a breezy ride to Dark Star (and 5-Hour Energy) to clear your head for today.

CB

February 23rd, 2011
7:49 am

Danga,if you are still interested in getting in a fantasy league,DAP has one going. He put up an e-mail address on the last blog yesterday at around 10:am.

Couch Tater

February 23rd, 2011
7:52 am

Thanks Dave… for driving 90 miles an hour down the track.

Sam Bush – “Bringin’ in that Georgia Mail”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7sXUptv0Jg

@fauxfrankwren

February 23rd, 2011
7:54 am

Great read as always. Tremendous start to day.

I wouldn’t trade Lowe to NY or anyone at this point unless it was for a HAUL. Unless you feel 20 yr. old Teheran can give you 175 IP, and I’m not so sure I would put that on him this soon. Minor & Teheren in the 5 man rotation? To go the distance with the Phillies it’s going to take a consistent staff and I believe Lowe will be a key contributor.

ramblingman

February 23rd, 2011
7:55 am

Great story, full of info. DOB is giving us fans our Recommended Daily Allowance of Braves info. The FDA approves.

Bayou Brave

February 23rd, 2011
7:58 am

It would have to be a helluva a package of prospects for Wren to deal Lowe to the Yankees. That would have a huge impact on our top end pitching depth and trickle down to the 4th and 5th starters. Sure we would have $30M or so to replace him, but who are we going to get at this point of the year?

Bayou Brave

February 23rd, 2011
7:59 am

Oh, and the Yankees don’t give a damn about KK. So don’t hold your breath.

Me

February 23rd, 2011
8:06 am

Good stuff, DOB. Thanks!

O.J.

February 23rd, 2011
8:06 am

Bayou Brave, how do you know the Yanks dont give a damn about KK? What a dumb thing to say, they are looking for starters, desperately, and we have one in KK that is just sitting there. To say the Yanks dont give a damn is just assanine.

Kat

February 23rd, 2011
8:08 am

Great blog for a morning breakfast read.

UGASlobberknocker

February 23rd, 2011
8:09 am

McClouth also won a Gold glove in 2008..but I havent seen anything since he has been here to match that at all. Last year, he seemed reluctant to uncork any long throws..I can think of two or three times it seemed as if he had a play but didnt even attempt a throw. How is his arm?

the truth..............

February 23rd, 2011
8:21 am

When McLouth can throw the ball past second base to hit the cut off I will consider hiim competant defensively. Until then he’s a at best a rag-arm pretender…..he hit it big with a good year at the plate and we got screwed in trading for him

Say all you want about the boys we traded doing nothing, the truth is the salary we are obligated to pay McLouth keeps us from putting an adequate body in CF….

RAG

February 23rd, 2011
8:35 am

DOB, love your work in keeping us informed during early spring training.
Can’t wait to get there on Mar 8. Maybe I’ll see you at the BBQ with the Braves on Saturday after the Met’s game.

David O'Brien

February 23rd, 2011
8:45 am

If the Yanks were willing to sign Kevin Millwood, who had an awful year last year (4-16, 5.10 ERA), surely they would take a chance on Kenshin. — O.J.

Yanks only offered minor league contract, which means non-guaranteed, which is why he hasn’t signed yet. If Yanks offered major league deal, Millwood would be signed.

With Kawakami, they’d be on the hook for whatever portion of the $6.7 mill they’d be willing to pay. Braves have been trying to get more than $2 mill of it picked up, probably closer to $3 mill. That’s quite a bit different than a minor league contract.

vermont 39

February 23rd, 2011
8:58 am

Quick burn the SI cover…Clint Hurdle, Frenchy…just the first 2 that come to mind!!!!

TennesseePaul

February 23rd, 2011
8:59 am

Thanks for the work David. I really appreciate all the reports. I am wondering why this caveat “But it’s still February, folks” wasn’t tacked on to Schafer though… : )

Yes, he did offer Kevin Millwood a minor league deal, but he was thinking bigger as he reached out to Atlanta and inquired about Tim Hudson.

Poz posted a few weeks ago that the Yanks would get Hudson or some pitcher like that. I’m glad to see my doubts were correct. The Yanks may like to have Hudson, but they won’t get him. They don’t get everyone they want. It makes no sense to trade him. Kawakami , of course. Lowe, I could see that. But Hudson. Not a chance.

Deployed Braves Fan

February 23rd, 2011
9:01 am

DOB, great read like always. I really appreciate it. I can’t wait for the games to start and I know the blog will keep me up to date of who is doing what. I really cant wait to get home the end of May and actually watch some baseball. Until then you do an amazing job keeping us all informed.

I really hope Heyward and Freeman break the SI cover curse. From what I saw of Heyward before I left last August, I believe he will. It’s also good to hear the McClouth is making good contact with the ball again and that Shafer has his swagger back. I really hope that transfers over into the games.

McFann Ô Ô

February 23rd, 2011
9:03 am

Thanks for the new Blog, Chief!! Great piece. :D Soon as I saw the title, I figgered I better hurry up and get a couple “important” things out of the way so I could read it straight through. ;)

“And McCann’s going to be here for a while.”

Awesome, Fredi! Awesome…Hey, Frank Wren just got a new contract, so how about…ya know… :P

Heisenberg

February 23rd, 2011
9:11 am

Yanks need pitching = worst kept secret since Adam Lambert was gay. No GM in his right mind will deal with them now. Wait until they are 5 games back of the Sox & Rays after the break with the Orioles breathing down their neck, and you can just about name your price. By then Braves will have Medlen ready and can re-stock without missing a beat if they deal Lowe.

Yes you heard me…the Birds of Baltimore will make some noise this year.

Mikeyc588

February 23rd, 2011
9:11 am

DOB –

That’s a good point about the difference between what a team would owe Kawakami vs a minor league contract, but it doesn’t exactly bode well for our chances to trade him quickly does it? Guys like Millwood and Doug Davis are still available for less than it would cost to get Kawakami. I mean, look at what we gave Rodrigo Lopez. I think the trade will happen much closer to Opening Day than I originally thought.

And this might sound crazy, but is there any chance they’re letting Kawakami stay in Japan to save face while they work on trade opportunities? The guy is owed almost $7mm and it is public knowledge the Braves aren’t even letting him compete with the other guys for the 5th spot. We even signed a veteran (Lopez) to compete right where Kawakami would otherwise be pitching, alongside Minor and Beachy. If I were Kenshin, I’d much rather stay in Japan than face the indignity of being in Braves camp and waiting for the other shoe to drop while fighting for scrap innings.

BraveTime

February 23rd, 2011
9:12 am

DOB

If the Braves record is 134-102 and Tampas record is 132-103, wouldn’t Atlanta actually have a game and a half lead over Tampa, giving Atlanta the fourth best record since then?

nc braves fanatic

February 23rd, 2011
9:15 am

Just to let you all know, and DOB, if you’d like to spread news about a) all-time great Braves and b) awesome bands, Braves legend Hank Aaron and Durham, NC’s own indie-rock legends The Mountain Goats are going to be on David Letterman tonight.

Here’s the song that got me hooked on The Mountain Goats, “This Year” from their classic 2005 disc, “The Sunset Tree.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eetIgGXH6DA

They also put on a consistently phenomenal live show. They’re at the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta on April 7.

nolie

February 23rd, 2011
9:17 am

for two years y’all cried about getting rid of Lowe at almost any cost just to save money. he finally had two good months and now it needs to take a prospect haul to trade him? Hmmmm.

P-Town Brave ©

February 23rd, 2011
9:17 am

Hmmm…

So I hear McCann’s replacement is in camp and working out w/ Javy…thats a good sign….

5….

4….

3…

2….

1….

Feeman Says Hey

February 23rd, 2011
9:17 am

Brandon Laird and Cito Culver , plus $15 million and the Yankees can have Lowe. It would give the Braves a Triple A 3B who is a fringe top 10 prospect for the Yankees and a Top 10 legit young SS for the Braves.

Mikeyc588

February 23rd, 2011
9:19 am

DOB –

This sounds crazy, but any chance the Braves are letting Kawakami stay in Japan while they work on trade talks? We signed Lopez to bring a veteran presence to the 5th spot competition and its common knowledge that Kawakami isn’t even being considered for the rotation at this point. If I were Kenshin, I’d rather stay home, work out and wait for the news than suffer the indignity of fighting for scrap innings at Braves camp and waiting for the other shoe to drop.

P-Town Brave ©

February 23rd, 2011
9:20 am

And whoever is thinkin about KK to NY just stop…

If the guys are launching balls off him in the ATL, what do you think they’d do in NY…

My gosh…they may not find some balls that would be hit off him.

nolie

February 23rd, 2011
9:21 am

the Birds of Baltimore will make some noise this year. Heisenberg

Is that coach? It’s a crazy prediction stated in his melodramatic manner. Could there be two such? ;)

nolie

February 23rd, 2011
9:22 am

Dream on guys ;)

Brave New World

February 23rd, 2011
9:25 am

First of all, nice job, Mr. O’Brien. As a long time Braves fan, I admit bias, but I think this team is going to be better than many expect. If we get Chipper even somewhat healthy for 125 or so games in 2011, it will be a bonus. But we can win 90+ games even if Chipper is not 100%. Adding Uggla has to help, and having Prado back full strength will help as well. Heyward can be scary good as he develops, and I think Freeman is going to be solid as he transitions to MLB. I will not be surprised if both Schaefer and McClouth have good seasons. Our total pitching staff is among the best in baseball. There is another intangible to consider: While the Phillies have the weight of unusually high expectations on their shoulders, the Braves have the hunger of the “underdog” to drive them. I’m not saying the Phillies are not the favorite in the NL East (they should be), I’m just saying the Braves have a combination of talent, team chemistry, and something to prove.

McFann Ô Ô

February 23rd, 2011
9:25 am

P-Town Brave So I hear McCann’s replacement is in camp and working out w/ Javy…thats a good sign….

5….

4….

3…

2….

1….

Ba-BOOM!!!

That kid’s not replacing anybody except maybe Clint Sammons! :evil: Besides, he’s only 19 and is not nearly as mature as BMac, apparently…

Heisenberg

February 23rd, 2011
9:26 am

No multiple personalities here.

A few decent off season pickups for the infield plus the young pitching getting just a wee bit better and throw in Buck Showalter will make for a much improved 2011.

David O'Brien

February 23rd, 2011
9:27 am

Braves will get a late start to workout today because it’s their day to meet with union heads. Meeting started at 8:30 a.m., still going. They usually last 90 minutes or more.

McCann is Braves’ player rep, by the way.

P-Town Brave ©

February 23rd, 2011
9:27 am

BTW, anyone that is interested…

I finally decided to get into full swing of baseball as I have 1 more regular season college bball game to go to…sad, but as bad as this season has been, I want it to end…

Anyways, got online and purchased a #26 Uggla Navy team shirt to go along w/ my personal red shirt w/ my name on the back and my #22 Heyward shirt…

And I found a nice shirt w/ the A logo on the back and an arm showing how to do the tomahawk motion on the front…thought it was pretty neat…

And given my team manager decided to change our uniform colors this season on 3 of my softball teams, I bought a black and grey Braves hat to wear.

Its a good start at least…til I find something down in FL to buy :-)

Roman Gal

February 23rd, 2011
9:28 am

RGeeeeee – oh no, you din’t. Soph

I mean…you kinda walked right into that one, especially since I still had Kelly on the brain from earlier conversations. Still love your guy, though!

P-Town Brave ©

February 23rd, 2011
9:29 am

McFann-

Yeah, just trying to get ya goin this morning :-)

As you know, I am a big McCannaholic ;-)

Danga

February 23rd, 2011
9:29 am

he finally had two good months and now it needs to take a prospect haul to trade him?

I thought this was odd, too.

Heisenberg

February 23rd, 2011
9:31 am

Let us not discount the Marlins. NL east could easily be a 3 horse race. Just because they lost Uggla does not mean they are lacking pop in that line-up. They got a high on-base guy in return plus bullpen help and added Vasquez who I think will bounce back.

P-Town Brave ©

February 23rd, 2011
9:33 am

Kelly?

Kelly who?!

Ripa?

Clarkson?

Leak?

Shaun

February 23rd, 2011
9:34 am

I wonder if the Huxley family collect royalties every time we see “Brave New World” in a headline. Also, I bet Tom Clancy loves Cincinnati (Hunt for Red October).

David O'Brien

February 23rd, 2011
9:34 am

Among the union officials here are union head Michael Weiner and Bobby Bonilla, who went to work for the union since retiring as a player.

Always like running into him. Hilarious, gregarious guy who’s been friendly as can be whenever I’ve seen him since covering the ‘97-’98 Marlins. Oh, and he’s without question one of the strongest dudes I’ve ever met. Hands like freakin’ hams. Him and Roger Clemens have the most powerful and largest mitts-for-hands I’ve encountered.

McFann Ô Ô

February 23rd, 2011
9:35 am

P-Town Brave

Just my 9:17 wake-up call, right? ;)

As you know, I am a big McCannaholic

Yeah…but yikes, then what does that make me? 8O :P

DOB McCann is Braves’ player rep, by the way.

Meh…

Roman Gal

February 23rd, 2011
9:37 am

Kelly who?!

Don’t play coy with me, sir. You know exactly of whom I speak. ;)

Kat

February 23rd, 2011
9:41 am

(comment from the last blog)

Venice Jim
February 23rd, 2011
12:33 am

Somehow I did not get into The X-Files until the 3rd or 4th season, but was able to catch all the earlier episodes in syndication shortly thereafter…looking back on the earliest episodes, it takes a little while to really get into the swing of what it was all about…
———

Agreed… the first two seasons were iffy..but if you’re trying to get into the show catch a few episodes from the 3rd or 4th season when the writing was much better and that will get you into the series.

David O'Brien

February 23rd, 2011
9:41 am

Buster Olney’s here today. Talked to him in the clubhouse, where he wasn’t thrilled to learn it was union meeting day. Feel bad for those guys when they show up thinking they’ll have an hour or more to talk to players, only to find out clubhouse is closing early for meeting. Same thing happened with Washington Post’s David Sheinin, who’s also here today to do a Braves story….

David O'Brien

February 23rd, 2011
9:43 am

Adam Wainwright blew out his elbow, probably a Tommy John surgery required. Wow. That’s too bad for the kid.

That’s also devastating, obviously, for the Cardinals.

bascogcjs

February 23rd, 2011
9:43 am

How’s Nate’s throwing arm?
Has he cut loose like he did last year when he was
throwing out baserunners all over the place?

Ease® in Woodstock

February 23rd, 2011
9:46 am

For all those that are lamenting lost talent…Wainwright injured his elbow is is probably TJ bound…

Total Grace

February 23rd, 2011
9:47 am

Enter your comments here

Murph

February 23rd, 2011
9:52 am

Man, that sucks about Wainwright. I’ve always liked that kid. Definitely puts a dent in the Cards rotation, and with Pujols getting close to leaving, that team is going to be upside down.

I have a feeling holding on to KK until spring training might prove to be a smart move. There are going to be a few teams looking for help come the end of March.

TnBrian

February 23rd, 2011
9:52 am

Schafer STILL cocky?

bravofan

February 23rd, 2011
9:52 am

That sucks for Olney seems like he would do some checking around before he came.
Wow that is a BIG blow to the Cardinals!

Heisenberg

February 23rd, 2011
9:54 am

Too bad for Wainwright & Cards. There are only 2 categories of pitchers:
1) those who have had TJ surgery
2) those who will have TJ surgery

Mitchell

February 23rd, 2011
9:56 am

134 wins since the ‘09 All Star break and what do we have to show for it?

A wild card and a lone playoff victory.

What do the teams ahead of us have?

Six division titles, an AL Pennant, an NL Pennant and a World Series.

Thanks again Bobby.

bravofan

February 23rd, 2011
9:58 am

No Champ Bailey for the Falcons I think either MB or Schultz mentioned this possibility he resgined with the Broncos to a four year extension.

Nick n Nash

February 23rd, 2011
10:00 am

Hey DOB.. How does Tyler Pastornicky look so far? I know they haven’t played any games yet. What do the coaches think of him? I’m just curious because it seems as though if A Gonz goes down, he would get the nod (maybe even over Hernandez).

Maybe not…

JohnBRAVES

February 23rd, 2011
10:01 am

Sucks about Wainwright. Always want our former players to do well.. And Buster Olney can just leave our camp and go to the Phils camp to continue obsessing over them.

Jeff R

February 23rd, 2011
10:02 am

Wainwright down. That is to bad. Top performer. Maybe the Cards will be interested in Lowe? I’ll take a couple of top prospects in return for the Mr, Lowe (no knock on Lowe, by the way.)

Big Yank

February 23rd, 2011
10:03 am

If the old adage, “you get what you pay for” holds up, the Braves are not going anywhere. Who’s their daddy? hahahahahahaha

McFann Ô Ô

February 23rd, 2011
10:04 am

What the heck? All of the sudden, all the times on the Spring Training schedule are “TBD”. :?

CraZyTRaDeMaN

February 23rd, 2011
10:05 am

Hate to hear about Wainwright wish it was one of the Phantastic phour.

Jeff R

February 23rd, 2011
10:06 am

Big Yank… Hmm… I didn’t recall the big budget Yankees in the World Series last year. Why, the lowly Rangers represented the AL. Funny that, huh? I guess a big budget doesn’t buy everything.

Bayou Brave

February 23rd, 2011
10:06 am

O.J.

The Yankees were asking for Tim frikin’ Hudson, you seriously think the New York Yankees will settle for Kenshin Kawakami?

Do you think the Phillies would have gone after KK if they weren’t successful in signing Cliff Lee?

Do you think the Red Sox would have gone after Nate McLouth if they didn’t get Carl Crawford?

Maybe the Rangers would have tried to trade for Brooks Conrad if they didn’t land Adrian Beltre…

Heisenberg

February 23rd, 2011
10:07 am

Cards will have no interest in Lowe and the 30M remaining. Saving all they got for Phat Albert.

ramblingman

February 23rd, 2011
10:07 am

Wainwright blew out his arm? (sorry to hear that, always liked him)

Good Grief. Trade suggestions involving KK for Pujols in 4…3…2…1…

Jeff R

February 23rd, 2011
10:07 am

The Cards are going to need an arm now. Kawa-crummy isn’t going to lure them. Lowe may?

Mitchell

February 23rd, 2011
10:08 am

I really would like to never blow out my elbow.

That sounds horrible. Kind of makes you sick to think about it.

But hey, good thing we traded Wainwright, huh?

That worked out after all. Actually, I’m not sure Wainwright isn’t more important to that team than Albert.

Sucks for the Cardinals.

David O'Brien

February 23rd, 2011
10:08 am

Union meeting’s over now, lasted 90 minutes. Players are on the field.

Here’s some video from a commercial that Fredi and McCann filmed today.

baxter my little gentleman

February 23rd, 2011
10:09 am

damn im ready for some ST games to start up

Jay212033

February 23rd, 2011
10:11 am

The Falcons need Nnamdi Asomugha anyway! The 4 FA I hope the Falcons take a look at are: Ray Edwards/Charles Johnson(RFA), Sidney Rice(RFA) and Nnamdi.

Jeff R

February 23rd, 2011
10:11 am

Speaking about Nate and Chipper, the reports are encouraging, but no games have been played yet. I’ll be a little more encouraged once the spring games commence and both perform.

Chipper’s grit is fine, but I’m not sold yet on his 39-year-old knee being season-worthy. Again, I hope the knee holds up.

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