Archive for February, 2011

Teheran 5th, Freeman 17th on top 100 prospects list

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Six Braves prospects including five pitchers were named to Baseball America’s top 100 prospects list, led by right-hander Julio Teheran at No. 5.

First baseman Freddie Freeman came in at No. 17, followed by right-hander Randall Delgado (35th), left-hander Mike Minor (37th) and right-handers Craig Kimbrel (86th) and Arodys Vizcaino (93rd).

Teheran is  rated as baseball's best pitching prospect by Baseball America. (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

Teheran is rated as baseball's best pitching prospect by Baseball America. (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

All are in major league camp, though Teheran and Vizcaino are non-roster invitees. Freeman is penciled in as the Braves’ starting first baseman and Kimbrel is a candidate to be their primary closer.

Teheran, who turned 20 last month, is projected to be a staff ace in the not-too-distant future. He was the top-rated pitcher in the Baseball America list.

The slender Colombian was 9-8 with a 2.59  ERA in 24 starts last season for three minor league affiliates in Class A and Double A, totaling 159 strikeouts with 40 …

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Players optimistic that labor strife will be avoided

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – While NFL and NBA labor talks have been rocky and the possibility of work stoppages loom in both sports, baseball’s  situation is far more optimistic.

The sport’s collective bargaining agreement is set to expire in December, but neither the Players Association nor baseball owners seem overly concerned about potential obstacles preventing them from working out a new agreement.

Braves players had a 90-minute meeting Wednesday morning with union head Michael Weiner and some of his assistants, who’ll travel to each training camp in Florida and Arizona to meet with players.

“Basically it was an informational thing telling us now’s not the time to go buy a 5,000-acre ranch or a $2 million house or a $100,000 car,” Braves third baseman Chipper Jones said. “Now’s the time to start preparing for the future if there is a work stoppage in the near future. You hope it doesn’t come to that.

“We’re certainly going to do our part from a players …

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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 …

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Wren clarifies comment about defensive errors

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Braves general manager Frank Wren raised some eyebrows with this comment Saturday to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “At the end of the day, I don’t think errors contribute a great deal to losses.”

It was in response to a question about defensive concerns with the Braves, who made 126 errors last season, one shy of the National League high.  They have since added Dan Uggla, whose 34 errors in 2009-2010 were tops among major league second baseman.

Wren sought Tuesday to “finish his thought” on the subject of defense.

“We think we are better in a couple positions for sure, that being first base [with Freddie Freeman], which will in turn make our infielders better with the additional saves he will make on errant throws and his play in general, and in left field with Martin Prado.

“We should be better in center field with Nate [McLouth] full-time versus the different faces we used there last year, though [Rick] Ankiel was very good at the …

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Heyward a bargain at $496,500

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. Jason Heyward signed a one-year contract Tuesday that gave  him the highest salary ever for a Braves player with only one year of service.

But at $496,500, it was still quite a bargain for an All-Star right fielder.

Heyward, the National League Rookie of the Year runner-up in 2010, was among 21 Braves signed to one-year deals on Tuesday. All had fewer than three years of service and were not eligible for arbitration, and many had no major league service.

Among the other notables who signed were left-handed reliever Jonny Venters, who had a 1.97 ERA and 93 strikeouts in 83 innings as a rookie in 2010; right-hander Kris Medlen, and infielder Brooks Conrad, one of the Braves’ best clutch hitters off the bench last season.

Heyward, 21, spent the entire season in the majors and hit .277 with 18 homers, 72 RBIs and a .393 on-base percentage that was one of the highest in history for a player so young.

Until players become eligible for …

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Signs point to Lowe as opening-day starter

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Pitching plans announced by Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez pointed toward Derek Lowe as a likely opening-day starter, but Gonzalez cautioned not to make assumptions.

Jair Jurrjens starts the Grapefruit League opener Saturday against the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie, Fla., and fifth-starter candidates Rodrigo Lopez, Mike Minor and Brandon Beachy will pitch two innings apiece in Sunday’s spring home opener against the Mets.

Lowe is scheduled to start Monday and Tommy Hanson on Tuesday (both games against Houston), followed by Tim Hudson on Wednesday against Boston. Gonzalez said the Braves would use that same order for the first 15 days of Grapefruit League games.

“This is not the rotation [order for the regular season], because a lot of things can happen between now and the beginning of the year,” Gonzalez said. “You can always tinker. So that’s why I’m not naming the opening day starter, or number 2, or 3….”

If Lowe pitches every …

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Video: Gonzalez’s impact on post-Cox Braves

AJC Braves writer David O”Brien and CineSport’s Noah Coslov discuss new Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, and the impact he’ll have on the post-Bobby Cox Braves.

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Gonzalez encouraged by Chipper’s progress

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Chipper Jones had pain in his surgically repaired left knee during Saturday’s workout, but the veteran third baseman said it felt good Sunday and again Monday.

He’s six months removed from anterior-cruciate ligament reconstruction.

“I haven’t had two bad days in a row,” said Jones, who reported to camp early and has had no restrictions during his first week of workouts.

If he’s not ready to play Saturday, Jones said he probably would be by the middle of next week. He plans to be in the Braves’ lineup opening day March 31 at Washington, D.C.

“I think it’s right where it’s supposed to be,” Gonzalez said of Jones’ condition. “I think he’s been out here seven days and really only had one bad day, and that bad day was still pretty good. So I’m very encouraged.”

Martin Prado took ground balls at third base again Monday. He’ll move from left field to third base as Jones’ backup whenever needed. Prado was an All-Star second baseman last …

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Braves GM Wren gets 2-year extension (updated)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – After announcing Monday that Braves general manager Frank Wren signed a two-year contract extension, team president John Schuerholz was asked what impressed him about Wren’s work since replacing Schuerholz.

“Well, he’s younger,” Schuerholz said, drawing laughter at a news conference at the team’s spring training complex.

Braves GM Frank Wren signed a two-year extension that runs through 2013. He traded for slugger Dan Uggla in November. (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

Braves GM Frank Wren signed a two-year extension that runs through 2013. He traded for slugger Dan Uggla in November. (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

Wren, 52, got an extension that runs through 2013. He’s in the final year of his current contract and entering his fourth season as GM after eight years as an assistant to Schuerholz, the longtime former GM.

Wren took over when Schuerholz became president on Oct. 11, 2007.

“Obviously Frank’s work speaks for itself,” Schuerholz said. “He’s done a remarkable job in his years as general manager, in rebuilding our farm system and our scouting program, and in the work he’s done …

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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 …

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