Mather clears waivers; Opening Day lineup announced

Joe Mather came to Braves camp a favorite to win a utility spot after the Braves claimed him off waivers from the Cardinals, eager to see what he could do after two years battling a hand and wrist injuries.

He wound up back on waivers though, after he failed to show the Braves much with his bat. Mather, who hit .137 (7-for-51) this spring, cleared waivers on Tuesday and was outrighted to Triple-A Gwinnett. From there he still figures into the Braves plans, if he can turn a corner offensively.

“We like him,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said. “We think he’s a good fit for our ball club. We’ve just got to get some additional work in offensively, which we’ve made him aware of and he’s aware of. He didn’t have a good offensive spring, but he did all the other things that we hoped he would do, which is play multiple positions and play them well.”

Mather will see action at first and third base and all three outfield positions in Gwinnett, while trying to improve his production.

“They want me to shorten my swing a little bit, which is always kind of what people say,” Mather said. “It all comes down to numbers. There are guys who have good numbers with long swings, and guys have bad numbers with short swings. So put up numbers, you’ll be back.”

Opening Day Lineup

Manager Fredi Gonzalez has made no secret of it all spring, but made it official on Tuesday, that his lineup for Opening Day would be: 1. Left fielder Martin Prado, 2. Center fielder Nate McLouth, 3. Third baseman Chipper Jones, 4. Catcher Brian McCann, 5. Second baseman Dan Uggla, 6. Right fielder Jason Heyward, 7. Shortstop Alex Gonzalez and 8. First baseman Freddie Freeman.

“You can go left-right all the way down so it makes it difficult for the opposing manager to bring those situational lefties in, or a situational right-hander in,” Gonzalez said. “And then you’ve got to pick your poison throughout the lineup.”

The two spots drawing the most debate were McLouth hitting second, after a miserable 2010 season, and Heyward hitting sixth despite his .393 on-base percentage, which ranked fourth among all NL qualifiers last year.

McLouth has reaffirmed Gonzalez’s decision with a resurgent spring and Heyward can draw an argument either way – as table-setter or run-producer.

“I know all my people from SABR,” Gonzalez said, of the statistics gurus at the Society for America Baseball Research. “But hey, we’re dealing with human beings. Sometimes guys get comfortable at a certain spot and they’re producing and they’ve got confidence and go get him.”

89 comments Add your comment

Tim

March 29th, 2011
8:44 pm

B

March 29th, 2011
8:44 pm

JD

March 29th, 2011
8:45 pm

notice he didn’t say he’d shorten his swing…must be Francoeur’s brother

joedub

March 29th, 2011
8:48 pm

“They want me to shorten my swing a little bit, which is always kind of what people say,” Mather said. “It all comes down to numbers. There are guys who have good numbers with long swings, and guys have bad numbers with short swings. So put up numbers, you’ll be back.”

sounds like he’s VERY receptive to the idea of shortening his swing!

Reid in EAV

March 29th, 2011
8:52 pm

Sounds like a winner.

Crank Yanker

March 29th, 2011
9:07 pm

You’ve got a young star in Heyward hitting 6th and a .190 hitter McLouth batting 2nd ? How smart is that ? Spring training pitchers aren’t a good measure that McLouth is back since about half of them will be in AA or AAA.

I agree. Mather didn’t say he would shorten his swing. This is most likely why he can’t make MLB rosters.

Bluestreak

March 29th, 2011
9:12 pm

Well Joey better wake up and figure out he’ll be out of his second club in as many years (both of them quality clubs) if he doesn’t heed advice. Glad he cleared becuase I agree with Wren, he’d be a great player off the bench if he starts to hit. It’s up to him know.

Bluestreak

March 29th, 2011
9:14 pm

Of course I meant, “It’s up to him NOW.” Can’t type and watch baseball at the same time.

Quicherbichin

March 29th, 2011
9:20 pm

Crank Yanker.. Based on his production in ST, Mclouth eacned the spot. if he doesn t produce there, I am sure Fredi will take action. just ask Joe Mather if Fredi can make that type decision.

[...] Atlanta Braves [...]

bruce

March 29th, 2011
10:00 pm

good news… wish him well.

Gripes

March 29th, 2011
10:06 pm

So based on McLouth hitting well against AA pitchers he should hit 2nd against MLB pitchers ? Yeah, you are right.

Richie_Rich861986

March 29th, 2011
10:20 pm

I really don’t like Heyward, our hitter with the most patience, hitting sixth but really our lineup is soooooo stacked its not even funny really it won’t matter cause everyone is going to produce!!! That is a great problem to have!!!!

Mark (another one)

March 29th, 2011
10:21 pm

Gripes: Get a grip. McLouth had a bad year last year, and this year he is getting on base at an over 40% rate. If he keeps it up, hitting second is the right position. He has the speed and can move from first to third with the best of them.

Baseball is a what have you done lately kind of business. This lineup either produces or Fredi/Wren will change it. Mathers needs to go get his swing working (short or long) and put pressure on management to move him up. I would bet that if he doesn’t come around, the Braves will cut him lose. They won’t keep playing him forever. This isn’t rocket science folks.

Richie_Rich861986

March 29th, 2011
10:23 pm

@ Gripes,

Have you ever been to a spring training game? Just curious because McLouth had most of his hits against the starters. Just like the pitchers starting off at 2innings and working their way to 5-6 innings at the end of the spring, starting position players only play the first 3 innings which is against their starters. Before you knock McLouth you should do your research. McLouth had an awesome spring.

Richie_Rich861986

March 29th, 2011
10:24 pm

@ Mark

Mather probably won’t be cut for the fact he can play multiple positions. I am actually really rooting for him to get his swing back.

jesusislord

March 29th, 2011
10:25 pm

Nate McLouth has earned a shot; I’m confused why he’s not hitting lead off, though, because he’s more of a threat to steal a base. That said, he’s going gangbusters, if you ask me. Hebrews 11th chapter is instructive. Nate’s a believer.

BigD

March 29th, 2011
10:28 pm

Good lineup. Let’s let the season begin and see how it works out. I’m sure if Fredi thinks he needs to switch up the lineup he will. It’s way too early to start crying about how HE decides to set HIS lineup.
Go Braves !!!!!! Let the season begin.

gcs

March 29th, 2011
10:32 pm

The only way Mather is “a good fit” for the Braves is as ‘Designated Norton’.

.

Tana

March 29th, 2011
11:23 pm

If McLouth had finished the spring batting .190, Fredi was going to bat him second. The new skipper sees it as a benefit to the team to have protection behind Uggla in the five hole. If our back 6 hitters were McLouth, Freeman, or Gonzalez, I’m not sure if Uggla would always be pitched to. When Fredi took over he laid down the facts that he felt like McLouth would be his #2 Hitter to start the season. It’s his job to lose. I trust Fredi’s decision, and after the way McLouth looked during the spring I think we can see Fredi is no slouch.

When some one as promising as Freeman is batting in the 8th spot, your line-up is top notch. I am so ready for the season!!!

dawgforlife

March 30th, 2011
12:00 am

…I know this is not a religious forem. However, thankfully, Jesus does not need our reccommendation to be the Lord. It happens naturally. That said, I am a bit disappointed Freeman is batting 8th. He won’t see a fast ball all year sitting in front of the pitcher. I hope he can hit one with a bend in it.

big o

March 30th, 2011
12:14 am

@dawgforlife
I was thinking the same thing about Freeman not Jesus although he is the Lord Jesus not Freeman. I think he will produce and make the crooked straight Freeman not Jesus. I just thank God he will be there for us everyday Freeman not Jesus well hopefully they both will.

ExBraves Fan

March 30th, 2011
12:55 am

And Cher-real continued to STINK it up tonight. A waste of $1.2 million. He has been a bum since he was in Seattle. Up there he could not get the water boy out. He will be cut before July 31st. He is a nothing.

Pedro Cerrano

March 30th, 2011
1:34 am

Ah, Jesus, I like him very much, but he no help with curve ball…

Zing

March 30th, 2011
2:27 am

I don’t get putting Heyward down in the batting order. With that OBP, he should be somewhere in the top 4 (probably 2, unless we want to move Chipper, which ain’t happenin’). Not pleased.

scottbravesfan

March 30th, 2011
2:29 am

Heyward should hit second. But oh well. Can’t wait for Thursday’s game.

Jesus

March 30th, 2011
4:00 am

Jesus is on record saying that a better hitter should receive more plate appearances, thus be higher in the batting order. Peace out.

IlliniBrave

March 30th, 2011
4:25 am

Mather’s swing and teachability = Francouer’s = Andruw’s = Gant’s = etc.

All were immensely talented, yet all ended up being traded or cut.

Mather seems like just the next verse of the same old song.

TeheranTime

March 30th, 2011
5:39 am

I think sticking to Braves talk and not theology is a good idea for this blog. As someone said, “What you believe has no effect on reality.”

Total Grace

March 30th, 2011
6:45 am

Praise God, I agree, can’t wait for the season to begin tomorrow!!!!!

mowreck

March 30th, 2011
7:15 am

I like switching Prado and McLouth also. Prado can hit to RF better. If McLouth get on and Prado get a hit, it almost automatic runners 1st and 3rd. I also like the idea of Hayward and Freeman down towards the bottom of the lineup. You CAN’T put everyone up at 3,4,5. How many time can you remember being down one in the ninth and have the 7th 8th 9th batter come up. With that lineup, that can happen now.

An Adult

March 30th, 2011
7:53 am

Do you mean Jesus Alou? He retired in 1979. He’s at least 69. He’s not Lord, but he and his brother’s could play ball.

farmerjoe

March 30th, 2011
8:11 am

Lets hope chippy can get the same hits against the big boys as he does against the AA & AAA pitchers or else we will once again have a black hole in the third spot playing 100 games and hitting .260 with a ton of walks and no production.

Johnny Bravo

March 30th, 2011
8:19 am

With Mather & Schafer playing at Gwinnett, I hope they have some offense !

bvillebaron

March 30th, 2011
8:28 am

No one asked me, but I would rather see Freeman, a rookie, batting 7th and Gonzlez, a veteran, batting 8th. I also agree with Mitch Williams that Fredi should name a closer (i.e. Kimbrel) and replace him with Venters if he doesn’t work out rather than going with a bullpen by committee with two young pitchers.

NCBravesFan

March 30th, 2011
8:32 am

It comes down to numbers all right – and Joe Mather’s numbers stink and have for a while. After laying an egg with the bat in ST and passing through waivers with no interest from anyone, he might want to listen up to what folks in the Braves’ organization are saying.

That said, I hope he puts it together.

D man

March 30th, 2011
8:37 am

Great lineup…

D man

March 30th, 2011
8:39 am

Johnny Bravo – your kidding, right?

D man

March 30th, 2011
8:41 am

Freeman looks a little like Klesko the way he carries himself.

bad brad

March 30th, 2011
8:42 am

McLouth’s lolly pop arm in cf scares me. Still can’t forget the image of him cutting in front of the left fielder with a man on third last year and then lobbing the ball toward home plate. I was listening on the radio over the weekend when they played the Mets and he overthrew the cutoff man, allowed a run to score and the batter to reach second. I for one dont trust his arm or his fundamentals.

D man

March 30th, 2011
8:45 am

Freddie needs to name his closer. I say Ventures should be the set up man.

retired

March 30th, 2011
8:47 am

With due respect to everyone. …………We talk baseball, other sports, music, movies, BBQ and whatever (except politics or religion). good guideline!

That said ain’t it great the “new year is upon us in a day” .

Back unemployed …. pass on leads for work thanks all.

reckingball

March 30th, 2011
9:30 am

A lot of ideas and opinions, from a lot of different posters, but I pretty well think that Fredi kind of knows what he is doing.

reckingball

March 30th, 2011
9:34 am

I hope that Mathers and Shafer can both get their bats going in the minors, and will be able to contribute to the Big Braves at some point in the season.

Brava

March 30th, 2011
9:49 am

Who is Ventures and why should he be the set up man when we have Venters and Kimbrel who are both very capable?

sportsmandh

March 30th, 2011
9:59 am

I think if I were Mr. Mather, I would learn to shorten my swing. The incentive of major league pay vs. AAA pay would be reason enough for me. Suprising to me that wouldn’t register with someone else, I figue if I can get it just about anybody could. :)

Sam

March 30th, 2011
10:00 am

Yeah, Ventures, ya know the minivans that Chevy made a few years ago.

alanfalcon

March 30th, 2011
10:01 am

Well it didn’t take long for the non- believers to come out after the official starting line up was announced, I do believe that they wait for this time of the year so they can voice their opinon, ONE THAT REALLY DOESN’T COUNT.

mikey_mike

March 30th, 2011
10:11 am

last night looked too much like last year. no action until the late innings. hope it doesn’t go this way. although, guys were hitting the ball hard.

Chuck M.

March 30th, 2011
10:14 am

Brava, don’t be so cold!

schmeckdawg

March 30th, 2011
10:16 am

And Jerry Mathers as “The Beaver!”

Delbert D.

March 30th, 2011
10:25 am

I always liked Ron Gant’s fire and competitiveness. The guy scowled and gritted his teeth if he fouled off a pitch or if the the pitcher dared to waste a pitch outside. One of my favorite Braves back when.

WPB Brave

March 30th, 2011
10:28 am

@Richie_Rich861986

While Nate’s Spring has been encouraging it is no indication of how well he will perform when the games start to actually mean something. As a Braves fan I hope he can regain some of his old form from 2 years ago but I bet more than a few apples that J-Hey will not be batting 6th for very long. The bottom line is Heyward is one of our best hitters and an OBP machine, and he needs to be getting more ABs at the top of the lineup…How many games did he win for us last year? When he’s healthy he is one of the toughest outs and smartest hitters – none of these things can be said about Nate…even “Pittsburgh Nate”…

Bill

March 30th, 2011
10:36 am

Jesus is my Lord..Braves are my team..Now Play Fredi Ball !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bill

March 30th, 2011
10:40 am

Mr Wren don’t wish to admit he made a mistake with Mather…thats why he keeps giving his blessings. Let Mather Norton say in AAA until he can hit.

eskippy

March 30th, 2011
10:45 am

It looks like that’s the plan.

Roger Dorn

March 30th, 2011
10:49 am

McClouth: You may run like Mays, but you hit like $h!%

collegeballfan

March 30th, 2011
10:54 am

This guy is on the Braves 40 man roster:

13 Billy Wagner L-L 5′10″ 180 Jul 25, 1971

What’s up????????????

DCBravesFan

March 30th, 2011
10:55 am

Rain, rain go away. Please don’t ruin my opening day!!!!

My Fungo

March 30th, 2011
11:00 am

Phillies line-up by July

Ben Francisco CF
John Mayberry Jr. RF
Ross Gload LF
Matt Rizzotti 1B
Harold Garcia 2B
Brian Bocock SS
Wilson Valdez 3B
Brian Schneider C

old timer

March 30th, 2011
11:28 am

I don’t know exactly how you shorten your swing. The guy looks like a player and hopefully he can help later on.

I like this team. My main concern is the defense. And we still don’t have a real leadoff hitter with speed. Been a long time since we have. Otherwise, it’s a very solid club loaded with good-character guys .

jim

March 30th, 2011
11:33 am

I look for the Phillies big 4 to be a bit less than hyped, but Blanton to be better than anticipated.
Utley, Rollins, Polanco, and Victorino have seen their best days.
Ruiz and particularly Francisco are the keys to their lineup. BF had a big spring, and if he continues to produce at that level, they won’t miss Werth very much.
Does Ibanez have one more good year in him?
Without Lidge their pen is not deep, but Madson and Contreras are very effective at the back and their starters usually give at least 6 innings.
In short — the competition (including the Marlins) is stronger than many of the blog dwellers like to realize. The Brave have the talent to win the division, but they will have to win it — the other teams are not going to lose it, and the division top to bottom is strong enough that the wild card is likely to come from the other two divisions.

The Book

March 30th, 2011
11:40 am

I say Heyward should be batting in the 2-hole, but if McLouth can use hitting 2nd as motivation and hit at #2, I feel pretty comfortable Heyward is going to hit anywhere you put him. Might be costing him a couple games worth of AB’s over the season, but if McLouth isn’t hitting at 2, I don’t see Fredi having a problem switching it up a little. God Bless.

My Fungo

March 30th, 2011
11:44 am

The Braves also have Fredi Gonzalez. The guy is so completely awesome. He’s like Mike Smith, Chuck Norris, and the world’s most interesting man wrapped in one. He’s tough, no-nosense, and has a latino sauve.

joemoedee

March 30th, 2011
11:49 am

I personally like McLouth batting 2nd. He should see a lot of good pitches to hit between Prado and Chipper, and adds a little speed to the top of the lineup. I think with how the lineup stacks up, Heyward will still get a lot of RBI opportunities in the 6th spot.

We all know he’ll eventually end up batting 3rd for the Braves for a long time, but in the meantime I think he in the 6th spot will mean bigger things for everyone all around. (Protection for Uggla, and with his OBP ability, runners on for Gonzo and Freeman)

I don’t know how anyone could not be excited about this Braves team this year.

Chris

March 30th, 2011
11:57 am

If McLouth is good to go then this lineup is going to be really good. It will definitely be better thean the Phillies lineup. This year’s team reminds me a lot of 2003 when Javy Lopez was putting up MVP numbers but was hitting in the 8th spot because the lineup was so stacked there was no where else to put him. We have good hitters 1-8 and I don’t think it is going to matter what order you put them in.

Braverman

March 30th, 2011
12:25 pm

2 hole hitter typically is not a run producer but a runner mover. The fact we have lacked a leadoff hitter of quality over the years has slanted this into a high obp requirement, which Heyward certainly was. Prado in the top spot relieves the need somewhat for that 2 hole to be obp guy as you expect he will have plenty chances to move the runner over with a bunt, ground ball to the right side. Then come the big bats that will drive him in. The old saying is get em on, get em over, get em in. If Prado plays his part, MClouth will help this team dramatically with bunts, hit and run, productive outs. Heyward will be set free to open a can of whoop arse, maybe increasing his strike outs but perhaps increasing his slugging numbers, which is where Fredi projects Heyward to be. If all goes as expected, which it never does, but if it does, Heyward will be the 4 hole fixture for years to come, with Bic Mac dropping to 3 hole or 6 hole depending on who our long term LF/CF will be.

Bill

March 30th, 2011
12:32 pm

Beachy looking good so far..now lets get some runs. bottom 2nd not many at game. TV direct-tv 649

Bill

March 30th, 2011
12:36 pm

Mather just K’s to end 2nd.

Bill

March 30th, 2011
12:37 pm

I guess everyone is still sleeping are etc..good day.

KK

March 30th, 2011
12:57 pm

joe

March 30th, 2011
12:59 pm

GO KICK SOME ASS BRAVES,FAN FOR LIFE.

In Fredi I Trust

March 30th, 2011
1:18 pm

I will say this much, when a team has a Jason Heyward hitting 6th and a Freddie Freeman hitting 8th, that team has a pretty solid lineup. I am expecting big things from the Bravos this season. Here we come Philly, you better watch your backs.

reckingball

March 30th, 2011
1:26 pm

The Ventures was a Rock n Roll guitar band from the 60s and 70s, their most famous song, was the theme from Hawaii 5-0. They did a lot of covers with guitars only.

PMC

March 30th, 2011
1:28 pm

Heyward’s natural spot will probably be 3rd. As it is they get solid power 3-6 and most of them hit for high average.

Heyward should drive in some runs from the 6th spot. Francouer always had opportunities.

jwilli120

March 30th, 2011
1:45 pm

WE’RE BAAACK PHILLIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

jwilli120

March 30th, 2011
1:45 pm

WE’RE BAAACK PHILLIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Leffty

March 30th, 2011
1:55 pm

Nice to see Heyward and Freeman both starting everyday. Gotta be 2 of the best young players in MLB. Look at this profile of the Braves and how the young stars will be huge this season:

http://sportstatistics.blogspot.com/2011/03/spring-training-spotlight-atlanta.html

Sure, both players will work their way up in the order eventually, but for now they’re in the right place.

Columbus

March 30th, 2011
2:11 pm

What you believe and whom you believe is your savior has the MOST impact on reality of anything. Now to clarify what someone said earlier, what you believe to be true does not MAKE it true….do NOT believe what you believe until you have SOUGHT it for yourself. SEEK and you WILL find. Have you sought? Or are you believing blindly because that is what people in your country or home believed and was “pushed” upon you? If everyone SOUGHT there would be unity in the world and the church because everyone would arrive at the same result…..Jesus! GO Braves!

Hit A Single

March 30th, 2011
2:20 pm

Hey Mathers, just produce !

Chop101

March 30th, 2011
2:34 pm

Less than 24 hours until the season officially begins! I for one will be taking off work early to usher in what promises to be a very good year for the Braves. Would love to see the season begin in similar fashion to last year. Go Braves!

Fanaticus

March 30th, 2011
2:37 pm

If Bobby Cox were still here Mather, Proctor & Schafer would be on the major league roster

Jason Heyward

March 30th, 2011
2:44 pm

There is no sensical reason to bat him 6th.
If this is the type of decision making Phils fans can expect from Fredi, we will be in good shape. As a Phils fan, I would not want to face a lineup set up like this:
1. Prado LF
2. Heyward RF
3. Chipper 3b
4. Uggla 2b
5. McCann C
6. McClouth
7. Freeman
8. Gonzalez

Batting a rookie 8th does nothing for his batting eye. He will swing at pitches that he shouldn’t. But, as a Phils fan, I hope they bat Heyward 6th and Freeman 8th. Especially Heyward 6th. He’ll get 60 less atbats than McClouth.

ijudgenot

March 30th, 2011
3:03 pm

Other than Conrad, everyone else coming off the bench earned a spot on the team Fredi probably let Cox pick one bench player to keep for sentimental reasons. Conrad did have a mediocre spring last year and was kept over a guy who hit .300, and went on to win some games during season with his bat. With Liberty’s tight budget, Wren likes to get his players from baseball’s version of the “Flea Market”. He likes to scavenger hunt for used players that still may have a little baseball life left that may help his current team at “Flea Market” prices. Admittedly he paid premium prices for his pitchers(Lowe, KK and Wagner) but 2 of 3 worked out ok. He took a shot on Mather this fall, but it has not panned out so far. He played it just right thoough and did not announce that he would not make team until the last cut day. This gave other GM’s little time to evaluate whether thay wanted to spend a roster spot for him, because he is out of options. Another guy he got at the “Flea Market” was Winton Ramirez. He who led the braves in stolen bases in ST and was hitting over .350 until final week. The guy has 5 tool talent. Look to see him back in Atlanta as a roster replacement for Young or Conrad. Conrad is gravy on this team because Hicks can play ss,3rd or,2nd and Prado can play 2nd or 3rd. Fredi likes and knows how to use speed where Cox did not. Atlanta may finally have a fan friendly team.

Roja

March 30th, 2011
6:57 pm

Looks like Farmer Joe was asleep during spring training also. Chipper started out playing 2 or 3 innings. Other teams STARTING PITCHERS started out pitching 2 or 3 innings – pitching to the Braves Starters! You arm chair managers need to get a life. If you knew half as much about Baseball as you THINK you do, you’d be managing in at least Rookie Ball wouldn’t you?? Geez

Nelson

March 30th, 2011
7:01 pm

Jason Heyward Don’t you read what Fredi explained, your line-up has 3 lefties back to back to back

Nelson

March 30th, 2011
7:04 pm

Fanaticus you’re dawn right!!!!

stew

March 30th, 2011
7:26 pm

How about Prado/Heyward/Chip/Mac/Uggla/Freeman/Gonzo/McLoser?

stew

March 30th, 2011
7:36 pm

I’d rather see McLoser/Prado than Prado/Mcloser. I think Prado’s the better two hitter. The problem is I think he’s also the better leadoff guy. So maybe McLoser batting eighth gives us someone with a little speed rather than wasting Freddie who doesn’t really have too much speed. It gives Freddie the possibility of hitting sixth where he has a greater chance of producing.

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