Archive for October, 2011

Pendleton could be Cards’ candidate; Cox on La Russa’s retirement

Shortly after World Series champion Cardinals manager Tony La Russa announced his retirement Monday, Braves first base coach Terry Pendleton started appearing on lists as a potential replacement.

When reached Monday afternoon, Pendleton said he had not been contacted by the Cardinals. “I haven’t heard anything as of yet,” he said.

The former third baseman played his first seven major league seasons in St. Louis before signing with the Braves as a free agent in 1991.

Pendleton, who spent nine years as the Braves hitting coach before being reassigned to first base last year, has made it known he’d like to manage. He has interviewed for managing jobs with the Rays, Phillies and Nationals. He also turned down an interview opportunity with the Dodgers.

Cardinals’ general manager John Mozeliak told reporters Monday that previous major league managing experience was not a prerequisite.

Cox’s reaction

Former Braves manager Bobby Cox said he was surprised Monday when he heard about La …

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Braves’ Lowe traded to Cleveland – updated

Braves pitcher Derek Lowe was booed off the mound in his last start of the season, stripped of a guaranteed spot in the rotation shortly thereafter, and ultimately traded to Cleveland, completing a tailspin to close out his tumultuous three-year stint with the Braves.

The Braves traded the 38-year-old Lowe on Monday to the Indians, who have agreed to pay $5 million of the $15 million Lowe is owed in 2012 in the final year of his contract. The Braves, who will cover the remaining $10 million, got minor league pitcher Chris Jones in return.

With the additional $5 million they cleared in this deal, the Braves are believed to have about $10 million to purse additions at shortstop and the corner outfield.

“Once you know what you want to do, you want to get the dominoes falling, and that was the first one,” said Braves general manager Frank Wren, who said Lowe had at least one other suitor, but the Indians were ready to move faster. “(This) allows us to pencil in one of our young …

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Braves pick up option on Hinske – updated

The Braves made it official Monday, announcing they were picking up Eric Hinske’s $1.5 million option for 2012, but the veteran utility man had actually known for more than a week.

Braves general manager Frank Wren texted a group of Braves’ veteran hitters about hiring hitting coach Greg Walker Oct. 21, prompting Hinske to text back: “Does that mean you’re picking up my option?”

Wren’s response: “Do you want us to?”

The response was something along the lines of “heck yes.” For the first time in five offseasons, Hinske knows where he’s headed before the holidays arrive. It was peace of mind for a popular member of the Braves clubhouse and anchor of their bench, who returns to Atlanta for a third straight season.

“I’m excited,” Hinske said from his home in Scottsdale, Ariz. Monday morning. “I really wanted to come back…The way the season ended last year I feel like we’ve got something to show people. We want to get back to the playoffs and get back to the World Series.”

Hinske …

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McCann, Kimbrel are Sporting News NL All-Stars

Braves catcher Brian McCann and closer Craig Kimbrel were named the Sporting News National League All-Star team, making Atlanta one of three teams with two selections to the 10-member team.

Milwaukee had first baseman Prince Fielder and outfielder Ryan Braun, while the Los Angeles Dodgers had pitcher Clayton Kershaw and outfielder Matt Kemp, the only unanimous selection.

Voting for the Sporting News All-Star teams was by 55 members of major-league front offices, including 29 NL team executives. Eight NL position players were selected along with one starting pitcher and one reliever.

Rounding out the NL team were Cincinnati second baseman Brandon Phillips, Chicago third baseman Aramis Ramirez, Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton.

Kimbrel tied for the NL lead with 46 saves, a major league rookie record. He was named the Sporting News NL rookie of the year on Monday.

Despite ending the season with a career-worst six-week slump following an …

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Kimbrel wins Sporting News NL rookie award

Braves closer Craig Kimbrel won the Sporting News’ National League Rookie of the Year award, the second in a row for an Atlanta player. Right fielder Jason Heyward won the Sporting News award in 2010.

The Baseball Writers Association of America will name its NL and AL rookies of the year on Nov. 14, widely recognized as the “official” rookies of the year. In 2010, San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey edged out Heyward for the BBWAA award.

The BBWAA and Sporting News have differed on NL rookie award winners in three of the past five seasons. Balloting for the Sporting News award was by 112 NL players this year, and only the winner was named, not the runner-up or others receiving votes.

Kimbrel and Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman are considered favorites for the BBWAA award. Voting by writers was completed before the postseason began.

Kimbrel, 23, tied for the NL lead with 46 saves in 54 opportunities, breaking the major league rookie saves record. He was 4-3 with a …

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Braves SS prospect Simmons quiets some skeptics

He knows plenty of people questioned his decision to play shortstop instead of pitch in pro ball, and has heard some scouts and other so-called experts doubt whether he will be able to hit against more advanced pitching.

Andrelton-Simmons

Andrelton Simmons

That made his 2011 success that much more gratifying for Braves shortstop prospect Andrelton Simmons, who hit .311 with a .351 on-base percentage at high-A Lynchburg, winning the Carolina League batting title by a whopping 21-point margin in his first full season in the minors.

“I heard the positives and I definitely heard the negatives, the doubts,” said Simmons, an amiable sort who is from Andruw Jones’ island homeland of Curacao. “I always knew I was capable and just keep doing what I do. I make my adjustments and it worked out pretty good.”

A second-round draft pick in 2010 out of Western Oklahoma State Junior College, Simmons turned 22 in September. At short-season Danville in 2010, he hit .276 with a .340 OBP and 14 extra-base hits in …

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Walker hired as Braves hitting coach

Determined to get more from their hitters in 2012, the Braves didn’t just hire Greg Walker as their new hitting coach but also got him an assistant.

Ex-White Sox hitting coach Walker was hired to replace fired Braves hitting coach Larry Parrish, and Scott Fletcher was hired for a hybrid role as assistant hitting coach — a new position for the Braves — and advance scout.

Braves general manager Wren said he and manager Fredi Gonzalez agreed the Walker-Fletcher partnership would give the Braves a “dynamic” tandem for instructing hitters in the improved approach that Braves officials expect in 2012.

Wren said they whittled a list of more than 20 candidates to five, then interviewed three before deciding they’d seen and heard enough.

“We wanted someone who had recent major league experience in this role,” Wren said of Walker, the second candidate interviewed, “and that had a reputation for understanding the swing and an ability to communicate – ability to communicate was a real big …

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Braves name three new minor league coaches, manager

The Braves have added three new coaches to their minor league organization and named Aaron Holbert their new manager in Double-A Mississippi, the team announced Tuesday.

Don Long, the former Pirates hitting coach, will take over as the Braves’ minor league hitting coordinator. He spent 2008-2010 as the Pirates major league hitting coach and the eight seasons prior to that as the minor league hitting coordinator for the Phillies.

Luis Lopez, who served as a minor league hitting coach for the Red Sox for the last four seasons, will take over as the Braves’ minor league fielding coordinator. Long and Lopez join Doug Dascenzo who was named the Braves outfield and baserunning coordinator after 13 seasons in the Padres’ system.

Holbert joins the Mississippi Braves after managing in the Indians’ system for the past four seasons. Holbert was named Carolina League manager of the year last season after taking Kinston to the playoffs for the second consecutive year. He is a former first …

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DOB video: What next for Braves?

CineSport’s Noah Coslov asks the AJC’s David O’Brien which areas the Braves should focus on as they look to improve the roster for 2012.

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Great hitters can shine brightest in postseason

There’s a baseball axiom that says good pitching beats good hitting, and we often hear it applied especially to postseason games. I’ve always bought into it, at least as a general principle.

But after watching a few hitters dominate this postseason, I got to thinking. While great pitching almost always beats good hitting, and good pitching sometimes beats great hitting, good-to-mediocre pitching versus good-to-great hitting is a very different matter.

Re-read that sentence if you want to. I’ll wait….

Especially if the good pitchers in question are a little tired by the time the postseason rolls around.

And before anyone points to Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Gary Sheffield or other examples of great hitters being shut down more often than not by good pitching in a lot of postseason games, let me get to the guys I was referring to, a quartet from this postseason.

Albert Pujols (granted, one of the greatest hitters that ever lived), Ryan Braun, Miguel Cabrera (done now, but …

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