Freeman aims for Gold Glove and batting title, not HRs

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — As big a season as Freddie Freeman had in 2011, he probably deserves more than 25-26 inches of copy in the first story about him in 2012, right? Glad you agree.

And that is our easy ingress to this utilization of pertinent Freddie Freeman quotes that didn’t make it into the feature story posted Sunday night on this AJC.com Braves page. Paid professional working here. Stand back.

Freeman goes down to get a pitch during batting practice last week. (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

Freeman goes down to get a pitch during batting practice last week. (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

Freeman hit more home runs (21) last season than he hit in any minor league season, more homers than any Braves rookie since Chipper Jones hit 23 in 1995. It was more homers than any of us predicted from a guy who’d been known as more of a line-drive, high-average and high-OBP type of hitter in the minor leagues.

So I asked the 6-foot-5, 240-pounds first baseman, who added about five pounds this winter through an offseason strength-and-conditioning program, if he now considered himself more of a power hitter than people had him pegged as before last season.

“I don’t,” he said. “I’m still a line-drive guy. I take a lot of pride in hitting for average. I love hitting for average. I lifted a couple of balls last year. Obviously I play a position where home runs are a big key for that position.

“I did get stronger in the offseason; we’ll see if it projects to hitting more home runs that 21. We’ll see what happens, but I take a lot of pride in getting on base and scoring runs, driving in guys. I never hit a lot of home runs in my life, really, I always just stayed through the middle and hit line drives.”

He smiled and added, “We’ll see what happens. Maybe I can backspin a few more [into homers]. We’ll see.”

Among qualifying major league rookies in 2011, only Kansas City’s Eric Hosmer (.799) had a higher OPS than Freeman (.795).

Freeman, who didn’t turn 22 until September, led NL qualifying rookies in average (.282), OBP (.346), slugging percentage (.448), hits (161), doubles (32) and RBI (.76). He tied for the NL rookie lead in homers and was second in walks (53) and runs (67).

And teammates say he was just as good in the clubhouse as he was on the field.

“Yeah, he’s a great guy,” said veteran Eric Hinske. “We’re always with each other taking ground balls at first, and he’s fun to be around. He’s happy every day and keeps it loose.”

No Brave was razzed more last season than Freeman from Day 1 of spring training through the end of the season. It was done out of affection – they don’t bother razzing you if they don’t like you – and he handled it well. Like everything else in his rookie season.

“Yeah, exactly,” Hinske said. “He nailed it. His first year, he nailed it.”

Freeman will tell you that the slumps he had last season came when he tried to get too pull-conscious, like he was at the very beginning of the season. He got that way again, he said, after hitting a mammoth home run to the field-field upper deck at Houston in June.

Each time, he got back to his up-the-middle swing within a couple of weeks. Slump over.

“I don’t even know if you could say that was a problem,” catcher Brian McCann said of Freeman’s occasional pull-happiness. “His first year through the league, I think you give him an A-plus. He’ll have to make an adjustment to things he needs to work on, and he’s got a great ability to do that.

“He’s special. And he’s a great guy. We get on him a lot and he handles it great.”

The one notable statistical area where Freeman didn’t fare well was in the defensive metic stats, which indicated, among other things, that he had below-average range. To me, he’s a case study in why metric stats for defense aren’t anywhere near as widely accepted as they are for the offensive side of the game.

Because most people who watched Freeman play on a regular basis will tell you that he was a well-above-average defensive first baseman, and teammates say he was terrific with the glove and predict that he’ll win a Gold Glove before too long.

Before Cincinnati’s Joey Votto won the NL Gold Glove for first basemen in 2011, the six previous NL awards at the position went to Derrek Lee, Adrian Gonzalez and Albert Pujols, who won two apiece in that period. Gonzalez and Pujols are now in the American League and Lee remains unsigned (and last won a Gold Glove in 2007).

“I take a lot of pride in my defense,” Freeman said. “I don’t care about awards, but that’d be cool to win one of those. It’s really special. I think the two most special things to me would be to win a batting title and a Gold Glove. Those are my favorite things, and I would like to win a lot of Gold gloves in my life. Who doesn’t?

“I truly believe Alex Gonzalez should have won one last year; he was incredible Sometimes it goes unnoticed [by Gold Glove voters]. All that matters is if guys on the team think you’re doing a good job. I was told a lot that I was helping out the team, and that’s all that matters to me.

There's nothing in this blog about Tommy Hanson, but just wanted you to know -- there's a note about it elsewhere on our AJC.com Braves page -- that he did some running and light throwing Sunday, and could be cleared for full workout by Tuesday. He's recovering from a Grade 1 concussion and missed the first week of pitchers workouts. (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

There's nothing in this blog about Tommy Hanson, but just wanted you to know -- there's a note about it elsewhere on our AJC.com Braves page -- that he did some running and light throwing Sunday, and could be cleared for full workout by Tuesday. He's recovering from a Grade 1 concussion and missed the first week of workouts. (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

“I don’t care if I have a Gold Glove next to my name or not, as long as these guys appreciate it that’s all that matters to me.”

Freeman’s numbers tailed off – as did those of most Braves hitters – late last season, his dip coinciding with a quadriceps injury in late August. At that time he consistently downplayed the severity of a quad strain when asked about it by reporters.

He also never used a nagging wrist injury as an excuse, but it was there at times during the courts of the season. I asked him Sunday if he’d had a couple of nagging injuries during the season. Again he downplayed them, but at least acknowledged them.

“Yeah, I did,” he said. “At the end I had the quad that was bugging me, and my wrist bugs me every year. I just get a couple of cortisone shots [in the wrist] and that makes it go away. Because my follow-through is so violent, when I whip the bat back, I always have a little problem with my wrist.”

For those of you wondering about the motivation for his adding five pounds of muscle and concerned that it might affect his sweet swing, Freeman said the weight gain came naturally with an improved offseason fitness regimen and diet.

He worked out with McCann, Kris Medlen, Jonny Venters, Brandon Hicks and former Brave Mark DeRosa under the eye of Atlanta-area trainer Ryan Goldin, who has worked with many football players before the NFL combine.

The program that Freeman and the other Braves followed was baseball-specific, however. It was not designed for adding bulk, and Freeman’s added weight is spread over his frame. He actually appears leaner than before, without the baby fat if you will.

“I was just working out,” he said. “There wasn’t really any goal, just getting ready for the season like I do every offseason. The ultimate result was that I got a little bit bigger. I added about 5 pounds – 238, 240 right now.

“Yeah. I had [a workout regimen] last offseason but it wasn’t as strict. This year was the first time where I had to be there — or I had Brian calling me if I didn’t show up.”

In the batting cage, his swing has looked as quick as ever, and he consistently pounded balls over the fences during early batting practice last week before the hitters started facing pitchers in live BP.

♣ A sunblock story: I don’t normally pay much attention to the sunblock-usage habits of ballplayers, but twice in the past few days I couldn’t help but notice.

On Thursday, Chipper Jones returned from a two-day fishing trip on a Florida river and had a sunburn the likes of which I had not seen since college, when a buddy of mine passed out on a Florida beach without applying sunblock, and we left him there for the afternoon (we were thoughtful enough to turn him over at one point, so he had an even burn, unlike Chipper’s farmer’s tan on arms and neck from wearing a sleeveless T-shirt).

Jason Heyward, unlike Chipper Jones, is a regular user of sunblock. Heyward goes with the SPF 100.

Jason Heyward, unlike Chipper Jones, is a regular user of sunblock. Heyward goes with the SPF 100.

When I asked Chipper about sunblock, he conceded he hadn’t worn any. Then this revelation, which I found pretty astounding in 2011: “To be honest, the only time I use [sunblock] is on my lips,” he said.

Three days later, on a cloudy Sunday, Jason Heyward sat at his locker stall, preparing for the workout that would start in an hour. I noticed Heyward using the same brand of sunblock (Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist) that I’ve used down here and mentioned it to him.

“SPF 100,” said Heyward, who uses about twice the potency of the SPF 45 that I have (I’m sure there is a better word for it than potency, but it’s now 6:30 a.m. Monday and I need to get this blog posted and get in the shower and drive back over to the ballpark for 8 a.m. clubhouse time.)

When I told Heyward that I used that particular spray because it wasn’t greasy and I could spray it on my thinning hair to protect my scalp – which, in hindsight, was probably more information that he cared to hear Sunday morning — he smiled and said something to the effect that he didn’t have that problem. I felt rather pathetic.

And there you go.

OK, folks, just five days until the Braves’ Grapefruit League opener. Prince Fielder in his Detroit Tigres debut at Dark Star on Saturday.

♣ Since the Daytona 500 got rained out Sunday and moved to today (Monday) let’s close this blog with a racing-themed Drive-By Truckers tune, penned by Mike Cooley. You can hear it by clicking here.

images

“DADDY’S CUP” by Drive-By Truckers (M. Cooley)

Before I could walk, I had a wrench in my hand
I was my Mama’s little angel and my Daddy’s second chance
He went end over end the first year he went pro
Lost part of his eyesight and he couldn’t race no more

But he never lost his touch when he got underneath the hood
He knew how to make them run and he knew one day he would
See his name in victory lane and engraved on that cup
Just like all them other crazy fools with racing in their blood

He would put me on his lap when he’d drive and I’d take the wheel
He’d say “What do you think about that son? How does she feel?
You just wait till them little legs get long enough to reach the gas
Once you put her on the floor one time there ain’t no turning back”

Every Saturday, he’d take me out to the garage
He’d take an empty bucket and fill it full of engine parts
He’s sit me down and pour em out in front of me on the floor
I’d have to tell him what each one was and what each one was for

We’d jump into the car and go down to the race that night
He’d tell me what each driver was doing wrong and what each one did right
He could always pick the winner before they ever took a curve
#3 might have the car but 43 has got the nerve

Before I turned 18 Daddy said “Now pretty soon
You’ll be old enough to drive but I’ll leave it up to you
I taught you all about it, taught you everything I know
You gotta have a car to do it and you gotta work and buy your own”

The first one I bought was a Mustang #2
Nobody kept’em any longer than they kept a pair of shoes
They started showing up at every used car lot in town
A V-8 on a go-cart, easy terms, no money down

Me and Daddy and my uncle took her home and tore her down
Checked her out real good, cleaned her up and bored her out
Took out all the seats, pulled the carpet off the floor
Knocked out all the glass and welded up the doors

The first time that I raced my qualifying was a shame
I started out way in the back and came back about the same
I pulled her in the pit, couldn’t look my Daddy in the eye
He said “If you quit now son, it’s gonna haunt you all your life”

It ain’t about the money or even being #1
You gotta know when it’s all over you did the best you could’ve done
Knowing that it’s in you and you never let it out
Is worse than blowing any engine or any wreck you’ll ever have

Since then I’ve wrecked a bunch of cars and I’ve broke a bunch of bones
It’s anybody’s race out there and I’ve learned to race my own
I’d shove em in the wall and I’d hit em from behind
I’d let them know that I was there, I’d let them know that track was mine

It’s been several years now since my Daddy passed away
But his picture’s on my dash every time I go to race
I lost more than I won but I ain’t gonna give up
Till they put me in the ground or Daddy’s name’s on that cup

– by David O’Brien, Braves/MIB blog

1,694 comments Add your comment

reckingball

February 27th, 2012
7:38 am

GO BRAVES!!!!!

Fredi Will Screw It Up Somehow

February 27th, 2012
7:42 am

Hanson’s hair is just epic.

reckingball

February 27th, 2012
7:46 am

Freeman helps the other infielders be better infielders.

Rufus

February 27th, 2012
7:48 am

Early AM post – well done Dave and thanks!

BraveDan

February 27th, 2012
7:53 am

Freeman sounds ready!!!

John Pappadoppagapoulas

February 27th, 2012
8:00 am

Put a kilt on Hanson and he could star in Brave(s)heart 2

Chris from the Rock

February 27th, 2012
8:00 am

Three 22 y/o’s in the lineup this year. That’s just crazy. Imagine how young they’ll be if Chipper retires next year and Terdoslavich wins the job. Not that I’m complaining… All of the great young players will be peaking about the time Utley, Howard and Co. are out the door. Is that another division run I smell?

Gil in Mechanicsville

February 27th, 2012
8:01 am

Thanks for the info Dave, great song too..

Tomahawkin (The Godfather)

February 27th, 2012
8:01 am

Thanks for the New Blog Mr Sulu

Tomahawkin (The Godfather)

February 27th, 2012
8:02 am

Braves Have 3 starters 22 or younger

The last team to win the pennant with 3 guys 22 or younger was the 1976 Reds I think?

Kat

February 27th, 2012
8:08 am

Thanks David. Great info on Freeman and I got a few laughs with my morning breakfast re: sunblock part of the DOB AM blog.

Thoughts on neither Michelle Williams or Viola Davis winning last night?

Meryl’s performance in Iron Lady was better than the movie itself. I thought she transformed into Margaret Thatcher. The beginning of her speech was hysterical though – saying she could her the rest of America saying “not her again!”.

Runnin

February 27th, 2012
8:13 am

Jason needs sunblock is news to me.

Fed Up Fan

February 27th, 2012
8:19 am

It’s good that Freeman’s “aiming,” but so far I haven’t seen what it takes for him to win anything.

Fed Up Fan

February 27th, 2012
8:20 am

P.S.- I hope that he proves me wrong.

alanfalcon

February 27th, 2012
8:20 am

Freddie Freeman is solid and will some day in the near future be an All Star, only relapse in this kid will come from an injury.

jason

February 27th, 2012
8:23 am

Freeman better make the All-Star Team this year.

Max Sizemore

February 27th, 2012
8:35 am

Hey, David, don’t feel sorry for yourself on your thinning hair. You’re what, 20 years older than Heyward? Well, I’m probably 20 years older than you, and I could tell you some things about being this age that would make you very thankful to be the age you are. So get over it, pal.

bravesgrl4life

February 27th, 2012
8:36 am

Thanks for the info, DOB. Excited to see Freddie in his sophomore year!

David O'Brien

February 27th, 2012
8:40 am

Fred McGriff and Dave Justice are in camp as special instructors this week, arrived today.

I was standing in the clubhouse just now when Fredi (Gonzalez) introduced Freddie (Freeman) to Fred (McGriff). Kid you not.

fastasballs

February 27th, 2012
8:53 am

I don’t think we will see Freeman go through any sophomore slump unless he’s injured. The kid’s game is solid all the way around & his baseball IQ seems high compared to most his age. He’s lived in Heyward’s shadow his entire career as a Brave, but I think after this season that will change if it hasn’t already.

fastasballs

February 27th, 2012
8:56 am

DOB, are you getting any seat time on the Harley while in Florida?

Couch Tater

February 27th, 2012
9:04 am

Reminds me of a Memorial Day, during my HS days. Rode to the beach that Thursday in a GTO rag top for the 3 day weekend. No SPF. Was burnt beyond party, before I reached the water. The smell of the dead fish, two drunks and Noxzema was a blister of enjoyment.

I scratched through it and felt better by Sunday…

BravesFan in DC

February 27th, 2012
9:08 am

Great blog, DOB. Always a good way to start the work week. I’m really looking forward to see how FF fares his sophomore season. Great tune as well!

Ray

February 27th, 2012
9:09 am

Justice and McGriff in camp can only be a positive thing. Justice can definitely give Heyward valuable advice as McGriff working with Freddie. I like this.

Jason C.

February 27th, 2012
9:13 am

That’s too many Freds this early in the morning.

MFin04

February 27th, 2012
9:17 am

Hey DOB, have you thought about doing a blog about the day in the life of a Spring Training pitcher/fielder?

Wouldn’t have to be a specific player, maybe just a timeline run through of all the stuff they usually do in a typical day? Would be neat…

Bob the Blogger

February 27th, 2012
9:20 am

I agree completely that the defensive metrics are lacking in their ability to define the quality of defense. Whatever Freeman may lack in range (and I’m not saying he does) he makes up for in his ability to catch anything thrown in the vicinity of first base. His ability to pick throws out of the dirt is uncanny. Also, he made a number of catches over his shoulder while running toward the right foul pole.

Coach (2012 Fredi's beisbol fandango)

February 27th, 2012
9:20 am

What Freddie Freeman said:

I truly believe Alex Gonzalez should have won one last year; he was incredible Sometimes it goes unnoticed [by Gold Glove voters]. All that matters is if guys on the team think you’re doing a good job. I was told a lot that I was helping out the team, and that’s all that matters to me.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Folks if you don’t believe Gonzo’s glove is gonna be missed…….think again. The new rookie at SS better bring his A game in 2012. Otherwise our infield is gonna leak like a sieve.

[...] Freeman kid is not too bad either Freeman aims for Gold Glove and batting title, not HRs | Atlanta BravesSo I asked the 6-foot-5, 240-pounds first baseman, who added about five pounds this winter through [...]

Couch Tater

February 27th, 2012
9:22 am

Fred familiarize Freddie for Fredi’s favor.

ncscoots

February 27th, 2012
9:31 am

Otherwise our infield is gonna leak like a sieve.

Actually, it won’t. It’ll be average. Just because the IF isn’t Gold Glove doesn’t mean it follows that it will be horrible. Just…average.

That fact, however, does mean that Hanson and Beachy take on more importance in the rotation for their ability to miss bats. Wouldn’t hurt if Jurrjens finds a little more life on his gas from his nu shooz, either.

TennesseePaul

February 27th, 2012
9:34 am

Thanks for the work DOB.

GO BRAVES!!

monty

February 27th, 2012
9:37 am

Amazing what the right shoes can do, as evidenced by the near riots at the stores selling the new Jordan shoes. People lined up in the streets to get sneakers. Who would have thunk it. And yes I do know about their value on EBAY.

Coach (2012 Fredi's beisbol fandango)

February 27th, 2012
9:38 am

wishful thinking ncscoots, don’t say that I didn’t try to warm ya’ll.

MFin04

February 27th, 2012
9:38 am

“Folks if you don’t believe Gonzo’s glove is gonna be missed…….think again. The new rookie at SS better bring his A game in 2012. Otherwise our infield is gonna leak like a sieve.”

Yes, but the career .277 on base percentage as a Brave isn’t going to be missed. The consistent 3 swings at balls and a strike out won’t be missed either. What Pastornicky may or may not give up defensively, he should more than make up with his speed and bat. And that is saying quite a bit about how bad A-Gon was offensively for the Braves.

John H

February 27th, 2012
9:38 am

Freddie’s got the right idea. Henry Aaron was a line-drive hitter as well. He did all right.

Coach (2012 Fredi's beisbol fandango)

February 27th, 2012
9:41 am

Rioting over shoes…….just wait until the food stamps and welfare checks don’t show up, then I guess we can watch the real fun :)

Lew

February 27th, 2012
9:42 am

Even playing like they did in September, the Braves only made one error . Kind of hard to imagine that even with Goinzalez back that they’d equal that level of defense again, anyway.

Pastornicky should get on base better than Gonzalez and his fielding won’t be as good. Prbably at worst, it’s a wash.

Lew

February 27th, 2012
9:43 am

Coach – You’re surprised about rioting over shoes? Hell, the French Revolution ended in lots of death over bread.

Coach (2012 Fredi's beisbol fandango)

February 27th, 2012
9:44 am

MFin04, I’m one of the few who values defense as much as offense these days.

raleighbravefan

February 27th, 2012
9:46 am

Coach – No need to try to “warm” me, I’m pretty cold natured…Oh, you probably meant “warn”. In that case, I guess time will tell.

raleighbravefan

February 27th, 2012
9:50 am

Coach – I place a high value on defense, as well…especially up the middle. However, in this case it comes down to how many runs the defense costs you, vs how many runs your offense produces. As Lew said (beat me to it), it may be a wash, at worst.

JRW

February 27th, 2012
9:50 am

I agree MFin04 about missing Gonzo. The left side of the infield is going to be hard to watch with Chippers lack of range and Pastornicky’s propensity for errors. It’s going to take a lot of offense to make up for it. It’s also going to put a lot more pressure on a young pitching staff that doesn’t need the additional runners on base.

LJ

February 27th, 2012
9:52 am

One reason Gonzo was so good was Freeman, the Rev gets Freeman this year. He will be just fine.

Coach (2012 Fredi's beisbol fandango)

February 27th, 2012
9:53 am

raleighbravefan

February 27th, 2012
9:50 am

Coach – I place a high value on defense, as well…especially up the middle. However, in this case it comes down to how many runs the defense costs you, vs how many runs your offense produces. As Lew said (beat me to it), it may be a wash, at worst.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>.

I really hope you’re right, otherwise I’m gonna be doing a lot of cussing at the TV this summer :)

Lew

February 27th, 2012
9:53 am

Well, with Gonzalez at bat, the offense was painful to watch. That should be improved this eyar. Like I said – a wash.

However, I’d expect with the tutoring by Wilson, a very well maintained infield (not tooo many in AA) and a 6′5″ first baseman who can dig the ball out of the dirt with the best of them, that Pastornicky won’t be nearly as bad as most believe he will.

Lew

February 27th, 2012
9:55 am

Not to mention considerably better lighting at the MLB levbel.

Rick

February 27th, 2012
9:57 am

I’ll definitely take the loss in defense at SS with the improvement they are bound to get at offense. I think it will be negligible. Don’t forget that in 2010 the Braves were pretty bad defensively, and I think Freeman is a big part of why they got better. He saved so many bad throws to first that would Glaus never would have gotten. Looking at the total errors on the infield in 2010 vs 2011, every position went down except for 2B (only one more error there with Uggla primarily playing versus Prado/Infante). Both Gonzo and Chipper had improvements on defense in 2011, which is again something I think can be partly contributed to Freeman.

ncscoots

February 27th, 2012
10:00 am

I’m one of the few who values defense as much as offense these days.

Which is why you’re always pretty much wrong on questions in this area. You tend to overvalue the former and undervalue the latter. Successful baseball requires that a team value appropriately the skillsets available to it and determine if its strengths overcome its weaknesses, and to what degree.

I’d rather see players who can bring the leather than those who can’t, but that doesn’t automatically make me cast less-than-stellar defenders into the abyss. On this team, anyway, the IF defense isn’t going make anybody forget Ozzie Smith, but it’s not as if they’re bricklayers, either. And Chipper and Uggla make up offensively any defensive lacks, in spades.

DAP

February 27th, 2012
10:04 am

lew You’re surprised about rioting over shoes? Hell, the French Revolution ended in lots of death over bread

rioting over bread actually makes sense. the people rioting over jordan’s probably are already wearing shoes, and have a couple more pair sitting in a closet at home. bread is kinda a basic necessity.

richbrave

February 27th, 2012
10:05 am

“………….it’s now 6:30 a.m. Monday and I need to get this blog posted and get in the shower and drive back over to the ballpark for 8 a.m. clubhouse time………….” DOB

If you half-way included that comment as a reference to those doofus idiots who post here and razz you regarding work, and think you have a soft job…………fa’ gid’ da’ boud dit’, and them. They don’t respect themselves or their work, let alone others’.

MFin04

February 27th, 2012
10:07 am

“I’m one of the few who values defense as much as offense these days.”

Yeh, but you have to give value to the .277 on base percentage. That is close to worst in the NL if not the worst for NL Starters. And Freeman does help the defense out a lot. The reason the Braves didn’t have that many errors last year wasn’t because of great defense from 3B, SS, and 2B it was because of Freddie Freeman digging out anything that came close to the bag.

nolie

February 27th, 2012
10:09 am

Whatever Freeman may lack in range (and I’m not saying he does) he makes up for in his ability to catch anything thrown in the vicinity of first base

Glove work is more important than range at first and Freeman probably does get lower on the ratings a bit unfairly,but it does not make up for lack of range because there are others who catch as well but have much more range.

Don

February 27th, 2012
10:11 am

The Braves have 4 Starting Pitchers coming off injuries (Hudson, Hanson, JJ, and Medlen). Three of these (Hudson, Hanson, and JJ) – before their injuries began – were great pitchers; and the fourth (Medlen) was already performing great in limited experience. A BIG QUESTION is – will all 4 of these return to being Great – after their injures – Or will it be 3 out of the 4 – Or 2 out of the 4 – Or 1 out of the 4????? Problem is — Pitchers (unlike position players) many times never returen to being great after serious injuries. The Braves could be in significant trouble if even 1 or 2 of these 4 pitchers to not returen to form – and just coming back and being average will not get it. In reality, odds are that at least 2 of them will not return to their former greatness. The Braves and almost everyone else seem to be ignoring the fact that in the 6 or 7 years since Leo left as Pitching Coach – of all the large number of Starting Pitchers the Braves have had (counting only those who were in the rotation a reasonable length of time) – most of them have become injured. True, the Braves have an abundance of additional young pitching talent – but as long as this trend of Starting Pitchers being injured continues – this may be meaningless – may just destroy this wealth of young talent.

ncscoots

February 27th, 2012
10:12 am

The reason the Braves didn’t have that many errors last year wasn’t because of great defense from 3B, SS, and 2B it was because of Freddie Freeman digging out anything that came close to the bag.

Well, in fairness, you have to be able to get to it first, for Freeman’s glove to be of any account. Safe to say that infielld defensive range is not going to be one of this team’s assets. :-)

Lew

February 27th, 2012
10:12 am

DAP – Since when has common sense or sheer need made any difference in what people feel they absolutley have to have. Think rioting during the post Thanksgiving sales – people assaulted over insignificant pieces of trash. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the guillotiner come back into use. People are flat out freaking nuts these days.

nolie

February 27th, 2012
10:13 am

On this team, anyway, the IF defense isn’t going make anybody forget Ozzie Smith, but it’s not as if they’re bricklayers, either. And Chipper and Uggla make up offensively any defensive lacks, in spades.,,,scoots

I kinda disagree a bit, the three returning players are all short on range so even if Tyler is average, and I think he will be, we are still gonna leak more than I like

Billy

February 27th, 2012
10:13 am

Lew you are correct about minor league fields, lighting and first baseman contributing to error totals. Elvis Andrus, former Braves farmhand, had error totals his last three years before being promoted to Texas of 32, 30 and 32. He improved his error total by 10 less to 22 errors in his rookie season

Pastornicky never reached the 30 error region Elvis consistently played at. Also since I’m talking about Texas, the team did pretty well last year with Beltre having near doubled (11) the errors as Chipper (6) and Elvis near doubled (25) the errors of Gonzalez (12)

Pitching and defense is the name of the game. Defense can bail a pitcher out of a lot of problems and pitching can bail the defense out of some harmless errors.

Lew

February 27th, 2012
10:14 am

Case in pint – Don will take a life over pitchers injuries before much longer. McDowell should be very afraid.

nolie

February 27th, 2012
10:14 am

I’m also not sure how much improvement we are gonna get in offense over Gonzo except in OBP

Lew

February 27th, 2012
10:14 am

Also case in point. Either way………

ncgary

February 27th, 2012
10:16 am

well it doesn’t take a psychic or a prophet to realize when
gas gets a little higher , what the next revolution will be brought about by

Billy

February 27th, 2012
10:16 am

Texas won 96 games with that horrid left side of the infield in 2011

Mikeyc588

February 27th, 2012
10:17 am

Wait a minute. The cheapest (non-lawn) tickets for Saturday’s opener are $30.75?! For a spring training game? So I can go see the Yankees play the Braves at the Ted on a beautiful summer afternoon for like $12 but seeing scrubs knock the rust off costs $30.75? That seems a little crazy to me, unless I’m missing something. And didn’t someone, maybe DOB, mention you had to pay just to get into the park?

nolie

February 27th, 2012
10:17 am

they play in a hitter’s paradise

Lew

February 27th, 2012
10:22 am

nolie – Psatornicky’s OBP and speed? Got to be better than Gonzo’s .270 OBP and a few HR.

Billy

February 27th, 2012
10:22 am

You only pay to enter Disney’s Wide World of Sports that the Braves share with other events that go on at the same time the Braves practice. Yes you must pay $15.50 to enter that complex and that allows you access to everything, including Braves practice

The game ticket price is the only cost to enter the complex.

nolie

February 27th, 2012
10:22 am

I agree Billy, I think Tyler will be a better defender than some here fear

Lew

February 27th, 2012
10:23 am

Might have something to do with the difference between having 54,000 seats and 3500 where the Yankess sell out imediately every year.

Venice Jim

February 27th, 2012
10:24 am

Was McDowell also Tommy’s mechanic? This would help Don’s theory…

DAP

February 27th, 2012
10:24 am

scoots Well, in fairness, you have to be able to get to it first, for Freeman’s glove to be of any account

i have a hypothesis that freeman being so good over there made the infielders willing to take more chances, and make more plays. if thats the case, freeman’s glove came into play on every ball fielded.

raleighbravefan

February 27th, 2012
10:26 am

Coach – A lot of cussing this summer? And that varies from your norm how? :)

raleighbravefan

February 27th, 2012
10:26 am

Did Don say something?….No, I guess not.

nolie

February 27th, 2012
10:27 am

maybe Lew, but I bet not all that much better .Gonzo was 642 last year but would likely bounce back some this season, since he is a 690 career. I’m guessing Tyler will do 660 or 670. be real nice if he does better though

Venice Jim

February 27th, 2012
10:28 am

An unusual photo which includes Terry Pendleton, Tim Kurkjian and Maxwell Smart…

http://lockerz.com/s/187688506

Mikeyc588

February 27th, 2012
10:29 am

Billy and Lew –

Thanks for the advice. I have never been to Braves spring training and have a couple of weeks before starting a new job so it seemed like the perfect time to go, but after looking at ticket prices, gas prices and my truck’s fuel economy, I’m starting to think it will cost several hundred dollars just to see one game! Obviously the Braves only control the ticket prices, but expecting a family of four to shell out $150 for tickets and hot dogs to a spring game just seems a little crazy to me. Especially when you compare it to other teams who have similar tickets going for $10 (e.g. Pirates in Bradenton).

David O'Brien

February 27th, 2012
10:30 am

Some pics from workout in past hour:

president John Schuerholz talks w/ Fred McGriff
http://twitpic.com/8pf6kl

special instructor David Justice w/ Dan Uggla and Brian McCann during stretching
http://twitpic.com/8peunx

hitting coach Greg Walker & Fred McGriff. David Justice & McGriff are special instructors
http://twitpic.com/8petf2

MFin04

February 27th, 2012
10:30 am

New MLB 2k12 Video has Yunel Escobar getting picked off. Well if that isn’t realistic gameplay, I don’t know what is. ;)

David O'Brien

February 27th, 2012
10:32 am

DOB, are you getting any seat time on the Harley while in Florida? — fastasballs

I wish

DawgDad

February 27th, 2012
10:33 am

“The last team to win the pennant with 3 guys 22 or younger was the 1976 Reds I think?”

This HAS to win the award for most totally irrelevant statistic of the day. The Reds had Joe Morgan and Dave Concepcion in their primes, the Braves have Dan Uggla and Tyler Pastornicky.

nolie

February 27th, 2012
10:33 am

thanx for the pix. Good to see Crime Dog again in a Braves uni. still looks pretty trim, can we sign him up for our weak bench

DAP

February 27th, 2012
10:34 am

Lew People are flat out freaking nuts these days.

thats for sure. i do think we are going to see more of that in 2012, but over stuff more serious than shoes. what has happened in greece has really got me thinking. not to get political, but i worry about that happening here.

nolie

February 27th, 2012
10:35 am

and I really like those jerseys

Lew

February 27th, 2012
10:35 am

Mikey – That’s one reason why I try to go to practice befopre the games start instead of going to the games, themselves. ONly exhibiton games and going before the games after everyone reports, you actually get to talk to players and get autographs for half the price (and no concessions are open, so you don’t spend all that money for Diet Coke.

nolie

February 27th, 2012
10:36 am

gun sales are breaking records every month lately. gonna turn into a “polite” society again

beachcomber

February 27th, 2012
10:36 am

Mikeyc588 – I share your pain. Reluctantly gave up our spring training seats in Clearwater this year when the price hit $900 for two seats. Still have a ticket from a 4th of July game between the Pirates and Phils at 3 Rivers from ‘76 – $3.50 right behind first base! Just shows I’m old. Will still catch the Braves three times here and in Dunedin this spring.

DAP

February 27th, 2012
10:39 am

nolie I’m also not sure how much improvement we are gonna get in offense over Gonzo except in OBP

because of rev’s skill set, i think he will have a much better slash line that gonzalez, meaning better avg/obp/slg. he wont have the raw numbers, like homers, but he is going to put the ball in play, and thats going to equal alot more hits that gonzalez had.

by the way, i was thinking the same thing about crime dog. looks like hes in playing shape. seeing him in the braves uni reminds me of the old days…

Mikeyc588

February 27th, 2012
10:41 am

DOB –

Ever been to Ybor City in Tampa? Has a rich cigar history and is mentioned in several Hold Steady songs. I have to go down to Tampa next week and was thinking of making it a priority. Just wanted to know if perhaps you had any restaurant/bar/cigar bar recommendations…

reckingball

February 27th, 2012
10:41 am

A Lot of those spectacular plays made by AGon last year, were made with the help of Freeman’s ability to dig put-out throws out of the dirt.
I think that Pastornicky will do alright on the defense, and will definitely be more productive at the plate than last year’s SS.

Billy

February 27th, 2012
10:42 am

Slick fielding Alex Gonzalez had 37 errors before breaking into major league baseball, as a minor leaguer. That is where you make your mistakes to learn your craft.

Slick fielding Alex Gonzalez made 27 errors in his 22 year old rookie season.

Pastornicky will be fine.

nolie

February 27th, 2012
10:43 am

I don’t think there will be much OPS difference DAP, the speed will be an asset to some degree but with less power

Billy

February 27th, 2012
10:44 am

Oh I forgot to be more diminutive to those that need it. Yes, those 37 errors were his one year AA total

nolie

February 27th, 2012
10:45 am

more diminutive?

Billy

February 27th, 2012
10:45 am

Gotta love auto correct. Was intended to be definitive before it was hijacked for another word

Lemke's Knuckler

February 27th, 2012
10:46 am

Thanks for posting the pics DOB. I want to make sweet love to that beautiful green grass.

Lew

February 27th, 2012
10:48 am

Lot more scoring opportunities with a higher OBP and speed than a dozen and a half solo HR.

jeffrey d

February 27th, 2012
10:48 am

Great read. Thanks, DOB

DawgDad

February 27th, 2012
10:49 am

From the left side the Braves will field Bourn, Jones, McCann, Freeman, and Heyward. From the right, Prado, Uggla, and Pastornicky. When Jones doesn’t play the most likely fill-in will be Hinske or Diaz. The Braves GM is making life awfully tough on Freeman and Heyward, not to mention the veteran lefties and Jones. That lineup would look a LOT different with a big right-handed bat in the middle of the order. Keep in mind, overall the Braves got an AVERAGE year of productivity from Uggla last season (he just did it all in one month).

CB

February 27th, 2012
10:49 am

Lemke’s needs a girlfriend. :-)

Billy

February 27th, 2012
10:50 am

The two man grounds crew keeps that main field painstakingly immaculate with the never ending attention they were giving it Saturday

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