On ATL-flavored HOF stretch, bullpen options, 3rd in East?

DARK STAR, Fla. – Before we discuss the challenges facing the Braves in the season that starts next week and how their proposed trade for Carlos Lee – wait, he was kidding? – could help a lot in that regard, let me first mention something I was thinking about regarding the end of the Bobby Cox/Chipper Jones era and what it will mean to a series of upcoming weekends in Cooperstown, N.Y.

If you’re a Braves fan and haven’t been to the little village that is baseball heaven in the Catskill mountain foothills of central New York, start thinking about making a trip or two because you’re going to have a few opportunities to see a Brave (or Braves inducted).

Glavine, Smoltz and Maddux are all Cooperstown-bound, seems just a matter of when for Smoltz.

Glavine, Smoltz and Maddux are all Cooperstown-bound, seems just a matter of when for Smoltz.

In a five-year span beginning in 2014, five or six former Braves (including four players) figure to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown.

Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, 300-game winners who will surely be first-ballot inductees, are expected to be in the 2014 class along with Cox. There’s a possibility they could even be joined by longtime Braves general manager John Schuerholz.

Cox and Schuerholz, the two primary architects of the Braves’ decade-and-a-half run of success, will be on the Veterans Committee ballot at the 2013 Winter Meetings, the next time the committee considers candidates from 1973 and later. (Next year the committee considers candidates from 1946 and earlier. That’s how that process is done, with one of three historical periods considered annually on a rotating basis.)

One factor that could prevent the quartet of Braves going in together would be the fact that Tony La Russa, Joe Torre and Lou Piniella are also among those considered by the veterans committee at the ’13 Winter Meetings, unless one or more of them comes out of retirement to manage again. Only four can be elected in one year by the committee.

But it seems a fairly safe bet that Maddux and Glavine will be inducted that July 2014 day alongside their former manager, which couldn’t have been scripted any better considering the admiration and respect those three have for one another and the impact they all had on the Braves.

In the next year or two after that we could see the induction of John Smoltz, the other of the iconic Braves Big Three pitching machine. Maddux and Glavine last pitched in 2008, while Smoltz stayed around for another season, hence the one-year gap in HOF eligibility (players are eligible five years after they last appear in a major league game). There is debate over whether Smoltz will be a first-ballot inductee, since his three full seasons spent as a closer made his resume look a bit different than what HOF voters are used to considering.

Smoltz had a 213-155 record, 154 saves, a 3.33 ERA, 3,084 strikeouts and a 1.176 WHIP, and he was an eight-time All-Star who won the NL Cy Young award in 1996 and finished seventh or better in the voting four other times.

The only comparable starter-closer resume belonged to Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley, who had a 197-171 record, 390 saves, a 3.50 ERA, 2,401 strikeouts and a 1.161 WHIP. Eckersley was a five-time All-Star who won one Cy Young award and finished in the top seven in voting five other times, as well as three top-six finishes in the league MVP voting.

Their postseason resumes: Smoltz had a 15-4 record, 2.67 ERA and four saves in 41 games (27 starts) with 199 strikeouts in 209 innings. (This guy was pretty good in the postseason, eh?)

Eckersely had a 1-3 record, 3.00 ERA and 15 saves in 28 postseason games (one start) with 22 strikeouts (and only three walks) in 36 innings.

Eckersley was a first-ballot HOF inductee in 2004 after being named on 83.2 percent of the ballotts (75 percent are required).

Will Smoltz make it on the first ballot? He certainly could, and statistically one could make a strong case that he should. But I don’t think it’s close to a certainty.

Which brings us to his longtime teammate Chipper Jones, who will be eligible for the 2018 class if he sticks to his decision to retire after the 2012 season.

The only surprise to me in any Hall of Fame discussions about Jones is that there are those who question whether he’ll be a first-ballot inductee. I don’t honestly see how 25 percent of the voters could possibly look at his resume and decide that Jones, who is generally regarded as one of the three or four greatest switch-hitters in history and arguably one of the three greatest all-around third baseman in history (I still put him a little behind Mike Schmidt and alongside George Brett at the top of my 3B list. Notice I qualified it with “all-around” – Brooks Robinson was peerless defensively, but just didn’t hit enough to rank with that trio.)

Schmidt is the only third baseman I put ahead of Chipper and George Brett.

Schmidt is the only third baseman I put ahead of Chipper and George Brett.

You know all the Chipper stats by now, so I’m not going to repeat them, other than to remind he’s above .300/.400/.500 in average, OBP and slugging percentage (well above in slugging, at .533) and has 526 doubles, 454 homers and 1,561 RBIs. He’s the only switch-hitter in history with at least a .300 average and 450 homers.

And for those who lean more to sabermetric stats, he ranks third among active players with an 82.7 WAR (wins above replacement), behind Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols, well ahead of the likes of Derek Jeter, Ivan Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez and Roy Halladay.

Folks, Chipper should and will be elected to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot.

♣ Projecting the NL East race: As things stand today, here’s how I see what should be the most competitive NL East race in quite some time. I should add, the team I feel least sure about in the first four is not the Braves, Nationals or Marlins, but the Phillies.

Really.

Their run of five consecutive division titles could be in peril despite that starting rotation. Unless they throw more money at the problem and get another big bat, the Chase Utley and Ryan Howard situations give other teams in the division a chance to build a lead early on Philly despite their still-formidable starting rotation.

As of today, here’s how I see the race:

  1. Phillies
  2. Nationals
  3. Braves
  4. Marlins
  5. Mets

So what do you folks think about the division race?

Where will the Braves finish in NL East in 2012?

View Results

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♣ Carlos Lee: OK, that was a tease. On Saturday at Dunedin when I asked Fredi Gonzalez who’d play left field while Martin Prado is filling in for injured Chipper to begin the season, Gonzalez mentioned possibilities including the Eric Hinske/Matt Diaz tandem, roster hopefuls Jordan Parraz, Jose Constanza and Luis Durango and … Carlos Lee.

He quickly smiled to make it clear he was kidding.

At least I think he was.

We mentioned Lee this winter as a possibility if the Braves were looking to swap bad contracts with someone and the Astros were interested in Derek Lowe. But later I was told by someone familiar with Lee that he had a huge and highly profitable cattle ranch near Houston and would probably use his 10/5 trade-veto rights to quash any proposed trade.

Besides, Lowe’s contract is gone now and Lee is owed about $18.5 million this year, which, near as I can tell, is about $17 million or so more than the Braves seem willing to spend.

But they do need to get some outfield help, be it a Marlon Byrd or Will Venable. (I’ve heard they had or have some interest in Byrd and a couple of lesser available Cubs. And it was reported by a couple of other folks including Fox Sports.com that the Braves checked on the Padres’ Venable. If it’s true that the Padres asked about Kris Medlen in return, it’s understandable that the Braves ended that conversation quickly. Medlen for Venable? No.)

♣ The bullpen: Five relief spots are set with the power trio of closer Craig Kimbrel, lefty setup men Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty, and versatile righties Medlen and Cristhian Martinez, each capable of pitching multiple innings at a time. Unless the Braves have an unexpected change of heart and move Medlen to the rotation, this first five in the ‘pen is a lock, leaving two openings.

Barring a trade, I’d be a little surprised if the Braves don’t go with Cory Gearrin and Jairo Asencio for the last two spots. Gearrin has allowed six hits and no earned runs in eight appearances, with three walks and 10 strikeouts in 9-1/3 innings. The sidearmer has shown by frequently taking some velocity off his fastball he gets better movement and makes the pitch an effective weapon against lefty hitters, who were his bane last season.

Braves aren't interested in trading the versatile Medlen.

Braves aren't interested in trading the versatile Medlen.

Asencio has a 2.70 ERA in a team-high nine relief appearances this spring, allowing 10 hits and two walks with 11 strikeouts in 10 innings. It’s important to note he’s out of minor-league options, meaning he’d have to go through waivers before he could get sent down. Such matters are always considered when making roster decisions. The MVP of the Caribbean Series as the Dominican Republic’s closer this past winter, Asencio would almost certainly be claimed off waivers by some team aware of his potential.

Also worth noting: He came to spring training only a few weeks after finishing winter ball, and gave up three earned runs in his first four appearances, including two runs ni his only two-inning appearance. Since then Asencio has pitched five scoreless innings with seven strikeouts in five innings, including two strikeouts three times in his past four innings.

Lefty Yohan Flande has also been impressive, pitching 9-1/3 scoreless innings in six spring appearances with only four hits. But he’s had more walks (six) than strikeouts (five) and is not out of options. And with Medlen in the bullpen, the need for a lefty specialist is reduced because of Medlen’s effectiveness against hitters from both sides (the righty uses his change-up well against lefty hitters).

Rule 5 pick Robert Fish hasn’t pitched in two weeks and has been dealing with some arm soreness, though the Braves haven’t said anything specific. We’ll probably hear something on that in the next day, but he obviously won’t be ready for the opening day roster even if he had been impressive in his early appearances, which he frankly wasn’t.

♣ OK, gotta get on the road to Port St. Lousy for Braves at Mets. Got a lot of new music last night from Orlando’s Park Avenue CDs to listen to on the drive down and back, including The PinesDark So Gold (great atmospheric Americana/country vibe), Gentleman Jesse’s new album Leaving Atlanta, a deluxe edition of The StoogesRaw Power (who in the world sold this back – but thanks, I got it cheap), Chuck Mead and his Grassy Knoll Boys’ old-school country Back at the Quonset Hut and Polica’s Give You The Ghost.

Let’s close with some My Morning Jacket, which you can hear by clicking here or see them do live by clicking here.

mymorningjacketlive

“I’M AMAZED” by My Morning Jacket

I’m amazed at a quiet ocean
I’m amazed at your warm devotion
I’m amazed at what the people sayin’
I’m amazed by a divided nation

Like the rhythm of the earth, I get disrupted

I’m amazed at all that has been
I’m amazed at all that will be
I’m amazed at the tv stations
I’m amazed what they want me to believe

After all is said and done- where is the justice?

I’m amazed, the lack of evolution
I’m amazed at the lack of faith
I’m amazed at the love we’re rejecting
I’m amazed what we accept in its place

Like the rhythm of the earth
And the rhythm of the ages
Like the rhythm, I get disrupted

I’m amazed
I’m amazed

– by David O’Brien, Braves/MIB blog

1,953 comments Add your comment

noleee

March 27th, 2012
8:25 am

Good job DOB, guessin’ no on Lee though ;)

Chop for Chip

March 27th, 2012
8:35 am

Bayou Brave

March 27th, 2012
8:39 am

I remember reading an article (I think in SI) about 10 years ago that projected Andruw Jones to be surefire HOFer, and Chipper falling short.

How things have changed…

noleee

March 27th, 2012
8:41 am

I remember that, I thought it was stupid when I read it

Bill

March 27th, 2012
8:47 am

Have a safe trip DOB. Go Braves.

Bayou Brave

March 27th, 2012
8:48 am

I wish someone could find that article. I would love to re-read it.

Jeff R

March 27th, 2012
8:57 am

Great update, DOB. Thanks.

Not seeing the Nats as #2 in the division. Despite the upgrades, I think they have some question marks, beginning with the very talented Strasburg, who’s largely untested. And the Nats’ offense could be a bust.

STRETCH

March 27th, 2012
8:57 am

So what rumors are out there?

The Astros released left-hander Zach Duke and outfielder Jack Cust, Senior Director of Social Media Alyson Footer tweets.

Cust, 33, signed a non-guaranteed Major League deal worth $600K in January. The one-year contract had also included a club option for 2013. Cust posted a .213/.344/.329 line with three home runs in 270 plate appearances for the Mariners in 2011, when he earned $2.5MM. However, the TWC Sports client averaged 28 homers and 103 walks with the A’s from 2007-09.

Knowing the Braves and their budget, he fits. Yikes!

alex

March 27th, 2012
9:09 am

Heaven is not Iowa, it’s Cooperstown. If you haven’t been there, save your nickels and dimes and quarters,stay in Albany at the Embassy Suites (free breakfast and dinner), take the relatively short drive to Cooperstown, park in an outlying lot (free shuttle) and ENJOY the magnificent museum and now spend the money you saved in the many baseball stores….

JoeBravesFan

March 27th, 2012
9:09 am

Damn right Chipper is a first-ballot HOFer! His numbers and character speak for themselves. I’ve been really impressed by Parraz this spring and hope he gets a shot, but at the same time I LOVE Constanza’s speed. Matt Diaz is not the answer, that’s for sure. I don’t really understand why they brought him back, other than for sentimental reasons. Let’s win one for the Chipper this year!!!

Longtimefan

March 27th, 2012
9:10 am

It’s interesting when the Chipper haters are confronted with facts they become mute. And for the argument of ” Yea, but what have you done for me lately?” the last few years impressive stats have been quoted by me and others numerous times.

Coach (2012 Fredi's beisbol fandango)

March 27th, 2012
9:10 am

New blog, awesome!

Tami

March 27th, 2012
9:11 am

Great article as usual, DOB. I’d love to be able to go up to C-town for at least one of those inductions into the HOF. If not sooner, maybe I can make it up for Chipper’s.

JoeBravesFan

March 27th, 2012
9:11 am

Thanks for the tips, alex…I really wanna go in 2014 when Glavine, Maddux and possibly Cox go into the HOF.

Ease

March 27th, 2012
9:11 am

Today’s lineup at NYM (1:10, 1230AM): Bourn 8 Ja. Wilson 4 Freeman 3 Hinske 7 Ross 2 Heyward 9 Sutton 5 Simmons 6 Carlyle 1

BLK09GT

March 27th, 2012
9:12 am

Exactly Longtimefan, I have posted where he ranked amongst 3B last year when he had a “down” year. Yet they will usually come back with something about Chipper being greedy. Can’t talk facts, so they attack the man’s character.

Wow, really DOB

March 27th, 2012
9:13 am

Way to leave off Andruw Jones, he is a deserving HOFer.

Derek

March 27th, 2012
9:13 am

Is Wren considering Vlad Guerrero? CLE has worked him out and Vlad has gone as far to say he’d be interested in playing in Japan if not playing in USA, so he still wants to play. He’s 1 season away from a 29-HR campaign and is a pure hitter. Throw in that he hits LHP at a .322 clip (.400 OBP!) for his career, and you have something. I’m sure we can offer him more than CLE, and he’d offer more than Diaz/Hinske 6 out of 7 days of the week.

DePort

March 27th, 2012
9:18 am

I refuse to pick the nationals to win anything until they prove it on the field… Every year someone picks the Marlins or the Nationals to step up and leap over us… and every year …EVERY YEAR … they fall off by the All Star break… how is this year any different?

Jeff R

March 27th, 2012
9:19 am

I’d add Braves’ great Eddie Matthews to the top tier of all-time great third baseman. Matthews wasn’t just a solid power hitter, but a excellent defender.

Jimmy

March 27th, 2012
9:21 am

Vladdie is really a RF..but I guess he could handle the other corner.
I’d say money is the issue with him.

Watched him many years ago with the Albany Polecats. He stood out as a man among boys.

Coach (2012 Fredi's beisbol fandango)

March 27th, 2012
9:22 am

Cristhian Martinez and Jairo Asencio look like they will both make the team, so their being out of options is a moot point.

Speaking of help in the outfield….has anybody thought about the Indians Shelly Duncan?

JRW

March 27th, 2012
9:22 am

Updated picks since DOB asked. Looking forward to seeing these from everyone today.

NL East – 1) Phillies, 2) Braves, 3) Nats, 4) Marlins, 5) Mets

NL Cent – 1) Cards, 2) Reds, 3) Brewers, 4) Pirates, 5) Cubs, 6) Astros

NL West – 1) D-Backs, 2) Dodgers, 3) Giants, 4) Padres

NL Wildcards – Braves, Dodgers

AL East – 1) Red Sox, 2) Yankees, 3) Blue Jays, 4) Rays, 5) Orioles

AL Cent – 1) Tigers, 2) Indians, 3) White Sox, 4) Royals, 5) Twins

AL West – 1) Angels, 2) Rangers, 3) A’s, 4) Mariners

AL Wildcards – Rangers, Yankees

flange1

March 27th, 2012
9:23 am

Thanks for the new blog DOB!

Stu

March 27th, 2012
9:25 am

With both Teheran and Delgado really stinking it up so far, do you really think the Braves are going to leave Medlen in the pen the first month till Hudson comes back like they say they will? Seems like they are being stubborn rather than smart if they do that. Send the two kids down for Gwinnett for a month. Put Medlen in the rotation and when Hudson comes back, put him back in the penand call up the kid who has got it together better than the other. The games count as much in April as in Sept and lets face it, we have to win with our pitching because our hitting is mediocre and will be all season.

count_schemula

March 27th, 2012
9:26 am

Smoltz has 209 postseason innings, 199Ks and 15Ws. That’s a whole season in the postseason. Any voter would have to consider this, and when they do, his numbers are far better than Eckersley. Also, post season numbers are not against the weak teams.

On Andruw… he played such a great centerfield. I hope Glavine, Smoltz and Maddux each mention him in their speeches, he was just that valuable to them. But his issue is pretty obvious. He was an ok hitter, but HE TANKED at age 30. Why this is, we’ll never know, he got fat and did not adjust to being 30, he played 11 seasons hardly missing a game and broke down, or whatever, but, he needed a few more good years after 30 and never really got them. In the end, his glove was so strong he may get in should get it… but, the falloff at age 30 is a tarnish.

Coach (2012 Fredi's beisbol fandango)

March 27th, 2012
9:26 am

From 1997 through 2007 (ELEVEN YEARS) Andruw Jones was arguably the best all around center fielder in the game of baseball. If that doesn’t qualify the man for Cooperstown, they should stop voting.

RC

March 27th, 2012
9:27 am

Way to leave off Andruw Jones, he is a deserving HOFer.

While I agree that he’s deserving, it’s not going to happen for him unless he has a huge 3-4 year resurgence at this point. HOF doesn’t reward defense unless you play SS.

JRW

March 27th, 2012
9:27 am

Forgot the Rockies in the NL West, I will pick them to finish 4th ahead of the Padres.

BLK09GT

March 27th, 2012
9:28 am

Stu, I believe DOB mentioned previously there was some thought of going into the season with only 4 starters until Hudson got back. If they are not going to use Medlen the way we all know he should be because of being stubborn or whatever, then I think this is the best way to go about it. 4 starters only.

ncscoots

March 27th, 2012
9:29 am

I’d be interested in knowing what factors sway O’Brien to the Nats. Or away from the Braves, I guess. Or both.

PaBraveFan

March 27th, 2012
9:33 am

DOB if you haven’t heard of Gaslight Anthem or Airborne Toxic Event, I would highly recommend you giving them a listen. Based on your taste, I think you will like them.

Patrick

March 27th, 2012
9:36 am

I can’t see the nationals finishing in second. Until I remember how bad the braves record is against them. and how pedestrian players play like all-star’s against them. John Lannan, Ian Desmond, Tyler Clippard (though he’s real good, I admit that), Ross Detweiler, Danny Espinoza. And I’m sure more will come, like Gio Gonzalez…and that’s cause he’s left handed. *If the Braves and their 2 man hitting coach team do not figure out a way to get this team to hit left handed pitching this season, they’re done*

RC

March 27th, 2012
9:37 am

I’d be interested in knowing what factors sway O’Brien to the Nats. Or away from the Braves, I guess. Or both.

If I were to guess I’d say pitching. Braves suddenly have a lot of question marks in the rotation, while the Nationals look to have a pretty solid rotation with Gio on board and a full season of Strasburg.

Coach (2012 Fredi's beisbol fandango)

March 27th, 2012
9:37 am

While I agree that he’s deserving, it’s not going to happen for him unless he has a huge 3-4 year resurgence at this point. HOF doesn’t reward defense unless you play SS.

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

So does averaging 157 games played with 33 HR’s and 100 RBI, along with gold glove defense for eleven straight years qualify A.J for Cooperstown?

count_schemula

March 27th, 2012
9:38 am

How could we stick Torii Hunter in LF ?

McFann :Ô: :Ô: :ô:

March 27th, 2012
9:38 am

Thanks for the new Blog, Chief!

Bleh, I doubt the Fillies will be affected by the absence of those two players—injuries never seem to hurt them… :roll: (ITS)

Tom O’Hawke McFann would like to have Byrd playing for the Braves.

I actually would—I’ve been a fan of his for a while now (can’t remember exactly when it started)…and he scored the 3rd run of BMac 3-Run Double in the 2010 All-Star Game! :D

Jeff R

March 27th, 2012
9:42 am

ncscoots, good question regarding DOB’s Nats pick. The Nats are improved, no doubt about it.

Nats’ pitching is better, especially the rotation, but better than the Braves? The team’s offense could be good, or as I wrote earlier, it could bust. Go through the batting order. Maybe Werth has a rebound year, but maybe not. LaRoche? If he stays healthy. And so on.

count_schemula

March 27th, 2012
9:44 am

Coach AJ is on the cusp. He started young, true, but you just can’t fall off like that at age 30 and not at least sort of return to at least being serviceable. We love him, he was the best CF we’re likely to see in our lifetime, but, his production last year with the Braves was the saddest 94RBI season I’ve ever seen, .158 with the Dodgers was a nightmare, and even now that he’s sort of back to a 200-350AB kinda guy, he’s just not a great hitter with .214, .230 and .247.

I think he gets in at some point, but what he has done since 2007 probably keeps him off the first ballot. As good as he was, he’s been that bad lately.

Venice Jim

March 27th, 2012
9:44 am

David O’Brien ‏ @ajcbraves Reply Retweet Favorite · Open
#Braves lineup: Bourn 8, Ja.Wilson 4, Freeman 3, Hinske 7, Ross 2, Heyward 9, Sutton 5, Simmons 6, Buddy Carlyle rhp

DAP

March 27th, 2012
9:44 am

im not sure andruw’s stats are good enough. he will probably be one of those borderline cases.

Calvin

March 27th, 2012
9:47 am

That reply about Medlen for Venable was not just a no but a “oh hell no” I’m sure when the Padres asked.

Jeff R

March 27th, 2012
9:47 am

I’d be surprised if Andruw Jones makes it to the Hall of Fame. His decline was so steep and at such an early age that I think it disqualifies him with Hall voters.

Braves fan in maine

March 27th, 2012
9:48 am

Bring Vlad in why not…….. he is an upgrade over what we have now…. diaz stinks and vlad still has some pop in his bat….. we need to do something or we are screwd…… GO BRAVES

Ken Stallings

March 27th, 2012
9:48 am

David,

Where do you put Eddie Matthews?

JRW

March 27th, 2012
9:49 am

It’s funny how the Marlins got almost all of the off season press with their moves and acquisitions yet not many pick them better than 4th. The NL East could have four teams within a couple of games of each other to start September. That will be fun.

Jimmy

March 27th, 2012
9:50 am

Nats bullpen, especially the backend, is very good on paper. But I think Storen is hurting.

Making picks is a fruitless exercise. Over the course of 162 games, alot can happen.

I still like our chances. Forget September and we were one of the best in baseball. And this year, we have basically the same team. But Uggla seems to have a different approach, and I expect a good start by him.

ChillyMutt

March 27th, 2012
9:51 am

Please oh please no Parraz in the outfield … or infield … or wearing anything other than a batting glove.

ncbravesfan90

March 27th, 2012
9:52 am

Hmmmmm…..

Marlon Byrd Drawing Interest

By Ben Nicholson-Smith [March 27 at 8:51am CST]

Cubs center fielder Marlon Byrd is drawing interest from two National League teams, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. The Cubs offered Byrd to the Nationals for pitching and the Braves are also discussing the 34-year-old.

GM Jed Hoyer has said he won’t be surprised if the Cubs make a move leading up to Opening Day. The team currently appears to be listening to offers for Byrd rather than shopping him, according to Wittenmyer.

Byrd posted a .276/.324/.395 line in 482 plate appearances in 2011, his second season in Chicago. He earns $6.5MM in 2012 and hits free agency next winter. The Fielding Bible Volume III describes Byrd as a reliable if unspectacular center fielder who makes up for an ordinary throwing arm with good reads and a quick release.

If the Cubs traded Byrd, Reed Johnson and Joe Mather could get more playing time in the short-term. Top prospect Brett Jackson is “ready to play here for sure,” in the opinion of manager Dale Sveum. Jackson figures to be an option for the Cubs at some point in 2012, even if he needs some more minor league seasoning.

Venice Jim

March 27th, 2012
9:53 am

If the Nats stick with their plan to shut Strasburg down after 160 innings, that would make for an interesting September for them…

DAP

March 27th, 2012
9:53 am

coach So does averaging 157 games played with 33 HR’s and 100 RBI, along with gold glove defense for eleven straight years qualify A.J for Cooperstown?

i think andruw might have the same problem that dale murphy is having now. borderline.

Coach (2012 Fredi's beisbol fandango)

March 27th, 2012
9:56 am

Jeff R

March 27th, 2012
9:47 am

I’d be surprised if Andruw Jones makes it to the Hall of Fame. His decline was so steep and at such an early age that I think it disqualifies him with Hall voters.

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

Just like Mickey Mantle ay?

Wow, really DOB

March 27th, 2012
9:58 am

It shouldn’t matter when Andruw fell off. It should be the body or work and peak that are judged.

Arguably best defensive centerfielder ever, only Griffey, Mantle, and Mays have more home runs for center fielders.

Brave New World

March 27th, 2012
9:58 am

NL East can be won by any team other than the Mets in 2012. That said, Braves, Phils, Nats, and Marlins are all candidates to finish anywhere from 1st to 4th, with 5 -7 wins separating 4th from 1st. expect all 4 teams to finish with 85-90 or so wins. Should be a great race. Nats and Marlins have improved, and Phils have potential for biggest drop. Braves ability to genrate runs (as always) will detrmine their success.

BravesFan in DC

March 27th, 2012
9:59 am

Great blog, DOB! Some swell new tune recommendations as well.

Question – What would Chipper (roughly) have to bat this year (assuming he plays in 100+ games) for his average to dip below .300? Is there any chance of that??

Peter R

March 27th, 2012
9:59 am

I think the Braves have MASSIVE potential to be a great baseball team. Freeman and Heyward could put up great number, but on the other side they could put up horrible numbers. If neither of them produce, then Braves will not win. Last year’s offensive production was excruciatingly bad at points, and if either of them fail to produce then the same situation will befall the Braves. They’re looking at a 6 man lineup as of today, unless by some act of God whichever SS and LF they have come out and produce well.

Again the division in appears to be up for grabs. Keep in mind Lee and Doc Holiday are much older and are not invincible, Lee in particular. If either of them is injured the Phillies will likely falter.

Otherwise the Braves will likely come in 2nd or 3rd place. I don’t think they’re going to be so bad as to fall off from 89 wins all of the sudden to like 83/82 wins. Kids in baseball get better with experience, and that’s what the Braves have: a lot of young talent with tremendous potential.

Wow, really DOB

March 27th, 2012
10:00 am

Andruw has a 60.4 Baseball reference WAR and 71.7 Fangraphs WAR.

By that estimation he is deserving.

Venice Jim

March 27th, 2012
10:02 am

Jerry Crasnick ‏ @jcrasnick
A scout on Florida’s east coast says the #Marlins pitching will be an issue and the #Nationals “aren’t as good as they think.”

Arkansas Transplant

March 27th, 2012
10:04 am

Only problem with making any moves right now, is the fact that every team knows it would be out of desperation. Which is not a good side to be on.

Venice Jim

March 27th, 2012
10:05 am

But the article is about players who are retired or have announced they will – Andruw not in either category…

Coach (2012 Fredi's beisbol fandango)

March 27th, 2012
10:07 am

I’m gonna table this nonsense and shut up about A.J.

First off, his career isn’t over. Second, it’s no stretch of the imagination to think the guy could play through the age of 40 and finish with 500 HR’s. All he would have to do is average 14 HR’s as a part time player for the next six years. which is doable in the American league.

Then what you have the best all around center fielder in the game for an entire decade, along with 500 dingers and eleven gold gloves. So it ain’t over till the fat lady sings and she isn’t singing A.J.’s swan song just yet.

Jeff R

March 27th, 2012
10:07 am

Coach… Wouldn’t quite put Andruw in Mantle’s league.

flange1

March 27th, 2012
10:10 am

In my simple mind, the Braves have a glut of starting pitching and are in need of a future impact player in LF or 3B.

Hopefully Terdo will be able to help out at one of those spots.

I think the Braves will need to make a decent size trade at some point for either of these positions or possibly a long term option in CF.

It looks like FW is looking for an OF option at present.

My hope is that we make only 1 trade – for a long term option, as opposed to 2 trades, one for a fix for 2012 and one for a long term.

I would rather start the season with what we have rather than giving up any of our prime pitchers/prospects for a stop gap guy.

Fastball

March 27th, 2012
10:10 am

Chipper returns as player/manager

DAP

March 27th, 2012
10:12 am

coach Second, it’s no stretch of the imagination to think the guy could play through the age of 40 and finish with 500 HR’s.

thats very true. he really needs to be getting more than 200 PAs per season, though. his numbers have been good enough that he should be getting more play.

Tire Treader

March 27th, 2012
10:12 am

Byrd,Lee or whomever will be better than Diaz,Constanza,Hinske any day of the week & twice on Sunday.

Marvin Mangrum

March 27th, 2012
10:13 am

DOB, first, thank you so much! You make it better for me because with you being there you see it with your eyes, and I trust your opinion, and I do so enjoy reading your thoughts and your beliefs on my favorite team. I do believe that without Lowe the Bravos will be much better than last year. Their main problem will be third, Chipper, regardless of all that, is killing them. I do believe Freeman will be better, its right thats next tho, if Heyward comes around and plays at a pro level, we will be fine. I know, short may be a problem, but that will work out. Last year till it got hot they only had a couple of guys that were playing, I see 5 right now doing that, so it will be better, cause the pitching is better. I do believe second place finish with a good run at 1st. And a wild card. Lets get ready . Again, thanks for being there.

brian

March 27th, 2012
10:13 am

thanks DOB – great tease on Lee. I can’t imagine how much of his contract we would make Houston eat to actually acquire him

Coach (2012 Fredi's beisbol fandango)

March 27th, 2012
10:14 am

Everybody is talking about the inconsistent performance from Teheran and Delgado, along with Hudson being out for the first month of the season. Making our starting pitching vulnerable.

What nobody has mentioned….Uggla, McCann, Freeman and Heyward. Maybe it’s just me but I’m thinking the middle of our line up looks scary as hell. These guys can thump with the best of them, and they are looking great so far in spring training.

Jeff R

March 27th, 2012
10:15 am

“[The Braves] are in need of a future impact player in LF or 3B.”

flange1, more interested in the Braves finding a strong 3B prospect. I think the infield is a priority. Not sure Terdo is the guy for the 3B job. Could just be a big lug, or he could hit. Not reading much about his fielding.

No shortage of solid third base prospects in many major league systems. It’s a matter of structuring a deal to pry one of them loose, if possible.

Tire Treader

March 27th, 2012
10:16 am

Heyward should be thumping in AAA….

ncscoots

March 27th, 2012
10:16 am

I would rather start the season with what we have rather than giving up any of our prime pitchers/prospects for a stop gap guy.

Pretty sure the FO is with you on that, and felt the same way for the entire offseason.

Lew

March 27th, 2012
10:17 am

Alex – I completely agree about Cooperstown, but we stay at the Colgate Inn – great old place right next to the Colgate campus and not very far away from Cooperstown.

We spent a weekedn there a couple years ago and went to see the Braves/Twins play in the HOF game (Jonathan Schuerholz won the game MVP – go figure). I think Bobby Dews actually caught an inning or two.

flange1

March 27th, 2012
10:18 am

Jeff R,

I agree! Not sold on Terdo’s defense, maybe he could shift to left?

Murph

March 27th, 2012
10:18 am

Jack Wilson and Buddy Carlyle getting starts today… and nobody has yelled “BALLGAME” yet???

So, the Braves are shopping for a LF… and people want them to go out and get a power bat, a starter-quality player. That’s great and all, but where does this superstar play when Chipper is actually in the lineup?

Jeff R

March 27th, 2012
10:20 am

flange1, if I were Braves’ management, yes, I’d move Terdo to left.

Patrick

March 27th, 2012
10:21 am

I would like to see Marlon Byrd come here, he’s a solid player and was an all-star not too long ago (I think 2 seasons ago)

Lew

March 27th, 2012
10:22 am

Andruw will never be inducted to the HOF. His career fell of the table at age 30 – the only way you get into the HOF with no post 30 performance, is if you have health issues like Puckett.

Another couple of good years would have cinched it for Druw, but not after he fell off the edge of the baseball earth and got eaten by sea monsters.

flange1

March 27th, 2012
10:22 am

Further,

I was one of the guys that was moaning about the Braves lack of offensive prospects that DOB called out yesterday.

I must say that I have been very impressed with Terdo, Betancort, Simmons and Gatis.

So my review of Terdo’s defense might not carry a lot of weight!

:)

ncscoots

March 27th, 2012
10:22 am

Maybe it’s just me but I’m thinking the middle of our line up looks scary as hell.

Coach and I agree. Now, I’m a little worried. :-)

Seriously, all these guys have to have is a, well, normal, year. Do that, and it’s a lineup with depth, sock, even some speed (for those who desire). The team just has to not make outs as if they’re worth extra trips to the buffet, that’s all. Get the OBP back to player norms, and there are offensive weapons aplenty to be a high-scoring offense.

Juan

March 27th, 2012
10:24 am

Which WILSON is going to play today?….It;s Jack or Josh….

Murph

March 27th, 2012
10:25 am

Juan, I think it’s Jack Wilson… yippee?

Venice Jim

March 27th, 2012
10:26 am

Coach (2012 Fredi's beisbol fandango)

March 27th, 2012
10:26 am

Tire Treader

March 27th, 2012
10:16 am

Heyward should be thumping in AAA….

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

You should be blogging in AAA………

Coach (2012 Fredi's beisbol fandango)

March 27th, 2012
10:28 am

Shelley Duncan….LF. Although it looks as if he has won a job in Cleveland. But the Indians are going nowhere fast making a trade feasible.

Juan

March 27th, 2012
10:29 am

I’m confuse with this wilson thin…It’s not Jack our reg SS?…why he’s playing second today?…

Moylan Prado

March 27th, 2012
10:30 am

Any word if Smoltz’s number will be retired this year? If it is, and Chipper’s is retired next year, that will be five straight years of retired numbers.

Lew

March 27th, 2012
10:34 am

Coach – Comparing Andruw and Mantle? Seriously?

Always knew your thought process was iffy at the best of times, but Mantle? 20 time All Star, 3 Time MVP, 100+ more HR than Andruw, 300 more RBI. And as for him falling off at the end of his career – his last four OPS were .831, .927, .825, and finally, at age 36 with both knees shot to hell a .782.

Mantle was one of the greatest all time players – Andruwe (though I like him as one of my favorite Braves), not so much. Mantle fell apart at age 34 – Andruw never made it past 30 – and Mantle played twice as many games at the end of his career than Andruw did.

Sorry – He won’t make it on the strength of those Golden Gloves.

Jimmy

March 27th, 2012
10:36 am

Murph – “So, the Braves are shopping for a LF… and people want them to go out and get a power bat, a starter-quality player. That’s great and all, but where does this superstar play when Chipper is actually in the lineup?”

Excellent point. If Chipper were to hang them up, ok then. But he hasn’t, so we need Prado to back him up (which I expect to be most of the time). This LFer would only be a part-timer too.

Honestly, I don’t expect much from Chipper this season. Leadership yeah, but not much on the field.

Murph

March 27th, 2012
10:36 am

Freeman’s hitting .237… Heyward is hitting .183… yes, they’ve had moments where they looked like they were figuring things out at the dish this spring, but those moments have been very few and far between.

I’m not all that worried about Freeman. He’s a slow starter, or at least he has been the last few years of his career.

I am worried about Heyward. Aside from his grand slam and a couple of doubles, what has he shown so far? Not a lot. I’m really surprised people are not talking about him more… the few AB’s of his I’ve seen this spring were not pretty.

With so much of the Braves’ hopes and dreams resting on Heyward’s shoulders… well, I’m just worried that he isn’t as far along in his turnaround as people seem to want to give him credit for lately.

Coach (2012 Fredi's beisbol fandango)

March 27th, 2012
10:38 am

Kirby Puckett was overrated. The guy was 26 before he broke into the Twins line up, and while Kirby hit for a high average his overall offensive production wasn’t all that great. He has six years of 20 or more HR’s and three season of 100 RBI, and six gold gloves. So to this day I don’t know what the voters were thinking when they let this guy slip through.

Jeff R

March 27th, 2012
10:39 am

Andruw Jones = Mantle? Nada!

Actually, it’s sad that Andruw fell apart so early. In his twenties, Andruw was no doubt one of the premier outfielders in the game. But it happened, and I think that has decided his HOF fate.

Jimmy

March 27th, 2012
10:41 am

Murph – Someone stated the other day that Heyward isn’t pulling grounders to second base this year. It’s to first base.

The lineup has potential, but alot of things have to click at the same time.

Tire Treader Extroidinaire

March 27th, 2012
10:42 am

I’d rather have a Byrd in LF than a Terd…

Coach (2012 Fredi's beisbol fandango)

March 27th, 2012
10:42 am

Mantle fell apart after age 32 and his last four years were forgettable at best. Lew should drink some coffee and turn his brain on before talking out of his butt :)

Brooklyn Braves Brawler

March 27th, 2012
10:43 am

Vlad is too old and cant run, and is a DH at this point of his career. Same with Carlos Lee, who I like lot but cant play the OF, he’s at 1B right now for the Astros. I’d stick with Diaz

Jeff R

March 27th, 2012
10:43 am

Murph, based on Wren’s remarks about Heyward shortly after last season, I think Heyward is on Wren’s watch list. I really don’t think Wren can or will tolerate Heyward significantly under-performing for a long stretch this season (injuries or not). When Wren said it was time for Heyward to move past his potential and produce, I believe he meant it.

Mets R Best

March 27th, 2012
10:43 am

I can’t believe you have the Braves finishing ahead of the Mighty New York Mets.

Brooklyn Braves Brawler

March 27th, 2012
10:45 am

I would start looking at Bethancourt in LF the way he has the potential to hit and with his athleticism

Jeff R

March 27th, 2012
10:45 am

Coach, really… seriously? You’d actually favorably compare Andruw Jones and Mantle (probably the first five-tool guy in the game)?

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