(Staff writer Carroll Rogers is filling in for David O’Brien today.)
Well, happy Tuesday, folks. And what I really mean is happy any day that’s not Monday, right? The Braves, now 0-11 on Mondays, will try to rebound tonight against Chris Volstad, whom the Cubs called up to pitch tonight in place of Ryan Dempster (DL with a strained lat muscle).
The Braves know Volstad well from his days with the Marlins. He is 2-4 with a 4.22 ERA in nine starts against the Braves. Volstad last faced them on Sept. 12, when he allowed two runs in five innings of a game the Marlins won 5-4 in 12 innings.
Volstad went winless in eight starts with the Cubs to start the season, going 0-6 with a 7.46 ERA. He wasn’t a whole lot better in the minors, going 2-3 with a 4.44 ERA in Triple-A Iowa.
Jair Jurrjens knows a little bit about that, trying to show his major league club he’s back on track. He’s allowed three earned runs in 13 1/3 innings in two starts since his return from Triple-A Gwinnett. He dominated in his first start back against Boston and was solid in his last start against Arizona. The Braves could use a quality start and a win tonight against a team the Braves should have the upper hand on.
Eye on Greinke
It seems there will be a little bit more of a waiting game to see if the Braves are able to pull off a trade for Brewers ace Zack Greinke, given that the Brewers haven’t yet decided – at least publicly – they’re in selling mode just yet. The Brewers have three straight series against NL Central opponents coming out of the All-Star break and by then they should have a pretty good idea.
The Braves have one of their top scouts in Milwaukee last night to watch Greinke pitch against the Marlins. He gave up five runs in six innings but took a no-decision to remain unbeaten in 22 starts at Miller Park with the Brewers.
By all accounts, it sounds as though the Braves are prepared to spend the kind of money it would take to sign Grienke long-term, not just as a short-term rental. Whether or not they’d go all in at close to $20 million annually remains to be seen or if they can get him for somewhere closer to $15 million.
But the Braves are not the only team vying for his services. The Rangers are in the hunt as well, so it could come down to who has the best return to offer. At this point, it seems the Braves would be prepared to part with one of their previously untouchable three arms – Mike Minor, Randall Degado and Julio Teheran (Arodys Vizcaino is recovering from Tommy John and not an option now) – because while all three still have high upside, the Braves are in need of a proven veteran arm. So perhaps one of those pitchers and a position-player prospect would entice the Brewers.
Greinke makes his home in Orlando, which is where the Braves train, so that figures to help the Braves cause. And Braves GM Frank Wren has had recent dealings with Greinke’s agent Casey Close because he also represents Ben Sheets, whom the Braves just signed to a minor league deal.
The Braves figure to keep exploring all their options, including those that are more affordable financially like Francisco Liriano, Dempster and Matt Garza.
Major League Baseball released a tally of the “First Vote” standings this morning and Chipper Jones was first in the NL vote, followed by Cardinals third baseman David Freese, Nats outfielder Bryce Harper, D-backs second baseman Aaron Hill and Michael Bourn.
Harper surrendered some of the vote, I’m sure, when he said he himself would vote for Chipper. And Freese has the full weight of the active Cardinal fanbase behind him, so perhaps because of that, he’s the real challenge. Major League Baseball did not releases hard figures but said Jones had only a slim lead, and that nine of the 10 players in both the NL and AL considered had garnered one million votes.
You’ve got until Thursday at 4 p.m. to cast ballots at www.mlb.com/vote.
Simmons on rookie of month
I got a chance to talk to Andrelton Simmons after the game last night, and in case you missed the updated version of that story, about what the thought about winning rookie of the month for June, his very first month in the big leagues. He said it was “pretty special,” and called it a “big accomplishment.”
He led all rookies with a .330 batting average and a .365 on-base percentage, and his .522 slugging percentage was second-highest. I was reminded of his first day in the majors when he faced Stephen Strasburg, and didn’t act intimidated at all. Went 0-for-3 on the day (0-for-2) but hit one of the hardest hit balls off Strasburg that day into a double play
“I learned from the first day, I’ve got to be aggressive,” Simmons said. “Don’t be afraid of the pitchers. If you get your pitch to hit early in the count, go ahead, especially in the No. 8 hole. I’ve been seeing the ball really well. I’m working with the coaches a lot in the cages, stuff I feel I need to work on to get better, and it’s been paying off.”
Oh the power of Twitter. Apparently reacting to requests from Braves fans, asking Dale Murphy if the Braves are doing anything to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the 1982 team, the Braves Hall-of-Famer decided to organize one.
So for a lucky 50 fans, Murphy is hosting a 30th anniversary celebration for the 1982 Braves team with a day of festivities before the Braves-Mets game on Sept. 29 at Turner Field, Chipper Jones’ second-to-last home game at Turner Field.
Tickets include a luncheon at the CNN Center Omni Hotel with Murphy, Phil Niekro, Bob Horner, Gene Garber, Bruce Benedict and Pete Van Wieren, valet parking at CNN and a bus ride to the site of Atlanta-Fulton County stadium, a VIP tour of Turner Field and the Braves Hall of Fame guided by Murphy, on-field access for batting practice, and a suite at the game with the 1982 players, along with various signed paraphernalia. The cost is $1,500 and only 50 spots are available. For more information, go to www.82babybluefest.com.
After losing 15 in a row, the Gwinnett Braves have started a streak the other way, and in pretty exciting fashion. They won last night on a walk-off in the 12th inning after Tyler Pastornicky drove in Luis Durango from third base on a fielder’s choice. Newcomer D.J. Carrasco pitched a scoreless 12th inning for his first win with Gwinnett. This is after they snapped their losing streak on Sunday when Felix Pie hit a walk-off single to score Pastornicky in the ninth inning of a 6-5 win vs. Charlotte.
By the way, Pastornicky it hitting .273 in 32 games since he was demoted to Triple-A, with 14 doubles and 17 RBIs. He’s played five games at second base and the rest at his usual shortstop. So nothing yet in the outfield.
1. Michael Bourn CF
2. Martin Prado LF
3. Jason Heyward RF
4. Chipper Jones 3B
5. Freddie Freeman 1B
6. Dan Uggla 2B
7. Brian McCann C
8. Andrelton Simmons SS
9. Jair Jurrjens P