Now that Arizona outfielder Justin Upton has rejected a trade to the Mariners – Seattle was one of four teams on his no-trade list – and the Rangers reportedly moved on from Upton after deciding the price was too high, maybe the Braves have more leverage and could pull off a trade for the second Upton brother (ATL already has center fielder B.J.) without giving up such a bevy of young talent as Seattle agreed to part with.
But unless the Braves get the younger Upton for less than what Arizona GM Kevin Towers was asking earlier this offseason – Towers sought a package centered around shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who the Braves won’t trade – then Braves GM Frank Wren seems willing to go to spring training with the players they have now and see how things shake out before determining whether a big addition is necessary.
Justin Upton, 25, is signed for three more years – he’s owed $38.5 million over that period – and showed his huge potential in 2011 by hitting
Left field hopeful Evan Gattis and a top pitching prospect J.R. Graham are among the 21 non-roster invitees the Braves will bring to spring training when camp opens in early February – a list the club announced Thursday.
Gattis made quite a splash with his spring training invitation last season, raising eyebrows among Braves teammates and manager Fredi Gonzalez with his home run-hitting prowess. He will look to continue the work he started in winter ball, hitting 16 home runs in Venezuela. He has a chance to make the Braves bench as a potential part-time left fielder and backup catcher.
This will be the first time in big league camp for Graham, the right-hander with a mid-to-upper 90s fastball who was named the Braves organizational pitcher of the year for 2012 in September.
Also among the first-time invitees are last year’s second round pick from the University of Georgia left-hander Alex Wood, standout shortstop from the University of Connecticut Nick Ahmed and third
First-time eligible players Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, the biggest stars implicated in baseball’s steroid era, were turned away by voters for the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday, as was Braves icon Dale Murphy – in his final year on the ballot — and everyone else up for consideration.
For the first time since 1996 and the eighth time since voting began in 1936, no players were elected by voting members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Craig Biggio came closest, named on 68.2 percent of the 569 ballots in his first year of eligibility and falling 39 votes shy of the 75-percent election requirement.
Bonds had a record seven Most Valuable Player awards and broke Hank Aaron’s hallowed career home-run record, and Clemens finished with more than 300 wins and 4,000 strikeouts to go with a record seven Cy Young Awards. Without question, they would’ve been first-ballot Hall of Famers if not for links to steroids.
Each got only about half of the required
After GM Frank Wren said during a satellite-radio interview Sunday that the Braves had not closed the door on the possibility of Michael Bourn returning to the team, reaction on Twitter and the blogosphere went about as you’d expect in this age of 2 + 2 = 10.
Within an hour, Wren’s rather innocuous and not exactly earth-shattering response to the Bourn question was twisted, re-tweeted and exaggerated enough times to turn it into a juicy rumor in which some characterized the situation as the Braves in talks to bring back Bourn at a discounted rate now that his market had failed to materialize.
Some fans even got indignant about the possibility that the Braves might opt to move Bourn, a former Gold Glove winner, to left field in order to accommodate offseason free-agent signee B.J. Upton in
Braves players and team officials will meet and greet fans and sign autographs when the team’s annual Country Caravan rolls through five states and covers about 3,000 miles from Jan. 22 through Feb. 2.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez and Braves coaches, broadcasters and front-office officials will join players at various stops on the tour, which features free autograph sessions at Academy Sports + Outdoor stores and Taco Mac restaurants, along with community appearances at schools and hospitals.
Details including specific players and other participants and community appearances were still being finalized, and the Braves said those would be announced later. Here’s the itinerary for autograph signings:
Jan. 22 – Cumming, Ga., Taco Mac (12:30-2:30 p.m.) and Academy Sports + Outdoors (3:30-5 p.m.)
Jan. 23 – Atlanta, AT&T store, location and times TBA
Jan. 24 – Columbia, S.C., Academy Sports + Outdoors (730 Fashion Drive), 3:30-5 p.m.
Jan. 25 – Snellville, Ga., Academy Sports +
The Braves’ April 1 regular-season opener against Philadelphia at Turner Field will start at 7 p.m. and be carried by ESPN2 as part of Opening Night prime-time doubleheader.
It will mark just the second time in nine seasons that the Braves have opened at home. They start the season with a pair of three-game series against the Phillies and Chicago Cubs at Turner Field, before hitting the road for a six-game trip to Miami and Washington.
There’s an open date built into the schedule April 2 in case of an opening-game rainout. The Day 2 open date has become standard around baseball, so that teams don’t potentially have to give out a huge number of rainchecks to sellout or near-sellout crowds on opening day.
The 2012 Braves finished second in the NL East behind Washington with a 94-68 record, tied for fourth-best in the majors. Their postseason ended abruptly when the Braves lost to St. Louis in the inaugural NL Wild Card game, the first one-game playoff since the addition of
The Braves GM is back in the office after a Christmas-New Year’s vacation, and so am I. So let’s start the new year with an update on the Bravos and the stirred-up controversy over new batting-practice caps that feature the old Indian-head logo.
Oh, the holidays? Well, I saw some great movies, ate some good food, got my snowboarding fix (quick trip to Eldora Mountain near Boulder while visiting my sister) and picked up a bunch of used vinyl (a guy was selling mint-condition collection of rock, country and soul at a flea market in Lafayette, Co.; best of all, someone special gave me a first-pressing Cash “Live at Folsom Prison” LP for Christmas).
How was your Christmas and the rest of the holiday week? Get what you hoped for, maybe a season-ticket package or a Heyward jersey?
OK, let’s get back to our subject.
The Braves, like most teams, didn’t make any moves or announcements since closing their office right before Christmas and re-opening
Braves minor league pitcher Billy Bullock was suspended 50 games for a second violation of baseball’s drug prevention and treatment program for a “drug of abuse.”
The suspension was announced Friday by the commissioner’s office. No specific drug was cited, but the program’s list of drugs of abuse includes cocaine, LSD, marijuana, opiates, ecstasy, GHB and PCP.
That’s a separate category than performance-enhancing substances, which includes 70 items such as various steroids and human growth hormone.
“We are always disappointed when these events take place,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said, “and we will continue to educate and counsel our players.”
Bullock, who is on the Triple-A Gwinnett roster, will serve his suspension without pay at the beginning of the 2013 season.
In 40 appearances last season between Double-A Mississippi and Gwinnett, the hard-throwing right-hander compiled a 6.34 ERA with 67 strikeouts, but also a whopping 56 walks in 59-2/3
We’re inside the last week before Christmas, Braves fans. Do you know where your left fielder is?
No, I didn’t think so. But at least you’re about to know the best 50 albums of 2012, as judged by your Crusading Everyman. The list is at the bottom of this blog.
As for left field, you’re not sure who it’ll be and neither is anyone else. The Braves say they continue to search the trade market for a left fielder or third baseman, but also insist if they don’t make another big acquisition at either spot and end up going to spring training or starting the season with what they have now, they’ll be OK with it.
Until proven otherwise, we’ll take them at their word.
Going into the season with what they have now seems a bit more feasible and less risky than it would’ve if they had stated that intention a few weeks ago, right after signing center fielder
The Braves added another bench piece Thursday, signing utility infielder Ramiro Pena to a one-year major league contract.
Pena, a former New York Yankee who has played shortstop, third base, and second base, provides the Braves another backup shortstop given the uncertainty of when Paul Janish might return. Janish, whom the Braves also signed to a one-year deal, underwent surgery for a torn labrum on his non-throwing shoulder and might need an additional two to four weeks at the start of the season.
Janish has minor league options remaining and could be sent to Triple-A Gwinnett without going through waivers. Pena is out of options.
Like Janish, Pena is outstanding defensively. And the Braves don’t have another near major-league ready player in their organization who fits that profile.
Tyler Pastornicky began last season as the starting shortstop but struggled defensively and was sent to the minors in late May in favor of defensive whiz Andrelton Simmons. Pastornicky