Archive for July, 2011

LIVE: Braves get Michael Bourn, now hope that’s enough

Welcome, Michael Bourn. You're now in a playoff race. (AP photo)

The Braves finally made a catch before the trade deadline: Welcome, Michael Bourn. (AP photo)

(UPDATED: 1:45 p.m. Folks, here’s the updated blog on the trade. I’m read to chat live now about the deal and the game. Sorry couldn’t get to earlier questions and comments but I’ve been kinda busy.)

It was the eve of the trade deadline, and Jordan Schafer was having trouble sleeping.

“I just had a weird feeling,” he said Sunday. “It’s something I hadn’t felt all along. I even sent a text message to my agent. I told him I thought I might be traded. He said, ‘No, there’s no chance.’”

And then he opened his phone to show a reporter the text message: “10:57 p.m. ‘Wonder if I’m going to Houston.’”

Sometimes, it’s not so great to be a prophet.

The Braves dealt Schafer to Houston Sunday. They made the move less because of what they believe Schafer might be one day than what he isn’t  now: Michael Bourn. After dealing Schafer and three prospects to Houston for Bourn, the All-Star center …

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Did Falcons just take lead over Braves in title pursuit? (Update: Phillies get Pence)

Mike Smith: Thomas Dimitroff may have just given you the key to a title.

Mike Smith and Thomas Dimitroff just moved closer to a title.

(UPDATED: 9:15 p.m. with news of Philadelphia trading for Houston outfielder Hunter Pence.)

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff just worked his magic to sign defensive end Ray Edwards.

Frank Wren: You’re on the clock.

This is an important time for both the Falcons and Braves. The NFL is in free agency and major league baseball is bumping up against the trade deadline. This is when championship contenders often

Can Frank Wren get help for the Braves?

Can Frank Wren get help for Fredi Gonzalez and Braves?

are determined.

The Falcons believed they needed to add at least one significant player on defense to compete for a Super Bowl. Edwards should provide that. He gives them a pass rusher from the left side as a complement to John Abraham.

The Braves need to add some offensive power, preferably a right-handed hitting outfielder who can drive in runs. Wren has had talks for several different players, but he hasn’t pushed the button on a deal yet. He …

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As Braves talk trade (Pence?), Ross says ‘We need a piece’

Teams like the aggressive Hunter Pence but Phillies may have edge on Braves.

Teams like the aggressive Hunter Pence (sliding) but Phillies may have an edge on Braves.

Good morning. No trades yet.

The pursuit of Houston outfielder Hunter Pence by several teams, including the Braves and Philadelphia, is what’s creating a logjam in the trade market, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney. From his latest blog (which requires an Insider subscription).

…  It is clear that right now, [Pence] has the greatest market value of any available player. The Astros’ initial instinct seemed to be to play conservative and hang onto him, but they probably will never again get the kind of offers they’re getting for Pence — the Phillies’ package of pitcher Jarred Cosart and first baseman Jonathan Singleton, or Atlanta’s offer, which presumably includes young pitchers they would not consider trading for Carlos Beltran. For the Braves, the stakes are high, because they already are faced with a postseason in which they may have to face Beltran, and now their most …

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Braves, Wren would be taking risk without major move

Frank Wren would like to hold up a trophy other than Jair Jurrjens' pitcher of the month honors for June.

Frank Wren would like to hold up a trophy other than Jair Jurrjens' pitcher of the month honors for May. But to that, he may need to make a major move first. (Jason Getz/AJC)

(UPDATED: 11 p.m.)

Unless there is a sudden change in wind direction, don’t expect much. Major trades happen when a team is willing to give up a significant part of its present or its future, and as of now the Braves seem to be predisposed to doing neither.

They didn’t get Carlos Beltran from New York because they wouldn’t part with Mike Minor. To get Hunter Pence from Houston or Carlos Quentin from the Chicago White Sox, neither of whom are impending unrestricted free agents, would take more than one young arm. Also, to get somebody Philadelphia really wants might mean showing a willingness to spend more money than the Phillies.

This doesn’t mean general manager Frank Wren won’t make some move. (Maybe Josh Willingham will be this year’s version of Ryan Church. You can never have enough former …

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What’s stopping Braves, Wren from trading a pitcher?

Are Braves overvaluing pitching prospects like Mike Minor? (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

Are Braves overvaluing pitching prospects like Mike Minor? (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

I’m going to refrain from excessive bashing of Braves general manager Frank Wren — maybe just a few jabs — until we see what (if anything) he does between now and the major league trade deadline.

But I do have one question: How much pitching does one franchise need?

The Braves apparently lost out to San Francisco in the Carlos Beltran sweepstakes in part because Wren was not willing to part with a top pitching prospect, like Mike Minor.

Should Braves have traded a pitching prospect for Carlos Beltran?

  • Yes. He would’ve made a difference.
  • No. He’s not worth it.

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It’s common in pro sports for teams to overvalue their own prospects. We know the Braves’ success since the 1990s has been built on pitching. The organization has done a wonderful job developing young arms. But dealing a pitcher for a player (like Beltran) who potentially can put a team over the top …

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A long night, an awful call, a Braves win led by Scott Proctor

OriginThat's Scott Proctor in the middle of a celebration after he somehow drove in the winning run this morning. (AP photo)

Is that Scott Proctor in the middle of a Braves celebration this morning? Nah. (AP photo)

Jordan Schafer looked at the clock. It was 2:15 a.m. and he still wasn’t showered.

“I would’ve like to have been asleep a couple of hours ago,” the Braves center fielder said. “But it obviously makes it better that we won.”

Is that what just happened?

One of the longest and strangest games in baseball history ended at 1:50 a.m. Wednesday. The Braves defeated Pittsburgh 4-3 in 19 innings.

Time of game: 6 hours, 39 minutes. If seemed like if it had gone much longer, shadows from the sunrise would have started affecting the hitters.

There appeared to be less than 5,000 fans at Turner Field still left from the original crowd of 22,036. Maybe they were thinking the longer the game went, there was a decent chance they would receive a free continental breakfast.

Or maybe they just wanted a story to tell their grandchildren one day.

Or maybe they figured they might get a chance to pitch. I mean, …

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Heyward still determined to make impact on Braves’ season

It has been a frustrating season for Jason Heyward but he still has time to make an impact for the Braves. (AP photo)

It has been a frustrating season for Jason Heyward, but he still has time to make an impact for the Braves. (AP photo)

(UPDATED: 2 a.m.)

Last season, Jason Heyward gave us no reason to wonder. He gave us only … wonder.

First at-bat: a three-run homer. First season: voted an All-Star starter. He finished with the second-most homers and RBIs on the Braves’ roster. He was the runner-up in the official National League rookie of the year voting by the media (the players voted him first in their award by Sporting News).

A corner outfielder with skill and power. A native of Atlanta. A product of the organization. Manna from marketing heaven.  Somebody check — is there a lightning bolt burned into his bat?

But there’s something different about Heyward this year, and it’s the reason the Braves are looking for offensive help in the trade market. Make no mistake: Notwithstanding Chipper Jones’ extended string of ailments, Dan Uggla’s early struggles, and anything else that you might want …

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Braves or Falcons: Who’s taking bigger risk minus big move?

"So Chipper: What do you think we should do before the trade deadline?"

"So Chipper: What do you think we should do before the trade deadline?"

Over the next few days, how the Braves and Falcons are viewed could change significantly. Or not at all. Here’s the question: Which team would be taking the bigger risk by doing nothing?

The breakdown:

♦ Baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline is Sunday. The feeling here is that the Braves need to do something.

Which team in greater need of a move?

  • Braves.
  • Falcons.
  • Neither. Both will be fine.

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I wasn’t completely convinced of this. But when center fielder Jordan Schafer’s finger injury turned out to be a slight bone chip and not just a sprain, and Chipper Jones tweaked his quadriceps in his first game back from a knee injury, it raised the level of concern. Adding Carlos Beltran to the rotation of outfielders — he can play center or right field, possibly in a platoon with the struggling Jason Heyward — would be huge. I know some are pushing for Houston’s Hunter …

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Blank will repay Falcons’ staff for payroll cuts during lockout (UPDATED)

9Roger Goodell and NFL owners who trimmed staff's pay should follow Arthur Blank's lead and repay employees for cuts during the lockout. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Roger Goodell and NFL owners who trimmed staff's pay should follow Arthur Blank's lead and repay employees for cuts during the lockout. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

During the NFL’s nonsensical lockout, I didn’t hesitate to bang on the owners for fabricating a dire financial situation and unfairly cutting wages or laying off employees in the front office.

So it’s only fair now to inform you that at least one of those owners is trying to make amends.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank, who instituted across-the-board payroll cuts to all non-player employees in the team’s office in the form of two-week furloughs, will reimburse wages, the AJC has learned. On the same day as the official end to the lockout, Blank sent an email to staff members that read in part: “Any deductions to your paychecks during the lockout related to unpaid vacation days we instituted will be repaid to you.”

Team president Rich McKay and general manager Thomas Dimitroff are scheduled to meet with employees Tuesday to …

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Falcons need to attack free agency for defensive help

Tennessee defensive end Jason Babin had a career-high 12.5 sacks last season.

Tennessee's Jason Babin had career-high 12.5 sacks last season.

Now that the Stupid Rich Men’’s War has nearly ended and NFL players are set to approve the new collective bargaining agreement, the Falcons need to turn their attention to an area people can more easily relate to: the defense.

According to Barrister D. Orlando Ledbetter, Minnesota free agent defense end Ray Edwards is expected to sign with Philadelphia. This is  a concern for two reasons:

– 1) Edwards would fill a Falcons’ need for a pass rusher. The team supposedly had a “change of heart” about him. If that’s true, I wonder if it’s because Edwards is going to be more expensive than they had hoped and expected. (Several teams have showed interested in him, including Philly and New England).

– 2) The Eagles represent one of the Falcons’ biggest obstacles in the NFC. There’s also a possibility that they are going to trade quarterback Kevin Kolb — the former starter and now backup to Michael Vick — to Arizona and …

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