Archive for the ‘Braves / MLB’ Category

Teixeira trade shouldn’t stop Braves from dealing prospects

Ryan Dempster leads the National League with a 2.11 earned run average and gives the Braves the No. 1 starter they need for the pennant stretch. (AP photo)

The trade for Ryan Dempster gives the Braves the No. 1 starter they need for the pennant stretch. (AP photo)

Five years ago, in a trade that some fans now believe can only be explained by temporary insanity, John Schuerholz dealt seemingly every embraceable prospect in the Braves’ organization to Texas for Mark Teixeira. Teixeira played well (even homering in his Atlanta debut), but it didn’t matter because the Braves missed the playoffs in 2007 and were in mid-flounder again in 2008 when they traded him to the Angels for, if memory serves, a cheeseburger.

What has followed near the trade deadline seemingly every year since is some sense of fan and media panic that the Braves are going to deal “the next great thing” yet again (even if the next great thing more often than not turns to be a pile of stock options that makes wonderful kindling).

Please. Stop already.

There was nothing wrong in 2007 when Schuerholz intended to elevate his team to a title contender again, any more …

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Ben Sheets looks like medical miracle in Braves’ debut

Ben Sheets didn't expect to pitch again, let alone throw six shutout innings. (Curtis Compton)

Ben Sheets didn't expect to pitch again. He did far better than that. (Curtis Compton)

Two years ago, Ben Sheets had a simple goal.

“I just wanted them to fix me so I could play catch with my boy,” he said.

He did more than that Sunday. He played catch with Brian McCann. He threw 88 major league pitches, exactly 88 more than he would’ve expected when his elbow mutated into some ugly blog of disconnected tendons and ligaments in 2010. He struck out the first batter of the game. He retired the last 10 he faced. He allowed only two hits in six shutout innings, defeated the New York Mets 6-1 and in the process likely clinched the next magazine cover – not of Sports Illustrated, but the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Sheets didn’t play catch with his boys, Seaver and Miller. But when it was over, he did hug his two young boys when they ran into the Braves’ clubhouse after the game, a scene he never could’ve envisioned after pitching his final game for …

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Braves have opening vs. Nats, but still need to make move

Frank Wren shouldn't let opportunity of this season slip away without a move. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Frank Wren can't let this season's opportunity slip away without a move. (Curtis Compton)

(Second update: 11:35 p.m.)

John Smoltz looks at the Braves and sees what everybody else sees.

“They’ve made some adjustments offensively, but the inconsistency of their starting pitching has them where they are,” he said. “Win six, lose eight. Win five, lose four. They’re stuck in neutral.”

Neutral isn’t necessarily a bad place to be, particularly in the National League East. When baseball’s second half opened Friday, the Braves were only four games behind the Washington Nationals, which is better than being four games behind a team with an actual resume. The Nationals’ franchise last made the playoffs 31 years ago in a whole different language (Montreal).

There’s also this curious matter of Stephen Strasburg. Washington maintains it’s serious about this plan to limit its best starting pitcher (and his surgically repaired arm) to 160 innings. That could be construed as …

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Jason Heyward healthy, happy and meeting expectations

Jason Heyward has raised his batting average 45 points in the past month. (Getty Images)

Jason Heyward has raised his batting average 45 points in the past month. (Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

(Updated: 10:15 p.m.)

Jason Heyward just completed a week in which he hit .522 with three homers, three doubles, nine runs, five RBIs, 26 total bases, four multi-hit games and a slugging percentage of 1.130, which sounds good even to all of those people who don’t really know what a slugging percentage is.

Do you realize that if Heyward continues at this pace, he would break, like, probably every record in baseball history, even those set by mutant chemical creations?

I bring this up because from the moment Heyward announced his arrival with the Braves and the major leagues two years ago with a first at-bat homer that traveled about 800 feet – it’s like the fish that got away: it just keeps getting bigger – expectations have been cartoon-like. People expected so much so soon. Then, predictably when Heyward struggled, was injured, then struggled some more, many …

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Sandusky scandal is the sports story that really matters

The Jerry Sandusky case is one that no sports fan can afford to ignore. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The Jerry Sandusky case is one that no sports fan can afford to ignore. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

It’s not a typical sports story. It’s uncomfortable. It’s ugly.

Some of the testimony was so repulsive, so evil, that it was difficult for the brain to even process it. This partly explains why the masses often lean toward the candy of the sports world. A college football playoff debate. Cheering or mocking of LeBron James. A baseball pennant race. It’s simple. It’s easy to digest. Real-life drama such as the Jerry Sandusky child-molestation case gets pushed aside, even if it’s potentially one of the more impactful sports stories of our generation.

“I really wish ESPN and other national sports outlets would start covering this more,” Tammy Lerner, co-founder of the Foundation to Abolish Child Sex Abuse (FACSA) said Thursday. “So many stories like Sandusky are coming out. Pedophiles are drawn to places with access to kids, like sports. We’re seeing stories about …

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Clemens may be ‘not guilty’ but it won’t change legacy

Roger Clemens' legal record remains clean, but his legacy remains tainted. (AP photo)

Roger Clemens' legal record remains clean, but his legacy is still damaged. (AP photo)

The final shot from the defense attorney came on the front steps of a federal courthouse in Washington on Monday when Rusty Hardin stood before the assembled media, Roger Clemens at his side, and said, “He was not only a seven-time Cy Young winner, he’s a hell of a man” – and suffice to say, Mindy McCready was not standing anywhere nearby.

This is the way it ends for the guilty winners. They cheer. They hug. They cry. It doesn’t make them any more believable, it’s just the expected gloating that comes after the litigation finish line. O.J. Simpson cried, too. Then he held a party for jurors on a yacht.

The jurors in the 1919 Chicago “Black Sox” trial celebrated, too. They acquitted eight players on charges of fixing a World Series following only three hours of deliberation — and you think the Clemens’ jury was fast — and then they threw their hats and confetti in the …

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Jurrjens suddenly has chance to rescue his career, Braves

Jair Jurrjens will be back on the mound for the Braves in Boston. (Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Jair Jurrjens will be back on the mound for the Braves in Boston on Friday. (Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

(Updated: 7 p.m.)

There is a scene in the movie Bull Durham when Crash Davis learns he is close to breaking the minor league home run record. Because a minor-league record generally isn’t something a professional athlete embraces, Crash asks that the pursuit be kept quiet (and the fact he eventually hooks up with Susan Sarandon really has nobody feeling sorry for him, anyway).

Well, here’s the good news for Jair Jurrjens: He will return to the big leagues long before any Triple A record is within his reach and, in his words, “I’m not planning to come back here.”

Jurrjens is expected to pitch one or two innings for the Gwinnett Braves on Tuesday night. Then he’ll join the organization that pays his major league salary in time for a Friday start at Boston.

Unfortunately, Jurrjens couldn’t make it out of Lawrenceville before being included in the Gwinnett …

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Smoltz’s greatness with Braves doesn’t have to be over

John Smoltz would be an asset if Braves brought him back. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

John Smoltz would be an asset if Braves brought him back. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

The last time I doubted John Smoltz was April 6, 2005. No sense denying it because electronic libraries, like DNA evidence, would convict me in court anyway.

The Braves lost their season opener that year at Florida 9-0. In what was to be Smoltz’s celebrated return to starter after three seasons as a closer, he allowed six runs and seven hits in roughly five minutes (or 1 2/3 innings). For one of the few times in his career, people could scream: “Hah! Told you so!”

The cynical, know-it-all columnist that day seized the moment. The review of Smoltz’s start included this excerpt, “Smoltz didn’t have a bad day. Five runs in four innings — that’s a bad day. Seven runs in 1 2/3 innings is not a bad day — it’s usually the last day. It’s the kind of start that usually comes with a bus ticket. Or a bullpen assignment. Or both.”

If you’re looking for the rest of column, it’s in the …

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We give you odds on Braves’, Falcons’ or Hawks’ title parade

Forgot what a sports parade looks like? Here's Braves World Series hero Tom Glavine in 1995.

Forgot what Atlanta parade looked like? Here's 1995 Braves World Series MVP Tom Glavine.

It is that time of year when two leagues are close to determining new champions and every sports fan in Atlanta thinks, “There goes another parade.”

A potential NBA title in Oklahoma City? A possible Stanley Cup in Los Angeles (only slightly better than if Ilya Kovalchuk led New Jersey)? Are the sporting gods planning any more shots to the groin area? Is Mike Mularkey destined to lead Jacksonville to a Super Bowl? (On second thought, we’re probably safe.)

Not counting minor leagues or sports teams that would make you pause and think, “Wait, do they count?” Atlanta has celebrated only one pro championship since the Braves and Falcons theoretically lifted the city out of amateur status in 1966.

Depending on how generous you want to be with the math, Atlanta is 1-for-46 years, which equates to an annual parade percentage of .022, or 1-for-155 seasons (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL), which is a …

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Jurrjens feels ‘not wanted’ by Braves, struggles don’t help

Jair Jurrjens still ddn't feel right when he reported to spring training. (AP photo)

Jair Jurrjens still didn't feel right when he reported to spring training. (Jason Getz/AJC)

When the Braves sent pitcher Kris Medlen to the minors a few days ago, significantly different conversations were going on in the clubhouses involved.

At Turner Field, the talk centered on how quickly Medlen could “stretch out” his arm and transition from reliever to starter, thereby rescuing the team’s rotation. At the minor league confines of Coolray Field in Gwinnett, the questions centered on whether this unofficially signaled the end of Jair Jurrjens’ career as a Brave.

“I understand it’s a business, and they need to do what they need to do,” said Jurrjens, less than a year removed from being an All-Star. “But you have feelings, and it hurts when you feel like you’re not wanted somewhere.”

And that’s what it feels like?

“If I say no, I’m lying. When you’re doing good, everybody loves you. When you’re doing bad, everybody hates you.

“You hear stuff. When …

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