Live from the ballyard: A flip-flop explained, A-Rod eyed

It was only a week ago I suggested the Braves’ season could be finished, at least as a vibrant entity, by the Fourth of July. Today I wrote there’s a way they can win the NL East. And now you’re saying, “There Bradley goes again, flip-flopping like a flounder on the dock at Fisherman’s Wharf.”

And I say, in my fishy defense: Things change.

The Braves are playing better. The Phillies lost six in a row. The Mets are hurting. Winning the division seems infinitely more do-able today than it did June 17. But — and you knew there was a “but” coming, didn’t you? — they can’t stop playing.

They’ve split their first four games against the Red Sox and Yankees. They have five to go, and then three against the Phillies. These eight games will determine the course of July and beyond.

Go 5-3 or better and the Braves will have proved something to themselves and the watching world. Go 3-5 or worse and they’ll have given their doubters — which I, on occasion, have obviously been — further evidence. Go 4-4 and they’ve treaded water, which probably isn’t a victory this late in a season.

And I’m delighted to report I’m on-site at Turner Field, ready to report and ruminate on all tomahawk/pinstripe developments. I just took a walk through both clubhouses, and the players seem loose. (That’s a joke. Baseball players always seem loose — they do this every day.)

Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte were watching videotape, presumably of the Braves. (Pettitte starts tomorrow night.) A-Rod and Jeter were nowhere to be seen. (The big Yankees, Jeter especially, are famous for hiding from the media before games, surely because there are so many media types following the Bombers.)

I’ll head back downstairs in a bit to do some more goofing around — er, research — and I’ll keep you appraised. And I’ll be here all night, ready and willing to serve as your online master of ceremonies. So no flipping, y’hear? (Flopping’s OK; flipping’s verboten.)

A word of apology: I had to step away from this blog for 45 minutes. According to esteemed colleague Sekou Smith, the Hawks are about to trade Speedy Claxton and Acie Law to Golden State for Jamal Crawford, which I believe is a tremendous move. But I’m back to baseball now, and I’ll be here throughout the game.

A Yankee update: Hung around the Bombers’ clubhouse. A-Rod finally wandered through and plopped down on the sofa — off-limits interview area, even though it’s in the middle of the room — and chatted with Robinson Cano. Then A-Rod picked up People magazine and read it closely. Then he switched to Entertainment Weekly.

Movie night: For pregame entertainment, the Yankees started off watching “Full Metal Jacket” on DVD. Then they got bored — not enough action, I guess — and switched to “Next Friday.

Hiding as a strategy: Saw Chipper Jones by the cage and said, “You might be a great player, but you can’t hide from the media the way Jeter does.” He laughed. (He and Jeter are pals.) And Chipper said, “I don’t have the same kind of media he does.” And he doesn’t. There were 30 reporters gathered in the dugout for Joe Girardi’s pregame briefing. Bobby Cox gets antsy if he sees a half-dozen of us.

411 comments Add your comment

Herschel Talker

June 24th, 2009
3:51 pm

Stick a fork in them. They don’t have the lineup to get it done. And I don’t trust Frank Wreck to pull off a good trade for a bat. Surely he’ll give up our best prospects and dampen our future.

Martin

June 24th, 2009
4:03 pm

HEY Mark!

Can you please ask Mr. Wren about Mark DeRosa….We all want him back!! Ask him if there is any shot it acquiring him..Everyday that passes by I get more convinced that Kelly Johnson is not our best option at 2nd base..ASk him please! even give him a trade idea…Johnson, Jo-Jo and Medlen or Bennett for DeRo!!!!

jeffrey d

June 24th, 2009
4:04 pm

Yes, because Frank Wren’s done so much to cripple us right now….your glass, Herschel, half empty is it?

It’d be easy to call you a flip flopper, Mark, but with this Braves team it’s easy to flip flop. The lineup is either Ruthian or Nortonian. They can embarrass Johan Santana or make average pitchers look like Cy Young candidates (ie Aaron Cook). I fully believe that this lineup has a ton of potential, but we only see individual flashes of it from time to time.

Herschel Talker

June 24th, 2009
4:07 pm

Jeffrey d – how’d that Teixeira trade work out? We sent Texas four guys who will be major leaguers. We could have had Elvis Andrus starting instead of Kelly Johnson. You are a clown.

Mark Bradley

June 24th, 2009
4:08 pm

I’ll ask Mr. Wren about Mr. DeRosa, but I can tell you right now what he’ll say: “We don’t talk about players on other teams.”

By the way, are you familiar with Mrs. DeRosa?

Reid Adair

June 24th, 2009
4:10 pm

Mark, I just don’t see how the offense, as inconsistent as it has been, can develop enough consistency for the rest of the way. Maybe they’ll prove me wrong, but I don’t think so.

Maybe A-Rod and Jeter are still at Atlantic Station with Kate Hudson?

Outside Robber

June 24th, 2009
4:11 pm

Isn’t a clubhouse leader still needed? That vocal guy who holds the other folks accountable? THAT guy surfaces in some fashion and I’ll break a leg jumping on the Braves’ bandwagon. Until then, I think we’re seeing a version of fool’s gold playing out.

Mark Bradley

June 24th, 2009
4:11 pm

I hear you, Reid, and you’re right to be skeptical — not about Kate Hudson, but about the Braves’ offense. That said, a little more hitting with this pitching could well win a division that nobody has yet claimed.

jeffrey d

June 24th, 2009
4:12 pm

Herschel – That was Scheurholz that traded for Teixeira not Wren.

ouch…

Mark Bradley

June 24th, 2009
4:13 pm

I’m not a huge fan of clubhouse leadership on a baseball team — that’s generally the manager’s job — but I’d have to say the Braves don’t really have a leader among players. Chipper, as I’ve said, is a stoic. And nobody else has the cachet on this club. (And it’s hard, you should know, for a pitcher to be a leader because he doesn’t play every day.)

jeffrey d

June 24th, 2009
4:15 pm

All Wren’s done is build one of the strongest starting rotations in baseball, and trade for an All Star centerfielder who will be in Atlanta for at least 4 more years. All while keeping the farm in tact. Gorkys is a good CF prospect but shouldn’t be as good as McLouth. Tyler Flowers is good, but Javy Vazquez is pitching like one of the best pitchers in the majors.

Martin

June 24th, 2009
4:16 pm

Just mention it Mark…it will probably ring a bell in his head…and say…”yeah! DeRo! why didnt i ever think of that!”

jeffrey d

June 24th, 2009
4:21 pm

And then when DeRo comes back, we can all thank Martin:)

Martin

June 24th, 2009
4:23 pm

WOOO HOOOO!!!! lol

DevilInLaw

June 24th, 2009
4:46 pm

The Braves won’t make any push to the top of the division without getting rid of Francoeur, even if it they simply DFA him. … The man is a menance to Atlanta’s ability to score runs and generate rallies.

Take away his lucky home run against the Cubs on June 2, and he’s got an OPS in June of .560. As it is, his .622 OPS for the month stinks. That damned home run kept him from being DFA’d. But it in no way turned his season around or made him a better hitter.

Put simply, he must go.

So, Mark — when and how can we make that happen? I’m going to hire Jeff Gillooly if Frank Wren doesn’t do it himself in the next few weeks.

Herschel Talker

June 24th, 2009
4:57 pm

Jeffrey d – who gave Kenshin Kawakami $7MM per year? You boob

Shamus Thacker

June 24th, 2009
5:16 pm

Frenchy should walk-on at a Jr College somewhere. If he somehow made the team, he could use the opportunity to further his education.

Mrs. Chanandler Bong

June 24th, 2009
5:16 pm

Mark! You best tell Bobby I got a replica jersey with his number!

Mr. Snarky

June 24th, 2009
5:18 pm

Gotta say that the Braves have been playing like a .500 team for the past couple of months. Two great pitching outings does give one hope, though. If a couple of hitters turn it around, you never know.

jeffrey d

June 24th, 2009
5:19 pm

Wow, $7 million a year? You sure got me there, Herschel. Kawakami’s been the bust of the century.

mista ashraf

June 24th, 2009
5:29 pm

How has Kawakami been a bust? His last couple of starts have been steller. It’s not his fault the offense hasn’t supported him. Frank Wren has done a fine job putting our starting pitching together. He made a tough call to let go of Glavine, which many thought his predecessor couldn’t. In addition, he pulled off a superb trade for Nate McClouth.

MB, I agree with your assessment on this home stand. However, I don’t think we’ll get a definitive answer. This team is really adept at going 4-4 when the fate of the season is in balance.

RAMBLE ON!!!

June 24th, 2009
5:32 pm

Last I check, the season wasn’t even half over and the Braves were just a few games back.

Why are we having this conversation?

Mark, can you hook me up with some Sir Paul McCartney tickets?

Mark Bradley

June 24th, 2009
5:34 pm

Back upstairs, but I need to step away for a moment. The Hawks just traded for Jamal Crawford. Great trade, I say.

Be-little, BeBOLD

June 24th, 2009
6:25 pm

How about asking Chipper what’s wrong . . . he’s been making errors, slumping at the plate and talking less . . . did the article suggesting the Braves trade him upset him that much?

The Grinch

June 24th, 2009
6:50 pm

Wren’s done a fantastic job to this point. Even if KK wasn’t pitching well (which he is), he’s still worth the gamble in increasing the Asian market in Atlanta and boosting revenue (and thus payroll). He’s pitched as well as A.J. Burnett; how’d y’all like it if we were paying HIM three times as much instead?

However, it’s been clear for a while now Francouer must go and if KJ doesn’t pull off one of his patented hot streaks pretty soon he shouldn’t be far behind. He did at least make some good contact last night.

Any of you Glavine lovers still whining about how much better he’d be than Hanson this year? He hasn’t even gotten an offer from the Nats.

Mark Bradley

June 24th, 2009
6:50 pm

Nothing upsets Chipper.

Mark Bradley

June 24th, 2009
6:55 pm

Just for you, Martin: I saw Frank Wren getting frozen yogurt in the press dining room and made it a point to ask him about Mark DeRosa. And I also told Frank I’d predicted what he’d say: “We don’t talk about other teams’ players.”

He laughed. And said, “That’s exactly what I’d say.”

Do I know my GMs or what? (But hey, I did try.)

"Chef" Tim Dix

June 24th, 2009
6:57 pm

Hey Mark, in the pic above, is A-Roid ” shakin his tush on the cat walk, on the cat walk…?”

Mark Bradley

June 24th, 2009
7:04 pm

A-Rod is the blurry figure almost in the middle looking over his shoulder. And if you’re wondering, folks, my initial tests show the AJC-issued BlackBerry Storm takes better photos than MY NEW IPHONE!

"Chef" Tim Dix

June 24th, 2009
7:04 pm

Mark, after Garret Anderson gave up the double last night to Jeter, and then doubled himself, I figured out why he looks (and is) so slow in the field: A)His glove is toooooooooooooo heavy, or B), the grass in left field slows him down and needs to be removed.

Then there is always C), He’s slower than pond water.

darrin sloan

June 24th, 2009
7:17 pm

Mark have you heard of any hitters the Braves may be looking at

Mark Bradley

June 24th, 2009
7:22 pm

Darrin, I think they’ve made their trade for June. It’ll be a couple of weeks before they get going on another, I’d say. But the usual suspects are out there — Hawpe, Holliday, Dunn, DeRosa.

Greg B

June 24th, 2009
7:24 pm

If you have any voice that can reach the upper management of the Braves, please tell them that Rosenthal wrote today is the way to go. Trade Francour to the Brewers for Hart. Hart is hitting a little bit better, but I am sure he listens plus he does not have the worst swing in baseball. Francour has become the worst hitter in baseball and is too impatient to be highly successful.

Mark Bradley

June 24th, 2009
7:31 pm

Why would the Brewers make that trade, Greg?

Mark Bradley

June 24th, 2009
7:33 pm

Kenshin works two 1-2-3 innings, with help from a nice running catch by McLouth on Nick Swisher’s tailing liner. Mark Teixeira, of whom you’ve heard, made a nice diving stop to thwart Chipper Jones in the first.

Bottom of the second now, no baserunners so far.

jph08

June 24th, 2009
7:34 pm

We need this win. We haven’t won a series since sweeping Toronto on May 22-24. That’s a month without winning a series.

darrin sloan

June 24th, 2009
7:36 pm

Anyone think the Orioles ever consider Roberts/Scott for KJ/Frenchy/Kotchman and 1 or 2 mid prospects

Mark Bradley

June 24th, 2009
7:36 pm

There’s a single. McCann pokes a Joba breaking pitch into right.

Mark Bradley

June 24th, 2009
7:38 pm

I don’t know of too many teams eager to grab Johnson and Francoeur, each of whom is hitting under .250, in one trade.

Greg B

June 24th, 2009
7:40 pm

Both teams think trading each player (Hart, Francour) would provide a change of scenery, which may be the key. Both players have very similar salaries. I know baseball and I hate to be one of these bloggers playing GM. I have never, ever blogged before but was reading the AJC Braves section and noticed you were blogging Live tonight. Long and short, it is my opinion as a fan that Francour needs to go and no one is really out there taking him. So maybe a switch in similar salaries and another Braves prospect (Jo Jo) will do the trick.

Greg B

June 24th, 2009
7:42 pm

Francour, pop up the pitcher on the 2nd pitch.

Mark Bradley

June 24th, 2009
7:43 pm

Francoeur flies to the pitcher’s mound. Give him credit: It was to the deep part of the pitcher’s mound. Onto the third inning, scoreless still.

T - Bone

June 24th, 2009
7:45 pm

Are the Braves willing to give up young pitching in order to get a bat?

Ashley

June 24th, 2009
7:46 pm

I called my elderly father today (a lifelong Braves) and told him there was a lot of news going on today (referring to the SC Governor Sanford drama). My dad’s next question was “Is Franceour still a Brave?”
If it doesn’t involve Turner Field, then it’s not news to my dad. :)

RHR

June 24th, 2009
7:46 pm

Shamus your jr college comment made me laugh out loud for several seconds. I may use that one sometime.

USAFCCF

June 24th, 2009
7:47 pm

Happiness is watching the Braves win last night on person. Then driving home to Panama City and getting to watch the game on TV. Great crowd and game last night. How about tonight?

Greg B

June 24th, 2009
7:48 pm

Maybe he will pop it up next time past the mound to the 2nd base.

Mark Bradley

June 24th, 2009
7:49 pm

Joba Chamberlain, of all people, smashes the ball off Kawakami — off his glove, it looks like from the replay — but is retired 1-6-3. Bottom of the third, scoreless.

USAFCCF

June 24th, 2009
7:51 pm

I’ll bet that hurt! Kawakami looked stunned. He’ll have a bruise from that

Mark Bradley

June 24th, 2009
7:52 pm

Off Kawakami’s collarbone. I stand corrected.