It’s almost September. Are Braves ready for Freddie Freeman?

Freddie Freeman: A very young man in a very big hurry. (Photo by Mike O'Day, special to the AJC)

Freddie Freeman: A young man in a hurry. (Photo by Mike O'Day, special to the AJC)

The guess here is that Freddie Freeman will become an Atlanta Brave sometime Wednesday, as opposed to waiting until Gwinnett’s season ends Sept. 6. Frank Wren suggested as much Saturday, telling esteemed colleague Carroll Rogers: “We want to be at full strength as soon as we can. Every game is important. You never know when a game could hinge on a player you want to bring up.”

The guess here is that Freddie Freeman will arrive not as the new starting first baseman — the Braves already have a new starting first baseman; his name is Derrek Lee — but as a bench player, a pinch-hitter, a guy who might deliver the same sort of race-changing hit that Ryan Klesko, another September call-up, did 17 years ago.

Sept. 15, 1993: The Braves trailed Cincinnati 6-2 headed to the bottom of the ninth. Damon Berryhill led off with a double. Chipper Jones, another September summons, struck out as a pinch-hitter. Then Klesko, pinch-hitting for Ramon Caraballo (remember him), drove a pitch from Johnny Ruffin over the right-field fence. That made it 6-4. The Braves would win three batters later when Ron Gant, facing Rob Dibble, hit a liner that kissed the top of the left-field wall and skipped over.

In a race decided by one game (and with no wild card back then), Klesko’s swing was immense. But that didn’t mean he was an integral part of that September. He was a young guy waiting his turn, and the Braves had already traded for a first baseman of considerable portfolio. His name: Fred McGriff.

No, I’m not trying to suggest that Lee has or will contribute to the 2010 Braves in the way McGriff did in ‘93, and yes, I’m aware that Klesko eventually moved into the lineup as a left fielder. What I’m saying is that the Braves will be happy if Freeman comes here and does one or two good things and leaves the heavy lifting to the veterans.

Consider the case of Jason Heyward, Freeman’s minor-league roommate and big buddy: The Braves were in a race for the wild card last fall and resisted the urge to rush Heyward to the majors at age 20. Freeman is likewise 20, but his September promotion wouldn’t be a rush job: Unlike Heyward, he has had a full season in Class AAA. Freddie’s just about ready. Just about.

The Braves are trying everything to fend off the Phillies. They traded for Alex Gonzalez, which seemed a good idea, and for Lee, which was almost a necessity given the trials of Troy Glaus and the loss of Chipper. They traded for Rick Ankiel, which was worth a shot. (For reasons unclear, Kyle Farnsworth was also part of the deal.) That said …

As eager as they are to win in 2010, the Braves are likewise loath to do anything to jeopardize 2011 and beyond. They traded for Lee because they didn’t want to plop a 20-year-old into the midst of a pennant drive and say, “OK, kid. Win this for us.” Unless Lee proves a complete dud — and he is only 4-for-29 as a Brave — he’ll be the starter. If Lee fails, the Braves will turn again to Troy Glaus. If that fails …

Well, then there’s Freddie. But that’s still a long way off.

And yes, there’s a chance Freeman could partake of the postseason. He doesn’t have to be on the 25-man or the 40-man roster by midnight on Aug. 31. (That rule was changed a while back.) He only has to be in the organization. But it’s worth noting that Klesko wasn’t included on the postseason roster in 1993, nor was Chipper. Come the crunch, teams always err on the side of seasoning. And Lee and Glaus have both played on World Series winners, Glaus being the MVP of the Rally Monkey Fall Classic in 2002.

Freddie Freeman should have a long run as the starting first baseman, but that time is not yet at hand. He figures to be an Atlanta Brave before the week is done, but don’t count on seeing him play much just yet.

178 comments Add your comment

Jameytime

August 30th, 2010
11:58 am

Mark Bradley

August 30th, 2010
12:01 pm

Kudos, Jameytime. First on a post about … a first baseman! Double kudos!

The Big Dog

August 30th, 2010
12:02 pm

The Big Dog

August 30th, 2010
12:03 pm

Heisenberg

August 30th, 2010
12:05 pm

looks a little like Leo Decaprio in that photo

5150 POAD

August 30th, 2010
12:08 pm

He looks like a high school kid. Man he is hot right now but damn he looks to young to be in the MLB playoffs.

TommyJack

August 30th, 2010
12:08 pm

I remember Klesco’s adventures in left field! The man had some pop. Also like the K’s.

robdawg08

August 30th, 2010
12:10 pm

Mark, I just don’t understand the “don’t put pressure on the kid”. Andruw came thru as a rookie and Heyward is coming thru as a rookie. Give him a shot at !B, if he flops go with Lee again. What have you got to lose ? So if he goes 4 for 29 he matches Lee. I’m pretty sure he can go 4 for 29…

FireMarkBradley!

August 30th, 2010
12:10 pm

Yes we’re ready for Freddie Freeman, and we’re more than ready to see you step down, turn in your little typewriter and quit writing forever. Thank you.

Taylor S

August 30th, 2010
12:10 pm

Is Lee back in the lineup today?

yunel asscobar

August 30th, 2010
12:10 pm

Mark – we were ready for Freddie in July. Please…no more Glaus. Gwinnett is not ATL. Lee will acclimate, settle in and contribute. We need to get FF some at bats and an opportunity to play in Sept.

Herschel Talker

August 30th, 2010
12:10 pm

FIRE DEREK LOWE

FireMarkBradley!

August 30th, 2010
12:11 pm

P.S. Shove those double kudos up ur peehole

robdawg08

August 30th, 2010
12:11 pm

So Buster Posey can be thrust into a pennant chase but heaven forbid they give Freeman a chance ? Where’s the logic ?

robdawg08

August 30th, 2010
12:13 pm

Only thing holding Freeman back is the Braves.

Bruce Mac

August 30th, 2010
12:13 pm

They still won’t get the bunt down or move the runner over. It will matter little. Miracles to run out soon.

robdawg08

August 30th, 2010
12:16 pm

Start him at 1B. He goes 0 for 25 put Lee back in. Lee probably would have went 0 for 25 too. But IF he goes 15 for 25 with 4 homeruns and wins 6 games with his bat then you get the benefits.

epic_quibble

August 30th, 2010
12:16 pm

FIRST! for next time. I called it.

marke

August 30th, 2010
12:18 pm

Don’t you think Friddie could do just as good a job at first.

Tami

August 30th, 2010
12:23 pm

Yeah…but the fans sure want to see Freddie play. Maybe Bobby puts him in the games as a late-inning replacement for a while.

Speaking of Lee: Is it me, or does he have a similar carry as McGriff? He even sort of looks like him a bit. I wish his hitting was on par where McGriff’s was, but maybe that’s coming soon?

cooper

August 30th, 2010
12:36 pm

I don’t care if Lee hits 200 for the rest of the year he will go into any post season starting at 1st. Cox always will go with the veteran and Lee is one of the best defensive 1st basemen ever, with many gold gloves to prove it. The only way Freeman will go into post season is if he is productive when he does play and if Lee seems not to be able to go every day because of his back.

Bushwacker

August 30th, 2010
12:44 pm

Mark,
Will Glaus be eligible for the playoffs if still on the DL as of Spet 1?

Mark Bradley

August 30th, 2010
12:45 pm

Yes, Bushwacker. Anyone in the organization is eligible, Joe Simpson included.

Matt

August 30th, 2010
12:45 pm

Yeah that makes sense. Bring the kid up to ride the bench, taking at bats away from him. As a baseball coach myself I understand the importance of letting a kid ride the bench and not get the necessary playing time to stay fresh. It’s better for him to sit in Atl. than to play in Gwinett, makes perfect sense. Not sarcasm

Mark Bradley

August 30th, 2010
12:46 pm

How many more at-bats would he get in five days, Matt?

Bushwacker

August 30th, 2010
12:47 pm

You noticed how quick the Braves pulled Lee out of the line up when he had a little twinge he reached for.
I bet Bobby Cox was thanking God for that so he could get Lee out of the line up,,hopefully for good!

GatorBrad

August 30th, 2010
12:47 pm

Hey Mark… I asked Schultz the same question I’m about to ask you. Do you think the Braves could get some mileage on a trade that includes a package deal of Troy Glaus and Derek Lowe? I know that leaves us a pitcher short on the starting rotation, but if the Braves get a serviceable pitcher (preferably a lefty) in said trade, wouldn’t that be worth it? Lowe has become a liability in the starting rotation… can’t see the Braves going very far into the post-season if they have to plan for a loss every 3rd or 4th day b/c Lowe is hanging curve balls over the middle of the plate like he’s done since, oh, June. And I don’t really care how well Glaus has performed at Gwinnett; I’ve seen enough of him striking out, hitting into inning ending DPs, or when he really gets lucky, flying out to left. Anyway, what do you think? Other posters are welcome to respond as well.

Bushwacker

August 30th, 2010
12:48 pm

I bet Joe could do better the Lee, hecj I could strike out 4 times a game!

Mark Bradley

August 30th, 2010
12:48 pm

No, GatorBrad. No one wants Lowe because he’s under contract beyond this year.

Bushwacker

August 30th, 2010
12:50 pm

I just think if it were up to Bobby, he’s be using Melky,Diaz, Hinkse and Glaus, theone that got us here.

Mark Bradley

August 30th, 2010
12:50 pm

And they’d gain nothing from trading Glaus. Even if he never starts another game, he’s a bat off the pine.

jimmymack

August 30th, 2010
12:51 pm

d lee is a disappointment,it would be great to see freeman contribute,but i would love to see glaus get hot again

Piedmont Blues

August 30th, 2010
12:52 pm

GatorBrad,

If you’re convinced Lowe and Glaus are worthless, then it’s possible that baseball people in other organizations do, too. I mean, given the glowing reviews you gave them, I’d bet other teams should be lining up to offer us their best prospects in return … and give salary relief as well.

Joey

August 30th, 2010
12:57 pm

Dang, everrybody wants Freeman cause he is tearing up AAA. But nobody wants Glaus back because he is ONLY tearing up AAA. Jeez . . .

Mark Bradley

August 30th, 2010
12:59 pm

It’s the promise of youth, Joey. And we’ve seen Glaus. We haven’t seen Freddie.

Joey

August 30th, 2010
1:00 pm

GatorBrad, you think we ought to throw in Farnsworth, too?

Willy

August 30th, 2010
1:00 pm

The Braves are tinkering themselves to death and it’s almost September! If Glaus comes back and can play third then shift Prado back to second and Infante to left. Otherwise it’s do or die with what we have. (If Freeman can get some pinch hits that’ll help him next year).

Joey

August 30th, 2010
1:01 pm

Yeah, but what if Glaus is getting May/June hot right now? He could tote us right through September . . .

bvillebaron

August 30th, 2010
1:03 pm

yunel:

I am excited about Freeman too, but your comment about Gwinnett not being Atlanta is equally applicable for Freeman (and perhaps more so since he is a rookie) as it is for Glaus. Since you feel that Lee will settle in, acclimate and contribute, how exactly does Freeman get all of these at bats since Lee and Freeman both ONLY play 1B?

timthebrave

August 30th, 2010
1:04 pm

Glaus is only going to make about 350K for the rest of the year. Unless we can get a REAL prospect what would be the point in trading him. For 350K I would prefer him coming off the bench and as a backup for Lee.

BamaHammer

August 30th, 2010
1:08 pm

what are Freeman’s stat’s and what are Glaus’s stats since going to AAA?

Mark Bradley

August 30th, 2010
1:11 pm

Freeman is .319, 18 and 87. Glaus is .385, 2 and 8.

Joey

August 30th, 2010
1:14 pm

Glaus just there, when, Mark, a week ago?

observation

August 30th, 2010
1:14 pm

Enter your comments here

Gary O

August 30th, 2010
1:14 pm

Joey,

Check Glaus’ numbers for June, July, and August. Horrible. Plus his defense was shaky at first.

Freeman is a 1B (unlike Troy who was converted), Freeman is healthy (unlike Troy who has bad knees), and Freeman is supposed to be the 1B of the future (potentially starting next year).

Glaus had one good month in which he carried the Braves. But other than that, he ahs sucked. And he wont be here next year.

Mark Bradley

August 30th, 2010
1:16 pm

About 10 days ago, Joey.

observation

August 30th, 2010
1:16 pm

That picture of Freeman is a couple years old. That appears to be from his rookie ball year as the batting helmet is clearly not that of Gwinett, Mississippi, or Rome. He has put on some size since that picture was taken.

Mark Bradley

August 30th, 2010
1:17 pm

That is an old picture, observation. Couldn’t find a newer one. Good observation.

Tyler Langmeyer

August 30th, 2010
1:18 pm

Willy, why would you want Glaus in the lineup at third as soon as he gets back? He’s only been playing third at AAA and has made lots of errors. As for putting Omar in left, he’s a better infielder at any position with one hand behind his back than Glaus. I do realize that we aquired Omar to be a “bench player”, but he’s clearly proven that he can play everyday and be productive. If he had the at-bats, he’d win the NL batting title easily.

Mark Bradley

August 30th, 2010
1:19 pm

I don’t think we’re going to see the infield being shuffled again, Tyler Langmeyer. The Braves like it as is