Archive for the ‘Braves/MLB’ Category

Well, Braves fans, we now know what got into Melky Cabrera

Melky homers against the Braves. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Melky homers against the Braves. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Melky Cabrera spent a season of no special distinction with the Atlanta Braves, whereupon they non-tendered him, which is to say they dumped him. He wound up in Kansas City, which as we know is the Last Chance Saloon for all undistinguished Braves, and finished the 2011 season with 201 improbable hits.

This raised a few eyebrows — the prototype fourth outfielder getting more hits in a season than Ted Williams ever did? — but only a few. Because playing for the Royals doesn’t quite count. Then Cabrera was traded to San Francisco, where he turned into a fair approximation of Barry Bonds. Through 113 games he was hitting .346 with 11 homers and 6o RBIs. And those are, it must be noted, the numbers with which the Melkman will end this regular season.

Because he just got suspended 50 games after testing positive for elevated testosterone. This could well doom the Giants, who have fallen behind the Dodgers in the …

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Six men in the rotation? The Braves say yes; I say, ‘I wouldn’t’

Is keeping Medlen in the rotation worth the risk of meddling? (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Is keeping Medlen in the rotation worth the risk of meddling? (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

For half a season the Braves couldn’t find enough good starting pitchers. Now they have so many they’re planning to deploy a six-man rotation. They’re not doing this because they’re desperate. They’re doing it because they think it’ll make a rotation that has finally begun to function work even better.

Here we return to a fairly key phrase: “A rotation that has finally begun to function.”

And here we note: The Braves are tinkering with what, to get ungrammatical, not only ain’t broke but what, not so long ago, was a mess.

The Braves see it this way: Tommy Hanson is due back from the disabled list, and it would make no sense to ship him to the bullpen or Gwinnett. Hanson has proved he’s a big-league starter. (Even in this lesser season, he has won 12 games.) Kris Medlen, deputized as Hanson’s replacement, has won two of his three starts with an ERA of 2.16, and the Braves like that, …

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Heat Check: Hot Braves, cold Honey Badger, a final #NBCfail

The Honey Badger will not be playing in the Dome on Dec. 1. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

The Honey Badger will not be playing in the Dome on Dec. 1. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Our weekly Heat Check begins with baseball’s hottest team, and no, I don’t mean the Mets.

BRAVES: On July 5, the day the season’s second half officially began, manager Fredi Gonzalez assessed his team’s first half as “just OK.” They’re 24-9 since. They went 4-2 last week but managed to slide 4 1/2 games behind Washington, which went 6-1. Which leads us to say: No big deal.

There are two wild cards this season. Even if there were only one, the Braves are two games ahead of Pittsburgh, and the Pirates probably won’t hold up much longer. Baseball Prospectus gives the Braves only a 17.1 percent chance of winning the National League East but a 91.1 percent chance of making the playoffs.

The rest of August will be intriguing. Over the next 2 1/2 weeks, the Braves will play three games in Washington, three here against the Dodgers, four against the Giants and seven (four here, three there) …

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Michael Bourn a Phillie or a Nat? Say it ain’t so, Scott Boras

Michael Bourn has been a big part of the Braves' rebuilt offense. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Michael Bourn has been a big part of the Braves' rebuilt offense. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

We all know that Michael Bourn will be a free agent at season’s end. We all know that he’s represented by the dreaded Scott Boras, meaning he won’t come cheap. We all know that the Braves haven’t been willing to pay for big-ticket free agents lately, unless you count Derek Lowe.

And now comes more good news: If Bourn doesn’t stay here, he’s apt to wind up playing for a team in the Braves’ division.

Buster Olney of ESPN Insider lists the Washington Nationals and the Philadelphia Phillies (link requires registration) as likely-if-not-downright-ardent Bourn suitors. The Washington link has been around a while, and the Philly tie makes sense. Bourn came up in the Phillies’ organization.

On cue, Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer names Bourn as a probable target for the Phillies, who just dumped center fielder Shane Victorino and right fielder Hunter Pence. To his credit, Bourn …

Continue reading Michael Bourn a Phillie or a Nat? Say it ain’t so, Scott Boras »

Heat Check: The Braves are hot, and so is Dan Uggla (sort of)

Even the old codgers are excited by recent Braves' doings. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Even old codgers are excited by recent Braves' doings. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Our weekly Heat Check begins with the hottest team in town. Technically, it’s also the only team in town that’s actually playing games — the Dream is on Olympic hiatus — but never mind. We take our warmth where we find it.

BRAVES: They went 5-2 for the week and shaved a game off Washington’s lead. (Down to three games, as we speak.) They were 8-2 over the homestand that concluded Sunday, and we should probably prepare ourselves for similar surges the rest of the way.

Of the Braves’ remaining 54 games, only 16 will come against teams currently above .500. By way of contrast, Washington has 22 games left against plus-.500 teams. (Including three at Arizona and three at San Francisco over the next 10 days.) That’s not a major difference, but it is a difference. And with the new playoff format, there’s a major bonus to being division champ. It means you get to skip that terrifying play-in tilt …

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Again, the Braves’ Dan Uggla pursues a weird slice of history

It might take more than tape to fix what ails Dan Uggla's bat. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

It might take more than tape to fix what ails Dan Uggla's bat. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

This not just in: Dan Uggla had a weird 2011 season. His batting average was .173 on the Fourth of July, whereupon he embarked on a 33-game hitting streak, the longest in Atlanta Braves annals and probably the strangest in the history of baseball.

So it shouldn’t come as a total shock that, in 2012, the same Uggla could join a select group of players, one of whom is the sainted Dale Murphy and another of whom is the rather famous George Herman Ruth, in another statistical oddity. At this moment, Uggla is tied for the National League lead in strikeouts (118) and walks (66).

According to Baseball-Reference.com, only nine big-leaguers have ever done that double over a full season: Babe Ruth (four times), Hack Wilson, Dolph Camilli, Mickey Mantle, Mike Schmidt, the aforementioned Murphy (in 1985), Jason Giambi, Jim Thome and the immortal Jack Cust. (Though it’s all but a given that Adam …

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ESPN’s Law: The Braves overpaid for Maholm and Johnson

The young and gifted Arodys Vizcaino: A Brave no longer. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

The young and gifted Arodys Vizcaino: A Brave no longer. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Keith Law might or might not be the shrewdest analyst of minor-league talent — me, I think he’s pretty sharp — but because he works for the Worldwide Leader he has the biggest audience. And when Law writes something on ESPN Insider, it resonates.

About the Braves’ trade with the Cubs, Law wrote this (link requires registration): “The price for Atlanta … was too high.”

Also this: “Atlanta gets marginally better for this year with the additions of [Paul] Maholm and [Reed] Johnson, but the Cubs land the best prospect they’re likely to obtain in this year’s trade market in exchange for two players they didn’t need.”

Law calls Maholm “a back-end starter with a proven record for durability” and Johnson “a capable extra outfielder … who has a long history of mashing left-handed pitching.”

About Arodys Vizcaino, the 21-year-old pitcher the Braves sent to the Cubs: This spring, Law ranked him as the …

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Video: Maholm, Johnson and the Braves’ chances in the East

Continue reading Video: Maholm, Johnson and the Braves’ chances in the East »

Braves trade! Braves trade! And it’s a pretty darned good one!

After midnight, Frank Wren briefs the still-assembled media. (Photo by M. Bradley)

After midnight, GM Frank Wren briefs the still-assembled media. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Well, the Braves landed a Cub after all. Two of them, in fact, neither being Ryan Dempster. But enough about him.

Just after midnight, the Braves announced they had acquired Paul Maholm, a left-handed starting pitcher, and Reed Johnson, a right-handed bat. Johnson will definitely help a bench that needs all the help it can get. Maholm can’t possibly hurt a rotation that wasn’t exactly brimming with excellence.

Maholm isn’t a No. 1 starter, but he was 9-6 with an ERA of 3.74 for a terrible team, and he has been really good of late: Over his past six starts, he has yielded one run at most. By way of contrast, Mike Minor is 6-7 with an ERA of 5.18, and Tommy Hanson, who’s 12-5, has an ERA of 4.29. Immediately after Hanson beat the Marlins on Monday, manager Fredi Gonzalez suggested the pitcher might need to skip a turn, which isn’t the most heartfelt vote of confidence.

Let’s be clear: This …

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If Braves don’t land a big arm, Hanson becomes the key man

Tommy Hanson on a hot Monday night. (AP photo)

Here's Tommy Hanson on a hot Monday night. (AP photo)

Asked for his Trade Deadline wish list, Chipper Jones said Monday: “I’d like Josh Johnson, [Ryan] Dempster and Cliff Lee. We could trade our entire Triple A team for those three.”

Jones was kidding, sort of, but he was reminded that in 1993 the Braves’ Class AAA affiliate fully expected to be ravaged at the deadline. Jones was then Richmond’s shortstop; Ryan Klesko was the first baseman, Javy Lopez the catcher. With the Braves gazing upward at the Giants in the National West, it was thought that general manager John Schuerholz would have to part with one, maybe two, of the prized prospects to land Fred McGriff. Instead Schuerholz hooked McGriff for Melvin Nieves, a Richmond outfielder, and two lesser lights.

In the history of deadline deals, that’s about the best. McGriff showed up, the press box at the old stadium caught fire and the Braves overhauled San Francisco, which would win 103 games but, there being no wild card …

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