Posts Tagged ‘Atlanta’

Chipper’s toe-tap winds up kicking Braves in the rear

Jeff Francoeur’s excursion to Dallas to work with Rudy Jaramillo, the hitting coach of the Texas Rangers, raised eyebrows and raised Terry Pendleton’s hackles. But how about this? Chipper Jones helps a former Brave with his toe-tap and the former Brave winds up — not to go all Munson on you here — kicking his old team in the gut with a steel-toed work boot.

Nick Green hit a home run off Jeff Bennett to beat the Braves in the ninth inning Sunday. You know that already. But on Saturday Daniel Barbarisi of the Providence Journal described how Green, who came up in the Braves’ farm system and played here in 2004 before being traded to Tampa Bay for Jorge Sosa in 2005, worked out over the winter with Jones and Brian McCann and Francoeur and former Brave Mark DeRosa.

Green noticed three of them — Francoeur being the exception — tapped their front toe before swinging, so as to keep their weight on the back foot. Barbarisi quoted Chipper thusly: “Just think of it as throwing a …

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Bradley’s Buzz: Glavine tells WAGA he won’t pitch in 2009

Tom Glavine informed Buck Lanford of Fox 5 Atlanta on Thursday he won’t pitch in 2009. Via text message, Glavine wrote: “I’m not going to pitch or do anything in baseball until at least next year.” Glavine stopped short, according to Fox 5, of announcing his retirement, saying he plans to be “a full-time dad.”

It was, you’ll recall, only two weeks ago that Glavine ripped the Braves for releasing him and said he believed, contrary to Frank Wren’s bleak evaluation, he could still pitch in the major leagues. But if Glavine has resigned himself to not pitching this year after spending the winter and spring rehabbing from shoulder and elbow surgery, it would seem there were no opportunities. At least none to his liking, anyway.

Glavine will be 44 when the 2010 season begins. It’s hard to imagine he’ll be on a roster then or ever again, and he doesn’t need to be. His legacy is secure. He has won 305 games and is bound for the Hall of Fame, and he’ll be inducted wearing a Braves …

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Should Braves need a manager, I’d consider these guys

Today’s discussion of Bobby Cox leads inevitably to another discussion: If not Cox, then who?

Were I running the Braves and in the market for a manager, I wouldn’t feel bound to recycle the usual names. (Jim Riggleman, Jerry Narron, et al.) Unless I could convince Terry Francona to leave the Red Sox — and I don’t think John Henry and Theo Epstein would let him — I’d look to two coaches.

Neither of them is Terry Pendleton, and here’s why: I think he’ll be a very good manager someday, but I don’t think the man coming after Cox needs to have apprenticed under Cox. (This also applies to Fredi Gonzalez and Ned Yost.) There’s a sense of sameness about the Braves — how could there not be, this manager having been in place 19 years? — that I wouldn’t be sorry to see dissipate. I’d look outside. I’d consider:

Brad Mills, bench coach, Boston Red Sox: He has worked alongside Francona, who was his college roommate, in both Philadelphia and Boston, and I consider the Sox the new model …

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The Hot Button: Do the Braves need a new manager?

He’s the best manager I’ve ever seen. He’s the best manager I’ll ever see. That said …

I’m not sure Bobby Cox is the best manager for what the Braves have become.

They’ve gone from being great over 15 seasons to being not very good the past 3 1/2. There’s still a aura of assurance around Turner Field, a feeling that, “Oh, we’re the Braves and we’ll figure out something,” but the Braves haven’t figured out much since Brian McCann and Jeff Francoeur were rookies. No, the manager hasn’t stopped managing, but this sort of team needs more managing than Cox likes to do.

He’s a player’s guy, now and forever. He loves his players and treats them like men. The Braves of the ’90s were indeed men, even those who arrived as rookies. They were serious about the game and serious about winning for this manager. I’m not sure what some of these Braves take seriously.

Who can reach Yunel Escobar? Who can instruct Jeff Francoeur in the art of plate management? Who can break the news that Kelly …

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Sad to say, this Braves’ season could be over very soon

Folks, the Braves could be finished by the Fourth of July. They’re 30-33, no longer even in third place in the NL East. Of their next 15 games, not one is scheduled against a team under .500.

There’s no reason to think they’ll make a big move in the standings this next fortnight. They haven’t since the season’s first week. There’s a basic reason for that: They’re just not very good.

The starting pitching is solid but not 1990s-era solid. The relievers are so-so. The offense is awful. They’ve already made one major trade, and they’re 4-7 since Nate McLouth arrived. There’s not much more they can do to better themselves except play better, and at this point it doesn’t appear they’re capable.

Where will the Braves be in 15 games?

  • Closing in on the Phillies.
  • Running in place.
  • Fading fast.

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They’ve scored 37 runs in the 11 games since the McLouth acquisition, and even those numbers are misleading. Seven times in those 11 games they’ve …

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Face Off: Say goodbye to Marvin, hello to Caron Butler

Read Jeff Schultz’s view: Hawks need to get the point — and it’s Rafer Alston

Marvin Williams is the least essential Hawks starter. He scores points and takes rebounds but seems to leave no imprint on games, and one of the reasons Joe Johnson gets the ball with three seconds on the shot clock — or, worse, Josh Smith gets it 25 feet from the hoop — is that Marvin, four years a pro, still won’t assert himself.

I want to see Marvin not assert himself elsewhere next season. I want the Hawks to re-sign him — he’s a restricted free agent — and ship him and Acie Law to Washington for Caron Butler and Javaris Crittenton. The Wizards are looking to cut salary, so that part would work for them, and they’re also looking to get younger. Williams turns 23 on Friday; Butler is 29. (See ajc.com photo gallery.)

Butler is a small forward with deep range and — key point — a ton of self-assurance. He wants the ball when the clock’s ticking low. He averaged 20.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.3 …

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The Falcons are stacked — on one side of the ball, anyway

The good news: The Falcons have five really good players, according to Peter Schrager of FoxSports.com. The not-so-good: Only one of them is a defender. That’d be John Abraham, ranked 92nd.

The others: Roddy White is 56th, Tony Gonzalez 47th and Matt Ryan 43rd. And Michael Turner is the highest-rated Bird at No. 38, which seems low for a guy who tied for second in the MVP voting. And I was surprised to see Turner rated below DeAngelo Williams, Jay Cutler and Carson Palmer. But quibbling isn’t why I’m here, at least not today. I come to highlight a theme.

The 2009 Falcons will be outstanding on offense, less so on D. The defense is young and reworked, and that’s not bad in and of itself. Last season’s unit was no colossus. (Remember third-and-16 in the desert? Yow.) But, if it was time for Keith Brooking and Michael Boley and Lawyer Milloy and maybe even lovable Grady Jackson to leave, it will nonetheless take time for their replacements to settle.

I see some 40-37 games coming …

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Smoltz won’t start against the Braves, and I am … not sad

I’ve been steeling myself since January. John Smoltz would make his triumphant return to the big leagues at Turner Field against the Braves in June and I’d be there to cover it and he, being John Smoltz, would throw a no-hitter and force me to write something nice about him and in the process grind my teeth to nubs. I’d even embarked on a course of meditation and aromatherapy to help me prepare for the moment.

And now comes word from Boston: No Smoltzie in the A-T-L.

And I say, “Whew.”

I’d borne my burden in silence for a dozen years, but two weeks ago I was moved to confess: I don’t much like Smoltz, and he really doesn’t like me. When duty called, I put aside my feelings and afforded him his due — I was there in 2007 the night he beat Greg Maddux and the Padres and there again 15 days later when he beat Tom Glavine and the Mets for his 200th victory — but those came when he was pitching for the Atlanta Braves. And I do cover sports for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

But …

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If the Hawks trade Josh, they lose me. (Unless it’s for Kobe.)

The annual Josh Smith trade rumors are swirling (ESPN.com link requires registration), and they make less sense than ever. The Hawks are getting close to something good, but they must negotiate a summer in which four of their top eight players are free agents of some stripe. Josh Smith is under contract through 2013. He’s not the immediate problem.

On the contrary, he’s a massive part of the solution. He’s a very good player bordering on greatness. He’s 23. He has already had his free-agent summer. He’ll be the best player on this roster in two years, and that’s even if Joe Johnson sticks around. Josh isn’t the guy you move. He’s the one you keep.

Last month Rick Sund, the Hawks’ general manager, said: “I like our club. The only reason I say that is that there’s still growth from within.” Of Smith in particular, Sund said: “I think Josh is going to continue to get better — every year he’s gotten better.”

And he has. And he should continue to do so for at least three more …

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The Cubs fire their hitting coach. Should the Braves?

The Chicago Cubs led the National League in runs and on-base percentage in 2008 and were second in batting average. The same Chicago Cubs fired hitting coach Gerald Perry on Sunday because they’re not hitting as well.

And now you’re asking: Why don’t the Braves, who have scored only 10 more runs than the Cubs, do the same?

Answer: Because you never want to take your cue from the Cubs, who have been getting it wrong for more than a century.

Answer: Because the Cubs are, once again, wrong.

Gerald Perry — former Brave, good guy — is a skilled hitting coach. The Cubs, who know something about goats, needed a scapegoat. Are they hitting much this season? Nope. But they’re the same guys (minus Aramis Ramirez, who’s been hurt) as last season.

As Alfonso Soriano told reporters: “Last year, nobody said nothing. We had the best team offensively. He was the best hitting coach. This year, we have a little problem and now he’s the worst.”

In the same Associated Press story, Ryan Theriot …

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