Posts Tagged ‘Bradley’s Buzz’

Bradley’s Buzz: Optimism abounds around the Braves!

Billy Wagner: He's not a new closer, but he's the new Braves closer. (AP photo)

Billy Wagner: He's not exactly a new closer, but he's the new Braves closer. (AP photo)

They’re the feel-good team of the Grapefruit League. They’re the Atlanta Braves, and everywhere you turn someone else is gushing about them.

Buster Olney of ESPN.com picks them to finish second in the National League East and to win the wild card. (Link requires registration.) Writes Olney: “The Braves look tremendous this spring. Jason Heyward looks great; Tim Hudson looks great. ‘The two best teams I saw this spring — the two teams that looked the most crisp — were the Braves and Rays,’ one evaluator said.”

And here’s Albert Chen of SI.com giving his reasons why the Braves can finish ahead of Philadelphia:

The Braves can overtake Philly if 23-year-old starter Tommy Hanson establishes himself as one of the league’s elite pitchers; if outfielder Jason Heyward has the kind of rookie year Albert Pujols had in 2001; if the old guys (Troy Glaus, Chipper Jones and Billy Wagner ) stay …

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Mel Kiper raves about Tech’s Bay-Bay, broken foot aside

Demaryius Thomas turns a short pass into six points. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Thomas turns a short pass into points. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Say this for Mel Kiper: When he likes a guy, he really likes a guy. (Think of Mel as the Sally Field of draftniks.) And Mel really likes Demaryius Thomas, the Georgia Tech product who had the seeming misfortune of breaking a bone in his foot last week while readying for the NFL draft.

You’d think a broken foot might give a draft-tracker cause for pause, but not our Mel. (Actually, he’s ESPN’s Mel. But I like to think he belongs to us all.) And here, in a mailbag just released on the Worldwide Leader’s Insiders site — all Mel links require registration — is a question from a reader regarding Thomas, who’s known fondly as Bay-Bay, and Mel’s cogent answer:

Q: I’m excited about the possibility of D. Thomas out of Ga. Tech, but he’s not from a passing offense! Isn’t this a guy who might not help the team at all early in his career because he’s still learning? Why don’t the Bengals get more of a sure thing? – …

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Bradley’s Buzz: Did the Verducci Effect claim Jair Jurrjens?

Jair Jurrjens delivers, putting himself at risk. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Jair Jurrjens delivers, thereby putting himself at risk. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Was it just happenstance that Dave O’Brien’s report of Jair Jurrjens’ impending MRI coincided, more or less, with Tom Verducci’s annual look at young pitchers at risk? Because, as the SI.com writer notes, Jurrjens was one of those who appeared to have defied the so-called Verducci Effect.

Ten months ago Verducci identified Jurrjens as one of 10 pitchers under 25 who’d increased his workload by more than 30 innings. You can question the methodology — Eric Seidman of FanGraphs did here — but there’s enough data to make the V-Effect worth noting. Writes Verducci:

“In the previous four years, I have identified 34 at-risk pitchers. Only four of them made it through that year without injury and with a lower ERA: [Ubaldo] Jimenez and three studs who did it last year — Tim Lincecum, Clayton Kershaw and Jair Jurrjens. (Jurrjens may not have escaped the effect after all. He reported to camp this week …

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Julius Peppers wants out; the Falcons shouldn’t touch him

See this? Another Julius Peppers non-sack. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

See this? Pictorial evidence of a Julius Peppers non-sack. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

News out of Charlotte today is that Julius Peppers says he doesn’t want to play for the Carolina Panthers because he has been ignored this offseason. (Peppers gave a radio interview, and his answer to one question prompted the usually straight-down-the-middle Associated Press to describe it as “rambling.”) Speculation has already suggested that Flowery Branch could/should be Peppers’ next place of employment. I have one word for this:

The word is “no.”

The Falcons need a pass rusher. Peppers rushes the passer — sometimes. He had 2 1/2 sacks in 2007. He had 14 1/2 in 2008. He had 10 1/2 last season in what was a contract year. Of those 10 1/2, six came against Washington, Buffalo and Tampa Bay. He had no sacks in four games against New Orleans and Atlanta.

There are times when you watch the Panthers and you think Peppers is Deacon Jones. Other times you think he has come down with the …

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Bradley’s Buzz: ESPN’s Buster doesn’t love Braves’ rotation

This, you should note, is not a recent picture. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

This, as you doubtless know, is not a recent picture. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

We keep hearing that the Braves’ rotation will be just as good without the man who finished fourth in the National League Cy Young voting  in 2009. The (thin) reasoning: That Javier Vazquez was unlikely to have such a season again, but that Tim Hudson — who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2008 and who has won two games since — will absolutely return to top-of-the-rotation form. This, I say again, assumes a lot.

I haven’t quite bought it, and I note for your edification that the estimable Buster Olney of ESPN.com hasn’t yet, either. Writing for ESPN’s Insiders, Buster O. lists his top five rotations — top six, actually — and somehow doesn’t include the Braves’. (Link requires registration.) His rankings:

  • 1. Red Sox: Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Clay Buchholz, Tim Wakefield.
  • 2. Yankees: CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte, Javier Vazquez, Phil Hughes.
  • 3.  …

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Bradley’s Buzz: SI’s Heyman calls Braves’ offseason ‘cheap’

I apologize. I've used this picture before, but it's a classic. (AJC photo by Phil Skinner)

I apologize. I've used this picture before, but it's too good. (AJC photo by Phil Skinner)

I don’t always agree with Jon Heyman of SI.com. He seems to believe Bobby Valentine invented the game of baseball, while I’m of the opinion Bobby V. only perfected the art of preening. But I can’t quibble with this assessment of the Braves’ offseason.

Heyman lists “eight teams that struck out this winter by not spending enough.” The Braves are No. 8 on that list. (The Mets are No. 1, intriguingly enough.)His rationale:

“[The Braves] were remarkably cheap this winter, and the result is a rotation diminished by the loss of Javier Vazquez and a lineup that still needs another big hitter. Melky Cabrera was the only immediate help received for Vazquez, who was brilliant last year. Troy Glaus could prove to be a $2 million bargain, and Eric Hinske seems to be a lucky charm [he played for the AL champion the past three seasons]. They also got former All-Star closer Takashi Saito.

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Bradley’s Buzz: SI sees the Falcons taking a Boise cornerback

Another day, another mock draft. This one comes from Don Banks of SI.com, and his is noteworthy because it doesn’t have the Falcons taking a pass rusher with the 19th overall pick. (Which, as noted previously, the Falcons don’t yet own — there’s a coin flip with Houston upcoming in February.)

No, Banks has the Falcons taking a cornerback. And not just any cornerback. A cornerback from Boise State. His name: Kyle Wilson. Banks’ rationale:

“The search for the draft’s No. 2-rated cornerback behind Florida’s Joe Haden at this week’s Senior Bowl turned up a surprising name, that of the former Bronco defensive back, Wilson. He has blanketed receivers on behalf of the North squad, and has made play after play on the ball. There’s no team that needs cornerback help more than Atlanta, and look for Wilson to continue to climb up teams’ draft boards.”

Cross-reference time: ESPN.com’s Scouts Inc. has Wilson ranked fourth among cornerbacks and 38th overall (link requires registration), …

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Bradley’s Buzz: Kiper prescribes a pass rush for the Falcons

It’s Jan. 27. The NFL draft is April 22-24. (Yes, it’s three days this year, beginning with Round 1 on a Thursday night.) And Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN has already delivered not just a Rock 1 mock but possibilities for Rounds 2 and 3. (Link requires registration.) Mel, it’s fair to say, works hard at his job.

You probably know that Kiper has the Falcons taking Texas linebacker Sergio Kindle with the draft’s 19th pick. (Although it’s not yet clear if the Falcons will have the 19th pick. The NFL  will flip a coin to decide next month.) You’re also doubtless aware the Falcons don’t hold a Round 2 pick this season, having dealt it to Kansas City for Tony Gonzalez. But here, courtesy of Mel Jr., are names to watch for the Falcons’ Round 3 pick, which is 73rd overall:

  • Jason Worilds, defensive end, Virginia Tech.
  • Dominique Franks, cornerback, Oklahoma.
  • Syd’Quan Thompson, cornerback, California.
  • Eric Decker, wide receiver, Minnesota.
  • Darryl Washington, linebacker, TCU.
  • Garrett Graham, …

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Bradley’s Buzz: John Smoltz to … the stinkin’ METS?

John Smoltz had an intriguing 2009: Left the Braves, ripped Frank Wren, signed with the Red Sox, got cut in August, signed with the Cardinals, did a bit better, pitched two relief innings in postseason as the team got swept, filed for free agency. His final numbers for the season: Two clubs, three victories, eight losses, an ERA of 6.35.

We Atlantans monitored this mostly from afar. Smoltz didn’t pitch against the Braves. (Though he did manage to rip his former employer for its treatment of Tom Glavine.) But if reports from New York are correct, Smoltz would be given ample opportunity to exert the Smoltzian wrath firsthand. Because the Braves play the Mets 18 times in 2010.

Yes, the Mets. According to Adam Rubin of the New York Daily News, “the Mets have been particularly active in dialogue with the 42-year-old Smoltz’s reps and would use him as a starter.”And two of the team’s other presumed pitching targets were lost Tuesday, when Ben Sheets signed with Oakland and Jon …

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Bradley’s Buzz: Favors is down, but Georgia Tech’s up

Derrick Favors: Not yet on form. (AJC photo by Elissa Eubanks)

Derrick Favors against Indiana-PA. He has done less of this versus the ACC. (AJC photo by Elissa Eubanks)

According to the good folks at NBAdraft.net — the best site of its ilk, IMHO — Georgia Tech freshman Derrick Favors is now No. 6 in its 2010 mock. That’s down from No. 2 earlier this month, and that’s a rather significant drop.

There’s a reason. Given his hype, Favors isn’t having much of a freshman season. He’s averaging 11.1 points and 8.6 rebounds, and even those numbers mislead. Over the past eight games he’s averaging 9 points and 8.4 rebounds, with 22 turnovers and 20 fouls against seven assists. He has scored in double figures once in four ACC games.

In sum, he doesn’t resemble the player he was at South Atlanta High, where he was considered the nation’s top recruit by Scout.com. (John Wall, ranked No. 2, is not only the best freshman but the best player in the college game. And he’ll be the NBA’s No. 1 pick in June.)

Maybe we should have seen this coming. Favors …

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