With McCann, many things possible for Braves

This isn’t a fluke. Despite their issues with the Florida Marlins during the past two games at Turner Field, including a 10-4 clubbing Wednesday night, the Braves will remain vibrant in the National League East. For instance: You already know Brian McCann is good, but he actually is better than that.

We’re talking much better. So much so that Braves bullpen coach Eddie Perez sat in the home clubhouse shrugging over McCann’s present before grinning over his future.

McCann’s present is wonderful, by the way, and Perez acknowledges that, but here’s the deal: “He’s going to learn more and more and more,” said Perez, a catcher for 20 years in the pros, including 18 with the Braves. “He’s already an All-Star at catcher, but if he keeps doing what he’s doing every year, he’s going to be in the Hall of Fame. Easy.”

See, I told you. Better yet, consider the evidence, starting with McCann doing the unprecedented by making the All-Star Game during each of his first three full seasons. This is his fourth, and he continues to hit better in the clutch and just in general than his catching peers. His throwing keeps improving, too. He also calls a game so well that Jair Jurrjens joins other Braves pitchers in rarely shaking off McCann’s pitch suggestions.

“Maybe twice a game,” said Jurrjens, which means McCann is flirting with greatness. That is, if he isn’t already there for his age.

Just don’t say any of this too loudly around McCann, the Duluth kid, who always is a compliment away from a blush. “I don’t even like to have my name mentioned in the same breath as those other guys until I’ve done it for at least six to eight years,” said McCann, referring to guys such as Johnny Bench and Gary Carter, the only other catchers to join McCann with two seasons of 20 or more homers before age 25.

Bench and Carter are in Cooperstown, and whether you’re talking about Roy Campanella, Yogi Berra or the rest, Bench is the king of them.

So this is significant: Before McCann’s first All-Star Game appearance three years ago in Pittsburgh, The Man himself came strolling McCann’s way near the batting cage. The closer Bench came, the more McCann wondered if his head would burst from anticipation.

“I was blown away,” said McCann, who was on the verge of becoming even more mesmerized by catching royalty. That’s because Bench had a message for McCann, and it was wonderfully simple. “He told me that he watches the games that I played, and he has continued to give me a lot of publicity, you know,” said McCann, in his gee-whiz tone. “He just said, ‘Keep working hard, and you look great.’ He also said he likes the way I swing the bat.”

Who wouldn’t? Then again, that prolific hitting has overshadowed McCann’s improved catching. Which brings us to one of the primary reasons why he lost 20 pounds by pushing away his bad-eating habits for 3½ months. He wished to have more mobility behind the plate. He wanted to keep improving.

He knew Bench would be watching, along with history.

28 comments Add your comment


April 16th, 2009
9:02 am

Good article, Mr Moore. McCann is a great story. Too bad we don’t have a similar one in the bullpen.

Dr. Phil

April 16th, 2009
9:02 am

Someone at the game on Saturday asked me who is my favorite Brave. I said, Smoltz, then Maddux, Aaron, and Matthews. If I had to pick one, all-time fave, it would be Aaron. But the question was what current Brave. I had to think a little, before I said McCann. He has plenty of talent and limited ego, as Terrence points out. He doesn’t sit because of a sore toe or a hangnail.


April 16th, 2009
9:01 am

Baracked, I believe he means present tense. As there are past tense, present tense, and future tense. I like McCann, but he’s greatness won’t get us to the playoffs if our bullpen can’t throw strikes.

Baracked the Vote!

April 16th, 2009
8:18 am

What was McCann’s present? What was the present Perez was shrugging over? was it a lousy present? do u mean presence? were you drunk when you wrote this? what is the status of the buy-out? when are you leaving town? so many questions….

Dr. Warren

April 16th, 2009
3:27 am

Funny how Francoeur got most of the attention during their first year. McCann was known more as Francoeur’s sidekick, his hometown buddy. Hard Work + Humility + Talent = Success in every human endeavor. We’re seeing that from Jeff this year, too. Watch out…

Coach (Skip and Pete will be missed)

April 16th, 2009
1:11 am

I think we can all agree on one point. Bobby Cox is finally coming under fire. Losing can do that. When it happened in the post season, everybody said: at least we got here and we will be back next season.

But the past three regular seasons have exposed our managers deficiencies. Bobby Cox is no Leo Mazzone when it comes to managing the pitching as we have seen with the innings totaled up by the bullpen during the previous three seasons.

Cox has a penchant for relying heavily on his pen as the following numbers illustrate:

2006 bullpen: 512.1 innings.

2007 bullpen: 539.1 innings.

2008 bullpen: 554.1 innings.

These are the three highest totals in franchise history. Leo left after 2005.

The Peanut Gallery

April 16th, 2009
12:43 am

You guys are tough. :lol:


April 16th, 2009
12:35 am

Just another recent article by Terrance Boore trying to save face during the AJC’s tought economic times. Your act is stale, please stop writing articles.


April 16th, 2009
12:25 am

McCann is really good. The guy is the best catcher in baseball The Marlins are really good too. Hopefully they will get fans down in Miami because this team can pitch, catch, and hit, the guys are good. The Braves are going to have a battle all year with this team.

Scorby Jones

April 15th, 2009
10:33 pm

I have always liked Brian McCann, but I didn’t realize that he was better than I thought he was. Thank you for the informative article. Now I know that Brian McCann is a great catcher, whereas before, I thought he was merely a great catcher.