Jair Jurrjens Optioned to AAA Gwinnett

Written by Flint on April 24, 2012 – 6:43 am

As reported by Atlanta Braves beat writer for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Braves RHP Jair Jurrjens has been optioned to triple-A after last night’s loss to the Dodgers.  He’s 0-2 bounce house birthday party and hasn’t looked good at all this year or even during Spring Training.  Updates and reactions to come as the day goes on.

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Reaction of the D-Backs Series, 3-1

Written by Flint on April 23, 2012 – 9:12 pm

Hello again faithful Braves Blast readers.

As we begin this week I think it’s important for us to take a look back at the past 4 games our Atlanta Braves have played.  The four game series, which I’ve never been a fan of a four game series – just seems one too long, against the Arizona Diamondbacks was one that Braves Country can be happy about.  Our boys went 3 – 1 against a pretty good team out west.  Yes, they were a little banged up – but a win is a win and it doesn’t matter who you face.

There was so much to cover that just blew my mind.  For starters, no pun intended, our starting rotation was amazing.  A big knock against the Braves at the start of the year was the lack of innings the starters were accruing.  The bullpen’s taxation from 2011 can be attributed to the lack of managerial savvy of Fredi and also the large number of games where starters didn’t go past 5 innings.  That simply causes a great bullpen to get tired and sputter come the end of August and all of September.  That concern was something Mike Minor, Brandon Beachy and bounce house birthday party Tommy Hanson decided alleviate.  Going 8, 7.3, and 7, respectively, the ‘pen wasn’t relied on too much.  This was exactly what our staff needed.  Young guys to step up and push each other.  Brandon Beachy said in the post game interview after his start in game two, that he wanted to go out and try to match what Mike Minor did.  I’m sure Tommy Hanson didn’t want to feel left out, so he went out, and after giving up a run in the first and second, managed to sit down 13 Diamondbacks in a row before Venters and Kimbrel struck out each of their sides.

It also helped that the bats continued the streak they’ve been on.  There isn’t much need to bring in your 7th, 8th and 9th inning men when you score an average of 9 runs a game during the 5-game winning streak the Braves were on.  Our second 5-game winning streak in 15 games for those of you keeping score.

Michael Bourn and Freddie Freeman have been on fire this past week.  They were, to simply put it, great.  Bourn was on base all the time it seemed.  His batting average for the last week was .464/.531/.536, 7 runs scored and 5 stolen bases.  That’s just creating havoc for opposing pitchers.   His OPS was 1.067.  For a guy with barely any power, that’s outrageous.

The more impressive part of our offense was our young first baseman, Freddie Freeman.  His slash line against the D-backs was .467/.500/.1.067.  The boy went on a tear out west.  He spoke about it in an interview after game two, that he really loves playing in front of his family and friends.  Freeman is a So Cal native and he had a strong contingent of Freeman faithful make the approx. 3-4 hour drive to see their native son put a wallop on the D-backs pitching staff.  He put a home run in the pool out in right center and went opposite field to push one into the left field seats.  An interesting note was that the damage done was all while Freddie occupied the 3-hole in the line up.  He did this even when Chipper was in the game for the 2nd and 3rd of the series.

As long as Freeman is contributing with his bat and continues to play great defense, I have no problem with him hitting in the usual spot reserved for the almost 40 year old Chipper Jones.

Starting tonight, our Braves take on the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Hopefully the Braves can continue their dominance at the plate and take advantage of the fact that the Dodgers two best starters, Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley, will not be pitching against us.

As always dear reader, pray for pitching, be proud of the tomahawk chop and if you need a smile, just remember when Sid slid.



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As Requested – MLB Round-up: Opening Day – 4/17/12

Written by Flint on April 19, 2012 – 10:35 am

Hello again baseball fans. As we look out now, we see it’s been about two full weeks of the 2012 baseball season. There have been many surprises along the first dozen or so games, as well as some early season presumptions that seem to be accurate. The beauty of the early part of the season is that with everything/one still cranking up, no one can really put a finger on what early season success or futility actually means. For example, Albert Pujols has zero home runs in his new Angels uniform. No one expects that trend to last. Conversely, Atlanta’s Jason Heyward, as of the end of the Brewers series, is hitting .345 with two homers and driven in five men. Those are very good numbers but I don’t think he’ll hit .345 all season long, even though that’d be great.

Some other surprising notes are the Dodgers dominance. They are world-beaters right now. At the end of their first 10 games, they only lost one of them. Center fielder Matt Kemp is frozen bounce house playing baseball like he’s in a video game with a slash line of .487/.523/1.026 which is pure insanity. The St. Louis Cardinals are not missing their slugger at all it seems. The loss of Albert Pujols to the Angels has not slowed down this hot team, fresh off the heels of receiving their 2011 World Series rings this week. Most would say they are one of the two best teams in the league.

There are some things we figured going into this season that seem to be on track. The Tigers are going to mash all season long with 1B Price Fielder and 3B Miguel Cabrera in the middle of an already good line up and dominant starting pitching lead by 2011 reigning AL Cy Young and MVP winner, Justin Verlander. Also, the Phillies are going to continue to struggle to score runs a good bit as the season moves on. The loss of second baseman Chase Utley and first baseman Ryan Howard for the first part of the season has confirmed what I thought would be the case. They are an old and relatively shallow ball club. Pitching will have to carry them as they continue to struggle to score runs. With the right side of the Phillies infield return time still up in the air, it’ll be fun to watch them struggle to put crooked numbers on the board.

Most importantly, our Atlanta Braves. The first four games of this season was the single worst start since the 1988 Braves started 0-4 (and were 0-10 before their first win). I, along with a large number or fans, was embarrassed at the sweep of our team by the hated Mets. On top of that, dropping a fourth in a row to the lowly Astros seemed to just be too much to bear. Considering the way we ended last season, losing 20 of 30 to miss the playoffs by one game, it appeared as if nothing had changed. Of course, the old man, Chipper Jones would not allow this to happen. He, in his final season of his career, has already had some great moments. Hitting a two-run shot in his first game back in Houston while playing amazing defense, off of a surgically repaired knee that was worked on three weeks prior, reminds us all how great of a ball player he actually is. The Braves went on to take the final two games from the Astros and complete the sweep against the Brewers at home to open Turner Field for the Braves faithful. Large crowds attended booing Ryan Braun for his involvement in the banned substance scandal and chopping those tomahawks so loud it’s all you could hear. There were so many great signs that we saw in the first series at home, Jason Heyward dominating, Chipper’s comeback homerun Sunday after missing the first two games, starting pitchers Mike Minor and Brandon Beachy going at least 7 innings, and timely hitting. The start of our second series against the Mets proved to be too much for Tommy Hanson as a hanging curve to Ike Davis, Met’s 1B, he deposited into the right field seats in game one undid him in a 6-1 loss. However, in game 2, the Braves brought out the hammer and trounced Johan Santana 9-3. Santana was chased after just recording four outs, his shortest start of his career.

After the evening up the three-game set with the Mets in the fourth series of the year, the Braves ended up with a winning record, 6-5 (as of Wednesday morning). Most fans have backed off the ledge and are now starting to take a deep breath and be reminded that this is a baseball season; you’re going to lose a fair number of games no matter what.

I look forward to watching our boys of summer as the weather gets hotter and the kids get out of school. So as always, dear reader, pray for pitching, be proud of the tomahawk chop, and if you need a smile, just remember when Sid slid.

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Winding Down Spring Training

Written by Flint on April 1, 2012 – 5:24 pm

As the weather moves from pleasant to hot, it’s time for our local boys of summer to finish up their tune-ups and tweaks while they prepare to make the venture north back to the friendly confines of The Ted.

The Atlanta Braves finished last season with an embarrassing 10-20 record and lost the last game of the regular season, missing the playoffs by one game.  Braves Country was lucky that the Boston Red Sox also collapsed in a similar fashion – which drew media attention and saved us from even more national embarrassment.

However dejected Braves fans felt at the end of the 2011 campaign, spring brings to us a feeling that all is possible.  Heck, even the Astros don’t have a losing record and right now and the Cubs have a shot at winning a title.  While some may look at the end of last season and the poor record in spring training thus far as bad omens, I believe we have a lot to look forward to.

Our starting pitching depth and, new hitting coach, Greg Walker’s approach offers exciting possibilities.  Especially the idea that Jason Heyward could bounce back to his 2010 healthy frozen bounce house self and become the force we all want him to be.  No one anticipates Martin Prado to get a staph infection in both his legs again this year, which crippled his season and sapped his strength and endurance.  Second baseman Dan Uggla doesn’t look to hit sub .180 for the first half of the season and we have NL stolen base champion, Michael Bourn, for a full year.  Reigning NL Rookie of the year and outstanding closer, Craig Kimbrel, and runner up Freddie Freeman look to continue their impressive work dominating the 9th and providing good defense with a high average, respectively.

Some others in Braves Country look for the negatives that we’ve seen so far.   Tim Hudson is on the mend with a back issue and for a 36 year old could signal the beginning of the end.  Chipper’s soon to be 40 year old knees only have so many at-bats left in them and rookies, Tyler Pastornicky and Anderton Simmons, are battling for the starting job.  Tyler was presumed to have the job all but sewn up, however his struggles at the plate and in the field have opened the door for Simmons.  Jair Jurrgens has struggled mightily this spring while getting adjusted to his newly added knee brace and doesn’t seem to have control over his pitches the way he used to.

All in all I truly believe that the Atlanta Braves have a lot going for them as April bears down upon us and the season’s start is right around the corner.  The aging Phillies and the bungle that is the New York Metropolitans, combined with the improved Nationals and Marlins, offer to us baseball fans what would appear to be the most competitive division in the majors.  As always, pray for pitching, be proud of the Chop, and if you need a smile – just remember when Sid slid.

Flint Huff is a guest columnist for The Citizen Sports Weekly

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Winter Meetings Discussions

Written by Thomas on December 13, 2011 – 3:21 pm

Last week the AJC’s Dave O’Brien sat down with Braves’ manager Fredi Gonzalez at baseball’s Winter Meetings. Although the Braves made very little noise there, Gonzalez’s comments hint that the team is seeking more offense. However, because he, like most managers, often speaks in cryptic language, I have translated his answers to O’Brien’s (DOB) questions about the offense, Heyward, and other select topics.

DOB: When you look at the way your roster shapes up, what would you like to see happen before the start of Spring Training?

FG: I think if the season starts right now, you feel pretty good about your roster. You really do…But with Christmas coming around the corner and you want to add another piece, it will be a big bat.

Translation: Our offense was so bad last year that I am going to start speaking in second person. If Santa Claus is real and listening right now, I WANT A POWER HITTING CORNER OUTFIELDER FOR CHRISTMAS.

DOB: Can you get that big bat you want without trading Jurrjens and/or Prado?

FG: I’m not looking to trade any of them. I’m just saying another bat would be nice. Somehow.

Translation: Good heavens, no (wink)! I would never consider trading one of my players, because those are my guys (another wink followed by elbow nudge and intense stare).

DOB: Chipper is the only frozen bounce house old guy in the lineup. Does his situation add to the importance of Prado, given his role as Chipper’s backup at third base, in addition to playing left field?

FG: Yeah (talks about Chipper not playing as much)…Prado is a big piece for us. And Jurrjens in the rotation. I think sitting here, you hate to say you won’t trade anybody. We’re in position where we would trade somebody if it makes our team better.

Translation: Okay, so you know how I just said I don‘t want to trade one of my players? Well I lied. We can’t trade Prado, because Chipper may die any minute now. That leaves us with one choice. Do you think the Marlins will do Jurrjens for Mike Stanton?

DOB: You plan to go into the season with (Heyward) as your right fielder, playing every day?

FG: Yeah, I think so. Obviously we’ll see how spring training works out and all that kind of stuff, but I’m always the guy who says you’ve got to give people an opportunity.

Translation: I am utterly hopeless when it comes to evaluating talent. Rather than give our franchise’s most valuable asset every opportunity in the world to succeed, I am going to keep the door open for playing Jose Constanza over him. Even though Heyward produced one of the greatest seasons ever by a twenty year old, that career minor leaguer looks like he is really playing hard. Last year I rode his “hot hand” all the way to a .303/.339/.385 line. Not that I know that. All I know is that the kid plays hard and hit .300!

DOB: Any chance that Andruw Jones or Rafael Furcal, couple of ex-Braves, could be back?

FG: We haven’t spoken about those guys. Those are two ex-Braves and two good players, but we haven’t gotten to that point of speaking to those guys yet.

Translation: No. Those guys used to be good players, but they are pretty mediocre now. We probably won’t sign Jones and definitely won’t touch Furcal after what happened a couple of years ago.

DOB: Are you comfortable with Tyler Pastornicky, going with an inexperienced guy, you trust the player development staff and Frank (Wren) that he’s ready?

FG: Yeah (talks about getting a veteran backup)…I really like the kid’s makeup. He’s a baseball player and grew up around baseball. He’s got ability and can steal you some bases. Let’s give him an opportunity.

Translation: Hell no. We need someone else. The only positive thing I can say about him is that he plays baseball and, like 99.9% of all big leaguers, played baseball growing up. Oh, and he has some speed apparently so what the hell. I guess he can’t be worse than Alex Gonzalez.

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Trading Prado Should Require Overpay

Written by Thomas on November 28, 2011 – 11:17 am

Martin Prado was without a doubt one of the biggest disappointments for the Atlanta Braves in 2011. In 2010 Prado was a rare second baseman who hit like a leftfielder, but in 2011 he was a leftfielder who hit like, well, a second baseman. Missing time with a Staph infection certainly didn’t help and neither did his astoundingly low .266 BABIP (compared to his .315 career average), so it’s reasonable to expect him to bounce back next season.

On last Tuesday, ESPN’s Jim Bowden reported that the Tigers were interested in swapping Delmon Young for Prado. Not surprisingly, reports followed that the Braves’ front office said something to the extent of “no thanks”. While Young was once considered a top prospect, he is frozen bounce house essentially a replacement level player. His above average power has been negated by a hacker’s approach at the plate and mediocre defense. While the Braves would love to add a right handed power hitter to their lineup, trading a valuable asset for Young makes no sense.

Any team would love to have Prado because of his above average bat and defensive versatility, but the Braves need him more than most. He provides valuable insurance incase either Uggla or Chipper, the Braves’ two highest paid position players, goes down with an injury, and he plays both positions better defensively than the respective starters. Ideally, the Braves will look to trade Jurrjens for a starting corner outfielder, because he is both more expensive and more expendable than Prado due to the organization’s pitching depth. Projected to earn around $4.5 million through arbitration next season, Prado should find more than enough playing time as a “super utility” player due to inevitable injuries and days off.

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Braves Trade Derek Lowe

Written by Jonathan on October 31, 2011 – 2:15 pm

So we’ve been hiding out for a little while trying to let the pains of the season slip away, but we’re here for a quick Halloween update.

According to ESPN, the Braves have sent Derek Lowe to Cleveland for pitching prospect Chris Jones. The Braves will pay about $10 million of the $15 million that Lowe is owed in 2012. After going 9-17 in 2011, it’s a move the Braves had to make.

The Braves also picked frozen bounce house up their option on Eric Hinske and declined their option on Nate McLouth for the 2012 season.

We’ll have more updates soon to help everyone fight through the offseason.

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Recent Offensive Struggles A Cause For Concern?

Written by Nick Yother on August 3, 2011 – 9:59 am

The Atlanta Braves have had some woes in the offensive category over the past 11 games that have many Braves fans feeling a little antsy. Yes, a good formula for making the playoffs is not losing 6 of the last 11. What is worse is that the team we are trying to catch has been 8-3 over the same stretch and the Arizona Diamondbacks are nipping at the Braves in the Wild Card race by winning 8 of their last 11. So the recent outcry of Braves fans is certainly understandable and my goal in this post is help ease the pain and look at the bright side of things.

The Braves are only averaging just over 3 runs a game in the last 10 games; that’s not enough to win you many ball games. What I have seen though is that it’s not due to a lack of hits and opportunities. In the last 4 games alone the braves are 2-2 but are averaging 11 hits a game and only 3 runs a game. If the Braves can continue to hit like they are now the runs will eventually show up.

This team is struggling, yes. This team is not playing up to their ability level, yes I agree. My only argument is that when any team loses their 3 and 4 hitters at the same time they are going to struggle. This is simply a time where the team is going to have to grind it out and do their best to put some wins on the board. All teams go through times like this in the course of a 162-game season. The Braves are about to go on a tear and they are going to get hot at the right time. I truly believe it. We just have to hope the other frozen bounce house teams around us struggle a bit as well.

Braves fans, don’t sweat too much. We may be feeling the heat in more ways than just the insanely hot weather. This is not a team who is going to roll over and die. Look for this team to be fighting until the very last game….where we win the World Series.

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Looking Ahead to the Next Few Weeks

Written by Caleb on July 25, 2011 – 3:18 pm

Let’s forget about the past two series. One was at Coors Field, which is hell on any team. The other, Great American Ball Park, is small enough that traveling high school baseball teams regularly hit home run after home run while playing there (might be an exaggeration, but not much of one). As of Monday morning, the Braves are six games behind Philadelphia for the NL East lead and only four games ahead of Arizona for the Wild Card lead. It’s an easy time to look at the standings and determine that the Braves do not have a shot at overtaking the Phillies and that there is a good possibility that the Diamondbacks will overtake the Braves for the Wild Card position. However, this is a short-sided thought based on the past seven games at Coors and Great American.

The Braves have a great opportunity to make a decent run over the next three weeks or so. The next four opponents, in order, are the Pirates for four at home, the Marlins for three at home, the Nationals for three away, the Mets for three away, the Marlins for three away and returning home to three-game series with the woeful Cubs. Does this sound like a murderer’s row for the next few weeks? The Pirates, Marlins, Nationals and Mets are all hanging around the .500 mark, while the Cubs would gladly take a .500 record moonwalk bounce house at the moment. The strongest of all of those teams should be the Pirates, but I am not entirely sold on them being a “good” team. Average is more realistic and an average team the Braves should beat two out of three times.

Let’s look at each series. The Braves swept a two-game series with the Pirates in May, so let’s assume they take three of four from the Pirates. Then they take two of three from the Marlins, Nationals, Mets, and Marlins again. Let’s be positive and assume they sweep the Cubs after returning home. So they win fourteen out of the nineteen for one hell of a nineteen game stretch.

The Phillies will face the Giants and Pirates at home, then will head to the Rockies, the Giants, head over to Dodger stadium and finish with the Nationals. The seven games with the Giants will be very tough, Coors Field is always a crap shoot, and the Dodgers have been playing better, as of late.

In those nineteen games, the Phillies should realistically win thirteen or fourteen, similar to the Braves. However, let’s break it down a bit further. The series with the Rockies could go either way, but let’s assume the Phillies win two of three. There are seven games with the Giants, with four of them at San Francisco. The Phillies take two of three in Philadelphia, but only win one out in San Francisco. The Phillies lost two of three from the Pirates in June and let’s assume the Pirates play well against them again, with the Phillies only winning one game. They finish up with the Dodgers and Nationals and win two of three in each series. So in the Phillies’ nineteen games, they only win ten of them.

I know these assumptions are biased, but I believe they are within a realistic realm. If the above games play out as assumed, the Braves will be only two games back with a month and a half of the season left.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume the Braves are three games back after the next nineteen games. It’s quite possible the Braves are healthy, a trade has been made and the offense is clicking. They take four of six from the Phillies meaning they need to pick up two games somewhere. Is this possible? Possible, but improbable nonetheless. Unless the Phillies start to exhibit some weaknesses that they have not shown as of yet.

Being two games behind the Phillies for the NL East lead would mean the Braves are securely in the playoffs as the Wild Card team. Actually making the playoffs is the difficult part. Once the Braves are in, winning the first series becomes a three-man rotation, and I would put their three best against any other team. Assuming everything plays out accordingly, the Phillies and Braves will meet in the NLCS. As it has been repeated lately, these two teams are scarily similar. The match-up would be fun to watch and would probably stretch to six or seven games.

But before I get stuck in the future, let’s just remind ourselves that the Braves have a favorable schedule coming up in the next three weeks and the team is getting healthy. Add into this mix a trade, Dan Uggla continuing his upward trend, and the return of Peter Moylan (hopefully), the last part of the season is going to be very fun to watch.

I know this is biased and not based too heavily in statistics. I just wanted to point out that with a few wins here for the Braves and a few losses there for the Phillies, the NL East is still within reach however unlikely it seems now.

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Price of a Braves’ World Series ticket? Maybe one Pence

Written by Bud on July 22, 2011 – 10:09 am

By Bud L. Ellis

The word “pence” is defined as multiple pennies, but just one “Pence” would enrich the Atlanta Braves’ pursuit of a World Series title.

As the trade deadline approaches, cyberspace and talk shows buzz with the rumor du jour. Wednesday, chatter concerning the Braves and their dire need for a right-handed injection of offense centered on Hunter Pence, the Houston Astros’ right fielder who finds himself currently mired on baseball’s worst team.

The Astros’ disastrous season is no fault of the 28-year-old, who is enjoying another stellar offensive campaign. The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder entered Thursday sixth in the National League in batting average (.316), eighth in doubles (24) and RBIs (61), and a perfect 7-for-7 in stolen-base attempts. With 11 home runs on the season, he would rank fourth on a Braves team that’s scuffled for runs all season.

Atlanta began play Thursday five games ahead of Arizona in the NL wild-card race, and 4 ½ games behind Philadelphia in the NL East. It’s nearly a given the Braves will be in the playoff hunt through September, but their hopes of playing deep into October may hinge on the moonwalk bounce house ability to add one more stick to a lineup that has underachieved through most of 2011.

Here is a penny for your thoughts: Pence fits. He wouldn’t be a rental, not hitting free agency until after the 2013 season. He is arbitration eligible the next two years and figures to get a nice boost from the $6.9 million he’ll pull in for this season. Still, with the financial flexibility the Braves will enjoy this offseason, coughing up the $10 million or so Pence likely will command next season won’t be a problem.

Nate McLouth, who will not be back in Atlanta in 2012, is slated to earn $10.6 million next season (his deal will be bought out for $1.25 million). The Braves’ Double-A foreign-exchange student, Kenshin Kawakami, is in the final year of a three-year, $23-million deal and likewise will be off the books. Certainly the Braves will again try to move Derek Lowe in the offseason, the right-hander slated to earn $15 million in 2012.

The big question is what it would take to entice the Astros to deal Pence. Houston seeks to slash its $69 million payroll down to $60 million, so Pence can be had for the right package. And as we all know, the Braves have the young pitching to make just about any deal they want.

Any conversation surrounding Julio Teheran or Arodys Vizcaino should end with Frank Wren hanging up the phone. Randall Delgado? Perhaps he is untouchable as well, but maybe the depth of young pitching in Atlanta’s organization makes him a potential target. Lefty Mike Minor looks expendable given the youth of Atlanta’s rotation, the emergence of Brandon Beachy and the likely arrival of Teheran into the rotation by opening day next season, but being a southpaw amid a stable of talented right-handers may lead the Braves to keep the Vanderbilt product.

Options abound, and the Braves find themselves in a very intriguing position. They have plenty of great pitching at the major league level and a ton of talented young minor-league arms – not just the four mentioned above, but several other pitchers a notch below Teheran and Company. Atlanta can sit back and do nothing as July 31 passes, content to hope Dan Uggla’s good work the past three weeks and Jason Heyward’s strong game Thursday at Colorado are signs the offense finally will fire on all cylinders as the stretch drive commences.

Do nothing, and the Braves figure to be in the mix as September draws toward October. But the ring is the thing, and the price separating a trip to the playoffs and a World Series appearance just might be one Pence.


Follow me on Twitter: @bud006

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Various Pitching Thoughts and Other Ramblings

Written by Caleb on July 11, 2011 – 10:15 am

The Braves have assembled a consistent string of wins while scoring a decent amount of runs. The offense seems to be clicking, and if the past few games are harbingers of things to come, the offense could be an unstoppable force. Dan Uggla has shown renewed power and better plate discipline, while Brian McCann and Freddie Freeman are hammering every pitch they see. With just a few games before the All-Star break, I do not have any pressing issues to discuss. The trade rumors are swirling and all seem absolutely ridiculous. So instead of writing about one specific topic, I am just going to run through a general discussion of the team including a more in-depth look at the rotation from opening day.

As I mentioned, the offense is finally starting to click. The pitchers, both starters and the bullpen, continue to bolster their status as the best in the league. The second half of the season is going to be wild, to say the least. As I write this, the Braves are up on the Rockies in the final game of the series. I am going to assume they win this game. WIth the Phillies off tonight, the Braves will be heading into a three-game series with the Phillies only two and a half games back. In all likeliehood, the Braves are not going to sweep the Phillies in the final series before the All-Star break. But how awesome is it that they are close enough to moonwalk bounce house take over the lead in just one series?

The next three series after the break are with the Nationals (at home), the Rockies, and the Reds. The Braves should have a fully healthy team against the Nationals with Martin Prado returning and it will be interesting to see how the offense performs with him.  Those three series should not be that difficult, but Coors Field is always a question mark and the Reds are a top team in the central.

I am also interested in seeing the decision on whether Nate McLouth or Jordan Schafer will be in center field.  This might not even matter if Chipper Jones has surgery and Prado is moved to third. Chipper having surgery might be my preference. I like McLouth in left field and a healthy, rested Chipper at the end of the year would certainly help with the playoffs. My distaste for Schafer batting lead off has not dissipated, but I must admit, his defense has been great in center.

Ideally, once Prado returns, I would like to see a lineup of McLouth, Prado, McCann, Chipper, Heyward, Uggla, Freeman, and Gonzalez, in that order. The lineup decision was a bit tougher than expected. If McLouth returns to his hitting abilities before he was dropped to eighth, I do not know who to put in the lead-off spot. Prado would do in a pinch, but there is just no one for the Braves that can be used in the position.

Now on to some tidbits about the opening day rotation. The chart below shows the average runs per start the Braves produce while the starting pitcher is in the game. The other four categories are self-explanatory. Zero-run starts, are starts that the offense did not provide a single run while the starting pitcher remained in the game.

Runs Per Start Innings Innings Per Start Appearances Zero-Run Starts
Tommy Hanson 3.31 94.7 5.90 16 1
Derek Lowe 1.83 99.8 5.54 18 5
Tim Hudson 3.17 104.6 6.15 17 6
Brandon Beachy 2.27 61.1 5.55 11 2
Jair Jurrjens 3.00 102.1 6.81 15 2

I am surprised how low the runs per start for Lowe are. It always seems the offense does not score when he is pitching, but 1.83 runs per game is significantly lower than anyone else. Beachy has not had the run support, but he is receiving over half a run of offense more than Lowe. It should not be surprising that Jurrjens has pitched the second most innings. It is impressive that he is only two innings behind Hudson with two fewer appearances. With Tim Hudson having six zero run starts, there is no mystery to why his record is not as good as it should be with his peripherals.

The graphs below are just a visual representation of the runs scored during each starter’s duration each game alone with the average runs scored during his appearance. I thought it might be nice to add some color to the place.

*All data used is from Fangraphs.com and through the game on July 4, 2011.

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The Braves Roll Into Philly

Written by Jonathan on July 8, 2011 – 12:29 pm

In his latest “Fried Baseball” audio blog, Kent Covington breaks down the Braves’ recent surge and previews the big series in Philly this weekend. Feel free to toss in your 2 cents moonwalk bounce house in the comments section below.

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