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 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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Welcome Back, Matt Diaz

Written by Jonathan on August 31, 2011 – 1:44 pm

The Braves have worked out a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates to bring outfielder Matt Diaz back to Atlanta in exchange for a player to be named later.  MattyD hit .305 with the Braves from 2006-2010.  The Braves hope he can help out their dismal stats against left-handed pitching, where they currently rank last in average and OBP.

Diaz is signed through 2012 and is owed $2 million for next season.  The Pirates are also sending some cash to Atlanta to help offset his remaining salary this season.  The Braves made the trade before the deadline so that Diaz will be eligible to play for the Braves in the postseason.

Though in a little bit of a slump right now, I’m hoping Diaz can help fill some holes in the current offense.  Welcome back to Atlanta, MattyD!


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What Did The Braves Really Do At The Deadline?

Written by Nick Yother on July 31, 2011 – 10:20 pm

Just as quick as the trade deadline approached, it has now passed and the Braves made a splash with the acquisition of Michael Bourn. As you look at the deal, the Braves got a star centerfielder, gold glove defender, and a legitimate leadoff hitter without having to give up any of our “untouchable prospects.” Bourne is probably one of the best if not THE best leadoff guy in the league with speed that helped him lead the league in stolen bases the last 2 years and OBP% which sits around .350. It’s not only the numbers that makes Bourn such a good acquisition. Everything around the league says that he is a hard working/ class act type guy who will provide leadership and outstanding baseball talents.

This will add much needed depth to the lineup which I see looking like this (when or if ever healthy):

1. Michael Bourn
2. Martin Prado
3. Brian McCann
4. Chipper Jones
5. Freddie Freeman
6. Dan Uggla
7. Jason Heyward
8. Alex Gonzalez

This lineup becomes one of the best in baseball and I believe will perform like it. If Bourn comes in and does what he always has, he will set the table very well for the rest of the lineup. Fredi Gonzalez won’t even be able to mess up this lineup. I know it’s a couple weeks until we see what this ball club can really do but the bright side is that Brian McCann is getting some much needed rest that will help us down the stretch run.  This trade upgrades our team more than Carlos Beltran and HunterPence upgraded their respected teams.

But what else can this trade do for the team?

The Braves have really constructed this team very well. Everyone knows how talented our starting players are from the position players to the pitching staff but what most non-avid Braves fans will miss is how deep this team really is. All year this team has battled injury and struggles to only be picked up by many unsung heroes like David Ross, Eric Hinske, and Brooks Conrad. These guys are really what makes this team so dangerous. You know every time you see one of these guys walk up to the plate they are going to give you a great at bat. Like Bourn, their value goes past the on field statistics. Eric Hinske and David Ross are definite veteran guys who lead their team. From what you read, they are always there to encourage and uplift the team even in the faces of a hard loss. The depth of this team is extremely important to its success. The acquisition of Bourn makes this ball club deeper as well with Nate McLouth becoming the 4th OF.

A couple more trade thoughts.

Current reports seem to indicate as well that Frank Wren still wants to make the ball club even deeper with a right-handed bat to come off the bench or turn into a platoon partner. The challenge will be getting someone of quality now through the waiver wire. This really is the missing piece to the bench as the Braves woes vs. LHP is so dreadful having a guy who can come off the bench and put a spark into the lineup from time to time would be a big boost.

It seems the Braves don’t have the urgency to really go after a relief pitcher for the stretch run which obviously shows their confidence in Anthony Vavaro to hold down the fort until Peter Moylan can return from the disabled list and Arodys Vizcaino to prove if he is ready for the show.


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Braves Acquire Bourn From Astros

Written by Colin on July 31, 2011 – 10:25 am

As first reported by Ken Rosenthal, the Braves have acquired CF Michael Bourn from the Houston Astros for Jordan Schafer and three minor leaguers. Bourn, who will wear #24, is batting .303 with 32 RBI and 39 steals. He’s arbitration eligible for one more season and is likely to earn around $7M next year.

The Astros land former star prospect center fielder Jordan Schafer (currently on the DL with a fractured hand), LHP Brett Oberholtzer, RHP Paul Clemens, and RHP Juan Abreu. The Braves will receive just under $1M cash in the deal as well.

I’m thrilled. The Braves have said for some time they’re looking to stay away from trading Minor, Teheran, Vizcaino, and Delgado, and they did just that. Wren didn’t make the biggest splash, but he did make what I believe to be one of the more effective moves for this team. With Prado and Heyward locking down the corner spots (and Hinske and McLouth able to take a start in left with Chipper out and Prado playing third), a true center fielder is something the Braves needed.

Bourn fits that mold. The Braves have their first true speedy leadoff hitter since Rafael Furcal a few years ago and the Braves have center field locked down for a year and a half for the baseball equivalent of a few spare parts. Good luck in Houston, Jordan!

Welcome to Atlanta, Michael.


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Trade Deadline Looms For Braves

Written by Thomas on July 29, 2011 – 3:06 pm

With Sunday’s trade deadline rapidly approaching, the Braves have yet to make any moves to bring some new blood to Atlanta.  There are differing opinions as to what Frank Wren should do.  BravesBlast contributor, Thomas, examines possible trades for the Braves in today’s podcast below.  Should the Braves go after bullpen help?  Right-handed power at the plate?  Just stand pat with what they have?  Let us know your thoughts!

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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 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.

–30–

Follow me on Twitter: @bud006


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Making The Braves Better – Trade Targets

Written by Thomas on July 13, 2011 – 10:24 am

Heading into the Phillies series before the All-Star break, the Braves boasted the third-best winning percentage in baseball and were on pace to win ninety-six games. Obviously, the team constituted as such has a very good chance to make the playoffs; coolstandings.com calculates those odds at 77.5%. So while the front office could justify sitting pat at the fast approaching trade deadline, the Braves certainly have enough pitching depth to exchange some for a centerfielder or shortstop if they find the right deal. The following is a list of players that have either been connected to trade rumors already or make sense for the Braves to target.

Carlos Quentin/ Juan Pierre

Both Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe and Mark Bowman from Braves.com recently reported that the White Sox have been scouting Braves pitching and may look to exchange a bat for a major league ready pitcher. Cafardo mentioned Quentin as a possible match for Atlanta, but Bowman stated that the Braves are unlikely to target a corner outfielder. Assuming the team has no plans to send Chipper Jones to the DL upon Martin Prado’s return, then Quentin is not a match. With Prado and Heyward locked in at the corners, the Braves would only be able to upgrade in the outfield with a centerfielder. Bowman’s mention of Sox outfielder Juan Pierre as a possible target warrants projectile vomiting from anyone that cares about the Braves. Not only is Pierre a horrible hitter (.287 wOBA in 385 PA this season), but he cannot and has not played centerfield since 2009. God willing, the front office has no interest in either of these players, and these rumors are simply the result of unintelligent/lazy journalism.

Michael Bourn

Bourn should be the Braves’ primary trade target, and he appears to be obtainable. Not only do the Astros have the worst record in baseball this season, but their next taste of playoff contention appears to be many years down the road. Therefore, they should look to trade Bourn, who has one year left of arbitration, for someone that can help them win beyond 2012. From the Braves’ standpoint, Bourn would certainly provide them a significant upgrade in centerfield over Schafer or McLouth. Over the last two and a half seasons the Astros leadoff man has combined to produce 12.9 WAR by getting on base at a .348 clip, playing excellent defense, and being one of the best base runners in the game. If these two teams discuss a deal, it will likely center around Mike Minor or Brandon Beachy heading to Houston. In all likelihood the 2012 Braves’s rotation will not have room for both of these pitchers, so it makes sense to trade one in order to make this and next year’s team better.

J.J. Hardy

Hardy has reportedly been in contract extension talks with the Orioles, but if the two sides cannot reach a deal then Baltimore will look to trade their shortstop in the middle of his career year. He currently boasts a line of .289/.348/.520 this season and has always been a solid if not plus defender. Hardy would unquestionably provide an upgrade over the free swinging Alex Gonzalez by adding a little pop and patience to our lineup without sacrificing anything defensively. If extension talks fall through, the Braves should be first in line to kick the tires on Hardy and at least see what the Orioles are asking for him.


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Happy Julio Teheran Day!

Written by Colin on May 7, 2011 – 11:04 am

In Philadelphia tonight, a 20 year old widely recognized as the best pitching prospect in baseball will make his debut. In front of a sellout crowd, the Phillies will be reminded again that while they have three two aces (with Oswalt on the DL), the Braves have the prospects to dominate them for years.

First, Teheran. 1.80 ERA, 25 strikeouts and 8 walks in five starts and 30 innings this year at AAA-Gwinnett. Though he’s seen a drop in K/9IP to a disgusting 7.5 this year, he’s seen his FIP improve to 2.53. Scouts rave about his fastball that sits at 93-94mph and tops out at 97, his plus changeup (81-86mph), and ding him for hanging a curveball (69-76mph) here and there.

Teheran is only 20 years old. He’s raw. He’s talented. The key for success here (as with a lot of young pitchers) is in how he reacts to big league hitters adjusting to him. He’s not proven at the big league level. But he’s also good enough to get “best pitching prospect in baseball” tattooed on him.

Let me take a minute to bash on the Phillies. The ever-overpaid D-UI Lowe just tagged them for seven innings of no-hit baseball yesterday. He was pulled because of a blister on his foot that  – for all we know – he developed during his field sobriety test. Yes, Lee struck out 16 Braves, but we also nailed him for three runs. Combined, Lowe, O’Flaherty, Venters and Kimbrel held their once mighty offense to two hits and no runs in a power friendly ballpark.

The Phillies might have the appearance of having the edge in pitching if you look at the names in their rotation (or payroll, if you so choose). But if you look at the numbers you’ll realize the Braves have matched them thus far – they top the Phillies in ERA 2.88 to 3.14 and trail in FIP 2.32 to 2.82. If you like strikeouts, you’ll get more of those with the Phillies, sure. But an out is an out.

So to recap, we’re matching the Phillies in pitching so far this year, and we’re going to dominate them in years to come. When they need a spot start, they resort to pitching Kyle Kendrick. We’re calling up a kid with true ace potential for his first big league action. It’s just a rough life, having to pick a five man rotation from Hudson, Lowe, Jurrjens, Hanson, Beachy, Minor, R. Lopez and Teheran.

I’m looking forward to the game – regardless of the outcome (Braves will win), it’ll be fun to watch a future star make his debut against 2011’s division rivals. Go get ’em, Julio!


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Extending Dan Uggla

Written by Thomas on January 6, 2011 – 3:26 pm

When rumors began to surface several weeks ago about a possible five year extension for the newly acquired Dan Uggla, a small but very loud minority of Braves Nation cried foul. To summarize their concerns in one sentence, giving an aging middle infielder with a high strikeout rate and shoddy glove 60 million dollars guaranteed is incredibly risky for a club with the Braves’ financial means. Today over at Talking Chop, Martin Gandy joined the minority and expressed similar concerns comparing the deal to that of Derek Lowe’s. While I obviously agree that Lowe will end up being overpaid for his tenure in a Braves uniform, Uggla at least has a fighting chance to be worth it.

For starters, there is reason to believe that Uggla is a better defender than he is perceived to be. For those of you who are not aware of his home and road UZR splits, the advanced defensive metric shows that Uggla has been much better with the glove away from Miami. In fact, his career road UZR/150 of 1.4 (compared to -10.5 at home) means that he goes from being an atrocious defender at home to a pretty decent one on the road. There are many possible explanations for why this is the case, but regardless of the reason, we are talking about five years of data that shows a significant difference in performance. If it turns out that Uggla really can play solid defense away from Sun Life Stadium, then his biggest flaw will no longer be such a glaring concern.

A strong argument can also be made that Uggla will out produce his career offensive numbers in the first two seasons of his new contract. In his first 1400 big league plate appearances Uggla was nothing more than a glorified hacker. During that stretch, the Marlins’ second bagger struck out about once every four plate appearances while drawing a walk only 8% of the time. Although he still strikes out about 25% of the time, over his last 1900+ plate appearances Uggla has drawn a walk in over 12% of them. Even though he hasn’t improved his ability to make contact, he has at least learned to lay off some of the junk. Because of this, Uggla has posted an OBP of .361 over the course of his last three seasons compared to .332 in his first two seasons. I say he has decent chance to keep this up for the next two seasons, because research shows that a baseball player’s prime typically last about five seasons. However, Bill James states that the typical prime is from ages 26 to 30. Here’s to hoping that Uggla, who didn’t reach the show until age 26 and will soon turn 31, is a late bloomer. If he is and has a “graceful” decline in productivity following his age 32 season, the Braves will not regret extending Uggla.

Of course, I had to work pretty hard to defend this extension and use a lot of big “ifs” towards the end of the third paragraph. There are more underlying concerns about Uggla that I did not address as well. Some would argue that players with his body type are at a higher risk of physical drop off than others, but to be fair, I have no evidence nor have seen any to support such a concern. There is also legitimate reason to believe Uggla, a straight pull hitter, will have trouble maintaining his power numbers at Turner Field which has a much deeper left field gap than his former home. One thing is clear, the Braves took on a pretty big risk by giving Uggla this extension, and I personally would not have given him it to him. However, it shouldn’t be compared the Derek Lowe deal just yet.


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The Impact Of Derrek Lee To Atlanta

Written by Jonathan on August 18, 2010 – 9:56 pm

In his latest “Fried Baseball” audio blog, Kent Covington breaks down the Braves acquisition of Chicago Cubs first baseman, Derrek Lee and the impact of this move on the NL East pennant race. Throw in your 2 cents in the comments area below.

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Braves To Move For Derrek Lee? Good Idea?

Written by Jonathan on August 18, 2010 – 11:57 am

With every at-bat or play at first base, it’s quite apparent that Braves first baseman Troy Glaus is in a lot of pain and unable to play up to his full potential.  Gone are the days of May where he was hitting everything in sight, whether it was over the plate or not, and now, the best we can do is hope he doesn’t hit into a double play at the wrong time.  Rumors have begun circulating that the Braves are close to making a move for Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee.

In his day (he’s been around the league since 1997), Derrek Lee produced some solid numbers from the plate.  He’s had 9 20-HR seasons and is 5 shy of 1000 RBI in his career.  To date in 2010, he has 16 homers (4 of which came last weekend) and 56 RBI.  In the month of August, Lee is batting .306 and slugging .694 with 4 homers and 8 RBI.  By contrast, Glaus is hitting .208 and slugging .375 with two homers.

On the surface, it seems like a logical move.  It would give Glaus time to get healthier (although I doubt that can truly happen until the offseason) and would add a little more pop to the lineup.  The kicker however, is that Lee is injured as well.  His performance has been hampered by a bulging disc in his back, which, after receiving an injection for the pain, has him sidelined until today or tomorrow at least.

Lee would definitely be a rental, as he is a free agent at the end of the season, and would have to waive his no-trade cause, which he would likely do as Atlanta is contending for the NL East.  The rental issue doesn’t bother me however as he would serve as the next step in the bridge to getting Freddie Freeman into the majors (which I still maintain the  Braves don’t have to rush to do).  The question is, is sitting one injured first baseman for another injured first baseman the right thing to do.  With Troy’s performance as of late, I’d say it’s an option that we seriously need to consider.


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Make The Minor Move: Bring Minor To The Majors

Written by Colin on August 5, 2010 – 11:49 am

After Kris Medlen’s elbow injury last night resulting in him leaving the game, there’s cause for concern that he’s out for the year. We’ll find out more after an MRI today.

Now the question arises: what happens with Medlen’s rotation spot for the start that he’ll miss? Since he just won the fifth rotation spot from Kawakami, do we just let Kenshin back into the rotation? He has only pitched once since being taken out of the rotation – we don’t want to use him – and there are rumors that we might want him to accept a minor league assignment (though it might hurt our chances with signing future Japanese players). Or do we promote Mike Minor, the top pitching prospect at the AAA level.

Minor is having a great first full pro season – in 118 2/3 innings at AA Mississippi and AAA Gwinnett, he’s posted a 3.41 ERA, a 1.15 WHIP, and 144K’s with only 44 BB’s. He’s part of the rotation of the future and has been starting regularly unlike Kawakami.

My plea to the Braves is thus: Please make Minor the fifth starter. Kawakami has had his chance and blew it – send him to AAA for some regular pitching and let Minor fill in on the back half of the rotation in the bigs.

Bring Minor to the Majors.


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