Following a disappointing home stand, the Braves now head west for a ten game road trip against the Dodgers, Giants, and Padres. One run games are something to keep an eye on during this stretch as the Braves are 1-4 in such contests. A team this good with an elite bullpen should end at least .500 in one run ballgames (last year’s team went 23-22); let’s hope this starts to turn around soon. In the meantime here are some other observations to keep an eye on this road trip.
Chipper Jones is an Ageless Wonder
At the risk of jinxing the oft injured third bagger, Chipper is off to a fantastic start at the plate. Through 61 plate appearances he boasts an impressive line of .321/.393/.509, and perhaps more importantly, he has appeared in every game. While his defense looks a little shaky over at the hot corner, if Chipper continues to get on base like he always has the Braves will be thankful he decided to come back.
Jason Heyward is Striking Out Less
The reason Jason didn’t come close to hitting .300 a year ago was his unusually high strikeout rate (24.6%). In 16 games this season it has been a different story with J Hey striking out in only 8 of his 61 plate appearances which is comparable to his minor league rate. This is obviously a promising sign, and if it continues he won’t be batting .240 for long. His ridiculously low .211 BABIP means that he has suffered from some bad luck and “at em’ balls”. Look for his average and OBP to start trending up sooner rather than later.
Pinch Hitters Not Getting it Done
So far on the season, Braves pinch hitters are a combined 0 for 23 with ZERO walks. For you stat heads out there that’s a triple slash line of .000/.000/.000. Considering the fact that pinch hitters often come up in “close and late” situations, this partly explains why the Braves have struggled so far in one run games.
Don’t Start Brooks Conrad Against the Giants
Even though Raw Dog’s most crippling errors were made in Atlanta last October, I would advise Freddi Gonzalez to schedule Dan Uggla’s off day around our series against the defending World Champs. Having Conrad start at second against the Giants would be the equivalent of taking Lieutenant Dan out to a Vietnamese restaurant; you don’t want to risk causing traumatic flashbacks that end in bloodshed.
Tags: 2011 Braves, Brooks Conrad, Chipper Jones, Jason Heyward
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Sometimes I dwell for a good while on figuring out what to write about for BravesBlast. I read around the Internet, other blogs, talk to sports friends, and any other method that might spark an idea. Today, however, I decided on a new idea; I’m going to look through the search terms that landed people at BravesBlast in the first place and address ones that I know we haven’t really covered in the past. So who knows what we’ll come up with, but I can go ahead and promise that I don’t have much for whoever got here by searching for “half blood prince hermoine boyfriend”. With that being said, let’s get started:
Braves 2011 25 man roster – This made me realize that I hadn’t updated the roster yet from last season. The 25-man roster has been decided and can be found at http://www.bravesblast.com/roster/ throughout the season.
Atlanta Braves 5th Pitcher – After a battle in Spring Training between Mike Minor and Brandon Beachy, the 5th spot in the rotation was awarded to Beachy. In 5 preseason appearances, Beachy pitched 16 innings, striking out 16 and posting an ERA of 1.13. He also failed to give up a run in any of his final 4 appearances. Minor was no slouch in Spring Training however, posting a 0.90 ERA and I would expect him to be a quick callup should there be any injury issues in the rotation.
Does Spring Training Matter - Not anymore. The roster has been set, let’s get the season underway. (But yes, it mattered to me at some point in time.)
Canceled Braves Game, Reimbursed? – I seem to get asked this one a few times a season by people, so why not throw an answer out there? While the Braves do not offer refunds for canceled games, valid ticket stubs serve as rain checks that may be exchanged for a ticket of the same price for any remaining regular season game. Braves official policy can be found here.
Atlanta Braves Right-Handed Bench – The Braves have three right-handed hitters on the bench: Backup catcher, David Ross; Infielder, Brandon Hicks; Infielder, Brooks Conrad (Switch-Hitter). Because he’s the only backup catcher on the team, Ross can’t be used as freely to pinch hit, but provides good offense pop for McCann’s rest days behind the plate. Hicks has only had 5 big league at-bats, but batted .297 in Spring Training this season. Conrad hit .250 for the Braves in 2010 and provided a number of clutch hits including a walk-off Grand Slam to cap off a 7-run, 9th-inning comeback against the Reds last May.
So that’s my first trip through the search results. And to those people searching “why the Braves are better than the Phillies”, hopefully we’ll see some answers to that soon enough on the field. Keep searching and feel free to submit any other questions to the BravesBlast Mailbag. The countdown to Opening Day is on!
Tags: Brandon Beachy, Brandon Hicks, Brooks Conrad, David Ross, Fredi Gonzalez, Spring Training
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These days, the Atlanta Braves expect Chipper Jones to miss a few games here and there. He’s not as young as he once was and he needs a day off here or there even if he’s healthy. Last year, Martin Prado stepped into his shoes when Chipper was out, but with him winning the starting job at second, it wasn’t clear who might step into his shoes this year.
Enter Brooks Conrad.
You might remember July 3 of last season. Brooks hit his first career Major League home run – at age 29 – as a pinch hitter. The three run blast helped propel the Braves to a win over the Washington Nationals.
This season, Brooks has hit a walk-off grand slam, has filled in with some great defensive plays at third, and is hitting .277. In June, Conrad hit .313, fielded like a champ at third base (except that one time he discovered his uniform buttons need to be closer together), laid down a squeeze bunt for the winning run against the Minnesota Twins, and hustled on every single play I’ve seen.
And damn, isn’t he just fun to watch? Someone hustling on every play, running flat out all the time, not afraid to slide or dive after a ball? Someone who bats with more pine tar on his bat than is on Manny Ramirez’s helmet – who doesn’t use batting gloves? Is there a grittier, more hard working guy in all of baseball?
It’s like Conrad finally got his chance to stick around in the big leagues after being drafted in the eighth round (236 overall) of the 2001 draft, and he’s going to work his ass of to stick around. You can tell in the way that he plays that he’s enjoying every single at-bat and relishing every single inning. He’s living the dream many of us had growing up. If he keeps it up, he may just work himself into the lineup next year. He’s a very valuable bench player to have, at the very least. But you never know, maybe we’re watching Chipper’s replacement cut his teeth.
I know I’d like to see him stick around.
Tags: Brooks Conrad
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