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.

–30–

Follow me on Twitter: @bud006


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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 hello kitty bounce house 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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McDowell and Lowe: Why Are We disappointed?

Written by Rue on May 3, 2011 – 8:26 am

I’ve struggled with my thoughts on both of these hot topics in Braves Country this week because the easiest reaction is to say “They should have known better!” or something similar. However, I’d like to take a slightly different approach to this: Why are we so disappointed in these guys – and should we be?

When I read Colin’s article about DLowe, I was at first disappointed that he stole my topic, but my second reaction was actually surprising to me. For the first time, I thought “Derek Lowe is a normal guy like every other one I’ve ever met.” For as wonderful as it’d be to think DLowe has a butler following around carrying his keys and facilitating every aspect of his life, I’m well-aware that is not how these guys operate. In fairness, I think they aspire to as normal a life as possible (with quite a few perks here and there). Should Lowe have called a cab? Absolutely. (Should he have been racing his new car…? I know 90% of you would have done the same thing – hopefully withouth the alcohol, but certainly would have stepped on that accelerator a little moreso than normal in your brand new Porsche). However, for every person who knows someone who has had a DUI and would love to attest to their upstanding character, I’m sure Lowe has similar people in his life as well.

Nonetheless, I’m disappointed with the DUI because it was a very selfish decision to get behind the wheel innebriated. I don’t think there is any hindsight necessary in this case. It was evident before it started that it was the wrong decision, and it likely was not a spur-of-the-moment incident.

Roger McDowell allegedly hello kitty bounce house used some derrogatory homophobic comments to a Giants fan and additionally threatenend physical harm. I’ve heard a few versions of this story, but the bottom line is that McDowell is holding himself accountable regardless of the events that have transpired. Again, I pose the same question to many of you… What would you have done differently in the heat of the moment? For as much as I’d love to say that many people would have taken a deep breath and handled it with the utmost professionality, I can’t honestly say that the situation could have lent itself to that (depending on your personality), especially with flared tempers. Should he have acted differently? Absolutely. But realistically, are we able to instantaneously analyze our behavior in the heat of the moment, or are we constantly looking back with our 20/20 hindsight wishing we could have handled it differently?

Ultimately, WHY are we upset? I have decided that the reason for my disappointment traces back to my idealization of professional athletes and anyone else in the spotlight. I can remember looking up to these guys as a kid, standing in line to get an autograph and having the rest of my week made because someone signed my batting glove or my baseball cap. They were heroes with great talent and extraordinary ability, and I wanted to be just like them.

The desire to be just like them is what makes me so disappointed. I DON’T want to be just like that. I want to be anything except for that. Yet I’m still impressed by their talent and their potential for using their “powers” for good. Professional athletes/coaches/managers/etc don’t “ask” to be in the spotlight just because they happen to be talented or to have their personal lives scrutinized and held to a higher standard; yet this happens anyway.

We all hope for something better from people we admire, but it’s a personal decision whether or not they are still eligible to be “role models.” And also, don’t forget to ask yourself what you would have done.


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A New Lowe: Arrested for DUI

Written by Colin on April 29, 2011 – 8:18 am

In the “The Braves Are Falling Apart” category, Derek Lowe was arrested Thursday night and charged with DUI, reckless driving and failure to maintain a lane.

The AJC reports that Lowe was arrested on Peachtree Street at Rumson Road around 10 PM and that the officer smelled alcohol. Lowe refused a breathalyzer.

That’s all the information we have now. It’s a general DUI arrest notice and nothing is newsworthy other than the name. So, what’s the rest of this article about?

First, how about a little rant. If YOU are making $15M EACH FRIGGIN YEAR, why don’t you have a permanent driver that follows you around and takes your keys when you’ve had even half a sip of an alcoholic beverage? Even if that’s absurd, how hard is it to call a damn cab and leave your car there overnight? The concerning thing here is the attitude of entitlement and feeling like you can do whatever you want. bounce house park Must have been pretty toasted if he was swerving recklessly.

Secondly, how does this impact the Braves? Well, Mike Minor is in the wings waiting for another opportunity to prove his mettle. If Lowe misses time for either bounce house park a suspension or eventual jail time (or court dates), Minor can jump in and pick up the start(s). I’m not so worried about that. But this comes on the heels of the incident in San Francisco with Roger McDowell, and concerns me a bit. The Braves need some serious buckle down – two major incidents worthy of national news coverage isn’t quite the media coverage the team would like. I would like to see the Braves come down fairly hard and make the point that unacceptable behavior will not be tolerated.

My ultimate concern is that these two incidents are indicative of an attitude issue in the clubhouse. Are these two incidents coincidentally back to back or were they just inevitable? Discuss.


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What I’m Watching For…

Written by Rue on March 29, 2011 – 3:43 pm

The season hasn’t officially started yet, and while catching my occasional pre-season game on tv and perusing my twitter feed, I have a few key observations that I think are going to be tell-tale signs about the remainder of our season.

Firstly, I refuse to look at the first 4 weeks of the season and making any conclusions about what will happen mid-to-late-season. My reasoning is this: new manager, reorganized staff, new players in key positions, and some youth.

I think that it is imperative to remember that this team just came off of a phenomenal 2010 season under entirely different management and a different squad. Fredi Gonzalez will certainly have a different approach to the game; therefore strategically speaking, expect to see a different ball club.

Secondly, I am not on the Chipper Jones bandwagon. Don’t get me wrong, I get excited to see great performance from Chipper in preseason, but I refuse Jumping castles to bank on it. I see a healthy number 10 through the end of May, after that, we’ll be pulling in someone new. I think Chipper’s leadership is invaluable to the team as a whole, but I will stick to my guns and say that he is not the tie that binds. Whereas important, he is not going to be the deciding factor for our 2011 season.

Thirdly, keep your eyes open for Alex Gonzalez. I don’t think many people are as excitedly watching him as they are Dan Uggla, but I am willing to wager that Gonzalez will be a huge contributor to the team both offensively and defensively. Comments are constantly being made about his transition from AL to NL, but with the .292 average coming out of the spring (ABOVE Prado), I expect that he will improve and become one of our most consistent at-bats.

Fourthly, I’m hopeful for a great Freddie Freeman season, but I’m not holding my breath. This reminds me so much of a Jordan Schafer debut with lots of hype. I think Freeman certainly has the talent to be an outstanding player, but this isn’t the minors. I think we will see hot and cold performances this season, but I’m not confident he will be the next Rookie of the Year.

Finally, I’m excited for Derek Lowe and ready to see consistently strong performances. Keep your eyes on him…same goes for Huddy. I think we will be able to pull out big wins with those two on the mound. As for Tommy Hanson, don’t count on him. If my predictions are correct, we will never see a truly consistent pitcher. In fact, I believe that it will be nearly impossible to say “Tommy Hanson pitched his game today” because we’ll never really know what that is due to incredible inconsistency.

Those are my predictions and things to watch for, and although there is lots to be seen, I hope that I am proven wrong in some aspects, and completely correct in others. See you at Turner Field!


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NLDS Game 1 Recap

Written by Thomas on October 8, 2010 – 9:21 am

When the Braves failed to get Omar Infante home after a leadoff double in the first, they lost the best scoring chance they would have all night. Tim Lincecum was nothing short of spectacular and was aided by the Braves’ lineup swinging at terrible pitches all game. “The Freak” used his fastball to get ahead in counts then went to his slider/changeup for the kill and recorded fourteen strikeouts en route to a complete game shutout.

Unfortunately, Lincecum’s masterpiece will overshadow the gutsy performance turned in by Derek Lowe. In 5.1 innings pitched Lowe recorded nine groundball outs to just one fly ball while striking out six. The only run he surrendered was aided by what turned out to be a devastating blown call. Replays showed that Buster Posey was clearly tagged out while attempting to steal second base in the fourth inning, but the second base umpire called him safe (TBS announcer Bob Brenly suggested he was out of position). Later that inning former Marlin Cody Ross hit a grounder that went right under Omar Infante’s glove scoring Posey from second. It would be the only run either team scored all night.

From a managerial standpoint, Bobby utilized the bullpen brilliantly. He relieved Derek Lowe in the sixth with Johnny Venters who came in and immediately got the double play ball that was needed. Bobby also went righty (Moylan), lefty (Dunn), righty (Kimbrel) in the eight inning in Jumping castles for sale order to try and keep the deficit at one run.

To be fair this game happened like it was supposed to on paper. Our injury plagued lineup simply isn’t very good, and it was going up against one of the game’s best tonight. However, that is no excuse for our hitters’ collective lack of patience at the plate. Derrek Lee and Brian McCann, two of our offensive veterans, both struck out swinging on pitches that would have been ball four in the first inning. Likewise, Heyward did the same thing in the ninth inning on a pitch that wasn’t even close. Unfortunately, pretty much everyone, with the exception of Infante, did a lot of swinging and missing tonight.

Tonight’s game is about as must win as it gets. Hanson will need to follow in Lowe’s footsteps if we have any chance to steal a win, because I am not expecting much out of our lineup, especially against Cain.


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Time To Take The Series Loss But Avoid The Sweep

Written by Jonathan on June 24, 2010 – 10:32 am

The Atlanta Braves have only been fallen victim to a series sweep twice so far this season and those were back-to-back in that dreaded, forgettable 9-game losing streak in April.  Going back to the May 7th-10th series against the Phillies, the Braves are 10-0-3 in series results.  This series against the Chicago White Sox marks the first losing series for the Braves since a 1-2 loss the Nationals from May 4th-6th (who just so happen to be coming to town on Monday so be ready for some retribution).

Despite already being down for the series loss, the Braves can still avoid falling back into the sweep column with a win this afternoon.  Derek Lowe (9-5, 4.77) faces off against Gavin Floyd (2-7, 5.20) and the hot-hitting ChiSox (they’re 11-1 in their last 12 games).  Don’t let Floyd’s record fool you however; he’s been hot as of late.  The key to the game for Lowe today is to keep the ball down in the zone and not give the ChiSox hitters a chance to hit the ball out of US Cellular Field.

All things considered, if we can go 10-1-3 every 14 series, I like our chances.  Let’s get out of Chicago and play some games at the Ted.


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Waking Up In First Place

Written by Ben on June 1, 2010 – 12:23 pm

The Atlanta Braves have not been in first place this late in the season since 2005, which is coincidentally — or maybe not — the last year the Braves won the division.

When this team was reeling in April with that unforgettable nine game losing streak, you would have been hard-pressed to find many who would believe that the Braves would be in first place by the start of June.

The Braves being in first place is a combination of superb play from the team themselves and a huge slump coming from the preseason favorite Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies closed out May with a 3-7 record over their past ten games whereas the Braves went 8-2, including the major’s longest winning streak with six straight victories.

Until San Diego’s blowout of the Mets, the Braves had the best run differential in the National League. Unfortunately, the Padres passed the Braves, but personally, I am not too upset that they pounded the Mets out as they surpassed us in terms of Pythagorean Record.

As they enter June, the Braves have a tough schedule in the coming weeks.

Atlanta plays Philadelphia for the remaining two games in this series tonight and tomorrow, then they fly out to Los Angeles for a four game set, then to Arizona for four, and close out the road trip in Minnesota for three. There are no off days from now until the end of that stretch. The Braves have struggled outside of Turner (12-16 in away games), so having a solid road trip will be a tough task that hopefully the Braves are up for.

Before they start the road trip, the Braves have a great opportunity to extend their NL East lead and put the Phillies in a bigger hole with Tim Hudson on the mound tonight and Derek Lowe facing off against Kyle Kendrick tomorrow.

Hudson has had solid numbers so far, but has been less effective than many believe. His 4.39 FIP compared to his 2.24 ERA says that he has gotten rather lucky, and if he wants to continue the success he has had this year, he will have to strike-out more and walk less.

Derek Lowe, on the other hand has had more success as of late (4.11 ERA in May), and has actually been a bit unlucky this year as his FIP stands at 4.47 while his ERA sits at 4.86. If Lowe pitches as he has, he should be in line for a lower ERA and more success in the general fan’s eyes in the near future.

Both of their performances will be key in extending the division league in the next two days, but regardless, this is not a must-win situation for either game. The Braves are in a great position and are playing very solid baseball as of late. Regardless of whether they win or lose both games, the Braves are playing well. And at the start of June, that means more than their current place in the standings.

This is a great time to be a Braves follower, and waking up in first place for the first time in June since 2005 at least shows that this is a better product than we have seen in the past few seasons. Hopefully, the Braves will be able start consecutive months in first place and bring the winning ways back to Atlanta. Those same winning ways we all grew accustom to for 14 straight seasons.


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Resurgent Rotation & A Look Ahead At The Phils

Written by Kent on May 30, 2010 – 11:39 pm

In his latest “Fried Baseball” audio commentary, Kent Covington talks about the Braves resurgent rotation, fueled by the recent strides of Derek Lowe and Kenshin Kawakami… and looks ahead at the upcoming series with the first place Phillies. Throw in your 2 cents and leave a message with your questions or comments for a future commentary at 888-669-5368 (ext.701.)

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Derek Lowe v.2010

Written by Pye on April 7, 2010 – 4:26 pm

Today’s post is from an old friend, Ryan Pye, who we’ll hopefully be able to convince to put something together for the site now and then in the upcoming season.  Pye may not be a Braves fan, but maybe that’ll help cut down on our homering a little bit.  Thanks, Pye.

Many people expect the Braves to be in the thick of the playoff hunt this year, and I am on the bandwagon as well. The main reason I think the Braves will earn a spot in the playoffs is the depth of their starting pitching (though I would have been much more bullish on their chances had they not made the Melky for Vazquez trade). Even with the loss of Vazquez, who received some Cy Young attention as well as leading the team in FIP with a 2.77 (which was 3rd best in all of baseball) and WAR with 6.6, the rotation should be solid. Having a full year of Tommy Hanson will help immensely but an area that could also be a way to recover some of Vazquez’s value would be a rebound year from Derek Lowe.

If you watched Lowe last year, you probably wanted the Braves to get a refund on the $15,000,00 that Frank Wren gave him. Unfortunately you will not see me saying Lowe will be worth his salary this year, but I do think he will be more valuable than he was last year.

Lowe’s BABIP (batting average on balls in play) last year was a fairly sizable .330 while the MLB average was .299 (and MLB average BABIP tends to hover around .300 each year). Without getting into the semantics of why (other than to say we expect Lowe’s BABIP to regress to the mean), we are fairly confident that Lowe’s BABIP will come down, which will lead to less hits and less runs. For this reason alone, I am fairly confident we will see a more productive Lowe this season.

In addition to that, Lowe’s K/9 dwindled to 5.13 and his BB/9 increased to 2.91. Both of those numbers are significantly less useful than his stats from 2008 (K/9-6.27 and BB/9-1.92). While I do not think Lowe will ever reach those levels again, both his K/9 and BB/9 stats were worse than his career averages, with the K/9 being about .8 less per game. Perhaps both of those are just forecasting the gradual decline of Lowe’s skill set, I think both of those numbers will be better than his 2009 numbers.

Lastly, even if Lowe pitched exactly as he did last year (no change in K/9 or BB/9), he still would most likely have a better year this year. His FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) from 2009 was 4.06. This statistic is saying that, factoring out the defense Lowe received, he should have had an ERA closer to 4 than it was to 4.7. Add in the fact that Melky Cabrera and Jason Hayward will be taking away some of the fielding opportunities from Matt Diaz, Lowe’s stats are due for a regression. And in this case, a regression is a good thing.


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Braves Spring Training Yields Pitching Answers

Written by Kent on April 1, 2010 – 10:05 am

Earlier this week, we addressed the questions facing the Braves lineup heading into the spring. But what about the pitching? Numerous questions/doubts were raised by fans and observers over the winter regarding the Atlanta rotation and bullpen. So what have we learned over the course of the Spring?

Q. Will Billy Wagner be healthy, and will he resemble the “Wags” of old?

A. I never fully understood this question, since I thought it was largely answered last year, when he struck out 26 batters in 15.2 innings, and posted a 1.72 ERA after his late-season return from the disabled list.

Yes, he had UCL reconstruction (“Tommy John”) surgery, but that was back in 2008, and he was ahead of schedule at every stage in his recovery. More than a year and a half have passed since that surgery, from which there is now a better than 90% FULL recovery rate. All things considered, I cannot explain why his recovery wasn’t obvious to so many after the way he pitched late last year.

But those fans who were nervously observing him this spring should now rest easier. He has thrown the ball quite will, routinely firing fastballs in the mid-90’s. One radar gun reading drew gasps from the spring training crowd when a Wagner heater was clocked at 101 mph.

Q. Is Hudson healthy and ready to regain top-of-rotation form?

A. As with the Billy Wagner question, it has been difficult for me to comprehend the doubts so many have had in Hudson’s ability to perform at a high level in 2010.

Hudson is also more than a year and half removed from TJ surgery, and he looked fantastic after returning for 7 starts at the end of last season, posting a 3.61 ERA in 42 innings. One Major League scout commented at the time that it looked as though Hudson “had never left” (never been injured). The Braves had certainly seen enough to convince them of Hudson’s health and ability when they resigned him to a 3-year deal over the winter. But for those who needed further proof this spring… here ya go:

In 5 spring starts, Hudson is 3-1 with 1.35 ERA. He has also KO’d 17 batters in his 20 innings of pre-season work. His arm feels as good as it ever has, and opposing hitters will tell you his pitches have never been more difficult to square up.

Q. Will Derek Lowe bounce back from a disappointing 2009 season?

A. If his spring performance is any indication, he can and most likely will bounce back with a strong 2010 season. In an effort to correct mechanical flaws that led to an underwhelming ’09 season, Lowe worked with Braves’ Pitching Coach, Roger McDowell, on returning to a windup and delivery he had used to great effect earlier in his career.

The results have been very encouraging. This spring, for the most part, Lowe has been successful in getting opposing hitters to either beat the ball into the ground or swing through it all together. If you remove one start that was severely hampered (and shortened) by a blister, he wrapped up the Grapefruit League season with a 3.42 ERA and fewer hits than innings pitched.

Q. Is Jair Jurrjens shoulder healthy?

A. In a word: Yes. A February MRI revealed no damage in his shoulder, and the prescribed rest seemed to do the trick. Jurrjens has been gaining strength in his shoulder throughout the month of March, and now reportedly no longer feels any pain or discomfort in the shoulder whatsoever. His last outing was his best yet (5 innings, 1 hit, 3 K’s, no runs allowed). He is on track to start game 2 of the regular season on April 7, at home against the Chicago Cubs.

Q. After the bullpen “locks” (Wagner, Saito, Moylan, O’Flaherty), how will the ‘pen shape up?

A. Kris Medlen is quite highly thought of within the Braves organization and is another virtual lock to retain his seat in the Atlanta bullpen.

JoJo Reyes has frustrated Braves officials, who recognize his potential, with his inability to make the most of multiple chances to crack the big league starting rotation. This spring, the powers that be decided to test him in a relief role. It’s a test he’s passed with flying colors, and it appears he’ll open the season as the third lefty in the Atlanta ‘pen.

After landing with the Braves via Tampa Bay in the Rafael Soriano trade, Jesse Chavez has had a rough spring. A VERY rough spring. Having said that, he was quite effective in his two most recent appearances. But more importantly, he has something on his resume that those competing against him for the final bullpen spot do not… big league success. Chavez was quite solid for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 73 relief appearance last year, and that will likely more than atone for his rocky spring.

But don’t forget about Scott Proctor, who the Braves signed to a minor league deal back in November. The former Yankees bullpen workhorse (and former Braves trade target) is wrapping up what has thus far been a very successful rehabilitation from the “Tommy John” surgery he underwent last May. The hard throwing righty will likely supplant one member of the Atlanta ‘pen by the end of April.

PROJECTED BRAVES BULLPEN:
Wagner (LHP – Closer)
Saito (RHP – Setup Man)
Moylan (RHP)
Medlen (RHP)
Chavez (RHP)
O’Flaherty (LHP)
Reyes (LHP)


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Who’s Ready For Baseball?

Written by Jonathan on March 2, 2010 – 10:13 am

It seems hardly fitting that today is the first Spring Training game for the Braves.  I’m sitting here staring out the window in Atlanta to a very gray day outside and watching my car slowly get covered in snow.  I’ve lived in Atlanta for 9 years and it has snowed maybe 3 times since I’ve been here, but I’m pretty sure this is the 5th significant snow this winter.  That’s all irrelevant for the most part however.

In a couple of hours, the Braves are scheduled to take the field for their opening Grapefruit League game against the Mets.  It’s mid-60s there, slight chance of rain, but nevertheless, it’s time for baseball.

So here’s where we are and what we’ve learned thus far in Spring Training:

Jason Heyward hits bombs. We’ve heard it plenty from every news source covering the Braves (and a number that really aren’t).  Parking lots.  New nets to protect cars.  We get it.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m pumped to see this kid play, but I’m just ready to see how he handles live pitching.  Batting practice is one thing, but I have no doubts that he can bring it at a big league level.

Jair Jurrjens is okay. It’ll be a few days before his pitch counts start to increase again, but all indications are that Jurrjens will be okay in the long run.  I’d much rather the training staff takes their time with him and keeps him healthy down the stretch this season.

Derek Lowe is the opening day starter.  I’m not terribly sure I agree with this, but it’s a showing of confidence from Bobby Cox so I can accept it.  Any situation where Tim Hudson is your number four starter…..I’m okay with it.  I’ve heard a little distaste about that fact, but seriously, step back and look at it.  If this rotation is healthy, it’s stacked.

The games don’t matter. So maybe we haven’t really learned this one in Spring Training, but it’s just a reminder to everyone that the outcome of Spring Training games isn’t the real thing we should be looking at during this time of year.  Keep your eye on individual performances, watch the young guys get the chance to show off a little, and get pumped up for baseball to get started back up at the Ted.

So that’s that, Braves vs. Mets at 1pm today.  Tommy Hanson will throw a couple of innings and I’m looking for another big season out of him.  What are you looking at in Spring Training?  Young guys?  Old guys trying to regain form?  Either way, it’s time for baseball.


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