Anderson to DL, Braves In Cincy

Written by Jonathan on April 24, 2009 – 6:12 pm

After a couple of days of nursing his reaggravated left quad, Garret Anderson is headed to the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 20th.  Brandon Jones has been called up from AAA Gwinnett to take his spot on the roster.  It’s unknown when Anderson will be ready to return as he has been nagged with this injury off and on since early March.  I’m sure we’ll have more updates over the next few days.

Today is Chipper Jones’ 37th birthday.  In his career on his birthday, Chipper has a .500 average (18 for 37) with 4 HR, 8 RBI and 10 R.  Let’s hope he can keep that up tonight.  Brian McCann was also a late scratch for the game with further eye issues.  David Ross will take his spot in the lineup.  Here’s to trying to get a win streak started tonight as the Braves kick off the last series of the road trip in Cincinnati.

Stay with us for in-game updates, looks like great weather in Cincinnati for baseball.  Javier Vazquez brings his solid season performance, averaging 12.5 strikeouts per 9 innings, to face off against Edison Volquez.  Volquez is 2-1 on the season, but showing a 6.46 ERA.  Hopefully the Braves offense can show up for the game tonight and help Javy out.

Braves: 4          Reds: 3

Bot 9th: Gonzalez on to close it out and try to get the save. Taveras strikes out looking. Hairston grounds out back to Gonzo. Votto strikes out looking. Gonzo was dominant. Braves win 4-3.
Top 9th: One-out single to left field for Kotchman. That’s about it for the Braves in the inning. Only 4 hits for the offense all night.
Bot 8th: Soriano in to pitch. Jay Bruce leads off the inning with a double into the right field corner. Encarnacion walks. Hernandez bunts the runners over to second and third. Sac fly for Gonzalez scores Bruce. Encarnacion stays at second. 4-3 Braves.
Top 8th: Kelly Johnson hits a two-out single to right. Yunel can’t move him at all however.
Bot 7th: Moylan on to pitch for the Braves. He gives out a two-out walk to Dickerson. Votto reaches on an error by Moylan, but he avoids any runs scoring.
Top 7th: Yunel walks to lead off the inning and Chipper gets him over to second. Francoeur draws his second walk of the night. Diaz singles up the middle to plate Escobar. 4-2 Braves. Masset is replaced on the mound by Herrera. Schafer grounds out to end the inning.
Bot 6th: Encarnacion singles with one out to left. The defense puts away two more. The night’s likely done for Vazquez.
Top 6th: Schafer draws a leadoff walk off of Nick Masset who has taken over for Volquez. No further offense for the Braves though.
Bot 5th: Votto singles past short with two outs. Vazquez strikes out another two. That’s 9 for him.
Top 5th: Francoeur with a two-out solo homer. Braves’ first hit of the night makes it a 3-2 Braves lead.
Bot 4th: Phillips walks to lead off the inning. Hernandez with a two-out single to put runners of first and second. Gonzalez singles up the middle scoring Phillips. 2-2 Game. Vazquez has 7 strikeouts of his own.
Top 4th: Kotchman walks to lead off the inning. Francoeur walks. Kotchman strikes out. Schafer and Ross walks to load the bases. Vazquez walks to bring in a run. 1-1 Game. Johnson walks to bring in another. 2-1 Braves. Volquez has struck out six but walked seven.
Bot 3rd: 1-2-3 inning for Vazquez. Good to see him getting hitters to keep the ball on the ground.
Top 3rd: Yunel hit by a pitch with two outs. Yunel is not happy and has some choice words for Volquez. Benches and bullpens empty. Chipper grounds out to end the inning.
Bot 2nd: Hernandez doubles off the left field wall with one out. Two more Ks for Vazquez.
Top 2nd: Francoeur and Diaz with a one-out walks. Schafer grounds out but moves the runners up a base. Ross strikes out, Volquez’s 4th.
Bot 1st: Taveras leads off with a single and reaches second on a passed ball. Votto singles and Taveras scores. 1-0 Reds. 3 strikeouts in the inning for Vazquez.
Top 1st: 2 strikeouts and a quick grounder gives Volquez a 1-2-3 inning.

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Chipper Returns To Try To Avoid Sweep

Written by Jonathan on April 19, 2009 – 12:05 pm

With Chipper Jones out of the lineup for the past 4 games, the Braves have been nothing short of abyssmal.  In those 4 games, the Braves have only managed 6 total runs, as well as being shut out by the Pirates the last two games.  After starting out the season 5-1, they have dropped 5 straight to fall below .500 on the season.

Chipper has been nursing a bruised left thumb for the entire season that he reaggravated during a home game against the Marlins last Tuesday.  Yunel Escobar, who has missed two games with a strained abdominal muscle, is a game-time decision today.  Hopefully one, or both, of the two can provide a much needed spark for the Braves’ offense today and avoid the sweep by the Pirates.

Javier Vazquez takes the mound for the Braves today with an 0-1 record and 4.50 ERA.  Vazquez has been dominant with the strikeout this season, but still has been giving up some runs.  Zach Duke will be on the hill for the Pirates with a 2-0 record this season and a non-existent 0.59 ERA.  Chipper however, has hit .500 on his career against the left-hander.

Stay with us for ongoing updates throughout the game.

Braves: 11 Pirates: 1

Bot 9th: James Parr on for the Braves. Parr labors a bit but only gives up a run. Braves win 11-1.
Top 9th: A couple of base runners in the inning but nothing further for the Braves. Let’s hope 11 runs is enough to get through one more inning for the bullpen.
Bot 8th: Jeff Bennett taking the mound for the Braves. Morgan grounds back to Bennett who proceeds to throw the ball halfway to the wall in right field. Morgan takes third. Bennett recovers with a pop-out and a strikeout to keep the shutout.
Top 8th: Donnie Veal on to pitch for the Pirates. Infante doubles to center. Prado walks and a wild pitch moves the runners over. Chipper walks to load the bases. Sac fly for Diaz scores Infante. 11-0 Braves.
Bot 7th: Moylan on to pitch for the Braves. 1-2-3 inning. The bullpen only needs to survive 6 more outs.
Top 7th: Craig Hansen in to replace Zach Duke. Chipper gets hit by a pitch with one out. Francoeur doubles down the right field line and Chipper scores. 7-0 Braves. Kotchman walks. Dave Ross with a three-run homer. 10-0 Braves. That’s why we signed him.
Bot 6th: Morgan leads off with a single up the middle. Sanchez follows with another single. A couple of good plays in the field and Vazquez’s 8th strikeout on the day saves any further trouble.
Top 6th: Schafer singles, 3-3 for him today. Vazquez bunts him over to second but he doesn’t make it any further.
Bot 5th: 1-2-3 inning for Vazquez and the game is official now. Let it rain.
Top 5th: Diaz singles to lead off the inning but is thrown out on a double play ball from Francoeur. Kotchman pops out and it’s a quick inning for Zach Duke.
Bot 4th: Diaz in to replace Anderson in right field. Vazquez strikes out another pair for 7 today. He’s second in MLB right now on the season (24), behind Johan Santana (27).
Top 4th: Ross doubles to right. Schafer bunts Ross to third and is safe at first. Vazquez make the sacrifice bunt to move the runners to 2nd and 3rd with one out. Infante pops out. Prado with a 3-run homer to left center. 6-0 Braves.
Bot 3rd: Starting to rain in Pittsburgh. Vazquez strikes out another two. 5 on the day now. Sanchez hits a double but is left standing on second.
Top 3rd: Chipper Jones leads the inning off with a single. Francoeur hits a two-out single to center but Chipper is thrown out after overrunning second base. A couple of base running mistakes on the day, let’s hope they don’t come back to haunt us.
Bot 2nd: Another K for Vazquez. Wilson singles to center and is thrown out by Schafer trying to stretch it into a double.
Top 2nd: Schafer singles. Vazquez bunts and Duke throws the ball into center field. Infante pops out on a bunt and Prado grounds into a double play. Wasted chance there.
Bot 1st: A single and a walk, but Vazquez strikes out two and gets Adam LaRoche to ground out to avoid any damage.
Top 1st: Prado doubles to left but is caught in a rundown on a Chipper fielder’s choice. Garret Anderson doubles to left. Francoeur with a 2 RBI double to center. 2-0 Braves. Kotchman with an RBI single. 3-0 Braves.

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Braves’ 2009 Starting Rotation Preview

Written by Kent on February 26, 2009 – 6:00 am

Coming off of a forgetable 2008 season, the starting rotation for the Braves has been completely retooled and is ready for action in 2009.  While injuries and lack of depth prevented the rotation from doing much of anything last year, the new signings of Derek Lowe, Javier Vazquez and Kenshin Kawakami give a new look and new hopes for 2009.  

Derek Lowe: The sinker-ball specialist has averaged 15 wins over his last 7 seasons, and boasts a 3.58 ERA over the past 4 years since moving to the National League. He steps up in big games and has a track record of post-season success. He is also quite durable and can be counted on for 200 innings as the ace of this rotation.

Jair Jurrjens: The rookie right-hander was the lone ray of light in the Braves rotation last year, recording 13 wins and a 3.68 ERA in 188 innings. And it wasn’t fool’s gold. Jurrjens is armed with 4 quality pitches, including a fastball he can run up into the mid-90’s, and an outstanding changeup. Teammates rave about his maturity and “pitch to contact”, ground-ball approach to pitching. Jurrjens also has excellent command. Baseball America named him the best control pitcher in the Detroit Tigers’ organization a couple of years ago. Many in baseball believe that Jurrjens is a young ace in the making, and it appears he may have the tools to prove them right.

Javier Vazquez: In 2007, Vazquez went 15-8 for the White Sox, with a 3.74 ERA and 213 strikeouts over 216 innings. These numbers were reminiscent of the success he enjoyed in Montreal before his move to the AL in 2004. Last year, though he again logged 200 innings and struck out 200 batters, his ERA spiked to 4.68. Vazquez should benefit from escaping the hitter’s paradise of U.S. Cellular Field (and the DH) in favor of a more pitcher-friendly, Turner Field. It has also been suggested that Vazquez may find a greater level of comfort in the NL, under the leadership of Bobby Cox. For these reasons, multiple scouts have stated a belief that Vazquez is poised for a big year in Atlanta.

Kenshin Kawakami: Winner of the Cy Young equivalent, Sawamura Award, Kawakami is a well established star in Japan. He has a career record of 112-72 through 11 seasons, with a 3.32 ERA, a 1.15 WHIP, and a ratio of 1328 Ks to 351 BBs in 1642.3 IP. His best pitches are a cut fast ball with low 90’s velocity and a knee-buckling slow curve.  The Braves are confident that Kawakami will make a successful transition to Major League Baseball to help anchor the middle of their rotation.

Tom Glavine: Coming off of an injury-riddled season, at age (soon to be) 43, there are more questions surrounding Glavine than any other Braves starter. But if he is in fact healthy, there is plenty of reason to believe that he could still be effective. Before the arm trouble began very early last season, Glavine looked sharp. And despite an unimpressive ERA in 2007, he was actually quite good. Glavine finished the ‘07 season with 23 quality starts, which is territory usually reserved for aces in that category. It was no accident that he won 13 games that year. If his arm is sound, he could provide the Braves with another quality veteran starter. After all, Jamie Moyer (a soft-tossing lefty cut from the same mold as Glavine) is several years older, and still getting outs.

OUTLOOK: Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this Atlanta rotation is its depth. While it features noone of the stature of a Johan Santana or a Jake Peavy, the Braves rotation is 5-deep; loaded with quality arms. This rotation figures to be durable, and should eat a lot of innings, taking a great deal of pressure off of the bullpen. And if by chance a Braves starter should visit the disabled list this season, Tommy Hanson (perhaps the top pitching prospect in all of baseball) is waiting in the wings. The Braves also have other quality alternatives for the rotation, including Jorge Campillo, Charlie Morton and Jo-Jo Reyes.

With plenty of talent and depth, this rotation is a safe bet to be among the league’s best.  What are you expecting out of the staff this season?  Who will surprise and who won’t live up to expectations?


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Pitchers & Catchers Report!

Written by Colin on February 14, 2009 – 12:43 pm

Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s baseball season. Pitchers and catchers report today and begin their official workouts tomorrow. Several players have already been around working out and throwing – Brian McCann, Derek Lowe, Javier Vazquez and Kenshin Kawakami among them.

Kawakami is followed, of course, by the Japanese media as he was one of Japan’s star pitchers. It’ll be interesting to see how he adjusts to American baseball as other Japenese pitchers have had mixed results switching leagues. Javier Vazquez will also be switching leagues – though only from the AL to the NL.

It’s not yet known if Tom Glavine will be the fifth starter or on the roster at all, but his talks with the Braves recently resulted in an increased amount of deferred money, bringing his offer to $1M this year and $3M in incentives that would be paid over the next few years. I think this is more along the lines of what Glavine was looking for and we’re likely to see him sign soon. Keep in mind that’s my opinion.

Brian McCann is in camp ready to take the first pitch as workouts begin tomorrow. Dave Ross, the Braves’ new backup catcher, and Clint Sammons will battle it out for the backup spot, but Ross will almost certainly land the slot barring something unforseen.

The rest of the squad starts spring training Wednesday, but to me, this is the first day of the baseball season. Go Braves – let’s take no prisoners and grind out a great season!


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Remaining Roster Needs

Written by Colin on January 14, 2009 – 9:18 pm

The Braves went into the offseason with several needs:

Two Starting Pitchers

We’ve acquired three. Ace-to-be Derek Lowe, Kenshin Kawakami signed as free agents. The third, Javier Vazquez, was acquired via trade from the White Sox. The three pitchers will augment the Braves’ Jair Jurrjens as the four regular starters (all can eat innings), and we’ll likely see Jorge Campillo, Charlie Morton, and perhaps Tommy Hanson fight for the fifth rotation spot. Now that we’ve got a stable rotation, look for the Braves not to rush Hanson to the big leagues, though he’ll be ready in a year or two to start regularly. When Tim Hudson comes back from Tommy John surgery late in the season, he’ll provide the Braves with one of the best rotations late in the season, if he’s true to form. The Braves’ rotation won’t be something to sneeze at, even though it’s not going to be the best rotation in the history of baseball.

An Outfield Bat

I’d imagine the Braves are still looking to fill this need. Even though we’ve got Jeff Francoeur, Matt Diaz, Josh Anderson, Gregor Blanco, Brandon Jones, and Jordan Schafer as options, we need a bat to help replace the hole left by Teixeira’s departure and to protect Chipper in the lineup. If the Braves do sign someone, it will only be for a year or two, because in addition to the players I already listed, Gorkeys Hernandez and Jason Heyward are outfield prospects in the minor league system, just two-three years away. Maybe Heyward switches to first, but there’s still a glut of good prospects waiting to play outfield for the Braves. I don’t know if we fill this or go with young talent, but if we want to compete in the NL East, we probably need another bat somewhere in the lineup. Left field is a logical position for that bat to play. If I were Wren, I’d look at Bobby Abreu for this role.

Extending Chipper’s Contract

Please, Braves, do this now. Smoltz didn’t retire here, but Chipper needs to. We’re starting to get a reputation for getting the best years out of our players, making this their home, and sending them elsewhere to die. See Aaron, Murphy, Justice, Maddux, Glavine (though he left of his own free will), and now Smoltz. Don’t let it happen to Chipper.

A Backup Catcher

Done. It flew under the radar, but the Braves signed Dave Ross to a two-year deal to back up Brian McCann early in December. He’ll make ~$1.5M each year he’s here. The Braves have been resting McCann once a week or so to try and save his knees, so we’ll see some time out of Ross. Ross hit .225 with 3 HRs and 13 RBI last year for Cincinnati and Boston in 142 at-bats in 60 games.

Summary

The Braves will now turn to signing a bat for the outfield, extending Chipper’s contract, and re-signing Will Ohman. Once that’s done, I’d say we’re set for this offseason. I don’t think we’ll see the Braves sign any more starting pitchers. Setup arms in the ‘pen will come via Campillo and our farm system. Think I missed anything? Made bad assumptions? Make a comment and we’ll have some discussion about it.

Ignoring The Bad

By the way, I’m ignoring everything that didn’t go right. Rather not talk about it – no reason to dwell on it!


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Vazquez: Good or Bad?

Written by Rue on December 3, 2008 – 12:34 am

Watch out, Braves fans, here comes another sub-standard, past-his-prime, DL-bound pitcher to the Braves lineup.  At first, I was excited when I was told about the Javier Vazquez news because I thought it meant we were getting rid of Jo-Jo Reyes once and for all and maybe getting a bit of a veteran. Then I read Vazquez’s stats for the past two seasons and found out that Jo-Jo was, in fact, staying (for now). To say the least, I am not excited – not even a little bit.

Maybe I’m just let down by Vazquez’s 12 and 16 (4.67 ERA) in 2008 and  15-8 (3.74 ERA) in 2007 with recent Peavy and Burnett talks, and the fact that he has been getting progressively worse (and older) over the past few years.  Some chalk it up to the White Sox’s hitter-friendly field, but that is not an acceptable excuse when the decline seems somewhat, well, linear.  Is Javier Vazquez worth Brent Lillibridge, Jon Gilmore, and Santos Rodriguez? Yes. Is he worth Jo-Jo? Heck, I’ll give you Jo-Jo for less than the Calgary Vipers accepted as a trade for John Odom. But here is my point: is Vazquez worth catching prospect Tyler Flowers? Nope, not with those numbers, and not with the past few years’ decrease in performance. I am not convinced that we have made a good decision on this one.

Peavy in Atlanta would raise some eyebrows and some hopes, but Cub’s pitcher Ryan Dempster trumps Peavy in my book and I wouldn’t mind seeing him step onto Turner Field time and time again.  Additionally, shelling out some money for C.C. Sabathia gives us a strong and consistent arm, including a pretty decent bat.  Heck, what about Brewer’s pitcher Ben Sheets? With Winter Meetings less than a week away, it’s time to get creative, optimistic, and make some good decisions for the club as a whole. Our needs are obvious, and it’s time for us to step up to the plate.


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