Frank Wren is showing that the Atlanta Braves are ready to compete in the second half of the season, trading shortstop Yunel Escobar and Jo-Jo Reyes to Toronto in exchange for shortstop Alex Gonzalez.
Yunel has been regarded as a strong defensive shortstop for the Braves but has struggled at the plate in 2010. Combining that with a perceived negative attitude and the Braves were willing to look for other options at the shortstop position.
Let’s do a little statistical comparison of the two this season:
It’s hard to refute that this is an offensive upgrade in power for the Braves. Gonzalez will strike out more and walk less, but produces a lot more excitement and power from the plate to help the Braves out in much needed situations. I’m not sitting here and arguing that the Braves aren’t selling low on Escobar. They absolutely are, but with the chance of a playoff run in sight, the front office is doing what they can to put this team in a position to win this season. Will we end up regretting sending Yunel on his way? Time will tell. The biggest question now for Bobby Cox is, where do we put Gonzalez in the lineup?
The deal is a five-player deal in total. The Braves will also acquire minor leaguers Tim Collins and Tyler Pastornicky from the Blue Jays. I’m excited about the trade and adding a little more power to the lineup. Let’s get the second half underway!
Tags: Alex Gonzalez, Jo-Jo Reyes, Toronto Blue Jays, Traded, Yunel Escobar
Posted in Roster Moves | 6 Comments »
Here’s the deal. Jeff Schultz of the AJC wrote earliera bout how the Braves haven’t made a move and yet all the contenders are making deals. Right now the Marlins – one of the only other contending teams that has yet to make a move – is reported to have offered a minor league pitcher for first baseman Nick Johnson.
The Braves need to move. They need a bat. Standing pat will, mark my words, leave us at home and out of the playoffs. Pitching alone wins – but not enough for the Braves – as far back as we are and as upgraded as the contenders look to be – we need a bat to augment our pitching staff.
Here’s the deal: Braves trade for Nick Johnson. Offer Jo-Jo Reyes. Kris Medlen. Hell, give ‘em Casey Kotchman. Johnson plays for a few months, propels the Braves to the postseason, and splits in free agency (bound to happen). Braves play Barbaro Canizares and Martin Prado at 1B next season, give youth their chance to shine, and bring up Freddie Freeman either late next year or the 2011 season. That’s the plan to get to Freeman, who is one of the Braves’ top prospects.
But we want to win. We’re so close. We just need to win a LOT really FAST. And we need a bat to do it.
Nick Johnson is the man. Let’s rent a first base slugger for a few months. Let’s do it. I want to play postseason ball in Atlanta again. With a staff like this, we’re hard to beat in the postseason, but we have to get there first.
Tags: Casey Kotchman, Florida Marlins, Jo-Jo Reyes, Kris Medlen, Nick Johnson
Posted in General | 3 Comments »
The Braves starting pitching continues to excel this season – and while Frank Wren searches for some more offense to back up the staff, the Braves are not lacking in starting pitching depth.
Derek Lowe is 6-3 with a 3.49 ERA (8 quality starts), Jair Jurrjens is 5-2 with a beautiful 2.59 ERA (7 quality starts), and Javier Vazquez is doing ok – he has an even 4-4 record with a 3.58 ERA (7 quality starts). Behind that, Kenshin Kawakami appears to be struggling at 3-6 with a 4.73 ERA, but you’d be having trouble too if you only got an average of 1.7 runs scored per game when you were pitching. With such lousy run support, it’s a wonder Kawakami has three wins.
Glavine is ready to come to Atlanta and start. Whether or not he’ll be good, we’ll see. He’s ready though. Kris Medlen had two rough starts but was great in his last start as he struck out nine in six innings of work. He may just have a chance to stick around and prove he has the stuff he needs to excel in the majors. And of course we have Tommy Hanson honing his skills in Gwinnett, waiting to make the 45 minute drive south and show us his stuff. Oh, and Tim Hudson is on track for a return in August or September.
So what happens now? We’ve got Tommy ready to pitch, Medlen to give some playing time to, Hanson to fit in, and 2 pitchers that are doing alright.
I think the odd man out, interestingly enough, is Javier Vazquez. He has a high strikeout rate, but the Braves give him the most run support while he’s on the mound (5.5 runs per game) and yet he’s only 4-4 – and the Braves are only .455 when he gets the ball. To give you an idea of how bad that is, the Braves are .400 with Jo-Jo Reyes starting. Kawakami needs more run support, but with that run support he’ll likely be much better. He could end up being the odd man out too.
Who’s the odd man out? What does our rotation/bullpen look like at the end of the year?
Tags: Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens, Jo-Jo Reyes, Kenshin Kawakami, Kris Medlen, Tim Hudson, Tom Glavine, Tommy Hanson
Posted in General | 2 Comments »
Kris Medlen, a right handed starting pitcher from AAA Gwinnett, is being called up to the big leagues. Medlen will make his major league debut Tuesday against the Colorado Rockies. He’ll replace Jo-Jo Reyes in the rotation – Reyes will be moved to the bullpen and a reliever will be moved from the roster. The Braves have not yet announced who that will be as of the time of writing.
Medlen, 23 years old, is 5-0 with a 0.96 ERA for AAA Gwinnett. He received the call over Tommy Hanson, whom I’m sure we’ll see in time. Hanson is 1-3 with a 1.99 ERA. Medlen will do quite alright, hopefully. He’s currently in the middle of a 21 inning scoreless streak. Bobby Cox assessed Medlen as a player with “three plus pitches” and “quick as a cat.” Medlen has apparently picked off a handful of runners already this year.
Medlen reacted with “I’m completely and utterly shocked.” Apparently he thought Hanson was first in line for the bigs too. We’ll see Hanson with time – but no need to rush him when we’ve got stock like Medlen waiting for prime time.
Tags: Jo-Jo Reyes, Kris Medlen
Posted in Roster Moves | 13 Comments »
Let’s be objective. The Braves, performing as they are now, are not a contending team.
A contending team’s offense can’t go from red-hot to ice-cold.
A contending team’s bullpen can’t blow leads more frequently than they use the restroom. Not to mention 8 run leads.
Sure, we’ve got a decent starting rotation. Sure, Kawakami, Lowe, Jurrjens and Vazquez have performed fairly well so far, but for heavens sake, we started Jo-Jo Reyes against Pittsburgh and expected to win the game?! Sure, our offense started off hot, but they’ve cooled to an exactly middle of the road .265 batting average.
There have been a few side stories that have contributed. Chipper missed some time on his hand (Chipper is always going to sit a little bit). McCann had some weird vision thing come up that has hopefully resolved itself. Tom Glavine busted his shoulder again (who are we kidding: we wanted him to be a reliable pitcher again?)
But a bullpen that blows a 7 run lead? An offense that can’t beat Pittsburgh given a good start? And a team that puts Jo-Jo Reyes on the mound? Seriously? It feels like this season is an extension of last season – where the baseball gods are laughing at us and poking us with sticks. We have to establish some good play before everyone gets in a funk and assumes we’re always going to blow leads – because that will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
There are opportunities for us to get into the race. We have to stop blowing leads. The first step to that was getting rid of Blaine Boyer, which we have completed. Now the rest of the bullpen needs to live up to their potential. The offense needs to be more consistent – we win games when Chipper is in the lineup – and having BMac back will help. And people, write your senators and congressmen – it’s time to petition against Jo-Jo Reyes. If we get a law passed that he can’t pitch for the Braves, Frank Wren and Bobby Cox will have no choice but to send him packing. Sure – don’t bring Hanson up yet – let him season for a little bit – but enough with this Jo-Jo the No Show Blo-Blo bit. Let Escobar or Francoeur pitch if we have to.
We can still get into this year. We can become a contender. There are (most of) the pieces of the puzzle we need to contend this year, but the Braves have seriously got to step it up and start playing to expectations. I was emotionally battered enough last year and I don’t know if I can handle the pattern we appear to be getting ourselves into already this season. Buck up fans – let’s stick behind them and cheer for them louder than ever, because they need it. We can contend for the NL East, but a few little things have to change.
Tags: Brian McCann, Bullpen, Chipper Jones, Contender, Jo-Jo Reyes, Rant, Starting Pitching
Posted in General | 7 Comments »
The Braves were counting on Tom Glavine to take the start today, but due to his recent injury setbacks, they have had to look elsewhere. The answer comes in the form of Jo-Jo Reyes, who was called up from AAA Gwinnett this morning. Jo-Jo hasn’t gotten much love here at BravesBlast in the past, with a 3-11 record last season and over a 5 ERA. Reyes looked decent in spring with a 2-0 record and a 2.08 ERA. We won’t be easily convinced.
Ian Snell is taking the hill for the Pirates. We’ll be updating throughout the game as the Braves try to get back into the win column.
Braves: 0 Pirates: 10
|Top 9th:||That’s 18 innings that the Braves have been shut out by the Pirates. Something has to change and has to change quickly. There’s always tomorrow, right?|
|Bot 8th:||James Parr gives up a couple of hits and a run. 10-0 Pirates.|
|Top 8th:||Braves strand one. Is it over yet?|
|Bot 7th:||Another 3 run homer and an assortment of hits, all with two outs. 9-0 Pirates.|
|Top 7th:||Braves down 1-2-3. The offensive struggles are getting a little old.|
|Bot 6th:||Sanchez triples past Jordan Schafer (should have been a single) and McLouth knocks him in with a single. Steals second and an intentional walk to Doumit. 3-run homer to Monroe. 5-0 Pirates. Andy LaRoche doubles to left. Intentional walk to Vazquez. Buddy Carlyle comes on to pitch and gets Ian Snell to ground out on the first pitch.|
|Top 6th:||Another double play sinks any hope the Braves had of getting on the board in the inning.|
|Bot 5th:||Another 1-2-3 inning for Jo-Jo. Where’s the run support?|
|Top 5th:||Prado singles to lead off the inning, but is caught stealing after a Jordan Schafer strikeout. Jo-Jo strikes out to end the inning.|
|Bot 4th:||Doumit with a one-out double to the center field wall. Jo-Jo gets the double play to end the inning.|
|Top 4th:||McCann and Kotchman make it to 2nd and 3rd with two outs. Francoeur flies out to center to end the inning though. We need to start plating runners. I think we’re up to 2 runs in 25 innings now.|
|Bot 3rd:||Another 1-2-3 for Jo-Jo.|
|Top 3rd:||Jo-Jo draws a two-out walk. No help though.|
|Bot 2nd:||Leadoff double for Doumit. Andy LaRoche knocks him in with a two-out double. 1-0 Pirates.|
|Top 2nd:||Braves down 1-2-3. The offensive struggles continue.|
|Bot 1st:||1-2-3 inning for Jo-Jo to get started. A couple of nice defensive plays behind them, but definitely a good boost to the confidence.|
|Top 1st:||Nothing doing for the Braves in the top of the 1st. Infante singles but got doubled up on a sharp Anderson line drive.|
Tags: Jo-Jo Reyes, Pittsburgh Pirates
Posted in Game Threads | 7 Comments »
Tom Glavine was scratched from his AA Mississippi start yesterday with shoulder discomfort after just two innings. He was pulled throwing warmup pitches before the third as a precaution. Obviously this sets him back a little bit – but maybe more than originally thought. He’s scheduled to see Dr. James Andrews Tuesday morning in Birmingham, Alabama. Andrews performed the surgery on Glavine’s shoulder in August of last year and is famous for his proficency with sports surgeries.
Glavine was supposed to start for Atlanta on Saturday – but he won’t make it now. So, with their veteran pitcher down with an injury, the Braves have called up young pitching phenom… wait – Jo-Jo Reyes? Really? Yeah, Jo-Jo will come make the start on Saturday. The obvious thing here is that Jo-Jo is a left-hander and the Braves need a left-handed pitcher in their starting rotation. That said, there are a lot of people clamoring for the young and ridiculously talented Tommy Hanson, who struck out 10 of 13 in his first start at AAA Gwinnett.
There are arguments against using Hanson this early in the season – they want to keep him on a regular pitching schedule and get him his innings and a nice routine – they don’t want to start his arbitration clock yet – they want a lefty right now and Jo-Jo has more major league experience (is bad experience really better than no experience?)
What are your thoughts? Debate it. Is Jo-Jo Reyes (referred to affectionately as Blow-Blow by at least one of our staff) really the answer at this time? Should Tommy Hanson be brought up? Or is Jo-Jo the right call and Hanson needs a little more time to season before he’s ready to pitch?
Tags: Dr. James Andrews, Jo-Jo Reyes, Tom Glavine, Tommy Hanson
Posted in General | 6 Comments »
Tommy Hanson won’t be starting the season in the major league rotation. He is headed to AAA Gwinnett along with Jo-Jo Reyes. First baseman Freddie Freeman and outfield prospect Jason Heyward were also sent to the minors, as was backup catcher Clint Sammons. There are three more names that will be announced today when the moves are made official.
Hanson has performed to his billing this spring – posting a 2.45 ERA and a 1-0 record in 4 appearances. He gave up 14 hits and 6 walks, along with 14 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings. Jo-Jo Reyes went 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA with nine hits and three walks allowed in 13 innings. We’ll see who comes up first, should injury come to the rotation – Hanson is the future of the organization but Reyes is left handed (and the Braves only have one lefty – Glavine – in the rotation). The downside to Reyes is that he’s been far less than impressive in the regular season in the bigs leagues. Maybe this is the year he breaks that trend, but I won’t be holding my breath.
Hanson will continue to impress for years to come. His visit to big league camp this year brought praise from the mouths of Chipper Jones and Bobby Cox – mouths that normally stay shut on the potential upside of prospects. We’ll see Hanson in Atlanta before the end of the season. He needs the innings he can get at AAA to finish developing before he comes a few miles south to help out at Turner Field.
Hanson and Heyward will head to their minor league homes after today’s game vs. the Blue Jays.
Tags: Chipper Jones, Clint Sammons, Jason Heyward, Jo-Jo Reyes, Tommy Hanson
Posted in Roster Moves | No Comments »
We’ve been getting quite a few Mailbag submissions and have assigned them to writers. They’ll get published soon. Please continue to offer Suggestions using the tab to your left or filling out the Mailbag form.
Tim wrote the BravesBlast mailbag with the following question:
Hi guys…I’ve just about had it with Mark Bowman over at MLB.com. His latest post about his projected rotation has Jo Jo Reyes penciled in as the 5th starter. What I want to know is this: What is he seeing that I’m missing? Reyes was by far our worst option last year. Why wouldn’t you use Campillo or even Morton in the 5 spot? Thanks and great site!
Thanks for the submission, Tim. First of all, I think the majority of the BravesBlast staff would puke if Reyes was flat-out awarded the fifth rotation spot. Sure, he’s got a chance at winning it, but only if all goes wrong. Obviously Lowe/Jurrjens/Vazquez/Kawakami are the first four pitchers in the 5-man rotation. Let’s take a look at the fifth rotation spot options.
Jorge Campillo is the first and best option that’s on the roster right now. Campillo has been likened to Greg Maddux and doesn’t have super impressive speed – but he has control going for him. Last year, he stepped into the rotation and impressed with an 8-7 record with a 3.91 ERA. And that was WITH that horrible luck the Braves had last year. Campillo is my top pick. If he doesn’t make the rotation, our bullpen is THAT much deeper with Campillo as the long reliever.
Tom Glavine isn’t even an option until he’s on the roster. He’s supposedly the guy that would trump the other candidates for the position – and he’s good – but do we really need to pay $3-5M for a fifth starter? We *could* sign Glavine, but I’m not sure we need to.
Charlie Morton may not be ready for the bigs, but he’ll get a chance to try and prove he’s ready. He’s 25 and young – and didn’t have the best luck in the big leagues last year. That said, I like Morton and as he matures I think he’ll be a decent 4th or 5th starter.
Jo-Jo Reyes is not a good option. He’s just not. I’m sorry, but when I mentioned to Jonathan that I was writing this article, he said the following about Jo-Jo. “Give me Campillo, or anyone but Jo-Jo, please. I can’t spend another part of a season not watching every 5th game just because I know I’ll get angry.” That about sums Jo-Jo up. He also drives a Toyota Previa. Ok probably not, but it’s a long-standing joke amongst the crew here.
James Parr is a longshot. He went 1-0 in 5 starts with a 4.84 ERA last fall. He could make the rotation if everyone else flounders and he shines in spring training. Otherwise he spends at least the beginning of the year in Richmond.
Tommy Hanson is more likely to make the rotation in the middle of the season. I’d prefer him take his time before he gets to Atlanta – I want him to absolutely stun batters once he’s here. I’m looking forward to seeing him but don’t want to rush him. The sneak preview in Spring Training will be nice.
So there you have it – the main contenders for the 5th rotation slot. Discuss.
Tags: Charlie Morton, James Parr, Jo-Jo Reyes, Jorge Campillo, Tom Glavine, Tommy Hanson
Posted in General, Mailbag, Speculation | 19 Comments »
The New York Post is reporting that the Braves are atop the Peavy pile and that currently many expect we’ll have Peavy pitching for us next season.
“The Jake Peavy sweepstakes will proceed concurrently with the World Series, and the expectation of major league executives polled over the past two days is that the Braves are going to end up with the Padre right-hander… The Braves…have the base from which to make a deal and a history of packaging youngsters to get veterans they crave such as Mark Teixeira and Tim Hudson. They also are willing to move quickly, as exhibited by the Oct. 29 deal made last year in which they obtained Jair Jurrjens and Gorkys Hernandez from Detroit for Edgar Renteria, the first major trade of the past offseason. And the Braves appear more motivated than the Cardinals, Cubs or Dodgers to jump out for Peavy.”
That’s what I like to hear. Only question now is how many prospects we have to get rid of to land Peavy for four years. Yunel Escobar or Kelly Johnson (or both) will likely have to go. Other names mentioned include Jo-Jo Reyes, Charlie Morton, possibly Tommy Hanson, and even Jordan Schafer. Who knows what the Braves will be willing to part with, but there are hints they are going to try and keep the carnage as insignificant as possible. The bottom line with any of the pitching prospects is that we hope they turn into someone like Peavy, and getting Peavy for four years is a pretty good return on a prospect that may not be that good for that long.
Chipper Jones has described Peavy as the “perfect fit” according to the AJC, and also would love to see the Braves go after A.J. Burnet, who will be a free agent.
How you like us now, NL East?
Tags: A.J. Burnett, Charlie Morton, Chipper Jones, Jake Peavy, Jo-Jo Reyes, Jordan Schafer, Kelly Johnson, Tommy Hanson, Yunel Escobar
Posted in Speculation | 4 Comments »
Back to the regular sized blog post.
So, we haven’t posted in a while, but this would be a good time to discuss the break and such. Chipper, McCann and trainer Jeff Porter are in New York as I write this enjoying the sites, including Yankee stadium, as well as enjoying their four days off. Chipper and McCann have been THE most consistent presences in this line-up, everyone knows that. While they do deserve these four days off, I doubt either would trade in a trip to Yankee stadium to play the final All-Star game their for those days off.
The Braves played San Diego and the Dodgers last week, coming away with their first .500 road trip of any length since WAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY back last season when they went 1-2 against the Mets and 2-1 against the Nats from September 10-16, seriously. But going into the break with a road trip like that, even if it is against the worst team in the league in San Diego, is still something to build on.
Looking more into those six games, the Braves pitched out of their mind amazing, they gave up eight runs to LA in three games and eight runs to the Padres in three games. Against San Diego, only seven of those runs were earned and against LA only seven of those runs were earned as well, bringing the team ERA for those six games down to a ridiculous 2.33, yet we only went 3-3, sad.
The two teams we played, from before the season even started, were supposed to be slightly offensively challenged, yet the Braves looked like the team that needed a bat or three or four. In the first five games in the series, the Braves went 1-54 (0.019) in the first four innings, THEY HAD ONE HIT IN FIVE GAMES IN THE FIRST FOUR INNINGS! Throwing in the final game doesn’t make it that much better either, the Braves had three hits in the first four innings Sunday, bringing the grand total up to 4-67 (0.059). That’s just pathetic offensively.
With the Mets heating up and Florida not going away any time soon (they just got Josh Johnson back for the homestretch), this won’t be easy. Philly’s ball park isn’t miraculously going to get bigger and allow them to hit less home runs, and the Mets and Marlins aren’t going to stop hitting either. This team needs some sort of a wake up call and they need it fast, whether it is waving the white flag to trade guys away and tell them, “we’re not invincible,” or get a new guy in the clubhouse and infuse new energy. Heck Mike Hampton pitching might put enough energy into this team to give them some new life. Who knows?
Looking ahead to past the break, the Braves have a sweepable series against the Nats. The pitching matchups have already been set. Aces duel in the first game when Tim Hudson (9-7) takes on Tim Redding (7-3), Jair Jurrjens (9-4) gets the ball in game two against John Lannan (5-9) and Jojo Reyes (3-8) will face off against Odalis Perez (2-7) in the final game of the series.
Btw, was it just me or was taking Reyes out of his Friday start against the Padres after four innings because we had guys in scoring position a serious desparation move by the Braves? Buddy Carlyle came in and did a good job finishing it up, but seriously. For whatever reason, Reyes always seems to have a shorter leash than any of the other guys out there.
Tags: All-Star Break, Brian McCann, Chipper Jones, Jair Jurrjens, Jeff Porter, Jo-Jo Reyes, Mike Hampton, Tim Hudson
Posted in General | 8 Comments »
John Smoltz has a torn labrum – significantly more damage than they hoped to find during surgery yesterday. His future with the club is “uncertain” at this point. He’s a fierce competitor, but can he come back from this surgery? It took the spry Blaine Boyer nearly two years to recover from similar surgery.
Meanwhile, Tom Glavine strained his elbow and was placed on the DL. Apparently from the first pitch last night his elbow hurt, but he pitched through the pain only to be pulled with the elbow strain.
So there’s the Braves’ two elder statesmen having health issues. Glavine is on the DL for the second time this season – and the second time in his long career. Smoltzie is gone for at least this season, maybe for good. And the Braves are back below .500, trying to figure out how to win on the road and where they can find some pitching.
This time, more than ever, we’ve got to figure out where we’re going to get some starting pitching, and fast. I maintain that Charlie Morton is ready – the traditional measure for minor league pitchers is innings pitched, and he’s thrown just under 600 innings. He’s also 5-2 with a 2.05 ERA and 72 K’s to 27 walks. Bring him up and give him a shot – he impressed in spring training.
We also likely should trade for another solid arm. Even if we bring Morton up, we’re pitching Hudson, Jurrjens, Campillo, Morton, and Reyes. If we want to win and go into the post season, we need another solid arm. Jonathan’s a big proponent of trading Mark Teixeira for a young arm with some life left on the contract. I’m not sure what he said Tex is supposed to ask for at the end of the season, but supposedly we may not be able to afford it even without Hampton, Smoltz, and Glavine’s contracts. I’ll let him explain that more here.
What do you think we should do? Should we let Jo-Jo Reyes fight it out for that fifth spot? Can he make it at the big league level? Is Morton ready, or am I just talking out of the seat of my pants?
Tags: Charlie Morton, Jair Jurrjens, Jo-Jo Reyes, John Smoltz, Jorge Campillo, Tim Hudson, Tom Glavine
Posted in Injuries | 13 Comments »