Sorry it has took a while for me to make another post. I got caught up in school work. Well the Braves proved something at the end of the season. This team has what it takes to win. Now they need to do it more consistently.
So it's the offseason. This could be a very key offseason for the Braves. They had a great one last year and revamped the starting rotation and now only have a few questions to deal with there. There are a lot of rumors flying around these days of whats going to happen so I will get started with my predictions (wishes).
Let's go ahead and start with Tim Husdon. They are currently in talks with him to get him back. There is no doubt that he wants to be in Atlanta. His family just built their dream home in nearby Auburn, Alabama. He and his wife are big in the community and have a lot going on. He has already said he would give the Braves a "hometown" discount. Let's just hope Wren will not completely low ball him, but I have a feeling Tim Hudson will be in a Braves uniform for the next couple of years.
What impact will that have on the rotation? That is where this offseason gets tricky. If Huddy is brought back, that would give 6 legit starters. Is that a problem? Definitely not. It's more of a godsend. It gives us options, and if the cards are dealt right. This signing could be BIG for the Braves. Ok, let's break down the options. If Huddy is brought back, it isnt for a bullpen spot. So here is the rotation (in my eyes).
NEEDS: (1)There is an obvious need at first base. With the trading of Casey Kotchman for Adam Laroche, you have a void to fill. I personally think they need to sign Adam Laroche to a 2-3 year contract. The spark he supplied at the end of the season is beyond replaceable. He would be perfect placeholder until Freddie Freeman is ready to go. (2) The 2009 Braves outfield was one of the most least productive outfields in the majors. Center field is pretty set in stone with Nate McLouth. Matt Diaz proved last year that he needs to get a shot at the everyday position. What about the other corner position? Jason Heyward might end up being the guy, but is he the guy now? Should they use the "trade bait" mentioned before to go after a big right handed slugger? I think this is the route they will choose. Who? Here's my blockbuster deal.
Nelson Cruz - .260/.321/33 homers/76 rbis
Christian Betancourt (C)
Christian Betancourt is the number 4 prospect in the Braves organization. He is 18 and could be the catcher of the future for the Rangers. All in all the trade would be great for both teams. The Rangers are in need of pitching and Kenshin would be a great fit. This is in no way a rumor from the Braves. It's just what I think should happen. (3) With the Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano becoming free agents, this leaves a void in the back end. I think Soriano will be retained because he will realize that his late season antics wont help his free agency. If they dont trade Kenshin, he may be a option. The Braves also have a few guys within the organization that can step up and take the spot. Craig Kembrell is in the minors and if he continues to impress he could end up being a great reliever for the Braves. He has upper 90's to triple digit stuff with an out slider which as we know is the makings for a great closer.
25 Man Roster
1. Nate Mclouth CF
2. Martin Prado 2B
3. Chipper Jones 3B
4. Nelson Cruz RF
5. Brian McCann C
6. Yunel Escobar SS
7. Adam Laroche 1B
8. Matt Diaz LF
Omar Infante - Util INF/OUT
Brooks Conrad - Util INF/Pinch Hitter
Ryan Church - Util OUT
Brandon Jones - Util OUT (just to start the season)
David Ross - C
1. Javier Vazquez
2. Tim Hudson
3. Jair Jurrjens
4. Derek Lowe
5. Tommy Hanson
Eric O'Flaherty - LH Specialist
Peter Moylan - Set-up
Kris Medlen - Long Relief
Rafael Soriano - Closer
Craig Kimbrell - Set-up/ Closer
Boone Logan - RP
Buddy Carlyle - RP
With this roster, the Braves would easily make the playoffs. So I guess we will wait and see what Wren will do.
For those of you who missed the infamous Bill Hohn Marlins game. Here is a recap. Just watching it pisses me off even more.
When I walked in to work this morning, I saw a fellow Braves fan in the office. I walked up to him and told him that I think Kawakami sucks...Blunt, I know, but in my eyes truthful. Now you all can go ahead and say (just like him) that it wasn't his fault. He pitched 6 innings only allowing 3 runs, but is really not at fault? The Braves didn't even get in till 2:30 or so last night, so to say they were tired is an understatement. None the less they get off to a hot start and score in the first inning. I know they should have came out with more runs but still to score in the first inning is not bad after the long night they had. As a starting pitcher, you set a tone for your team, and when you promptly give the lead away kinda set a bad tone for the rest of the game. Well, the Braves fight back and Adam LaRoche hits his first bomb after being traded BACK to the Braves. And yet again, KK promptly gives it right back and allows two runs the next half inning. Now I understand the Braves didn't score the rest of the game, but what do you expect? I can only imagine how the guys were feeling.
"Great we got the lead now let's just pitch well and get this game over."
"Well that sucked we gave it back, maybe we can add some more on."
"Alright there you go, way to show some resiliance guys! 2-1 lead!"
"O wait, damn there goes the lead...again."
Seriously, what a downer to jump ahead twice and then immediately back to square one. I realize that all this happened in the first two innings and that they had seven more to try and score. But you have to agree that it takes a little out of you when your pitcher quickly gives it right back. Had KK held the lead a few innings, what's to say the hitting wouldn't have stopped? All I'm saying is KK has not been pitching that great of late. Long innings wear and tear not only on the pitcher but also the offense. Sure this isn't the main problem. I'm purely pointing out my view of the man. Hopefully Tim Hudson will be back and KK could be used in relief. What an expensive reliever that would be eh?
How does it look to the fans when you can't beat some of the worst teams in baseball. Last night we were out scored by the second worst team in baseball. We fell to 7.5 games back in the division. We fell to fifth in wild card race behind the Rockies, Cardinals, Giants and Marlins, and we are tied with the Astros and Brewers. We are back to a .500 team. Do we have what it takes to make the playoffs? I still think so but if things keep up we won't. We need to beat the teams we SHOULD beat.
On to the Adam LaRoche trade. This one like many other blogs have been saying is a puzzler to think about. What happens at first after this season? Can we sign Rochey for an extension? Can we afford him? If not Adam, then who will play first. It just doesn't seem like the first baseman in waiting is ready yet or will be ready for next season. Freddie Freeman is a great prospect and hopefully will be a good major leaguer some day, but it will likely have to wait until at least the 2011 season. I love seeing Adam back in a Braves uniform and I think the deal was partly made because of the clubhouse effect. He still has a lot of friends on this team and he said it himself.
"It feels like I never left."
Casey Kotchman, from what I understand, kept to himself. Adam is completely the opposite. I think in a few more games we will get things clicking again and put on a streak. Let's hope, anyways. They need to make some serious headway in the next few weeks.
This upcoming offseason should be very interesting for the Braves. They will have a number of things to look at.
June 21 in Boston. That's all I have to say and people remember that pitch that was right down the middle called for a ball. They remember that J.D. Drew drove the next pitch into the gap and drove the go ahead run in. They remember the home plate umpire mouthing off to Braves pitcher Eric O'flaherty. They remember the umpire tossing out O'flaherty, Chipper Jones, and Bobby Cox in the span of about ten minutes. It takes a lot for Chipper to get to the point of being saying something that could get him tossed. In this instance he didn't even really deserve to be tossed. He said after the game he didn't swear at the umpire, but just told him to stay behind the plate and to not go looking for a confrontation which is exactly what the umpire was looking for and got. It made me furious then and I am still furious looking back at it. Something should have been done by MLB to that umpire for his actions.
July 29 in Florida. This marks the first game where home plate umpire, Bill Hohn, was manning the dish since the incident in Boston. Was there any residual effect? Wow, I think so. Throughout the entire game Bill Hohn had been calling a very inconsistent game. In the 8th inning, Marlins pitcher had walked Chipper on four straight and then started B-mac off with two more balls. The next pitch started the big controversary last night. It was a pitch in the opposite batter's box called for a strike. All the replays show it. It's clear it was a ball and it rightly upset Brian. McCann proceded to ground into a double play during the same at bat and continued to have some words of wisdom for the ump. What happened next I've never seen. During a 2-2 count, home plate umpire Bill Hohn stopped the game and walked over to the Braves dugout. Bobby Cox being the manager he is, he came out to meet the umpire to help protect his players. You could read his lips telling Hohn to go back and call the game. Hohn proceded to take out his line up card for no apparent reason as to intise another confrontation. Bobby of course got aggravated and was eventually tossed. During the middle of the inning B-mac was tossed as well for asking if Hohn would "at least admit he missed the call." Again, Hohn raised his voice and tossed out Brian. Cox refused to make a comment after the game which was probably the smart decision.
I can't believe that an umpire can act in this way. It is his job to call a game, not go looking to throw people out. Sure, players/coaches are going to get upset with a call you make. But damn, you shouldn't go looking for an arguement like Bill Hohn has twice this year against the Braves. MLB needs to do something about this and should look at whether or not he should be a professional umpire. I mean when you miss a call that BAD and then you go out of your way to throw someone out, it's crazy. I sincerely hope that the commisioner or whoever is in charge of umpire behavior takes a look at these two games. Something needs to be done.
Here's what the starting rotation will look like:
Well the trade deadline is quickly approaching. What will we do? I'm hearing that they won't do anything too big. If they do anything at all, it will probably be adding another arm for the back end of the bullpen. Mike Gonzalez, Rafael Soriano, and Peter Moylan all rank up there in most appearances and would love to see another arm to help spill them.
The Braves have a big couple of series with the Marlins and then the Dodgers. Well, it is getting to be crunch time so I guess all the series from here on are big series. Let's hope the Braves can continue their hot play and the Phillies can somehow stop playing so well!
Ok, go ahead and say it. You're dreaming. You're crazy. You must have lost your mind. But have I? I like to think that I haven't...yet anyways. If the Braves keep this season up I just might, but that's besides the point. I am a constant reader of David O'brien's blog. It's nice to hear news straight from someone. He normally has good insight and breaks news rather quickly. On his blog, people have been chiming in on THEIR trade proposals so I am taking the time to write out mine. It's obvious what the Braves need but do they need to prepare for now? or later? The Phillies are starting to address their needs (pitching) with the signing of Pedro Martinez. This, in my opinion, is not what they need to do to help that out. Pedro is done in my book. Last year he posted a 5.61 ERA with 5 wins and 6 losses in 20 games started. Those aren't the Pedro everyone is used too. He's getting up there in age which makes the Philladelphia rotation get even older. They are aslo in serious talks with the Toronto Blue Jays about acquiring Roy Halladay. He is one of the most dominant pitchers in the Major Leagues and would definitely help out a weak rotation like the Phillies.
First, let's point out the Braves weaknesses. Even with addition of Nate McLouth, subtraction of Jeff Francoeur and recent surgence of Garrett Anderson our outfield is still amongst the worst in the NL. As a whole, the Braves outfielders have hit a grand total of 14 hrs (only homers McLouth has hit as a Brave and Matt Diaz's numbers). That is two less than any of the starting POWER outfielders in the All-Star game. That of course is excluding Josh Hamilton because he has been hurt for part of the first half and Ichiro and Victorino because they are typically not known for their power; however, their totals are more than any single Braves outfielder unless you count McLouth's homer as a Pirate. So to say that the Braves lack a power outfield bat is an understatement. That would be like telling a survivor of the Titanic sinking that the water was cold. As anyone who watched this year's homerun derby can tell, most of the NL first basemen are sources of power for their respective team. This is not the case for the Braves. I'm not saying that the Braves need to address this situation because what Casey Kotchman brings to the table not many others can. He has a great glove and has yet to commit an error as an Atlanta Brave. I'm purely pointing out that our first basemen ranks 12th in OPS in the NL and 13th in HRs in the NL (aka dead last). So in review, Braves need a power bat of some kind, but preferably a outfielder. Another weakness that could be arising is our bullpen. Mike Gonzalez has struggle severly of late. They rank amongst the league leaders in appearence and this year it's not because of our starting pitching. Our starters have mostly done everything you could ask for. Bobby has just gotten into a tradition of wearing out our relievers. Soriano has had a history of elbow problems, and both Gonzalez and Moylan are coming off surgeries. Why keeps plugging the same guys out there at the end of the games I don't know. This WILL come back to bite us. I guarantee it. Soriano and Gonzalez are free agents at the end of the year. Do you trade them? I might if the it was a perfect situation (I'll explain later), but for one thing I know I would rather trade Gonzalez over Soriano if I had to trade one of the two.
To summarize this all, we desperately need a BIG bat, and we can't afford to trade away the farm or to much of the bullpen. So here are my trade options:
FRENCHY WAS FINALLY TRADED! Yes that's right, if you have been sleeping in a cave in a foreign country you may not know but Jeff Francoeur was traded. Most Braves fans knew it within an hour. He was traded to, yes division RIVAL, the New York Mets for Ryan Church. Church is a solid player. He is a plus defender and will give you QUALITY at bats. In his first couple games he has shown this. Working the counts deep getting solid contact is what this kid is all about. I think thats enough said there but let me just say it again. FRENCHY IS GONE!You tell me the reasons why these two pitchers were picked over our guys? I can't see it. Clearly, I must be blinded and one sided because I'm seeing overwhelming facts that they should be in there...
Vazquez and Soriano snuffed not once, not twice but three times from being an all star. Vazquez did leave the road trip early to go have an MRI. He has a strained abdominal so he wouldn't been able to pitch during the All-Star game anyways, but the man deserves to at least get a little recognition. Two injuries have lead to two replacement players. Did the two studs for our pitching squad make it? NOPE. I'll let the numbers do the talking.
It's the All-Star break now. We are 6.5 games out of first place. We have been worse off. We were 9.5 games out at the break when we first started out 14 consecutive streak.
P.S. I just bought my tickets to the game this friday. They will be retiring Greg Maddux's jersey. Can't wait! It should be a special night!
It has been a little while. I just spent the weekend up at the lake unable to watch the Braves. Turns out that probably was a good thing. I really don't understand how a team can look so good against their division leader and then lose 2 out of 3 to the slum of the Major Leagues. With these last two series, it is evident that the back end of the bullpen is wearing down. Mike Gonzalez has been struggling of late. He got the loss in the second game of the Nationals series blowing a 2 run lead in the 8th. He came close to giving two games to the Phillies as well. If he continues to struggle, I wouldn't mind seeing him packaged in a trade to get that desperately needed bat. This is not the same team as the last couple years. This team has the pitching, and will be getting more pitching when Hudson comes back in mid-August. He is set to start making a rehab stint right after the All-Star break.I know that there records are worse, but the pitchers can not help the fact that the Braves can't produce enough runs. We Braves fans know that a number of these loses for both Javy and JJ have been games in which the Braves can NOT produce. There have been a handful of games in which the Braves have scored 2 runs or LESS with these guys out there. It's crazy how even managers don't look at the numbers, but base their choices on popularity. That's something you expect out of the fans, not a manager that just won the world series.
Speaking of the All-Star Break, Brian McCann will be headed to St. Louis as a reserve. How Molina is starting over him, I don't know except maybe because it's his home town. Brian McCann deserves to start. He is leading in almost every offensive category. It's nice to have a representative (I know each team has to be represented) but there are two others on the Braves team that deserves a All-Star nod, Jair Jurrjens and Javier Vazquez. Let's compare these two to another starter who made the team.
There has been a lot of trade talk swirling around Braves nation. A couple names that have been thrown out their are of course Jeff Francoeur, Yunel Escobar, and Javier Vazquez. The Braves are deep with pitching. They have the necessary pawns to make a move that could seriously help this team. Over the past week, another weekness has arose, the bullpen. With Mike Gonzalez struggling his last three outings, it leaves questions in us fans heads. Has Bobby already abused Mike too much? Let's hope not.
Jeff Francoeur at this point has little to no trade value. He is sitting tonight for the third game in a row. Finally Bobby sees whats right in front of him. Two hitters batting around .300 and hitting with some power/production. To top all of this off is his attitude. Last year when he was sent down for three games, he pitched a fit. He is continuing that trend now complaining about not playing. Does he not understand that in order to play in the Major Leagues you have to be good and actually provide a little something for the team. David O'brien breaks it down for us. He says that since May 2, Frenchy has hit .256 with 2 homers and 17 rbis. In that same time period Garrett Anderson has hit .296 with 5 homers and 30 rbis. Matt Diaz has hit .380 with 2 homers and 12 rbis in less games than his inefficient counter-part. From the numbers, it's clear who should be sitting and Bobby has finally realized it. It's amazing seeing some players focusing on the pitchers in the dugout as to prepare for their upcoming at bat while Frency is sitting on the bench goofing off. Just seems like something a tee ball player would be doing.
Yunel Escobar is another hot topic around the Braves. Yunel has been out here recently with a injury/punishment. I say that because some people believe that Yunel was benched after mouthing an explicative and pointing towards the official. Bobby Cox does not and should not tolerate this kind of behavior but you do not TRADE him. You do what Bobby did, bench him so that he realizes he needs to grow up. Just posted was a new blog by Mark Bowman. He basically says the same thing, its ridiculous to trade one of the clutch hitters. You don't give up a bat to get one.
Martin Prado. Not much to say about him besides NL PLAYER OF THE WEEK! The kid has taken his newly acquired starting 2B job and done more than asked. He is on fire right now.
Pitching tonight: Jair Jurrjens. Boy would it be nice to get this kid some runs to play with early. He is fifth in the NL in ERA and is sitting at 6-6 on the year. I'd say hes been a little cheated by our lack of offense.
It's about game time so I'm going to go grab a beer and help cheer on our boys! GO BRAVOS! KICK SOME CUBIE ASS!
I'll be out of town for the weekend. So yall will have to continue cheering on our Braves. Let's complete the sweep of Philly and hopefully continue with the Nats!
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