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The Braves Blog » 2006 » March


The Braves Blog

Ramblings about the Braves by True Braves Fans

March 29, 2006

Thomson, Sosa, The Braves Board, and Phone Calls

by @ 11:30 pm.   Filed under braves, braves players, general

Hello to all my readers out there, I apologize for the lack of updates in the past few days. I really don’t have much to talk about in depth this time either but I did want to mention a few things.

First I want to make sure everyone knows about my other web page, The Braves Board. The news section on the front page is being kept up to date now. All we need now is members to get the discussion boards going.

Second, I just want to give me thoughts on trading John Thomson. I am really split on this issue. Jorge Sosa has had a bad spring, but if he can shape up, he is too valuable (given his salary) to give up. On the same note, Thomson has shown to be a solid starter as well. Thomson seems like he would wasted in the bullpen, but given the fact he could add some velocity to his fastball, he actually might fit well into the closers roll. And, if we did trade one of them, it really seems like it would be Thomson, and I don’t think the closers that have been mentioned are a good return. The other rumor, Craig Wilson, isn’t a bad trade, but do we need him? I would rather trade for him than have Brian Jordan the backup first baseman, but I think overall I would rather keep Thomson and use James Jurries.

Finally, I got a call today from someone in the Braves front office. I wasn’t home, and wasn’t able to get in touch with her after I got the message. I am assuming that they are going to want me to come join the team, as a coach obviously, since my playing days are over. While I will continue to update this blog, I just want you to know that the team comes first.

Obviously I don’t really think they are calling me to join the team. I also doubt they are calling in relation to either of my web pages. I honestly am not sure why they are calling. I don’t think I have entered any contests and the last I checked they don’t just randomly give away season tickets. So, I will let you all know once I find out exactly what its all about, but until them I am really anxious to find out, I just hope I can sleep tonight!

Oh yea, one more thing. If you have any links that you would like me to put over on the right let me know. It doesn’t matter what they are, as long as they fit in one of the categories. All I ask is that you link both of my sites (I will add your link to my other site as well) from the page you ask me to link too (provided you have control over the links. If you don’t, feel free to recommend the page still, I’ll still add it) If you want to suggest one, you can either post a comment to any of my posts or email. My contact info is on the right. Feel free to IM me as well, but I must warn you I have a horrible short term memory and I am easily distracted, so there is a good chance it might never get done if that is the only way you contact me.

What should the Braves do with John Thomson?

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March 25, 2006

James Jurries vs Brian Jordan

by @ 10:29 pm.   Filed under braves players

First off let me say that I think James Jurries should be the backup first baseman over Brian Jordan. Given that, I am going to present to you the reasons I feel this way, and then the reasons that Brian Jordan is going to win the spot anyway.

Reasons James Jurries should make the team/Brian Jordan shouldn’t:

  1. He is a good hitter. I watched the game today and not only did two of the Braves four hits come from Jurries, but he should great hitting skill with his first one. The pitch was about middle-in and he pulled his hands in so that he could hit the ball into a big opening in right field. His offensive stats this spring are much better than Jordan’s in every aspect.
  2. He has most experience as a first baseman. I have no doubt Brian Jordan could play first base just fine. He is a gifted athlete and given the amount of work he has put in at the position, I am sure he will adapt just fine. However, Jurries not only has played more games at first base this spring than Jordan, he has played more his entire career than Jordan. A week into the season Nomar Garciaparra will have played more games at first base than Jordan has (he has played two games at first base in his career.)
  3. Brian Jordan has a bad knee. He says it feels fine now, but he wasn’t having any issues with it this time last year either. He had knee surgery yet again during the off-season, and he is turning 39 in four days.
  4. Even when Brian Jordan was healthy last year, he wasn’t very impressive. Sure he had some good games, and he was better than Raul Mondesi, but that isn’t saying much. There is a reason the career outfielder is competing for a bench spot at a position he has played twice in his career. The starting left fielders job has been given to Ryan Langerhans in his second full season in the major leagues, and the backup spot has been given to Matt Diaz, a twenty-nine year old minor-leaguer who hasn’t even had 150 plate appearances yet in the major leagues. The reason is that Brian Jordan, while he might have a few good plays and a few homeruns left in him is washed up.

Reasons Brian Jordan will make the team anyway:

  1. Experience. Jordan has played in the majors for many years, some of those off the bench. Jurries might not adapt well to becoming a bench player, only starting every week or two. Having your first at bat in the last few days come during a key situation late in the game is tough on even the most experienced player, much less someone that has never even played a game above AAA.
  2. Bobby Cox is loyal to his veterans. Even if a younger player beats out an older player in every aspect, Cox’s loyalty will still come into play. Sometimes it seems like he is loyal to a fault, but he has won 14 in a row, so maybe he isn’t?
  3. Leadership. Brian Jordan is a great person to have around the clubhouse and someone that provides a great influence on younger players. Cox has always found it important to have players like this in the clubhouse, and he might think that we need at least one more in addition to John Smoltz, Chipper Jones, and the other veterans on the team.
  4. Finally, and I think this is a big part of it, Jordan won’t start the year in the minors. If Jurries does not make the team, he will begin the season in AAA. If Jordan doesn’t make the team, he will either retire, or enter the free agent market. So, if you go with Jurries and he doesn’t work out, you have to bring another minor-leaguer up to replace him, one that most likely has even less experience than he did. If Jordan doesn’t work out, or get hurt, you have Jurries waiting for a call down in AAA.

Who should be the Braves backup first baseman?

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Chipper had the green light

by @ 3:31 pm.   Filed under braves players

I constantly here announcers make comments along the lines of “I wonder if Chipper has the green light on this pitch” or “Chipper had the green light.” I have always felt that a hitter of Chipper Jones’ caliber always has the green light. I think Chipper has shown he knows what he is doing, and I don’t think Bobby ever tells him not to swing, even on a 3-0 count.

What do you think?

In the past 5 years, has Chipper ever been told to NOT swing?

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March 24, 2006

Francoeur tries getting more selective | ajc.com

by @ 11:15 pm.   Filed under braves players

Francoeur tries getting more selective | ajc.com

Frenchy is learning how to talk a walk. Can you imagine how dangerous this kid could be if he combines his hitting abilities with some plate discipline?

I have heard stories of how Dale Murphy went from a pure pull hitter to one willing to go the other way. Pitchers supposedly exclaimed with great fear “Did you hear the bad news? Murphy learned to hit the other way.” I can just imagine a similar exclamation along the lines of “Did you hear Francoeur learned to take a walk?”

If pitchers know Francoeur will swing at anything, they will throw him unhittable pitches, and let him get himself out. However, if he forces them to throw him strikes, by not swinging at anything unhittable, he will become very dangerous.

Its a no-win situation for the pitchers. Throw him something anywhere near the plate, and he has shown he can cream it. Walk him and he not only has speed and is a threat to steal, but would have at worst Brian McCann hitting behind him.

Anyway, I know this isn’t my greatest blog ever, but I don’t feel to great right now. I still wanted to mention something about this article though.



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March 21, 2006

ESPN.com – MLB – Phillips: Handling Soriano

by @ 11:01 pm.   Filed under baseball players

ESPN.com – MLB – Phillips: Handling Soriano

I was going to write a blog about the whole issue with Alfonso Soriano and the Washington Nationals. I wanted to find an article that summarized the issue to reference in my blog, and in doing so found the above article by Steve Phillips. He really says everything I was going to say, so I would suggest reading it.

If you don’t have an ESPN Insider account, I will sum it up for you:

Soriano was traded to the nationals this off-season from the Texas Rangers. The Nats picked him up in hopes of moving him to left field, a position he does not want to play. The problem is that the Nationals already have a superb second baseman named Jose Vidro. He is good at the plate and in the field. While Soriano might be better with the bat, his defense is no where near that of Vidro’s.

Soriano, however, knows that while he is one of the best offensive second baseman, he wouldn’t rank has high among outfielders, so he has refused to move to the outfield.

Now, the Nationals probably could have avoided this who situation if they had not made the trade without an assurance he would move to the outfield, and barring that, should have had some sort of backup plan. The deal is done however, so what now?

They could trade Soriano, but they wouldn’t get anything near his value in return this late in the season. They could also trade Vidro, but they would not only be losing a great player, but setting a horrible precedent. So, they are looking at another option, placing Soriano on the rarely used disqualified list.

If placed on the disqualified list, Soriano would be unable play, earn salary, or accrue service time. He would basically be screwing himself over if he allows himself to be placed on that list. Not only will he be giving up part of him $10 million salary, he will also decrease his free agent value. If he stays on there long enough, he might not even accrue the 93 service days required for him to become a free agent.

I have a feeling its not going to happen. Soriano will most likely wise up and accept the move to left field before being placed on the list. If he does make it to the list, it will probably only take a few days before he realizes the Nationals aren’t going to be bullied, and backs down. However, part of me hopes he cuts off his own nose to spite his face. I would love to see him spend the entire season on the disqualified list. I highly believe its the spoiled nature of players now days that is ruining baseball, and I would like nothing more than to finally see one of them pay for that attitude.



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Down to the last roster spot | ajc.com

by @ 8:40 pm.   Filed under braves news, braves players

Down to the last roster spot | ajc.com

With Matt Diaz a lock for the final outfield spot, the final roster spot has come down to the backup 1B position. The two players fighting it out are veteran Brian Jordan and new comer James Jurries. Jordan comes into the spring as a career outfielder with little experience at first base, and Jurries has never even played a game above AAA. However, both players have put in a lot of work at first base, and both have had pretty good springs at the plate as well:

Jurries has a sizzling .452 average (14-for-31) with two homers and a team-high 12 RBIs in the Grapefruit League. He hit .284 with 21 homers and 72 RBIs in 106 games at Class AAA Richmond, where he was the team’s player of the year.

[Jordan] has a .357 average (10-for-28) this spring, albeit with one extra-base hit (double) and one RBI.

It has not be decided yet whether or not this position will be a platoon with Adam LaRoche as Julio Franco did for the past few years, or if it will be a pure backup/pinch hitting role. Either way the Braves need a player they can depend on to provide solid defense and hit left-handers, whether its for an entire game, or off the bench in the late innings.

Now, I like Brian Jordan a lot. I think he is a great person, and just having him in the clubhouse can make a difference in how the team performs. At the same time, Jordan is getting older and has plenty of problems with his knees in the past few years. I don’t know if Jordan can be depended upon to fill the role. If he can’t fill the backup or platoon role, its not as big of a deal, since LaRoche can play everyday if needed. However, we can’t afford to have someone grounding into a double play in the late innings and killing a possible rally, something Jordan has shown to be rather prone to do. I still believe that if Langerhans had started the first game of the NLDS last year, the entire series might have had a different outcome. Don’t forget that Jordan has knee surgery yet again over the off-season. While his surgically repaired knee has held up so far this spring, there is a long season ahead.

At the same time, we don’t know much about Jurries. He has played will at AAA, but not all players can convert a successful minor league career into a successful major league career. He has had the better spring at the plate, and he has also played more games at first base than Jordan’s measly two.

So, who do we pick? I honestly don’t know. I am leaning towards Jurries, but I hate to lose Jordan’s presence in the club house. However, if Jurries can show that his offense is just as consistent off the bench as when he starts, I think Jordan’s leadership might be worth sacrificing if it guarantees a consistent bat off the bench.



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March 20, 2006

Smoltz: Finesse for a change | ajc.com

by @ 10:32 pm.   Filed under braves players

Smoltz: Finesse for a change | ajc.com

I personally like the idea of Smoltz being more of a finesse pitcher. He has shown this spring he can be very effective pitching that way, and we all know that he has the ability to reach back and throw it hard when he needs too.

Usually you have either a power pitcher or a finesse pitcher, but rarely both. While control is important for all pitchers, its vital for a finesse pitcher. Many people theorized that Randy Johnson’s poor season last year was due to the fact that he lost a bit of his power. While he used to could afford to not have pin-point control, after losing a few mphs off his fastball, that lack of accuracy was now apparent.

Normally when a finesse pitcher loses his pin-point control, his career is over, because he can’t suddenly compensate by over powering the hitters. Its the same situation for most power pitchers. If they lose some of their power, they don’t have the pin-point control of a finesse pitcher to fall back on.

Smoltz seems to working on his insurance policy. Not only will throwing more finesse pitches allow him to put less wear on his arm, it will also give him something to fall back on when the power isn’t there. When the power is there, it will give him a powerful combination of control and power that he can combine and interchange at will.

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but I guess Smoltz is showing that at least they can teach themselves.



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March 19, 2006

World Baseball Classic

by @ 1:35 am.   Filed under baseball

I for one really enjoyed watching the World Baseball Classic. I think one reason it was so appealing is because after going a while without any baseball, it was a chance to watch some real games again.

As a Braves fan, I was very pleased to see how Chipper played. After we were eliminated by Mexico, it was at least some consolation in the way Villarreal pitched, knowing he would be returning to the MLB as a Braves.

The USA not even making it to the semi-finals was a bit of a disappointment, but the whole tournament they played like the Braves in the post season, so it was a little easier to handle after having experienced something similar for the last 15 years.
The question is why were the eliminated so early? The obvious reason is their lack of production in clutch situations, but why were they not able to produce?

I have a few theories:

  1. Its Spring Training – Perhaps everyone wasn’t in full form yet. I definitely think that was the issue with Willis, because he is too good of a pitcher to have two games like that. Maybe the offense just wasn’t ready yet. Maybe they needed more time to work on their swings, get used to seeing pitches, etc.
  2. It wasn’t a well balanced team – I really don’t think this was the issue, but I am going to throw it out there anyway, because its something you risk anytime you have a team of superstars. Baseball teams need to be balanced. You need just the right balance of speed, power, and contact. Perhaps we didn’t have that balance.

I am curious what everyone else thinks about these things. Did you like the WBC? Why did the USA bow out so early?



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March 18, 2006

Welcome to The Braves Blog

by @ 5:59 pm.   Filed under general

Welcome to The Braves Blog. This is my home on the web for talking about the Braves. Some of my posts will be informative, some will be venting about what I think was a bad choice in a game, or bad move with a player. I will talk about the games, I will talk about things that pleased me. I will talk about all sorts of things, but in the end, they will all relate to baseball, and usually the Braves.

Keep an eye out over the next few days as I add more links and more posts.



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