Now we can focus on the game

With Ken Griffey Jr. out of the picture and Tom Glavine’s deal completed, we can now focus more on some of the Spring Training on-field developments. 

It’s evident that Casey Kotchman is much more relaxed than he was when he arrived after being acquired from the Angels last year.   He admits the two months he spent with the Braves last year were basically a blur and that’s certainly understandable.  

Three weeks after being moved from a team destined for the playoffs to one staring at 90 losses, he nearly lost his mother to a brain hemorrhage.  The first baseman gladly reports that his mother’s recovery process is going well and that she’s looking forward to meeting Bobby Cox and the other members of the organization, who were so supportive while Casey stayed by her hospital bedside.

In other camp news, the Braves will have physicals on Saturday and Sunday.  If you’re planning to come to Disney this weekend, the workout are scheduled to start at 1 p.m.

Chipper Jones was excused from this morning’s workout because he wasn’t feeling well. It’s nothing serious and he could be back on the field on Saturday. 

Here are a few interesting quotes from Glavine’s teleconference, which took place this morning:

(What motivated you to return this season?)

“I think first and foremost, it’s my enjoyment of going out there every five days and pitching every five days that’s the key factor in me wanting to play.  Beyond that,  yeah I don’t want my career to end the way that it was last year.”

(What do you think about this year’s rotation?)
I think there’s reason to be excited. When you look at Derek Lowe and Javier Vazquez, they’re two guys who certainly have a track record in being able to carry a big load in terms of innings pitched.  When you look at (Jair Jurrjens), I think everybody is excited about the year that he had last year and the experience that he gained and how much better he stands to be this year.  When you look at Kawakami, there’s a lot of history for him in the Japanese League.  Bringing that here, certainly there is a little bit of uncertainty.  But I think everybody is excited about what he did in Japan and the potential that he brings here.

Last year, there was a lot of excitement about what we brought in, but there was a lot of uncertainty.  I think there’s a lot less uncertainty about the staff this year and their ability to pitch innings.  You never know.  Injuries are always a part of the game. But I think looking at the rotation now, where it was a year ago, I think there has to be a lot more reason to believe the top four guys are going to log a lot more innings than the top four guys last year.  That will have a residual effect on everybody.  It’s going to make our team better.  It’s going to make our bullpen stronger because they’re not going to have to work so many innings.  Again from my standpoint, looking at that and looking at me being in the five hole, I’m excited about that.  I’m excited about being a part of it.

(Glav’s thoughts on A-Rod)
“I guess everybody has a lot of thoughts about A-Rod.  There’s disappointment obviously and things like that.  All I can do is take care of myself and these other guys who have been caught doing the things that they’re doing, they have to deal with it.  There comes a time for everybody in life, I don’t care where you are or what you do, that you have choices to make and sometimes people make bad choices.  If you make a bad choice, then that’s your responsibility to deal with the consequences of that bad choice and certainly Alex is having to deal with that.

I don’t think it matters what I or anybody else says or thinks. It’s Alex Rodriguez and it’s his reputation that has been tarnished. He’s the one who ultimately has to deal with that.  I’m sure he wishes that he had a chance to re-think that decision that he made years ago. But you know what? Life doesn’t work that way.

34 Comments

Glad to see the attention focused towards actual on field matters now that the silliness and speculation has been ratched down a couple of notches.

Bowmman, I ask this question knowing full well it could result in Tim Hudson challenging you to Texas Death Match(Falls count anywhere in the building) but care to opine on the 40 man roster move with Glavine officially signing?

If that isn’t too much of a hot button issue to discuss in this forum?

I would still think one could speculate on the two pitchers mentioned in an earlier post plus I keep coming back to our Gwinnett bound catcher.

Yeah, the fact that guys are getting upset about 40-man roster stuff is garbage. I just checked with the Braves and they said Glavine hasn’t signed and thus they haven’t been forced to make a decision. Thus while carrying on the time-honored journalistic tradition of speculating, I will confidently guess that Anthony Lerew will be the one removed. But since we’re just guessing, my mulligan guess is Stockman.

Would Glavine’s fastball beat Frank Tanana’s to the plate in a race right now?

OK now for another mulligan, none of these guys are going to be removed from the 40-man roster. And this isn’t a guess. To make room for Glavine, the Braves will place Tim Hudson on the 60-day disabled list. Earlier this week, I was under the impression they couldn’t make this move at this time.

Thanks for the answer Mark.

Can never have enough arms and some of those spare arms may help late in ST when other teams are looking for Pen depth.

I saw Lerew pitch numerous times in the minors and he just hasn’t developed(yet) to the point that his potential would have suggested.

I like that move using the 60-man, we just used it way to often last year. Have you seen Anthony Lerew down there yet? Last I saw of him he still had the long sideburns.

Who are the out of options guys on the 40 man?

They need to put Tim Hudson’s awful soul patch on the 60-year disabled list.

Not Bowman(obviously) but rother these are the guys out of options that might/might not factor into roster construction late in ST.

Pitchers(3)
Blaine Boyer
Anthony Lerew
Phil Stockman

Position Players(1)
Josh Anderson

There are a couple of others but not ones in danger of being optioned to AAA.

Bowman can correct this, if the info is faulty.

Let’s see, Lowe, Vazquez, Jurrjens. A combined ERA around 3.70, and 100 starts with an average of 6 and a third takes the Braves a long way towards turning this this around doesn’t it? If Kawakami and Glavine get 50 starts between them, and do the 4.50 and 6 inning quality start “thing”, that just leaves Tommy Hanson’s incredible September and about 7 wild card starts from this being a very good team. It’s a lot harder to wear out a bullpen when the starters refuse to give Bobby the ball. This seems like a reasonable expectation though. We’ll see.

I’m ecstatic that Glavine is back. I really think Atlanta needed to bring him back. For the fans, for Glavine, but mostly the well being of the team. Even if he isn’t spectacular on the field his knowledge is priceless in the clubhouse. Also, Mark, I would like to thank you on all the time you put into this. As an aspiring sports writer I greatly appreciate you blogging so often while responding to a lot of the comments. You don’t need to do that and I just wanted you to know that it is greatly appreciated by at least one fan.
http://downonstrikes.blogspot.com/

Let’s just hope that our offense can give opposing pitchers a combined ERA of 3.70+. The only starter I’m worried about is Kawakami.

Let’s hope Kotchman and Francouer are a LOT more comfortable this year than they were last year. Unless one or both of those guys can come through with big offensive years I am afraid of the season ahead. I am sorry for the doom and gloom but facts are facts. We have done NOTHING to upgrade a very anemic offense so it looks pretty gloomy from where I sit. I can’t get enough Braves so I will be there pulling for them every step of the way. GO BRAVES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Unless Boyer has a horrible Spring, Anderson, Stockman and Lerew are the out-of-options players that create any current intrigue. Anderson’s situation provides him an excellent chance to be on the Opening Day roster. Lerew’s arm could certainly draw interest from teams. But given the wealth of similar arms, I think they can take the risk of potentially losing him. Because of his health history, I think Stockman would pass through waivers.

I’m also still a little skeptical of Kawakami. Funny story from today, Bobby asked one of the Japanese reporters “How was Kawakami in Japan.” When the guy said, “great”, Bobby smiled and responded with “That’s good enough for me.”

Hardball: That’s a good-looking blog. Glad to see you’re a Steelers fan. As a West Virginia fan, I can’t say I’m thrilled about the fact that you also pull for Penn State. But given that you said you’re an aspiring journalist, I’m going to guess you don’t remember those days when the Lions annually beat up on the Mounties.

Rother, I truly can’t picture whether Lerew still has those sideburns. But he does have a tatoo that covers his entire back. He seems like a good dude. I really haven’t talked to him enough to see if he’s grown up since that day in 2007, when I wrote that he reminded me of Nuke LaLoosh.

I’m going to head out and get something to eat and think about what the lineup should look like. I’ve toyed with thoughts of putting Anderson’s speed at the top. But I think I’m still leaning toward flip-flopping Escobar and Johnson in the top two spots based on which arm the starting pitcher is using that day. We can get to the cleanup arguments later.

Can’t wait for the cleanup argument. I think it’ll be a good one! Especially seeing as how Canns (that’s what I call him) wants to hit 5th and besides him, who could actually hit for power from either side, without speculating on how their year will be different than the last.

I still think Glavine is going to be a valuable addition to the Bravos this year. A lot of folks are wishing to see Hanson but I suggest they catch his act at Gwinnett while the tickets are still cheap. I don’t see the current projected starting rotation remaining intact for the entire season.

A lot of can’t miss prospects struggled when they first made it to the majors, I don’t think Hanson will be any different.

If there is an injury to any of the starters during the first half of the season I would doubt that they would bring up Hanson. I think the spot would go to Campillo. Unless he is struggling as the long reliever and Hanson is tearing up AAA. With all the hype around him we wouldn’t want to repeat what happened to Kyle Davies. They should throw Schafer into the mix as the starting center fielder unless he is terrible in spring training. If he is the CF of the future then I think the time is now.. and 2 platoons in the outfield is an awful idea especially when you’re dealing with young guys. They need to learn how to hit left and right handed pitchers at the big league level.

Viva, I agree with the gist of what you’re saying about Hanson. But at the same time, I do believe there’s a chance he could be in Atlanta by June. This would allow him to get somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 starts at Gwinett and arrive in the Majors at a time when he might not qualify as a Super Two — meaning he could possibly gain the first of four arbitration-eligible seasons after 2010. Chipper has said this a few times this offseason. But the other day, he once again praised the big redheaded, right-hander by saying that he probably has the best stuff of anybody in the entire organization.

Hi Mark, great to see you blogging. A few thoughts on this team:

— It’s my belief the organization wants Hanson to make a handful of starts at Gwinnett before making the jump to the majors, and with the signing of Glavine, I think it’s possible we don’t see Hanson until September. But, if he blows guys away the way he did when making the jump to Mississippi last season, he may be up here before Sept. 1.

Of course, the rotation looks locked in now with Lowe, Jurrjens, Vazquez, Kawakami and Glavine. Kawakami looks to be the one question mark, considering he doesn’t throw very hard and is making the transition from Japan. But he did hit 145+ innings in eight of his 11 seasons in Japan, and if he does that, I think the Braves will be very happy with that from the fourth spot.

— Unless he totally falls flat on his face, I think Josh Anderson starts the season in center field. Ten steals in 40 games speaks for itself. If Josh can display a little better plate discipline, he’s going to have a ton of steals. And he’s probably the fastest guy on the 40-man roster. I think Gregor Blanco could be the odd man out in the outfield, as Brandon Jones provides more power … provided he can bounce back from a pretty choppy 2008. Center eventually will be manned by Schafer, but I think the organization wants him at Gwinnett for the first couple of months of the season, at least.

— Transitioning from the above point, I don’t understand why the Braves don’t look at Garret Anderson. Dude hit as many homers last season off RHP (14) as Griffey, while hitting 21 points higher and driving in 21 more runs off rightys than Griffey. Two errors total in left field the past three seasons combined (261 games total). Seven steals last season. Dude won’t be a big power threat, but he’ll fill the gaps at Turner Field with line drives. It’s worth a look, for sure. I favor Anderson over Edmonds, whose average has dropped each of the past five years and who strikes out more than Anderson.

Even without Anderson platooning with Diaz in left, I feel good about this team. Solid starting pitching, durable inning-eaters who will pitch deep into games. A solid defensive team. A better bench. A very deep and potent bullpen. Chipper and McCann anchoring a lineup that doesn’t feature a lot of power, but plenty of good hitters who work the count, hit for average and fill the gaps.

May not be enough to win the East … I wrote the other day that adding a power bat would pull them even with the Phils and Mets … but this team should be in the race for most, if not all, of the sason. Going to be fun nonetheless. No way this team loses 90 games like it did last year.

Again, great blog Mark. Hope your stay in Lake Buena Vista goes well.

Bud.
http://braves.today.com

Mark, Is DOB speaking to you after Tim Hudson’s incident?

Bowman,

This would be the optimal lineup (IMO)

1.Anderson-CF
2.Escobar-SS
3.KJ-2B
4.Chipper-3B
5.McCann-C
6.Francoeur-RF
7.Kotchman-1B
8.(LF platoon)

A couple of points, I like a guy that has at least decent speed in the #8 spot because of the pitcher bunting so much behind him.

I believe KJ is ready to step up to the responsibility of the #3 spot.
Dropping Chipper down a spot gives the benefit of not having too many lefties all stacked together.Too easy late in games for a good lefty to come in and either mow down the hitters or worse face Bobby to empty the bench in short order.

Also easier to deal with Mccann’s days off from the #5 slot than the cleanup spot. Bobby just needs to anchor Chipper there against all comers.

Mark – I too am glad I stumbled upon your blog – much better than the other outlet.

I agree – I cannot wait to get down to FL and see baseball. I’m satisified with what we have right now, I hope there is nothing else done as far as trades, etc. Let’s just see what they can do before making any changes…
And now that Tommy is signed, I can relax and concentrate on packing for my trip down to ST. Contrary to what some reporters may think of Disney – I love it there and am totally jealous of you for getting to be there the entire time after months without baseball…..

My friend has never been to ST (this is my 15th year) – so I’m going to have a great time showing her around (going to games every day, home and away, and even 2 Rays’ games)… she moved to ATL from Philly last year just because of the Braves – so we’re gonna have the time of our lives!

btw – I believe we may have mutual friends (chicks from TN) and sadly, they will not be meeting up in Orlando this year, chosing Marlins over Braves and going to the WBC games in Miami.

David, in some ways your lineup suggestion makes sense. But given the fact that this roster doesn’t possess a true leadoff or cleanup hitter, we’ll be arguing about the best solution for many weeks (and possibly months) to come.
Right now, I’m leaning toward arguing that Anderson should fill the leadoff role and Chipper should rest in the cleanup spot. To mix the left and right-handed hitters, I’d hit Escobar second and Kelly third.
Some have questioned Anderson’s ability to hit left-handed pitchers. But I don’t really worry too much about the fact that he’s hit .254 with a .299 OBP in 63 big league at-bats against southpaws. He hit .304 with a .352 OBP against them at Richmond last year.
With questionable power, this club will have to place a greater emphasis on manufacturing runs and Anderson should be given the chance to help do this with his speed at the top.

thomas, in response to your question about me and DOB, do professional wrestlers ever let you know what goes on in the locker room?

I think what you are saying translates to making a very good point of why we SHOULD sign Edmonds, saying that logically he will hit around 25 HR’s this year. Wouldn’t every Braves fan be happy with an outfielder who should hit at least 25 home runs this year (estimating on the low end)??? That is more HR’s than anyone hit on the Braves last year. 25 HR’S would be GREAT!!!!!!!!!! This should be easily attainable, considering Edmonds was on pace to hit 45 HR’s last year and did hit 19 HR’s in ONLY 250 at-bats. That is a sick rate. He was hitting the cover off the ball at the end of last year!!! Look at the number of HR’s hit in Wriggley last year, it is not even in the same league as Coors Field. Greg Maddux never got lit up with the long ball at Wriggley!! The wind can also blow straignt in there to! Compared to what we have now in LF (Brandon Jones is nothing), this is amazing power producton. It is either Jim Edmonds or Brandon Jones platooning in left field with Matt Diaz this year!!! Who do you guys want???… Jim Edmonds or Brandon Jones??? Let’s be clear about things…….. I don’t think that Jim Edmonds will hit 45 HR’s this year………I didn’t say he “WOULD” …….. I did say that he “COULD” hit 45 HR’s this year “IF” he hit at the pace that he did with the Cubs last year. Personally, it truly think that he can hit 25-30 HR’s for us if he got enough at-bats and that he would hit for a very high Slugging % like he did for the Cubs last year. ARE THERE ANY BRAVES FANS OUT THERE WHO WOULD BE DISAPPOINTED WITH 25 HOME RUNS AND A HIGH SLUGGING % FROM ONE OF OUR OUTFIELDERS?… This will get us back to the post-season!!!!!

Two things:

1 – Mark, I can’t wait for the lineup discussion. I have to disagree with about about Kelly. He has done nothing to prove he is capable of batting third. He got hot towards the end of the year… when we no longer needed him. We were out of contention. When we did need him, he was as non-clutch as Andruw two years ago or Frenchy last year. I can see Escobar or Anderson reaching base with one out and Kelly hitting into an inning-ending double play. I don’t have a solution for that yet… but I’m hoping Schafer will be the next Evan Longoria offensively. What are the odds of that?

2 – I know this is crazy and will never happen… but if Liberty Media extended the budget to make an offer to Manny Ramirez,wouldn’t there be a projection of revenue growth from ticket sales, fanfare? Wouldn’t his bat in the lineup almost make us a shoe in for the post season? It would be an investment… but given his history… a good one. The only thing would be the locker room presence… but man, i think that would put the Braves back on the map. We’ve been forgotten the last 5 years. Again – it will never happen. It couldn’t happen… but isn’t there an upside to a risk like that?

3 – SALTLAKE – suggestion Edmonds will hit 45 homeruns is absurd. He hit 19 as a Cub at Wrigley Field… where anyone can hit a homerun. It would be a stretch to say he’d hit 25. I’m just not sold on him. There’s a reason no other team in the majors is interested.

oops… that was 3 things. my bad.

Opening Day Roster
1. Josh Anderson
2. Yunel Escobar
3. Chipper Jones
4. Garrett Anderson
5. Brian McCann
6. Jeff Franceour
7. Casey Kotchman
8. Kelly Johnson
9. Derek Lowe

SaltLake, it’s always nice to hear from player agents, and I hope you get Jim Edmonds a job somewhere (else) before his back goes out again. Good luck with that.

I truly think B Jones will get enough ABs to get hot so that he will be easier to trade. Schafer is going to be the left fielder. He is just too good to hide. Options won’t be an issue because once he’s up, he’s not going back down.

150 innings out of Kawakami in 30+ starts will be unacceptable. If he can’t go 6 innings per start he will be replaced in the rotation by Hanson or somebody else who can go 6 innings consistently. Especially since his reputation is a control guy who uses minimal pitches to get the job done. Time will tell but he has a pretty strong resume and many of the guys who can’t say they won the Japanese Cy Young are doing pretty good work over here right now. Glavine is the only 5 inning guy we have this year, and that is as many as we can carry. Last year’s problems began and ended with the fact that Tommy, Smoltz, Jo Jo, Campillo, and for a lot of the early season Jurrjens, were 5 inning guys. That and the fact that Bennett and Boyer are the same pitcher, and throwing them back to back consistently got the second guy drilled.

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