No reason to panic about Chipper

As Kenshin Kawakami was attempting to build arm strength during today’s
intra-squad game at Disney, Chipper Jones is resting his strained right
oblique muscle in a Toronto hotel. 

While nobody likes to hear
Chipper and the word injury linked in the same sentence, the Braves
don’t seem too concerned.  In fact based on what I’ve been hearing from
Bobby Cox and Jones’ agent, I’d say most of the pain the third baseman
is currently feeling has more to do with the fact that he’s struck out
five times and gone hitless in his first seven World Baseball Classic
at-bats.

Cox and Jones’ agent, B.B. Abbott said they believe
Chipper could return to action within the next few days.  Because the
U.S. has already clinched a spot in this weekend’s second round,
Chipper probably won’t play in the final Pool C game on Wednesday.

Jones exited Sunday night’s game after feeling a slight strain in his right side during his fifth inning at-bat. 

Jones
felt similar discomfort in his right side while taking batting practice
on September 10, 2007.  Initially it was thought that he might miss the
remainder of the season.  But because he took precautionary measures,
he was able to return to the lineup just four days later.  <p>

Back to Kawakami
:
During last Monday’s intra-squad game, Jason Heyward proved to be a
thorn in Jair Jurrjens’ side.  This week, the 19-year-old phenom
introduced his power to Kenshin Kawakami with a towering third-inning
homer that easily cleared the right field wall.

One half-inning earlier, Heyward had drilled an Emiliano Fruto fastball over the left-ceneterfield wall.

At
the beginning of camp, I asked Heyward if his goal was to end this
season with Double-A Mississippi and he said, “no the goal is to end
the year here (in the Majors).  Having had the chance to watch him play
over the past few weeks, I no longer find that comment as ammusing as I
had originally.

Kawakami ended up allowing four runs in four
innings.  He surrendered a first-inning leadoff double to Matt
Kennelly, who scored on consecutive groundouts. 

The two runs Kawakami allowed in the third inning came courtesy of a Freddie Freeman double and Heyward’s towering homer.

Schafer further encouraged:  Jordan
Schafer, who has been sidelined since Feb. 28 with a sprained left
shoulder, felt no limitations while taking soft toss and hitting off of
a tee on Monday morning.  He’ll attempt to take regular batting
practice on Tuesday and possibly play on Wednesday against the
Phillies.

58 Comments

That’s great news about Schafer, I wonder if his fate (to start in Gwinnett) is already sealed though. I’d like to see the Schafer-Anderson competition to go down to the wire.

Somewhere, in his office headquarters in the basement of his Mom’s house, Saltlake has a little voodoo doll of Heyward that he is doing unspeakable things to while on speaker phone with his only client, Jim Edmonds.

Muttering to himself “Is this really how Scott Boras got started?”

Anybody want to speculate out loud as to which posters he has on the walls in that basement office? I can think of a few possibilities.

There is a Sony BetaMax with fuzzy clips created by taping ESPN from the TV of all of Jim Edmonds’ greatest Web Gems. The ones BEFORE he started diving every time the ball was hit to him.

Then there is the car 8 track tape player built into the wall that plays a loop of Jim Edmonds’ favorite hits from his rookie year.

Why is all the conversation on here about some dipstick from Utah? I had much rather talk baseball and not fulfill HIS fantasies by having men talk about him.
If Chipper is starting his injury bug already then we may have a long season or we may see a real aggressive player in Prado become a household name. The way spring has gone so far it appears this team has a very bright future. The pitching has been great and the late innings with all the kids has been productive. GO BRAVES!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hey Mark, how come DOB gets a week off and you’re stuck piddling away here in spring training? Can’t you hand the baton to some low-level grunt and go play golf or something?

I would love to see Prado have a great season. He could be just what the doctor ordered. The entire team has really done a nice job so far this spring and it will be interesting to see if they can maintain it as the rosters start to shrink and the regulars start to get more time. The Braves are light years ahead of where they were last season, even with Teixeira. There will be some tough roster decisions this spring.

Anybody know if stats are published for the inter-squad scrimmage?

I am not a Blanco fan but he had a great game against USA yesterday. I would take 3 for 5 with 2 singles, 1 triple and 1 stolen base everyday for the rest of his career. There ARE going to be some very tough decisions to be made as spring progresses. Among those tough choices is tge decision as to whether Chipper gets his extension and how long or short should it be.
All of the naysayers are looking to be very wrong about this team. We have seen nothing from G Anderson or Chipper yet and the team is still looking like a very good TEAM this year. Maybe I was wrong about us needing a power bat but time will tell. GO BRAVES!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mark – while watching the WBC last night, the announcers kept referring to Blanco as the “heir apparent” in center field. Is that a case of them not doing their homework or do they know something we don’t? He did go 3-5 with Venezuela last night. What are your thoughts on Blanco right now?

I’m with 69Braves in regards to Blanco. He showed over a full season what he has, and it isn’t enough. Remember he also played that ball into a triple that DeRosa hit in a one run game, costing his team the lead. The Blanco and Jo Jo for anybody trade is just looking like it will bring the Braves a better “anybody” if this keeps up.
You are talking about Sutcliffe. He never does his homework beyond a couple calls to his buddies. He is also the guy with the pearl of wisdom that McCann changed everything about his swing in the epiphany created by actually getting to speak with the great Derek Jeter. Whatever, Sutcliffe is lazy. Blanco was the CF last year, and that is all he was going by in my opinion. He gets his info watching MLB.com late night in his hotel room.

I don’t think Blanco is a bad player, I just don’t think he is good enough to beat out the other options the Braves have.

Blanco did great against the U.S. yesterday.
Heyward would be an interesting option at midseason. If any of our outfielders go down, we have Blanco, Heyward, Jones, and Schafer to replace them. They are all major league ready in my opinion. We have so much depth in every position. I hope we can keep up our recent success.
New Blog Entry-
http://darion.mlblogs.com/

Like I have said before, Chipper Jones IS the Atlanta Braves and although he probably will not play a full season at 3rd for the rest of his career, they need him around. He is the face and the leader of the team and it would be a crime to not give him the extension. How many other players in the majors would take a pay cut like Chipper did so the team could sign a top notch free agent, which otherwise would have been out of the price range? That type of player is VERY few and far between.
And IN THE OUTFIELD! Assuming that Jordan Schaefer is already in Atlanta by the All Star break, and one of the other outfielders gets injured, I think they should give Heyward a shot. Maybe even sooner. He’s been killing the ball. And there was a certain Braves outfielder who came up wonderfully in the majors at the age of 19 (but now couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with a sledgehammer). When was the last time we were in the playoffs?.. I believe it was when the team was carried on the shoulders of a group of rookies.

I’m with you, Chipper stays until he wants to go. He has earned that respect and is a very positive influence in the clubhouse. If he has to move from third to first to stick around down the road, so be it. He has been a winner everywhere he has ever been, and the change in attitude in the Braves clubhouse is mostly Chipper’s doing. He saw what was missing and he made sure things were different this season. Glavine will also find a way to contribute, one way or the other.

No need to move Chipper from 3rd to 1st. Most of his injuries come when he’s batting, not fielding. Chipper’s injuries usually occur when he’s batting, not fielding. Plus he plays above-average defense at 3rd and we have Kotchman at 3rd for 3 years then Freeman takes over. Chipper will stay at 3rd.

Chipper is still a very good third baseman, and I agree they won’t be moving him any time soon. When his range goes before his bat, they’ll figure something out for him.

emarc, I was really looking forward to the CF competition. I thought the odds were stocked against Schafer because it really seems like they want him to start in Gwinnett. But he was definitely going to make it interesting and I guess he still has time to do so. But there’s no doubt that missing 10 days decreased his odds of starting in Atlanta and I’m not sure when he’ll actually be back at full strength.

bravo: About the announcers calling Blanco the heir apparent, I’m not sure where they were gathering their information. But if you watched the way he played last night and looked at his stats during the Venezuelan Winter Leauge, you’d certainly he’d be in position for this tag. Unfortunately, when he dons a Braves uniform, he’s not the same kind of player. He recognizes this and wondered last week if he puts too much pressure on himself when he’s not playing in or for his native country.

Andruw went deep today and is now hitting .280. Good for him.

Heyward is the most physically-gifted 19-year-old I’ve personally seen in Braves camp. I’m going to start asking some of the guys to compare him to Andruw at this same age.
Obviously Heyward shown that he can take advantage of mistakes made by big league pitchers. That’s not a knock against him. That’s simply what power hitters do.
But before anointing him as Atlanta’s savior, let’s allow him the opportunity to test himself against the advanced breaking balls and offspeed pitches that he didn’t see on a consistent basis last year at Rome.
The sky is seemingly the limit for this hulking physical specimen. But let’s not rush him to the moon before he learns how to deal with turbulence that he’s destined to encounter during this journey.

Blanco was pretty bad in the field yesterday. Like he usually is.

Article on Braves’ mid-season trade candidates:
http://www.braveslaunchpad.com/?p=2501

Andruw went deep??? Was the 70 year old Fernando Valenzuela trying to make another big league team and served him up a meatball? But seriously.. I would love to see Andruw make a comeback. I wish it was with the Braves, but whatever.
And as for Chipper moving to 1st. It would actually be worse for him and his legs than at 3rd.
And speaking of 3rd base. I highly doubt they’ll stick with Kotchman for all of those 3 years until Freeman comes up. I think with a hypothetical outfield of Heyward, Schaefer, and Franceour in a year or two, we’ll trade Kotchman and get a power hitter at 1st.

Those hypothetical trades are ridiculous. I don’t see one of those players contributing more to the Braves than anyone they already have. Look at your #1: Brian Giles. He puts up Garret Anderson numbers at a much higher price. And much like his brother, his power numbers plummeted after the steroid era. Coincidence?? Nick Swisher? Xavier Nady? The Yankees would never give up players mid season because they’re always in contention for their division. If anyone is slumping, the Braves have tons of depth at the moment, and if that doesn’t work look for a Tex-like deal made before the deadline but will involve someone they could actually resign (no Borass).

Maybe Brian Giles’ power numbers significantly dropped after he started playing in Petco park. Coincidence?? And they aren’t in any specific order. The Yankees have a logjam at their Corner-outfield/1B/DH type positions so they may be willing to trade one during the season. I noted that they will be in contention so it would be difficult to trade for one of them. Read the article. The Braves have holes at all 3 outfield positions and at 1B. If they made a deal at the deadline it’d probably be at one of those positions. Sure they have depth, but it’s pretty crappy depth. You really don’t think Adrian Gonzalez would contribute more than Casey Kotchman? Or Rick Ankiel wouldn’t contribute more than Josh Anderson, Jeff Francoeur, or Garret Anderson? You’re completely insane. Also, the Braves wouldn’t be looking to trade for someone they could re-sign. They’d be looking for a stop-gap until Freeman/Schafer/Heyward/Gorkys are MLB-ready or a rental. Good ******* thing you’re not Frank Wren.

Who would you look at acquiring at the trade deadline if you were Frank Wren and we’re in contention at the all-star break? This ought to be good.

Wow. Didn’t know I touched such a nerve..
So.. Where do I start.. You’re assuming that all of the outfielders and Kotchman are going to have a bad year. G Anderson has been as consistent as consistent can be throughout his career. Unless he has a gigantic downturn, he’ll do the same by hitting around .300 with 15 HRs and 75+ RBIs. Kotchman should produce around the same level but with probably less RBIs since he’ll most likely be hitting around the 7th spot. I don’t see why the Padres would get rid of their best offensive player in Gonzalez, who has a pretty reasonable contract at 9.5m through 2010 with an option for 2011. Rick Ankiel puts up the numbers that Frenchy is definitely capable of doing and he seems to be progressing nicely in spring training. J Anderson is a question mark obviously, and won’t hit for power but is the SB threat that we need. If Chipper is hurt, Prado is MORE than capable of assuming the role at 3rd. All the other players on the list are the ones that every other armchair GM predicted that we were gonna get but we passed. And you think the Sox will trade Jason Bay? Really???

I don’t play fantasy baseball, so I’ll let you know who I think the Braves might trade for at mid-season when mid-season comes around.

I guarantee you that if any of those players are having healthy, productive years and they’re available that Frank Wren will look at acquiring them. I don’t think the Red Sox will trade Jason Bay, and I don’t think Adrian Gonzalez will be traded. However, if for some reason they are available Frank Wren will certainly look at acquiring them. That was the pretext of the article. What we need more than anything is power at the outfield and 1B positions. Our defense is good, our rotation is good, our bullpen is good, our infield is good with Chipper OBP machine, McCann who can hit for power, Kelly Johnson who gets on base a lot and actually hits for power pretty well, and Escobar who hits nothing but line-drives. We need more overall power and the cheapest way to do that is through the non-premium positions (1B, LF, RF). That’s why they’re the most logical possibilities for an upgrade. If we want to upgrade the team at the deadline, that’s the ONLY way to do it and be effective. I’m just saying these are some people Frank Wren could look at if they’re available. I said it would take “a very special set of circumstances” to acquire Adrian Gonzalez. Read the article before you say anything else, please. As far as Ankiel goes, even if Francoeur is just is good, which he won’t be, Ankiel can play center, you can keep Francoeur in right. Plus I was at spring training this weekend, Francoeur sucks. Against Joe Blanton he swung at the first pitch and grounded into a double play, among other bad, bad things he did.

Haha. Well, at least he’s not striking out. I know what the article was about because I read it. It’s all speculation and that’s what I was addressing. But I guess I missed the part about the whole thing being based on Halladay and Oswalt ending up in the NL East. When that happens, you can see the Braves trading for Manny, Alex Rodriguez, or building a robot in the form of Babe Ruth.

Ya, a few months ago there was an article written about how the Mets may try to trade for Oswalt at the deadline and another one about how the Phillies may trade for Halladay about 2 weeks ago. How would the Braves go about improving their team to keep pace was the question I was trying to answer when I wrote the article. I concluded that a power-hitting outfielder or 1st baseman would be the best way to improve our team since that’s our biggest need and a quick fix, so I looked at some possible trade candidates based on who may become available due to circumstances. I acknowledge that some of these would post probably not happen. Just people to possibly take a look at. And they aren’t ridiculous, they would all make at least some sense.

PWH – I agree with you that we are deep enough to stay afloat in the division and in the wild card. With our current lineup we will probably not be able to match the Phils and Mets run for run. Our Pitching will keep us close and we need the run production to put us over the hump. The Phillies will score 8-9 runs per game.

However, your comments on Francoeur are completely unnecessary two weeks into spring training. He completely altered his approach and stance at the plate. I don’t know if you ever played baseball (I’m guessing you didn’t), but that is the equivalent of writing a paragraph with your left hand if you’re right handed. You have to learn all over again. He is getting his timing down. To say that he sucks is completely ignorant. Of course you are the guy who told me the Braves were justified in their treatment of Smoltz and that he turned his back on the team…. so it doesn’t surprise me that you would say something like that. Frenchy is talented enough and perfectly capable of hitting 35 home runs and driving in 115 runs. To suggest that Ankiel is a better player is pre-mature. A true Braves fan would notice that Jeff is working counts deeper and putting the ball in play. You think seeing him in person at spring training makes you some sort of expert? He hit into a double play so he sucks? I was at a game last week and he hit the ball hard every time up.

Another thing to consider is that the Tampa Bay Rays won the AL East (an offensive division) with young talent, solid starting pitching and a deep bullpen. There was not a single player that hit over 35 home runs. There’s no reason that Schafer couldn’t put up Longoria type numbers. There’s no reason Frenchy / McCann couldn’t pick up the offensive slack we will need.

To say that Frenchy “sucks” two weeks into the season is completely ludicris.

I am pulling for Francoeur, but he’s been nothing but terrible every year except 2007, and I don’t think he can be good. Francoeur looked good on Friday when he drew a walk, reached on an error, and advanced a runner. He worked a full count on the walk and a 3-1 on the error. The other two days he looked awful. In 3 at-bats Saturday he hit a grounder to 3rd on a 1-2 pitch twice. Exact same scenario. It wasn’t hit hard either. He also popped up to the 1st baseman on a 1-0 pitch that day. Sunday, he grounded into a double play off the pitcher, hit a sacrifice to center off the first pitch, and hit a line-drive to Left on a 2-0 pitch. He wasn’t seeing very many pitches and for the most part wasn’t hitting the ball hard. He was completely awful last year too, which doesn’t give me any confidence that he’ll be able to adjust. On-base percentage wins games and if Francoeur can’t draw a walk he’ll never be good. Hopefully this new approach will help him. I was a believer in him after Friday’s game but Saturday and Sunday’s games were awful. I know that 2 games aren’t enough to disqualify his chances for a better season, but man, he looked lost.

Quoth PWHjort, “On-base percentage wins games”. Egad, are we still having to deal with this Moneyball nonsense? Even Oakland, the progenitors of it, have distanced themselves from the theory because it hasn’t produced anything of value for them, i.e., a championship, or even a pennant (and thus, no new ballpark, so no new luxury boxes, so no new big-time free agents). After a decade of this, it’s time to admit that theories-in-a-vacuum are useless to reality. Or, to use one of the better zen truisms of baseball, “that’s why they play the games.”
What wins games is OUTSCORING THE OTHER TEAM. While OBP is an important factor in this, it’s like saying fuel causes a car to run. No, the COMBUSTION OF THE FUEL causes a car to run. In other words, eventually someone like a Chipper Jones becomes necessary to drive in all the beer-league-softball types of the world because most managers won’t allow their pitcher to remain in the game long enough to walk the bases loaded and then walk in run after run. Other important ingredients in winning games are DRIVING IN THE RUNNERS ON BASE, PITCHING, and DEFENSE (in other words, preventing your opponent from scoring more runs than you). You fault Francoeur for hitting a sac fly on the first pitch he saw in that particular plate appearance, but it was solid baseball. In your world, he was wrong, because a sac fly doesn’t increase his OBP, yet a run was driven in (somewhere in New England Bill James is chanting over his shrine to Craig Biggio while the top of his head explodes cartoonishly).
Since you’re clearly a numbers guy, try on these walkin’ shoes for a few miles:
The world champion fightin’ Phils had a middlin’ OBP of .332 on the season, lower than our beloved Braves OBP of .345, but they scored 27 more runs on the season and gave up 98 fewer runs. In any professional sport, the playoffs are like Thunderdome, but what a team does during the regular season can at least offer some predictor of success. The AL champion and AL East champion Tampa Bay Rays had a lower OBP (.340) than the AL wild card Bill James Red Sox (.358) and even scored substantially fewer runs (TB=774, BOS=845–nearly half a run less per game), BUT, they gave up 23 fewer runs on the season (TB=671, BOS=694), providing some predictor that they could overcome the BoSox in the playoffs, which they did.

Generic – I couldn’t agree with you more.

I’ll worry about OBP / quality at bats when it comes to Josh Anderson, Kelly Johnson, Omar Infante, Garrett Anderson, Prado – etc…

When it comes to Chipper, McCann, Frenchy, and Kotchman – The only thing I’m concerned with is RBI’s and coming through in the clutch. Avg with runners in scoring position. Etc…

Frenchy may bat .265 – .275 and I’m ok with that as long as he drives in 100 runs. I definitely believe his power numbers will greatly improve this year.

PW – Suggesting a sac. fly is somehow a negative thing is absurd! I guarantee you he was greeted by the whole team at the steps of the dugout with high fives and butt taps because that’s his job! It may not work for your fantasy baseball team – but this is reality!

BTW – Not much has been mentioned of Mat Diaz this spring. He is currently batting .313 and leading the team in rbi’s. This guy has shown consistency unlike any other the since he has been with the Braves. What more does a guy have to do to earn the right to play every day? Before the spring started, many of you had him off of your opening day rosters because Prado had a 1 good year last year. Diaz has been lights out. Very dependable and completely consistent. He has had 3 good years with the Braves and it has been lost on most fans.

Prado is batting .211 / 3 rbi’s with three more AB’s than Diaz

Diaz is very underrated and really deserves a starting job in my opinion, but it is nice to have Garret Anderson on the team because he can really help. Together they should do great.
http://darion.mlblogs.com/

I suspect Diaz will hit himself into or out of a platoon in left as the season unfolds. He is great insurance just in case GA cannot handle the wear and tear. Obviously if Diaz is hitting .340 against lefties, GA won’t be doing that. However, if GA is hitting .300 against righties, Chances are good Diaz won’t be doing that either. If Diaz settles in at .280, he won’t play much at all barring injury. Does that sound reasonable? The Braves have no intention of playing Prado in the outfield. That would fall to Infante if Diaz was to slump.
I really expect Diaz to rake like he always does when he sees the lefties. He can be a machine. Playing against righties seemed to get his swing in a funk last season. Bobby’s platoons are consistently better than the individual options when he does it, I’ll let him make the call, just this once.

Honestly, I think best case scenario for Diaz is a trade. He’s never going to start with Atlanta even though he always hits at or above .300. As much as you have to like what he’s done he’s not in Atlanta’s outfield future and he’s barely in our outfield present. Deal him, get something in return – anything – and give him the chance to play everyday somewhere else. Although to be honest I don’t know if he could cut it full time, and I think Bobby feels the same way.
The outfield will pan out this way – Anderson, Anderson, Frenchie, and by August Schaefer will take over for Anderson. Which one? Not sure yet. Heyward won’t be ready this year.

Diaz is a lefty hitting machine… but he’s not too shabby against righties either. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was a career .300 against righties. Or at least close to it.

I have a question for all the “Francoeur sucks” people, what type of numbers does he have to produce to not SUCK in your eyes?
Is .270 with 20-25 HRs and 100 RBI good enough?
Does he have to be Vladimir Guerrero to not suck?
Does he have to dominate the games offensively to not suck?
Let’s have some numbers, because “he sucks” is a pretty infantile argument. It makes me feel like you all graduated from Lassiter or something.
Remember that Saint Dale hit under .239 4 out of 13 seasons with the Braves. At the same age Francoeur is now, Dale had a career average of .263 (Frenchy .268) and a career Slugging Pct of .457, Frenchy .434. Dale had not knocked in 100 runs yet, Francoeur has done it twice already. That’s a wash guys, and Francoeur may never hit under .240 again.
I keep hearing that “how he does it” is a problem. Let’s go with THAT (or IF for you haters) he does it first, what do you say?
Hint, if you use the letters OBP in that order in your argument, you have no idea how baseball works. You need to get farther up the IQ chart than Buster Olney and Company. Remember, they need a “TAG” they can use to justify themselves on their 24 hours of “televised insight”. We can’t use that lame excuse. Baseball is way more complex than TV is.

Amen Rother!

I’m happy for Andruw. But he clearly didn’t have a future with us.

Me too. I hope he makes the Rangers, and beats the Yankees.

I like Rother’s Murph-Frenchy comparison. It gives me hope that Frenchy is still growing into the game. I know that one man doesn’t make an offense but I just have this gut feeling that if he has a repeat of ’08 our offense is in for a long season and will not be able to keep up with the Mets or Phillies, and we’ll be lucky to split with the Nats and Marlins

I have two centerfielders, these were their averages during the best 8 year stretches of their careers:

Player 1: .276, 101.4 runs, 33 HR, 96 RBI, .517 Slugging.

Player 2: .270, 100.3 runs, 36 HR, 106.3 RBI, .513 Slug.

Who would you rather have?

Player 2 was significantly better defensively.

Who would you rather have?

Player A .236 AVG .302 OBP .478 SLG 37 HR 101 RBI
Player B .268 AVG .312 OBP .434 SLG 22 HR 96 RBI

Player A is Dave Kingman. I think you know who player B is.

Yeah, saying that Frenchy sucks is a really odd thing to say for someone who likes the Braves so much. He’s the future leader of the team and has immense talent. All of his problems last year were mental, because I think he put too much pressure on himself. As long as he is putting the ball into play and not striking out I think he will have a great year.

I’m glad to see Joe’s Blog is the moron magnet that pulls most of those folks away from this Blog.

That article was hilarious. I wonder who won the case haha.

Well, all this “Frenchy sucks” talk is coming from the guy who listed GARY “THE JUICEMAN” SHEFFIELD as a possible mid-season trade target. I would take a comatose Jeff Franceour over that bum.

Frenchy walked and scored a run. Atta boy!

… and Lowe put up a goose egg in the 1st inning!

Had to make a quick out of town trip with wife, just getting caught back up on the actual blog entries.

Good to see the “village idiot” rightly taken to task by rother and others.

Just keep in mind that the same poster called for Jason Perry to be in Braves camp.

What a joke.

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