Saying hello to old news

I would have started writing this blog sooner if I hadn’t waited 20 minutes for Mike Hampton, only to have the Astros announce that their clubhouse was closed.

Hey when you spent three years waiting for a guy to pitch, I guess you can wait 20 minutes for him to greet you with, “What do you want from me?  I’m old news.”

Speaking of old news, today the Braves released right-handed pitcher Anthony Lerew, who last week had accepted an assignment to Triple-A Gwinnett.  They also re-assigned Emiliano Fruto, Juan Perez and Rafael Cruz to Minor League camp.

Today’s news actually centers around Rafael Soriano, who is scheduled to make his Grapefruit League season debut  against the Astros.  The right-handed reliever reported to camp with an upper respiratory infection and fell behind schedule.  But all indications are that his right elbow is sound and in about an hour we’ll get a chance to make our own evaluations. 

Soriano missed most of last year with elbow soreness that was relieved in August during a surgical procedure that transposed the ulnar nerve of his elbow.  I’ve never transposed and I’m certainly not sure if I even have an ulnar nerve in my elbows.

So I’ll take Soriano’s word that he was dealing with tremendous pain while spending most of the 2008 season on the disabled list.  As he prepares to make $6.1 million in the final year of his contract this year, I’ll also guarantee that we’ll be seeing a lot more of the stone-faced reliever this year.

Derek Lowe will make his third appearance of the GL season today.  Soriano, Blaine Boyer, Boone Logan and Eric O’Flaherty are scheduled to work in relief.

Anderson update:  While the Braves aren’t too concerned about Chipper Jones’ oblique, they are currently a little bit worried about Garret Anderson’s strained right calf.   Bobby Cox said this morning that Anderson might miss anywhere from two weeks to a month.  But at the same time, he indicated that remains hopeful that the veteran outfielder will be in the Opening Day lineup.

Today’s Lineup:
Josh Anderson CF
Matt Diaz LF
Kelly Johnson 2B
Casey Kotchman 1B
Jeff Francoeur RF
Omar Infante SS
Martin Prado 2B
David Ross C
Derek Lowe P 


I wonder how our old buddy Mike is doing. Probably icing his whole body after a hard day of vacuuming his house. I hope he didn’t pull a hamstring doing that. That would be horrible!


Francoeur drew a walk from down 0-2. Nice at-bat!

GA doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy (MANNY) that would pro rate his season for a perceived pro rated salary. Let’s hope he gets out there so he can establish himself with the Atlanta fan base before he becomes a target.
SORE-E-ARM-O should have a good season, and a great September in pinstripes.

hey is there a radio station that is broadcasting this game?

The Astros’ radio network is broadcasting the game. If you have MLB TV you can listen to it.

Berkman made an error? What a bum, they should trade him. HEY, Kotchman plays good defense, lets just swap the two, we’re nice people, always looking out for the Astros, and the fellow man…..

Derek Lowe worked an 18-pitch (12 strikes) perfect first inning…Infante drilled a two-run triple after Francoeur battled back to draw his walk…Casey Kotchman drove in Atlanta’s first run with an RBI single that scored Kelly Johnson, who raced to second after Berkman couldn’t handle his hot two-out grounder.

Ha. Rother. I wish. Although Berkman makes way too much money.

If that guy fell in the Braves lap, they’d change the budget in 10 seconds.

Lowe proved more economical during an eight-pitch, perfect second inning.

Ya no joke. I’m pretty sure Chipper Jones would forfeit 1/2 of his salary to have Berkman hitting behind him.

Bobby Cox has always loved Berkman.

What positions can Berkman play? I know 1st base, but didn’t he play in the outfield or at 3rd base at one point?

Outfield for sure, for years when Bagwell was at first.

any chance we could score Bagwell?

He’s a Houston kid, the Rice, then the Astros. Living the dream.

Berkman, in his career, has played every outfield position, 1B, and DH. He’s gotten the lion’s share of his playing time at 1B and LF.

I bet he could play 3rd as well.

Diaz doubled to begin the third inning and then scored with an aggressive slide on a Kelly Johnson RBI single. Before I write this next sentence, I’ll admit I drank the Garret Anderson Kool-Aid. Now that I’ve provided that disclaimer, I will say that I don’t think the Braves will dramatically if Anderson isn’t ready at the start of the season. The more you watch Diaz, the more you like him and I’m pretty sure he won’t be trying to yank everything like he did at the beginning of the 2008 season.

He probably has lost all the Roid weight by now and would be back to the player the Red Sox dumped as not having enough power for the position he played. That mid 90’s Astro team with Caminitti, Bagwell, Gonzalez, Biggio, etc. was a pharmacists dream come true.

I wonder if the Braves would try to negotiate with the Astros for him in the near future. When is his contract up and how much does he make?

Diaz being Diaz works for me every time its tried. Add GA when he’s healthy against the righties, and THAT combined, is an All Star player in left.

He makes 14.5 million in 2009 and 2010 plus a 15 million dollar club option for 2011 with a 2 million dollar buyout. Bookmark this:

And there’s no need in trying to acquire Lance Berkman with Freddie Freeman the future at 1st.

if Diaz does start the season strong, any chance they’d try to deal Anderson by the deadline? I know it seems nuts, but with DIaz playing well and the youngsters waiting in the wings anyway… or does his veteran leadership come into play too much?

We couldn’t get Berkman if we promised to take Hampton back, and that they could have Chipper Jones, Tommy Hanson, Jason Heyward, and the Oilers back as well. Besides, Carlos Lee doesn’t think Hanson has anything anyway.

Well it could be an option if Chipper and Prado go down. I’m sure he could play 3rd.

Lowe threw 16 pitches during a perfect third inning. He’s recorded five groundouts and four strikeouts.

Only 2 plate appearances for Kotchman? Does he have a golf date with Tiger?

Gotta love that heavy sinker for games at Philly later in the hot summer.

They must have taken Kotchman out because he’s on the block for a trade for Berkman.

Hopefully Kotch isnt injured. That would be 4 before the season even started.

“They must have taken Kotchman out because he’s on the block for a trade for Berkman.”

Haha that would be great.

Gotta love our pitching lately. Seemingly came out of nowhere.

Kotchman is jogging toward the clubhouse without any trainers around. So it appears that he’s healthy. Soriano is getting loose. Looks like he’ll pitch the fifth inning.

Standard procedure to take Kotchman out after 2 at-bats. Bobby does it every time. Norton needs some AB’s too!

I bet we can retrieve 1B Randall Simon on the cheap. He looked pretty good for Curacao, errr, I mean the Netherlands, the other day.

Lowe just ended his perfect four-inning performance by getting Berkman to look at a called third strike. (Unofficial word from Frank Wren is that he’s no longer interested in Berkman)…Lowe threw 41 of his 57 pitches for strikes, recorded six strikeouts and six groundouts. I’ll have to see how Diaz, Francoeur and Josh Anderson passed the time in the outfield during these first four innings.

Yeah Simon would be a “hit” with the sausages in Milwaukee being back in the National League.

Too bad Lowe’s not a legitimate ace… it would have been nice to have AJ Burnett winning games for us from the DL.

I don’t think you can get much better than Lowe’s outing. Sharp. 12-up 12-down. 6 strikeouts, 6 ground balls? Great outing. Soriano’s getting ready to pitch the 5th. Kelly Johnson just got another hit. He’s going to be huge this year.

I like Anderson, Escobar and Johnson all as potential top of the lineup guys. We might not have the power we were hoping for this season, but with our pitching and our lineup we could be in a position to win some serious games playing smallball.

It is a pity we don’t have an ace. Having given up 11 runs in the last 6 1/2 games, you can see it is going to be a problem.

It’s always good when your outfielders don’t have to do anything for 4 innings because the other team can’t get the ball out of the infield.


With Lowe’s sinker, we could put Frank Thomas, Cecil Fielder, and Mo Vaughn in the outfield since there won’t be any fly balls to track down. Sound like a plan???

wait… do you mean he got hit by the pitch?
just kidding.

It was off Valverde, Houston’s closer, p.s.

Francoeur’s hit was a sharp single to right…heading to the clubhouse to talk to Lowe.

Heck let’s bring back Bonds, Sosa, and McGwire to play in the outfield. The Juice Trio lol.

Soriano lost the no-no. solid inning though.

Does anyone know what Lowe’s pitch count was for his 4 innings?

wisbrave, 57 pitches, 41 strikes.


Thanks, appreciate it.

Boone Logan on to pitch. Soriano gave up a ground ball single but nothing else. Strikeout, groundout, flyout for Soriano in the 5th.

I just hope we keep the shutout.

Dang, it seems like the Braves are always suspect to the jynx. Darion mentioned the shutout and away it went. No one mention anything else haha.

Summing up Lowe’s thoughts, “That’s about as good as I can do as far as command and being able to throw my pitches for strikes.”…As for Soriano, he was encouraged by today’s outing and said in reference to his elbow, “I wouldn’t say I’m 100 percent, but I’d say I’m very close.”

Damn. I blame it on Logan. Not my fault.

Haha yeah. I was just messing with you Darion. We look really good today though. I will take 1 run on 3 hits and one walk any day.

Yea I know but the shutout would have definitely been great. I won’t say what else would be great so I don’t jinx us.

What’s up with Reid Gorecki? I have never heard of his name until now. Where will he probably start the season and how old is he?

Is that Chad Paronto in an Astros uni? Probably a down payment for Berkman, yes?

When can we expect Hicks and Conrad to get their lovely parting gifts (greyhound tickets to Mississippi)?

Gorecki was once considered a top prospect in St. Louis’ system. From what I hear, injuries slowed his rise to the Majors and the Braves utilized him for a combined 67 games at Mississippi and Richmond last year. I’ve got to do some more research to provide you more specific info.

He has certainly caught Cox’s eyes and I wouldn’t be surprised if he earns a promotion to Atlanta at some point this year.

Mark, can you answer my Jason Perry question?

I wouldn’t mind having him on the roster. He seems pretty good. Power, Speed, Average, Good Defense. He has my support.

PW, I promise I will answer your question later tonight when I verify my info. I know the Braves offered him a Minor League contract without an invitation to Spring Training. Believing he could at least get an invite, he waited for a call from another team and never received one. I believe he’s currently teaching in the Atlanta area. But I will have to verify this.

Re: Gorecki. He kind of came out of nowhere it seems, but it looks like we are already blessed with a logjam of OF’s having decent Springs. However, if he continues to prove that he has that rare combination of speed and power in the OF then I could see him leap-frogging Blanco and maybe even B-Jones. His chances are also impoved if G-Anderson and Schafer aren’t 100% by April.

Thanks, Mark. It blows my mind that he doesn’t have an invite to spring training though. This is a guy who ALWAYS put up above-average minor league numbers. He had a season in the PCL of 888 OPS. He’s not a bad player. It just goes to show everything has to break for you to make it as a major league player.

PWHjort – You seemed awfully enthusiastic about Frenchy’s ab’s today… a walk and an opposite field hit… does he still suck in your mind?

Bravo. Shut up. I’ve said all along that I’m pulling for him. Quit trying to pick a fight. Grow up.

PW – don’t confuse me with the real Mark. I’m just a fan with an opinion.

emarc, I was referring to Mark’s willingness to answer my Jason Perry question.

After the game, Bobby said, “Francoeur is really starting to look comfortable out there.” Personally, I’ve noticed that Jeff is hitting the ball the opposite way with more frequency and power. It’s far too early to look at his .150 batting average and consider it to mean anything. It’s more important at this stage to look at the fact that he still hasn’t struck out in 26 at-bats (includes WBC exhibition games).

easy tiger… I just found in interesting that all of the sudden you were behind Francoeur like the rest of us. Just yesterday you referred to him as “one of the 3 holes in our outfield”, he “will not be as good as Rick Ankiel” and he flat out “sucks”. You also called out his low OBP. Several of us disagreed with your unfair criticism and responded. ow all of the sudden today you are acting like you’re a Frenchy fan – it just doesn’t add up.

So I can’t be happy if he has a good day even if he still hasn’t proved to me he doesn’t suck?

Apparently not.
Jermaine Dye hit .172 in 2003, does he suck?
Carlos Quentin hit .214 in 2007, does he suck?
Big Papi hit .234 in 2001, does he suck?
Ryan Howard has struck out 579 times the last 3 years, 101 more than his hit total over the same period. He surely must suck?
If not, why don’t they? BECAUSE THEY HAD A BAD YEAR!!!!IT HAPPENS TO THE GREAT ONES, TOO. How big of a lightning rod is Francoeur to you that he can’t even work on his game in Spring Training? If not now, then when? Come on people, you act like he used to date your daughters. And we’re still waiting on the statistical definition of not sucking if your name is Francoeur.

He hasn’t struck out once in 26 at bats? That’s awesome.

if Jeff can get his strikeouts down and his walks up he’ll do great this year.

Yeah the hits will come when pitchers realize that they he won’t swing at any junk they throw at him.

Hey Bowman.. how many times do you think you’ll use the headline “Sweet and Lowe” this year?

Like I’ve said all along, I am pulling for Jeff Francoeur. I hope he has the best season ever by any major league player of all time. And I hope he repeats it, for the Braves, for 25 more years. I hope he becomes the most feared hitter in baseball, leads the Braves to 10 world championships, and gets elected to the hall of fame first ballot as a no-doubter. He has put up very alarming numbers for the past three years, especially last year. I hope he puts it together and starts realizing his potential. Until he does produce, though, you can’t blame me for being skeptical. Honestly, he put up such miserable numbers in 2008 most clubs would have non-tendered him. I sincerely hope the Braves do not regret the decision to keep him on their club. I think he is capable of a come-back too. He looked awesome Friday when I saw him. I didn’t see him today, but he had some GREAT at-bats. Saturday and Sunday, however, were very disappointing. Hopefully he’ll put it all together in time for the season and be the true impact player that he can be.

Viva: If Lowe continues to pitch like he did yesterday, I’d have to say our headline writers will be tempted to use that headline again. I think many of us have argued A.J. Burnett is the guy you want on the mound for “one big game” and Lowe is the guy you want in your rotation “over the course of an entire season”. But yesterday was one of those days when Lowe proved there will be days when Lowe will be just as dominant as Burnett and some of the game’s other top power pitchers.

I think that Dominican Republic vs. Netherlands game last night was on eof the best I’ve ever seen. Completely unbelievable and every bit as captivating as the USA vs. Soviet Union hockey game in 1980 (aside from the home team part). WOW.

Darion – What’s your e-mail? I have some questions about managing the blog.

Nevermind… I got it. I’m shooting you an e-mail.

I understand that pitchers are ahead of the hitters at this stage, but the Braves have given up only 28 earned runs in the first 10 games (not including exhibitions). That’s a team ERA under 3.00, even with Ridgeway on the team. That’s quite impressive.

The pitchers usually throw a lot of fastballs early in spring training which takes away the guess element of it all and causes run totals for the first week to be really high. It’s even more impressive that our team ERA is under 3 considering this phenomenon.

Schafer is back in today’s lineup. Both Wren and Cox both said the young outfielder has plenty of time to make the CF battle interesting…Jo-Jo is on the hill today and I’ll have a new entry done by the time Kyle Kendrick throws his first pitch to Yunel Escobar at 1:15 p.m. ET.

I hope we can stay impressive today against the Phillies. Then I will have a lot more faith in our team heading into the season.

Yeah hopefully so. Even if we don’t win things are still being shown. Our pitching is getting outs, Francouer is hitting the ball hard, the other way, and the kids can play.

Just wondering: What do you guys think of the 162 games? Is it to many in your opinion? Or not enough? Or just right?

Ah that’s fine. If anything, I would like to see more.

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