Goodbye Florida

Seven weeks have passed and Ken Griffey Jr. still hasn’t shown up.  If you run into any of his friends, ask them to tell Jr. that the Braves are heading home tonight and that they’ve decided to ignore his decision to play in Atlanta. 

Actually the Braves are heading home with reason to feel good about the fact that Griffey decided to play in Seattle.  We haven’t had the opportunity to see a lot of Garret Anderson.  But while watching him race into left-center field to make a catch yesterday in Lakeland, I was officially convinced that the Braves are better off with Jr. in Seattle.
 
The modern-day version of Jr. wouldn’t have gotten to that ball.  Nor can he display the kind of offensive consistency that Anderson has shown since he allowed his right calf to heal for more than three weeks.   When he’s recorded outs over the past three days, they’ve been loud ones.
 
Did I mention that we’ve been down here seven weeks?  I’m certainly not going to complain about having had the opportunity to spend the past 50 days watching baseball in the Florida sun.  But I echo the sentiments of Bobby Cox and all of the Braves players when I say that it’s time to come home.

Because I’m fatigued and anxious to return to Atlanta, this Spring Training simply feels like it’s been long.  But thanks to Jordan Schafer, Tommy Hanson, Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman, it will also prove to be one of the most memorable. 

Schafer and Hanson proved why many believe they could have a significant impact in Atlanta this year.  As for Heyward and Freeman, they simply exceeded any expectations you’d place on a pair of 19-year-old kids who were experiencing their first big league camp.

Tom Glavine had already notched 19 wins and compiled 65 career starts before Heyward was born.
  
While utilizing baseballmusings.com and baseball-reference.com to research these numbers, I found that Glavine actually tossed his fourth career shutout two days before Heyward entered this world. 

On that Aug. 7, 1989 night at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, Glavine surrendered four hits to a Dodgers lineup that included Willie Randolph, Eddie Murray and Mike Scioscia.

Now that we’re strolling down memory lane, I’m going to reminisce about some of the most humourous things I’ve heard and witnessed over the past seven weeks.

Jeff Francoeur’s catch:  Francoeur caught a 6-pound, 4-ounce largemouth bass in the pond behind the visitor’s clubhouse at Osceola County Stadium on Tuesday night.  Since then I’ve learned that the right fielder is certainly a novice fisherman, who simply found some luck after he grabbed one of the clubhouse attendant’s fishing pole and threw it into the water. 

Braves assistant clubhouse and team travel manager Chris Van Zant, who supplied the picture of Francoeur’s catch, has since told me that the right fielder initially had trouble casting his line further than five feet.

“Just like he always does, he stayed persistent and then ends up catching a fish that guys spend hours trying to catch,” Van Zant said. 

DOB’s furor
:  As I was walking toward my car in Bradenton on Feb. 28, I heard a guy across the street yelling and screaming in my direction.  I began to laugh when I realized it was the Atlanta-Journal Constitution’s Dave O’Brien, whose car had been locked in a lot at a car repair shop. 

This might have been one of those “you had to be there” moments.  But I’ll attempt to explain the humor by saying that when agitated, O’Brien can make Archie Bunker seem like a lovable teddy bear.

Tiger’s line:   For this final tidbit, I’ll simply pull these graphs from my March 13 story about Francoeur: 

After Francoeur opened the back nine at Isleworth Country Club with consecutive birdies on March 4, (Tiger) Woods asked, “Who are you?”  
 
Francoeur, quickly responded, “I just wanted to see how the world’s number one golfer reacts with his back up against the wall?”  
  
This prompted Woods to reply, “Yeah, well I was wondering how much time you plan to spend playing in Mississippi this year?”

And with that, I’ll close by saying the dramatic improvement Francoeur has shown over the past seven weeks has provided the most signific reason for the Braves to be encouraged heading into the 2009 season. 

The Florida sun has been fun.  But it’s definitely time to bring this show home.     

francoeur.jpg

33 Comments

You know you’re living the good life when you can “burn” Tiger Woods and he just take shots right back at you. That’s great! Kudos to Francoeur for his adjustments! I look forward to seeing him in RF for the coming future. My only disappointment is that he’s currently standing in front of Jason Heyward, but that’s a good problem to have.

Thank you for not only NOT complaining about doing something that most of us would kill to do each year (unlike your buddy at the AJC in an unending manner) – but also the photo of Jeff. It’s odd, I’ve never noticed the pond behind Osceola Cty Stadium and I’ve been going to at least one game per ST there since before it was remodeled… As a card carrying member of BassMasters – WOW…impressive catch!!!! Not that I’d expect anything less from Frenchy!

btw – the team and reporters aren’t the only ones ready for things to move North — tonight The Boys are Back in Town…albeit for only a couple of nights…. but I am definitely ready for baseball this weekend at the TED!

The guys are playing like they want to get out of here. The first time through the Braves lineup, Chipper was the only one not to swing at the first pitch.

See Mark, see what all of that badmouthing of Sammons did? Now he thinks he’s Mike Piazza, hitting HRs, batting .478 and knocking in runs. That’s why I told you I’d hold the Lowe’s not a Ace comment back until next week, when it counts.

You’re right Rother and you might also be correct about your belief that Lowe’s not an ace. But how many true aces are there in the game? To that you might argue, but the Braves paid him like one. And in response, I’d come back with, they’re still going to get more value out of him than they would’ve out of A.J. Burnett.

How was Soriano’s velocity?

Yeah – as someone who lives in Toronto I was relieved that the Braves didn’t get Burnett. I mean, he’s only won more than 12 games once. THAT doesn’t sound like an ace to me. Lowe won’t be the most dominant pitcher in the game, but he also probably won’t spend the entire season on and off the DL like Burnett will.

Big Cody Johnson was just given an at-bat. While telling you that he didn’t homer, I figure you can guess what he did…Earlier this spring, third base coach Brian Snitker wondered, “with Cody, Heyward and Freeman, how did they have enough baseballs for batting practice in Rome last year?”

I happen to think Lowe is surely a number one. Who cares about “Ace” status. He will keep us in every game against whoever the other team runs out there. We can debate next season about who’s the “Braves'” Ace after Lowe wins 17-20 games this season and Tommy Hanson emerges as THE dominant young pitcher in baseball.

…and whatever is going on with Tim Hudson…

unless we go with the Hudson, Hanson, Lowe, Vasquez, Jurrjens, Kawakami, Glavine 7man rotation. One for every day of the week, baby!

In Rome, they just collected the balls that were inside the cage after Cody swung and missed, and put them back in the bucket.
He is an enigma for sure. I can only assume he collected Russell Branyan and Adam Dunn baseball cards as a kid.
Scary (and telling) Gregor Blanco stat of the day, and why he won’t be in Atlanta barring injuries, Cody attempted 11 steals after reaching first base 103 times. That’s 1 in 9.4 times on first. Blanco attempted 18 steals in 163 times on first base in ATL, that’s only 1 in 9.1 times on first. That is embarrassing.
NUFF SAID….

Rother, showing his adept baserunning skills, Blanco got picked off second base in today’s seventh inning…like you said, NUFF SAID…O’Flaherty looked good in the seventh innning…i’m sticking with that same bullpen mix I had the other day….Gonzalez, Soriano, Moylan, Boyer, Campillo, Carlyle, Bennett, O’Flaherty….Once Glavine joins the rotation on April 18, they’ll go back to carrying seven relievers.

Frank Wren once said that when Blanco was coming up (up until 2007) he was the joke of the organization…always throwing to the wrong base, getting picked off, missing signs, etc. The running joke was “What did he do today?”

Now Blanco got picked off of first base…..NUFF SAID AND CERTAINLY NUFF SEEN.

Alright, Josh Anderson still has a better chance of starting in CF than Blanco!

Boyer had a great spring pitching 10.1 innings and only gave up one run and struck out 8. Same for Kawakami as he pitched 20.2 innings and only gave up 5 runs (4 earned).

The fact that Blanco got in 127 games, and 500 plate appearances tells us all we need to know about the quality of the product the Braves had to put on the field last season. They should move him while other GMs still think they can get the guy they saw in the WBC. Surely somebody has a bat boy or a cute ball girl that they can trade the Braves for him. Heck, maybe Mark needs an assistant, we can one up the Chuck Tanner for Manny Sanguillen trade by getting Mark an assistant for Blanco (even up of course, we won’t pick up his salary or anything)

So Mark – If Blanco gets picked off of third base… and then strikes out… would that mean he “ran for the cycle”?

What are Gregor’s Major League qualities…..hmmmm….I’m drawing a “Blanco”…..

The Pirates had an embarrassing loss today against Manatee C.C.
Even though it was their SS, there is no reason for a team full of pros who make money to lose to a college team.

Kind of like the Dominican Republic losing to the Netherlands? They should just be glad they don’t get the chance to lose TWICE!!!!

It’s a little different considering the DR had all their good players with the exception of A-Rod and Pujols. The Pirates had like 3 players with experience.

The Spring Training that wouldn’t end still hasn’t ended for some of us. Brian Jordan, DOB and I are all delayed here in the Orlando airport. Please hold your “you should have driven” comments. Right now, I’m feeling as irritable as DOB.

Anyhow, it’s been interesting to see Casey Kotchman batting second the past two days. Cox has a plethora of lineup options and I’m starting to get the sense that he might put Escobar and Kotchman in the top two spots.

Rother, I like the idea of having an assistant….But, I’m going to kindly ask that you provide me with a better list of candidates.

Now you’re going to have about three trillion applicants from the guys who troll this place. Like me.

BTW, the chipper signing was brilliant. That will keep me a fan. The only way you can keep fans being fans is if you transition them with players they like while you build a new team. If you don’t keep Chipper around, people who were kids when the Braves were winning big won’t stay fans because, well, who the hell is Brian McCann? You know.

Anyway, I’ve been lurking for months, reading every article, just now decided to post. The next time you see one of the guys who matter, I’d love it if you mentioned how many fans years(and next 4 years) have been made by the decision to keep Chipper around.Not that you will. But still. Very classy on the part of the Braves to follow through and commit like that. I’m already planning on getting a bunch of tickets for his farewell tour.

I like the Kotchman batting 2nd idea. He’s got great bat control and a short swing so he can execute hit and runs well. Plus, I have a feeling he’s going to draw more walks and hit more doubles this year, things you want from your #2 hitter.

Escobar
Kotchman
Chipper
McCann
Francoeur
KJ
Garret/Diaz
Schafer

Is a pretty good line-up, I think

Mark, I didn’t list any candidates for the assistant position, but I sort of was thinking you would lean more to the WKRP type, and less to the Michael J. Fox type, given the work needed and all.

I LOVE moving KJ down to the bottom of the order! I think Kotchman will hit 20 + homers this year and he needs to move down in the order where people will be on base… we will be lacking power this year and we will need all of the power guys in the middle to bottom!I HATE Escobar leading off. I understand the hesitation of putting a rookie (Schaefer) in the lead off spot. He will have a lot loss pressure at the bottom of the lineup… but I think he would be better leading off than Yunel. What I liked about Anderson was his blazing speed. He was the prototypical lead off man… Schaefer is fast and will steal bases.

Here’s my lineup

Schafer
Garret Anderson (puts it in play and rarely k’s)
Chipper (thrives in the #3 spot)
Frenchy (rbi man with most power potential. He’s back!)
B Mac (prototypical #5 hitter)
Escobar (clutch hitter)
Kotchman (will have a breakout year with 20+ homers)
KJ
Pitcher

With that lineup we will mostly have lefty-righty-lefty-righty-lefty from Chipper to Kotchman.
What do you guys think?

I LOVE moving KJ down to the bottom of the order! Also, I think Kotchman will hit 20 + homers this year and he needs to move down in the order where people will be on base… we will be lacking power this year and we will need all of the power guys in the middle to bottom!I HATE Escobar leading off. I understand the hesitation of putting a rookie (Schaefer) in the lead off spot. He will have a lot loss pressure at the bottom of the lineup… but I think he would be better leading off than Yunel. What I liked about Anderson was his blazing speed. He was the prototypical lead off man… Schaefer is fast and will steal bases.

Here’s my lineup

Schafer
Garret Anderson (puts it in play and rarely k’s)
Chipper (thrives in the #3 spot)
Frenchy (rbi man with most power potential. He’s back!)
B Mac (prototypical #5 hitter)
Escobar (clutch hitter)
Kotchman (will have a breakout year with 20+ homers)
KJ
Pitcher

With that lineup we will mostly have lefty-righty-lefty-righty-lefty from Chipper to Kotchman.
What do you guys think?

Sorry about the double post!

I like Escobar leading off because of his LD% and because he’s double-play prone. I also like Schafer leading off, though. I don’t really care which one. Schafer would probably steal more bases, but he’s only got a career 64 SB%, so he’s really just wasting his time when he steals bases (taken from Mac at Braves Journal). I say let Schafer lead off against righties and Escobar lead off against lefties. Line-up looks like this:
VS LHP
Escobar
Kotchman
Chipper
McCann
Francoeur
Kelly Johnson
Matt Diaz
Schafer

VS RHP
Schafer
Kotchman
Chipper
McCann
Francoeur
Kelly Johnson
Garret Anderson
Escobar

I like PW’s idea with Esco and Schafer, but I kind of like having Frenchy in the 4th spot for the RBIs. BMac should probably be in the 5th spot. You could also switch Anderson/Diaz and Kelly around from time to time. Escobar should either hit first or last.
Predictions up.
http://darion.mlblogs.com/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 43,855 other followers

%d bloggers like this: