Waiting on updates from McCann and Glavine

Regardless of how Jair Jurrjens fares against Albert Pujols and the Cardinals, this should be an interesting day for the Braves.  We should learn more about Brian McCann’s condition and Tom Glavine may provide some information about his future.

McCann was scheduled to visit Dr. Alan Kozarsky this morning to gain more clarity about why he’s been experiencing blurred vision in his left eye since the season started.  Hopefully, the remedy will prove to be as simple as once again undergoing Lasik surgery.

It’s understandable that his vision could have changed since he initially underwent this procedure at the age of 23 at the end of the 2007 season.  But while admitting I can’t spell ophthamology without Google’s assistance, I still have to wonder what has caused the dry sensation he’s complained about.

While McCann is in the early stages of a career that could one day be preceded by the words “Hall of Fame”, Glavine is simply hoping for the opportunity to enhance the numbers that will be linked to him when he’s immortalized in Cooperstown. 

Tomorrow will mark the two-week mark since Glavine asked for two more weeks to evaluate the status of of his troublesome left shoulder.  If he hasn’t realized some improvement this week, he’s not interested in waiting around another couple of weeks before resuming  preparations.  This would essentially take him back to the point he was when he arrived at Spring Training in early March and set up the likeliehood that he wouldn’t be ready to make his first start until some time in June.  

Thus within the next two days, we can expect to  hear him say that he’s going to begin another Minor League rehab within the next week or that he’s ready to put an end to his storied career that has included 305 wins. 

Even before Glavine found some success during Spring Training, there was reason to believe there should be fewer concerns about him than Kenshin Kawakami.  This was based solely on the fact that he’s spent the past 20-plus years learning exactly what it takes to retire Major League hitters.

The 7.06 ERA that Kawakami has notched in four starts isn’t nearly as concerning as the fact that he’s allowed at least one homer during each of his outings.  This development hasn’t exactly been surprising.  During the early days of camp, it was apparent that he has a tendency to live up in the zone with far too many pitches. 

That’s a recipe for disaster while facing hitters that physically stronger than the ones that served as the opposition during his successful days in Japan.

With this being said, Kawakami has the potential to be a successful fourth or fifth starter in the Majors.  The first homer he surrendered to Jay Bruce on Sunday came courtesy of a mistake he made in a situation when he should have issued a walk.  The opposite-field shot snuck inside the left field foul pole. 

From there it seemed like Kawakami allowed his emotions to get the best of him.  He could have easily escaped the fifth inning unscathed.  But as the adversity built with an intereference call on a potential double-play grounder and an infield single, he began to throw more high strikes, much to the delight of Joey Votto and Bruce, who has now hit .609 with four homers in six career games against the Braves.

Still regardless of what occurs with Glavine or Kawakami during the next few weeks and months, the Braves rotation is shaping up nicely for the final months of the season.  

While regaining his aggressive approach during his past two outings, Jurrjens has enhanced the strength of a rotation that has been solidly anchored by Derek Lowe and Javier Vazquez.  And of course, it won’t be long before we start to see Bobby Cox sending Tommy Hanson to the mound every five days.

Through his first four starts for Triple-A Gwinnett, Hanson is 0-3 with a 2.18 ERA.   He has allowed one earned run or fewer in three of those outings and opponents are hitting just .205 against him. 

It was encouraging to see Hanson complete six innings with 95 pitches against Charlotte on Friday night.  During his two previous outings, he had reached the 95-pitch mark before completing five innings and was removed to preserve the arm strength that could prove to be so benefiical in Atlanta during the season’s final months.

Kelly’s inconsistencies:  During the first eight games of the season, Kelly Johnson hit .333 with a .412 on-base percentage.  But in the past 10 games, the current leadoff hitter has batted .111 with a .220 on-base percentage. 

This better explains why the Braves have scored two runs or fewer in six of their past 10 games.  It hasn’t helped that Chipper Jones missed three of those games or that McCann’s bat has essentially been absent since the end of the season’s four game. 

But Johnson’s inability to serve as a catalyst in the leadoff spot during the past 10 games, has certainly played a factor. 

With McCann absent,  Johnson and Yunel Escobar have to find a way to consistently provide Jones with run-producing opportunities.  Casey  Kotchman has spent the past three games in the cleanup spot and he’s still on pace to go homerless this year.

During the just-completed nine-game road trip, the Braves received a .135 (5-for-37) batting average, .220 on-base percentage and .162 slugging percentage from the batters hitting in the leadoff spot.  Those players batting in the ninth spot of the order hit .167 with a .333 OBP and .208 SLG.  

43 Comments

I still get a kick out of the .300 AVG with 20 HR projections for Kotchman, saying last year was an off year. Last year was his career high in HRs.
15 would be a big number for him in Atlanta, and a .300 average would again be a first. He will also see more lefthanded pitching in Atlanta than he ever did playing in Anaheim.
He is a solid player that certainly hasn’t been the problem with the Braves scoring runs, but he hasn’t given any indications those rosy power hitting predictions are anything more than wishful thinking. Let’s be glad he rakes a bunch of doubles and plays very solid defense, ala Mark Grace. There really isn’t anyone behind him in the organization for the foreseeable future so let’s get behind the one we’ve got.

Agreed Rother. Kotchman is a perfect number 2 or number 7 hitter. He actually ranks third in the majors in least amount of strikeouts per AB’s. He simply puts the ball in play or walks every time. He is badly misplaced as a clean up hitter…
… but not nearly as misplaced as Kelly Johnson as a lead off hitter. I have been screaming from my roof top for two years now that Kelly Johnson has no place in major league baseball as a lead off hitter.

The part that makes it hard for me with Kelly is I look at 2nd base, and I see better options (Prado, offensively and defensively), and the I look at Left Field, and I just don’t see the Braves going there with him. When GA went down, it would have been interesting to see a line up with a Kelly-Diaz platoon in left and Prado and his perpetual .300 average at 2nd. Kelly was a pretty smooth outfielder when he used to roam out there, and he has been a marginal almost hack at 2nd base since he’s been there. Seems like a better use of the tools on hand.

If Prado played on an everyday basis, there would probably be some complaints about his defense. But with that being said, I can’t see how the complaints would be any greater than the one’s raised about Kelly’s defense.

Derek Lowe is going through his long toss routine right now. Roger is hitting him fly balls from right field. Derek is in deep left throwing balls from the edge of the pitch-count scoreboard to Eddie Perez, who is standing near the middle of the out-of-town board in right. Pretty impressive arm strength.

I don’t care for KJ in the leadoff spot either. I like him in the seven hole. I don’t like Escobar in the leadoff spot either, but as has been mentioned here before, that might cut down on all these double plays he hits into. Until Schafer stops striking out so much, we don’t really have any options for the lead off position. It’s all good. We are struggling right now, but have managed to stay within 2 games of first place. Nobody else has it figured out yet either. We have a lot potential for improvement. Can the other teams claim that??? That is a rhetorical question by the way.

Visions of Rob Dibble getting mad and chucking the ball all the way into the upper deck in center field from the pitchers mound. That guy had as big an arm as I’ve ever seen. Of course Dibble could only guarantee it made the deck, and Lowe can actually hit Eddie Perez’s glove, but that’s just showing off after all……

Glavine said that he’ll talk to us after BP. That leads me to believe he hasn’t yet decided to call it quits. Still haven’t seen McCann.

I hope that’s the case on Glavine (that he hasn’t decided to call it quits) I’ve been refreshing like a mad woman over here. Fingers crossed he has good news to report…

I sure hope Glavine makes a come back, at least as a spot starter or long relief.

Yeah, Glavine basically said that he’s going to try to throw off the mound again within the next week with the hope that he could rejoin the rotation during the second half of May….But at the same time, he said he’s still cautiously optimistic. His shoulder is still bothering him. It comes down to how much it bothers him when it comes time to increase his effort level when he begins throwing on a downward plane again.

McCann is expected to arrive around game time. The doctor fitted him with a number of different contact lens today and then told him to go home and rest his eyes before coming to the ballpark. We should know more after the game.

Thanks for the update I’ve been wondering how he was doing. Will he retire if he can’t start or will he work in the bullpen if that is all his shoulder will allow?

Did you all just see that Jair just struck out the monster!!!!

Mark, do you think that we will be seeing anyone make the trip from Gwinnett soon?

That was the first time Pujols had struck out against the Braves in a span of 27 at-bats. He had struck out just three times in his previous 43 at-bats against them and two of those came in the span of his first three at-bats during an Aug. 26, 2007 game. Who was the Braves starter who recorded those two strikeouts?

I believe that was JoJo wasnt it

It was Reyes.

Yes, it was.

Smoltz?

About the dryness that McCain is feeling, I heard a story on NPR about a year ago that talked about the lasik eye surgery. There was a lot of question on the program about whether or not it should be considered safe because about 5% of the people who had it experienced debilitating dryness in the eye. I hope this not a sign that this side effect is happening with McCain, though I would think that if it was going to be a side effect because of the surgery, then it would have happened a lot earlier. Maybe the surgery made him more prone to dryness caused by allergies?

Pujols has struck out just once in 20 career plate appearances vs. Smoltz.

I would have never guessed Reyes.

Dear Atlanta Braves,

I appreciate so much the defensive effort behind me. However, If it’s not too much to ask, do you think you could provide me a little bit of run support?

Respectfully,
-Jair Jurjjens

The Braves have scored 1 run while Jurrjens has pitched in the past 3 games. Against the Pirates the 1 run in the game was walked in and then against the Nationals, we were scoreless. You can’t really get any worse than that.

What’s with Chipper on the basepaths? Granted he pretty well knows if he’s hit a grounder right at a fielder, but he’s seriously looking like his knees or hips are bothering him when he runs. Any input, Mark?

One of these games Bobby should just try, try is all i’m asking he doesn’t have to always use it, letting Schafer steal when he gets a leadoff single rather than the “insta-bunt” strategy he’s been employing. One of Schafer’s best skills is his speed (I know I’ve harped on the speed thing already), and it would give the guys behind him a chance to get a rally going with more than 2 outs to use. Very frustrating…

What’s with Chipper? What’s with the Braves patience? We were so patient in those early games. That’s been our problem. Sure we were somewhat aggressive but we were patient all spring and in the early reg season games. I’ve watched the Marlins/Phillies games lately and that’s how all those comebacks come about. They are so patient late in games, I mean we saw it ourselves did we not? It is ridiculous. Take some pitches.

I can’t remember exactly which leg it was, but Chipper has a bruise above his ankle that looks Mitch Green’s face after he fought Tyson. He gained the bruise when he fouled a ball of his leg in Washington last week.

McCann will begin a two-game rehab assignment with Myrtle Beach tomorrow. He has been fitted for new contacts (both eyes) and he’ll use these next two days to test his vision

Thanks for the RBI, Francoeur. You really did your job. Oh wait, we needed TWO runs, not 1. So thanks for hacking away at the first thing you saw, which was a breaking ball low and out of the zone, and we all know how well you handle breaking pitches, you really got that 1 run home. Great situational hitting. You know what REAL situational hitting is? It’s when you ACTUALLY GET A HIT in a crucial situation.
Nah, seriously. The game wasn’t Francoeur’s fault. He had no business swinging at that pitch, the idea that you should expand your strike zone with RISP is stupid, but he didn’t lose the game by himself. There were other opportunities to get that run home. However, wouldn’t it have been nice if Francoeur had worked the count and either a) walked, b) slapped an opposite field single like he’d been trying to do all night and almost did there in the 9th had it not been for a shoddy maple bat, or c) anything even better? If you’ll recall, Schafer singled to lead off the following inning so any non-out by Francoeur would’ve resulted in run with an “s” on the end of it. I’m sick of us settling for 1 run, it isn’t good enough. If you follow the book 100% on trading outs for runs/bases you net 0 runs. All of our botched 1-run plays cost us many, many runs a season. Probably why our offense has played under its’ head (the runs we score haven’t added up to our individual offensive components) for 3 straight years.

I like how you think if Schafer had batted in that inning that he would have gotten that hit which he had in the next inning.

PW – I feel like Francoeur is undeserving of that rant. He has transformed his approach to the plate this year without giving up what has made him successful in the first place. He is and always has been an aggressive hitter. I bet in 2005 when he was hitting everything thrown to him you weren’t screaming at him to show more patience at the plate. He got a pitch to hit and he hit it well last night. He got under it a little bit. It would have been a bases clearing gapper had he hit it the way he wanted. But that’s baseball. It is frustrating that he hacked on the first pitch he saw… but again, would you criticizing him had he found the gap?

There are a lot of things to be frustrated about last night. Peter Moylan walked the go ahead run.

Our lead off batter Kelly Johnson is batting .203 for the season. Isn’t a lead off hitter supposed to be on base? Wreaking havoc on the base baths? Scoring runs? Igniting our offense? Being a catalyst in the lineup?

With the way we put runners on base last night for Albert Pujols – we should have lost the game by 7 runs. He were basically serving up the most dangerous hitter in the major leagues with rbi’s on a silver platter. O’Flaherty freaking hit Ankiel to put runners on for Pujols in the 9th inning. It is AMAZING he didn’t drive in any of those runs.

Those are things that give managers and fans ulcers… not sacrifice flys in close ball games.

Say what you want about Schafer… but in 7 fewer at bats than Kelly, he has a higher OBP (.378 vs .205). He also has higher slugging and higher BA. He strikes out a lot… but his mentality is not that of a lead off hitter right now.
As the number 8 hitter, he his probably trying to drive in runs as opposed to just getting on base. Especially since the middle part of our lineup is on base more than the top of the order. If he changed is mentality, I think he would be a great lead off hitter. Heck – I’d even settle for an average lead off hitter right now. Anything would be an upgrade.

Everyone keeps mentioning his youth. How he’s not ready to handle that role. I know he looks like he’s 13… but the guy is 22. How old was Rafael Furcal when he begin his career as a lead off hitter? 19… (allegedly). Nobody seemed to have a problem with that.

After last night’s game Schafer dropped to 3rd on the team in OBP, but is still posting a very good .378. Kelly on the other hand, is getting on base at an extremely weak .295 clip and leads the team in outs made (usually the lead-off hitter leads the team in outs made just because he has the most PA’s, but we have Francoeur, out maker extraordinaire, and he’s lead the team in outs made every year since he got here, so KJ leading the team in outs made is unusual). List of people who would make better leadoff hitters than Kelly Johnson right now:
Jordan Schafer
Yunel Escobar
Chipper Jones
Jeff Francoeur
David Ross
Casey Kotchman
Matt Diaz
Pete Orr
Blaine Boyer
Mark Fidrych
Tupac
A Rock (any rock)
Etc..

lol – nice PW… I think you left off Jimmy Hoffa though.

Mark, why isn’t there a 7 day DL for the majors? Like in the minors? that’s what we need for mac, does he seriously need a whole 15 days?

Mark,
Saw your comment that it wouldn’t be long before we saw Hanson up from Gwinnett. Didn’t I read during spring training that there was a date that they would hold him to at Triple A because if they called him up after that date, it meant an extra year on the eligible for arbitration clock.

There is no exact date for throwing off the arbitration clock. If you’re in the top 17% in cumulative playing time at your position after your 2nd full season (3rd partial season), you receive Super 2 status and get 4 arbitration years. It’s an art more than a science, but it’s generally 6-8 weeks to throw off the arbitration clock. Now, the free agency clock has a hard and fast deadline. 12 days. Hanson’s already spent 12 days in the minors so he won’t be eligible for free agency until 2015. Weather he becomes arbitration eligible in 2012 or 2013 will depend on when he’s called up.

I like the 2009 Braves. I like that the ownership doesn’t play the big payroll game (well, not as big). I like what I see from the pitching staff. If the Braves can play competitive baseball and Hudson gets back in the lineup, we will have a product. My one (two) criticisms are the SS and 2nd baseman. Kelly is too streaky to be the everyday 2nd baseman. And Escobar, in my opinion, doesn’t have it between the ears. He has made some crucial mistakes at very inopportune times. (How he looked at the ump last night after being picked off??) I have seen him on numerous times hold the ball too long. At this piont of the season, i would like to see Bobby alternate Prado/Infante and Johnson/Esobar more often. At the very least, it could light a fire under them all. If this doesn’t change anything, I think the front office will have to make a move to do something. One last thing, let’s get the LF’ers to shag flies for an hour or two everyday.

Escobar is an All Star caliber talent. That being said, he doesn’t really have the “Braves” makeup. The Braves are not into showboats, and Escobar was raised in the Cuban tradition. If you got anything out of the WBC, it’s that the Cubans are a carnival out on the field. They are, almost to a man, flashy and brash. We’ll see how it progresses, but there isn’t any real surprise that he is always the guy getting drilled in the back. He could be in the on deck circle and they’d still try to hit him first.
He is a very big talent though.

I think the pitching is looking really good. I am very please with that. That being said, I’m putting the blame (for the not so great start) squarely on Bobby Cox. I’ve been hard on Bobby over the years, but the fact is he has done a great job, many times with great players. BUT, the manager has to hold his players accountable. The manager has to get the “cocky” out of them. The manager has to tell them to be more patient at the plate. The manager has to make them fight for their position. And as the manager if they don’t do what you ask, well then, they don’t play. IT”S THAT SIMPLE!!!! Love the Braves in Clearwater, KS!!!!!

I will make my one official beg of Bobby Cox for the season now….
Bobby PLEASE let your base stealers STEAL BASES in base stealing situations. Bunting on the first pitch is noble, but with Schafer on first how about having Infante take a strike first to give him a chance to steal second, then you can bunt him to third with one out. Just a thought. You have noticed that’s what EVERY other team in the league does to us, right?

Thank you sir, and Go Braves!!

Wow the first 5 outs are K’s? Go Jo Jo!

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