Braves prepping for Citi Field introduction

New ballpark.  Same old rivalry.

Say what you want about the cats and rats that existed at old dingy Shea Stadium.  But you can’t deny the fact that there was almost always a great sense of excitement whenever the Braves traveled to play there over the course of the past decade. 

Whether it was a creation of John Rocker’s pot stirring or just a sense of jealousy that developed during Atlanta’s run of consecutive division titles, there’s no doubt that Mets fans have grown to love to hate the Braves.

The most obvious love-hate relationship is shared by Chipper Jones and those Mets fans who have always showered him with chants of “Lah-REE”.   You can bet that those same mocking references to his given name will be heard at Citi Field.

But for now, we can only hope that the modernized stadium in Queens creates the same type of hostile atmosphere that was present in Shea.  There’s just something great about those moments when fans truly raise the game’s energy level. 

Since the Braves moved into their modernized digs at Turner Field, there have been numerous moments when the fans have caused goose-bump-type atmospheres.  But as many of you will attest, those moments occurred much more frequently during the early 1990s at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.

Much of that had to do with the sudden sucees enjoyed by a previously pitiful Braves organization.  But there’s also reason to wonder if the new stadium’s environment set the tone for a more tranquil atmostphere. 

Whatever the case, Jones is hoping that Citi Field presents the same blue collar atmosphere as its predecessor.

It would be nice to see Jones’ sore right elbow prove to be healthy enough for him to be in the lineup for tonight’s series opener against the first-place Mets.  We’ve got a nationally-televised game featuring a pair of aces (Derek Lowe and Johan Santana) who will both be attempting to prolong their respective team’s current success.

Jones’ participation would only add to the intrigue.

The primary reason the Braves have won four of their past five games stems from the fact that they’ve once again become whole with the returns of Brian McCann and Garret Anderson.  Taking Jones out of the lineup would produce the same negative effect that manager Bobby Cox encountered far too often during the season’s first month.

Still there’s no indication that Jones is battling anything serious and so if you’re looking at the big picture, it won’t be a big deal if he needs just one more day to rest the elbow that he hyper-extended with two seperate swings on Sunday. 

Winners of seven straight games, the Mets have every reason to feel good about the fact that Santana is taking the hill tonight.  Still while asserting himself as the game’s top pitcher, the veteran left-hander is still winless in five career starts against the Braves.  

During the four starts he’s made against the Braves since the start of the 2007 season, Santana is 0-2 with a 2.57 ERA.   He has worked seven innings during each of those outings and allowed as many as three runs just once. 

His most recent start against the Braves occurred on Sept. 13, when he tossed seven scoreless innings and then exited after allowing consecutive singles to begin the eighth.  Two batters later, Jeff Francoeur tied the game with one of the six hits he recored last year in 33 at-bats with the bases loaded.

The numbers tell a lot about the game.  But they don’t create the stories that develop.

28 Comments

As hot as Infante is hitting I don’t mind sitting Chipper for a game. I think they should rest Schaefer for a day or two as well. Put Garrett in CF and give Diaz some AB’s in LF.

While I agree with possibly seeing if we can get Schafer a day or so off, there is no way whatsoever that G.Anderson will be playing even one inning in CF.

That’s the problem, none of the other Outfielders are capable of giving Schafer a breather.

The only semi viable option would be Infante whom is a Middle infielder by trade.

That’s why I harp on the 4th outfielder thing from time to time.

Our 4th outfileder needs to be someone capable of playing CF to spell Schafer occassionally and someone that can replace G.Anderson daily for defensive purposes when Braves are leading.

Braves roster as currently constructed does not have anyone capable of filling that role.

I expect Wren to address that shortly though.

Ver much looking forward to the matchup tonight.

david, were you the one talking about the lack of a legit backup CF early in camp? If so, you were right then and you’re right again. Infante would be the top candidate to give Schafer a chance to rest and Francoeur would likely be the second choice…Bobby is sticking with Schafer because the kid can cover a lot of ground and compensate for some of those runs that he’s leaving stranded from an offensive perspective…I haven’t seen the lineup yet. But if Chipper is out, you can expect to see Infante at 2B and Prado at 3B.

Notice Brian Barton? He’s slumping lately in the minors but he seems to fit your bill pretty well… Wren already addressed the need, he is just waiting for it to be ready or for an injury…

An interesting pregame tidbit courtesy of the Braves PR dept… Lowe and Santana both have 110 wins since the start of the 2002 season…Roy Halladay (119) and Roy Oswalt (116) are the only pitchers with more wins during this span.

Yeah that was me Mark talking about the 4th OF problem in ST.

Nothing against Diaz, I understand he’s a good guy and a good clubhouse presence.

That being said though our 4th Outfielder needs to be a player that can spell Schafer from time to time, spell Francoeur periodically and replace Anderson daily late in games.

To my way of thinking that guy(4th OF type) needs to be added immediately.

Then the question becomes who better serves the team as the 25th player? Diaz as a 5th (not 4th) Outfielder? Or a 12th pitcher?

I for one think the extra position player will provide more of a benefit than the 12th pitcher for this particular team. With the Innings eating nature of the staff and having Carlyle and Bennett that can both seemingly pitch repeatedly for multiple innings.

I don’t expect Bobby to go with 11 pitchers though.

As this team is presently constructed Diaz can not be the 4th outfielder.

Open letter to Frank Wren (and Bobby can read it too):

Listen, Mr. Wren: I have a ticket for Wednesday’s game. Could you please do us all a favor and option Jo-Jo? I know Hanson pitched too recently for the call-up, but could you bring up Kris Medlen or Charlie Morton for the game? Jo-Jo knows too many ways to lose, cf. the error on the throw Friday night that led to four unearned runs, to go with the four earned runs he allowed in five innings. If that won’t work for you, how about Buddy Carlyle or James Parr starting on Wednesday? We keep being told how Reyes has improved, but every time he pitches, it’s the same old thing. Thanks.

Just a q, I keep reading about how fast Vazquez throws, but I don’t remember seeing him blowing any by batters – what is his average fastball, and what can he get up to?

Does Lowe have anything better than an average fastball? We seem to be a pitch to contact team, rather than a K team, other than Vazquez… Just curious.

Medlen just got through throwing another shut out today, season ERA down to 0.96 now. Hanson was yesterday. Charlie is on Jo Jo’s day, and he is on the 40 man roster, but he is by no means an equal to either Hanson or Medlen.

As for “dingy old Shea Stadium,” I saw many a Braves/Mets game there, from seats all over the stadium. I saw Tony Cloninger pitch a ONE-HITTER on 9/11/65, with the only hit being a double that bounced off Henry Aaron’s glove in right field; I saw David Palmer drill Darryl Strawberry in the butt after Gary Carter hit a home run; and I witnessed Idon’t know how many Braves home runs from Mr. Aaron, to Gene Oliver, to Ossie Virgil, to Andres Gallaraga, to Chipper. I was there for John Smoltz’s national league record 55th save (in Tom Glavine’s last Braves win before his Mets exodus) and I was there when Willie Harris went over the wall to bring back a home run in a game won by Tim Hudson in 2007. I liked Shea. Heck, you could name a kid after it.

The Braves are second in the majors in strikes out as a pitching staff. The teams tied with them have both played more games. Hardly a pitch to contact staff outside of JJ.

A lot of those are probably coming from the pen, though. Lowe is a sinker-baller, Kawakami is getting K’s but should be getting less and less HRs as well, Vazquez I will give you, he leads the majors which gives us the advantage, but still, what is Vazquez’s speed?

you dont have to throw 95 mph to get a K, Greg Maddux is the prime example. What alot of people dont know is that he is 10 all time in K’s. and he never threw 95mph

ckane.. i was also at the game where Willie Harris robbed the home run with his leaping catch. One of the best games I’ve ever been to.
The new Citi Field is an amazing stadium. It didn’t seem like there was a bad seat in the house, though mine were hard to beat (5 rows back on the left field line). Even better was seeing Lowe beat Santana. According to my memory, every time our ace has gone up against Santana, we have beaten him. Hudson, Smoltz, and now Lowe. Though it’s a shame that Santana took the loss tonight. It should have been given to the bullpen or Jose Reyes, if that were possible. Bobby took a chance by putting Diaz in the cleanup spot because of his success against JS and it worked very well. I hope Jurjjens can keep it up tomorrow. It’s always great sweeping the Mets in their own stadium.

All they talked about all off-season is the perception that Lowe isn’t an ace. Kiss my *** Mutts fans.

Yeah, unfortunately the Braves have 2 aces at the moment, an ace out of his prime, and another who has yet to pitch a big league game. We totally should’ve signed Oliver Perez so he could’ve taught Hanson what not to do in the bigs while spending time down at Gwinnett.

Vivabeta, Lol that was funny but I think we’ve got that already in the form of a cheaper, right handed Japanese pitcher. Great win tonight, probably 2nd only to the extra innings game against Washington. I feel a little bit concerned about calling Hanson an “ace” until 2011. He’s still just a kid, and can’t be expected to lift this team up onto his shoulders yet (although I hoping never). As for the CF situation, according to the Braves depth cart, Infante is penciled in as a Centerfielder.

Let’s keep the Ace talk centered on Lowe for now, and we can just slide Tommy into the 4th starter role. Then it’s just baseball. Tonight should be interesting on the Jo Jo front. He really should be heading to Buffalo to meet back up with the G-Braves. It is hard to imagine he would be allowed to dampen the role they are on again with another of his “he looked good for 5 innings” starts where we lose 7-3.
Gwinnett is on the road, so they might pull the trigger today because of travel, if they are going to do anything besides pencil in another loss to a division opponent in Jo Jo’s spot. Heck Jo Jo is the 4th or 5th guy in Gwinnett ‘s rotation right now.
Unfortunately, I think the most we can hope for this time around is a Charlie Morton start until the Glavine situation resolves itself.

Great win! Clutch hits! Great pitching! Stepping up in a big game! Who was that team out there and what have they done with my Braves?
However…
Mr. Schafer, Andruw Jones just called. He said you strike out too much.
Say what you will about Steve Phillips, he hit the nail on the head about Jordan last night. He simply cannot hit or catch up to a major league fastball. 43 strikeouts in 100 at bats is ridiculous. Especially as a number 8 hitter. With the pitcher on deck, you should see nothing but pitches to hit!
Here are some unfortunate stats:
Josh Anderson (55 ab’s) – BA – .327, SB – 6, RBI’s – 7, K’s – 8
Jordan Schafer (106 ab’s)- BA – .217, SB – 1, RBI’s – 3, K’s – 43

With our lead off hitter hitter hitting .217, how much could we use Anderson right now? It is what it is, but man that one hurts. Schafer needs a trip to Gwinnett to find his swing and learn how to hit a major league fastball. There’s no shame in that. He made a great impression on the fans and organization. We’re not doing him any favors by throwing him out there every night. He’s flying open more than a barn door in a tornado. Every time he strikes out he looks more and more deflated. What do you guys think? I just don’t see him finding it up in the bigs.

Sorry – Kelly Johnson is hitting .242 not .217

bravomania, I thick Schafer should go on the DL and let his wrist heal completely. I can see him swinging weakly at pitches and trying to use the rest of his body to overcompensate for his bottom hand, and that’s destroying his mechanics.

I could see a Schafer to the DL, and Barton to CF scenario for a week or two, complete with a “rehab” stint in AAA for Jordan, and an evaluation at the end of the 15 days as to whether Barton can hang in the Majors or not. Barton, if ready, could add a pinch runner to the pinch hitter requirement as well.
Of course that starts the lose Diaz or Norton drums beating even louder.
It is a tough call to be sure. No clear cut winner in the sweepstakes right now in the organization.
The “what to do when Chipper is out” conversation had better not produce a scrabble these days, as it is and has been obvious for some time that there are 40 -50 games a year that will be falling into that category. National announcers don’t seem to have that memo. A healthy Chipper down the stretch is a bonus more than an expectation these days. A very nice bonus.

Hello? Mr. Wren? It’s getting closer to game time on Wednesday. Jo-Jo is still on the roster and scheduled to pitch tomorrow. Can we get some help here? Okay, Medlen and Hanson can’t pitch on the 12th, but Charlie Morton can. I know he’s a righty, and Jo-Jo is a lefty, and Beltran is better from the left side—do you really want Jo-Jo to “build” on his last start? As Yogi said, “It get late earlier and earlier,” when Jo-Jo pitches. Is it the air fare? Is Jo-Jo dating your sister? C’mon!

I meant the 13th—you can see that the thought of watching Jo-Jo trying to “find his arm slot” is more than a Braves fan for 52 years can take.

I watched a video of Mike Gonzalez on AJC and he said someone had written a song for him? What song?

Yesterday I wrote about Shea Stadium. Today: the Polo Grounds. 47 years ago today I saw my first Braves games. A Saturday double header at the PG. Warren Spahn lost the first game when, leading 2-1 in the bottom of the 9th, he gave up a 250 foot home run to Hobie Landrith. Loss #1. In the second game, Joe Torre was letting Carl Willey’s pitches hit him in the chest–he wasn’t even trying to catch them. Bottom of the 9th, 7-7 score. Gil Hodges hits a pinch hit home run off Hank Fischer. Loss #2. Thank God Braves won Friday night and Sunday, or I’d have had to miss school on Monday. Those were the days—Spahn, Burdette, Mathews, Aaron, Crandall…. Keep watching, you’ll remember these things.

I agree with maybe putting Schafer on the DL to heal his wrist and his mind, and I agree with Rother that Barton should be given a shot in center for those 15 days. With him on the bench, he provides some speed and an occasional right handed bat in center. I do think that Diaz should stay. His bat is too good to get rid of and he’s a decent left fielder. Norton is a good guy to have on the bench especially cause he’s a switch hitter, but he’s not exactly a Matt Stairs type of bench guy. Without him there would be times where we wouldn’t have someone who could hit lefty off the bench late in the game. But then again, Infante and Prado are both good against right handed pitching.

The joys of the 25 man roster.

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