Traveling to the park in style

buck commander.jpg

If you saw the Buck Commander bus heading toward Turner Field early Saturday afternoon,  there’s a chance you saw all of the bearded men pictured on the side and simply assumed that you’d just seen ZZ Top’s new tour bus.  
But I’m going to have to guess that there weren’t too many of you, who realized that Chipper Jones was on board and simply allowing his good friend and business partner Willie Robertson to give him a lift to the park
Robertson, who was in Atlanta this weekend for a hunting-related convention, is the founder and president of the Buck Commander company that is financially supported by a handful of Major Leaguers, including Jones and Adam LaRoche.
After making his debut with the Braves during Saturday’s 4-3 win over the Dodgers, LaRoche jokingly said that he was going to spend the next two months living in the bus and keep it parked in Jones’ driveway.
When told of LaRoche’s plan, Jones provided his best Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson impersonation by simply raising his eyebrow.
Still LaRoche was given the opportunity to drive the bus back to Jones’ residence on Saturday night and in the process, he thinks there’s a chance that he might have caused Jones’ wife, Sharon, some aggravation.
“I think I ran over some of Sharon’s plants or flowers  pulling it in there,” LaRoche said.

Escobar update:  While taking batting practice in the indoor cage this afternoon, Yunel Escobar had some trouble getting his bat around on the inside fastball.  The swelling around his right wrist has subsided.  But he likely won’t know if he’ll be able to play during Monday’s series opener in San Diego, until he has the opportunity to take some swings and make some throws during the afternoon hours.  <p>
Hudson update:  Because he believes there’s a chance he could resume his Minor League rehab assignment next weekend, Tim Hudson won’t accompany the Braves on their trip to Southern California.  Instead, he’ll stay in Atlanta and continue to rehab the mild left groin strain that he suffered before Friday’s schedule rehab start.  
Hudson remains hopeful that this ailment won’t prevent him from rejoining the Atlanta rotation some time this month.

Norton’s rainbow:  While Greg Norton was certainly due to record pinch hits on both Friday and Saturday, there wouldn’t have been much reason to believe this would be the time he’d break out of this slump if you would have seen the multi-colored bruise he gained on his calf courtesy of a foul tip on Thursday night.
Initially Norton didn’t think it was a big deal and didn’t really realize any swelling until the Braves charter flight left Ft. Lauderdale and was en route to Atlanta.   The Braves medical staff drained some of the blood out of his calf on Saturday and the veteran pinch hitter has spent the past couple days limping around with his leg heavily wrapped.
The bruise extends from ankle to knee and I’d detail some of the colors present if I’d actually seen them before.   Believe me when I say it’s harder to look at Norton’s calf than it was to watch Jeff Bennett attempt to keep inherited runners from scoring.
Minor League Rehab stints:
  Both Omar Infante and Buddy Carlyle will play for Class A Rome on Tuesday night.  Carlyle, who believes he could return to the Atlanta bullpen soon, will pitch the first two innings.  This will mark the beginning of a Minor League rehab assignment for Infante, who has been out since May 20 with a broken left hand.  


I second that. A hard curve is tough to throw so you don’t see it often. I like how Joe Morgan said John Billingsley…

Billingsley has a dirty curveball.

During his past nine starts, Jurrjens has faced five of this year’s AS pitchers (Wakefield, Beckett, Marquis, Lincecum, Billingsley) and last year’s WS MVP (Hamels). In the eight starts heading into tonight he was 4-2 with a 2.38.

Wow. Great play by Prado on the liner up the middle. He almost got the phenomenal DP if Adam could have gotten back to the bag.

Man. JJ is truly the ace of this staff at 23 years old. He has incredible stuff, a great fastball and impeccable control. Mark, your comment is really on point. Let’s score a run for JJ.

Now, a present for you guys. Let’s have a vote. Who’s more obnoxious. Joe Morgan or Billreef?🙂

I’m leaning towards Morgan right now. Matt Kemp the best hitter on the Dodgers…really? Even when Ramirez isn’t on roids it isn’t even close.

Jurrjens threw first-pitch strikes to 18 of 24 batters. He got Kemp to end 8-pitch second-inning at-bat by looking at a 91 mph FB. His 94-mph, 0-2 FB was just horribly misplaced. The 24-pitch fourth inning certainly hurt.

What about the bruise Norton is to this Braves lineup!!!! Do I have to write every night how much of a waste Norton is to this staff? Struck out again. He can’t even put the ball in play. He needs to be cut!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I agree with you longballhitter…..Norton is horrible ….another
Corky Miller at the plate looking lost ! .Mark Boman would you give Frank Wren and Bobby Cox this message….RELEASE Norton’s SORRY *** ..He is nothing but garbage and makes the Braves team and fans look bad !He’s the laughing stock of pinch hitters ! I wish Norton would asked to be released like Jeff Bennett did .

Has there been any word about that umpire from Florida who was bumping fists with the Marlin’s catcher? I really want to know if he ever got a dressing down or a fine or maybe sent down in the umpire circuit to their AAA or AA level. Something Hohn was his name isn’t it?

Has there been any word about that umpire from Florida who was bumping fists with the Marlin’s catcher? I really want to know if he ever got a dressing down or a fine or maybe sent down in the umpire circuit to their AAA or AA level. Something Hohn was his name isn’t it?

Has there been any word about that umpire from Florida who was bumping fists with the Marlin’s catcher? I really want to know if he ever got a dressing down or a fine or maybe sent down in the umpire circuit to their AAA or AA level. Something Hohn was his name isn’t it?

Has there been any word about that umpire from Florida who was bumping fists with the Marlin’s catcher? I really want to know if he ever got a dressing down or a fine or maybe sent down in the umpire circuit to their AAA or AA level. Something Hohn was his name isn’t it?

Has there been any word about that umpire from Florida who was bumping fists with the Marlin’s catcher? I really want to know if he ever got a dressing down or a fine or maybe sent down in the umpire circuit to their AAA or AA level. Something Hohn was his name isn’t it?

Sorry about the extra posts. Lagging browser window.

If Norton is that badly bruised let’s put him on the disabled list until October. We have enough guys on the bench who can’t play now. Does anyone besides Bobby and DOB really care about Buddy Carlyle rehabbing?

Carlyle had a 118 ERA+ and a 8.5 K/9 last year. Yes I care about him rehabbing. He’s an important piece to this team. The game wouldn’t have gotten so out of hand last night if he were on it.

Who do you guys think will or won’t clear waivers this month? I know there are going to be a few put out there.
For starters, I’d say Norton and GA will, and Acosta won’t.

No young player will clear waivers and no cheap, useful player will clear waivers. It’ll be old, overpayed veterans and useless players. Lowe and Kawakami might clear waivers. Norton probably would too. I’m skeptical as to whether or not Anderson would. Most likely nobody else on the team would clear waivers.

Every time I read something Joe Posnanski writes I think to myself: “that is exactly my opinion and I wish I were talented enough to express it like he just did”. One of his recent blog posts:
Today?s Yuni watch is a lot about defense and statistics and is brought to you by the Detroit Tigers, who always seem to do something reasonably big at the trade deadline. I don?t know if Jarrod Washburn wraps up the American League Central ? you can?t ever count out Gardy?s boys ? but as a fan it has to be awesome to know that you?re team is going to be aggressive and go for it the last couple of months.

Yuniesky Betancourt on Royals:

49 plate appearances
.130 average
.128 on-base percentage
.174 slugging percentage
1 extra base hit
0 walks
2 sac hits
2 grounded into double plays
-20 OPS+

Well, a 1-for-4 day in Baltimore raises the ol? batting average 11 points. I guess it was a pretty weak hit that should have been barehanded by Melvin Mora, but hey at this point I would never take hits away from Yuni. He?s hit a couple of line drives at people the last couple of days, and frankly I would like to give him credit for those.

The defensive question with Yuni, meanwhile, is fascinating. Thursday?s Royals game, unlike the revolution, was not televised and so I did not see this myself: But apparently Nick Markakis hit a scorching ground ball to short that (at the very least) COULD have been fielded by a top defensive shortstop. Among those who saw it, a couple of people thought it actually was an error and a play that should have been made. More thought it was a difficult defensive play but one that could have been made.

Betancourt did not make the play, of course, and that was a key hit in a four-run rally and another loss.

Now, I bring this up because I?ve heard from a couple of people I respect who watch Betancourt play live every day and are actually reasonably upbeat about his defense. He seems to have made a couple of nice plays ? especially coming in on slow ground balls ? and he has only made one error, and he seems so far to be pretty solid making the routine play, something that does not go unnoticed in Kansas City where the routine has so often turned into the comical.

And while I obviously do not have anything approaching complete trust in eyeball evaluations ? more on that in a minute ? there are a couple of defensive stats that sort of back this up. According to ESPN?s stats, Yuni is fifth in baseball among shortstops in Zone Rating which is a rather simplistic but not useless way to measure the percentage of balls a player fields in his zone. And his range factor the last couple of years has been right around league average (it?s a below average this year but, hey, work with me here). The Gold Glove talk that some have connected to Betancourt is pretty much indefensible sky-is-purple-polka-dot nonsense, but on a day-to-day basis watching ? I could see how he might look to be OK defensively if you squint hard enough.

This is why the defensive question is fascinating ? because as we all know, a couple of the more advanced stats show that Betancourt is a horrendous defensive shortstop ? worst-in-the-game bad ? and has been horrendous even in his short stay in Kansas City. According to the Dewan plus/minus he?s ALREADY minus-3 in Kansas City, meaning that (using extreme video study) Yuni has made three fewer plays than the average Major League shortstop would have made.

Then there?s Ultimate Zone Rating ? his UZR is already -2.3 in Kansas City, which means he has ALREADY allowed two more runs than the average big league shortstop because of his lousy defense.

So what gives? Average or dismal? Promising or depressing? You probably remember Bill James famous point that the difference between a .275 hitter and a .300 hitter over 600 at-bats is 15 hits a year. That?s about 2.5 hits per month over a full baseball season. That?s about one extra hit every 10 or 11 games. Bill asks: Would you notice that?

It?s easy to say you would ? but you probably wouldn?t. Or anyway, I wouldn?t. First off, to notice it you would pretty much have to watch EVERY SINGLE GAME because if you watched only, say, 125 games, there?s a chance you would see the .275 hitter have more hits than the .300 hitter. You would also have to watch every inning of every game because some of those extra hits might actually come when you?re off mowing the lawn or shopping for razors or flipping channels to see who is winning the golf tournament.

And even then ? even if you watched every inning of every game and were paying close attention, I would suggest you STILL would not be able to tell the difference because the .275 hitter might hit with more power. He might have a sweeter looking swing. He might get a few of his hits in clutch situations that burn in the memory. Seems to me that we often talk about how baseball is a long season, but we don?t always consider what that means. It means that in baseball we enjoy the moments, and we?re swayed by the moments, and we long for the moments. But context? We get our context from the numbers. It?s simply too long a season to process.

Now, all that revolves around something really simple ? batting average. Hits divided by at-bats. Simple and stark stuff ? there are few vagaries or complexities in those numbers (OK, yes, there are a couple of complexities ? errors, sacrifices, walks and so on, but generally speaking it?s pretty simple). But defense is much, much more complex. A defensive play involves a thousand tiny pieces ? positioning, pre-pitch reaction, post-pitch reaction, speed of the ball, spin on the ball, situation on the field, quality of the field, luck of the bounce, brightness of the sun, glare of the lights, ability of teammates, speed of the runner, sound of the ball hitting bat and a bunch of other stuff.

So it?s much, much more complicated. And it?s much, much more subjective. Look there was just one Yuni play on Thursday, and I talked to seven people about it and two thought it was a terrible defensive play, and four thought it was a really tough play, and one thought it was an impossible play. That?s just ONE PLAY in a long, long, long season.

So my feeling is this: if you had a three big league shortstops (so obviously ? based on them being big leaguers ? you know all three are gifted in their own way), watched them closely for 162 games, I have no doubt you would be able to tell certain things. You surely could tell which one has the strongest arm, who makes the most diving plays, who seems the most sure-handed, who seems to go better to his left, who seems to go better to his right, who seems to have the best balance, who seems to stand in better on the double pay and a bunch of others things. I don?t think Dayton Moore is wrong ? I do think you can tell who CAN play defense well by watching. But would you really be able to say who had the best defensive year? I say there?s no way. I say it?s like trying to pick between the .275 and .300 hitters ? multiplied by about 100.

I say that if pushed to make that choice without access to any statistics you would do it one of two ways:

1. You would go by some sort of aesthetic opinion based on style and form and tools, which (it seems to me) would tell you who SHOULD be the best of the three, but not necessarily who IS the best of the three.

2. You would end up counting in your head ? you would count ?errors? or you would count ?diving plays? or you would find yourself swayed by ?clutch defensive plays? ? this guy made a great stop with the bases loaded with two outs in the ninth, that guy bobbled a grounder with the winning run on third in the eighth ? you would try to figure out who makes the most plays. And your numbers, no doubt, would be off or too subjective.

And that?s why I look to the advanced fielding statistics. They?re not as good as they could be or will be ? I think everyone would agree about that. But they try (and often succeed) and taking an objective look at how effective a player performs defensively. Those numbers say Yuni is a disaster at shortstop. Flawed numbers or not, I would tend to believe those over my lyin? eyes.

Skip Caray – died one year ago today. I miss Skip!

Phillies and Marlins lost today. Mets are tied in the 10th. Gotta win tonight.

Garret Anderson is the laziest player in the Major leagues. I have never seen anyone “dog” as many balls as he does. It’s like he could care less whether the guy advances or not. He lets Cabrera leg out a triple when he can’t be bothered to run the ball down. Geez. Thank god Javy and Martin bail him out.

Only Billy Reeks would complain about something in a 9-2 win.

There\’s a terrific amount of knwolegde in this article!

Bill was arguing with people as long ago as august 2009. He is a veteren at arguing with everyone.

I know this is really hypothetical, but what if the Braves picked up John Smoltz off of Waivers from the Red Sox. They could definitely use him in the pen as Moylan, O’Flaherty & Gonzalez are all near the top in appearances. The 1 or 2 big obstacles would be that Smoltz has a contract of 5.5 Mil & another 5.5 Mil in incentives & would we have to give up anything substantial to get him. With Huddy coming back from TJ surgery & Kenshin struggling with his command it would be preferable to bring another solid presence in the Braves clubhouse for the stretch run. You could put Smoltz at the back end of the bullpen with Soriano & Gonzalez, occasionally spelling Soriano if need be, use Kenshin as long relief much like the role that Jeff Bennett no longer occupies (with Jorge Campillo also presumably done for the season & Buddy Carlyle/Kris Medlen ineffective) and slot Huddy into the fifth spot of the rotation…not sure how that would all work but we know that the Braves are definitely sentimental when it comes to their own…imagine that type of reunion

No. Just… no. John Smoltz, as much as I like the guy, is terrible for the Red Sox this year, so what good would he be to us? And given that he’s a 20something-year veteran, I think he’d have a little something to say about being moved just to the bullpen, a role that, although he *was* good at it back in the day, he didn’t particularly care for.

It will make no difference who we get or who we let go as long as we have Bobby Cox the braves will be losers.

viva or PWH or whatever name your using today.

If you were paying attention you would note that my comment came in the bottom of the fifth when the Braves had just scored a run to go up 3-2. GA was dogging the potential tying run. So quit your whining.

Viva and Pwh are to totally different people. Why can’t you seen that, by the way, how old are you? If you don’t mind me asking…

Wow, why all of the Carlyle hate, the guy came down with Diabetes, which is a significant condition for a top notch athlete. With his blood sugar under control, he has a lot to prove. It is very easy to attribute the fact he had a bad first half of the season to this disease. Now that he has this under control, let’s see how he responds. If he still doesn’t regain form, then you can begin to question his position.
As far as Smoltz, we didn’t really want him to begin the season, why would we want him now when when his ERA is higher than the amount of $ we will owe him. He left Atlanta because he wanted to, we can’t move backwards. We will just have to hope that Logan and Acosta can prove to be valuable down the stretch run.
As for the Bobby Cox hate, I must admit I do not agree with all that Bobby does but you cannot call his teams losers. The Braves in the late 80’s and 90 were losers. Remember those days, remember when most people forgot Atlanta had a team. Why don’t you ask a Pirates or Padres fan if they would like to have Bobby leading their team. How spoiled we have become with rich success over the years.,
We’ll have none of that rationality here. You have to jump to unfounded conclusions to participate! Seriously, though, I agree with everything you said.

whats the plan for ofante when he comes back. and maybe when hudson comes back maybe use him in the bullpen til maybe he can show that his arm is ready to start and ease him into the starting rotation.

Farm updates:
Teheran made his single-A debut last night. He made a few mistakes, but I was very impressed. He struck out 8 in 5 innings. Infante was on a rehab assignment and singled, walked, and hit a warning track fly ball (I didn’t see his 4th AB). Finally, the Braves have signed first-rounder, Mike Minor. Francoeur is no longer the largest draft bonus in Braves history.

GO JAYS GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That’s good news about Minor signing. However, it’s curious that he was awarded such a high bonus when most people had him going later in the draft. Also, my understanding was that they drafted him for “signability” reasons, and, yet, he’s still given this hefty bonus.

He signed for last year’s slot. Not a hefty bonus by any stretch.

If we can split this Dodgers series I will be feeling pretty good.

What number of starter is Minor projected to be?

Minor profiles as a 3-4 starter.

I understand. My point is that it’s hefty when taking into consideration that the only reason why, presumably, he was drafted as high as #7 was for signability reasons. 2.42 million seems steep when most people had anywhere from 20-40 people ranked higher than him. Minor inked himself a lucrative deal, so good on him.

Really I’m just voicing my frustrations that we didn’t go after others at #7.

I wasn’t happy with the pick either. Not with so many elite arms on the table.

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