Braves ready to take this show north

Just returned from the clubhouse and it’s pretty safe to say that all the guys are ready to compile a couple of at-bats during this afternoon’s game against the Tigers and then head to Atlanta as quick as possible. 

As I was shooting the breeze with Jason Heyward this morning, I said something like, “well it will be nice for you to get back to your own bed tonight.”  When he responded, “yeah, for like five days”, I said “enjoy it, you’ll come to appreciate even these opportunities that allow for just a short stay at home.”

That advice I provided Heyward will not benefit him as much as the words of encouragement that he received from Hall of Famer Al Kaline this morning.  The former Tigers outfielder came to the Braves clubhouse to see Bobby Cox and then took time to tell the young Braves outfielder things like “good luck, play hard, work hard, etc.”   

Cox will likely announce his Opening Day roster after either Friday or Saturday’s game.  I’m still guessing Brooks Conrad gets the last spot for a position player and that Jesse Chavez and Jo-Jo Reyes fill the final two bullpen spots. 

As for lineup projections, it still seems like Melky Cabrera will hold the leadoff spot until Nate McLouth can regain a consistent groove.  

Today’s lineup also provides reason to believe there will be some instances when Brian McCann is placed in the cleanup spot when the opposing team is starting a right-handed pitcher. It’s also interesting to see that Heyward is batting sixth and Yunel Escobar is in the seventh spot of the order.

While wrapping up the Florida portion of their exhibition schedule today, the Braves are going up against right-handed knuckleballer Eddie Bodine.   With this in mind, it’s time to wish a happy 71st birthday to Phil Niekro. 

The baseball accomplishments that I share with Niekro are limited to the fact that our fathers bought our first baseball gloves at a little sporting goods store in Wheeling, W.Va called Kelly Mikes.  

Cabrera 7
Prado 4
Chipper 5
McCann 2
Glaus 3
Heyward 9
Escobar 6
McLouth 8
Hinske DH


Mark, Is this switching now with not only McCann and Glaus but also Heyward and Escobar something you expect to see at least for the first couple of weeks of the season? Hope you get to see the UD game tonight!

I think that Bobby probably does that to try and use the righty-lefty combo as much as possible, considering last year it was like L-R-S-L-L-R-L-R. Now it’ll be L-R-S-R-L-R-L-R.

I think it is a matchup question plus maybe just the fact that BMac is going to hit 20+ HR and probably drive in 100+ runs. Glaus is still a question mark until he gets a couple of months into the season. The guy hasn’t played an entire season in 2 years, that’s a long time for a baseball guy. Either way, if Glaus keeps it up and Chipper produces as capable we could have a very dangerous lineup to righties and lefties. I love the fact that we can have a legit cleanup hitter in the lineup when McCann has the night off. As for the bottom of the lineup, it’s definately a luxury trying to decide where to put a great clutch hitter such as Yunel.

True. I bet we don’t see much more than 20HR from Glaus, maybe a .270/.360/.480 line from him. No bad for around the $3 million he’ll end up making, granted he’s healthy.

Glaus only missed a year. He had 544 AB in 2008. If Chipper
had that many AB we would have a festival(last time was 2003). Don’t know where you got your info but Glaus’ only real problem year was 2009 with several injuries. i’m not saying his health isn’t an issue, but to say he “hasn’t played an entire season in 2 years” is just misleading.

Troy Glaus is going to hit if he can stay healthy. Is he gonna hit 30 HRs? Probably not. It’s his transition to 1B that I’m concerned about. Now, I’m not buying into it like the northeast biased ESPN “gurus” are, who completely bashed Glaus for missing a terrible throw by Chipper (into a runner), but it is still my biggest concern with him.

Predictions time:
The Braves will have 4 players hit 20+ HRs, and Chipper won’t be one of them.
The Braves will lead the NL in Walks and OBP
The Braves pitching staff will have the best k/BB ratio in the NL
Freddie Freeman is a significant factor during his September call up.
Jordan Shafer is dealt before season’s end.
Troy Glaus wins comeback player of the year.
Jason Heyward hits a ball in the upper deck in right, and a ball into the Chop House below the Budweiser sign.
Tommy Hanson wins 18 games.
John Smoltz at some point in the summer asks for a tryout.
Braves make the playoffs.

Well I think you may have one of them right rother.

One is a start.

I don’t think the Braves trade Schafer. I think once Schafer proves healthy and able, they’ll trade Melky.

I don’t think they’ll deal Schafer. Not when his value is this low. If McLouth has a year like he did in 2008, then I could maybe see that happening. I know Bill for some reason thinks that McLouth is my favorite Brave, but I’ve been hoping to see Schafer in CF since spring training last year. I just think McLouth doesn’t totally suck.
We have 6 possible 20+ HR guys. That’s nice.

Rother, I like your predictions. With this team how about McCann for MVP? I also don’t think they trade Schafer nor Melky (switch hitter). If Schafer does well in the minors then you bring him up and trade McLouth (if anyone wants him). McLouth career #’s are not that good and if Schafer had not been hurt last year would we even have made the trade for McLouth?

I agree with all of them, except I expect Chipper to hit around 24 HR and I don’t think Schafer will be traded. McLouth’s contract is backloaded, as is McCann, and I can see the Braves trading him next year sometime, since Schafer will have had time to develop and our payroll will be increasing due to McCanns backloaded contract and the upcoming arbitration of Jurrjens, Hanson, Moylan, and Prado. Even if he doesn’t get traded, I don’t see the Braves picking up his $10+ million option for 2012.

McLouth is great….if you look at him for what he is….a solid outfielder (far better suited for left field-move him there when Schafer is ready) who should be hitting in the 7th or 8th spot. And guess what? He’s a career .260 hitter. People get frustrated with him because he’s not an amazing CF and he doesn’t hit for average, yet he’s still hitting at the top of the order. That’s more the Braves’ fault for not having a true leadoff hitter. But for roughly $5 mil, having a 20-25 HR guy hitting 8th in the lineup is pretty valuable. Melky may give you a little better average but he doesn’t have as much pop and is better suited for the 4th outfielder role. When Schafer is ready, trade Melky, and platoon McLouth and Diaz in LF. Schafer will then hit leadoff, and McLouth will look much better at the bottom of the lineup.

Then look it up. I know what I’m talking about.

“Nate McLouth of
3 years/$15.75M (2009-11), plus 2012 club option

* 3 years/$15.75M (2009-11), plus 2012 club option
o signed extension with Pittsburgh 2/17/09 (avoided arbitration, $3.8M-$2.75M)
o $1.5M signing bonus
o 09:$2M, 10:$4.5M, 11:$6.5M, 12:$10.65M club option ($1.25M buyout)”

Brian McCann’s does the same thing. Jumps from $6, to $8, then to $10+ million option for 2013.

My correction, it jumps from $6.5, to $8.5, to a $12 million option for 2013. As a business student, I follow sports management very closely, especially the Braves payroll.

I really don’t think McLouth’s contract has a $10m + option for 2012. Not even close.

Well, I guess I can make some bold predictions. Why not?

4 Braves starters have 14 or more wins.
Hudson, Jurrjens, and Hanson all have sub-3.25 ERA.
Wagner saves 35+ games.
Prado will hit .325+ with a .400+ OBP.
Yunel Escobar will have more RBIs than Chipper.
McCann will have his 1st 100 RBI season.
Glaus and McCann will be only 20+ HR hitters.
However, they will have a total of 7 with 15-19 HRs.
Braves sqeak into playoffs with Wild Card after Chipper breaks down in late August.
Jason Heyward accidently eats a small child, but receives no punishment because he’s such a loveable guy.

Lol, I’m only onbaord with the last one. 😄

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