Where is Mark Cuban when you need him?

This would have been a good weekend to have Mark Cuban calling the shots here in Braves land.  I think it’s safe to say that he would have attempted to create some fireworks or simply have some fun by using today to announce Fredi Gonzalez as the newest member of the Braves organization.

In fact, Cuban would have likely done something like stage a press conference to be shown on the big screen in center field while the Marlins are taking batting practice tonight.

But with Cuban worrying about Dirk Nowitzki’s future in Dallas, the Braves will likely wait at least another week or two before revealing that Gonzalez will serve as some kind of advisor for the remainder of this year. 

Admittedly, I rolled my eyes when some of you said adding Gonzalez to the organization would hurt the feelings of guys like Eddie Perez or Terry Pendleton, who at one time may have been in line to serve as Atlanta’s next manager.   I mean this is the big leagues and they are big boys, who entered this season knowing that Gonzalez would become a favorite for the managerial job if he became available.  

But I do get the sense that there are members of Braves management who share this concern.  Thus if they do eventually give Gonzalez a role where he can spend the next few months evaluating the organization’s talent and personalities at both the Major and Minor League levels, they’ll do so much more quietly than Cuban would have. 

While resting yesterday, the Braves gained a half-game on both the Mets (2 games back) and Phillies (4 games back)    Before going to Philadelphia on Monday to compete against what’s left of the injury-ravaged defending National League champs, the Braves will receive a stiff challenge this weekend from three of Gonzalez’s former pitchers.

During tonight’s series opener, Kris Medlen will be opposed by Josh Johnson, who has recently been the game’s top pitcher and quite honestly it wouldn’t be hard to argue that he has been every bit as impressive as Ubaldo Jimenez throughout this entire season. 

In his past nine starts, Johnson has gone 5-2 with an 0.83 ERA and limited opponents to a .183 batting average and  .226 on-base percentage.  Within the 65 innings that have encompassed this span, he has recorded 60 strikeouts and issued 11 walks.  

Jimenez is still considered widely considered the midseason choice to win the NL Cy Young Award.  But his league-leading marks in ERA (1.83)  and quality starts (14) have been matched by Johnson, who leads the NL in WHIP (0.96) and opponents OPS  (.544).  The .199 batting average he has surrendered has been bettered only by Mat Latos (.197). 

In attempt to regain an optimistic tone, I’ll let you know that Medlen ranks fifth in the NL with a 4.15 strikeouts-to-walk-ratio, one spot ahead of Johnson’s 3.96 mark. 

Anibal Sanchez, who has gone 6-2 with a 2.64 ERA in his past nine starts, will take the mound for the Fish on Saturday afternoon to oppose what should be a rather determined Tommy Hanson.  Based on his mood, there hasn’t been any indication that Hanson has been mentally scarred by his past two outings. 

When Ricky Nolasco opposes Tim Hudson in Sunday’s series finale, it will be the first time he has stood on the Turner Field mound since Sept. 30, the night that he recorded 16 strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings. 

By the time Hudson toes the rubber Sunday night, he will have likely learned that he has gained his third career All-Star selection and first since 2004.  Considering there are a number of deserving candidates, that previous sentence might have been a bit presumptuous. 

But it’s hard to imagine Hudson won’t find a place on this year’s NL pitching staff.  He ranks fifth in ERA  (2.37) and his 13 quality starts are just one off the league-leading mark posted by Jimenez, Johnson and Adam Wainwright.  In addition, he’s allowed two earned runs or fewer in 13 of his 16 starts. 

While converting 16 of 18 save opportunities and posting a 1.15 ERA, Billy Wagner has also made himself a solid candidate for this year’s All-Star roster.  His ERA is better than the marks posted by any other NL closer. 

But when attempting to fill a 13-man pitching staff will there be room for Wagner, Francisco Rodriguez, Heath Bell, Jonathan Broxton and Brian Wilson?  Heck I didn’t even mention Francisco Cordero or Matt Capps, who have posted the NL’s top two save totals while compiling higher ERA than any of the aforementioned deserving candidates.

There are also a number of deserving starting pitchers that could bump Hudson out of the equation.  If Michael Bourn isn’t selected to serve as an outfielder, Roy Oswalt might end up being Houston’s representative.  The only other clear possibility would be Astros closer Matt Lindstrom, who could further diminish the odds of Wager gaining a selection. 

Martin Prado, who will likely start at second base in Chase Utley’s absence, and Jason Heyward seem to be the only Braves who should expect to hear their names announced during Sunday afternoon’s selection show (noon on TBS).  I will be surprised if Hudson and Wagner don’t gain selections and there’s still a good chance the players will once again give Brian McCann a selection. 

But some time Sunday afternoon, I think we’ll be looking at Troy Glaus as one of the deserving players who were not selected.  Albert Pujols will start at first base and Reds first baseman Joey Votto will most definitely gain a reserve spot. 

I heard Peter Gammons jokingly say Phillies manager Charlie Manuel won’t go to Anaheim to manage the NL team if it doesn’t include Roy Halladay.  Well the same can be said about Ryan Howard, who along with Adrian Gonzalez will almost definitely gain a selection before Glaus. 

Trade front:  As you know the Braves are looking to add a bat before the July 31 trade deadline.  But right now, I don’t gain the sense that they are actually targeting specific players or even have a preference whether they gain a right-handed or left-handed bat. 

The most popular names linked to them have been David DeJesus, Corey Hart and Jose Bautista. Right now, the sense is that the Royals want too much in return for DeJesus.  But who could blame them.  Last time I checked, I think he was rumored to be on the wish list of 29 Major League clubs and part of the entourage that will be playing with LeBron James next year.

Bautista was simply ridiculous while compiling 12 of his 20 homers in May.  But how much are you going to give up for a career .237 hitter, who has batted .229 this year and just .204 in the 42 games he has played outside of Toronto.  

Just a few months ago, Hart was drawing negative comparisons to Jeff Francoeur.  Like Francoeur, Hart has turned things around this year and in a much more impressive manner.  In the 44 games he has played dating back to May 15, the Brewers outfielder has hit .299 with 15 homers and a .999 OPS. 

In other words, Hart spent the past six weeks living up to the lofty expectations that have surrounded him since he established himself as a 20-20 player in 2007 and ’08.  If he’s available and the price is right, he’s the guy the Braves should target.

It was interesting to see Atlanta-Journal Constitution columnist Mark Bradley throw B.J. Upton’s name into the mix the other day. During the 2008 postseason, there wasn’t a player that I enjoyed watching more than Upton. 

Though he has struggled in the two years that have followed, the potential is certainly still there for Upton.  My guess is that he won’t be available at this time of the year. But if the Rays grow impatient with his development and attemp
t to cut costs by moving him in the offseason, he should be at the top of Frank Wren’s wish list.     

35 Comments

U know what why not try to go after both in my eyes but Hart in CF and Bautista or i would go after Upton and maybe make an offer the Rays cant refuse like giving them Medlen schafer and Teheran Then send Melky Hicks Canizares bc i see him being a dh more then a firstbaseman and craig Kimbel for Upton Grant Balfour and Sean Rodriguez.

BJ Upton, you’ve got to be F’N’ kidding me!!! If we get Upton then we might as well throw in the towel. The is no way the Braves should trade for that cancer. He is not only an underachiever but he’s LAZY!!!! Just ask Evan Longoria NC, I’m not even going to comment on your post because Upton for Medlen straight up is a horrible deal for the braves….much less adding in Melky, Teheran, and Schafer. You’ve got to be on that good stuff, brother.

NCBrave that’s just crazy. You’re trading Medlen and Kimbrel????? The two best young pitchers in the organization???? I can tell you both of those guys are soooooo off limits. Lets get back to reality and who we want. I think Corey’s the guy.
I thought Vizcaino was perfect trade bait but no more. I don’t think Minor is really on the table. I think Teheran is a possibility, he is still a low level prospect and while impressive so far, he isn’t close to competing for a Major League role.While I don’t really relish the idea, Dunn or Marek would certainly be valuable trade bait. Our bullpen is really flush now and although we will lose Wags and likely Saito at season’s end we have got a lot of talent looking to fill those front line bullpen roles. Venters emergence is a great example. If I thought we could unload KK as part of a deal, that would be another priority in my mind given the additional money due on his contract.

Mark, have you got any 411 on Braves International signings and when they are gonna release some info??

I agree Hart should be the guy, of the group mentioned, that is targeted. I’d be excited to get him. That said, I don’t think it would take as much as is being suggested. I think a solid B-grade prospect, and another low level prospect. He’s a free agent after next season (I think?), his defense is supsect, and he’s playing out of his mind right now and shouldn’t be expected to keep this pace up.

Boy, this game is , as advertised, an amazing duel between a Cy Young candidate and one of the most poised young pitchers I have seen in a while. Medlen doesn’t have his best stuff and and he is just dealing. Man, gotta love this kid.

Whoever taught Gregor Blanco to choke up on the bat deserves a promotion or a raise.

Kris Medlen is the toughest young pitcher in baseball. He didn’t have his best pitches tonite. Got a little roughed early and then outbattled Johnson, who is competing for a Cy Young. Way to go Kris, you can be on my baseball team anytime. Oh, and at this stage of the game could anyone even propose another Brave’s MVP besides Martin. He is the spark that ignites the rallies and he is the guy who picks them up when everyone else is struggling. His consistency is amazing. Since he became a starter last year here are monthly batting avgs:

June 09 .359;July .327

Aug .291
Sept .308
April 2010 .356
May .299
June .353

Martin the Machine

OK if we trade for Hart where is he gonna play lf he too tall and too lanky to play cf and we got Heyward unless we move him to Center like we did with Andruw when he was with the braves when Grissom left the Braves or Lofton. So why not maybe he will pull a Randy Moss and actually not be a cancer and play like suppose to. The Braves need a center fielder and Mclouth aint it and neither is Scafer so why not go after a young player like Upton and make him and Heyward the future of the Braves. Who knows he might wake up and play better then he did in Tampa.

JONNY! WHAT WERE YOU DOING???!!!

Omar Infante, your dinner is on Jonny Venters tonight.
Great comeback, boys. Way to not give up.

Great win tonight. Not to put a damper on the victory, but McCann did not need to throw the ball to Chipper. He should have just ran the runner back to the base and there would have been two runners occupying the same base. Remember two years ago, when they lost every close game. This year has been completely different. I knew Omar would come through. I also could not figure out why Hicks wasn’t running for McCann? He would have scored on Glauss double. I guess Bobby knew what he was doing. Back to 14 above 500, which I believe is a season high. Time to get Hanson a few breaks. He has not been that bad lately – lots of bloop and broken bat hits.

So, I noticed that Mark did a story on how McLouth is improving. Just a quick poll: has anybody actually MISSED him? Does anyone WANT him to have a speedy return? Last time I checked, his replacement was hitting .378 with a .477 OBP.

Hanson’s problem is NOT bad luck or bloop hits. His mechanics are screwed up and he is having to throw meat after getting behind in the count. Even he admits this in recent interviews. I was afraid his arm was getting tired and am still not convinced that that isn’t the reason for the changed mechanics but he has corrected problems in the past and I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. I think Roger is good in these situations, he has the smarts to help guys look at their delivery and make subtle changes which benefit them.

I agree on Blanco. I would rather have he and Cabrera in Center at this point. Blanco may not hit higher than 270 in the long term, but he provides many more things than McClouth. Specifically, he draws walks and has a strong arm and a willingness to use it. McClouth only hit around 240 last year when he joined the team so this has been a long term slump and it has probably cost them a few Ws.

Looking forward to seeing them back on national TV today. Keep the momentum going into the break.

Bill – I agree that Hanson’s biggest problem is not broken bats or bloopers, but the fact that he is getting behind in the count. Hopefully he will correct his mechanics soon and be dominant as he has been in the past. If he is able to do that, we will have a VERY tough team. Imagine being another team and knowing you will have to face Hanson, Huddy, Jurrjens, or Medlen. Oh, and if you get lucky, you can face a veteran sinkerballer in Derek Lowe. I love this team. As much as I think that we need an outfield bat, I’m a little cautious about messing with the chemistry of the team.
Oh, and my comment on McLouth is this. I am NEVER going to wish someone an injury, especially an injury to the brain. I know alot of us say some off the cuff comments to be whitty. However, no one should ever wish an injury on someone. I’m fairly confident that once Nate gets back he will probably be traded. He just hasn’t produced in Atlanta pure and simple. He seems like a good kid with hustle, but that’s not always enough. I have to admit Gregor Blanco has done an excellent job this season. What a pleasant surprise…

Oh, I didn’t wish any injury on him. I didn’t wish a slow recovery either. I would never do that. That being said, I DID wish a slow return. On paper, that was an awesome trade last year. Perhaps the Pirates knew something we didn’t. At least we got rid of Charlie Morton…

Ok trading KK would be the best thing the Braves can do and the only team i see maybe taking him is either Pittsburgh or Seattle. Ok and i agree send Mclouth walking would be nice but my not trade him package him in with Terahan Marek for Hart and couple minor leaugers. Any thought bout trying Heyward in Cf if we get either Hart Bautista or Dejesus. Any word on Diaz health and if hes gonna play or be used as bench help

I think that all of ncbravefan82’s post should be in bright red, that way, when you’re scrolling down the page, you know witch ones to avoid.

I admit, McLouth has been a bust this year, but can you guys at least depict him properly? The guy, ever since he’s been a starter (except this year), has had an OBP of around .350. He’s also hit consistently around .260, which isn’t that great, but the guy led the league in doubles and has it 20 or more homers 2 years in a row. That is no fluke. He is a constant stolen base threat. As much as I like Blanco’s resurgence, am I the only one who remembers him crashing and burning in 08? And I don’t see how there is anyway that anyone would rather have Blanco than let McLouth play and get into the rhythm. The upside to McLouth is better than Blanco’s upside, and McLouth has proven his upside.

The guy was hitting .178 when he went down. He ruined the Braves in April at the top of the order. Gregor Blanco is playing twice the baseball McLouth has ever played in a Braves uniform. Nate needs to find a new home where he can try to get back on track, it ain’t working here.
NCBrave, Diaz had a pinch hit performance last night. You really do need to pay attention.

The bottom line is, we traded for him, we have him. This isn’t a Kawakami situation where he just sucks completely ever since he’s been here. McLouth’s a good player, who has performed, and he knows how. We won’t be able to trade him, outside nc’s fantasy land where LeBron James can be traded for Jeff Suppan, and you and I both know Wren will not swallow his pride, admit his mistake, and release him or put him on waivers ala Alex Rios.

Fair enough, but I think he needs a quiet stint in the minors to get his concussion issues fully resolved and where he can work on his swing in a quiet low pressure environment with a really good fundamental hitting instructor which we know isn’t present in ATL.

It is very possible that Gregor Blanco is coming into his own. He has certainly paid his dues, and he tears up winter ball every year. I like the adjustment he has made at the plate choking up on the bat. He could be a repeat of Martin Prado – finally getting his chance to perform. Bobby should ride that horse as long as he stays hot. If he hits at this level he certainly has legit CF defensive skills.

And as I post it, Gregor delivers a base hit and drives in two runs. He got no respect by the Marlins, and he made them pay.

Nate who? Gregor is on fire.

Makes you wonder if he could handle the lead off position?

Verses Righties

Blanco
Prado
Jones
McCann
Glause
Heyward
Henski
Escobar

Versus lefties

Blanco
Prado
Jones
Glaus
McCann/Heyward
Esocobar
Diaz
Heyward/Ross

I know – Hinske. I always do that.

I agree. If Blanco finishes this year strong, maybe we could be looking at a bad contract swap situation with McLouth. I’ll scan MLBTR and see if I see a fit.

Damn, all I see is Aaron Rowand, which is more money.

In Blanco’s “terrible” year of ’08, he hit somewhere around .250. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not great, but its still alot better than what Nate was hitting. Hopefully Nate gets his swing back while rehabbing and Gregor keeps putting good wood on the ball.

Has anybody noticed how well things are looking on the farm? If Chipper does decide to hang it up, Freddie Freeman is now carrying an OPS of 850 and an average of 285. If they can re-sign Glaus with a raise and promote Freeman, they will have the corner IFs covered. My only concern is Glaus may decide he is an 8 – 10 million player after he goes for 270/30/100. He is not. He is a $5 – $7 million player and hopefully, they can convince him so.
Also, Matt Young is having a great year in Center. He has a 300 average with a ton of SBs. Hopefully, his defense is major league caliber.

Let’s keep the momentum going into the break. The Phillies and Mets are both going to be very motivated to take them down…

I dont see anyone trading for Mclouth so why not keep and and move him over to left field and have either Blanco or anyone else play center or maybe see if anyone needs a lefthanded outfielder maybe The Cubs maybe do a Fukudome for Mclouth that the only reasonable thing the Braves can and might do but i think KK kinda sour them on japanese players but who know Fuku is doing well in Chicago and he can play center and i bet Fuku can truimph in Atlanta then Chi-town. Now i am not saying the Braves should go after him i am saying with Mclouths’ deal and Fukudome are the only reasonable ones i can see the two teams trading away and taking on.

infante an all star, all right. Along with mccann heyward hudson and prado….

Wow, congratulations Omar Infante. You finally get the credit you deserve. Also, congratulations to Jason Heyward, Martin Prado, Tim Hudson, and Brian McCann.

Way to go Charlie Manuel, he tips his cap to the Braves with 5 All Stars. My only disappointment was that Wags didn’t make it. He sure deserved it.

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