Odds and ends from an icy week

When Fredi Gonzalez answered the phone Wednesday and informed me that he and Roger McDowell were in the process of shoveling Bobby Cox’s driveway, I figured I had gained a light-hearted tidbit to start a story. 

But when Cox called from his sunny Mexico locale Thursday, he informed me that I didn’t get all of the story.  In fact, I missed what truly was the humorous part. 

When I told Cox that Fredi and Roger had cleaned his driveway, he said, “Yeah, I know.  Did they also tell you that they both fell down and slid all the way to the bottom of the driveway?”

That would have been priceless.  Roger has proven that he has the versatility that most other closers have never possessed.  I mean over the course of the past two decades he has been both the Second Spitter and the Second Luger.  Not many people can ever cough that up when composing their bio.

OK, enough of the winter-related nonsense.  I mean, we don’t even have time to mention that the number of school days missed by our kids here in Atlanta matched the number of wins Kawakami totaled in his final 33 starts with the Braves. 

Speaking of Kawakami, it will be interesting to see if the Braves decide to invite him to Spring Training. 

Julio Teheran, who will most likely be among this year’s non-roster invitees, will be one of the 26 Braves prospects who will gather at Turner Field next week for the club’s first Rookie Development Program.

Teheran, Edward Salcedo, Randall Delgado, Christian Bethancourt, Matt Lipka, Arodys Vizcaino and Tyler Pastornicky are among the most recognizable prospects who have been invited to participate.

They will participate in some on-field activities with Minor League field coordinator Dave Trembley and also learn about some off-field issues, like how to deal with the media and social media. 

When you get a chance, check out the story I wrote about Chipper today.  It’s tough to say somebody looked good when they are in an indoor batting cage in the middle of January.  But as he continued to center Alan Butts’ pitches today, you could see Chipper still has that confidence and swagger. 

It’s amazing how things have changed since June, when he was ready to retire at the end of 2010.  While talking to him today, I would have to say that he genuinely believes that 2012 could be in his future. 

 
 
 

50 Comments

Wow. 2012? Easy fella! Let’s take it one season at a time. Or maybe, one half-season at a time. I would love to get 130 games out of Chipper this year… but I won’t count on that like I won’t count on Richard Simmons telling the world he’s really straight.
I’ve learned to take Chipper’s off season optimism with a grain of salt. Ever since he was ready to proclaim Jeff Franceour as the next Braves cleanup hitter after Frenchy changed his hitting approach and took some swings in an indoor cage during an off season workout.
Our lineup is better with a healthy Chipper and Dan Uggla protecting him at cleanup. I really hope he will tee it up this season. I’m not ready to county the veteran out yet. I think he still has some gas left in the tank.
Thanks for the post, Mark. It’s about that time of year again where your sitting in the sun watching our team and we’re stuck in our cubicles wanting to be where you are. I call it “We hate Mark Bowman month.”
Nothing personal…

It’s really tough to say that Uggla will be batting cleanup against righties. I think Freddi might drop him in the 5 spot for that. But, in all reality, most of our lineup depends on McLouth. He’s the closest thing to a leadoff hitter we have(I like to think of Prado as a number 2 guy myself) and it would take nothing short of a miracle for him to regain his 08 form and hit leadoff. If he could go .260/.350 we could slot a lineup like this:

McLouth
Prado
Chipper
McCann/Uggla
Uggla/McCann
Heyward
Gonzalez
Freeman

That’s in a perfect world. If we have to drop McLouth down to 7th or 8th, it’s really gonna hurt because while moving Prado to leadoff, our 2 hole is probably gonna be filled by Heyward, which I feel limits his production a bit.

Wow – you guys are really excited, considering your best playoff hopes lie in another wild card appearance.
I think your best hopes of Chipper “teeing it up” are in October on his local golf course.

MY feelings bout KK is why not use him in the bullpen instead of having 6 million sitting there in AA why not use him as best you can maybe as a long reliever or maybe see if he can compete for the closers job. I mean he went pitch for pitch with Holladay why not see if he can be a set-up man or closer?

Well DonkeyBoy, You must have gotten lonely over there in Frillyville after your season ending burn. I mean you guys were only getting about 6 posts a week when the season was in full force. I can only imagine what a coal shaft it is over there in January. Personally, I’m oiling my glove for ST. Pitchers, catchers and me report on Feb. 14. Enjoy that lovely PA weather.

What free agents look like they might be interesting still? I wouldn’t take any of them that are $2 million plus, but there are a few that might be fun to try out with minor league contracts and non-guaranteed incentive filled deals.

Micah Owings would be a fun P/DH addition to Gwinnett for the summer. Get him 100+ ABs by June 1 and he might be the story of the 2011 season. In Atlanta, he could pitch an inning, hit for himself then get Freddie to the next inning with his bench in tact.

Hank Blalock could insure the Braves against problems with Chipper and/or Freeman.

Rocco Baldelli could be a nice last OF guy that can also play CF, knowing he can’t go more than a couple times a week.

Beyond that, most are overpriced and have significant proven flaws in their Major League games.

Mules just jelly that our team was better than his in the playoffs.

Rother, I’m not sure how much help Blalock would be. We have Prado and Mather can man both corner spots. Conrad and Hernandez can give depth to the hot corner, and Hinske can man 1st well enough for a couple games. I think it can’t hurt to have another bat on the bench, but how much can we expect out of Blalock at this point?

I agree, I don’t see any reason to sign Blalock even on a minors deal, but your heads in the right place Rother. Rocco Baldelli would be ok on a minors deal. Any guys like this are welcome. But some make the team for no reason at all. Anyone remember Craig Wilson or Chris Woodward?

I’m not completely sold on Baldelli either. I think that the 4th OF position is going to be a big deal for the Braves this year. In a typical year, you can expect Chipper to miss 20-40 games, but what about after coming back from ACL surgery late in his career? I have a sinking feeling that our “4th” OF will get a bunch of playing time. We need a RH bat that can play consistent OF, preferably all OF positions. I like Hinske, but what do we do when we face LHP? Can we really expect to start 4 lefties in the OF with a southpaw on the mound?

I’m not completely sold on Baldelli either. I think that the 4th OF position is going to be a big deal for the Braves this year. In a typical year, you can expect Chipper to miss 20-40 games, but what about after coming back from ACL surgery late in his career? I have a sinking feeling that our “4th” OF will get a bunch of playing time. We need a RH bat that can play consistent OF, preferably all OF positions. I like Hinske, but what do we do when we face LHP? Can we really expect to start 4 lefties in the OF with a southpaw on the mound?

Me either, but we have to get someone. Maybe in a trade for Kawakami? We need a RH 4th OF and our offseason is complete. I look at our roster and see these holes: 4th Of, bench middle infielder, and 1 relief pitcher. I noticed we have no long relief, and due to Beachy’s bullpen experience, I can see him making the pen as a swingman. The backup MI can be handled by Diory or Hicks(I don’t reaally care which). Anyone know of an overly expensive 4th OF that we could possibly trade Kawakami for? (And in before bill does, I think we already have the most expensive 4th OF in Nate McLouth)

The Braves run with 13 position players, maybe 14 in April. That is usually 2 catchers, 5 infielders, 4 outfielders, a oinch hitter and a wild card. With Heyward, McLouth, Mather, Prado, it really isn’t a 4th OF they are looking for. The last opening in Atlanta goes to a team/hustle/professional type guy. Conrad fits the bill, but they usually like to stack some insurance in AAA. I don’t think they have designs on getting anybody that would demand a role in the top 12 spots, either monetarily or emotionally. They usually look for a guy that has some wear on the tread that can give them a week here or there where emergencies arise. That is the talent pool I was wading through. Previous seasons candidates were Joe Borchard, Brooks Conrad, Mitch Jones, Chris Burke, Joe Thurston, Scott Spezio, Sal Fasano, Ruben Gotay, etc. There are way more misses than hits, but this is an important piece in the AAA puzzle for all good teams. Pushing the right button on this, like last season with Brooks, is a big plus. Having enough buttons to push is what makes a GM. If it was all about the glamor signings, the Mets would be a winning team. This part is fun, especially in January.

I doubt Andruw will be available, it looks like there are a few other teams more in the hunt for him than we are. I bet if Wren ever wanted him, he would have been signed when he would have cost nothing after being released from the Dodgers. I was just hoping we could get an effective Medlen back in 2011. Anyone hear how he is doing?

The bench still needs a late innings brilliant defensive outfielder to play for anyone not named Heyward. If this isn’t going to happen I would even prefer signing Andruw, who would at least be preferable to any of our other options in LF if/when there are issues with Chipper.

I think you have to consider another outfielder for 2 reasons. 1. We have to assume Chipper will miss at least a third of the season, let’s try to be realistic. This will bring Prado in from the OF.
2. When Prado comes in to 3B, that leaves us with Hinske, Mather (possibly), Heyward, and McLouth. If Mather doesn’t make the team we will not have a RH in the OF when Prado moves to the IF. Remember our woes vs LHP last season?? It won’t be much better with Diaz gone. At least Uggla will provide us with some RH hitting.

Mather has already made the team, unless he hits for zero in spring training and Young or Schafer bat a thousand.

with the Angels and Blue Jays sending Wells and Napoli, will the Braves make a go at Juan Rivera?

NO.

Not on your life, NC. And yes, Mather is out of options, so he will make the team barring McLouthian results. He’s worth a shot.

Any chance the Braves will go after Armando Galarraga to maybe booster the pitching depth?

Julio Teheran is not from Panama. He was born in Cartagena Colombia; he lived in La Puntilla, Olaya Herrera. Please make the correction of this article. Is not possible to be wrong in that way. Mark Bowman for president.

We already have our own more expensive Armando Galarraga. Just because he had one good game doesn’t make him that good of a pitcher. He is of right now, a number 4 at best. No reason to take him and a $2.4MM salary to fill a spot we already have.

We have 7 potential starters, not counting Medlen, Teheran, Delgado, and Vizcaino. Why would you want to drop another couple million on a starter, you numbskull?

Hey Viva, don’t sugarcoat it, give it to him straight.

Only NC would be worried about the Atlanta Braves pitching staff. Not the overpaid CF, the infielder playing LF, the 3B who’s own swing hurts him, and the bench that isn’t full, but I don’t know guys, I’m really worried that Mike Minor isn’t ready yet… let’s bring in Amando and his 5 ERA…

Damn, even Brandon gets this one.

Prorumors is announcing that Cantu is close to signing with The Padres. It was between the Braves and them and it seems they won. They are to sign him to a minor league deal.

The Braves never really wanted Cantu, so I don’t think the Braves “lost” with this one.

OK so The Braves still need a 4th OF, why not go after someone from the crowded outfield in Boston like Mcdonald or Navish?

Mather is better than any of the three players in Boston you mentioned. Navish (Nava and Kalish combined) hit .240 something. Nava did nothing after the GS in his first AB. Kalish was a yawn, and McDonald is 4 years older than Mather at 32. Besides, he has to be tough growing up with all the “Leave it to Beaver” jokes. Joe Simpson and Buffalo Chips Carey have probably been filling 3×5 cards with stupid jokes since he was signed.

Nope. Not going to sign one player that you mention for the rest of the offseason. NOT ONE.

I doubt the Braves sign anyone the rest of the offseason except minor league deals with an invite to spring training.

Wow, such hope from the Bravo Faithful. I am one, too–been a fan since 1982, but I can’t in any way, shape, or form see Larry Wayne Junior appearing in more than 81 games this season, and even that seems like a stretch. He will do the right thing (i.e., retire) come July 1st, then America’s Team will have the funds to trade for some real help in the outfield, putting Martin Prado where he belongs, at 3B (until 2012 when they move Uggla there and shift Marin back where he really belongs, at 2B).

Any deal for an outfielder will happen via trade in the summer. The Braves are done dealing for now. They have what it takes to be in the hunt half way. If there’s an injury in the outfield or with Chipper that will force Prado to 3rd, the Braves will use their depth in pitching to trade for an outfielder. We have 2 or 3 stud pitchers who could probably make their debuts this year if there wasn’t such a log jam of arms in the bigs. Teheran, Vizcaino, etc…
The Uggla move was the one we needed immediately. The other one will come midseason. Just my opinion.

28naf.. you’re obviously not really one of the “faithful” if you have such little faith in the second greatest switch hitter in the history of baseball. Though he is coming back from a rough injury, he did play in 143 games in 2009. In my opinion, if you’re not rooting for Chipper then you’re not a real Braves fan. Pretty simple.
Also, Prado is the future third baseman of the Braves. He is much better there than at second.

This is an ugly, but last resort suggesting… what about…. as a 4th OF… Gary Matthews Jr…. *turns head in shame*

There I said it. Switch hitter who can play all 3 OF spots who can be had on a non-guaranteed deal. His UZR isn’t too good, but he seems to have a flair for the dramatic defensively. I know this sounds a lot like Melky, but a invite to ST couldn’t hurt.

Brandon – Why the desperation to throw another below average outfielder in the mix? The outfield is set until either McClouth/Schaffer bomb again, or Chipper goes down. Read my post above. Our team is good enough to be in the hunt in midseason. Then we can make a midseason trade that could make a huge offensive difference. Until then, why throw a bunch of **** to the wall to see what sticks? That approach doesn’t work.

What is Young, chop liver? It just seems nobody has faith in him. I think he’ll make a solid 4th outfielder. If Braves were to pick up anyone for a spring training invite it should be someone that D. Hernandez

What is Young, chop liver? It just seems nobody has faith in him. I think he’ll make a solid 4th outfielder. If Braves were to pick up anyone for a spring training invite it should be someone that D. Hernandez can compete against for backup shortstop.

I think the better question is – why not? Make as much competition as possible for McLouth. If he sees another guy even matching his production in ST, all the more incentive to be that much better.

McLouth doesn’t need any more competition. His biggest threat is himself and he will either sink or swim?and after last year we could probably live with just floating. Another outfielder in ST isn’t going to light a fire under him.
Young, from what I’ve heard is kind of like chopped liver out there in CF. We need an upper echelon defensive backup for late innings (neither Schafer or Young fall under this category) and if that doesn’t happen we might as well get someone like Andruw who can hit off the bench and play regularly if need be.

For a late inning defensive backup, Schafer will be great if that is all he ends up being. I personally hope for more than that from him, but my hopes are not what they used to be for him.

For a late inning defensive backup, Schafer will be great if that is all he ends up being. I personally hope for more than that from him, but my hopes are not what they used to be for him.

Does anyone know how much money we have left or are we just maxed out till KK is delt?

Stupid computer!

Justin Maxwell just got DFA’ed. Make a move, Wren. Fast guy who can play all 3 OF spots well, and is RH.

Just what we need another CF coming off of a sub Mendoza season. BA .144, SO 43 in 104 AB, that would project to 258 SO for a 600 AB season. This SO rate makes ADAM DUNN LOOK LIKE A CONTACT HITTER!!!! It would lead the league by a full 20%. I don’t think even Frank Wren is that clueless. NC , what do you think of this great idea?

Yes, a 4th OF who can run and play the outfield but can’t hit… truly one of a kind, bill. I don’t think any logical person is looking for a better replacement for McLouth at the moment, bill. Because there simply isn’t an option out there. Most of us are looking at people who could cover CF in an emergency, and maybe platoon/defensive sub in LF if Prado has to play 3B and we throw Hinkse out there. For next to nothing financially, IT’S WORTH A SHOT.

Also, he has nothing more than a sample size is across 3 different seasons. You’re also the man who pointed out that Brooks Conrads sample size meant that he’d hit 30 HR and win a Gold Glove. Some players do better with a full season of ABs. Actually, MOST do.

The last spot on the bench needs to be A DEFENSIVELY ADEPT CENTER FIELDER WHO CAN COME IN DURING LATE INNINGS. Defense ONLY. We are not looking for sluggers. Even getting Langerhans back wouldn’t be such a bad move. Our defense is not that great. Give Kimbrel and Venters a little help out there when we’re up by a couple runs.

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