Odds and ends: Freeman, Bourn, Kimbrel and Brian Dawkins

Anything happen while I spent some time with the family watching the D-backs series from afar?  Well other than the Braves completing their second five-game winning streak of the young season and Freddie Freeman collecting as many RBIs (9) during a four-day stay in Phoenix as Brian McCann did all of last September.

Unlike that other team that still calls Boston home, the Braves are not entering this week still battling the effects of what transpired last September.  There is something about wining 10 of 12 games that allows a team to distance itself from last year and the struggles that were extended through the first four games of this year.

When the Braves lost the first three games of this season, it was pointed out that it marked the first time since 2003 that they were swept to open a season.  When it was pointed out that the 2003 team won 101 games and set a modern-day record with 907 runs (just two totaled in the first three games) some of you said you can’t compare this team to that one.

Fair enough.  What Chipper, Shef, Andruw, Javy and Co. did that year was quite special.  But so too has the offensive production this year’s Braves bunch has manufactured over the past two weeks.

During the 12 games played dating back to April 10, the Braves have scored a Major League-best 6.75 runs per game.  The Rockies rank second among National League teams with a 5.64 mark and the Cardinals third with a 4.64 mark.  Atlanta’s 16 home runs during this span are four more than any other club’s total.

These past two weeks have provided a glimpse of the value Michael Bourn can bring in the leadoff role.  Bourn has batted .400 (20-for-50) with a .464 on-base percentage in the past 12 games.  His consistent presence on base has provided regular RBI opportunities and allowed the lineup to flow more consistently than it did most of last year.

This past week has only heightened the belief that Freeman could soon reach that 40-homer territory that has not been visited by a Braves player since Andruw Jones in 2006.

The day before this season started, I wrote:  Freddie Freeman spent the past couple weeks showing some of that opposite-field power that creates reason to wonder how many 40-homer seasons could be in this 22-year-old’s future.

At the time, I did not feel this would be the first year he would reach that mark.  Nor would I say this past week has given any more reason to believe he will reach 40 this year.  But it has provided further indication that this 22-year-old first baseman is quickly becoming a man.

Freeman hit .478 (11-for-23) with five doubles, three home runs, a .481 on-base percentage and a 1.087 slugging percentage last week.  Just a quick look at the numbers seems to indicate he is  a virtual lock to be named NL Player of the Week later today.  It’s nice that he will be able to enjoy news of this honor while back here in Southern California with his father, who helped develop that powerful left-handed swing while spending numerous lunch hour breaks throwing batting practice to his son.

Enough about the offense.  It’s time to show some love to the pitching staff.  The starting pitchers have combined to post a 2.93 ERA and work 58 1/3 innings over the past nine games.

Before last week, the Braves had seen their starting pitcher last at least seven innings in three straight games since May 17.  Just for fun, Mike Minor, Brandon Beachy and Tommy Hanson opted to turn this trick twice last week.

The Braves bullpen has totaled 21 2/3 innings dating back to April 14 and .  The Phillies are the only other Major League team that has played at least nine games during this span and logged fewer relief innings (17.1 innings).

As his team has continued to win without encountering many save opportunities, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has had to find ways to keep The Untouchables  — Craig Kimbrel, Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty — sharp.  Kimbrel allowed a run in a non-save situation on Friday night and then returned on Saturday to team with Venters to strike out the six D-backs that came to the plate in the eighth and ninth innings.

Kimbrel has now struck out the only three batters he has faced while working one inning in a game eight times.  This matches John Smoltz’s mark and leaves him one shy of the total John Rocker notched during his days in Atlanta’s pen.

A quick glance at tonight’s pitching matchup (Jair Jurrjens vs. Chris Capuano) might not generate a lot of optimism.  But Jurrjens has allowed one run or fewer in four of six career starts against the Dodgers.  And last time I checked, there are not any weather-related projections that would force the Braves to return to their hotel to gather their belongings before this showdown against Capuano.

For those who might have erased this from their memory, nearly half of the Braves players returned to their Manhattan hotel on the afternoon of Aug. 26 to gather their suitcases because the approaching Hurricane Irene had postponed the final two games of that series against the Mets.  After Capuano fired a two-hit shutout that night, things were never the same for the 2011 Braves.

Capuano came to Turner Field three weeks later and allowed two runs over five innings in a victorious five-inning effort.

The past couple weeks have provided indication Capuano will be facing a little different Braves lineup tonight.  The Braves can only hope Jurrjens will also prove to be a little different than he has been during his first three starts of the season.

News of former All Pro Safety Brian Dawkins’ retirement conjured memories of him visiting Spring Training to watch the Braves take batting practice just a few weeks after he had helped the Eagles advance to Super Bowl XXXIX in 2005.

After watching intently and taking his own batting practice swings, Dawkins said, “I’ve been a Braves fan for a long time, but we’ve got to keep that down because of the Philadelphia thing, you know.”

19 Comments

You’d have to think if Bourn keeps hitting like this, Boras might aim for that new benchmark $200MM contract.

Yeah, he’s only gonna get $40MM over the next 10 years, now that he is showing what he can really do. Good Night Irene, Good night Irene, Good night Irene, Good Night.

Fine, 10 years it is. With a player option and a $10MM signing bonus. Bourn also gets his own private jet. Heard the Dodgers have that kind of money to spend. Do they have a good centerfielder? Haven’t heard much out of LA this year.

If we have to use 6 or 7 millions on top of what he mskes to sign bourn I will do it. He does too much for our lineup in a slow group. With chipper and Lowe s money there is plenty and more.

Jurrjens sux.

I hate to see Jair struggle like this, but I am thrilled that they are not just going to keep running him out there when we have better options right now. The guy didn’t forget how to pitch. The knee is obviously a problem and if he is not going to be able to pitch with the brace, then he needs to just shut it down and have the surgery..

Zidane was right. Man we should have traded JJ before the all-star break last year. Could have gotten a king’s ransom. (I was leaning that way too). Definitely wanted to see him dealt for Adam Jones in the winter.

And if JJ went a couple more years with dominant stuff for another club, we’d instead be arguing about whether or not it was the worst trade in Braves history. Hell, if JJ simply finished the season with 75% of his first half success on another team it would be viewed that way. I can only imagine the chatter after 2011 collapse we we traded JJ, regardless how he pitched with another squad (“change of scenery” would be blamed a lot for his struggles).

This whole conversation is stupid… you don’t trade your best pitcher down the stretch in the heat of a pennant (or wild card) race. Lucky guesses and hindsight don’t count.

Should I post about trading every player doing well right now so that if one of them lands on the DL I can get credit for being Nostradamus?

No way that would have been considered at the time. The Braves were still looking like a contender and removing an All-Star pitcher from a rotation that had Derek Lowe and untested Minor and Beachy in it would never have happened.

Hind-sight being what it is, that would have been nice timing, I agree.

I understand the hesitation at the break last year. However, I would have been trying to unload him this winter. With Scot Boras as is agent and the fact that he was outperforming his metrics (obviously), we needed to unload him when his stock was at its highest. It would not have been as outlandish as people make it out to be. He had a great first half but it was all smoke and mirrors. Now he’s just dead weight.

Mark, goes on in the next article to explain that no one wanted him this winter cause “he’s hurt”. This is another huge fail by our medical staff. JJ should have had knee surgery in the middle of last season, he would be close to be reentering the rotation if not already back in it. After the Prado and Hudson monster screw ups in the last year you really have to question, who’s minding the store;.What a waste, now he needs to have the surgery, rehab and try to get back. What a debacle for the Braves Front Office once again.His metrics didn’t have jack shite to do with his diminished performance. The kid is HURT!!!!

As Bill already said, they floated JJ on the market but clubs were not willing to take the risk due to the injury issues. Your first sentence contradicts your second sentence, and there is zero chance your third sentence would have held any water at the time – unloading JJ would have been extremely “outlandish”… not only was he a dominant member of our rotation, it doesn’t exactly make the clubhouse comfortable when you make insane moves like that either.

And no, it was not all smoke and mirrors – he probably would have come back down to Earth from where his numbers were, but the injury is the issue here, not metrics playing out.

Honestly, why don’t we just let Bill run the Braves? His prophecies could have won us the World Series last year.

Bill is not always right (none of us are), but I can usually see the logic he uses to base his arguments. I don’t always agree with that logic either, but it’s rarely asinine (if ever? not sure…). His issue is being an ass and starting fights with the people he should be building some sort of camaraderie with, even if their arguments are devoid of logic and ARE asinine. He also can’t get over himself when he gets something right, which is annoying, but ignorable. He’s not the only one guilty of this, but he is the instigator 9 times out of 10.Point is, he’s deserving of plenty of criticism… but he’s not the top pick of mine for the “crazy prophet” award…

I just love f**king with him. He gets so mad and says dumb things like below, and I get a kick out of it.

Brandumb, We are still waiting for that picture of your soccer jersey on a field somewhere. Seems like you promised it 2 years ago now.Maybe you could at least Photoshop one, eh? Oh and i love that Bieber hairdo of yours. It’s so 1968.

Long straight hair was totally pioneered by teh Biebz. Nice attempt at an insult, but the ladies love the hair.

You might want to Google “Mop Top” from Liverpool if you are really that lacking in historical perspective.

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