Results tagged ‘ Jordan Schafer ’

Soriano willingly speaks

Santonio Holmes meet#CF3FA7.jpgWhen Steelers wide receiver Santonio Holmes toe-tapped his way toward Super Bowl MVP honors and then proclaimed he was going to Disney World, he wasn’t lying.  In fact, he and his magical right foot are still here.

Holmes has been training here at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex and he took time on Friday morning to come over to the baseball stadium and enjoy a photo opportunity with a former childhood favorite Chipper Jones, who happens to be a big Steelers fan. 

With Jones wearing Holmes’  Steelers jersey and Holmes sporting Jones’  Braves jersey, the two athletes, who both wear No. 10, posed for a few pictures with Mickey Mouse. 

Jones walked away with a signed football and Holmes gained a baseball signed by Jones. 

Growing up in Florida, Holmes adopted the Braves as his favorite team and chose Jones as his favorite player, primarily because of the fact that he was a switch hitter.

“One of the main reasons I liked him was the ability to switch sides,” Holmes said. “That’s amazing for somebody to be able to do that and have the great hand-eye coordination with his swing lefty and righty and have the ability to hit home runs.  That’s amazing.” 

Yeah, but could Jones go into the corner of the endzone and possess the grace of a ballerina dancer while hauling in the game-winning catch with 35 seconds left in the Super Bowl? 

Speaking of amazing, something must have happened to Rafael Soriano overnight.  After completing a phone conversation on Friday morning, he actually called me and Dave O’Brien over to his locker to discuss the discomfort that he’s been feeling in his left side. 

Maybe it had something to do with the fact that we were hovering over him in an otherwise empty locker room.  But the conversation was actually cordial and it seems like he believes he might start throwing again within the next few days.   I’ll believe it when I see it.  But it appears he might indeed be in the bullpen to begin the season. 

Who is standing in center field on Opening Night in Philadelphia remains a mystery.  Jordan Schafer has done everything he can to prove that he’s ready to compete at the Major League level.  The five-tool outfielder is a difference maker who will be a fan favorite in Atlanta for many years to come. 

But there’s still reason to believe the Braves might choose to send him to Triple-A Gwinnett to begin the season.  I started to buy into this possibility after a scout reminded me Thursday night that it’s much easier to bring a player up than it is to send him down. 

If Schafer were to begin the season and struggle to the point that the Braves felt the need to send him back to the Minors, there’s a chance the decision could produce psychological damage that would be felt beyond this year. 

While understanding this theory, I don’t think it applies to the ever-confident Schafer.  First of all, I don’t think he’d encounter enormous struggles at the Major League level and if he did, I don’t think it would damage him.

It was obviously a shame that he was forced to pay for his youthful transgressions with the humiliating 50-game suspension that he was handed last year.  But the episode improved his mental strength and allowed him to mature more over the course of a year than I could have ever imagined. 

Gregor Blanco is starting today’s game against the Tigers in center and I’m now at least buying into the possibility that he might be manning that position at the beginning of the season. 

The Braves are exploring the option of trading Josh Anderson, who is out of options, and if they’re able to strike a deal with a team that’s looking for a speedy outfielder, Blanco might be the most sensical option from a business standpoint.

The White Sox are among the teams looking for an outfielder like Anderson.  But manager Ozzie Guillen has said he doesn’t expect the team to looking outside the organization for a center fielder.  We’ll see if this proves to be true.
 
Blanco spent the entire 2008 season in the Majors and people are still buzzing about the way he played during the World Baseball Classic.  If the Braves were to send him to the Minors to begin the season, his trade value would plummet and more importantly, he’s somebody who certainly could be psychologically damaged by such a move. 

OK. Tom Glavine is about to take the mound for his second Grapefruit League start. 

You can view today’s game on MLB.TV or SportSouth, for those of you who still watch baseball on television.

A couple more notes:

Bobby Cox says that Garret Anderson probably won’t return to the lineup until Sunday.  Earlier this week, the Braves said he’d come back on Saturday. 

Because he was feeling ill again on Friday, the Braves sent Casey Kotchman to be examined by a doctor.  Kotchman has battled the flu most of the past week.  He said he felt good on Wednesday and then started feeling sick again on Thursday.

Today’s Lineup:

Gregor Blanco CF
Kelly Johnson 2B
Chipper Jones 3B
Brian McCann C
Jeff Francoeur RF
Omar Infante SS
Martin Prado 1B
Josh Anderson LF
Tom Glavine P

What to do with Hanson and Schafer?

In a little more than a week, the Braves will announce where Jordan Schafer and Tommy Hanson will begin the season.  Despite the fact that he has the potential to end the season as the most talented member of their starting rotation, Hanson will likely begin the season with Triple-A Gwinnett. 

Hesitance to start Hanson’s arbitration clock serves as only one the reasons the Braves will likely send him to the Minors to begin the year.  The 22-year-old right-hander stands as one the key factors to the organization’s bright future, which extends far beyond the first two months of this season. 

If Hanson were to begin the season as Atlanta’s fifth starter, he would be scheduled to make two starts in April and four more in May.  While with Gwinnett, he’d have the opportunity to make five April starts and then further his maturation process with six May starts.

By the time June arrives, the temptation to bring him to Atlanta will be too great and his days in the Minors will come to a close. 

While providing this regular schedule, the Braves would also be able to limit Hanson’s innings without worrying about how early exits might affect the team’s record.  Hanson has never thrown more than 138 innings during a professional season and just 18 of his starts have occurred above the Class A level.

With five starters in place in Atlanta and Jo-Jo Reyes seemingly capable to provide assistance in Atlanta if needed during the season’s first two months, it makes sense to protect Hanson during the early months and hope that this decision provides dividends when he could make his greatest contributions during the final months and weeks of this season. 

This appears to be the approach the Rays are taking with David Price, who is the only pitcher rated as a greater prospect by Baseball America.  The Rays had enough faith in Price to use him in clutch situations during last year’s American League Championship Series and World Series. 

But they also recognize the value of allowing him to encounter a natural maturation process and thus it looks like the prized left-hander will also begin this season in the International League.  

With Schafer, the Braves have reason to possess a different mindset. The 22-year-old outfielder has provided every indication that he’s the best option to begin this season as the every day center fielder.

In addition, he’s given reason to believe that he’s the best option to use as a leadoff hitter.  In comparison to Josh Anderson, he will provide a greater on-base percentage, much beter pop and comparable baserunning skills. 

From both an offensive and defensive standpoint, Schafer appears to be much more valuable than Anderson or Gregor Blanco. And the fact that he could provide daily contributions provides the reason why the Braves should be much less reluctant to start his arbitration clock ahead of schedule. 

While Hanson might only make 10 starts during the season’s first two months, Schafer could impact games on a much more frequent basis.  The five-tool outfielder has the ability to be a difference maker and the decision to  keep him in the Minors for the season’s first two months could prove to be the difference if the Braves were to come up just a few games short in a postseason race. 

With this being said, I won’t be surprised if the Braves start the season with Anderson in center.  He’s out of options and there are some in the organization who believe Schafer could benefit from a few more months of Minor League seasoning. 

The Braves could ultimately decide to begin the season with Anderson and Matt Diaz serving as their backup outfielders.  But to do this, they’d likely have to send Martin Prado to the Minors and I don’t think they’re in a position where it would make sense to start the year with Omar Infante as the only backup infielder.

Nor do I think they should even contemplate parting ways with Greg Norton.  Over the course of an entire season, his pinch-hitting skills would prove more valuable than whatever Josh Anderson might provide until Schafer is deemed ready. 

If Garret Anderson isn’t ready to begin the season, the Braves could begin the year with Josh Anderson, Matt Diaz, Schafer and Jeff Francoeur as their outfielders.

Or they could prevent having to send Josh Anderson through waivers by opting to begin the season with a roster that includes an 11-man pitching staff and five outfielders (G. Anderson, J. Anderson, Schafer, Francoeur and Diaz)  That would likely mean that Tom Glavine (who isn’t scheduled to start until April 18) and Peter Moylan would begin the season on the disabled list.

There are a number of options to evaulate.  But to me the most logical ones put Hanson in Gwinnett and Schafer in Atlanta to begin the year.  Whatever the case, by the end of the season they’ll likely be together in Atlanta.  

Reyes looking to extend pitching dominance

As you know, it’s not wise to put much stock in Spring Training statistics.  But it’s hard to ignore what the Braves pitchers have been doing over the past week.  

During the five games that preceded this afternoon’s contest against the Phillies, Braves starters had worked 19 2/3 innings, surrendered eight hits, allowed two earned runs, recorded 18 strikeouts and issued six walks.  Before you grab your calculator, that equates to a 0.92 ERA.  

The 2.83 ERA the Braves pitching staff has compiled during Grapefruit League play is almost one run better than any other National League team.  In addition, Roger McDowell’s pitchers still haven’t surrendered a homer. (Now that Rother has declared that I’ve placed a jinx on Jo-Jo Reyes this afternoon, I’ll point out that every other NL team has surrendered at least six homers during this exhibition season.) 

It will be nearly impossible for Reyes to duplicate the dominant performance Derek Lowe produced while not allowing the Astros to hit the ball out of the infield yesterday.  But if the young left-hander continues to pitch like he has during his three previous Grapefruit League appearances, the Braves will have even more reason to believe he’s turned the corner.  

Reyes, who went 0-7 with a 7.81 ERA in his final 13 appearances (12 starts) last year, has surrendered one run in nine GL innings.  During his past two outings, he has worked seven scoreless innings, surrendered two hits and issued three walks.  

Realizing that there likely won’t be an available rotation spot for him in Atlanta to start the year, Reyes has had reason to seem more relaxed than he was last year, when he often panicked when he encountered potentially-damaging situations.  

If he continues to pitch effectively, Reyes could certainly prove to be a benefit in Atlanta this year.  The Braves want Tommy Hanson to continue his maturation process in the Minors during the early portion of this season.  If another starter is needed before Hanson is deemed ready, Reyes or Jorge Campillo would be the most likely candidates to move into Bobby Cox’s rotation.

Schafer returns:  Jordan Schafer, who has been sidelined since Feb. 28 with a sprained left shoulder, is back in the lineup today.  Both Cox and general manger Frank Wren said there is still plenty of time for Schafer to make the center field battle interesting.   But it still appears Josh Anderson is clearly the favorite in that battle.

Anderson update:  The Braves still aren’t sure when Garret Anderson might be able to return.  But once again, Cox said he’s hopeful that the veteran outfielder will be in his Opening Day lineup.  

STARTING LINEUP:

Yunel Escobar SS
Jordan Schafer CF
Kelly Johnson 2B
Greg Norton 1B
Jeff Francoeur RF
Matt Diaz LF
Diory Hernandez 3B
Clint Sammons C
Reyes P

No reason to panic about Chipper

As Kenshin Kawakami was attempting to build arm strength during today’s
intra-squad game at Disney, Chipper Jones is resting his strained right
oblique muscle in a Toronto hotel. 

While nobody likes to hear
Chipper and the word injury linked in the same sentence, the Braves
don’t seem too concerned.  In fact based on what I’ve been hearing from
Bobby Cox and Jones’ agent, I’d say most of the pain the third baseman
is currently feeling has more to do with the fact that he’s struck out
five times and gone hitless in his first seven World Baseball Classic
at-bats.

Cox and Jones’ agent, B.B. Abbott said they believe
Chipper could return to action within the next few days.  Because the
U.S. has already clinched a spot in this weekend’s second round,
Chipper probably won’t play in the final Pool C game on Wednesday.

Jones exited Sunday night’s game after feeling a slight strain in his right side during his fifth inning at-bat. 

Jones
felt similar discomfort in his right side while taking batting practice
on September 10, 2007.  Initially it was thought that he might miss the
remainder of the season.  But because he took precautionary measures,
he was able to return to the lineup just four days later.  <p>

Back to Kawakami
:
During last Monday’s intra-squad game, Jason Heyward proved to be a
thorn in Jair Jurrjens’ side.  This week, the 19-year-old phenom
introduced his power to Kenshin Kawakami with a towering third-inning
homer that easily cleared the right field wall.

One half-inning earlier, Heyward had drilled an Emiliano Fruto fastball over the left-ceneterfield wall.

At
the beginning of camp, I asked Heyward if his goal was to end this
season with Double-A Mississippi and he said, “no the goal is to end
the year here (in the Majors).  Having had the chance to watch him play
over the past few weeks, I no longer find that comment as ammusing as I
had originally.

Kawakami ended up allowing four runs in four
innings.  He surrendered a first-inning leadoff double to Matt
Kennelly, who scored on consecutive groundouts. 

The two runs Kawakami allowed in the third inning came courtesy of a Freddie Freeman double and Heyward’s towering homer.

Schafer further encouraged:  Jordan
Schafer, who has been sidelined since Feb. 28 with a sprained left
shoulder, felt no limitations while taking soft toss and hitting off of
a tee on Monday morning.  He’ll attempt to take regular batting
practice on Tuesday and possibly play on Wednesday against the
Phillies.

Glavine encouraged after live BP session

Before leaving the stadium on this afternoon, Tom Glavine turned to Matt Diaz and said, “If you go deep today, you owe me.”

About an hour earlier, Glavine had thrown approximately 20 pitches during a live batting practice session against Diaz, Jason Heyward and Brandon Hicks.  While still feeling some crankiness in his left shoulder, the 42-year-old southpaw was encouraged with his location and the consistency of the movement of his changeup and curve.

“He told us what was coming and still all of us rolled over two or three (of his pitches),” Diaz said. “He’s just got that location and that movement that’s vintage Glavine.  Obviously he wasn’t rearing back.  It’s just fun to see him back out on the mound again.”

Glavine will likely throw another live BP session on Sunday.  He’s still hoping to make his Grapefruit League season debut late next week.
 
Anderson set for debut:  Garret Anderson will make his Braves debut against Venezuela this afternoon.  Freddie Freeman is hitting cleanup and as expected Jeff Francoeur will serve as the DH.  Francoeur plans to play the entire game and compile at least four at-bats.

Derek Lowe will be making his second start of the exhibition season this afternoon.

Needing arms:  Because they want to protect some of their arms for the start of the World Baseball Classic, Venezuela will use Braves Minor League pitchers Brad Nelson and Kevin Gunderson during portions of  today’s game.

Blanco absent from lineup: Braves outfielder Gregor Blanco is hoping to get some playing time with Venezuela over the next few weeks.  But he wasn’t part of Thursday’s lineup.  Venezuela’s starting outfielders on Thursday were Endy Chavez, Bobby Abreu and Carlos Guillen.  Magglio Ordonez served as the designated hitter.

Odds and ends:  Jordan Schafer has been out since spraining the A/C joint in his left shoulder while diving for a ball in Dunedin on Saturday.  Braves manager Bobby Cox said the outfielder will likely return to action in three-to-five days…Right-handed pitcher Charlie Morton is still waiting for the Braves to clear him to start pitching again.  He strained his left oblique muscle nearly two weeks ago.. Braves president John Schuerholz confirmed that he’s not interested in the Nationals’ vacant GM position. .

Today’s lineup:

Josh Anderson CF
Omar Infante SS
Garret Anderson LF
Freddie Freeman 1B
Jeff Francoeur DH
Brandon Jones RF
Martin Prado 2B
David Ross C
Diory Hernandez 3B 

Hanson ready to face Panama

During his 1985 rookie season, Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell learned that you had to have thick skin and a good personality to co-exist with the personalities possessed by the likes of Keith Hernandez, Wally Backman, Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry and Howard Johnson.

That was the year that Gooden went 24-4 and the Mets finished three games behind the Cardinals in the National League East race.

As McDowell remembers, at the conclusion of that season, Hernandez hollered at Gooden and said, “Hey Doc, if you hadn’t lost those four games we would have won the division.”

Gooden’s name came up this morning, because I wanted to get a sense about whether you can get an early feel about whether a top prospect is going to truly be special.  In another words, I was chasing another Tommy Hanson angle.

Nobody is saying that Hanson will duplicate the early dominance of Gooden, who went 58-19 with a 2.28 ERA and 744 strikeouts in the  744 2/3 innings he completed during his first three big league seasons.
 
But the more you hear about Hanson, the more you want to see and hear more about him.

“I just want to buy stock in Tommy Hanson,” said 300-game winner Don Sutton, who arrived in Braves camp on Tuesday morning to prepare for the games he’ll broadcast with his new radio parter, Jim Powell, this weekend.

Sutton, who has rejoined the Braves broadcast team after spending the past two years with the Nationals, will get a chance to watch Hanson pitch against Panama this afternoon.  Maybe this time around, Carlos Lee will actually recognize that this isn’t just some run-of-the-mill prospect.  

After being frozen by a couple of breaking balls that Hanson threw in his Grapefruit League debut last week, the Astros left fielder acted like he was unimpressed by essentially limiting his comments to, “He throws hard.”

Based on the fact that Lee had just looked at a called third-strike slider, maybe he didn’t actually get a good look at the right-hander, who certainly has more than simply a fastball that has registered 99 mph.

Hanson made another good impression on the Braves coaching staff yesterday, when he showed up to throw and work out before the inter-squad game. His decision to come to the park on an off-day further proved his early fame hasn’t led to him gaining an early sense of entitlement.

Acosta set to face his country:  Manny Acosta decided last week that he won’t participate in the World Baseball Classic.  So instead of pitching for Panama on Tuesday, the right-handed reliever will be pitching against his native country’s team.  He is scheduled to throw one inning.

Walking wounded:  Jordan Schafer (shoulder), Josh Anderson (tailbone), Casey Kotchman (finger and quad) and Freddie Freeman (quad) are all nursing minor injuries that might keep them out of the lineup for another day or two.  But each of them participated in Tuesday morning’s workout. 

Prepared to play: Garret Anderson thinks he might be ready to make his Braves debut on Thursday against Venezuela.  The veteran outfielder, who signed with the Braves last week, has told Bobby Cox that he needs approximately 30 at-bats to be ready for the regular season.

Odds and ends:  Tom Glavine is expected to arrive in Braves camp on Wednesday…Peter Moylan said that he hasn’t felt any discomfort since throwing an inning against the Phillies on Sunday.  It was his first appearance since undergoing Tommy John surgery on May 8.

Today’s Lineup:
Yunel Escobar SS
Omar Infante CF
Kelly Johnson 2B
Greg Norton 1B
Jeff Francoeur RF
Matt Diaz LF
Brandon Jones DH
Dave Ross C
Martin Prado 2B

- Mark Bowman  

  

Thoughts from Lakeland

When some scouts were comparing Jordan Schafer to Grady Sizemore last year, I didn’t exactly see the comparison.  But I guess that’s why they’re paid to project and I’m paid to use their thoughts in an attempt to display intelligence. 

While Sizemore and the Indians have abandoned their former Spring home of Winter Haven, his clone returned to Polk County on Wednesday and showed why Baseball America has rated him the game’s 42nd-best prospect and the seventh-best center field prospect.

Schafer showed off his arm with a strong first-inning throw, displayed his speed with a fifth-inning stolen base and then flexed his muscles while hitting a seventh-inning homer.  

“There isn’t a tool this kid doesn’t possess,” said Matt Diaz, who spent the winter training with the young prospect who is going to bring Schafe-mania to Georgia next month. 

One exhibition game obviously doesn’t change the fact that in some ways it makes sense for Schafer to start this season at Triple-A Gwinnett.   But at the same time, when you see how natural this kid looks when he’s on the diamond, you can’t help but wonder how long the Braves can seriously keep this gem at the Minor League level.

<b> Garret update:  </b>  Garret Anderson worked out at Disney today and Cox thinks his new outfielder might be able to make his exhibition season debut early next week.   I’m still of the opinion that Anderson was a solid pickup and possibly the best bargain of the offseason. 

But when you just get a taste of what Schafer can do on the field, you get a better idea about why some of the Braves felt they would be fine if GM Frank Wren didn’t land an additional outfielder.

<b> Here comes Hanson:  </b>  This is my ninth season covering the Braves and never before have I been more excited about seeing somebody pitch.  Tommy Hanson is scheduled to throw two innings against the Astros tomorrow and when he takes the mound, it might mark one of those rare occasions when every media member is simultaneously actually paying attention to what’s going on during an exhibition game.

<i> Baseball America </i> has rated Hanson as the top right-handed pitching prospect.  He ranks fourth on the overall list, just one spot ahead of Braves outfielder Jason Heyward, who is rated the game’s top corner  outfield  prospect. 

The five Braves listed in BA’s top 100 list include: Hanson (4), Heyward (5), Schafer (42), Gorkys Hernandez (62) and Freddie Freeman (87).

Brandon Hicks, a non-roster invitee who hasn’t received enough attention during the early days of camp, is rated as the game’s 10th-best shortstop prospect. 

“He’s a Major League shortstop,” Cox said while Hicks was showing his power potential during batting practice on Wednesday.

  

Griffey to Seattle

Because of the time it took for him to reach a decision and the fact that he’d had limited contact with the Braves in more than 24 hours, I can’t say I’m shocked that Ken Griffey Jr. chose to sign with the Mariners. 

Seattle provides him a unique nostalgic opportunity to return to his Major League roots.  In addition, the Mariners were willing to provide more money than the Braves.

As of last night, both teams were offering a $2 million guarantee.  The incentive package offered by the Mariners was more financially lucrative.

With Griffey out of the picture, look for the Braves to make a trade or give one of their young outfielders a chance to platoon in left field with Matt Diaz.  They seem more intrigued with these options than the prospect of signing free agent Garrett Anderson.

I think this might definitely open the door for Jordan Schafer, who certainly has more power potential than Gregor Blanco or Josh Anderson.  Anderson is out of options and likely to land a roster spot.  Schafer is a sound defender who can play both left and center.

Having received a Major League-low 27 homers from their outfielders last year, the Braves needed to find some power to add to their outfield mix.  Their best chance to gain this power might  be via trade.  

What made Griffey more intriguing than Nick Swisher and Xavier Nady was his cost.  Now Wren might have to find a way to be able to afford one of these two Yankees outfielders.

- Mark Bowman

Is Griffey truly the best fit?

Many of the Braves have publicly endorsed the idea of signing Ken Griffey, Jr. to serve in a left field platoon with Matt Diaz.  But others have privately wondered whether “The Kid” would truly be their best fit. 

Because of his respect for Bobby Cox, Griffey likely won’t have any problem with temporarily ending those days of turning his hat around and wearing earrings while on the field. 

But these are just a couple of the Griffey-related minor issues that the Braves have to worry about while wondering whether signing the outfielder would create a negative clubhouse distraction.

As one of six Major Leaguers to reach the 600-homer plateau, Griffey is indeed one of the true legends of the game.  In fact the belief that he’s never used any illegal performance-enhancing substances lead me to consider him to be the greatest player of this generation. 

This obviously leads me to wonder if he truly could remain happy while serving in a platoon role over the course of an entire season.  But at 39 years-old, it might be time for him to realize his statistics prove that it’s time to make this concession.

Over the course of the past three seasons, Griffey has hit .284 with 53 homers and an .886 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) against right-handed pitchers.  In 444 fewer at-bats against left-handers during this span, he’s hit .216 with 22 homers and a .689 OPS. 

While Griffey undoubtedly seems to be the best left-handed option in a left field platoon, his presence would certainly complicate matters for the other younger left-handed-hitting  outfielders  — –  Josh Anderson, Gregor Blanco, Jordan Schafer, Brandon Jones –  who could also fill that role. 

Anderson is out of options and because of this he’ll be given every opportunity to win the starting job in center.  If he does win this job, Griffey would likely occasionally spell him in center.  The way the roster currently stands, this would also likely mean that Jones, Blanco and Schafer would all begin this season in the Minors. 

There’s no doubt that Jones, Blanco and Schafer could benefit from additional seasoning at the Minor League level.  But Schafer certainly has the potential to be Major League-ready early in the season and it would be a shame if Griffey’s presence blocks his path. 

But with this being said, when this time comes, the Braves will have options.

They could either attempt to pass Anderson through waivers.  Or if the decision to promote Schafer has something to do with Griffey’s performance, they could always decide to part ways with the legendary outfielder, who likely won’t come at a cost of more than $1.5 million.

Given the already-youthful makeup of their roster, I understand why some in the Braves clubhouse are wondering whether it would be best to give some of the young outfielders a chance to prove what they can do at the Major League level. 

But I’m of the mindset that when you have a chance to win now, you do what’s best for the immediate future.  Because of that, Griffey seems to be a bargain gamble that the Braves should make.

- Mark Bowman

Green leaves and garnishes

Well now that I’ve finally entered the world of blogging, maybe it’s time for me to also explore another unfamiliar entity that many of you recognize as “a salad bar”. 

On second thought, before making such a drastic lifestyle change, I think I’d much rather figure out what this blogging world is all about. Talking about Tom Glavine’s future and Jeff Francoeur’s potentially-ugly arbitration hearing seems much more appetizing than green leaves and garnishes.

While meeting with Braves GM Frank Wren this afternoon, Glavine will get a better understanding about just how much he wants to pitch in Atlanta this year.  Wren’s available funds are limited and there’s little reason to believe he’ll provide much of an increase to the offer he made to the southpaw last week.

Let’s not forget, the Braves need an outfielder, who would eat up most of the $5-6 million that Wren has to work with.  While Glavine could certainly be a  valuable  fifth starter,  these negotiations are primarily motivated by the respect the veteran southpaw has justifiably earned.

Coming off a surgical procedure that repaired both his left elbow and left shoulder, Glavine likely isn’t going to find any team offering him a contract that when maximized would net him much more than $5 million. 

Glavine’s 305 career wins will carry him to Cooperstown.  But his upcoming 43rd birthday combined with  the current economy isn’t likely going to allow him to gain the $6 million maximized earnings that he’s seeking.

Thus Glavine will have to decide whether the $1 or 2 million extra that he might be able to gain elsewhere is enough to justify having to leave his family behind in Atlanta, while he pitches for somebody other than the Braves.

Glavine will likely be able to provide more clarity when he emerges from his meeting with Wren.  But for now, my guess is that he’ll be coming to camp with the Braves.

I’m heading to Florida tomorrow and will be making my first Spring Training reports on Friday. My early prediction for the camp’s biggest surprise is Jordan Schafer, who could certainly win the battle to serve as Atlanta’s starting center fielder.

Two weeks ago, while talking to him about his HGH suspension, it was obvious that this 22-year-old top prospect has matured from both a physical and personality standpoint.

Whenever I hear about the struggles Schafer had against left-handed pitchers last year, I immediately think about the line drive he laced off of Billy Wagner in Port St. Lucie last year.  The kid can play and over the next seven weeks, he’ll be on a mission to prove to the Braves that he’s ready to play in the Majors.

Unlike DOB’s blog on AJC.com, this one won’t conclude with song lyrics.  Truth be told, some of the bands he discusses in his posts are as familiar to me as inaugural members of the Croquet Hall of Fame.

When it comes to obscure bands, my knowledge is limited to “Five Star Iris” and  “Ocean Street”.  Of course, if I wasn’t friends the lead singers, these two groups would probably be as familiar to me as green leaves and garnishes.  

- Mark Bowman
 

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