Results tagged ‘ Melky Cabrera ’

Braves release Melky Cabrera

When I arrived at AT&T Park for Monday afternoon’s National League Championship Series workout, it seriously felt like it had been two months since Rick Ankiel drilled that 11th-inning pitch into the water and gave the Braves what proved to be their last win of the year. 

It was hard to believe that it had been 10 days since Ankiel delivered that blast and it’s even harder to believe that it’s been a week since awaking with the harsh reality that Bobby Cox’s days as the Braves manager were complete. 

But with memories of the 2010 season still fresh, Braves general manager Frank Wren and many of his top lieutenants are currently in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. planning for the 2011 season. 

While beginning to reconstruct the 40-man roster, they have already released Melky Cabrera, Takashi Saito and J.C. Boscan.  None of these moves were viewed as a surprise.  But I am checking to see why they needed to release Saito, who had signed just a one-year deal.

Cabrera hit .255 with four homers and a .671 OPS in 147 games with the Braves this year.  While taking some bad routes and sometimes looking lackadaisical in the field, he proved to also be a defensive disappointment.  

The 26-year-old outfielder had one arbitration-eligible season left and stood as a prime candidate to be non-tendered.   He hit .274 with 13 homers and a .752 OPS while playing 154 games for the 2009 World Series champion Yankees.

Saito posted a 2.83 ERA in 56 appearances and when healthy, proved to be the reliable setup man the Braves envisioned this year.  But a troublesome shoulder limited the 40-year-old reliever’s workload after the All-Star break and sidelined him for the final two weeks of the regular season.

When the Braves were eliminated from the National League Division Series last week, Saito said he was unsure about whether he would continue to pitch. 

The Braves produced a feel-good story when they brought Boscan to the Majors when the rosters expanded in September.   The 30-year-old catcher has hit .227 with a .629 OPS in 14 Minor League seasons, 12 of which have been spent in the Braves organization.  

Boscan has long appeared to be destined to find some kind of coaching or instructing role within the Braves organization.  If he chooses to continue playing, there’s still a chance the Braves could offer him a chance to play again at Triple-A Gwinnett.

Heading to the stadium now for Game 3 of the NLCS.  I’ll provide updates once I get a chance to talk to Wren.  

Cabrera positioning himself for the leadoff role

With just 10 Grapefruit League games remaining, it’s still unclear exactly who will be filling the final spots on the Braves Opening Day roster.  But with Nate McLouth still fighting to break out of his slump, there’s certainly reason to doubt that he will begin the season as the club’s leadoff hitter.  

Melky Cabrera is positioned at the top of the lineup again for this afternoon’s game against the Mets and as I mentioned the other day, there’s at least reason to wonder if he could be there on a regular basis while the Braves use him as part of a platoon in left field and center field. 

With this being said, it’s far too early to simply assume that McLouth won’t be able to right himself before the exhibition season concludes.   While hitting eighth today, he’ll get his first chance to see if he benefited from the six plate appearances (one per inning) he gained during Sunday’s rain-shortened Minor League intra-squad game. 

When it was mentioned that McLouth was 1-for-35 with 14 strikeouts, ESPN’s Peter Pascarelli thought back to his early days as an Orioles beat writer and told a story about the questions he asked Earl Weaver when Eddie Murray went 3-for-42 during Spring Training. 

“Weaver told me, ‘he’s the worst Spring Training hitter ever,'”  Pascarelli said.  “Then he said, “don’t worry about him.'”

Based on memory, Pascarelli remembers Murray driving in somewhere around 120 runs that same season.

At the end of the day, Spring Training batting averages really don’t matter.  But during these final days of the exhibition season, McLouth can provide some encouragement by at least putting the ball in play with greater regularity.

This marks the fourth time the Braves have seen the Mets this year and the first time that they will be facing a lineup that includes Jeff Francoeur, who enters this game hitting .194 (6-for-31) with a homer and four RBIs.

Jason Heyward is present and could be inserted during the late innings of this game, which will be televised by ESPN.  

BRAVES LINEUP
Cabrera 8
Prado 4
Chipper 5
Glaus 3
McCann 2
Escobar 6
Diaz 7
McLouth 8
Hanson 1
 

 

The Grim Reaper destroys another vehicle

Welcome back to the world of ESPN where sports reign and vehicles become sitting ducks when Jason Heyward takes batting practice. 

Once again proving that he presents a greater danger to automobiles than a Toyota manufacturer, Heyward returned to Champion Stadium this afternoon and destroyed the mirror on the passenger side of  Braves media relations director Brad Hainje’s SUV. 

“He’s like the grim reaper,” Hainje said. “You know he’s going to get you.  You just don’t know when or how.”

During the early days of camp, Heyward destroyed the sunroof of assistant general manager Bruce Manno’s rental car.  

As mentioned yesterday, Braves president John Schuerholz said the club likely won’t construct a net to protect the cars the the executives park just beyond the right field wall here at the Disney complex.

“We’re just all going to drive convertibles next year,” Schuerholz said with a smile. 

McLouth update:  When I arrived around 1:30 p.m. ET this afternoon, Nate McLouth was in the indoor batting cages working to battle out of his maddening slump.  The 28-year-old center fielder  has just one hit and 12 strikeouts in his first 31 at-bats this year.

“It looks like he’s pressing a little bit,” said Braves manager Bobby Cox, who opted to give McLouth a night off on Friday night.  

While McLouth still has a little more than two weeks to get himself righted, he may not have enough time to convince the Braves that he is indeed the right man to serve as their leadoff hitter. 

Melky Cabrera has been utilized in this role numerous times and he’s back at the top of the lineup for tonight’s game against the Tigers.  The switch-hitting Cabrera found nearly equal success against right-handed (.277 BA and .332 OBP) and left-handed pitchers (.268 BA and .343 OBP last year. 

With this in mind, the Braves could opt to put him in the leadoff spot on essentially an everyday basis.  With this arrangement, he would spell the left-handed McLouth in center on days that the opponent is starting a southpaw.  On this days the left field position  would be manned  by Matt Diaz, who obviously needs to be in the lineup whenever the opposing team is starting a left-hander.

When the opponent is starting a right-hander, Cabrera could play left field and allow open the center field position for McLouth, who hit .269 against right-handers and .230 against lefties last year.

Braves manager Bobby Cox hasn’t said that he plans to utilize this arrangement.  But as McLouth continues to struggle, he at least has consider this to be one of his other options.

Since Troy Glaus signed with the Braves, Bobby Cox has never fully committed to saying that Glaus will definitely rest in the cleanup spot on an everyday basis.  Instead, he has often said something like “he’ll be somewhere around there.” 

With the Tigers starting Jeremy Bonderman tonight, Cox has his left-handed hitting catcher Brian McCann in the cleanup spot and Glaus hitting fifth

Glaus’ career numbers against left-handed pitchers include a .277 batting average, a .957 OPS and an average of one strikeout every 4.41 at-bats.  Against right-handers, he has hit .248 with an .822 OPS and struck out once every 3.77 at-bats.

NOTES:  The Braves still seem to be seriously thinking about having Jo-Jo Reyes begin the year in Atlanta’s bullpen.  But even if this arrangement is made, once Scott Proctor is deemed ready, there’s a chance Reyes could be moved back to Gwinnett to serve as a starter…Jordan Schafer took batting practice on the field today and felt little discomfort in his surgically-repaired left hand.  Schafer doesn’t believe he’ll be ready to be a part of Gwinnett’s lineup until the mid-to-latter part of April.

BRAVES LINEUP for Friday vs. Tigers

Cabrera 8
Prado 4
Chipper 5
McCann 2
Glaus 3
Escobar 6
Heyward 9
Diaz 7
Kawakami 1      

 

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