Results tagged ‘ Tom Glavine ’

Francoeur set to face Yankees and Tiger

With the sun shining above and the Yankees in town, we have a near-perfect setting for Jeff Francoeur to begin what many would consider a near-perfect athletic experience. 

After collecting a few at-bats against the WBC-depleted Yankees, Francoeur will grab his clubs to join Tiger Woods and John Smoltz for a round of golf this afternoon.  With the Red Sox having the day off, Smoltz has driven to the Orlando area to enjoy this annual round with two of his closest friends.

When Kenshin Kawakami takes the mound against the Yanks today, he won’t have to deal with the likes of A-Rod, Jeter and Posada, who are all eithter preparing for the WBC or visiting a hip specialist. Johnny Damon and Xavier Nady are the only regulars in the lineup for the Bronx Bombers, who will utilize Juan Miranda as their cleanup hitter. 

Glavine arrives:  Tom Glavine arrived in Braves camp this morning and revealed that he’s aiming to make his first appearance in a game late next week.  The 300-game winner has recently experienced some cranky discomfort with his shoulder.  But he says the discomfort isn’t anything different than what he’s often had to deal with during Spring Training. 

“I’ve had a little bit of crankiness now that I’ve thrown batting practice and thrown a little harder.  There ‘s a little soreness with my shoulder. But I’m not surprised. I knew it was going to happen sooner or later.  It’s happened every year for the last 15 years.  But it’s more manageable and that’s what we were kind of hoping for.” 

Glavine, who hasn’t had any problems with his surgically-repaired left elbow, doesn’t seem to concerned.  He said the shoulder discomfort he’s feeling this year doesn’t compare to the discomfort he was feeling at this time last year. 

The fact that Glavine is scheduled to make just two starts in April (18th and 29th) could prove to be beneficial.  After pitching in the frigid temperatures at Coors Field in early April last year, he started to experience increased discomfort in his elbow and shoulder.

Impressed by Hanson:  Braves announcer Don Sutton was certainly impressed after getting the chance to watch Tommy Hanson face Panama yesterday.  The Hall of Fame hurler was most intrigued by the 22-year-old  top prospect’s advanced maturity.

“When you look at a talent like him, after you talk to him for five minutes, you can throw his birth certificate out the window,” Sutton said. “He has the four pitches.  He’s a quick learner, makes great adjustments.  I just wish for him good health.  I think he has a chance to be a superstar.

Thursday vs. Venezuela:  Garret Anderson is expected to make his Braves debut when Derek Lowe takes the mound to face Gregor Blanco and Venezuela’s WBC team at Disney tomorrow afternoon.  First pitch is set for 2:05 p.m. ET.  

Today’s Lineup:
Josh Anderson CF
Yunel Escobar SS
Kelly Johnson 2B
Casey Kotchman 1B
Jeff Francoeur RF
Jason Heyward LF
Omar Infante 3B
David Ross C
Kenshin Kawakami P

 

 
 

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  

  

Now we can focus on the game

With Ken Griffey Jr. out of the picture and Tom Glavine’s deal completed, we can now focus more on some of the Spring Training on-field developments. 

It’s evident that Casey Kotchman is much more relaxed than he was when he arrived after being acquired from the Angels last year.   He admits the two months he spent with the Braves last year were basically a blur and that’s certainly understandable.  

Three weeks after being moved from a team destined for the playoffs to one staring at 90 losses, he nearly lost his mother to a brain hemorrhage.  The first baseman gladly reports that his mother’s recovery process is going well and that she’s looking forward to meeting Bobby Cox and the other members of the organization, who were so supportive while Casey stayed by her hospital bedside.

In other camp news, the Braves will have physicals on Saturday and Sunday.  If you’re planning to come to Disney this weekend, the workout are scheduled to start at 1 p.m.

Chipper Jones was excused from this morning’s workout because he wasn’t feeling well. It’s nothing serious and he could be back on the field on Saturday. 

Here are a few interesting quotes from Glavine’s teleconference, which took place this morning:

(What motivated you to return this season?)

“I think first and foremost, it’s my enjoyment of going out there every five days and pitching every five days that’s the key factor in me wanting to play.  Beyond that,  yeah I don’t want my career to end the way that it was last year.”

(What do you think about this year’s rotation?)
I think there’s reason to be excited. When you look at Derek Lowe and Javier Vazquez, they’re two guys who certainly have a track record in being able to carry a big load in terms of innings pitched.  When you look at (Jair Jurrjens), I think everybody is excited about the year that he had last year and the experience that he gained and how much better he stands to be this year.  When you look at Kawakami, there’s a lot of history for him in the Japanese League.  Bringing that here, certainly there is a little bit of uncertainty.  But I think everybody is excited about what he did in Japan and the potential that he brings here.

Last year, there was a lot of excitement about what we brought in, but there was a lot of uncertainty.  I think there’s a lot less uncertainty about the staff this year and their ability to pitch innings.  You never know.  Injuries are always a part of the game. But I think looking at the rotation now, where it was a year ago, I think there has to be a lot more reason to believe the top four guys are going to log a lot more innings than the top four guys last year.  That will have a residual effect on everybody.  It’s going to make our team better.  It’s going to make our bullpen stronger because they’re not going to have to work so many innings.  Again from my standpoint, looking at that and looking at me being in the five hole, I’m excited about that.  I’m excited about being a part of it.

(Glav’s thoughts on A-Rod)
“I guess everybody has a lot of thoughts about A-Rod.  There’s disappointment obviously and things like that.  All I can do is take care of myself and these other guys who have been caught doing the things that they’re doing, they have to deal with it.  There comes a time for everybody in life, I don’t care where you are or what you do, that you have choices to make and sometimes people make bad choices.  If you make a bad choice, then that’s your responsibility to deal with the consequences of that bad choice and certainly Alex is having to deal with that.

I don’t think it matters what I or anybody else says or thinks. It’s Alex Rodriguez and it’s his reputation that has been tarnished. He’s the one who ultimately has to deal with that.  I’m sure he wishes that he had a chance to re-think that decision that he made years ago. But you know what? Life doesn’t work that way.

Glavine deal nears completion

Multiple Major League sources have confirmed that Tom Glavine’s one-year deal with the Braves will be likely be finalized on Friday morning.  It seems like they’re just ironing out the details about the deferred payments that he’ll be receiving.

Glavine will receive a $1 million guaranteed contract that includes incentives worth approximately $3.5 million.

With Glavine’s deal almost complete, we can project the Braves to have approximately $2-3 million to spend if they continue to pursue an outfielder via trade or the free agent market.  But they’ve said they’ll first take a look at their internal outfield options.

While waiting on Griffey…

There’s a chance we’ll hear something about Ken Griffey Jr. within the next few hours.  Then again we might not know anything until tomorrow.  It doesn’t appear the Braves or Mariners are planning to make an announcement tonight.

My gut feeling remains that he’ll choose the Braves.  But guarding against the chance that he’s suddenly hired Paul Kinzer to serve as his agent, I’m not making any guarantees.

As for Tom Glavine, there was certainly reason to believe he and the Braves would have reached an agreement today.  But it looks like it will be at least one more day before things get finalized with the veteran hurler.

In other camp news, Tommy Hanson tore the nail of his right index finger during his live batting practice session on Wednesday.  He should be cleared to resume pitching in the next few days.

There’s a chance Kelly Johnson and the Braves could reach an agreement tonight.  But if not, the second baseman will leave camp on Wednesday to prepare for his arbitration hearing in Phoenix on Wednesday.

Kenshin Kawakami threw with some more velocity during his bullpen session and even mixed in four curveballs.  The Braves are allowing him to get ready for the season at the pace that he used while in Japan.

In an earlier post, I guessed that Anthony Lerew and Gregor Blanco might be the two players removed from the 40-man roster to accommodate Griffey and Glavine.  I’m now changing that prediction to Lerew and Phil Stockman.

- Mark Bowman

Griffey and Glavine still the buzz in camp

There’s still no definitive word that Ken Griffey Jr. has chosen the Braves over the Mariners.  But we’ve reached a point where I’d definitely be shocked if Griffey wasn’t stretching alongside Chipper Jones and Brian McCann on Wednesday, when the Braves hold their first full-squad workout of the season. 

Even if Griffey makes his decision today, there’s a chance the Braves wouldn’t hold a press conference until Wednesday.  At the same time, they could officially announce that they’ve reached also reached an agreement with Tom Glavine.

These signings could prove historic for the Braves. I still haven’t found any other instance where any of the six members of the 600-homer club have been a member of that club while playing with one of the 23 pitchers who had already joined the 300-wins club. I’ll let you know if Elias provides verification later today.

If the Braves do indeed get both Glavine and Griffey, they will have to remove two players from their 40-man roster.  My guess is that right-handed pitcher Anthony Lerew and outfielder Gregor Blanco will be the roster victims.

I walked in with Jeff Francoeur today and there certainly didn’t  seem to  be any indication  that he’s disturbed by the fact that it appears he’ll be going to Phoenix for an arbitration hearing on Friday. 

It still seems quite hard to believe that Francoeur even has a chance to win the $3.95 million salary that he’s requesting.  As for Kelly Johnson, it still appears he’ll reach an agreement before his scheduled arbitration hearing on Thursday.

– Mark Bowman  

Griffey meets with Wren

What was shaping up as a rather ordinary Spring Training Monday at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex turned into a rather interesting one when some guy named Ken Griffey Jr. arrived to meet with Braves general manager Frank Wren. 

Wren is scheduled to meet with Griffey’s agent, Brian Goldberg, on Tuesday and in the hours that follow, the veteran outfielder will likely announce whether he’ll be playing for the Braves or Mariners this year. 

If I had to guess, Griffey is going to choose the geographical advantages provided by the Braves.  Going to Spring Training approximately 20 minutes from his Orlando-area residence is just as appealing as the fact that his family will be just a one-hour flight away from Atlanta once the season begins.

I’m not putting much stock in the nostalgic angle of Griffey making the cross-country return to Seattle.  The Mariner Moose is the only familiar face he’d recognize from his previous days with the Mariners organization. 

If Griffey reaches an agreement on Tuesday, he could be with the Braves when they hold their first full-squad workout on Wednesday. 

Within the next week, the Braves will likely also reach an agreement with Tom Glavine.  But regardless of when he signs, the 300-game winner isn’t expected to come to camp for at least another week. 

When Glavine made his Major League debut for the Braves in 1987, his left fielder that day was Ken Griffey Sr.  Twenty-two years later,  the crafty southpaw could end his career with Jr.  as his teammate. 

With Glavine and Griffey, the Braves would have the unique opportunity to have a members of the 600-homer  club and 300-wins club on the same team.  I’ll have to check with Elias to see if this has ever happened.  Or better yet, I’ll start researching this myself and will update later.

- Mark Bowman

Views from the first workout at Disney

As this first day of workouts conclude, one can only wonder whether Tom
Glavine and Ken Griffey Jr. will actually step on the field with the
Braves before Rafael Soriano. 

Citing an upper respiratory
infection, Soriano decided not to participate in the first workout for
Braves pitchers and catchers on Sunday.  Maybe it’s time to remind him
he’s in the final year of his contract and this is one of those years
when he’s supposed to pitch. 

OK enough about Soriano and back
to the future Hall of Famers who could soon be joining the Braves.  It
still appears Glavine could reach an agreement within the next few days
and  a source close to Griffey said the veteran outfielder could reach
a decision as early as Monday.

While some of the Braves player
have made an assumption that Griffey will opt to join them, members of
both parties have said it’s too early to make this assumption.

With
this being said, in their search to add an outfielder the Braves have
clearly moved Griffey to the top of their wish list.  The ability to
get him for $1-2 million is much more appealing than the prospect of
waiting to see if the Yankees will deal Nick Swisher with the agreement
to assume a portion of his remaining contract.

About a week
ago, Swisher seemed to be at the top of the wish list. But that was
before Griffey called the Braves and campaigned for the opportunity to
play for Atlanta. 

Suddenly the prospect of paying $22.05
million over the course of the next three years didn’t seem as
appealing to the Braves.  With the uncertainty of this current economy,
that’s just not a price you want to pay for a guy who has combined to
hit .241 with a .792 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage)
over the past two seasons. 

Even while essentially playing
with one healthy leg this past season, Griffey’s combined statistics
over the past two seasons include a .263 batting average and an .825
OPS. Against right-handed pitchers during this span, he hit .286 with
an .893 OPS.

If Griffey is truly comfortable with being part
of a left field platoon with Matt Diaz, he seems to be the best fit
from both a financial and production standpoint.

By Monday, we might receive confirmation that he feels the Braves are indeed the best fit for him.

- Mark Bowman

Griffey, Glavine and Geritol

Within this next week, the Braves will likely sign Tom Glavine and continue their pursuit of Ken Griffey Jr.  Then to further show his appreciation for senior citizen Hall of Famers, Frank Wren is going extend Hank Aaron the invitation to come out of retirement to rightfully regain his title as the undisputed home run king.

Imaginary sources have indicated Aaron’s motivation to come out of retirement came last week when he awoke and immediately proclaimed, “If Andruw Jones can get a job, then there must be at least one other team looking for somebody that swings like a 75-year-old man.”

Seriously, all attempts at humor aside, the Braves could complete a successful offseason with the acquisitions of both Glavine and Griffey.  Before beginning their respective Hall of Fame clocks, these two legends still have the potential to be productive and just as importantly, the understanding that their wishes to play in Atlanta will only be granted with small financial guarantees. 

Approaching his 43rd birthday and coming off a surgical procedure that repaired his left elbow and left shoulder, Glavine hasn’t yet had the opportunity to face live hitters and truly prove whether he’s worth the guaranteed $1 million the Braves are willing to offer. 

But he says his arm feels better than it has over the course of the past five years and while this might be a product of his stubborn desire to play, I’m thinking his pride is too great for him to decide to pitch if he thinks there’s even an inkling that he might repeat last year’s frustrating experience.

If there was any inkling that he was going to embarrass himself, Glavine would likely take his 305 career  wins and head into retirement.  The only downside to this would be the fact that he’d once again have to share a stage with Greg Maddux when they would both be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013. 

If I had to spend a majority of my career sharing the limelight with Maddux, I certainly might be tempted to play another year.  But enough about my selfish shortcomings and back to Glavine.

With Jorge Campillo, Jo-Jo Reyes, Tommy Hanson, James Parr and Charlie Morton, the Braves have plenty of candidates to serve as their fifth starter.  They don’t exactly need another pitcher.  But even at 43 and coming off surgery, I wouldn’t necessarily consider Glavine to simply be just another pitcher. 

If Glavine is truly healthy and capable of consistently throwing his fastball around 88 mph, his changeup will once again prove effective and provide him the opportunity to prove he can still be better than any of the aforementioned candidates — minus Hanson.

By the end of this season, there are some who believe Hanson might actually be the best candidate to pitch in any role in the Braves organization.  But the Braves don’t want to rush his development and at the same time, they could certainly save some money by delaying his arbitration clock and keeping him in the Minors long enough to ensure he won’t be a Super Two at the conclusion of the 2010 season.

Now taking this one step further, if there are doubts about Glavine, why aren’t there equal ones about Kenshin Kawakami, who is slated to pitch in the fourth spot of the rotation? 

Glavine’s notched 305 wins in this league and he pitched effectively in the three starts that he made while actually healthy last year.  Shouldn’t he be given the same benefit of the doubt as a Japanese hurler, whose only previous association with the Majors came  via the games he’s watched on television and MLB.com? 

Glavine is seeking an incentive-laden contract that could net him $6 million, most of which he’s comfortable to defer over a negotiable length of time.  When it’s said and done, the package will probably be worth closer to $4.5 million and with this gamble the Braves will only be providing a guarantee of $1 million. 

I’m less clear about what Griffey is actually seeking from a financial standpoint.  But I received some indication that the Braves might be able to secure him for $1-2 million.  This year, the veteran outfielder begins drawing some of the deferred funds from the contract he signed with the Reds before the start of the 2000 season. 

While Griffey hasn’t shown that he can still hit Glavine or most other Major League left-handed pitchers, he has hit .291 with a .908 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) against right-handed pitchers over the past four seasons. 

A platoon of Griffey and Matt Diaz in left field sounds a lot better than one that would consist of Brandon Jones and Diaz. 

-  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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