Yeah, I know it’s a pipedream considering there’s five teams ahead of them and even if they go 11-2 down the stretch, they wouldn’t be assured of a playoff spot, but they’re playing two of those teams that are ahead of them as well as some of the bottom teams like the Astros and the Marlins. I’m not counting them out quite yet (unless they lose tonight ).
You have to like Tim Hudson’s bounceback season this year. The righthander threw his first complete game shutout this year yesterday and he’s looking like the best of the three Athletic’s aces that have gone on their way the past few years. He’s not getting enough Cy Young consideration either and if he can win out, you’re looking at a guy who could win 18 games and log 225 innings. His most impressive number is the fact that he’s given up just nine homeruns all season.
And what can you say about John Smoltz. His ERA is hovering right around 3.00 and while he’ll fall short of 200 strikeouts this year, he’ll get number 3,000 early next year. We’ have Smoltz and Hudson for two more seasons with an option for a third and that’s definitely a core we can build around.
The big decision will be whether to sign Andruw Jones or not. He never did hit out of his slump but his fielding is still very, very good. He leads the all National League centerfielders in revised zone rating and he also leads the National League by a wide margin in plays made outside of his zone. He also leads the team in fielding win shares. What’s strange is, it’s not really reflected in Baseball Prospectus’ fielding runs above average, which has him as a negative.
I have to admit too, I’m an Andruw Jones fan. I’ve been watching him play since he was a teenager and he was at the heart of a lot of those Braves teams in the 1990s that got it done with all of the division titles. Of course I don’t want the team to overspend for him at the expense of needs elsewhere.
I’m slowly but surely catching up on the 1957 Braves diary. I know it’s not the same as if I kept up with and you could check it out daily but I’m hoping to be at real time by the time the Braves play their World Series games. Thanks for stopping by and being patient.
The Braves pulled the trigger on a huge deal that may have shifted the balance of power in the NL East. They sent Jarrod Saltalamacchia and three minor leaguers to the Rangers for slugging first baseman Jarrod Saltalamacchia and relief pitcher Ron Mahay. With Brian McCann in the fold, Saltalamacchia was expendable and while I hate to see a top prospect like him go, knowing we have a season and half of Teixeira makes it a bittersweet deal.
That is, if Teixiera gets back to slugging. He’s hit only one homer in July since coming off of the disabled list and he lives hitter friendly Arlington Stadium. Still, he has a huge track record and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if he gives the Braves thirteen homers (his current season total) the rest of the way.
And the reliever, Ron Mahay, has put together a nice season as well. His walk rate is a little high but he has 32 strikeouts in 39 innings and he’s left handed to boot. So the Braves killed two birds with one stone.
Elvis Andrus was the other big name in the deal. Andrus is a solid fielding shortstop without much pop that’s slugging only .335 at High A Myrtle Beach. John Sickels compared him to Edgar Rentaria, which isn’t too bad, but that was before this mediocre season.
The Braves start a three game series with the Astros beginning tomorrow. Chuck James takes the mound and it’ll be Chris Sampson who throws for the Astros.
Things looked pretty promising. After a three game winning streak via a sweep over the Pirates to start the second half, the Braves have lost five of eight and haven’t been able to string together successive wins since said streak. Still, there’s some reasons to be happy here.
Johm Smoltz is one of those reasons. He’s looked very good in his two starts since coming off of the disabled list and in the process, he picked up this tenth win of the season. If the Braves are going to keep pace with the Mets, Smoltz is going to have to win most of his starts. I know that’s a lot to ask, but it’s what you expect from your ace.
Andruw Jones is actually putting up a respectable month of July. He’s hitting a month high .282 and his seven homers are more then any other month, which is nice considering the break and the fact there’s a week’s worth of games left. We’ll need Andruw Jones too and it’s nice seeing him heat up a little bit.
It’ll be interesting to see what, if anything, the Braves do with Jarrod Saltalamacchia. He’s getting some time in at first base but you know a lot of teams are salivating over that bat considering he’s a catcher. If the Braves could get some pen help and maybe another starter, I say they jump. Help at first base would useful too with the struggles of Scott Thorman.
Still, three games back isn’t horrible considering the current skid. The Braves continue their four game series aganst the Barry Bonds show tonight. Tim Hudson is on the mound and the Braves’ hitters will go up against Matt Morris.
It’s been a weird season and while being just five games above .500 isn’t too bunch to brag about, and despite all of the turmoil within the team, the Braves sit just three losses back of the first place Mets and two losses ahead of the third place Phillies. They couldn’t take advantage of a tough stretch by the Mets in June but they also didn’t fall too far behind and they sit on the verge of getting back on top in the National League East.
Chipper Jones has to be the team MVP so far this year. The old man leads the team with fifteen homers and even with the injuries, he sports an OPS above 1.000. You can’t argue with the strikeout to walk ratio either (36/36). Of course the biggest disappointment has to be the Jones, Andruw. He has as many homers as Chipper does, but he’s still hitting just .211. You hate to see this happen to in a contract year as well and you wonder how much this is going to hurt his market value.
John Smoltz has been the staff ace and despite the injury, I’m figuring he’ll be back as good as ever after the rest. He leads the team in all of the important pitchng categories and if the Braves are going to contend, he’ll be the arm who carries us there. Chuck James has also put together as has Tim Hudson and they round out a Braves rotation that’s underrated and one of the best in baseball, at least the front three. The back end has been where the Braves have had their problems.
The Braves open up a ten game homestand beginning tomorrow against the Pirates. Tim Hudson throws for the Braves in the opener and the Braves hitters will face Ian Snell. The Pirates are one of those teams that worry me. They’re bad enough to where you expect the Braves to walk over them and then they’re good enough to surprise a team here and there.
One run. One stinking run is all the Braves managed to score during their five game losing streak that’s now pushed them into third place in the NL East. The lone run came on a solo homer by Chipper Jones in the middle game of the Tigers series. Outside of that, it’s been four shutouts. And the problems continue because while the Braves have the lead tonight against the Nationals, they’ve only scored one run into the sixth inning.
In looking at the Hardball Times team statistics, the Braves look like a pretty mediocre team. The Braves have a below average offense and average pitching. In fact if you look at a lot of the numbers, the Braves are right at or around the average column, which doesn’t make for a playoff team, it makes for a third place team which is where they’re at.
And then you have the John Smoltz and Chipper Jones bickering. I know the pitchers and hitters are both kind of their own clique but it goes to a whole new level when you’re talking about two future Hall of Famers.
Three against the Nationals may be just what the doctor ordered. The Braves have scored a few more since I’ve been writing and they’re now up 4-0 so hopefully this skid is going to end. The Phillies have the day off so that means the Braves should pick up at least a half game on them. The Mets and Cardinals are tight s that could go either way.
The bad news is, the Braves are only 8-10 in June. The good news is, the Mets have been even worse so despite a rough stretch earlier in the month, the Braves sit just a game and a half back of the first place Mets. Things are a lot more tight behind the Braves with the Phillies breathing down their neck but when you put yourself in a situation where if you just win you can take home the division, then it’s all good.
Chipper Jones racked up his 2,000 hit and there’s little doubt he’s one of the best switch hitters ever. He also leads the team with twelve homeruns despite the injuries and he has that OPS back up over 1.000 again.
Edgar Renteria is probably the biggest surprise. He’s hitting .330/.392/.519 and he leads the team with 47 runs. He also already had ten homeruns and his career mark is only 16.
John Smoltz is still rolling and it looks like the contract extension was warranted. He leads the team in wins with 8 and ERA with 2.84 and he’s probably on the back end of a short list of Cy Young candidates. And with win number 200 out of the way, he should be more then up for the challege of 250.
Game two against the Red Sox is tonight and it’ll be Tim Hudson going up against Josh Beckett. Beckett is coming off his first loss so hopefully the Braves can make that two in a row and with a Braves win and a Mets loss, it’ll put the Braves just a half game out of first place.
I apologize for falling behind. It’s been close to three weeks since I posted last and the Baseball Historians network had some system wide network problems that prevented me from posting. I’m back now though and I’ll be sure to get the 1957 Braves Diary back and up to date so bear with me please.
In the meantime, the Braves continue to sit in first place and they did it with their 25th win. Tim Hudson was very sharp and he picked up win number five. He gave up just a single run on three hits and a walk with four strikeouts. Edgar Renteria had a big game with two homeruns he’s been one of the Braves best hitters with a .327 batting average.
Kelly Johnson continues to get it done as the lead off hitter. He has more walks (30) then strikeouts (29) and he has a very impressive .405 OBP. He also leads the team with 31 runs.
Still, the Braves lead is just a half game so this isn’t the time to let up. There’s still two games against the Nationals and that should be two wins so hopefully the Braves can take care of business.
The Braves rolled into Miami hoping for an easy time against the Marlins and they ended up losing two of three games there. The win was fun but the two losses were tight games that easily could have been picked up.
On Monday, the Braves fell just short of coming back from an 8-2 deficit and lost it 8-7. Kyle Davies was shelled for five runs in four innings and Oscar Villarreal gave up three in just two frames as both got hit hard. Chipper Jones continued to hit the ball well and he hit homerun number six while Jeff Francoeur also went yard. Francoeur finished the game with four hits and four RBIs in a big game, it’s just unfortunate that it was in a loss.
The Braves picked up their win yesterday. Francoeur had another big game with three hits and two RBIs while Kelly Johnson scored three runs. Mark Redman was hit hard and he was gone after three innings and it was Peter Moylan who picked up the win. He had a nice relief appearance with three shutout frames.
Today’s loss was the biggest disappointment. The Braves took a 3-0 lead and took it into the ninth when Tim Hudson and then Bob Wickman fell apart. Hudson ended up with twelve strikeouts in eight innings but it was those three runs in the ninth that he gave up with nobody out that cost them. All three Braves runs came on solo homeruns. Kelly Johnson, Chipper Jones and Matt Diaz all went yard in the 4-3 loss.
So the Mets drop to a half game behind the Mets because they won this afternoon. Next up is three in Colorado against the Rockies. Anything can happen in Coors Field so this is a crapshoot even with the Rockies being mediocre. It’ll be Chuck James throwing against Jeff Francis in the opener on Friday.
These series are always fun and even though it’s early, being in first place is better then the alternative. The Braves entered this series with the Mets down by half a game and with two wins, they’ll start the new week up by half a game.
Tim Hudson got it done for the Braves on Friday. He threw eight shutout innings and he gave up just five hits and two walks with three strikeouts and he’s now an impressive 3-0 with a 0.62 ERA. Chipper Jones hit a two run homer and he scored three runs in the 7-3 win. Andruw Jones doubled, drew a walk and scored twice.
The second game was the downer and Chuch James was hit hard. He gave up six runs on ten hits and two walks with three strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. Andruw Jones went two for four with an RBI while Edgar Renteria went two for five with a run in the 7-2 loss.
The Braves won the rubber game in a big way in a 9-6 win. Kelly Johnson had a career day and he went three for four with two homeruns, four RBIs and three runs. Edgard Renteria went yard and he drove in three runs and Jeff Francoeur drove in two runs. John Smoltz was touched up for six runs but Tyler Yates picked up the win with a shutout inning and Bob Wickman did his job in the ninth and picked up his sixth save of the season.
The Braves head to Miami next to take on the Marlins. Kyle Davies gets the start in the opener tomorrow and the Braves will have to face an always dangerous Dontrelle Willis.
The Braves won the first game in their series against the Cubs but they couldn’t figure out Rich Hill in the second so the end result is a split. Unfortunately, the Mets have kept winning and they now hold a half game lead over the Braves in NL East. I didn’t think it’d be easy but I think the Mets pitching is bound to get bumped up later in the year so keeping pace like the Braves are doing is pretty huge.
Jeff Francoeur had a big three run homerun in Wednesday’s 8-6 win. Scott Thorman also went yard and he went two for three with two runs. Kyle Davies was hit hard but the bats picked up him up. And Bob Wickman continues to shut down the opposition and he pitched a perfect ninth to pick up his fifth save of the season.
Last night’s game was a complete shut down at the hand of Rich Hill. In all, the Braves managed just four hits with Kelly Johnson picking up two of them. You have to give some credit to Mark Redman because he threw a solid game. He gave up three runs on seven hits and two walks with five strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings. While it kept the Braves in the game, it wasn’t nearly enough and he would have had to be perfect to pick up the win that night.
Next up is a big series against the Mets in New York. Who ever wins the series will walk away with the lead in the NL East so there’s a lot at stake even with it being so early. Tim Hudson gets the start tonight and he’ll take on Mike Pelfrey.
The Braves and Nationals split their two game series this week. In Monday’s game, the Braves ran into Matt Chico, who after some tough starts seemed to finally find his groove. In all, the Braves were held to just a single run on five hits and the lone run came in the sixth when Jeff Francoeur scored on Scott Thorman’s ground out. Chuck James lost his first game of the season. He gave up three runs on five hits and two walks with three strikeouts in five innings of work.
Yesterday, things went a bit better and John Smoltz picked up win number two. Kelly Johnson went four for five with two runs while Chipper Jones hit homerun number four in the 6-4 win. Smoltz gave up four runs (two earned) on six hits and a walk with two strikeouts in two innings of work.
The lead over the Mets is a razor thin half game but the Braves head home to play two against the struggling Cubs. Kyles Davies will have his hands full as he has to match Carlos Zambrano to pick up the win. I like our chances though with Alfonso Soriano on the shelf.
It looks like another bout of nasty weather came through this weekend and even Atlanta wasn’t immune as Satursdays game was postponed. It might have been just as well because after Friday’s blowout loss, the Braves needed something to get on track. I mean it was their first back to back losses of the season and all.
It was Mark Redman who took the brunt of the Marlins eleven run attack. He gave up seven runs on six hits and two walks with two strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings and he dropped to 0-2 on the season. Brayan Pena and Chipper Jones both homered in the loss 11-6 loss.
The Braves got back on track yesterday by doubling up the Marlins. Despite getting out hit 12-9, the Braves scored eight times with the Joneses leading the way. Chipper and Andruw both went yard and they drove in five of the Braves eight runs in the 8-4 win. Tim Hudson improved to 2-0 with a nice start. He gave up just one run on six hits and four walks with four strikeouts in seven innings of work.
So the Braves sit at 8-3 and they’re a game ahead of the Mets. Next up is a two game series against the Nationals with Chuck James trying to improve to 3-0 with a start in the series opener.
You have to like this start. While the Braves did lose the series finale, they’re sitting atop the NL East with a rock solid 7-2 record. If asked as the beginning whether that would have been acceptable, I would have been all for it.
On Tuesday, the team did it all. Tim Hudson threw seven shutout innings and gave up three hits Jeff Francoeur went two for five with a homerun and five RBIs. Andruw Jones also went yard for his first of the season in the 8-0 blowout win.
Wednesday was almost as good as the offense put up eight runs and Chuck James had a nice start. He improved to 2-0 on the season with six shutout innings. The pen gave up a few runs but by then, the game was pretty much in hand. Chipper Jones hit his first homerun of the season and Andruw Jones hit his second of the series and he drove in three runs in the 8-3 win.
Then yesterday, the bats went silent. Held to just two hits, the Braves didn’t score a run. Even worse, a very nice start by John Smoltz went to waste. He gave up just two runs on four hits and four walks with six strikeouts in eight innings of work in the 2-0 loss.
The 5-4 Marlins come to town next so the Braves can’t let up with all of this competition inside the division. Mark Redman will take on Dontrelle Willis in the series opener.
After the series opener, I wasn’t feeling too good about this series. That game ended in an 11-1 beatdown that saw Mike Redman fall apart in the late innings to take the loss. Just as bad, the pen was tagged hard and the Braves scored just a single run on Jeff Francoeur’s solo homerun.
Then the Braves got it going on Saturday and John Smoltz outdueled former teammate Tom Glavine in a 5-3 win. Smotlz gave up two runs on seven hits and four walks with four strikeouts in six innings of work. Mike Gonzalez was touched up for a run but Rafael Soriano and Bob Wickman closed it out and the Braves walked away with the win. I like that relief triumvirate and it’ll do us well this year. At the plate, Mike Diaz homered and drove in two runs.
In the rubber game, the Braves couldn’t figure out Orlando Hernandez. It wasn’t until Aaron Heilman came in that the Braves scored two runs to win it. Brian McCann doubled home a run in the bottom of the ninth to tie it and then Jeff Francoeur doubled home McCann for the winning run. Kyle Davies almost had a solid start go to waste but it once again, the Gonzalez/Soriano/Wickman trio did the job out of the pen.
So the Braves rule the east, at least for now. They get tomorrow off before the Nationals roll into town for a three game series. I like our chances of staying on top and anything less then two of three would be disappointing.
I have to be honest, this three game sweep was a pleasant surprise. A lot of people had the Phillies winning the NL East and to put up three straight wins against them is definitely a positive. This time it was pretty much a blow out. Kelly Johnson hit a two run homerun while Edgar Renteria had three hits and a run. Brian McCann and Scott Thorman each drove in two runs in the 8-4 win.
Chuck James had an easy time in his five innings of work. He gave up just one run on six hits and a walk with five strikeouts.
It doesn’t get any easier because the Braves travel home to take on the Mets for three games. Mark Redman makes his Braves debut and he’ll face the erratic Oliver Perez.
Heading into the ninth, the Braves had been shutout and Cole Hamels made the lineup look just silly. Tom Gordon came in to close things out but Brian McCann has something else to say. His two run homer, his second homerun in as many games, pushed the game into extra frames. Then in the eleventh, Scott Thorman hit a solo homerun to push the Braves out in front for the 3-2 win.
A great start by Tim Hudson almost went to waste. He gave up a single run on only two hits and four walks with five strikeouts in seven innings of work. Mike Gonzalez gave up a run in the eighth but then four relievers combined for three shutout innings to close out the game.
The Braves can finish up a sweep with a win tomorrow afternoon. Chuck James gets the start and it’d be nice to just get the win without all of the drama.
Edgar Renteria hit a solo homerun in the eighth inning to tie the game at 3-3 and then he hit a two run shot in the top of the tenth to push the Braves ahead in their first win of the season. Also give some props to Brian McCann because his homerun fourth accounted for the other two Braves runs.
John Smoltz was good but not great but he kept the Braves in it. He gave up three runs on eight hits and a walk with seven strikeouts in six innings of work. Bob Wickman picked up the win with a shutout ninth and Chad Paronto picked up a save with a scoreless tenth inning.
The Braves have the day off tomorrow and then they Tim Hudson takes the mound. The Braves will be facing a tough Phillie starter in Cole Hamels. If we can win that one, I like our chances on Thursday for a sweep.
MiLB.com previewed the Braves minor league system today. They profile players at each of the Braves minor league teams, give us some potential players who have fallen under the radar, has a 2006 draft recap and then they predict that Eric Campbell and Jo-Jo Reyes will be the top minor league players in the organization. There’s a ton of good prospect information in this column so be sure to check it out.
The Hardball Times Braves preview is here and it’s their standard five questions format. John Beamer is the author and he touches on things like the Braves bullpen and how the team is going to replace Adam LaRoche at the plate. He closes with the question as to whether whether or not the Braves can catch the Mets in 2007.
In a huge move, the Braves extended Brian McCann’s contract by six years. The initial amount is $27.8 million but it looks like he could earn another $2 million to make it pretty much a $30 million deal. Not too shabby if 2006 is what we can expect from McCann. This will cover all of McCann’s arbitration eligible seasons and will also take care of what would have been his first year as a free agent. There’s also an option for 2013 so you’re definitely looking like at the Braves catcher for the rest of this decade and beyond.
Mike Redman threw five solid innings today for the Braves. He gave up just two runs but he was touched up for seven hits and he gave up two walks with two strikeouts. Rafael Soriano threw a perfect frame with one strikeout while Jonathon Johnson was shelled for three runs in 2/3 of an inning.
Andruw Jones hit his second homerun of the spring while Carlos Mendez singled and drove in two runs. Next up for the Braves are the Mets.
Bill Ballew at Baseball America recently profiled Braves first base prospect Scott Thorman. It’s a good read and it goes through pieces of his minor league career as well as some personal tid bits. While I don’t think Thorman is going to be expected to start every day, he is going to be a piece of the offense and it’d be nice to see him have a solid rookie campaign.
If you ever wondered where John Smoltz came from, John Sickels recently penned an excellent prospect retro column on Smoltz’ minor league career. Most of it was with the Tigers organization before the Braves traded for him in one of the most lopsided trades in baseball history. Nice stuff and it’s a good case study on how a top prospect can have a bad year yet still pan out.
It seems like a full season of Chipper Jones won’t happen once again in 2007. The third baseman sprained his ankle today in the Braves spring game against the Cardinals and he’s listed as day to day.
Beyond the Boxscore continued their season preview series with a look at the Braves this weekend. The initial look has the Braves coming in around 85 wins but they hedge against any playoff chances because of the strength of the Braves (and I think the Phillies). The offense should be top notch again and the bullpen should be better but the problem might be the rotation. The final prognosis is similar to the initial feeling. The Braves could win up to 90 games, but that’s not enough to hit the playoffs. So it should be a good year, but not a great one.
I’m surprised a guy like Mike Redman was still out there. He’s a left hander and while he hasn’t a great year since he played for the World Series Champion Marlins in 2003, he had fair seasons in 2004 and 2005. Of course he fell off of a cliff in 2006 (ironically in his All Star season) with the Royals. This is just the kind of guy Leo Mazzone could work with if he were still here.
Of course the Braves recently signed Redman to a minor league deal in response to the latest injury by Mike Hampton. He’ll compete for a spot on the rotation with Kyle Davies and Lance Cormier. Regardless, Redman is a guy who’s not bad to have in your back pocket in the event something else goes wrong.
It looks like Mike Hampton’s comeback attempt will be postponed as he injured himself while taking batting practice yesterday. Whether it’s a strained oblique or a broken rib, Hampton will most likely miss all of April if not more. The Braves were kind of banking on Hampton being there so they’ll probably be either looking to make a trade or examining what they’ve got as far as prospects to see who can fill in. We’ll have to keep an eye on the Braves depth chart to see who emerges as the likely fifth starter in the event the Braves aren’t able to make a deal.
The Dodgers touched Chuck James up for a run in the first inning but the rest of the pitching staff held the Dodgers scoreless the rest of the way in the Braves 4-1 win over the Dodgers. Buddy Carlyle was particularly sharp with two strikeouts in two shutout innings.
Martin Prado was the hitting star for the Braves. He had three hits, including a double, with a run and an RBI. Ryan Langerhans had two hits and an RBI and Scott Thorman had two hits and a run.
Tomorrow, the Braves take on the Nationals. Hopefully the Braves can keep up their solid start this spring as they’re already 3-1.
Baseball American recently profiled Braves third base prospect Van Pope. The team’s fifth round draft pick in 2004 is expected to start the season at Double A Mississippi, which is close to where Pope grew up so he’s excited about playing close to home. He had a solid season at High A Myrtle Beach last year and hopes to build on that as he moves up the system.
While losing Marcus Giles may not have seemed like a major deal at the time, it has sent a little ripple through the organization as everyone has been speculating as to who will fill the role. Heading into spring, it looks like it’s a three man battle between Martin Prado, Kelly Johnson and Manny Aybar. For now, my bet is on Johnson. Keep an eye on Prado though because he’s been able to make decent contact in the minors.
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