Posted on: February 25, 2012 9:51 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 10:23 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
Thanks to the Red Sox collapse, the Braves' September disappearing act seems to have been forgotten by everyone outside of Atlanta and St. Louis. Atlanta led the wild card race by as many as 8 1/2 games in September before conceding the final NL playoff spot to the Cardinals, going 9-18 over the last month of the season, losing their last five and 13 of their last 18. While there were rumors of big changes in the offseason, none of that materialized and the Braves head into 2012 with the same team that appeared to be headed to the playoffs before the final month of the season.
Danny Knobler's camp report: After epic collapse, inaction brings optimism | Likes, dislikes
Major additions: None
Major departures: RHP Derek Lowe, SS Alex Gonzalez, OF Nate McLouth, RHP Scott Linebrink, LHP George Sherrill
1. Michael Bourn CF
2. Martin Prado LF
3. Chipper Jones 3B
4. Brian McCann C
5. Dan Uggla 2B
6. Freddie Freeman 1B
7. Jason Heyward RF
8. Tyler Pastornicky SS
1. Tim Hudson
2. Tommy Hanson
3. Jair Jurrjens
4. Brandon Beachy
5. Mike Minor
Hudson's status for the beginning of the season is in doubt, which would make room for right-hander Randall Delgado
Closer: Craig Kimbrel
Set-up: Jonny Venters, Eric O'Flaherty, Kris Medlen
Important bench players
OF Jose Constanza, 1B/OF Eric Hinske, OF Matt Diaz
Prospect to watch
In three starts and two relief appearances, Julio Teheran went 1-1 with a 5.03 ERA and only struck out 10 batters in 19 2/3 innings, while walking eight batters. But it should also be noted he was just 20. Teheran will likely start 2012 back in Triple-A, where he went 15-3 with a 2.55 ERA. The right-hander has four pitches, including a fastball in the mid-90s. He may not be an ace right away, but few pitchers in the minors have his potential.
Fantasy sleeper: Mike Minor
"His strikeout and walk rates showed he has the skills to become a top-of-the-rotation-type pitcher, and with Derek Lowe banished to Cleveland, he suddenly has a rotation spot to refine them. The Braves' decision to clear that spot for Minor this offseason should give the 24-year-old a renewed sense of purpose entering spring training. If his performance during his final nine starts last year, when he posted a 3.83 ERA with more than a strikeout per inning, was a sneak peak at what he can do with a defined role, he'll be a late-round find on Draft Day." -- Scott White [Full Braves team fantasy preview]
Fantasy bounce-back player: Jason Heyward
"He developed numbness in his shoulder in spring training and, in an effort to play through the injury, altered his mechanics. His popout rate was through the roof, which is a clear sign his swing wasn't right. With an offseason of rest and the fresh perspective of new hitting coach Greg Walker, Heyward should be in for a bounce-back season. Expecting other-worldly numbers from him would, of course, not be prudent, but even a return to his rookie form would make him a top-25 outfielder." -- Scott White [Full Braves team fantasy preview]
Everything that went wrong last year -- Uggla's early-season struggles, Heyward's sophomore slump, manager Fredi Gonzalez's overuse of the bullpen -- goes right this year, while the young pitching studs are as advertised. If all that happens, the Braves could win the NL East. Then with their starters and relievers, the Braves would be a tough out in any series.
Uggla plays the entire season like he did last May (.160/.241/.260 with two home runs), Heyward's 2012 is a repeat of 2011 and Hudson, Hanson and Jurrjens have a large chunk of time on the disabled list with varying injuries. Meanwhile, the rookies the team is counting on to perform -- Pastornicky and Minor -- struggle and the veteran Jones can't hold up for an entire season at 40. There's plenty that can go wrong and with the improvements made by the Marlins, the growth of the Nationals and the Phillies' pitching, the Braves could battle with the Mets for the bottom of the division rather than searching to avenge 2011's collapse.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Tags: Alex Gonzalez, Brandon Beachy, Braves, Brian McCann, Chipper Jones, Craig Kimbrel, Dan Uggla, Derek Lowe, Eric Hinske, Eric O'Flaherty, Freddie Freeman, Fredi Gonzalez, George Sherrill, Jair Jurrjens, Jason Heyward, Jonny Venters, Jose Constanza, Julio Teheran, Kris Medlen, Martin Prado, Matt Diaz, Michael Bourn, Nate McLouth, NL East, Randall Delgado, Scott Linebrink, spring training, spring training 2012, Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, Tyler Pastornicky
Posted on: December 2, 2011 3:39 pm
Edited on: December 2, 2011 5:10 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.
The Braves have seemingly always believed in developing talent from within and occasionally supplementing from the outside. It's a formula that's worked for many years and has become a blueprint for most of baseball. However, that doesn't mean they don't make mistakes from time to time, and if you're a Braves fan, you probably already rue the date July 31, 2007, already. On that day, the Braves sent Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Beau Jones to the Rangers for Mark Teixeira and Ron Mahay. The Rangers have been to two World Series since the trade and the Braves none.
1. Elvis Andrus, SS
2. Martin Prado, LF
3. Brian McCann, C
4. Chipper Jones, 3B
5. Jeff Francoeur, RF
6. Freddie Freeman, 1B
7. Jason Heyward, CF
8. Kelly Johnson, 2B
1. Adam Wainwright
2. Tommy Hanson
3. Brandon Beachy
4. Matt Harrison
5. Mike Minor
Closer - Craig Kimbrel
Set up - Neftali Feliz, Jonny Venters, Matt Belisle, Julio Teheran, Charlie Morton
Long - Bruce Chen
Notable Bench Players
Adam LaRoche, Mark DeRosa, Rafael Furcal, Yunel Escobar, Wilson Betemit, Andruw Jones, Jordan Schafer, Tyler Flowers, Brayan Pena and Garrett Jones give this team an acceptable backup at every spot on the diamond and more.
The depth is incredible -- in the pitching staff and the position players. Even if Wainwright weren't available because of his injury, the team has Chen, Morton or the rookie Teheran to step in, or they could move Feliz to the rotation without even having to look anywhere else for its closer.
Heyward is playing out of position in center -- it was between him and Francoeur, so I went with Heyward. Other than that? Well, Wainwright might still have been injured and the rotation is young, but talented.
Comparison to real 2011
There's no chance this team would have missed the playoffs, like their real-life counterparts did. The rotation is solid (even without Wainwright) and would have given first-year manager Fredi Gonzalez more innings, meaning he may not have run Kimbrel and Venters into the ground. The lineup has enough punch to aid that goal. Does this team win the World Series? Maybe. The rotation isn't a postseason killer -- yet, but there's certainly potential.
Next: Toronto Blue Jays
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Tags: Adam LaRoche, Adam Wainwright, Andruw Jones, Beau Jones, Brandon Beachy, Braves, Brayan Pena, Brian McCann, Bruce Chen, C. Trent Rosecrans, Charlie Morton, Chipper Jones, Craig Kimbrel, Elvis Andrus, Freddie Freeman, Garrett Jones, homegrown, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Jason Heyward, Jeff Francoeur, Jonny Venters, Jordan Schafer, Julio Teheran, Kelly Johnson, Mark DeRosa, Mark Teixeira, Martin PRado, Matt Belisle, Matt Harrison, Mike Minor, Neftali Feliz, Rafael Furcal, Rangers, Ron Mahay, Tommy Hanson, Tyler Flowers, Wilson Betemit, Yunel Escobar
Posted on: October 21, 2011 2:25 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
Former hitting coach Larry Parrish was fired after one year following the Braves' September collapse.
Walker is a Georgia native who spent the last 8 1/2 seasons as the Chicago hitting coach. He resigned after the 2011 season.
"I realized my shelf life, or whatever you want to call it, in Chicago was over," Walker said. "We had a good run there, but it became obvious there was time for a change. I felt like it was time to move on. When the Braves job came open, it was obviously one I would covet.
Scott Fletcher will serve as Walker's assistant, preparing advanced scouting reports before each series. He will replace an advance scout, doing all the work off of computer instead of an advance scout on the road.
"It's someone to help out daily on the field and do more advance work, so you can do more in-game and in-series adjustments because you have someone in the clubhouse who is familiar with the adjustments the other team is making as opposed to having your advance scout in the next season," Braves general manager Frank Wren said.
Fletcher has also known Jason Heyward since the Braves' outfielder was 12 years old, when Fletcher's son was on the same team as Heyward.
Walker said he's always used an assistant hitting coach, even if that person didn't have that same title.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 14, 2011 11:43 am
Edited on: October 14, 2011 11:52 am
By C. Trent Rosecrans
Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...
Team name: Altanta Braves
Record: 89-73, 2nd place in NL East, 13 games back
Manager: Fredi Gonzalez
Best hitter: Brian McCann -- .270/.351/.466, 24 HR, 71 RBI, 51 R
Best pitcher: Tim Hudson -- 16-10, 3.22 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 158 K, 215 IP
2011 SEASON RECAP
If it weren't for the Red Sox, the Braves' collapse would have been the biggest story of the last part of the 2011 season. Atlanta held an 8 1/2-game lead in the wild card on Sept. 5 before losing 13 of their last 18 and 20 of their last 30 to finish a game behind the Cardinals. Unlike Boston, Atlanta didn't lose its manager and general manager as a result. Only first-year hitting coach Larry Parrish was axed because of the team's failings.
There was plenty to like about 2011, especially in rookie first baseman Freddie Freeman, rookie closer Craig Kimbrel and second-year setup man Jonny Venters. The second two manager Fredi Gonzalez liked so much he ran them into the ground, putting Venters into a league-high 85 games and pitching the 23-year-old Kimbrel in 79. Lefty Eric O'Flaherty also pitched in 78 games, as the Atlanta bullpen ran out of gas in the final month of the season.
The worst part of the season was the regression of right fielder Jason Heyward. The runner-up for the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year struggled in his sophomore campaign, hitting just .227/.319/.389 with 14 home runs and 42 RBI in 128 games.2012 AUDIT
The Braves were unlucky when it came to injuries, and they return most of the team that did play well for most of the season -- so it doesn't seem like there are big moves that need to be made, just some tweaks. The team is set for a while at first base, second base and behind the plate. Chipper Jones is coming back for one more year to man third. Atlanta also picked up a center fielder in Michael Bourn to fill that hole. The future of the rotation is bright, and that's the foundation the team can build upon.FREE AGENTS
Alex Gonzalez, SS
Jack Wilson, utility IF
Eric Hinske, OF ($1.5 million club option)
Nate McLouth, OF ($10.65 million club option)
Scott Linebrink, RP
George Sherrill, RP
Posted on: September 19, 2011 11:56 pm
Edited on: September 20, 2011 12:26 am
By C. Trent Rosecrans
The Gold Gloves are one of baseball's toughest awards to decide -- and sometimes toughest to understand. Unlike many of the game's other awards, the Gold Gloves are voted on by managers and coaches, and every year it seems there's a winner or two that seems to win the award more with their bat than their glove.
Not only do some players seem to win it with something other than their glove, sometimes the award can be a lot like the Supreme Court, once you get elected, you're not going to lose your seat.
That said, it's a difficult award to vote for. There are better fielding statistics coming out every year, yet most are still in their infancy and can tell you only so much. Good defense, sometimes can be a lot like the definition Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart gave for pornograpy in Jacobelis v. Ohio in 1964: "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embrued within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it."
With that in mind, perhaps the voters for the Gold Gloves should be the scouts, but instead I'll try my hand at picking out the best defensive players in the National League.
As tough as it is to use numbers to evaluate fielders, it's even tougher with catchers. At least the numbers with other fielders have some meaning, with catchers there's so much more to what they do defensively that it's hard not to go on reputation -- and nobody has a better reputation than Molina.
When Votto was coming up, people knew he could hit -- that was hard to ignore -- but his reputation at first base was nowhere near as good. Even as a rookie, he often struggled, especially on throws to a pitcher covering first. Since then, he's improved every year and this year he has proven himself to be the best defensive first baseman in the league. Votto, last year's MVP, covers more ground at first than any other first baseman in the league, which means it can be tough to get a hit if you hit it on the ground to the right side of the Reds infield, beacuse of the next guy on the list.
Second base: Brandon Phillips, Reds
A two-time Gold Glover, Phillips should be in line for his third. There may be no other player in baseball with as long of a highlight-reel as Phillips, who seemingly makes another amazing play every night.
There are players with better defensive reputations than the Kung Fu Panda, but nobody's had a better year. The advanced stats don't tell you everything yet, but they're still pretty good. Sandoval leads qualified National League third basemen in UZR (12.3), UZR/150 (21.2) and plus-minus (20).
Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
The Rockies may know a little something about drafting defensive shortstops -- they picked two of the best in the league, Tulowitzki and the Astros' Clint Barmes. Finally healthy, Barmes was outstanding defensively for the Astros, while Tulowitzki seems like the second coming of Cal Ripken.
Left field: Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies
The voting has changed this year to award Gold Gloves to each of the three outfield positions instead of three generic outfielder awards that usually went to center fielders. Carlos Gonzalez is tough to categorize, but considering he's played more games in left than any other spot, he's the easy choice here. He's started 60 games in left, 34 in right and 28 in center. He's played all three well, which isn't easy at spacious Coors Field, committing only one error on the season.
Center field: Shane Victorino, Phillies
This is one stacked category, with several deserving players. Under the old rules it would be easy, you'd have three center fielders and give them the three Gold Gloves. Under the new rules, it's a tougher choice. Victorino has had an MVP-type year, and no small part of that has been patrolling center field for the Phillies. The Flyin' Hawaiian is as good as anyone out there and his error-less season gives him the edge.
Right field: Mike Stanton, Marlins
He may be known best for the moon shots off his bat, but Stanton is a surprisingly good defensive outfielder. Stanton has the combination of athleticism and arm strength to be the best defensive right fielder in the game.
Pitcher: R.A. Dickey, Mets
A knuckleball pitcher needs to field his position well -- there are plenty of bad hits coming back to the mound off poor contact. Dickey has been very good fielding his position and helped his team with his glove.@eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Tags: 2011 awards, Albert Pujols, Alex Gonzalez, Andrew McCutchen, Astros, Brandon Phillips, Braves, Brewers, Brian McCann, Bronson Arroyo, C. Trent Rosecrans, Cameron Maybin, Cardinals, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Gomez, Carlos Gonzalez, Carlos Ruiz, Chase Utley, Chris Young, Clayton Kershaw, Clint Barmes, Derek Lowe, Dodgers, Gerardo Parra, Giants, Gold Gloves, Hiroki Kuroda, Jake Westbrook, Jason Heyward, Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, Jose Reyes, Marlins, Matt Holliday, Mets, Mike Stanton, Nationals, Neil Walker, NL Central, NL East, NL West, Omar iNfante, Pablo Sandoval, Padres, Phillies, Pirates, Placido Polanco, R.A. Dickey, Reds, Rick Ankiel, Rockies, Rockies, Ryan Zimmerman, Shane Victorino, Todd Helton, Tony Gwynn, Troy Tulowitzki, Yadier Molina
Posted on: August 31, 2011 11:56 am
By C. Trent Rosecrans
The Braves added a familiar face -- getting outfielder Matt Diaz from the Pirates along with cash in exchange for a player to be named. Diaz will be back with the Braves in time for tonight's game with the Nationals.
Diaz, 31, spent 2006-2010 with Atlanta before signing as a free agent with Pittsburgh in December to a two-year contract.
Diaz is hitting .259/.303/.324 this season in 100 games -- below his career totals of .296/.344/.440. However, the Braves aren't hiding the reason they got him, pointing out his average against left-handers in the release announcing the trade. As a team, the Braves are hitting .227/.296/.353 against left-handers, while Diaz is hitting .295/.342/.362 against lefties.
Diaz has also been hitting better lately against lefties, hitting .388 (19 for 49) since June 15, with a .436 on-base percentage.
The Braves are pretty set with their outfield of Jason Heyward, Michael Bourn and Jose Constanza, but can use Diaz in place of Heyward against lefties (Heyward is hitting just .188/.271/.313 against left-handed pitchers) and then off the bench, where he's fourth on the Braves' all-time list for pinch hits with 39.
The Pirates also sent outfielder John Bowker to the Phillies earlier in the day in exchange for a player to be named or cash considerations.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 21, 2011 4:43 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2011 5:07 pm
By Eye on Baseball team
Leading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, the National League East has an actual race -- as well as a team with a bloated payroll and no hope -- which leads to a great chance of some pretty interesting trades to and from the division. Here's a look at the five teams in the NL Eeast:
Needs: Bullpen, RH bat
Notes: Manager Charlie Manuel said he'd love a right-handed bat (Philadelphia Daily News), probably in the outfield, but this is the Phillies and expect the team to focus on pitching -- at least that's what history tells us. And because their rotation is pretty good (you may have heard about some of these guys), they focus on relievers, likely ending a streak of five years of adding a starter midseason. The team is likely one of the many suitors for Padres closer Heath Bell, although some suggest the Phillies prefer Mike Adams. Padres owner Jeff Moorad has reportedly told Adams he won't be traded. However, according to Tom Krasovic of Inside the Padres, the Phillies are willing to give up Class A first baseman/left fielder Jonathan Singleton in return for Adams.
As for the right-handed bats, the Phillies are in on the same folks everyone's chasing -- Ryan Ludwick, Carlos Beltran, Hunter Pence and maybe Jeff Francouer. The biggest hurdle of all for the Phillies is money, as in they've already spent it and they're worried about the luxury tax. The team has just between $2 and $3 million to spend and avoid the luxury tax.
According to Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com, the Phillies and Royals have already exchanged names in a possible Melky Cabrera trade. Cabrera is a cheaper, younger switch hitter for those who fall short in the Carlos Beltran sweepstakes.
Status: Bargain shoppers
Needs: Right-handed bat
Notes: The Braves need a right-handed bat like Roy Halladay needs air conditioning. Atlanta looks like the front-runner for the National League wild card, but don't have much money to spend. The biggest issue right now for Atlanta is its inability to hit left-handed pitchers. Braves hitters are hitting just .211/.285/.337 against lefties, with Jason Heyward, Nate McLouth and Jordan Schafer all below the Mendoza line against southpaws. That's why Jon Paul Morosi's report of the Reds' Jonny Gomes drawing the interest of the Braves makes sense, Gomes kills lefties to the tune of a .340/.446/.547 slash line this season and .281/..377/.510 in his career. There's also the regular names such as Ludwick and Beltran.
To make room for more payroll, the team could trade right-hander Derek Lowe, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's David O'Brien wrote. The Tigers could be interested in Lowe, but would have to take up the rest of the $20 million he's owed through 2012.
New York Mets
Status: One-stop shopping
Needs: Young talent under team control; pitching
Notes: Outfielder Carlos Beltran is the top position player on the market, but his future is clouded by the number of teams that could use an upgrade in the outfield and the fact that he's not for sale, he's for rent. Whatever team gets him won't even get compensation picks if he leaves as a free agent after the season.
The Mets would reportedly rather pay Beltran's salary and get a good young player or top prospect in return. They could unload him to a team willing to pay the roughly $8 million left on his contract, but then they wouldn't get much in return. The Mets would prefer big-league ready pitching talent. New York seems confident it can re-sign Jose Reyes, meaning they're not ready to throw in the towel and go full-on rebuilding anytime soon.
Beltran, however, does have a no-trade clause. According to Tim Brown of Yahoo!, Sandy Alderson gave Beltran a short list of teams interested -- the Phillies, Red Sox, Braves, Giants, Brewers and maybe the Yankees -- and Beltran hasn't ruled any of them out.
Status: Listening to all offers
Needs: Leadoff man/center fielder of the future
Notes: The Nationals have pieces to deal -- from catcher Ivan Rodriguez to relievers Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen, Todd Coffey and Sean Burnett, plus starters Jason Marquis, Livan Hernandez and Tom Gorzelanny. In short, they're open for business, with GM Mike Rizzo saying no player is "untouchable" -- but then following that up with "we're not going to touch our core." That means, "after a while, they don't ask for [Danny] Espinosa," Rizzo told the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore. Ryan Zimmerman is also likely untouchable, as well as catcher Wilson Ramos.
One name to watch is shortstop Ian Desmond, but that would take quite the return for the team to move the 25-year-old.
More likely to go are some of the team's relievers. The Nats are deep in the bullpen and it's a position that's always in demand. The top tier would be Clippard or even Storen, but that would require Washington receiving a leadoff-hitting center fielder in return, someone like B.J. Upton, Michael Bourn, Colby Rasmus or Denard Span, FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal writes.
Needs: Third baseman, starting pitchers
Notes: The Marlins have starting pitchers that would interest many teams, but they may not part with them. Next year they rename themselves the Miami Marlins when they move into a new stadium and ownership would like a competitive team on the field when that happens.
Ricky Nolasco is the top starter to be had, but Knobler says they'd have to get a younger, cheaper starter in return for the 28-year-old right-hander.
The one the team may part with is Javier Vazquez, but it's not really their decision. Vazquez has a full no-trade clause and isn't in any hurry to leave South Florida. There are few places he'd accept a trade.
Sure to be gone is closer Leo Nunez. The Phillies are interested in Nunez. The other teams desperate for bullpen help -- like the Cardinals and Rangers -- are likely to at least inquire what it may take to get him.
Randy Choate has been verbal this week about his problems with current manager Jack McKeon and could get shipped off for not being a good soldier.@cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Tags: B.J. Upton, Braves, Brewers, Carlos Beltran, Colby Rasmus, Danny Espinosa, Denard Span, Derek Lowe, Derek Lowe, Drew Storen, Giants, Greg Dobbs, Heath Bell, Hutner Pence, Ian Desmond, Jason Heyward, Jason Marquis, Jason Marquis, Javier Vazquez, Jeff Francouer, Jim Johnson, Jonathan Singleton, Jonny Gomes, Jordan Schafer, Jose Reyes, Koji Uehara, Leo Nunez, Livan Hernandez, Livan Hernandez, Marlins, Melky Cabrera, Michael Bourn, Mike Adams, MLB rumors, Nate McLouth, Nationals, NL East, Omar Infante, Phillies, Randy Choate, Red Sox, Ricky Nolasco, Ryan Ludwick, Ryan Zimmerman, Sean Burnett, Todd Coffey, Tom Gorzelanny, Tom Gorzelanny, trade deadline, Tyler Clippard, Vance Worley, Wilson Ramos, Yankees
Posted on: June 15, 2011 5:19 pm
Edited on: June 15, 2011 5:19 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
There will be 20,001 Jason Heywards at Turner Field on Wednesday -- 20,000 bobbleheads and more importantly the real deal, as the Braves announced Heyward was activated from the disabled list before Wednesday's game.
Heyward played in two game for Triple-A Gwinnett, going 1 for 6 with a double in his first at-bat. He hasn't played for the Braves since May 19 with a shoulder injury. He was hitting just .214/.317/.407 with seven home runs when he went on the DL.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.