Monday, February 27, 2006

Mike Remlinger

In 2002 Mike Remlinger made the All-star team in his third year with the Braves. After that season he left for a contract with the Cubs. But as the article from Macon Telegraph states he was never quite the same.
Remlinger was one of the guys that came in and had a resurrected under Leo machine and was never quite the same after he left.
Now, with his 40th birthday approaching, he has signed a minor league deal with the Braves. He will make $700,000 if he is signed to the major league roster after Spring Training.
And there is a very good chance of this happening. The bullpen is seriously lacking any depth, or experience. There are bunch of rookies making house in the bullpen, and even if Remlinger isn't the same dominant lefty he was in 2002 there is no end to the things he can teach the kids he will sit with.
I just hope heading back to Atlanta will help him rebound from the 14.85 ERA he posted in eight appearances with the Boston Red Sox before being designated for assignment. Or maybe he will consider retiring and being a bullpen coach......

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Blank look at Braves

Ted Turner bought the Braves and pumped money into them in a George Steinbrenner/Yankees kind of way. And the Braves won, ok so only one World Series, but you can't really argue with 14 NL East titles. In the height of the Superstation days TBS and the Braves were a corporation, not just a baseball team. But those days are long gone and in December Time Warner announced the Braves were for sale.
The person that seems the most interested in the Braves is Home Depot founder Arthur Blank. My thoughts: let Blank buy the Braves, maybe he can put some good old fashioned tlc into the Braves and they can get themselves another World Series in the near future. While nothing is being confirmed by Time Warner or Blank it is the only rumor coming out of the sale and it seems like he is genuinely interested. He already owns the Atlanta Falcons and he clearly can run a business, Home Depot certainly isn't hurting.

Even if it isn't Blank the Braves clearly needs to be sold. The Braves don't even register on Time Warner's radar anymore because they are such a small part of a huge corporation. Here is why AJC.com thinks the Braves need to switch hands, ASAP.

Different Approach, Same Results?

One if the biggest changes the Braves went through this off season was the departure of pitching coach Leo Mazzone. Mazzone brought in top pitching prospects and resurrected long forgotten about careers. But apparently things aren't as rosy as they seemed in Mazzone's tenure. Since Roger McDowell, an unknown minor league coach, was named pitching coach stars like Tim Hudson have openly said that they are glad to have the prankster take over for the hard-nosed Mazzone. In Hudson even told USA Today that McDowell 'is going to do awesome.' Sounds like words of praise to me, but you can't argue with results and it will be hard for McDowell to match Mazzone's.
Read up on Hudson's new favorite....

A real winner

Now one can look many many places for the reason the Braves consistently win, and there of course is no one reason but a main reason sits behind the scenes. In 1991 Bobby Cox stepped down as general manager of the Atlanta Braves to focus in his job as manager. And when he did the Braves went out and got John Schuerholz from the Kansas City Royals. The Royals had just won a World Series and he took on the Braves and Ted Turner's big wallet and he bought a really good team. But now with Turner trying to sell and big names like Maddux, Glavine, Furcal and Mazzone gone Schuerholz has had to depend on the farm system and making smart trades. Jeff Gordon, a special correspondent for FOXSports, named Schuerholz the number one executive in professional sports.

This season Schuerholz he lost Mazzone and Furcal but he went out and got Edgar Renteria and Roger McDowell as well as rising stars Brian McCann, Kelly Johnson and Jeff Francoeur. And with talks of the Braves being sold getting louder everyday what Schuerholz is accomplishing gets more impressive every year.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Still the team to beat

Dayn Perry's other Braves article for the week was not a look back but a look ahead to the season. Perry is convinced (as am I) that despite another off-season of upheaval you can't bet against the Braves this year. So instead of listening to me tell you (again) why the Braves are still the NL East team to beat why don't you let Perry tell you.

How the Braves became a dynasty

Dayn Perry is a special correspondent for FOXSports.com and the author the book Winners: How Good Baseball Teams Become Great Ones (And It's Not the Way You Think). He has spent a good deal of time writing about the Braves in the past week for FOXSports.com.
First he posted an excerpt from his book 'How the Braves Dynasty Came to Life- And it is not how you think.' Which is a really cool look at how Ted Turner, John Schuerholz and Bobby Cox turned the Braves from one of the worst teams in baseball (i.e. today's Devil Rays) to a baseball Dynasty. And it all began the year I was born....

"The Braves in '86 brought back Cox, as general manager. It was under his watch as GM that they traded for John Smoltz and drafted, among others, Chipper Jones, Kent Mercker, and Mike Stanton. However, before Cox returned to the organization, farm director Paul Snyder was drafting future core contributors such as Ron Gant, Mark Lemke, Tom Glavine, Jeff Blauser, and David Justice. After running through managers such as Eddie Haas, Chuck Tanner, and Russ Nixon, Cox decided to return to the dugout in June of 1990. By October of that same year he had determined that the dual role was too taxing, and he stepped down as GM after five seasons on the job. As Cox's replacement in the front office, the Braves hired Royals GM John Schuerholz, who over the previous decade had guided Kansas City to four division titles and a World Series victory in 1985."


And so the Braves became a dynasty....with a little help from TBS. yeah so it helped that Turner had enough cash to own a couple television channels. In the past few years Turner has stopped pumping money into the Braves, in the NL East both the Mets and Phillies have a higher payroll than the Braves, but they continue to win despite what the experts predict. What would happen to the Yankees of their payroll suddenly dropped? Think about it...

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The power of a name

So I was searching around the web looking for anything new and post worthy when I came across something that struck me as really really funny. When I searched 'Chipper Jones' a story came up about fern farming. How are the two connected you ask? Well I was curious too. Turns out Jones' hometown of Pierson Florida is the Fern Capital of the World. And appearantly that title may be in jeopardy. When the Tampa Tribune ran a story on the state of the ferns they added the fact that it was Chippers Jones' hometown into the top of the story, instantly thousands more people are going to see this story. So kudos to the Tampa Tribune for getting a few more hits on their website. Check out the state of Jones' hometown too, it is actually interesting.


By the way, Jones and his family no longer live in Florida. He has a massive ranch in Texas now.

Farm system

Last year the Braves had 14 rookies play for them, and all of them performed well and kept the Braves afloat with veterans like Chipper Jones injured. Andruw Jones, Rafeal Furcal and Marcus Giles all came up through the Braves minor leagues it makes you wonder what is in the water down there. OR maybe it isn't the water at all and the Braves are hiding some amazing coaches in Richmond, Rome, Danville and Myrtle Beach. So here is an interesting story I found about one of the coaches now in Richmond, the last step before Atlanta. Maybe this guy will be the next Bobby Cox for the Braves.
Although I don't think Bobby Cox will ever leave. In 300 years he will be sitting in the dugout and fining players who aren't working hard enough.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Everyone has a different spin

I posted ESPN's projected starters and pitching rotation earlier. Here is what AtlantaBraves.com has to say on the subject.

Projected batting order
1. 2B Marcus Giles: .291 BA, 15 HR, 63 RBIs in 2005
2. SS Edgar Renteria: .276 BA, 8 HR, 70 RBIs in 2005
3. 3B Chipper Jones: .296 BA, 21 HR, 72 RBIs in 2005
4. CF Andruw Jones: .263 BA, 51 HR, 128 RBIs in 2005
5. 1B Adam LaRoche: .259 BA, 20 HR, 78 RBIs in 2005
6. RF Jeff Francoeur: .300 BA, 14 HR, 45 RBIs in 2005
7. C Brian McCann: .278 BA, 5 HR, 23 RBIs in 2005
8. LF Ryan Langerhans: .267 BA, 8 HR, 42 RBIs in 2005

Projected rotation
1. John Smoltz, 14-7, 3.06 ERA in 2005
2. Tim Hudson, 14-9, 3.52 ERA in 2005
3.John Thomson, 4-6, 4.47 ERA in 2005
4. Horacio Ramirez, 11-9, 4.63 ERA in 2005
5. Jorge Sosa, 13-3, 2.55 ERA in 2005 or Kyle Davies, 7-6, 4.93 ERA in 2005

Projected bullpen
Closer: Chris Reitsma, 15 saves, 3.93 ERA in 2005
RH setup man: Blaine Boyer, 3.11 ERA in 2005
LH setup man: Macay McBride, 5.79 ERA in 2005

This one is virtually the same but with Kyle Davies in the mix as a possible starter. He is young (22) with great stuff but it will be atoss up between him and Sosa. They are both possibilities for moving to the bullpen or keeping around if one of the starters gets hurt.

It also puts Giles in the leadoff spot and Renteria second. Bobby Cox is gonna have trouble finding a way to balance the two of them at the top of the orders. They are both No. 2 hitters, not leadoff.

Reitsma again finds himself in the closers spot but the question is how long will he stay there. He has time to prove himself, he just has to be better than last year.

Kelly Johnson was left out of the mix here, but I assure you he won't be this season. He took a while to get hit his stride last year but once he did he lit up the score board. I don't expect miracles, he is 22, but he has alot of talent and with hitting coach Terry Pendleton around he is going to knock a few balls around.

Projected starters

Here is what ESPN has projected the Braves lineup and starting rotation to be for the season

Catcher- Brian McCann
1B- Adam Laroche
2B- Marcus Giles
3B- Chipper Jones
SS- Edgar Renteria
LF- Ryan Langerhans/Kelly Johnson
CF- Andruw Jones
RF- Jeff Francoeur

SP1- John Smoltz
SP2- Tim Hudson
SP3- Jorge Sosa
SP4- John Thompson
SP5- Horacio Ramirez
CL- Chris Reitsma


Only a few problems. The closer will likely not be Reitsma, he didn't hold up last year after Kolb bombed and I doubt he will this year. Let him handle the eighth inning and give Blaine Boyer the ball in the last inning. He is young and has good stuff it is just a matter of control at this point but Reitsma has already proven he can't do it.
First base is a hole for the Braves. Laroche does not hit well enough to be the everyday first baseman, which is why the tandem of him and Julio Franco worked. But with Franco gone so are a lot of clutch hits.
And finally Renteria at short: I am just not convinced he can replace Furcal. The Braves now have two No. 2 hitters (Renteria and Giles) but no one to lead off. But I am willing to be pleasantly surprised.
Finally, while the rookie squad performed miracles last year they are young and they will be streaky, or worse, just not perform like expected. So lets hope McCann, Francoeur, Johnson, and Langerhans all live up to last years numbers. They will have to if they want to keep the Mets from biting at their heels, and their 15 NL East title.

Same old song and dance

So here it is, with a week until Spring Training, the articles about how this is the year have started. While many team's 'this is the year' articles talk about this being the year they win it all and get the World Series ring for the Braves the 'this is the year' talk always comes around to it being the year they break their 14 NL East Championships in a row.
And as usual the experts are predicting the end to the streak at the hands of the.....Mets.
I have heard it before, and on paper they have a much better team. But they have had the best team on paper in the NL East at least 5 times in the 14 year span, and obviously have not lived up to their potential. So they win the Wild Card... who cares, 14 pennants in a row is a big deal and one of the great baseball records.
Bobby Cox has a way of taking what looks to be a team that will be mediocre at best and making them winners. Last year he had no bullpen (Dan Kolb proved to be the WORST idea anyone ever had) and holes in key positions (first base and left field). Not to mention the extended time Chipper Jones spent on the disabled list. But did they still come out on top of the Mets- yes.
Because Bobby Cox pulled up 14 rookies and they all came through.
Now this year we may have lost Furcal, Marte and Mazzone but we still have Cox and Andruw Jones (who should have been MVP) plus Giles and the starting pitching of Smoltz, Hudson and Jorge Sosa who surprised everyone last year.
So to the naysayers- it is always easy to pick on the person on top but the Braves haven't blown it yet.
And when it comes down to it the Braves trade for what they need and bottom line- THEY WIN.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Giving Camp Roger a Shot

Now that I am done whining about Leo Mazzone being gone (at least until McDowell screw up and I get angry and my resolution to give him a shot ends abruptly sometime in June), lets see what Roger McDowell actually has going on for himself... And the Braves.

He has a World Series ring- So it was for the Mets. What is better about that World Series ring is that it came in 1986.
There you go, I can see the wheels turning. He has a ring from the 1986 World Series, he played for the Mets, he is one in the elite group to have a notch in the win column for World Series Game 7.
*DING* The lightbulb went off for every Red Sox fan. Sorry.

He also pitched for the Dodgers, Rangers, Orioles and White Sox but did nothing impressive. A 70-70 record with a 3.30 ERA and 59 saves. Pretty standard. And then as it usually goes he hurt his shoulder, didn’t recover and lived up to the old adage those who can’t, teach.
When his career ended in 1996 the White Sox asked him to stay on and coach, and he has done well for himself. After taking a few years off he wound up in Las Vegas coaching for the Dodger’s Triple A team.
Ok so no one impressive has come out of that farm system, but I am not giving up hope yet. Now he is in Atlanta, and I haven’t even mentioned his greatest accomplishment yet.

He was in an episode of Seinfeld. Yeah on ESPN’s list of best Seinfeld sports moments the new Atlanta pitching coach ranked number one.
He instantly gets a little more respect from me.

-Just a few other facts-
Graduate of Bowling Green State University in Ohio. "The only school to give him a scholarship."
Inducted into the BGSU Hall of Fame
Drafted in the third round (59th overall pick) by the Mets in 1982.
Known for being a prankster...lets see how hard ball (no pun intended) Bobby Cox feels about his hijinx.....

It Is Not Camp Roger

"It's like with a new baby -- that first day is an ecstatic high. Now, it's time to go to work." -- New Atlanta Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell, on replacing Leo Mazzone, who held the position for the previous 15 seasons.

Please Please Please tell me he didn’t actually say that to a reporter....

Nope he did. While I admire this guy for taking over a post that everyone, and no one, wanted, does he really need to say things like that? When Leo Mazzone chose to leave Atlanta for Baltimore I was sad. There were tears. Then I was nervous for my team because who would want to come in and take over for a man who spent 15 years (nearly my entire life) building one of the best pitching staffs in baseball history.
Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz say enough. But then there are the careers he resurrected from baseball oblivion..... Mike Remlinger!
Ok so he couldn’t save Mark Wholers but one mistake in 15 years, I can sleep at night.
Then there are the pitchers who were dazzling while enrolled in the Mazzone school of magic, but bombed when they left. Denny Neagle and Kevin Millwood.
Whats worse is that they still call it Camp Leo. Pitchers and catchers report in 10 days, except for the Braves. Leo always had them come earlier than any other team in the majors and start getting ready for the season. And now with him in Baltimore (whose pitchers did not report early) the Braves still had the pitching staff report two weeks early. And they still called it Camp Leo. Not Camp Roger. It will never be Camp Roger.
When Mazzone retires and is the first pitching coach inducted into the Hall of Fame (it will happen) no one will remember him as the guy who coached in Baltimore. He will be the guy who rocked back and forth in the Atlanta dugout for 15 years.
So good luck Roger McDowell....you have a couple million fans to prove yourself to....and Bobby Cox.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The World Baseball Classic is making an huge splash this off season. With games beginning March 3 and going until March 20 it will be a huge fix for baseball fans who can’t wait for April’s Spring Training. And where exactly do the Braves have their representatives? Well so glad you asked because Atlanta’s stars are making a pretty good showing. And with good old Barry Bonds bowing out there is room for one of the most popular Braves to play for team USA.

For team USA
- Last year’s rookie phenom and NL Rookie of the Year candidate Jeff Francoeur is on the US roster. When he graced the cover of Sports Illustrated last year he was the first Brave to do so since the 1995 Championship team. Did I mention this kid turned 22 in January?
- Chipper Jones is as much an Atlanta staple as Turner Field itself. But he wasn’t going to even get a USA roster spot until Bonds decided to ‘sit this one out’ -- like he did all of last season. Now Jones will be on as a third baseman, but will likely be a back up. Not a starter, not even close. According to a ESPN Sportsnation poll fans pick him third behind Alex Rodriguez and David Wright

Who should start at third base for the United States?
56.4% Alex Rodriguez
28.4% David Wright
12.5% Chipper Jones
2.6% Morgan Ensberg

-And of course Tim Hudson who will pitch well and keep everyone smiling, same Tim, different uniform.

So America isn’t well represented by the Braves, PANAMA, on the other hand has a good grip on Atlanta’s finest. (Or does Atlanta have a good grip on Panama’s finest?)
-Manuel Acosta, Jose Camarena, and Manuel Rodriguez will all rep for the Braves on Panama’s team. Who you ask..... as you should. They are all farm system kids who haven’t made their mark yet. Oh, but if they perform well in the WBC expect Bobby Cox to be giving these kids a few extra minutes in Spring Training.

Three men from the Atlanta Braves roster will be playing for NETHERLANDS but the only one you will have heard of is Andruw Jones. When he scorched up the hitting charts last year and was passed over for MVP (another day, another post) he finally lived up to his potential making him the most prominent name in the Netherlands bench.
But hey lets give one second to Ardley Jansen, ok seconds up.

Peter Orr, Chris Reitsma and Scott Thorman all call Canada home and will play for the Great White North in March. My fear- Reitsman will get hurt and he is our only solid closer candidate. Orr will perform to his usual mediocre standard leaving the question out there- why do we keep him around- we need a real first baseman.

There are other five other Braves representing their countries next month but with the exception of Jorge Sosa they are another group of minor leaguers who have yet to make their mark.
Here is to hoping some of them shine in the WBC and they are able to fill some of the gaping holes in the Braves roster.