More revenue coming in, but Braves payroll to remain same

The new national TV contracts mean each team will receive an additional $27 million, starting next year.

Alas, Liberty won’t be using that money to acquire new talent. According to Mark Bowman, the Braves’ payroll will remain around $94 million.

The descent into small marketdom continues, thanks to indifferent ownership.

From the geniuses who gave us ‘Gone with the Wind Night’

Don’t worry, Braves fans: the Tomahawk Team, whose lively T-shirt twirling atop the dugouts passes for tradition at Turner Field, will return in 2013.

From what I can gather on Twitter, organist Matthew Kaminiski — who will always have a place in my heart for playing “With a Little Help from My Friends” when cheater Manny Ramirez strode to the plate — may not.

You likely noticed Kaminiski’s absence down the stretch and during the Wild Card game. Room had to be made for “Call My Maybe” and the theme song from “Friends.” Anything — as long as it was loud and bland.

That might as well be the mantra of the Braves promotions department, which seems intent on annoying its most loyal customers in a desperate attempt to broaden the base.

Baseball doesn’t matter. Hell, the Braves appear to be a footnote to the tool race and “Thank God I’m a Country Boy.”

What other organization presents a video tribute to their opponent — the Red Sox? Or has a corporate hack tossing the first pitch before a playoff game? Phil Niekro was in attendance at the Wild Card game against the Cards but the Braves chose to give the honor to some dude wearing a Taco Mac shirt.

These are the wages of out-of-town, corporate ownership, one of the many soulless legacies the Used Car Salesman can claim.

*In a hopeful note, between-innings host Mark Owens has left his day job as producer of “The Regular Guys,” according to Rodney Ho. Not sure if that means the relentlessly cheerful Owens has left town, but one can dream.

White Bear

Evan Gattis rarely comes up in any discussion of what to do if/when Brian McCann leaves the organization but maybe he should. He mashes wherever he goes, and while he’s got some work to do defensively B-Mac isn’t exactly Benito Santiago. But because he’s 26, most dismiss him as a prospect. Usually, they’d be right, but Gattis is a particular case.

First, he’s not 25, at least not in baseball years. He missed out on 4 years of development, blowing his scholarship at Texas A&M. After a year at Oklahoma Junior College, Gattis dropped out again. Then, following three years on the road, Gattis managed to land at a Texas college I’ve never heard of before being drafted by the Braves (which, considering his background, speaks of his talent).

You could make the argument, and you would be right, that Gattis is dominating more seasoned competition. They may be younger, but most have more minor league experience and/or hail from programs a tad more prestigious than Texas Permian-Basin.

The 10 worst games in A-Braves history: April 25, 1977

           1  2  3   4  5  6   7  8  9    R  H  E
                -  -  -   -  -  -   -  -  -    -  -  -
Reds            6  3  0   2 12  0   0  0  0   23 18  2
Braves          4  0  0   0  0  0   4  1  0    9 17  6

There was little expected from the ’77 Braves, even after they won 6 of 7 during the season’s second week. These were the Braves, after all, losers of 186 the previous two years.

It wouldn’t be long before they reverted to form, and then some. The Dodgers were the first to puncture the balloon, winning 2 of 3 at Fulco, including a 16-6 victory in the rubber match that saw Braves relievers give up 10 runs.

They’d allow 11 the next day to the defending world champion Reds. The loss dropped the Braves to 8-8, and it would be more than three years before they’d reach the .500 mark again: Aug. 27, 1980.

Knucksie started and didn’t make it out of the first, permitting 6 runs. Enter Jamie Easterly (5.72 ERA, 1.758 WHIP in 6 years as a Brave), who allowed 5 hits and walked 7 in 3-1/3 IP. Eight runs crossed the plate. His replacement, Mike Beard, gave up 9.

Only 3 of those runs were earned, thanks to 6 Braves errors — 2 by former first-round pick Pat Rockett. He’d commit 23 errors in 84 games that year.

It’s not like Cincy’s bats needed the help. George Foster homered twice and drove in 7 runs; Johnny Bench finished with 4 RBI and 4 hits.

The most fascinating stat line of the day belonged to Reds starter Jack Billingham, who allowed 17 hits and 9 runs in 8 innings.

Despite all the runs, hits, errors and walks, the game was completed in 3 hours and 1 minute, about half the time of your typical Red Sox-Yankees tilt.

Fourteen more losses followed the April 25 defeat and the 17-game losing streak remains the worst in team history. You may recall that Game 17 was managed by Ted Turner.

(Find the rest of list here.)

World Series open thread, Game 1

Leave it to MLB to cede all decisions to Fox.

Here they are, in Tony Bennett’s hometown, and guess who’s singing the National Anthem? Last year’s “American Idol” winner, the one whose name no one knows. Idol, of course, is a Fox product.

MLB remains a Fox product through 2021. Can’t wait to listen to an 80-year-old Tim McCarver repeat himself between corny quips whilst Joe Buck rhapsodizes about the NFL.

I’m rooting for the Tigers, who will prevail in 7. Somehow, they’ll lose tonight, even with Verlander on the mound.

The 10 worst games in A-Braves history: Sept. 1, 1985

                1  2  3   4  5  6   7  8  9    R  H  E
                -  -  -   -  -  -   -  -  -    -  -  -
Braves          0  0  0   2  0  0   0  0  0    2  6  3
Cubs            0  1  3   2  5  3   1  0  X   15 15  1

There were plenty of games to choose from in 1985. Opponents scored 10 or more runs in 12 games against the Braves in the year of Eddie Haas, including a two-game stretch in July that saw the Mets score 31 runs. September was particularly brutal; the Dodgers outscored the local nine 20-5 in a double-header on Sept. 10 then won 12-3 the following day. Interim manager Bobby Wine’s boys lost 15-5 to the Reds on Sept. 19 and 11-1 to the Padres on the 20th.

Sept. 1 set the tone for the most dreadful month of a lost season. Len Barker, who finished his last season in Atlanta with a 6.35 ERA and 1.643 WHIP, got the start and didn’t make it out of the third, when he walked in two runners. His replacement, Jeff Dedmon, was even worse, walking 6 in 1-2/3 innings. Braves pitchers walked 11 that day against one strikeout but, thanks to three errors, only 9 of the 15 runs they allowed were earned.

Cubs pitcher Derek Botelho, now a minor league pitching coach for the Braves, went the distance that day for one of his 3 career victories facing a line-up that featured four starters with averages under .230.

Of all the reasons not to trade for A-Rod, here’s the most compelling

It’s conceivable, albeit unlikely, that A-Rod will surpass some of the most hallowed numbers in baseball –  milestones once (and still, in my book) held by the greatest Brave of them all.

It was bad enough watching Bonds cheat his way to baseball immortality. Imagine if he had been wearing a tomahawk across his chest.

No Braves fan should want to endure the soulless charade of cheering on a phony like A-Rod after he hits his 715th HR or, God forbid, No. 756.

He’s 109 homers shy of the latter mark but has five years remaining on his contract. Again, I doubt he makes it but it’s not unfathomable.

People tend to forget that A-Rod, who wears wore No. 3 as a tribute to his childhood idol, Dale Murphy (Murf should sue), was almost a Brave 11 years ago.

“We tried everything we could to get Alex Rodriguez,” John Schuerholz told New York Times reporter Murray Chass in April 2001. “But he was offered $126 million more by another team. If he had taken the second-highest offer, we would have had him.”

Thank God for Tom Hicks.

The 10 worst games in A-Braves history: July 30, 1978

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
- – - – - – - – - – - -
Expos 0 1 8 1 3 3 1 0 2 19 28 0
Braves 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 7 1
W: W Fryman (6-7), L: T Boggs (2-6)

I remember listening to this game on the radio as a kid. By the end of the third inning, I started to comprehend just how bad the local nine were.

Things dont always go better with Skok

This was the day Braves-killer Larry Parrish (yes, that one) homered in three consecutive innings. Two of the homers came off Craig Skok, charged with nine hits and eight runs in 2-2/3 IP.

Surprisingly, the Braves entered the day with a better record (48-54) than the Expos. They would win only 21 games the rest of the year.

The 10 worst games in A-Braves history: June 8, 1990

(in no particular order)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
- – - – - – - – - – - -
Giants 0 3 0 4 2 7 0 3 4 23 27 1
Braves 3 1 0 0 2 1 0 1 0 8 15 3
W: T Wilson (1-0), L: D Lilliquist (2-8), S: M Thurmond (1)

For some reason, 32,000-plus turned out to watch the Braves — already 13-1/2 out in the West — play the 4th place ‘Gints. Someone named Rick Parker drove in six runs for San Fran, a quarter of his career total. Juan Uribe and Mike Kingery went a combined 7-for-7.

I made Blaine Boyer look like Mariano Rivera

Dwayne Henry gave up six runs and six hits in 2/3 of an inning. Charley Kerfeld allowed five hits and four runs in one frame. Treadway, Murph and Jim Presley contributed errors. Alexis Infante, who would have one hit in 28 AB”s that year as a reserve infielder, made an appearance. So did Jimmy Kremers.

It was the first of a  four-game series. The Giants tacked on 20 more runs that weekend, outscoring the Braves 43-19.

 

Yankees won’t sniff the playoffs for awhile

Detroit’s sweep of the Yankees is no aberration but a sign of things to come.

The Bombers are old, their farm system is thin. The free agent market is sparse, and the few stars available (Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton) are bad fits for New York. Brian Cashman would be wise to sign Michael Bourn, but he alone won’t alter their fortunes.

Maybe they can coax Lee Gutterman and Kevin Maas out of retirement. And Joe Girardi better watch his back — I hear Stump Merrill is available.

The 10 best Atlanta Braves trades (revised)

10. Bobby/Gerald Perry and Jim LeMasters to Kansas City for Charlie Leibrandt and Rick Luecken. Charlie was the steadying veteran influence the Braves’ young rotation needed in the early 90s, especially in ’91, when he won 15 games and pitched 229 innings. In three years as a Brave Leibrandt won 39 with a 3.35 ERA. Perry batted .255 over the rest of his career and topped 50 RBI in a season just once.

9. Frank Wren/Jordan Schafer, Brett Oberholtzer, Paul Clemens and Juan Abreu for Michael Bourn. What was the difference between the Braves offense in the first half of the season compared to the second? Michael Bourn. As he went so went the Braves, and, assuming he signs elsewhere, his speed and defense will be sorely missed. Each of the prospects shipped to Houston regressed in 2012.

8. JS/Jimmy Kremers and Keith Morrison to Montreal for Otis Nixon and Boi Rodriguez. A 31-year-old career fourth outfielder before coming to the Braves, Otis emerged as an Atlanta folk hero, stealing 72 bases in ’91 with a career-best .371 OBP. Kremers never played a game for the Expos.

7. JS/Joe Roa and Tony Castillo to the Mets for Alejandro Pena. Without Big Al the ’91 miracle doesn’t happen.

6. John Mullen/Barry Bonnell, Joey McLaughlin and Pat Rockett to Toronto for Chris Chambliss and Luis Gomez. Chambliss was to the batting order in the early 80s what Leibrandt would be to the pitching staff a decade later. See, John Mullen wasn’t all bad.

5. JS/FW (tie) Andy Marte to Boston for Edgar Renteria; Edgar to Detroit for Jair Jurrjens and Gorkys Hernandez. In two seasons with the Braves Edgar hit .310. Then he turned into Neifi Perez. Though he’s about to be non-tendered, JJ’s contributions (50 wins, 3.58 ERA) should not be overlooked.

4. JS/Roberto Kelly, Tony Tarasco and Esteban Yan to Montreal for Marquis Grissom. For two part-time OF’s and a future “Simpsons” punch line the Braves received a two-time Gold Glove winner, clutch hitter and clubhouse leader.

3. JS/Donnie Elliott, Vince Moore and Melvin Nieves for Fred McGriff. If I need to elaborate you’re reading the wrong blog.

2. JS/Juan Cruz, Dan Meyer and Charles Thomas to Oakland for Tim Hudson. I place this deal ahead of the heralded McGriff trade because Huddy has spent 8 mostly productive seasons in Atlanta; the Crime Dog was a Brave for just five seasons.

The Cardinals gave up Dan Haren to acquire Mark Mulder, who, like Huddy, was dealt by the A’s following the ’04 season. Haren has won 113 games since the trade; Mulder, 12. Huddy has 105 wins with the Braves despite missing the equivalent of a full season. Cruz can be found in Webster’s under journeyman reliever while Meyer, with 3 wins and a 5.46 ERA to his credit, last pitched in the majors in 2010. Meanwhile, Charlie’s post-Atlanta BA was .100.

1. Bobby/Doyle Alexander for John Smoltz. One of the 10 best trades in baseball history, IMHO.

Honorable mention:

JS/Horacio Ramirez to Seattle for Rafael Soriano. BMF was a decent closer and a helluva set-up man, while Horacio devolved into the worst pitcher in baseball post-Atlanta — 9-13, 6.32 ERA, 1.728 WHIP.

JS/John Rocker and Troy Cameron to the Indians for Steve(s) Karsay and Reed. The two relievers were merely adequate with the Braves but this deal stands out because it rid the team of its biggest asshole, a clubhouse cancer with a dying arm.

John Mullen/Larry McWilliams to the Pirates for Pascual Perez and Carlos Rios. Despite his atrocious ’85 campaign (1-13, 6.14 ERA), Pascual finished his Braves career with a winning record and sub-4.00 ERA. After missing the ’86 season, I-285 returned to post a 2.80 ERA and 1.025 ERA over his next three years with Montreal.

FW/Casey Kotchman for Adam LaRoche. Rochey spearheaded a spirited run to the playoffs in ’09, hitting .325 with a .957 OPS in 57 games. Hope Casey speaks Japanese.

FW/Jose Ascanio to the Cubs for Omar Infante and Will Ohman. Two useful pieces for the poor man’s Manny Acosta.

FW/Jon Gilmore, Santos Rodriguez, Tyler Flowers and Brent Lillibridge to the White Sox for Boone Logan and Javier Vazquez (238 K’s and 44 BB in 219 IP).

JS/Damian Moss and Merkin Valdez to San Francisco for Russ Ortiz. The Braves squeezed every last bit of ability from Ortiz, who won 36 during his two-year stint in A-town. Moss would win only 10 more games with an ERA above five after leaving the Braves while Valdez has spent as much time on the DL as he has on the field.

JS/Ricardo Rodriguez to Kansas City for Matty D, who hit .299 as a Brave.

FW/Todd Redmond to Cincy for Paul Janish. Offensively, he’s another Paul Zuvella. But without Janish’s steady glove the Braves would’ve struggled to make the playoffs this year.

JS/Brian Jordan, Odalis Perez and Andrew Brown to LA for Gary Sheffield. Shef was a beast — in the regular season — compiling a .974 OPS in two years. But I’ll never forgive him for the 2002 NLDS:

Last fall, Sheffield became so emotionally involved with Barry Bonds trying to end his October blues that he turned himself into a pumpkin in the playoffs. …

“I still went out there playing hard, but I kept focusing on him, ” said Sheffield, who had spent the offseason working out with Bonds. “It didn’t help that he was at my house during the playoffs. So, I knew the persona he was putting out was wrong. He kept saying he didn’t care [about his October demons], but it killed him. He never thought in a million years he’d get by the Braves.”

Shef had one hit — a single — in that 5-game series against the Giants. He batted .100 with no extra base hits in 10 playoffs games as a Brave.

Try for Tulo

Dan Uggla is a good teammate. He plays hard. But I have a nagging feeling he’ll make a pivotal error that will end the Braves’ season after stranding a half-dozen runners on base. Call it a hunch.

Finding a team willing to take on the 3 years and $39 million remaining on his contract won’t be easy, but, as the trades of Vernon Wells and Carl Crawford demonstrate, it can be done.

The Rockies, rebuilding yet again, are in desperate need of young arms. And the Braves have them.

It would take a lot of talent to get the Rockies to include Troy Tulowitzki, who’s owed $140 million through 2020, but FW should try. Tulo has battled injuries throughout his career, playing in only 47 games this season — two years after he missed 40 games — so he comes with some risk. A shift to third base might limit those trips to the DL.

The dude is a star when healthy — even when not playing at Coors Field. He has a very respectable .814 OPS in road games over his career.

Tulo turned 28 a week ago, so he figures to be entering the prime of his career. The two-time All-Star will be 35 when his deal expires and he’ll never make more than $20 million annually.

His contract may seem onerous but it’s really not. In fact, with baseball’s rich new TV contract, it’ll probably end up being a bargain.

I figure it would take a a trio of pitching prospects — Delgado, Sean Gilmartin and Zeke Spruill — in addition to Uggla to make it happen, though that’s probably a tad optimistic.

The end result would be extremely beneficial, offensively and defensively. Tulo pounds southpaws (.930 career OPS) and he’d combine with Freeman, Prado and Andrelton to form an infield without peer.

And we’d be rid of Uggla.

FA’s to avoid

Nick Swisher is overrated — a below average defender who feasts on bad pitching. He has only 25 hits in 150 postseason AB’s, good for a .167 BA and .584 OPS. And he’s annoying. Very, very annoying.

Angel Pagan is a bit more serviceable, an excellent fourth OF masquerading as a starter. He doesn’t get on base enough, turns 32 in July and is horrible defensively. I can live with that in LF, but not in center.

The 10 worst Atlanta Braves trades (revised)

The best GM in Braves history is responsible for four of the five worst deals on our list. Go figure.

10. John Schuerholz/Ryan Klesko, Bret Boone and Jason Shiell to San Diego for Wally Joyner, Reggie Sanders and Quilvio Veras. As someone who thinks you can’t have enough speed, I LOVED this deal. But then Klesko ended up stealing more bases in 2000 than Sanders and only two fewer than Veras, who was released in ’01. Sanders slugged 59 homers combined the year before and after the trade; with Atlanta he hit 11. Boone, meanwhile, did not represent my surname well while a Brave.

9. John Alevizos/Darrell Evans and Marty Perez to San Francisco for Willie Montanez, Craig Robinson, Mike Eden and Jake Brown. Alevizos, a Red Sox administrator, fronted a group that seemed poise to buy and relocate the Bravos following a dismal ’75 campaign in which only 534,672 fans showed up to watch the local nine finish 40 games behind the Reds.

Fortunately, some on the Braves board, including Bill Bartholomay, felt the franchise shouldn’t ditch Atlanta after only 10 years. They sold the team to Ted for $10 million, less than what the Alevizos group — which wanted to move the Bravos to Toronto — offered. As a consolation, Alevizos was named GM, though his tenure would end 9 months later.

While Willie Montanez had two decent years in Atlanta, Evans, a stalwart defender and on-base machine, would go on to hit 283 homers for San Fran and Detroit. And why would you reacquire no-field (29 errors as the Braves starting SS in 1974) and no-hit (.230 BA, .545 OPS) SS Craig Robinson? Call it Alevizos’ revenge.

8. Bobby Cox/Steve Bedrosian and Milt Thompson to Philly for Ozzie Virgil and Pete Smith. An understandable deal, as Bobby was looking to add young pitching and Smith was a very talented arm. But intentions don’t matter on our list. Bedrock won a Cy Young and saved 143 games after the trade and Thompson became a quality platoon outfielder. Virgil was a one-time All-Star with the Braves but good luck finding an Atlanta fan who remembers him fondly.

7. Eddie Robinson/Andre Thornton to the Cubs for Joe Pepitone. The pretty boy ex-Yankee lasted one month and 11 AB’s with the Braves. Thornton slugged 253 homers and drove in 895 runs after leaving Atlanta.

6. John Mullen/Gary Matthews to Philadelphia for Bob Walk. Sarge was MVP of the ’83 NLCS and ranked fifth in the NL MVP voting the following year. Three years and a day after the trade, Walk was released. He won 12 games as a Brave with a 4.85 ERA and 1.472 WHIP.

5. JS/Jermaine Dye and Jamie Walker to KC for Michael Tucker and Keith Lockhart. Often overlooked as one of JS’ worst mainly because Dye was so underrated. The 2005 World Series MVP hit more than 30 homers four times and drove in 118 or more runs thrice. Throw-in Walker emerged as a serviceable southpaw in the ‘pen. For that the Braves received a solid fourth OF and Capt. Mediocre, a generous nickname considering his .248 BA and .671 OPS.

4. Mullen/Brett Butler, Rick Behenna and Brook Jacoby for Len Barker. A trade that lives in Braves infamy. Butler stole nearly 500 bases with an OBP better than .380 after leaving Atlanta while Jacoby was a two-time All-Star with the Tribe. Barker was 10-20 for the Braves with a 4.64 ERA and 1.391 WHIP.

3. JS/Adam Wainwright, Ray King and Jason Marquis to St. Louis for Just Disabled and Eli Marrero. This trade might’ve made the list even if the Braves had re-signed ol’ J.D., who was at his best in 2004 — until the playoffs, when he registered four singles and one RBI. Wainwright, meanwhile, was dominant out of the ‘pen in 2006, helping the Cards win the World Series. In four subsequent seasons as a starter the Brunswick native posted a sterling 64-34 record with an ERA below three, improving each year; Wainwright finished third in the 2009 NL Cy Young voting and second in 2010.

2. JS/David Justice and Marquis Grissom to Cleveland for Kenny Lofton and Alan Embree. I liked this trade at the time; Justice was coming of an injury while Lofton was the most exciting player in the game, batting .317 with 14 homers and 75 steals in ’96. Lofton wasn’t horrible with the Braves, batting .33 with a .409 OBP, but he was successful on only 27 of 47 SB attempts and famously clashed with Bobby. He returned to Cleveland the following year as a free agent and was once again a productive sparkplug.

Justice hit 96 homers with a .294 BA and .918 OPS in four years on Lake Erie. Marquis was on the downside of his career but still topped 20 homers four times post-Atlanta. It’s fair to argue that, had this trade not been made, the Braves would own more than one World Series crown.

1. JS/Beau Jones, Matt Harrison, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Neftali Feliz and Elvis Andrus for Ron Mahay and Borasbot. Losing Andrus and Feliz was bad enough, but did anyone think Harrison would develop into one of the AL’s best southpaws? He’s logged 400 innings over the last two years with 32 wins, a 3.34 ERA and decent WHIP.

Honorable mention:

Paul Richards/Mickey Rivers and Clint Compton to California for Bob Priddy and Hoyt Wilhelm. Yes, the knuckleballer helped the Braves clinch the division in 1969 and was solid in ’70, but who trades a prospect for a 47-year-old? Rivers retired with 267 steals and a .295 BA.

Robinson/Dusty Baker and Ed Goodson to the Dodgers for Jerry Royster, Tom Paciorek, Lee Lacy and Jim Wynn. Royster stuck around for 10 years but didn’t impress, hitting .246 with a .310 OBP as a Brave. The Toy Cannon made like Reggie Sanders as a Brave and was gone after one year. Lacy was traded by Alevizos back to LA along with Elias Sosa for a washed-up Mike Marshall while Wimpy became a productive player AFTER he was released by the Braves. Dusty went on to hit 140 homers for the hated Dodgers.

Richards/Rico Carty to Texas for Jim Panther. One of the more popular Braves was dealt for a middle reliever who, in 30 innings for Atlanta, allowed 45 hits with a 7.63 ERA. Carty struggled with the Rangers but rebounded with the Indians in ’75, twice batting higher than .300. He topped 80 RBI three more seasons before retiring.

PR, JM, Bobby/Clay Carroll, Ken Dayley, Brian Fisher, Duane Ward for Milt Pappas, Ken Oberkfell, Rick Cerone and Doyle Alexander. That quartet of talented relievers saved 326 games post-Atlanta. Cerone hit .216 during his brief tenure with the Braves while Alexander and Pappas won 29 games in A-town. Oberkfell, of course, represented malaise better than any Jimmy Carter speech. One caveat: Trading Duane Ward for Doyle Alexander made the Smoltz deal possible.