Why isn’t Larry Himes universally recognized as the stupidest GM ever?

There’s a reason the Cubs are the Cubs. Failing to re-sign Greg Maddux, who took less money to play for the Bravos (one of the many, many cool things about Mad Dog), then-Cubs GM Larry Himes argued the Little Bears were better off without the 26-year-old reigning Cy Young Award winner.

And how lamentable is the departure of Maddux? One day you have a Cy Young winner, and the next you don’t.

“Let’s just examine how this worked out,” Himes says. Isn’t it always the way? I knew how many games Maddux had won and he doesn’t ask. 20.

Himes forms with his hands an imaginary pile of money. This was Maddux’s money. Maddux didn’t take it in time. Now this money belongs to Jose Guzman and Dan Plesac and Greg Hibbard and Randy Myers.

Maddux in ’93: 20-10-2.36 ERA, 267 IP, 1.049 WHIP

Guzman, Hibbard and Myers’ combined ERA was roughly two runs higher than Mad Dog’s that year. Randy Myers saved 53, which was impressive, but by ’94 he was struggling to keep his WHIP below 1.4. Meanwhile, Guzman spent more time on the DL than in the rotation, Hibbard won once for the Mariners and Plesac pulled off a nifty impression of Craig Skok.

Maddux in ’94: 16-6-1.56 ERA, 0.896 WHIP.

Open thread, 8/22, Braves vs. Donald Rumsfelds

The playoffs are all but a done deal. Advancing past the first round will require:

1. JJ returning to form.

2. A clean bill of health for Tommy.

I’m confident JJ finds his groove again, and it starts tonight against the Little Bears. All we can do is cross our fingers when it comes to young Mr. Hanson. And it would help if Jay Hey rebounds. Fredi said he plans to give him considerable playing time in Wrigley. If he doesn’t show any signs of turning things around, a stint in Gwinnett should follow.

So much for the warm fuzzies

Very disappointing night at the Ted. It should’ve been all about the greatest team in Atlanta sports history and the city’s most beloved announcer but tributes to both seemed little more than afterthoughts. Between innings it was the usual noise, with the overly enthusiastic Down’s Syndrome guy cheering on the saw and the other usual distractions. Why show a highlight of the ’91 team when you can play “Way down yonder on the Chattahooch” for the millionth time. Would’ve liked to have heard Ernie’s voice more than once as well but instead we got John Denver. For the millionth time. Hell, even the trivia question wasn’t about the ’91 Braves.

Whoever rescues this franchise from the inanimate corporate rod that owns it should, as their first act, fire the promotional hacks who seem intent on turning the ballpark experience into one that could be had at any amusement park or suburban megachurch. You guys suck worse than Derek Lowe.

And Derek Lowe sucks.Time for him to become baseball’s best-paid mop-up reliever.

As for the 10,000 overbearing Little Bears fans … I could go on and on. But why waste time on those losers when I can post the greatest rant in sports history. By the way, Lee Elia now works for the Braves.

Someone tell Jim Hendry his team sucks

Bobby Valentine raised an interesting point on the telecast tonight (I hated typing that): Why aren’t the Cubs shopping Marlon Byrd?

The Sprayberry High grad, adept at all three OF positions, would be a better fit for the Bravos than Ludwick or Willingham. Byrd, 33, missed some time this season after being hit in the face but has shown no ill effects since his return. He had four hits today, raising his BA to .314 with a .799 OPS.

Byrd, owed $5 million next year, will be a free agent after 2012.

Tuffy Rhodes is more deserving

In a recent interview with Chicago Magazine, Sammy Sosa commented on the fact that the Cubs have not retired his No. 21 jersey.

“That number should be untouchable because of the things that I did for that organization,” Sosa said. “That right there shows me that they don’t care about me, and they don’t want to have a good relationship with me.”

What will be the next incredibly stupid move by the Lil’ Bears?

The Cubs badly need a left-handed power bat at first base, and Dunn is a fan of Wrigley Field and Cubs GM Jim Hendry, based on comments he made to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-TimesESPN’s Buster Olney guesses that a four-year offer from the Cubs would seal the deal.

Adam Dunn and Alfonso Soriano in the same outfield? On the same team? With Carlos Zambrano? Might as well add another terrible contract to the mix.

Enter the Pale Hose

I’ve always had a soft spot for the Sox, in spite of their owner, Jerry “94 Strike” Reinsdorf. On the plus side:

A.) They’re not the Cubs; B.) Had a helluva good time watching a game at old Commiskey; C.) I enjoy Ozzie Guillen; D.) One of their players, Dick Allen, appeared on my favorite SI cover; E.) They’re not the Cubs.

“But one thing about Wrigley Field, I puke every time I go there,” Guillen said.

Live from The Ted

Pearl will be there in spirit

I just got back from Turner Field, interviewing early arrivals for the local organ.

One piece of advice: wear shorts. It feels like mid-June out there. And don’t worry about missing the National Anthem unless you’re a Travis Tritt fan.

Finally, it’s your duty as Braves fans to drown out Cubs fans whenever they start cheering for their pathetic little bears. Let’s show some pride, Atlanta.

The Lil’ Bears will be little threat

Good teams are strong up in the middle, deep in the ‘pen and balanced offensively.

That’s three strikes against the Cubs, which have players best suited as reserves at short, second and CF. Catcher Geovanny Soto appeared to be a budding star but hit just .218 last season. Their closer averaged nearly a walk per inning, and their line-up is overly right-handed and plodding. Of their projected starters, only one, Fukudome, bats left. And he sucks,  with an onerous contract (two years and $26.5 mil remaining), though it’s not their worst. Soriano, who’s missed 98 games the last two years, is due $90 million.

Meanwhile, their best starter in 2009, Ted Lilly, is coming off shoulder surgery and has a bum knee. And Zambrano seems to be regressing rapidly.

Oh, and they don’t have much help on the farm. Hard to believe many picked this team to go to the World Series in ’09. This year, they’ll be lucky to finish .500, which could lead to a midseason deal of FA-to-be Derrek Lee. If Troy Glaus doesn’t work out he’d be an ideal pick-up for the Bravos. And since it’s the Cubs, you could probably get him for Jo-Jo Reyes and Gregor Blanco.


What was and will be

Random observations about the year that was and thoughts on 2010:

Play of the year: Former Brave DeWayne Wise preserves Mark Buehrle’s perfect game.
Best experience at The Ted: The ceremony retiring Mad Dog’s No. 31 in front of a packed house (minus The Hammer, which was a disappointment). Loved it when Maddux exhorted the Braves to beat the Mets. And they did — soundly.

From Mark Bradley’s column the following day:

Andy Benes was pitching for Arizona and plunked a Braves’ hitter. Cox told his men after the game, “Next time we play them, Benes better go down!” Well, the Braves didn’t play Arizona again that season or in the first weeks of the next. And one day Maddux walks into Cox’s office and said, “Still stand?”

Said Cox: “What are you talking about?”

Said Maddux: “That thing with Benes. Still stand?”

Said Cox, who’d forgotten such a edict was ever levied: “Damn right!”

First at-bat that night, Andy Benes ate dirt.

Runner-up: 7/22, JJ outduels Lincecum. The two-time Cy Young winner hadn’t lost in five weeks, but a three-run homer by Yesco was all Jurrjens would need. Wren’s trade for JJ will go down as the second-best in Braves history.

Worst experience at The Ted: 9/29/09. One of those nights when you’re embarrassed to be a Braves fan. An announced crowd of 28,000 turned out for the biggest game in years, though the actual attendance was closer to 20,000. At first pitch there may have been 12,000 people in the stands. Pathetic. As CD observed, “being a hard core Bravos fan, who attends games as something more than an excuse to do the wave, is like being a foreign film or conceptual art buff. We love it. If not many others do, so be it. That won’t stop us.”

Worst baseball moment: Watching S.O.D. (Same Old Douche) record the final putout of the ’09 season. The overrated phony had only four extra base hits in 61 postseason AB’s for the Yanks.

Worst pitch: The POTUS throws like a girl.

Biggest surprise: A slither of originality emerged amid the annoying cacophony of sound effects, canned musical selections and the chirping of between-innings host Mark Owens. Organist Matthew Kaminski added rare authenticity to the Turner Field experience; serenading Manny Ramirez with “A Little Help from My Friends” was a highlight.

Best reasons to be optimistic about 2010: Jair Jurrens, Tommy Hanson and pedestrian National League competition. Right now, the Phils and Cards look like safe bets to repeat. In the West, Colorado should overtake the payroll-shedding Dodgers (the blame for which falls squarely on the Used Car Salesman’s shoulders. The McCourts were heavily leveraged before their divorce, but franchise stability has never been a priority for Bud). The Bravos’ biggest competition for the wild card could come from the Diamondbacks, especially if Brandon Webb returns to pre-injury form. The Giants and Brewers should be in the mix, and, even though I say this every year and get burned, the Reds could surprise. The Lil’ Bears will barely rate (three years for Marlon Byrd?). As always, don’t count out the Marlins, though you can go ahead and count out the Mets. Their rotation remains a wreck after Santana.

Over/under for the Jay Hey Kid: .280-12-50.


It’s Heyward’s job to lose

Bobby doesn’t usually make news in his columns for Chop Talk, but this excerpt caught my eye:

Even though he was injured and was unable to play during the Arizona Fall League, Jason Heyward is the top player in our Minor League system, and he’ll be given every chance to compete for a job at Spring Training.

The Braves have shown they aren’t afraid of promoting prospects with very little seasoning (see Fukey and Andruw). Expect to see Heyward in RF when the Braves open the season at home vs. the Little Bears. Perhaps he’ll take Carlos Zambrano deep.