Braves more profitable in 2013, yet payroll stays the same

According to to Liberty Media’s quarterly filing with the SEC (h/t Willie Montanez), the Braves reported revenues of $251 million for FY 2013 (through 9/30) with a operating income – the difference between operating revenues and operating expenses — of $52 million.

That’s an increase of $21 million from the same period in 2012, when the team reported revenues of $216 million and an operating income of $31 million.

And that doesn’t count the extra $25 million in national TV revenues. If the Braves spent half of their additional $46 million in profits on players their payroll would be about what Washington’s was in 2013.

Instead we’re told the payroll will probably end up at around $95 million — roughly $5 million above last year’s.

You don’t need me to tell you where the other $40 million is going.


What will Braves spend their $25 million on?

DOB reports:

The Braves’ payroll is likely to rise to about $100 million in 2014, up from approximately $90 million in 2013. That’s right in the middle of the pack of 30 MLB teams. All major league teams will receive about $25 million more annually beginning in 2014 from the new national TV contract.

The Braves will be spending less than half of it on players, A $100 million payroll won’t be middle of the pack for long.

Remembering the day I was a cocky Braves fan

“Congratulations on winning the Series,” my USC classmate, a Yankees fan, told me 17 years ago tonight.

The Braves, behind Mad Dog and Wohlers, had just shut out the Yankees  to take a 2-0 series lead with three games to follow at Fulco. It was the last time I felt complete confidence that my team was the best in the sport.

How could you not feel cocky? Counting the last two games of the NLCS, the Braves had outscored opponents 34-2. Not only did we have the best pitching in baseball, we had the game’s next young star,19-year-old Andruw Jones, who homered twice the night before.

Needless to say the Braves haven’t won a World Series game since. If you had told me that 17 years ago I would’ve laughed in your face.

Open thread, NLDS Game 3

Here’s the stakes: If the local nine lose tonight the season will hang on the shoulders of Freddy Garcia, and even if he wins the Braves would have to beat the best pitcher in baseball to advance to the NLCS.

Fortunately, we have the right pitcher pitcher on the mound. April aside, Julio T. was arguably the ace of the staff, The Dodgers, meanwhile, counter with a pitcher who may well be injured, despite what Don Mattingly says.

There’s what they say and what they do, and then somewhere is the truth.

Which is where you’re kinda left after the Dodgers tried to explain away Hyun-Jin Ryu throwing an odd bullpen session Friday in Atlanta while Manager Don Mattingly, team doctor Neal ElAttrache and vice president of medical services Stan Conte looked on.

Husbands arriving home in the wee hours with lipstick on their collars and reeking of bourbon don’t look half as suspicious.

Ryu is tough, but the alternative would be Chris Capuano, who has a 2.61 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in 76 career innings against the Braves.

The line-up remains unchanged.

Heyward cf JUpton rf Freeman 1b Gattis lf McCann c CJohnson 3b Simmons ss EJohnson 2b Teheran p

Open thread, Game 2 NLDS

Braves get no hit, lose 18-0. In other news, Chip Caray is inducted into Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame, Mark Owens joins him in the booth, Lee Greenwood sings the National Anthem, Jim Leyritz throws out the first pitch, following the pre-game invocation by new team president Ralph Reed.

Go Braves!

Heyward cf JUpton rf Freeman 1b Gattis lf McCann c CJohnson 3b Simmons ss EJohnson 4 Minor p


Braves vs. Dodgers: The rivalry that was (’91)

July 7

On June 28 the Braves beat the Dodgers in 10 before 43,000-plus at Fulco, to close within 5.5 games of division-leading L.A. In those days, that was reason for hope. Then the Dodgers won the nightcap and the remaining two games of the series, The two teams met again a week later in L.A., where they split the first two. A loss in the finale would drop the Braves 9.5 games behind the Dodgers in the West.

The Braves trailed throughout and entered the 8th down 5-2. But then TP singled to lead things off, Gant got hit by a pitch and Tommy Gregg reached on an error, loading the bases. The rally was cut short when Jeff Treadway hit into a double play and Blauser struck out. The Braves lost to drop one game under .500 heading into the All-Star break — familiar territory for long-suffering fans.

Sept. 15

In the two months since they last played, the Braves had made up 10 games on the Dodgers and entered the weekend series up by 1/2-a-game. Nearly 140,000 showed up at Fulco for the three-game series, with the Dodgers winning the opener and the Braves prevailing in 11 innings in Game 2. The winner of the finale would leave Atlanta with the division lead, and the Dodgers had their ace, Ramon Martinez, on the mound. But the Braves had Avery, who got all the runs he needed in the bottom of the 1st, when a Sid Bream grand slam gave the Braves a 5-0 lead. Avery went the distance, allowing one run, four hits, walking none and striking out 6.  It wouldn’t be his last big start against the Dodgers that summer.

Sept. 20

It would come less than a week later. The Dodgers had retaken the lead heading into the weekend series at Chavez Ravine. Avery and Tim Belcher matched zeroes through 6, when Gant — stuck on 29 for weeks — scored Justice on a two-run bomb to left. It was all Avery would need. I remember Sutton marveling at the youngster’s composure, and it appeared at that point he was the best of the Braves’ young arms. Tommy G. deserved the Cy Young Award that year, but Avery was the guy you wanted on the mound in a big game.

The Dodgers would win the last two games of  those series but would end up losing the division by one game. Avery’s starts made the difference. .

Braves/Dodgers: The rivalry that was (1983)

I was not among the 48,556 fans at Fulco on August 13, 1983, but I should’ve been. While my parents and a cousin enjoyed the best game of that season from field level seats behind first, I was participating in pious sing-a-longs at a Christian retreat. “God said, to No-ah, there’s gonna be a flood-y, flood-y …”

I had no idea what happened in Atlanta until returning home the next day. I was pissed I missed it but ecstatic with the win.

The Dodgers beat Pascual Perez to open the series, closing to within 5-1/2 games of the first-place Braves. Saturday night’s match-up favored the Bums, with a young Alejandro Pena facing journeyman Pete Falcone.

You forget how good a starter Pena was. In his first two complete MLB seasons, Big Al posted ERAs of 2.75 and 2.48, with 24 wins and seven shutouts.

On this night he coasted through the first five, allowing only one hit and one unearned run. Falcone struggled, failing to make it out of the fourth.

The Braves came to bat in the sixth trailing 6-1. Singles by Brett Butler and Rafael Ramirez stirred hope. Next up: In Claudell We Trust. Boom! Braves within two.

Enter Dave “Lucille” Stewart. After retiring Horner and Murphy, rookie Gerald Perry drilled a single to left. Glenn Hubbard followed with his 7th home run. 6-6. It stayed that way until the 9th.

Steve Bedrosian had struck out six of 10 hitters faced, allowing only a single and intentional walk. Up stepped rookie Greg Brock and his .220 BA. Bedrock grooved one, and Brock numbed the Fulco faithful.

The Dodgers took a  7-6 lead into the bottom of the 9th, with southpaw Steve Howe on for the save. Following a duck snort by Raffy, #8 strode to the plate.

There wasn’t a better pinch hitter that year. Bob Watson, acquired from the Yankees in 1982 for pitcher-turned-actor Scott Patterson (see, John Mullen wasn’t all bad), hit .407 off the bench, with two homers and 13 RBI.

One of those homers came 30 years ago tonight. Braves 8, Dodgers 7. The lead was 6.5 games.

Watson’s blast proved to be the highlight of the ’83 season. The local nine fell to Fernando Valenzuela in the rubber game of the Dodgers series, en route to a devastating 5-14 stretch.

Sept. 11

Though struggling, the Braves were still in the hunt for the NL West. The night before they beat the Dodgers in extra innings, 6-3, to close L.A.’s lead to two games. In the series finale, Len Barker took the mound with the opportunity to ease doubts about the trade that brought him to Atlanta. His mound opponent? Rick Honeycutt, the pitcher the Braves had hoped to acquire before settling for Barker.

It  didn’t start well. A double by light-hitting catcher Jack Fimple plated 2 to break a scoreless tie. The lead didn’t last long. In the third, Honeycutt allowed two runners on in front of the reigning MVP. Murph responded like MVPs do, slugging a three-run homer. One inning later, Jerry Royster scored on an errant throw by Fimple and Brad Komminsk of all people stroked a two-run single to left off Rich Rodas. 6-2 Braves.

The Braves clung to a 6-3 lead going into the 9th. Pinch hitter Jose Morales doubled off Donnie Moore, who then walked Steve Sax. Manager Joe Torre turned to Gene Garber, who had been so good in ’82. Geno had struggled in ’83, however, and came into the game with 6 blown saves and an ERA above 4. He produced accordingly, allowing a single by Dusty Baker to load the bases. All three runners would score on a walk to Pedro Guerrero and a double by Mike Marshall. Garber remained in the game, now tied at 6.

Up stepped light-hitting rookie R.J. Reynolds, a Sacramento product like our blog’s namesake. Reynolds, hitless in three previous at bats, dropped a perfect bunt down the first base line scoring Guerrero to win the game. The Braves would drop seven out of their next nine games, ending any hopes of repeating as NL West champions.

Braves/Dodgers: The rivalry that was (1982)

Though it’s been 20 years since they played in the same division, I still view the Dodgers as one of the Braves’ biggest rivals. They were a reliable draw back in the bad old days, and when the Braves finally righted the ship in 1982 it was the Dodgers who stood in their way. The following season brought another memorable battle for the division title, and if you’re reading this blog you know all about the ’91 race.

So as we await the NLDS to commence, here’s a look back at the rivalry that was, starting with the summer of ’82.

Aug. 5

Even though the Dodgers  had swept the Braves in Atlanta the week before, the local nine still held a 4.5 game lead as they started a four-game series at Chavez Ravine. My best friend and I stayed up late watching recently acquired Pascual Perez toe the slab against Fernando. Pascual was the first to cross the plate that night, scoring on a 2-run dinger by Claudell in the 5th, and he held the Dodgers to one run, leaving after 8 with a 2-1 lead.

Enter Geno, in the midst of his best season as a Brave. With one out and Pedro Guerrero at 2B, Garber coaxed a pop up from Steve Garvey. I remember jumping off the sofa in celebration as Rick Monday tapped a soft grounder to second base. Game over … except Jerry Royster forgot to get the glove down. Monday’s dribbler went right through the wicket into right. Tie game. In the bottom of the 10th, Garber intentionally walked Guerrero and Dusty Baker to load the bases with one out. The curious bit of strategery backfired when a Ron Cey fly scored Steve Sax with the winning run.

What followed was one of the more miserable weekends in Braves history. They lost in extra innings the next two nights before Bob Welch shut them out in the finale. In a span of nine days. the Bravos watched their lead dwindle to just 1-1/2 games. NIne days after that, they trailed by 4 after losing 12-2 to the Expos, their 19th defeat in 21 games.

Sept. 8 

The Braves had crawled back to a half-game of the division lead when the Dodgers came to to town for a two-game set. They’d lose three leads in this game before Claudell evened it at 11 in the 7th with a single scoring Larry Whisenton. It would stay that way until the 10th, when Murph singled in the winning run off Steve Howe. Geno, who tossed three scoreless frames, earned the win in relief to put the Braves back in first place. They padded their lead  the following night, chasing Fernando early en route to a 10-3 win.

Sept. 29 

Both teams struggled in the three weeks after their last meeting. The Braves were swept twice by the Astros while the Dodgers had dropped seven straight heading into the crucial two-game series. As they had done four previous times that season, the Braves and Dodgers went to extras. With two one and one out in the top of the 12th, Terry Harper singled in Rafael Ramirez to give the Braves a 3-2 lead. Royster, making up for that error nearly two months earlier, followed with another single, scoring Brett Butler for what would be the winning run.

Geno, pitching his fourth inning, made it interesting, allowing the tying runs aboard with no outs. The Dodgers closed to within one but it came via a double play by Guerrero, clearing the bases. A Steve Garvey fly ball ended the game and, effectively, the season for the Dodgers as the Braves led by two games with four to play.

The Dodgers won big the following night to close within one but it was too late as a Joe Morgan home run off Forster on the season’s final day clinched the Braves’ first division title since 1969.


Open thread, 9/29, Braves vs. Jeff Parretts

All year we’ve been taking a look back at the silver anniversary of the worst team in Atlanta Braves history. The ’88 squad finished its season on the road vs. the Reds, three days after losing their home finale to the ‘Stros before 5,789 (which was more than the combined attendance of the first two games of the Houston series). They would lose Game 160 — two postponed games were not made up because, well, what was the point — to Cincy, 1-0. Keith Brown accounted for half his career victories in the season finale, combining with three relievers on a six-hit shutout.

As bad at that team was, no one in the Braves starting line-up that day had a BA as low as Dan Uggla’s .179 Uggla gets the start today with Chris Johnson out, a move that has nothing to do with last night’s dust-up with TP. It seems like TP may have over-reacted but the Office is always going to give the ’91 MVP the benefit of the doubt. TP has never gotten the proper recognition by Braves fans, many of whom were willing to throw him under the bus for Jeff Francoeur’s struggles.

Anyway, Johnson apologized and took the blame, so all is well. The Braves need some help from the Cubs to gain home field advantage throughout and, more importantly, avoid a first round match-up with the Dodgers. But L.A. is hurting, with Kemp and Ethier both questionable for the playoffs. Unfortunately for opposing hitters, Kershaw and Greinke are fine.

Here’s your starting 9:

Heyward 8, JUpton 9, Freeman 3, Gattis 7, Laird 2, Simmons 6, EJohnson 5, Uggla 4, Teheran 1

Open thread, 9/28, Braves vs. Wendell Magees

Great news about B-Mac, who might be up to catching a few innings tomorrow, according to DOB. The Cards have already won,, but as long as the Bravos win out they’ll get the top seed. At worst they’ll be seeded second, meaning the local nine will open at home on Thursday. Tonight’s line-up:

Heyward 8, JUpton 9, Freeman 3, Gattis 7, CJohnson 5, Laird 2, Simmons 6, EJohnson 4, Minor 1


Open thread, 9/27, Braves vs. Danny Ozarks

Interesting game tonight, as Medlen, the presumptive Game 1 starter, faces a pitcher as good as any the Braves will see in the playoffs (save for Clayton Kershaw). No need to rest anyone, as the Braves will have three days off before the playoffs and the key pitchers in the ‘pen haven’t seen much action this week. Still puzzled by the absence of Jordan Walden, however.

The Braves control their own destiny, as they hold the tiebreaker over the Cards. They’re guaranteed to open at home in the NLDS as either the first or second seed, but there’s a big difference between the two. First seed most likely means a match-up against the Pirates or Reds. The second seed is all but certain to face the Dodgers and Kershaw. Then again, the Dodgers haven’t been any better than the Braves in September.

On the injury front, Fredi tells DOB McCann is feeling better: “I think we dodged a bullet.” About time. 

The line-up:

1. Heyward CF 2. R Johnson LF 3 J Upton RF 4. Freeman 1B 5 Gattis C 6. C Johnson 3B 7 Simmons SS 8 Uggla 2B 9 Medlen P

Post-game thread, 9/26

Sorry about the late thread — feeling sketchy tonight. Feeling worse after hearing the news about McCann’s right abductor strain, which is the same injury that sidelined B.J. earlier in the summer. Hopefully it’s not that serious, but it’s possible we have just seen B-Mac’s last game as a Brave. Which means we’ll have the pleasure of watching either B.J., Schafer or Laird start in the playoffs.

Meanwhile, did anyone else hear Chip’s answer to tonight’s trivia question (When’s the last time two Braves infielders won a Gold Glove in the same season)?

Mark Texshowmethemoney and Rafael Belliard. Seriously. Great guess, Chip, except for the fact Belliard’s Atlanta career ended 10 years before Borasbot’s started. It’s one thing to be annoying. It’s another to be clueless about the team you’ve covered off and on since 1991.

Finally, where the fuck is Jordan Walden? Tonight presented an excellent opportunity to give him some work. Is he still hurt? Is Fredi still dim? Questions worth asking, don’t you think?

Open thread, 9/24, Braves vs. Billy Jo Robidouxs

I’m not too concerned about the Braves getting home field advantage. It would be nice, but I’d rather play the Cards, whose closer, Edward Mujica, is struggling, than the Reds, who are playing as well as anyone AND have ace Jonny Cueto returning. Mike Leake, whose 3.21 ERA leads the Redlegs, may be the odd man out of their playoff rotation.

The Braves are still figuring out theirs. Medlen, Minor and Teheran are all but certain to be the top three, especially after the news that Fredi is moving Minor’s start to Saturday, with Teheran pitching the season’s last game.

We still don’t know who will be the fourth starter, or even if the Braves will use one in the first round. If they don’t, Medlen would have to pitch on three days rest. I think he could handle it, and that’s the way I’d go. But if the Braves do advance, a fourth starter would be necessary. A good start by Freddy Garcia could earn him the nod, though Maholm will have his chance tomorrow. Of bigger concern is the offense; the Braves are batting .204 and averaging only 3.16 runs over their last 18 games.

Tonight’s line-up:

1. Heyward CF 2. J Upton RF 3. Freeman 1B 4. Gattis LF 5. McCann C 6. Simmons SS 7. Uggla 2B 8. E Johnson 3B 9. Garcia P


Open thread, 9/23 NL East champs vs. Larry Sorensens

Not much to say about the ’13 Bravos tonight, so let’s take a look at this day in Braves history:

1987 In a 5-4 victory over the Astros, Albert Hall becomes the first Braves’ player to hit for the cycle since 1910.
1996 Atlanta beats the Expos, 8-2 to clinch the National League East. The Braves become the first National League team to take five straight division titles.
2009 After signing him to a one-year contract extension for 2010, the Braves announce Bobby Cox will retire as the manager of the Braves after next season. The 68-year old skipper has led the team to a string of 14 consecutive postseason appearances and a world championship during his 24-year tenure in Atlanta.

The line-up:

1. Heyward RF 2. Schafer CF 3. J Upton LF 4. C. Johnson 3B 5. Gattis C 6. Simmons SS 7 Terdoslavich 1B 8 Janish 2B 9 Minor P

Number 17

Congrats to the local nine on their 17th division championship.

Jayson Werth was asked if considered the Braves or Philadelphia Phillies a bigger threat. Werth, the former Phillie, did not hesitate.

“Phillies,” he said. “I think everybody is writing them off. They played good in September, when they were healthy. They’re not going to roll over, that’s for sure.”

And about the Braves? “Yeah, the Braves got the Upton brothers,” Werth said. “But they lost [Martin] Prado and Chipper.”

Open thread, 9/22, Braves vs. Tyler Houstons

You have to think today will be the day. The Braves get another crack at the Cubs, who start the struggling Edwin Jackson, while the Nats face their second doubleheader in a week.

There should be a sense of urgency. Fredi needs to give Avilan and Carpenter rest and Walden more work because if those three aren’t clicking the Braves have no chance of advancing in October.

Which leads to the question: Would Alex Wood have a bigger impact pitching out of the ‘pen than starting a possible Game 4 in the NLDS (and, hopefully, beyond)? I say yes. Wood could take on a role similar to that of David Price for the 2008 Rays while Garcia and Maholm are veterans who, fingers crossed, might give you six decent innings.

Ending on a positive note, let’s take time to praise Chris Johnson, who has provided a component overlooked by stat geeks and old-timers alike: Consistency.

First half: .330 BA, .841 OPS; Second half: .335 BA, .829 OPS

Home: .342 BA, .836 OPS; Road: .323 BA, .835 OPS

RISP: .349 BA, .956 OPS; None on: .345 BA, .851 OPS

His defense is shaky and he may not walk enough, but Johnson’s contributions shouldn’t be overlooked. Consider the alternative: Juan Francisco, whose .748 OPS in a pitcher-friendly park is well below Johnson’s .835.

Today’s line-up:

Heyward 8, JUpton 9, Freeman 3, CJohnson 5, McCann 2, Gattis 7, Simmons 6, EJohnson 4, Teheran 1

Open thread, 9/21, Braves vs. Dennis Lamps

Winner of the Adrian Devine look-a-like contest

Don’t panic — Jay Hey was scheduled to sit today. B-Mac, who’s struggled mightily this September, also gets a breather.

No rest for Freddie, who’s started 57 of the last 58 games. “I’m a first baseman and I’m 24 years old, I don’t think that’s a problem,” he told DOB.

Gotta love that.

And you gotta love the way Med Dog has been pitching. He may be pitching his way into a Game 1 start in the NLDS, when the line-up behind him is sure to be better than today’s:

Simmons 6, JUpton 9, Freeman 3, CJohnson 5, Gattis 7, Laird 2, Uggla 4, BUpton 8, Medlen 1


Open thread, 9/18, Braves vs. themselves

When the Braves suck, everything that bugs about the team is magnified. Like how bad Chip Caray is at calling a game.

In the first inning he stated how the season would’ve turned out differently for the Nats if only Bryce Harper hadn’t missed 40 games. He’s the only major injury they’ve sustained, as opposed to one-third of the Braves roster. Then he declared how 2013 has been a breakthrough year for Ian Desmond, whose OPS was better in 2012.

I’m sure he’s loved by the idiots at Fox, and I doubt he costs much considering how his TBS career ended.