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.

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.

Charlie_Kerfeld_(1990_Braves)_2 (1)

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.

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.

Jul 24, 2013; New York, NY, USA;  Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Tim Hudson (15) pitches during the first inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The 10 best Atlanta Braves trades (revised)

10. John Scherholz/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.

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

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. 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.

6. JS/Frank Wren (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.

5. 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.

4. John Coppolella/Shelby Miller for Dansby Swanson, Ender Inciarte and Aaron Blair. It might be a tad premature to place this deal so high, but it has the potential to rank first in a few years. Swanson could be a superstar, or close to it. Blair projects to be at least workmanlike, while Inciarte is already a proven asset. As good as Miller was in the first half, he had a 1.364 WHIP and 3.83 ERA in the second.

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:

FW/Martin Prado, Randall Delgado, Brandon Drury, Nick Ahmed and Zeke Spruill to Arizona for Justin Upton and Chris Johnson. Had time stopped after the 2014 season this would’ve easily ranked in the Top 10. It may yet work out in Arizona’s favor, as Ahmed and Drury may play important roles in 2016.

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.

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.

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.


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.