Open thread, 7/27, #Braves acquire a real live hitting prospect

It’s sure as hell a seller’s market, and Coppy took advantage. Travis Demeritte is no sure-thing. A year ago, the 30th overall pick in the 2013 draft hit just .232 with 5 HR in 53 games in A-ball and was slapped with a 60-game suspension for using a banned substance. But the Winder-bred prospect bounced back in a big way this year in High-A ball, with 25 HR, 13 SB and a .935 OPS. He was selected to appear in the Futures Game and is considered an above-average defender at 2B with the arm to play third. On the downside, he’s struck out 125 times in 88 games.

The cost — Lucas Harrell and Dario Alvarez — was minimal. We know about all the young pitchers, but the Braves have begun to stockpile some promising bats in the low minors: Kevin Maitan, Brett Cumberland (who has five multi-hit games in a little more than week, with 22 RBI in 82 AB), Austin Riley (rebounding from a slow start), Cristian Pache, Randy Ventura and Derian Cruz.

Folty takes the hill tonight, backed by:

Peterson 7, Beckham 4, Freeman 3, Markakis 9, Garcia 5, Francoeur DH, Inciarte 8, Pierzynski 2, Aybar 6 


Open thread, 7/26, #Braves vs. rushing the rebuild

Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson are right where they should be. Albies is 19. He’s owned Double-A pitchers but struggled in 56 games at Gwinnett, batting .248 with a .307 OBP. He’s learning a new position alongside the team’s future SS. Let him develop.

Swanson has held his own in Mississippi but hasn’t exactly dominated (.262-.341-.413). He has 69 strikeouts in 89 games. What’s to be gained by him hitting .220 in the season’s last 60 games?

Not much, but there’s tremendous risk when your promote prematurely. Byron Buxton had 72 games above Class-A (four more than Dansby) when he was called up by the Twins last year. At the time Buxton, 21, was rated by just about everyone as the best prospect in baseball.

In 102 games with Minnesota, the second overall pick from the 2012 draft is hitting .206 with a .250 OBP and 118 strikeouts. He’s already been demoted once and his performance merits another return to the minors. But the Twins know what that could do his already fragile confidence.

Swanson is too important to the Braves’ future to take such a chance. 2017 will be here soon enough.

The line-up:



The silver anniversary of #Braves nirvana: Mahler’s last stand

recurring series celebrating the 25th anniversary of the ’91 Braves.

It’s widely assumed that the ’91 Braves got back into the NL West race right after the All-Star break, but that’s not entirely correct. Yes, the Braves did make up 6 games in less than two weeks, closing to within 2.5 games on July 22. They entered play a week later 6 games back of the Dodgers. Worse, the Pirates, with the best record in baseball, were in town for a four-game series, starting with a doubleheader. It’s not a stretch to say the season hung in the balance.

I was there for the twin bill, along with 32,000-plus, huge for a weeknight back then. It had been eight years since the Braves played a game at Fulco that meant so much.

Game 1 featured aces Doug Drabek and Tom Glavine, but neither was at their best. Brian Hunter struck the decisive blow, blasting a deep homer to left to give the Braves a 7-4 lead. Glavine pitched into the 8th, with Marvin Freeman retiring the final four batters for his first save.

A split was the best any Braves fan could’ve hoped for, considering Rick Mahler was starting Game 2. Acquired from Montreal in June, Mahler was mostly awful in his return to Atlanta. Six days earlier, he allowed four runs in 2-2/3 IP vs. the Bucs.

But the pitcher no one wanted, Braves fans in particular, ended up with one of the biggest wins of the season, holding the Pirates to two runs in 6 IP. In the bottom of the 8th, with the Braves holding a 3-2 lead, catcher Francisco Cabrera faced off against a pitcher with whom he’ll forever be linked. As he would more than a year later in Game 7 of the NLCS, Big Frank got the best of Stan Belinda, homering to left for what turned out to be the winning run.

A Dodgers loss brought the Braves within 4.5 games of first. The race was on.

Mahler would appear in only two more games. CD and I were at his last one, a start against the Giants. He lasted only two innings, allowing four hits, three runs, two walks and one hit batter, Kevin Mitchell. We encouraged Mitchell to charge the mound, hoping he would take Mahler out of the the game.

We should’ve been more appreciative of the longtime Brave, who helped make the ’91 miracle possible, if only for one night.



Longtime Office reader NahaGomez points out that last night’s loss dropped the franchise’s record under .500 for the first time since 2011.

The Braves had been under .500 for three quarters of a century before that. It may be awhile before they’re in the black again.

Lose today and the Braves will have twice as many defeats as wins. They’re starting to put some distance between the other dregs of baseball, with five more losses than the Twins (their next opponent) and six more than than the Reds and Rays.

They are two games behind the ’88 Braves, who were 35-63 after 98 games. That team proceeded to lose 8 in a row.


Open thread, 7/22-7/25, #Braves vs. the wisdom of trading

As the trading deadline nears, teams are inquiring about the likes of Hunter Cervenka, Dario Alvarez and Ian Krol, according to Ken Rosenthal.

“Other Braves who could be on the move: potential free agents such as infielder Gordon Beckham and outfielder Jeff Francouer and right-handed reliever Jim Johnson,” Rosenthal reports.

Fine by me. Hope we can add Markakis to the list — the Royals are reportedly interested but the Braves would have to settle for very little.

I’m fine with trading one of Cervenka, Alvarez and Krol, but only if you get a bat. You’re probably not going to get much of one. They come cheap, and they’ve pitched well, but the sample size is ever so small. This time around, Coppy’s best moves may be the ones he doesn’t make.

Tonight’s line-up:

Peterson LF, Beckham 2B, Freddie, Markakis, Adonis, Inciarte, Recker, Aybar, Teheran



Open thread, 7/21, all about Folty

I’m not watching every Braves game this year, but I try not to miss a start by Folty because A.) He’s an important part of the future and B.) he appears to be on the verge of acedom.

If Folty continues pitching like he has most of this year, next year won’t be so bad. If not, we’re in huge trouble.

Pitching at Coors will be a test in itself, and not just for the hard-throwing right-hander. The Braves have lost 6 of 8 to the Rockies, and Freddie’s struggles have been a major factor.

As DOB reports, Freeman is 1-for-29 with 12 strikeouts in those eight games. He’s 0-for-9 against tonight’s starter, Chad Bettis. He’s due.

The line-up:

Peterson LF,  Beckham 2B, Freddie, Markakis, Garcia, Inciarte, AJ, Aybar, Folty


Open thread, 7/20, #Braves vs. themselves

In case you haven’t noticed, these two teams suck. The Braves have better pitching, the Reds more offense, but overall these may be the worst teams we’ve seen in more than a decade. As for today’s tilt, Lucas Harrell has swayed from awesome to awful. Bet on the latter, considering he’s taking the mound in baseball’s biggest (or is that smallest) bandbox.

Peterson 4, d’Arnaud 7, Freeman, Markakis, Garcia, Inciarte, Pierzynski, Aybar, Harrell


#Braves have little left to deal, and the dominant bullpen that could be

Arodys Vizcaino might have brought back an intriguing prospect. But after a series of bad outings, and now a DL stint, Coppy would be selling low on Viz.

Keeping him would give the Braves a dynamic, and extremely cost-effective, bullpen in 2017 that could be the envy of baseball. From the left side, Ian Krol has been a revelation, holding lefties to a .584 OPS, holding his own vs. righties and striking out more than a batter per inning. Dario Alvarez has missed even more bats, averaging two strikeouts per inning. Hunter Cervenka has struggled with control but has shown an ability to pitch out of trouble. Perhaps the best of the southpaws available to the Braves is 2015 draft pick A.J. Minter who, in 20-2/3 IP, has allowed six hits, 5 walks and struck out 27.

From the right side, Vizcaino, Mauricio Cabrera, Shae Simmons (die to be activated soon), Chris Withrow and Dan Winkler, if healthy, provide just as much firepower.

So back to Coppy’s favorite pastime: Trades. What’s left to deal? Don’t be surprised if he attempts to package some prospects to Milwaukee for Jonathan Lucroy, a gifted hitter and among the top defensive backstops in the game. He’s signed through next year, so seemingly any deal would be contingent on an extension, but there would be risks involved, mainly Lucroy’s age (he turns 31 next June).

It would seem to be Coppy’s best chance to make a significant deal. Hopefully he can unload Markakis but he wouldn’t get much in return. Aybar, Jim Johnson, et al will fetch even less. If anything.


Reds Cubs Baseball

Open thread, 7/7, #Braves vs. what if?

What if tonight’s make-up game is rained out? What if the Cubs are running away with the division and the best record in the NL? What if the Braves finish 56-105 and the Twins 56-106? Would they replay a game to decide who has the first overall pick in the draft? If so, would the Braves purposely lose?

Alas, we’ll never know. The line-up:

Peterson 2B, Beckham SS, Freddie, Markakis, Garcia, Francoeur, Flowers, Inciarte, Harrell


Open thread, 7/6, #Braves reality check

Hopefully Tyrell Jenkins will make me look foolish (see below) as he takes the mound for his MLB debut as a starter.

The line-up, followed by some basic truths routinely ignored and/or denied by the franchise’s many mouthpieces and the horde of Coppy apologists on Twitter:

Peterson 4, Inciarte 8, Freeman 3, Markakis 9, Francoeur 7, Garcia 5, Pierzynski 2, Aybar 6, Jenkins 1

It’s a golden era for third sackers (Machado, Bryant, Donaldson, etc.) but Braves fans wouldn’t know it. Adonis Garcia, with his .595 OPS, does not belong on a major league roster. Rio Ruiz, whose Triple-A numbers are slightly better than Nick Markakis’, is not yet ready. Austin Riley may be in three years (he is starting to hit for more power at Rome and has cut down on his strikeouts but still has just 6 homers compared to 94 Ks).

The rotation is what it is … for the rest of this year and next. That includes slow-learning (or hard-headed) Folty, the Braves’ #3 starter. Who fills out the starting five? John Gant?? Williams Perez???  This is why you can’t trade Juley — unless you’re okay with flirting with 100 losses again. In fact, instead of trading pitching for hitting, as was the grand plan, the Braves may find themelves trying to swap underachieving potential for major league ready arms. And that’s assuming there’s a market for:

*Aaron Blair, who has taken his struggles to Gwinnett; *Lucas Sims, who has taken his struggles to Mississippi; *Tyrell Jenkins, who has shown no evidence of being an adequate big league starter — and that includes his stint at Gwinnett, when he missed few bats and allowed more hits than innings pitched; and *Chris Ellis, who pitched well at Mississippi but has been owned by Triple-A batters. *Sean Newcomb retains the most value, but not as much as when he was an Angel. His strikeouts per 9 have dropped from 11.1 to 8.8 while his BB/9 has remained stagnant, from 5.0 to 4.8. Command, or lack of, is the common thread. Most of these guys just can’t throw strikes consistently and minor league hitters are making them pay.

Rome pitching coach Dan Meyer, the centerpiece of the Tim Hudson trade with the A’s, deserves a promotion. Touki Toussaint and Max Fried have shown steady improvement while Mike Soroka and Patrick Weigel have been the mound standouts from last year’s draft. However, all — with the exception of Soroka and, to a lesser degree, Weigel — have command issues.

Dansby and Ozzie will be manning the middle infield for the Braves on Opening Day. That’s near-certain. They may be ready, but the Braves will not be erring on the side of caution.

To repeat: Why did Coppy rush to trade Bud Norris? Had his first start with the Dodgers been for the Braves he could’ve received a better return. And what if Norris continues his hot streak? At the trading deadline, small sample sizes are easily disregarded and this year, the market for starters is limited. Coppy was also too quick to deal Jason Grilli — for a pitcher they’ve since released. Grilli has a 2.31 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 11-2/3 with the Jays. Not saying he could’ve gotten a lot but he could’ve gotten more.

If Dave Stewart wasn’t a GM how would Coppy’s trades rank? Swanson and Toussaint wouldn’t be Braves. But Hector Olivera still would be. I’d give Coppy a “C”.

Olivera will probably be the in the hunt to start in LF next year, which is offensive to me as a person and as someone who appreciates major league talent. On a similar note, it was really disheartening to see Mets fans give Jose Reyes a standing ovation. Those cheers turned to boos only as Reyes proceeded to go 0-for his New York rebut. Not hitting a baseball: Boos. Hitting a woman: Cheers.

Speaking of regrettable trades, Andrelton’s offensive numbers are about where they were as a Brave. But he’s batting .426 in his last 12 games and tonight fell a homer short of a cycle. He was, and is, worth more than Newcomb and Ellis.

Fredi’s on Baseball Tonight as analyst. True to form, he began a thought with, “You know what …” and ended it with something stupid. In this case, Fredi called signing Reyes “a no-brainer,” apparently seeing no dilemma in employing a guy who beats up women. Fredi did, however, get off a decent line at the expense of the show’s stats guy: “I had one of those guys in my office every day. That’s why I got fired after 40 games.” That, and a 9-28 record.

Fredi’s successor has now lost as many games as manager of the Braves, with 10 more wins. So Snitker is ahead of Fredi’s pace, but the Braves, with twice as many losses as wins, are two games behind the ’88 team’s pace after 84 games.

Can’t wait to see the valentine to a known cheater that’s sure to mark this year’s All-Star Game, otherwise known as the Cubs vs. Red Sox, starring Big Phony. This time I’ll watch something else.

Which is what Braves fans have been doing in 2016. The team is next-to-last in the NL in attendance, averaging 22,724 tickets sold. That’s down 3,266 per game from 2015, although the naked eye tells you the drop is even greater.


#Braves open thread, 7/4, Rick Camp-aganza

My recollection for the local organ, a long form piece worth your time and 19 things you may not know about the most bizarre game in Braves history. A perfect game by today’s starter Joel De La Cruz would be almost as improbable as Camp’s homer.

Watch for Mets LF Danny Heep’s reaction when the ball clears the fence.

Check out the banner at the 1:44 mark.

Don’t forget the fireworks.


A performance for the ages, 50 years ago today

No Brave has ever had a better game than Tony Cloninger, 50 years ago. Except maybe Tony Cloninger.

On July 3, 1966, Cloninger set three records, becoming the first National League player to hit two grand slams in a game and the only pitcher ever to do so. And no pitcher has ever driven in 9 RBI in a game, as Cloninger did that afternoon in San Francisco. He also pitched a complete game in the Braves’ 17-3 win.

He might’ve been even better three weeks earlier, when he allowed just one run and five hits in 9 innings. The Braves scored 17 that day as well; Cloninger drove in five on three hits, two homers. He entered the game batting .121.

To sum up:

10 AB, 4 HR, 6 hits, 14 RBI

18 IP, 2 CG, 12 HA, 4 ER, 2 wins


201 pitches

That’s how many pitches were thrown by 42-year-old Warren Spahn 53 years ago today. Willie Mays homered on Spahn’s 201st to break a scoreless tie. In the bottom of the 16th.

“He ought to will his body to medical science,” said Hall of Famer Carl Hubbell, who was in attendance at Candlestick Park for the epic duel won by Juan Marichal, who threw 227 pitches. But he was just 25.

Marichal was scheduled to bat third that inning. (Orlando) Cepeda later recalled the moment in a 1998 memoir. Manager Alvin Dark asked Marichal if he had had enough. Cepeda remembered Marichal barking at Dark, “A 42-year-old man is still pitching. I can’t come out!”4 Dark accepted — or was startled into acceptance by Marichal’s ardor — and let him bat. Marichal flied out to complete the inning, and the game pushed forward.

Seven Hall of Famers appeared in the game. The Cooperstown-bound moundsmen fared best; Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Mays, Willie McCovey and Cepeda were a combined 4-for-26 against Marichal and Spahn.

Five days later, Spahn — did I mention he was 42 — shut out the Houston Colt .45s. Naturally, he went the distance


Open thread, 7/1 – 7/3 #Braves vs. teen angst

We’ve been hearing about Kevin Maitan since before he could drive a car, and tomorrow the Braves are expected the land the prize of the international fee agent market. In fact, they’re supposed to have a deal in place with the 16-year-old widely considered the best international amateur prospect since Miguel Sano. But Keith Law reports the Nationals are making a late run at Maitan, so nothing’s guaranteed. No truth to rumors the Braves plan to convert Maitan into a pitcher.

Meanwhile, it looks like Julio Teheran is here to stay, which is good news. The odds against the Braves’ ace being traded are “99.9” percent, according to Coppy. So who will be dealt? I suspect Arodys will be elsewhere come August. Hopefully Markakis will be. Possibly Inciarte, who, while special with the glove, has been a dud at the plate. Notice how often that tends to happen with everyday players who become Braves? Might have something to do with the way they value their coaches. Atlanta is known for low-balling its staff, which is how you end up with the likes of Larry Parrish and Greg Walker as batting instructors. And who, outside of Cameron Maybin, has blossomed under Kevin Seitzer’s tutelage?

But none of that matters with the Marlins in town. If the Fish were Tom Glavine, the Braves would be Mike Redmond (21-for-48 vs. the Hall of Famer). Miami is 2-7 vs. the Braves, something they’re sure to forget if they barely miss out on a playoff berth.

No idea why the red-hot Jace Peterson is not in the line-up tonight. Seems an odd time to rest him.

Inciarte, D’Arnaud, Freddie, Adonis, Markakis, Francoeuer, Flowers, Aybar, Julio





Open thread, 6/30, #Braves vs. blind faith

Braves fans sure have a lot of faith in the GM who traded for Hector Olivera and refused to deal Nick Markakis. The huzzahs were flowing for Coppy today after dealing Bud Norris to the desperate Dodgers for two fringe prospects. Pitchers, of course, because Coppy’s gonna bundle them for a big bat, don’t you know. Of course the Padres will trade Wil Myers for Lucas Sims and Aaron Blair. Brilliant plan!

The pitchers the Braves acquired have ceilings as middle relievers.  Neither throws particularly hard. The Padres, meanwhile, acquired a potential No. 3 starter for Fernando Rodney.

Granted, you’re lucky to get anything for Bud Norris but Coppy would’ve been wise to wait. Maybe he gets lucky and Norris continues to pitch well. At best he loses out on a couple of potential Matt Marksberrys.

In other news, we now know who’s likely to be next year’s starting SS. Ozzie Albies has been demoted to Mississippi, where he’ll play 2B alongside Dansby. Both players have struggled with the bat of late — Swanson’s 39 Ks in 49 Double-A games is a tad troubling.

At least tonight we get an actual prospect on the mound as opposed to the latest incarnation of German Jimenez or Sugar Ray Marimon. Hopefully Folty can pick up where he left off.

The line-up:

Jace, Chase (CF), Freddie, Garcia, Markakis, Francoeur, Flowers, Aybar, Folty

Frank Wren, John Schuerholz, Derek Schiller, Mike Plant

Open thread, 6/29, #Braves vs. resentment

Another day, another Liberty Media money grab. The AJC’s Dan Klepal, who has owned the Cobb stadium story, has details on an ordinance , passed at the Braves’ behest, outlawing property owners within a half-mile of the Mallpark from charging for parking during games and other special events.

For thousands of fans, the restriction could mean fewer parking options on game days, making it less convenient or more expensive to go to a stadium with no direct MARTA access. The full impact isn’t known because the Braves haven’t yet released their own parking plan.

The team’s president of development, Mike Plant, who once claimed it takes “about five more minutes” to get to the new stadium if you’re coming from south Fulton (in a flying car, perhaps), said the parking ordinance was enacted due to public safety concerns.

“We know that when fans come to a Braves game, no matter where they park, they associate their experience with the Braves,” Plant said. “Our concerns focused mainly on two areas — safety of the fans and the free flow of vehicles through the areas around the ballpark.

“With that in mind, we requested that the county create an ordinance covering an area around the ballpark to protect fans who are attending the game and ensure that they receive the same safety, security and convenience provided in the lots we control.”

Pissing off your fan base seems like a bad business plan, but maybe that’s just me.

Fuck you, Liberty!

Meanwhile, a pitcher I had never heard of until today takes the mound vs. perhaps the leading contender for the AL Cy Young Award. Joel De La Cruz had a 4.68 ERA this year at Gwinnett. He is the 2016 version of Sugar Ray Marimon.

More good news for Indians starter Danny Salazar:

Peterson, Inciarte, Freeman, Markakis, Garcia, Flowers, Aybar, Bonifacio, De La Cruz






Open thread, 6/27, #Braves vs. a blueprint

Look no further than tonight’s opponent if you’re unsure about whether Julio Teheran should be traded. The Indians, baseball’s hottest team, have played all but 11 games without their best hitter, Michael Brantley. Despite that, and a payroll that’s only $2.5 million higher than the Bravos, Cleveland is poised to return to the playoffs this year almost solely on the backs of their starting pitchers. They may not have a Kershaw or Arrieta but they have several Teherans, if not better, in the case of Danny Salazar. Kluber and Carrasco could also make a strong case, as they, along with Trevor Bauer, miss a lot of bats.

Point being, you don’t trade affordable, accomplished arms. Cleveland has managed to patch together a decent offense — built around budding star Francisco Lindor — thanks to contributions from the likes of Mike Napoli, Rajai Davis and our old pal Juan Uribe. They all came cheap. Top-flight starting pitchers do not.

Cleveland has also maintained enough flexibility to add a Carlos Beltran-type at the deadline. If they do that, and get Brantley back, you may well be looking at the team to beat in the AL (as predicted by Rowland). None of other contenders in the Senior Circuit have Cleveland’s rotation depth, or talent. It’s not even close.

(I trust if your’re reading this you know the line-up by now so I’ll save you that and lyrics to a random 35-year-old tune.)





Open thread, 6/15, #Braves vs. results

They may be talented, but so far Atlanta’s top prospects haven’t performed up to expectations. Which is not to say they won’t. But so far, so meh.


Rio Ruiz, .258 BA, .363 slugging, 60 Ks, 56 games

Ozzie Albies, .238 BA, .282 OBP, 42 games

Tyrell Jenkins, 2.91 ERA, 1.446 WHIP, 6.2 K/9

Lucas Sims, 6.80 ERA, 1.791 WHIP


Dustin Peterson, .276-7-39, .774 OPS

Dansby Swanson, .245-4-20, .726 OPS, 39 games

Sean Newcomb, 4.11 ERA, 1.462 WHIP, 69 Ks, 37 BB, 65-2/3 IP

Chris Ellis, 2.75 ERA, 1.131 WHIP, 7 K, 4BB/9


Braxton Davidson, .225 BA, .660 OPS

Max Povse, 3.82 ERA, 1.273 WHIP, 9.2 K/9


Austin Riley, .260-3-24, 80 Ks in 223 AB

Lucas Herbert, .228-2-19

Max Fried, 4.25 ERA, 1.416 WHIP, 8.6 K, 5.2 BB/9

Mike Soroka, 2.92 ERA, 1.155 WHIP, 8.2 K, 1.9 BB/9

Touki Toussaint, 4.89 ERA, 1.298 WHIP (dominant last two starts)

The present is still grimmer. The Braves, at 18-46, are five games behind the pace of the woeful ’88 Braves. As many as 2,000 people are gathering to see this line-up face off against the immortal Anthony DeSciafani:

Mallex, Inciarte, Freddie, Garcia, Markakis, Peterson, Flowers, Aybar, Norris


Open thread, 6/13, #Braves vs. the 2017 draft

Let’s not do anything stupid and sweep the Reds. Winning  10 of their last 16 at the end of 2015 cost the Braves a chance to draft Nick Senzel, the power-hitting third baseman who would’ve been a much better fit than Ian Anderson.

A sweep won’t be easy because, while their pitching is abysmal, the Reds can hit. Four of their starters have reached double figures in homers. The Braves have none.

With 100 games left, the local nine would have to go 45-55 to avoid 100 losses. Ain’t going to happen. I’m not sure 35-65 is realistic.

It’ll help if tonight’s starter, Aaron Blair, establishes some command of the strike zone. Blair is not the only prospect who’s struggling — Dansby’s BA has dropped to .243 at Mississippi. It would be foolish to bring him up to the bigs this year.

But not all the news is bad. Mallex is hitting lead-off. Finally.

Smith, Inciarte, Freeman, Markakis, Garcia, Pierzynski, Peterson, Aybar, Blair