"Mmmmm...that's good Brave!"

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Revolving Door/Opening Day Line-Ups

The AJC reports today that Ryan Langerhans is solidly fixed as our Left Fielder. Yesterday, the same paper discussed how Jordan is looking so ready to be playing everyday. Who knows. Jordan was the starter last season on opening day. But then, so was Raul Mondesi in right. So there are no guarantees, as the faces change every year, even for the Braves. And this is an organization that is lauded for its personnel consistency thoughout the run of 14 straight division crowns. Yet only 3 starters for this year's squad have started for us on Opening Day in the past 3 seasons. That would be Marcus Giles and the Jones brothers. Rafael Furcal was our starter in '03, '04 and '05, but this year he'll be our opponent on Opening Day, in Dodger blue.

2005's Opening Day roster included 4 position players who will start again this year. The 3 noted above, plus Adam LaRoche. Johnny Estrada is gone to Arizona, Jordan will likely be on our bench, and Mondesi has mercifully retired.

2004's Opener featured JD Drew in the least consistent position of Right Field. Current Yankee Gary Sheffield, started there in '02 and '03. Mark DeRosa, now in Texas, was at 3rd. Estrada was our catcher, and Julio started at first, replacing '03's Robert Fick. Castilla had started at third in '03.

The premier point of the Braves lengend of consistency has been on the mound. Since 1990, only 2 pitchers not named Glavine, Smoltz or Maddux have started on Opening Day for the Braves. Amazing. Care to guess who? A hint and then the answer below, so scroll down carefully.

Here's a hint: One started the 2001 season and one in 2004.


Answer: 2001- John Burkett, 2004- Russ Ortiz

UPDATE: You can now add Tim Hudson to this list -- he's our new number one starter.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Now Playing First Base?

Oh dear. Rumor has it that Brian Jordan is now working out at first base, attempting to sneak on the team as a platoon to Adam LaRoche. Cox seems to be eating it up.

This isn't surprising - everyone knows Cox is enamored with his veterans. What is surprising is how well Jordan has hit lefties in the past three years. In 219 ABs, Jordan has hit 9 HRs, 33 RBI with a .297 avg, .371 OBP and a .498 slg, the latter two combining for a decent .869 OPS. Compare this to LaRoche's overall numbers (not enough of a sample to compare how he hits lefties):

451 ABs
20 HRs
78 RBIs
.259 avg
.320 OPB
.455 SLG
.775 OPS

With that being said, I certainly am not advocating a roster spot for Jordan; he needs to pursue his philanthropic endeavors full time. But the numbers do present an interesting dilemma given Cox's affinity for him.

And this for the proprietors of Brave-o-Matic. Now that we have increased traffic to our humble blog, we (and by we I mostly mean me) need to be diligent in continuing to post quality, hard-hitting stuff. The good news is at least Raymond Valley isn't reading it.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Please, Hammer, Don't Hurt Yourself


Rapper MC Hammer was in camp the past two days filming a commercial for Turner South. He took batting practice before Friday's workout and hit a few shots into the outfield.

That's, what, 120 feet or so? No word on whether Matt Diaz looked worried...

Friday, February 24, 2006

Catchertown, USA

Just last season, fantasy owners everywhere were bemoaning the lack of top-tier catchers in the NL. Remember how people were still drafting Mike Piazza in the early rounds last year? Ridiculous.

Well now have a look at the 2006 Braves. We can't find a starter-quality right fielder, yet you can't swing a dead cat in Lake Buena Vista without hitting a potential All-Star catcher. When did this happen? Here's what we've got:
1) 22 year-old Brian McCann. With the depature of Johnny Estrada, Brian will be our starting catcher. He's a former 2nd round draftee, launching his first full year in the majors. He hit .278 last year and threw out 5 of 27 base stealers.

2) Todd Pratt. A 39 year-old veteran acquired from the Phillies as a free agant. He hit .251 in only 175 at-bats last season. He put out a phenonenal 9 of 19 base stealers last season. He will likely be a once a week catcher and also serve as a mentor for the younger catchers in the system.

3) Brayan Peña. The 22 year-old Cuban appeared in only a handful of games last season, and hit like a typical catcher (.179). He did put out 2 of 8 base stealers and looks ready to be on the ML roster.

4) Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The talk of the town. A 6'4", 200-pound, 20 year-old, who's swing is compared being compared to Henry Aaron's by a smitten Bobby Cox. A switch-hitter, who may see time platooning at first base when he's moves up from AA.

5) Matt Diaz. A 28 year-old off-season acquisition from the Royal minor league system. He's an outfielder by trade, but will be viewed as an emergency catcher if he's on the roster.

6) Clint Sammons. A 23 year-old from Stone Mountain and UGA. Yet to see a pitch in the bigs, but getting plenty of notice. He has hit .286 in the minors and had 4 stolen bases last season for the Rome Braves.

7) Steve Pyzik. A 2003 Clemson grad who hit over .300 in his senior year. He's lauded for his defensive skills, having gone errorless in that 2003 season. Another non-roster invitee who will return to our minor league after camp.

8) Max Ramirez. Another minor-league standout that the Braves picked up as a free agent out of Venezuela.

FOX buys Turner South

In my South, a man can become an American citizen for the sole reason of controlling untold number of media outlets. In my South, the voice of the Braves is not Skip or Pete or Joe or Don, but a man known as the Wimperoo. A man can be the world's largest purveyor of pornography, and contribute his profits to pious Republican campaigns, in my South -- and oh, the money flows like water down the mighty Chattahoochee. I'm Rupert Murdoch, and this is my South.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

That's Fat, Dawg.

The winterized Boys of Summer have made their way back to Florida. To the best of my knowledge, we have no one who failed to get a Visa renewal or immunization shots in time to leave Latin America. But just what has the off-season done for our Braves? All in all, the reports are better than I ever recall hearing before.

Well, news is that Andruw, who looked so fat at spring training 2 years ago, has been on his 2nd straight full work-out offseason. He's spent time in his home batting cage (and when was the last time you bothered to use yours?) and at the gym. Sounds real good. He will be playing in the World Baseball To Please Tommy Lasorta nonsense. For the mighty Netherland dynasty. Seriously, who the hell else is on that team? But Andruw says he likes the extra BP he'll get.

Chipper is back and, bizarrely, claims that he needs to add 8 to 10 pounds that he lost due to the flu.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia is getting loads of pub at camp. If you can believe Bobby Cox, he's in ML-ready condition, blasting balls all over the park.

Oscar Villarreal has looked strong in the first few days of spring training. He claims to have no ill effects after missing most of last year with a rotator cuff strain. He may or may not be playing for Mexico in the WBC. Let's hope not. He needs to save his arm for when we need a new closer.

Our new shortstop Edgar Renteria has bulked up in a good way over the winter too.

Mike Hampton is in camp for the rehab facilities. He's done for the season and will be a 34 year-old fastballer with Tommy John surgery trying for a spot in '07. Well, Smoltz did it, but....

Speaking of Smoltz- he's in good condition, and says that he'll ease up a bit this year and not throw so long or so hard as he did to start last season. Good to hear, because I don't think there's a whole lot left in the tank for him to waste.

Young pitcher Joey Devine is reportedly dazzling the hitters thus far. He's fine, they say, just so long as there's fewer than 3 men on base.

And sadly, Brian Jordan is back. He says his knees don't hurt at all. Cox, ever the veteran booster is considering Jordan to start ahead of Langerhans. Blech.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

14 Straight Titles- 2006 Spring Training begins

As spring training gets underway for the Braves, we here at the 'Matic must start making predictions about what we will see this season. Here's my first set of questions. I would love to hear your opinions, cause I already know mine:
-Who will be our closer on Opening Day (April 3 in LA)? And who will it be by May 15th?

-How will Giles hit in the lead-off spot?

-Will Francoeur learn to lay off the bad pitches this year?

-How long until Saltalamacchia is on the major league roster?

-Am I wrong to think we have a pretty good looking starting rotation to start the season? (Smoltz, Hudson, Sosa, Thompson and Ramirez)
-Bonus Q- Can we go more than 3 weeks before our first starter goes DL?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A Hasty 1st Post for 2006

It has been announced that our hero, Julio "The Ageless Wonder" Franco, will be a NY Met. He's signed a 2-year contract and will join Tom Glavine and other has-beens at the horrible confines of Shea Stadium. It's looking like Julio will be in uniform after Barry Bonds retires. And Sammy Sosa.

The loss of Julio leaves John Smoltz as the oldest player on the Braves roster, being 3 months shy of his 39th borthday. Smoltz was saved from being the only player born before 1970 by the arrival of catcher Todd Pratt from Philly. Pratt bears the ignominious distinction of being the 4th most talented catcher in the Braves organization. Maybe 5th.