88 thoughts on “Braves pummel Phillies; doesn’t matter”

  1. I always loved those still shots of pitchers with their mouths puffed out or, in the case of Fernando Valenzuela, his eyes shooting upward in mid-wind, as if to say, “I don’t really know where this one’s going.”

  2. I guess with Devine’s back problems (last thread) that Billy Beane will REALLY not take pitchers from Atlanta again.

  3. I don’t really get the Flowersphilia coming from the Braves in recent days. He looks like nothing special in the stats, just another guy like the other guys who have come down the pike in recent years.

    Tyler Flowers, Rome, 21 YO: .298 .378 .488
    Adam LaRoche, MB/GR, 22 YO: .317 .384 .470
    Scott Thorman, Macon, 20 YO: .294 .363 .489

    In other words, Flowers now is basically where Thorman was when he was a year younger. I used LaRoche’s Age 22 year because at 21 he was at Myrtle Beach, more advanced than Flowers now, but couldn’t overcome it — few could.

  4. Well considering LaRoche got us a great relief pitcher, I’d say that if Tyler Flowers can match that, then we’re doing pretty good. Thorman, on the other hand…

  5. The worst thing about Shea

    This phrase is sort of a koan. If there is such a thing as a single “worst” thing about Shea, there are about 735 things tied for second place.

    Today’s Braves game, on the other hand, validates something I’ve said for a long time:

    Kyle Kendrick sucks.

    -Another Alex R.

  6. From the previous thread, one of the main reasons pitchers don’t go nine anymore is because they don’t pace themselves — mostly because of the deep lineups, but also IMO because making sure that maximum preparation and effort is put behind every pitch is an easy way for pitching coaches to prove they’re doing something.

    The pitchers of yesteryear weren’t throwing as hard as often. Every other trend in human physiology has us getting bigger and stronger — major league pitchers aren’t the exception.

  7. no, i’m pretty sure AAR is right, Kyle Kendrick just sucks.

    maybe not as bad as Noah Lowry, but still….

  8. Flowers is also a PED user.

    Reason the Braves are high on him is that he can play a more than passable C, in which case his numbers aren’t bad.

    Plus Bobby needs a new crush now that Ascanio has been traded and Yunel is in the big leagues.

  9. New sport in Met Land: Spring training injury whining.

    Deli Guy: “I just heard the Mets have at least 14 guys who are injured.”

    Me: “So go out & buy another one…”

  10. I just think its funny that the Mets traded their savior/future star Milledge for an injured Church and they now are looking for a platoon partner for him. Keep up the good work, Santana cant play every position

  11. From all I’ve heard & read, Milledge really earned his “most-hated” status in the Shea clubhouse.

    The kid has talent, sure, but no clue how to act like a major leaguer & he’s still firing shots at them from spring training.

    Of course, I hope he stays mad & tears ’em up this year.

  12. I’m pretty sure Godot is right. Lopez, Pena, and Sammons are not an intimidating group of backup catchers. Come to think of it, we’re not real deep in 1B’s either if Teixeira leaves after 2008. The fact that Thorman is still here should demonstrate that. Damn, we don’t have a real good farm system right now, do we?

    The whining of Mets fans is sweet to the ears of cultured men.

  13. @ 24

    Not too many teams around the league have a terrific back-up catcher, either. At least we have on the best starting catcher’s in the business.

  14. Mac, the Braves love Adam and Thorman, so it’s not surprising that they love Flowers as well.

  15. Brian-

    We have at least one of the top 10 farm systems, maybe boarderline top 5. There’s just not a lot of talent near the majors.

    Flowers might be a very good prospect if he sticks behind the plate (which is quite questionable at this point). That and he’s got some very good power. He’s also a highschool bat, which usually means more projectability than straight-up numbers at this point in his career.

    Re: Thorman, he’s defense at 1B has been very good so far this spring; he’s really made a couple nice plays. So maybe if he’s improving there and he learns how to hit a bit, his making the team wouldn’t be a complete waste.

  16. Hello,

    It’s been a while since I participated (and this is my only blog and I read it almost daily. Mac does a great job.) but I am “challenged” and seek guidance with MLB-TV I purchased on-line.

    I enrolled as it seemed the only way to get Spring Training season games on TV and radio. Unless I misunderstood, $14.95 is reasonable and it can be cancelled after one month, when radio and TV is available. (I’m in Atlanta area so blackouts would keep me from seeing the only team I follow which is our Braves!)

    My question is, today when I go on the Braves’ site, one of the tag lines says “watch today’s game live” (or something to that effect). When I go to the list of games, the audio column is in blue (clickable to open). The TV column is showing the 400k but is not in blue. (I watched the Mets/Braves game a couple of days ago and like the product.) Is there a watchable game today or available only on audio? Or, what am I missing?

    I appreciate any help/advice/counsel/input/advice anyone can extend.

    Thanks
    PC Beachbum

  17. @16,

    Sansho,

    You make a good point but I still think the increase in offense is the primary difference. If a pitcher was facing, say, Belanger in the old Yankee Stadium, all he to do was throw the ball up and away and let him hit it as hard as he could. If you do that today with say, Yunel Escobar, he might hit it out to the opposite field. Even David Eckstein can hit a ball out occasionally. So pitchers have to bear down more and have to make better pitches, which runs up their pitch counts. I think it’s harder to pitch today. But I also think it’s a matter of expectations; pitchers don’t prepare to go nine innings because they know they won’t. To me, it was much more exciting when the starters were on the mound at the end of the game. As much as I hated the result, Jack Morris pitching all 10 innings in Game 7 was a heroic effort. I guess I’m an old fart but I think a lot of the drama and romance has gone out of sports with the rise of relief pitchers in baseball, QBs having plays called through their helmets, etc.

  18. AAR,

    Huh? What? Not such an old fart that you DON’T agree with everything he just said?

    ????????

    Oh well. I do agree with the sentiment that pitchers aren’t prepared to go nine innings anymore. I had that discussion with my grandfather, in regards to pitch counts. He’s convinced that pitchers can’t throw more than, say, 120 pitches with regularity anymore without threat of some kind of arm injury. I guess that’s relevant.

  19. Sam, what are you questioning? The statement makes perfect sense.

    As to your grandfather’s point, that’s exactly what Marc is talking about. Pitchers used to be able to throw more pitches because they didn’t have to max out their effort on each individual pitch.

  20. I say if you can put up big numbers in AA at a young age, then you can do it in the bigs. AAA is a diffrent monster, a buch of has beens and never will be’s.

  21. @29

    As I see it, you should be able to watch Braves at Indians at 1pm — at which time you should see an L in a yellow box appear ahead of the 400 in the MLBtv column. Scroll down to see the key. Enjoy the game.

  22. Is it just me, or does Hudson occasionally look like Jim Carrey in “The Mask”?

    I think if you gave Thor a Valium, he’d be a very valuable Brave.

  23. I think AAR was saying that, while I may be an old fart, he agrees with what I said. :) Thank you AAR.

  24. Stu,

    Tonight I am pulling for the Vols and Vandy. Go Doors, beat MSU and make Tennessee SEC champs!

  25. Marc,

    OH. Sorry for being confused there. It was the double negative that did it.

    I suppose the “max effort” thing is something that hurts a pitcher, but when did it start?

  26. I’m sure it’s one of those things that happened somewhat gradually over time. But the lowering of the mound, the building of smaller parks, the shrinking of the strike zone, and the infusion of PEDs—all listed by Marc earlier—each played big roles, I would assume.

  27. Marc — yep. I guess you could say I wish baseball rules, parks, leagues, etc. were as they were in 1937, but the Braves get to keep their current lineup.

  28. @4, Stu, that photo is fantastic.

    If Okajima would intentionally sail one over a guy’s head now and then, his ERA would drop a full point at least, don’t you think? That has to be terrifying to see as a batter in any case.

  29. I also think that OF Cody Johnson (2006 1st round pick) could be the power-hitting 1B of the (post-Tex) future that a few upthread are seeking. He hit .305 avg/.374 obp/ .630 slg/ 1.004 ops at Danville in Appy League last year.

    A Francouer-Schafer-Heyward outfield doesn’t leave much room for anyone else out there. I’m very excited for this alignment if it can be held together (fingers crossed).

  30. Yeah, Johnson’s got the power part, but I think many observers wonder whether he’ll ever make enough regular contact to succeed in MLB.

  31. @40,

    I do think that expectations had something to do with it too. As teams put more emphasis on the bullpen (and paid relievers more), it made sense (at least to the managers) to rely less on the starters and, at the same time, for the starters to put more effort into every pitch knowing they would be out after 7 anyway. It’s certainly more difficult to pitch for all the factors we have talked about but pitchers also have less ability (or need) to extend their outing. If you are expected to stay out longer, then you will find ways to economize on pitches and effort.

  32. ububba,

    With the Aaron Rodgers era looming, I am guessing Packer fans will be sending a fleet of RV’s down to Mississippi to stalk Favre until he unretires.

    My guess is John Madden will be out there grilling with those folks. What’s Madden gonna do? His years long man-crush has left him.

    I bit the bullet and re-upped with MLB.com last night. It does appear they’ve upgraded the quality, plus, I realize keeping the game going live on my laptop allows me not to have to ignore my wife every night so that we can watch something together as well.

    I did warn her…she married me, she married the Braves, Spurs & Dawgs too.

  33. My wife only married into the Braves. Luckily for her (and probably moreso for me), as a fellow alum, she was already heavily invested in the Commodores.

  34. That is a good column, ububba, and it’s very true. I sure am gonna miss watching that guy play football, though.

  35. Interesting..

    Lillibridge went 3-for-4 and started at third base in Tuesday’s spring training win over Philadelphia. He played at third base for the first time in his professional career as he auditions for a utility job this spring.

    With Omar Infante likely to start the season on the DL with a broken wrist, Lillibridge could open the season in the majors as a utility player. He’d have upside in that role due to his stolen bases and with oft-injured Chipper Jones at third base.

  36. Cary, I want to be cautiously optimistic about Cody Johnson, but he’s so young — and hasn’t even played a full season yet — that right now I’m just cautious.

    I’m not sure there will be much overlap between Heyward and Francoeur, though, considering that long-term contract talks for Francoeur just broke down. He’s counting on having a great year and wants to go into arbitration for a nice payday. I’d love to hang onto him, but I’m just not sure how long we’ll be able to keep him.

  37. Cary, since I think I asm in the majority opinion on here of people who think Omar Infante is “useless dreck”, nothing more than this year’s version of Chris Woodward, I would be thrilled for Infante to stay injured and out of the way so Lillibridge can stay with the club.

    I think if given the chance, Lillibridge will prove to be a big time stud right away.

  38. Is it really the majority opinion here that Infante is Woodward? I certainly don’t believe that. Infante is a much, much better player than that—he’s actually valuable—and I’d much rather he fill the utility role and let Lilly get regular PT in Richmond.

  39. I don’t think Infante is Woodward, and I argued that just a couple days ago. And I agree with Stu; I’d rather see Infante in the UTL role and Lillibridge in AAA working on his swing.

  40. I like Infante okay, but I’m not convinced he won’t turn into Angel Berroa given significant PT. I would prefer to keep Lilli in AAA, though. I like him, but he needs to bounce back from 2007.

  41. Ok, never mind. I guess I am in the minority opinion that Infante sucks and will be a fairly useless player.

    Wow, I had no idea Infante had a fan club.

    But everyone at least agrees that Lillibridge is a much, much better player? Right?

  42. If anyone happens to have DirecTV and the sports package the Braves are on today playing the Indians on the Indians flagship channel (STO).

  43. Yes, Lillibridge has a much higher ceiling than Infante.

    However, he’s still young, and playing full-time in Richmond will most likely help him reach his ceiling better than part-time duty in Atlanta. He’s still a prospect, albeit one who’s nearly ready.

    A week or two as Atlanta’s utility guy probably wouldn’t hurt, though. A cup of coffee in the majors may point out the areas on which he needs to focus in Richmond.

    Infante is useful as a utility player, unlike Chris Woodward. It appears Lillibridge will be a starter eventually, and he may even be something special. BP loves him.

  44. Infante isn’t good, exactly, but he’s a decent fielder at several positions and isn’t an offensive zero. So he’s infinitely better than Woodhead.

  45. Re: Favre

    That was a good article and true. I was listening to Mike & Mike on ESPN this morning going through various quarterbacks and deciding if they would rather have them or Favre. There are quite a few that you would rather have than Favre, certainly to win one big game. Great guy, great quarterback, but sort of like Joe Namath–he could have been better and he cost the team games with his interceptions. Even this year, he threw some interceptions that you would expect from a rookie, not a 17-year All-Pro.

  46. I don’t get the Berroa comparison at all, AAR. Berroa was (is?) an absolute butcher defensively, for one. Secondly, while their career offensive averages are somewhat comparable, Infante is 4 years younger—he’s not yet in his prime—and broke into the big leagues at a much younger age, too. I just don’t see how those two are remotely comparable.

    And as for your question, Alex, Lillibridge should absolutely become the better player and has the makings of a better career, but I don’t think it’s at all a sure thing that he’ll be the better player in 2008.

  47. Though it obviously doesn’t matter, Jurrjens again looked good today. 3 innings, no hits against a lineup including several of the Indians starters.

    I’ve watched both of his starts on mlb.tv, just to get a feel for his stuff. Again, I realize how meaningless spring training is, but I gotta say I like Jurrjens stuff. Sure hes prolly not gonna be a #1 or #2 starter anytime soon or ever, but his stuff reminds me a lot of Tim Hudson’s. a lot of movement on his fastball and sinking action…needs to keep his stuff low…etc.

    I’m not sure if he’ll make the rotation or not, but I gotta say, he excites me the most of Jurrjens, Reyes, and James. In fact, at this point, I’d put James last of those 3…I just really think the Braves need to move past James, he has always scared the hell out of me with how much he leaves his stuff up in the zone out over the plate…you cant do that when you have as weak an arm as he does…anyway, that’s a topic for another time. Just thought I’d comment on Jurrjens.

  48. I think Jurrjens problem was showcased today. Got a bunch of hitters in 0-2 and 1-2 counts and couldn’t put them away.
    He doesn’t have an out pitch, which is one of the reasons his K rate is low despite what looks like good stuff.

  49. Yeah. I think that’s probably a good assessment of why he’s got such limited potential. Still, when you look at all the other scrubs in our organization (who also don’t have out pitches)…I can see why the Braves are considering taking a chance on him.

  50. Chuck James doesn’t have a strike out pitch either. You think Smoltz could teach them one.

  51. 48 Alex R, my wife claims she wasn’t sufficiently warned about the role sports viewing would play in our relationship when she married me. heh heh.

  52. My response to a significant other when confronted with the “sports widow” conversation: “I could have worse habits.”

  53. Daveinzona-thanks, for the feedback on getting on MLBTV. I clicked enough buttons and got on and have been enjoying the game. Next step is to hook it to my TV/VCR with my S-video cord and tape the game when I leave the office or my home. I am also looking at the Podcast for my Blackberry-unless someone has negative reviews who has tried it?

    To kindred spirits, what I hear too often, even after 29 years of marriage:

    “I didn’t realize when we were dating what a jock you are!”

    This from a woman who went to every softball game I was in during that courtship-always with a bunch of her friends, and a picnic basket filled with cheese, French bread and at least one bottle of wine. But not since. I’m sure that never happened to anyone else. :)

  54. Look at it this way: if women didn’t have something to complain about their husbands, they wouldn’t have anything to talk about. I have been the endless source of conversation about my Braves viewing habits over the years to the point where people I have never met come up and ask me about the Braves. At my wedding (during the 1991 World Series), my sister-in-law did a poem teasing me about missing the game to get married. And my wife never tires of telling about how I stayed in the hotel in San Francisco on our honeymoon to watch Game 7 in 1991 while she went to Beach Blanket Bingo with her cousin even though it was her idea. Of course, it’s my wife’s bad luck that our relationship corresponded with the Braves streak.

  55. The key with Mrs. Stu is providing her with stories about the players’ personal lives. She’s far more interested in them as people than as athletes. We could learn from her, I suppose.

    It’s a lot of work finding those stories, though. I have to be diligent. I even subscribe to Chop Talk—that is an outstanding source for stories right up Mrs. Stu’s alley, along the lines of “Brian McCann and Jeff Francoeur got a pair of King Charles Springer Spaniels to live with them in their bachelor pad” or “Kim & Tim Hudson bake Turkeys for homeless kids,” etc.—just to keep her interested.

    It also helps having Javy back in camp.

  56. I will be going to the Nats/Braves game in Viera on 3/22. Would love to get a group together if anyone would like to go, you can email me.

  57. Don’t know if this has been mentioned, but Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects includes 5 Braves:

    25) Jordan Schafer
    28) Jason Heyward
    49) Jair Jurrjens
    70) Brandon Jones
    92) Gorkys Hernandez

    FWIW, Elvis Andrus was ranked #19 and Netfali Feliz was ranked #93.

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