Go Follow @HenryLouisAaron

As a Braves blogger, it’s my loyal duty to inform you that if you’re on Twitter, you should be following one more person.

By the way, sorry for the incredibly slow crawl of content on the site. Please let me know if you’d like to contribute, I would LOVE to have more on the site. If anyone has any NCAA Tournament picks that they’d like to post — or anything else vaguely sports-, Atlanta-, or Bravesjournal-related — I’ll be happy to promote it.

132 thoughts on “Go Follow @HenryLouisAaron”

  1. Alex,

    I think you’re doing fine, it’s just that dead time of year during ST when we’re all just itching to get to the real recaps. I’m certain that over the last 10-15 years, the braves only played games so that Mac could recap them. I’m sure that once the season gets into motion, we’ll have plenty of content to chew on.

    For this old Tar Heel’s picks, I’ll take Louisville to win it all and complete The Year From Hell for all the Kentucky fans.

  2. I’d be happy to post on Yale hockey and this weekend’s ECAC Championships and the next two weeks’ NCAA Tournament, but I think this is the wrong place to do it. Y’all let me know if I’m wrong, because my wife points out that I can go on for hours about it.

  3. Michigan State, Gonzaga, Georgetown, Miami. Miami over Michigan State for the title. Biggest 1st round upset — Davidson over Marquette. Cinderella — Belmont.

  4. I have Mich St, Ohio St, Florida and Indiana, with Indiana over Ohio St.

    My upsets: Davidson, Bucknell (to the Sweet 16) Oregon, Iowa St, Colorado, Oklahoma. I have Wisconsin and VCU in the elite 8.

  5. @4 – Seat Painter – thanks for the reminder. That was a classic, and should be required reading for anyone who wants to comment on the site; even if they are new, they would have to go read it, and quote their favorite line – mine is:

    “MELKY: Something is rotten in the state of Georgia.
    Nay, I must admit, that smell ’tis I.”

  6. Here’s my favorite, although the Rosenchip ‘A swing and a miss’ line is very close:

    GHOST: My hour is almost come,
    When I to sulphurous and tormenting flames
    Must render up myself.

    FRANC: Alas, poor ghost!

    GHOST: Nay, ’tis only July in Georgia.
    Pity me not, but lend thy serious hearing
    To what I shall unfold.

  7. Simmons just hit his second homer of the game (and he has doubled). Meaningless, of course, but the guy is going to be a superstar.

  8. Freeman is en fuego. We need to start thinking about saving some hits for when it counts.

  9. The guys are having fun in the dugout. Freeman miked up for TV sitting besides Jupton and he calls Heyward over to sit on the other side and goes “Oreo!”

  10. If we wanna talk college baseball, my Yellow Jackets are currently 17-3, scoring double digits in 13 of those wins. At one point they scored double digits 9 games in a row.

  11. I’m running back 2007. Florida over Ohio State in the final. Butler and Michigan State are my other Final 4 teams. It only really makes sense as a rehash of Florida’s tournament history. I may put some more thought into it before tomorrow. :-)

  12. I had never seen that Hamlet pastiche. It’s not only brilliant, but I can’t imagine the time it must have taken Mac to do it (assuming he didn’t just have the play memorized).

    See, this is why I love Braves Journal. Over at CAC they’re just flailing around with Kit Marlowe’s catalog, the Philistines.

  13. That shoulder is a major problem. There’s no chance Hanson makes it through the season.

  14. Has anyone seen Walden pitch since the back issue? From what I can tell, O’Flaherty should be OK by opening day, but Walden is iffy.

  15. I was at the game today, and what a game it was! Simmons is something else.

    What’s odd is that Walden kinda “jumps” off the rubber, his foot clearly touching the dirt before he releases his pitches. Is that legal? Nobody seemed to care, but I have never seen anything like it in professional baseball.

  16. @33

    No, it’s not legal, but it’s not something umpires are really going to be concerned about enforcing if someone’s not openly flaunting it, i.e. standing to the side of the rubber or something. There is an opportunity here for a Bobby Valentine style rules freak-out a la the catcher’s box, though, which would be fun, I’m sure.

  17. That’s what I was thinking. But he does seem to get an advantage out of it because his release point is closer to the batter, so it’s not just an odd thing. Here’s a video:

  18. @35

    Yeah, hadn’t seen him pitch before. Definitely not legal. I believe that’s supposed to be a balk with runners on base and an automatic ball with the bases empty.

  19. I remember back in 2005, Jay Powell used to do some weird movement that should have been a balk. Robinson (Nationals’ manager) complained about it one time, and the Braves’ announcers said it was acceptable because it was something he always did, that it wasn’t a move he used to trick anyone.

  20. So yeah. A buddy and I are theoretically going to record our debut podcast next Friday. It will involve drinking, pop culture and baseball/Atlanta sports talk. I’ll let you know when it’s available Alex. I don’t see a problem with it being cross-posted here.

    (With the fair warning that when Alan and I get to talking, and I get to drinking, adult language may be involved…)

  21. It’s not a balk unless, in the umpire’s judgement, it is not part of his natural motion and is intended to deceive the runner. Walden does that every time and is not making some special attempt to deceive the runner, therefore umpires will give him leeway on the motion. (Much as they never called John Rocker for between amped up on meth on the mound, doing a terrifying pre-impersonation of Twitchy the Squirrel, or why they let Mike Gonzalez get away with that snake-charmer routine.)

    Andy Pettitte’s pickoff move is more of a balk (every time) than Walden’s delivery.

  22. Looking forward to your podcast, although whenever I read your commentary, I hear you in a British accent. I’m guessing the podcast will ruin that.

  23. I hear a British accent too — but more of a falsetto, Montey Python-esque Bristish accent.

  24. I feel like Andre is about to become one of the most valuable properties in baseball.

    Watching the replay on MLB network right now.
    ……………………………..

  25. I think Simmons is actually a similar hitter to Yunel Escobar — a line drive hitter who uses a high contact rate and low strikeout rate to compensate for an average or below-average walk rate and power.

    As a scouting friend pointed out to me, if you have two hitters, one with light-tower power who strikes out all the time, and another with reasonable power who rarely strikes out, the guy who never strikes out may actually wind up with more home runs (even if the average distance is shorter), just because the guy who never strikes out gets more chances to put one over the fence.

    I think that Simmons will wind up with some seasons akin to Escobar in his prime: something like .280/.350/.420 with terrific defense, though he doesn’t appear to be as prone to attention lapses as Escobar, so hopefully he won’t be quite as streaky. But a high-contact low-walk hitter will be naturally streak-prone. Sometimes they fall and sometimes they don’t.

  26. Also, yes, a shortstop with a terrific glove and an average bat is, pretty much by definition, one of the most valuable properties in baseball. It is so hard to find a shortstop who can stick at the position; so few guys who are drafted as shortstops actually stay there. In Furcal, Andrus, Escobar, and Simmons, the Braves have found four in the past 17 years, which is actually a pretty good record.

  27. Watching the replay. Gattis needs to improve on how he frames pitches and provides a target. Most of the time he doesn’t have an open mitt for the pitcher to aim for. Don’t just sit there with a closed mitt, dude. He’s also not very smooth when he sets up for the delivery. He seems to be good at blocking junk, though.

  28. Funny, but when I read Sam’s posts, I hear a Chicago accent. Good luck with the podcast!

  29. Andrelton… WTF man. You can’t be doing that! I’ll start thinking you’re a power hitter and then when you “only” have 15 HRs this year I’ll be disappointed.

    :-D

  30. I like to picture Sam as a figure skater. He wears like a white outfit, and he does interpretive ice dances of my life’s journey.

  31. 56—LOL. I was gonna say a dirty ol’ bum. And right when you’re about to sock him one, you stop and say, “Wait…there’s something different about this bum.”

  32. While ST stats and W/L records are essentially meaningless, I will say that if the Braves win today, they’ll be 16-11 after 27 games, which is exactly 1/6 of a regular season. Multiply the W/L by 6 and you get 96-66, which is about what I expect from this team, if healthy.

  33. I don’t hear accents at all when I read posts. Except for Bethany, who sounds like a cross between Gwyneth Paltrow and Keira Knightley, with a dash of Jackie Onassis thrown in.

  34. In other news, the odds that Andrelton Simmons has suddenly become a young Derek Jeter with the bat are…low. He’s had a good spring. Then again, that one time, so did Scotty Thorman.

  35. Oh, he’s a hell of a shortstop. But I don’t think expectations of his two-bombs-a-game talent are reasonable.

  36. #47 – if .280/.350/.420 with terrific defense and NO drama are what we get out of Simmons then he doesn’t have to be Ernie Banks or Derek Jeter. Based on your analysis I am guessing he has a low walk rate which is worrisome in the lead off role.

  37. Simmons is so young and has so little track record in the minors that he may be able to jump levels while playing in the Bigs. It’s just rare that that happens.

  38. I’d be fine with a .250/.320/.380 slash line as long as he’s an Ozzie Smith-like defender at SS.

  39. The comparison with Yunel is interesting but also I think misleading. Yunel has only averaged 11 HRs per 162 games, and only made it to the majors in his age 24 season. Simmons is a good bet to hit that many in his age 23 season. With the swing Simmons has shown this spring he is using his whole body to generate a lot more power and bat speed than I ever remember seeing from Yunel, whose swing is all in his hands. In fact, I think Simmons has a decent chance of surpassing Yunel’s career high in home runs (14) this season.

  40. Yeah, I mean, watching the condensed game this morning, my reaction to Simmon’s hits was more disbelief mixed with amazement than optimism that he can consistently do that. Hitting two HRs and a double in one game is so far out of the scouting report for him that you have to assume it’s a spring training fluke unless he can produce consistent power in the regular season.

  41. 75: I will sooo take Omar Vizquel, especially if we can get him under Vizquel-like contract terms!

  42. Simmons only had a single full season in the minors, in 2011. Sure he only hit 1 home run but he also had 35 doubles and 6 triples. That is 43 xbhs in only 517 at-bats. As a raw 21 year old, formerly a pitcher. Project his results in the majors last year over 162 games and he already has a season line of 26 2Bs, 7 3Bs and 10 HRs.

    We should have a poll. I bet he hits 15 HRs this year, with 20+ 2Bs.

  43. Count me with those who expect Simmons to be a better big league hitter than minor league hitter. I think the brevity of his minor league career, combined with his being drafted as a pitcher, I think he’s a guy who still has room to improve.

    I dunno about THIS year, but I think in his career, he’ll flirt with an .800 OPS in his best seasons.

    You know, looking over Derek Jeters career line .313/.382/.448… I think Simmons can almost do that, except for the walks, in any given season. I can see Simmons putting up seasons .313/.342/.448 in his career. He won’t do it every year for 20 years, but that’s about where I’d peg his best seasons. Give that line to a world class defensive shortstop, and you’ve got a star on your hands.

  44. I’m as excited as anybody about Simmons, but if you watch those home runs yesterday and then his home runs last year, his swing mechanics are pretty different. This year, his hands are higher, and his swing looks much longer. He may be one of the few that’s ahead of pitchers right now, but once pitchers start incorporating their offspeed, he might have some challenges.

    Last Year

    This Year

  45. Ya know, if the Dominican Republic ever gets in a Cyprus-like condition, they could nationalize their baseball talent, form an alliance with Cuba, start a separate league and (like the old AFL) openly dare MLB to play them.

    The tv revenues alone would have them running a surplus in no time.

  46. I always picture Sam as Humphrey Bogart in the early movies – before he was a sympathetic star.

  47. Hitting .313 is non-trivial in any given year. For a career it’s really, really impressive.

  48. Derek Jeter’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer, so…

    I think Edgar Renteria is actually a much better comparison. Both were up at a very young age, high contact, low strikeout, average/below-average walk rate. Simmons might grow into a bit more power than Renteria, but that’s the thing: Renteria never got a ton more power than he had at the outset. These kind of players don’t always develop a lot of power.

    I don’t think it’s fair to project any player to hit .310 for his career. But if you subtract 30 points of batting average, OBP, and slugging from Jeter’s career line, you wind up with .283/.352/.418, which is almost exactly what I predicted for him a few comments back. I absolutely think Simmons could hit that.

  49. What if Simmons gets frosted tips? Are those allowed in the Braves clubhouse anymore?

  50. I recognize that I am bullish on Simmons. Realistically I think he is far more likely to hit 8-12 homers this year than 12+, but sometimes you have to go with your gut.

    84–Apart from the hands being as you note a little bit higher, I’m not sure I see too much difference in the swings other than what is dictated by pitch location. His homers from last year are on fastballs up in the zone. His homer from yesterday, like the ones he hit in the WBC, is down and away, hopefully not because his swing has gotten longer but because the scouting report is that he doesn’t have the power to hurt you there but Simmons has figured out that he can.

    88-Physically, Renteria is a pretty good comparison, I think. And their stances and hand positions are similar too, at least when Renteria is younger:

    http://mlb.mlb.com/search/media.jsp?player_id=121074

    (The version I remember from the Braves managed to get hits despite looking like he had lost at least 50% of his bat speed).

    But Renteria’s swing is still closer to Yunel’s than to Simmons’. He uses his hands to meet the ball early. Not much in the way of torque from the hips and lower body.

  51. @73, It’s true not many young players reach the Bigs with little or no minor league record. Apart from gimmicks, like David Clyde the Rangers #1 pick in 1973, those who do make it quickly tend to have lots of talent (collegiate guys are a different kettle of fish), like the #3 pick in the ’73 draft Robin Yount who opened the ’74 season with the Brewers and ended in the HOF.
    Actually the ’73 draft is interesting but that’s another story for another thread!
    Anyone remember Pat Rockett ?

  52. I agree that no one is Ozzie. I was thinking of “Ozzie-Lite” and somehow it came out Ozzie-Like. I think Simmons is a lot rangier than Ozzie in terms of physique, more like a very young A-Rod when he first came up? Now if he can just stay away from South Florida health clinics….

  53. Coming into this season I was thinking Simmons may be able to put up Prado like numbers, That long HR swing makes me a little nervous. Prado has a tendency to hit HRs on well hit liners down the left field line. Hopefully Drell is only taking that swing on pitches he knows he can cream.

  54. His swings yesterday didn’t look long to me. I mean, it’s no Justin Upton dropping the bat with a flick of his wrist and the ball flying far, far away, but the bat doesn’t travel especially far from what I can tell.

  55. For you all that are in the Braves Journal Yahoo Fantasy League, remember the draft is tonight! 4 hours 26 minutes and counting…

  56. Speaking of the amazing Justin Upton, our next poll should be on where he finishes in NL MVP voting.

  57. From O’Brien’s column yesterday on Success: “His reputation would soon be tarnished by a 50-game suspension at Double-A Mississippi in 2008 after being linked to performance-enhancing drugs, though he didn’t fail a drug test and insisted he never used.” Would somebody tell me what that sentence means? How exactly do you get “linked?” Is this like a charm bracelet thing?

  58. It’s unclear how you get linked, but at the time there was no HGH test in baseball, so the only way to get busted for HGH was to be “linked.”

    In his case, I recall a blog comment either here or at chop-n-change by an internet commenter who claimed to have knowledge of the situation, and said that Schafer was holding the drugs in his locker for someone else, where they were seen. Then he refused to testify against his buddy, so he got busted for it.

    That doesn’t seem very plausible, especially considering the source, but they couldn’t test players to see if it was in their blood, so they would have had to rely on plausible circumstantial evidence like that.

  59. Well, if they watched him shooting HGH in his butt, that would constitute being “linked,” too, but the evidence would have been the eyewitness, not the bloodstream. The point is that there was no test to fail.

    I’m guessing they saw the drugs in his locker and correctly assumed it was his.

    So, yeah. He’s an idiot.

  60. That walk by Andrelton Simmons was his third in approximately 43 PA, across the WBC and Spring Training. The good thing is, he’s only struck out three times, an incredibly low strikeout rate. But that’s a walk rate under 7 percent, and I’d like him to raise that in the regular season. Obviously, tiny sample sizes, and I love the way the ball’s jumping off his bat, but I’m hoping that he’ll find a way to bump his walks to at least league average, which is 8 percent.

  61. ST games and stats are irrelevant, I get that. However, if the Braves were to win today, they’d be 16-11 after 27 games which is 1/6 of a regular season. Multiply those numbers by 6 and you get 96-66, the record I expect them to have after the season’s done.

  62. So, we are close enough – projected rosters anyone? Mine is a combo of wishlist and reality – hate the 7th reliever but know we are going to do it. Hope Gattis has beaten out Pagnozzi at this point

    SP: Hudson Medlen Minor Maholm Teheran

    RP: Kimbrel EOF Venters Martinez Avilan Varvarro Gearrin

    Lineup: Simmons Heyward Upton Upton Freeman Uggla CJ/JFRAN Laird

    Bench: Pena, Johnson, CJ/JFRAN, Gattis, Rev

  63. Spike – guessing the RPs will include Walden unless he’s on the DL. In that case, Varvaro would probably draw the short straw and get sent down to the minors (at which point he’d get claimed off waivers, as he is out of options).

  64. I was presuming Walden starts on the DL, and I agree, when he comes back that is the likely move

  65. I’d be surprised if they just gave Varvaro away like that. I think they’re gonna let him lose the spot first. Gearrin may be the odd man out when Walden comes back (assuming he’s DL’d at all). My guess is they like having three lefties in the pen and want to avoid losing Varvaro.

  66. Been really impressed with Pastornicky’s spring so far. How much better would he be defensively at 2b compared to SS? I’m assuming he’s really the only decent option to backup Uggla.

  67. If I am only dreaming, and we didn’t really trade for Justin Upton, please no one wake me up.

  68. The Braves will find a reliever with options to send down if they need to. They seem to like Varvaro, so I doubt they make him available to waiver claims.

    And yeah, Justin Upton has a beautiful swing. So short and direct to the ball. I’m really impressed.

  69. I really do not think Gattis should be on this team as a bench player. If he can start behind the dish while we await McCann’s return fine, even if it’s 50% of the time.

    Otherwise, and definitely upon McCann’s return, Gattis needs to be playing regularly in AAA.

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