Atlanta Bullpen http://atlantabullpen.com Atlanta Braves Blog Sun, 29 Mar 2015 03:42:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 Surprise Player Leading Braves Spring http://atlantabullpen.com/surprise-player-leading-braves-spring/ http://atlantabullpen.com/surprise-player-leading-braves-spring/#respond Sun, 29 Mar 2015 02:02:03 +0000 http://atlantabullpen.com/?p=11239 A few weeks ago the Braves Pedro Ciriaco had a big game and I commented that you will never hear from him again.  Well, Ciriaco has stuffed it down my throat and twisted it sideways. Ciriaco is hitting .380 this spring, with one homer, a .520 slugging percentage and is leading the Braves with 14 RBIs.  He […]

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Atlanta Braves SpringA few weeks ago the Braves Pedro Ciriaco had a big game and I commented that you will never hear from him again.  Well, Ciriaco has stuffed it down my throat and twisted it sideways.

Ciriaco is hitting .380 this spring, with one homer, a .520 slugging percentage and is leading the Braves with 14 RBIs.  He has one triple, two doubles and has struck out only eight times.

The Braves need players to step up this season and drive in runs and nobody is doing it better now than Pedro Ciraco.  His .380 average is second on the team behind Freddie Freeman.

The 6’0′ 180 pound journeyman second baseman has a career .270 average in 470 major league at bats with Boston, Kansas City and Pittsburgh.  He has hit .303 in the National League, although it is in only 33 at bats.

Ciriaco won’t head north with the major league team since the Braves already have Jace Peterson, Alberto Callaspo and Phil Gosselin to play second.  He probably could have batted a thousand this spring and not beaten out Callaspo and his $3 million free agent contract. Baseball is a lot about finances, you know.

Gosselin fits well in the utility role and Peterson has flat played well this spring.

Within the next week Pedro Ciriaco and his .380 spring batting average will vaporize.  When you consider how hitting-starved the Braves are, it does make you pause to wonder if it is the right move, cutting a guy who has got it done with the bat, even if it is only spring training.

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Do Braves Have New Attitude? http://atlantabullpen.com/do-braves-have-new-attitude/ http://atlantabullpen.com/do-braves-have-new-attitude/#respond Fri, 27 Mar 2015 23:22:19 +0000 http://atlantabullpen.com/?p=11232 Braves AJC beat writer Dave O’Brien and Macon Telegraph writer Bill Shanks are reporting that there is a new and improved attitude at the Braves spring camp. There’s newly acquired veterans like Jonny Gomes and A.J. Pierzynski, who are supposedly sprinkling magic words that are energizing the formerly dead locker room. I’m sorry but it is […]

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brian-mccannBraves AJC beat writer Dave O’Brien and Macon Telegraph writer Bill Shanks are reporting that there is a new and improved attitude at the Braves spring camp. There’s newly acquired veterans like Jonny Gomes and A.J. Pierzynski, who are supposedly sprinkling magic words that are energizing the formerly dead locker room.

I’m sorry but it is easy to be skeptical about such talk.  Every spring training brings glowing words that somehow make everything seem wonderful.  I don’t recall any gloom and doom coming out of last year’s spring, do you?

Admittedly, change can be good.  The Braves were sorely in need of an organizational enema.  New GM John Hart has made widespread changes, we’ll start to see in a little over a week how those moves play out.

What is rarely talked about is that the Braves used to be a team that was near the top in money spent on player salaries.  The golden years of Bobby Cox and John Schuerholz were fueled by Ted Turner‘s big bucks.  It is no coincidence that since Turner’s dollars exited the Braves, the team has not been a consistent winner.

The Braves had very good leaders in Brian McCann and Tim Hudson.  But they couldn’t afford to keep them and they are now productive and valuable players elsewhere.  Back in the heyday when Bobby Cox was manager and Schuerholz was the GM, players like McCann and Hudson would not have gotten away.

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Mike Minor Red Flags http://atlantabullpen.com/mike-minor-red-flags-2/ http://atlantabullpen.com/mike-minor-red-flags-2/#respond Tue, 24 Mar 2015 11:54:55 +0000 http://atlantabullpen.com/?p=11227 Braves starter Mike Minor has been shut down due to shoulder soreness and oh boy is that ever a concern.  Minor had the same problems last season and never really got untracked after missing a large chunk of spring training. Minor received injections to relieve the inflammation and has adjusted his workout routine to minimize the […]

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Mike Minor InjuryBraves starter Mike Minor has been shut down due to shoulder soreness and oh boy is that ever a concern.  Minor had the same problems last season and never really got untracked after missing a large chunk of spring training.

Minor received injections to relieve the inflammation and has adjusted his workout routine to minimize the muscular development and emphasize stretching.  Minor says he has been told there is nothing wrong with his shoulder structurally, so that is good news.

It is good news if that is actually the case, how many times over the years have we been told that an injury is no problem and then at a later time they do a different test and find out that the injury is actually worse.

The Braves need Mike Minor to be healthy and effective, like he was pre-2014, when he was a Top 10 NL pitcher.  

Do I think it is time to panic?  Not quite yet, but sleep on Wandy Rodriguez being the number four starter and when you wake up see how the toast and coffee taste in the morning.

If your morning toast and coffee taste okay, then think about Eric Stults or Mike Foltynewicz being the number five starter and tell me how your roast beef sandwich and fries taste at lunch.

If the breakfast and/or lunch taste lousy you may want to forget food and have a liquid dinner.  

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Braves Batting Order Dilemna http://atlantabullpen.com/braves-batting-order-dilemna/ http://atlantabullpen.com/braves-batting-order-dilemna/#comments Mon, 23 Mar 2015 11:59:51 +0000 http://atlantabullpen.com/?p=11213 The past two seasons the Braves had problems at the top of the batting order. Lacking a true lead-off man, or number two hitter, Fredi Gonzalez was forced to try and pound square pegs into round holes. Sure, Jason Heyward did a pretty good job batting lead-off, but he certainly wasn’t prototypical in that slot. […]

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Braves Action CelebrationThe past two seasons the Braves had problems at the top of the batting order. Lacking a true lead-off man, or number two hitter, Fredi Gonzalez was forced to try and pound square pegs into round holes. Sure, Jason Heyward did a pretty good job batting lead-off, but he certainly wasn’t prototypical in that slot.  It also seemed to have an adverse effect on his power numbers.

When Nick Markakis was acquired, the Braves floated the idea that Markakis would lead off.  The former Oriole doesn’t have great speed, but he does get on base at an adequate pace.  Think about it, though, do you want a guy coming off neck surgery leading off and trying to steal some bases and running the bases like his hair is on fire?

Eric Young, Jr. is going to start in center and will bat lead-off. Young has the blazing speed you want and is a prototypical lead-off man. He stole 30 bases last season in 280 at bats and was caught only 6 times.

The only problem is that he doesn’t get on base enough.  His on-base-percentage was only .299 last season, although his OBP is .320 career.  If Young doesn’t bat lead though, who will?

Based on his minor league stats, Jace Peterson could potentially lead off.  But it also appears he has the potential to be a prototypical number two hitter and if he doesn’t hit number two, who will? Andrelton Simmons?  Until Simmons proves that he’s not going to try to jerk everything out of the park, he needs to hit low in the order.

I actually think Young leading off and Peterson batting second will be an upgrade over the past two seasons,  if for no other reason than the Braves production at the top of the batting orders sucked the past two years.  How is that for expert analysis?

Freeman will bat third, after that you could guess who will win the Democratic nomination for the Presidency in 2036, before you could guess the Braves batting order on Braves Opening Day.

What are your thoughts on what Fredi will do with the  batting order?

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Chris Johnson Jekyll or Hyde? http://atlantabullpen.com/chris-johnson-jekyll-or-hyde/ http://atlantabullpen.com/chris-johnson-jekyll-or-hyde/#respond Sun, 22 Mar 2015 13:53:41 +0000 http://atlantabullpen.com/?p=11199 Braves third baseman Chris Johnson has been Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde while playing in Atlanta.  He had that great 2013 season when he challenged for the batting title and finished with a .321 average.  Followed up by last year’s .263 average and dismal .292 on-base-percentage. Johnson was among the leaders in strikeouts last season with […]

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Chris Johnson on DeckBraves third baseman Chris Johnson has been Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde while playing in Atlanta.  He had that great 2013 season when he challenged for the batting title and finished with a .321 average.  Followed up by last year’s .263 average and dismal .292 on-base-percentage.

Johnson was among the leaders in strikeouts last season with 159, 43 more than 2013.  (He did have 64 more at bats in 2014)

The 2013 Chris Johnson hit the ball solid just about the entire season.  He was mostly hitting the ball to right and right center and when the pitchers made mistakes he drove the ball deep to left and left center.

Last season the pitchers were able to tie Johnson up and he hit a lot of little league, cotton candy pop ups to right and right center.  The ball often came off his bat like a wiffle ball.

Hopefully new hitting instructor Kevin Seitzer can work magic with Johnson this season.  The Braves need him to have a big year, if he can hit up to his potential, Johnson could give Freddie Freeman protection.

Johnson is a durable player who brings some fire to the line-up.  He can be a leader in the clubhouse and has had the knack for saying the right things since day one.

Unfortunately, he was one of the main culprits in last season’s nosedive.  We’ll see if he can be one of  the main reasons that 2015 is a successful season.  If not, don’t be surprised to see him in another uniform by August 1.

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Braves Need Free Agent Production http://atlantabullpen.com/braves-need-free-agent-production/ http://atlantabullpen.com/braves-need-free-agent-production/#respond Sat, 21 Mar 2015 16:53:18 +0000 http://atlantabullpen.com/?p=11192 The Braves have a dubious track record in signing quality free agents in the past few years.  Derek Lowe, Kenshin Kawakami, and B.J. Upton immediately come to mind as in sweat-laced, nightmare-induced middle of the night screams. All three of those free agents were big buck signings and except for the one good year Lowe […]

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Homer the BraveThe Braves have a dubious track record in signing quality free agents in the past few years.  Derek Lowe, Kenshin Kawakami, and B.J. Upton immediately come to mind as in sweat-laced, nightmare-induced middle of the night screams.

All three of those free agents were big buck signings and except for the one good year Lowe had, the money was like making a bet at a casino on the roulette wheel and having the ball bounce on the floor, out the door and into the nearest sewer drain.

This off-season the Braves signed Nick Markakis to a 4-year $48 million dollar deal, Jonny Gomes to a 1-year, $4 million and Alberto Callaspo to 1-year at $3 million.  Callaspo came into spring training out of shape and we have yet to see Markakis due to off-season neck surgery.  These two may prove to be great signings, but there’s not much yet to get excited about and based on recent history I would hold off picking them for your fantasy teams.

The Braves seem to always do a better job of shopping the bargain basement bin and this year was no exception.  They brought in lefty starter Wandy Rodriguez who no-hit the Marlins the other day through five innings and and Eric Young, Jr., both for minimal money.  It appears Young will be the opening day starter in center and Rodriguez the number five starter.

The Braves also signed back-up catcher A.J. Pierzynski to a 1-year $2 million deal.  I think they will get what they paid for with him, a decent back-up who will start about 50 games.

The Braves need Markakis and either Gomes, Callaspo or both to have good seasons if the Braves are going to make any noise. The trend of throwing away good money and getting minimal production has got to end.

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Could Braves Surprise? http://atlantabullpen.com/could-braves-surprise/ http://atlantabullpen.com/could-braves-surprise/#comments Fri, 20 Mar 2015 13:32:11 +0000 http://atlantabullpen.com/?p=11187 Spring training breeds eternal optimism and as we move towards Opening Day I am starting to like this Braves team.  If for no other reason than it is completely different from last year’s boring, disjointed, psychological mess. Are you ready to see a new concept in Atlanta Braves baseball this season?  This year’s team will […]

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Opening Day BravesSpring training breeds eternal optimism and as we move towards Opening Day I am starting to like this Braves team.  If for no other reason than it is completely different from last year’s boring, disjointed, psychological mess.

Are you ready to see a new concept in Atlanta Braves baseball this season?  This year’s team will actually be able to bunt, hit behind the runner and not strike out at a major league record pace.

B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla, our two tormentors, will not be in the Opening Day line-up.  Doesn’t that automatically make the Braves a better team this season?

The pitching this season will be good, if for no other reason than Roger McDowell is still the pitching coach.  Leo Mazzone was very good, McDowell is great.  You could probably give him a dozen AAA pitchers and he’d mold them into a better than average major league pitching staff.

Jace Peterson, Nick Markakis, Eric Young, Jonny Gomes, A.J. Pierzynski are all players that play hard and play the game right.

I am thinking that this Braves team will surprise in 2015.  You with me?

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Fredi Gonzalez on Hot Seat? http://atlantabullpen.com/fred-gonzalez-on-hot-seat/ http://atlantabullpen.com/fred-gonzalez-on-hot-seat/#comments Mon, 09 Mar 2015 02:56:41 +0000 http://atlantabullpen.com/?p=11179 When the Braves 2014 debacle ended, everyone was evaluated, including Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez.  While half the team was fired, Gonzalez remained. Since then, there hasn’t been much talk or speculation about Gonzalez’s future.  How much does the Braves skipper have to produce this season and is he in fact on the hot seat? Gonzalez will […]

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Fredi Gonzalez

When the Braves 2014 debacle ended, everyone was evaluated, including Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez.  While half the team was fired, Gonzalez remained. Since then, there hasn’t been much talk or speculation about Gonzalez’s future.  How much does the Braves skipper have to produce this season and is he in fact on the hot seat?

Gonzalez will have a talented pitching staff at his disposal, although there are already concerns about starter Mike Minor’s shoulder. The everyday line-up is patchwork.

The Braves organization appears to be firmly behind Gonzalez, but how long can they stand behind him if 2015 produces a middle 70s win total like the experts and casinos are saying?

Is Gonzalez just a placeholder until the end of the 2016 season so a big splash can be made with a name manager who will ride to the rescue just as the new ballpark is opened in 2017? Will he be given carte blanche to turn the Braves around?

The Braves have a slew of question marks and Gonzalez’s future may be the biggest one.

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Braves Waiting on New Acquisitions http://atlantabullpen.com/braves-waiting-on-new-acquisitions/ http://atlantabullpen.com/braves-waiting-on-new-acquisitions/#respond Sun, 08 Mar 2015 15:23:42 +0000 http://atlantabullpen.com/?p=11164 The Braves two big off-season acquisitions, Shelby Miller and Nick Markakis, have yet to get the engine in gear this spring. Markakis is still working to overcome his off-season neck surgery and Miller was blasted in his spring debut. Obviously this is no big deal, the regular season doesn’t start in almost a month, yet […]

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Nick Markakis OutfielderThe Braves two big off-season acquisitions, Shelby Miller and Nick Markakis, have yet to get the engine in gear this spring. Markakis is still working to overcome his off-season neck surgery and Miller was blasted in his spring debut.

Obviously this is no big deal, the regular season doesn’t start in almost a month, yet with the Braves this season I think the fans need some warm and fuzzies sooner than later. The tumultuous off-season has left Braves supporters wondering if there is going to be a season worth watching in 2015.

Shelby Miller will be fine this season, he is a very talented pitcher who is healthy and should be ready to go this season. Markakis however, I am concerned about.

Markakis, who signed a 4-year $44 million deal with the Braves in December, is still at least two weeks from playing in a spring game. Necks are nothing to trifle with and the concern here is that Markakis’ injury is in a delicate area.

Markakis doesn’t seem to be concerned at the point and had this to say, “I’ve still got some time left, so there is no rush. I’ll be fine with a week’s worth of at-bats.”

Markakis may not be concerned, but I am concerned.  How ’bout you?

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Christian Bethancourt Questions http://atlantabullpen.com/christian-bethancourt-questions/ http://atlantabullpen.com/christian-bethancourt-questions/#respond Fri, 06 Mar 2015 21:27:39 +0000 http://atlantabullpen.com/?p=11158 Christian Bethancourt is a real key this season if the Braves are going to have a good year. Despite his promise performance at the major league level last season, he is still a question mark. Bethancourt has been criticized in the past for not playing with full intensity, but his approach in Atlanta last season […]

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Christian Bethancourt CAChristian Bethancourt is a real key this season if the Braves are going to have a good year. Despite his promise performance at the major league level last season, he is still a question mark.

Bethancourt has been criticized in the past for not playing with full intensity, but his approach in Atlanta last season and so far this spring, indicate he is fully engaged.

Fans almost always track hitting first and then defense, but in the case of a catcher, handling the pitching staff is equally important, if not paramount. Bethancourt is considered to be an outstanding defensive catcher, but will he be able to gain the full confidence of the pitching staff?

Talking about his approach with the pitching staff, Bethancourt told MLB.com, “Right now I’m just trying to get together with everyone, have some conversations and get the feeling that they are starting to know me as a catcher.”

One advantage Bethancourt will have is that the Braves have a young starting pitching staff (Julio Teheran, Mike Minor, Alex Wood and Shelby Miller. He won’t have hard-headed, grizzled veterans who are set in their ways that he will have to deal with. Although Teheran, despite his youth, clashed with Evan Gattis. We’ll see if Bethancourt and Teheran can work smoothly.

Bethancourt evidently understands that he is not the automatic starter and will have to earn his spot this spring, based on what he is saying. The Braves acquired A.J. Pierzynski in the off-season and Pierzynski is still a threat to take Bethancourt’s playing time, even though he is 38 years old.

Bethancourt presents like a seasoned veteran. Check him out in this video:

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