Tag:Atlanta Braves
Posted on: April 13, 2010 1:46 pm
Edited on: April 13, 2010 1:47 pm
 

Atlanta Braves 2010 - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Ahh…spring is in the air. I can see my lawn for the first time in 3 months, I stopped watching college basketball for 96 hours straight. That must mean it’s baseball season. Yes, my Atlanta Braves are back in action and after only one week, I’m bringing back my Good, Bad and Ugly entry for one week only, just because I can.

Disclaimer – I’m going to pretend that the Braves didn’t lose to the Padres 17-2 yesterday. At least in the first section (The Good) anyway. The Ugly might mention that particular game.

THE GOOD

Braves Pitching  - The Braves pitching staff has been pretty solid all year. Sure there are some flaws, like Derek Lowe’s two wins (don’t know how that happened) and walk total and Billy Wagner’s meatball to Renteria in SF. But otherwise, the starters have been solid for the most part, even with a few losses in good starts. The bullpen started the season with 11-plus innings of shutout baseball. There’s a lot to be optimistic about here.

Jason Heyward – Even with a meager .269 BA after a week, Heyward’s power is proving vital to the Braves lineup. Sure, he had a few games with a lot of strikeouts, but don’t confuse that with “Jeff Francoeur Syndrome” (inability to take the 1st pitch). Heyward’s shown off his great plate discipline numerous times already this season and should continue to contribute in the Braves lineup.

Martin Prado – He’s the only Braves regular hitting over .300 (McCann is at .300) with a staggering .519 BA,  a .594 OBP with 6 R, 1 RBI, 4 BB and 4 K’s. He’s producing out of the 2-hole right now, but if the Braves can’t solve their lead-off problem soon (we’ll address that in a second), Bobby Cox could think about putting Prado or Heyward at the top spot.

Eric Hinske – Effectively replaced Greg Norton as the backup 1B / 5th OF / PH role. Currently has the 2nd highest BA on the Braves (.333, 2-for-5). With Troy Glaus’ bat relatively quiet right now, Bobby Cox might also have to think about giving Hinske more regular time either at first or the outfield.

THE BAD

Braves Outfield / Leadoff Spot

Don’t count Heyward in this category. The leadoff duo of Nate McLouth (.118 BA) and Melky Cabrera (.103 BA) has been completely ineffective so far. Matt Diaz hasn’t done anything spectacular either, but he’s hitting out of the 8-hole for the most part. If the Braves want to be a better offensive team, the leadoff guy has got to get on.

Troy Glaus’ Bat

Forget Troy’s defense for the first week , which has probably been pretty good, I’ve only seen one game. But if he is going to hit clean-up in this line up, just with the lead-off guys, he must produce and soon.


Chipper Jones' Health

Yes, Chipper is down once again with minor injury, giving playing time to Prado at 3rd and Omar Infante at 2nd. Chipper needs to anchor the middle of this lineup and do everthing, get on base, score and drive in runs. But he can't do it if he can't stay on the field. He says if he can't produce, he'll retire at the end of this season and he's heading down that road so far.

Kris Medlen’s Innings

I love Kris Medlen. He’s a work horse in the bullpen since he’s a converted started turned long man for Bobby Cox. But already he’s made 3 appearances for a total of 5 innings (Peter Moylan has 4 for 4 innings). To be fair, Cox’s bullpen is very balanced so far this season, but if you’re going to have Medlen make a spot start at any time this season, Cox is going to have to rely on other guys in the bullpen, who are just as effective. Well, except for one…

THE UGLY

Jo-Jo Reyes

I don’t know why he’s on the team. Cox only used him yesterday in the blowout against SD and he was completely ineffective as he has been pretty much his entire major league career. Even if he’s holding a spot for Scott Proctor, why waive Manny Acosta and keep Reyes? I don’t get it.

Well, that’s my thoughts on the Braves so far through one week. I like the fact that they’re getting one of their West Coast trips out of the way earlier. They haven’t played any divisional opponents yet, so that 3-4 record isn’t that big of a deal. IF the offense ever gets its act together, this could be a very dominant team.

Category: MLB
Posted on: April 6, 2010 10:58 am
Edited on: April 6, 2010 11:01 am
 

Monday Recovery - Day in Front of the TV

After having a horrendous Sunday night, I was ecstatic to find an entire afternoon of relavent baseball on ESPN and then of course the NCAA men's basketball championship on CBS. But we have to work on that 9:30 PM EST start time guys. That game should be on at 8 PM so I can get to bed at a decent hour.

Anyway, so I was really looking forward to looking at something other than the McNabb trade. So aside from avoiding ESPN and the internet like the plauge for about 5 hours, I was looking forward to the first good Monday of the spring. There was nice weather, baseball was beginning and I would get to start taking my anger out on the Mets AND Phillies, a team after two years of nuetrality have ended up on my hit list. And the McNabb trade had a small part to do with it. Back-to-back world series appearances had a large part to do with it.

1 PM - Marlins-Mets and Phils-Nats on for the early games in the NL East. Very excited to see the Mets-Fins game. The pesky Marlins return from a good season, just signed their ace Josh Johnson long term facing the walking time bomb Mets already fighting the injury bug. Naturally, David Wright hits a two-run homer in the 1st. Notice that the '99 NCAA Final (UConn 77 - Duke 74) is on ESPN Classic. I hope this is an omen of things to come. Then I get a text from my buddy to meet up with him at our local sports watering hole.

2 PM - Stay thirsty my friends. Drink responsibly. Watching the middle innings with my buddy, his younger brother and his dad who is in between shifts at work, all Mets fans and NY Football Giants fans as well. "Hey, you here the Eagles made a trade?"/"Nope, not a word." With friends like these, eh? The talk turns to Jeff Francoeur and his new ability to take pitches. Really, Jeff? Why couldn't you do this in Atlanta? Frenchy even drew a walk in the 4th. Later, I start bashing Mets GM Omar Minaya and manager Jerry Manuel for changing the Mets rotation last week and the bright idea of batting Mike Jacobs (0-for-4) cleanup over Jason Bay (2-for-4, R). Also, I didn't avoid ESPN and my buddy and I cackle like Gus Johnson when we mention John Buccigross on SportsCenter wanting to have the Yanks/Isles organist play "Brass Bonanza." If you don't know what that is, look it up or get strange looks from Connecticut residents for the rest of your like.

3 PM - The Marlins start throwing the ball all over the infield. Josh Johnson didn't have his best outing, 5 IP, 99 PC, 4 ER, 5 H, 4 BB 3 K and the loss. Johan Santana threw a ton of pitches (103 in 6 IP) but had a pretty good day otherwise only giving up one run and scattering four hits. With the game well in hand, we see highlights of Albert Pujols homering twice and the Phillies dismantling the Nats. So much for my theory that the Nats could be kinda good this year.

4 PM - Mets bullpen looks sharp (yeah, you heard me right) as Nieve and K-Rod go three combined shutout innings with Nieve recording 2 K's in 2 IP. Braves game starts, and I don't even ask our bartender to put on the Braves, he's way ahead of that idea with ESPN and ESPN2 on multiple TVs. Derek Lowe gives up a 3-R HR in the 1st. Great, round of laughter at the Braves fan. Mets clinch the win, Braves come roaring back with 6 runs in the bottom half including Jason Heyward's first MLB homer.

5 PM - Braves running away with the game against the Cubbies. Carlos Zambrano didn't make it out of the second. Derek Lowe gives up another homer (8-5 Braves after 3) but settles down and goes 6 IP with 5 ER but only 78 pitches as the Braves open the game wide open in the 7th with another 6-spot on the Cubs bullpen. Kudos to Sean Marshall who was the only pitcher for the Cubs to show up when the games was competitive.

6 PM - Brave bullpen shuts down the Cubs as the offense gives slugging. Moylan, Saito, Wagner - 3 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 BB 5 K. Me like. Game over, Moylan nails Heyward with his first shaving cream towel pie to the face. Yunel Escobar tries to show him up with a 5 RBIs giving the 6th and 7th hitters in the Braves order with 4-for-10, 4 R, 9 RBI day.

7 PM - Other MLB highlights, Mark Buehrle's five-hole, no-look flip to first, which is caught barehanded by Paul Konerko. Play of the Year on Opening Day. No one is topping that. Other lowlights in umpiring - Nate McCloth's dropped flyball to double play. Laz Diaz out of position (from firstbase) missing a play at second in the Mets game.

8 PM - Waiting for the Duke-Butler game.

9 PM - Complaining that the Duke-Butler game doesn't start at a reasonable hour on the East Coast. Can't even use a west coast team as an excuse. Duke out to an early lead but they Butler starts trading baskets and leads and ties. Fantastic first half. I'll say it again, I hate Duke. But for the first time in recent memory, they have a legit center (Zoubek) who can rebound on both ends. Butler trails by 1 at the half. Favorite play, Butler's Zach Hahn pulling up from 30 for no reason and burying a three.

10 PM - Still trading baskets. Strange game for the officials. They let 'em play under the hoop but called a lot of stuff away from the ball and on the perimiter. I say that if Butler keeps Duke around 60 points they have a chance. Kyle Singler with a huge shooting edge over Gordon Hayward, 7-13 and 2-12 respectively from the field but Hayward was 8-8 from the line. Difference in the game to this point. Huge day for Avery Jukes off the bench for Bulter.

11 PM - Duke trying to hold off a late Butler surge. Butler down one, with the ball, inbounding out of the corner (which I mentioned was a tough place to inbound 15 seconds before the CBS guys). Hayward takes a tough fade-away, off the iron. Zoubek rebounds and hits one FT, misses the 2nd on purpose (strange strategy by Coach K, since a three can beat you, and that's what Butler will take from halfcourt...). Hayward grabs the rebound of the miss, held up by Zoubek, chased by Singler (who did Greg Paulus proud by running into a screen and reacting like he got shot. Sorry, I have me mention this because I hate Duke), and Hayward misses a running halfcourt three, which came a lot closer than those shots normally do. Duke wins their 4th title. Butler made them earn it in front of 70,000 fans, 90 percent of which were rooting against the Blue Devils. Damn it all.

One last note. (Disclaimer: Gambling is illegal and should be done responsibly.) My dad randomly drew Butler out of a hat in a suicide Sweet 16 pool. Rules as follows, one randomly drawn team going against the spread. Since Butler was getting 7 in my Dad's pool, he ended up winning. I asked him if the $100 was worth it since Duke won.

"Nope. But it makes up for the crappy brackets we entered. And we can no longer say that Duke has never done anything good for us."

So true. Kudos to Bulter for winning our hearts over teh last three weeks. Kudos to the Dukies for winning another title. Kudos to both for one of the most memorable and well-played title games in recent memory. And Kudos to my buddy for only mentioning the McNabb trade 19 times and not 20.

And now we'll see if the UConn-Stanford Women's title will be just as good tonight.

(Naaaah.)
Posted on: March 3, 2010 10:52 am
Edited on: March 3, 2010 1:04 pm
 

Atlanta Braves Preview and NL East Outlook

Here is my full Atlanta Braves preview. For the rest of the NL East teams, here's my previous entry.

Atlanta Braves (2009 – 3rd place; 86-76 record)

2009 Recap
– The Braves were in the wild card running until the final week until the Rockies clinched the spot. A four-game sweep by the Nationals to end the season regulated the Braves to 3rd place in the NL East. The Braves started off slowly, especially offensively, but picked up late in the year during their wild card push in August and September. Their center field problem, aka Jordan Schafer, was solved thanks to a mid-season move to get Nate McClouth from the Pirates. Martin Prado was a huge surprise for Atlanta, with his play earning the starting 2B job over Kelly Johnson and his bat keying the Braves 2<sup>nd</sup> half run. Brian McCann and Chipper Jones anchor the Braves batting order and Derek Lowe leads a formidable pitching staff.

Projected Rotation – Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens, Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, Kenshin Kawakami, Kris Medlen

Projected Bullpen – Closer, Billy Wagner; Set-up, Saito; Medlen, Peter Moylan, Eric O’Flaherty

Projected Lineup/Batting Order – [1/CF] Nate McLouth, [2/SS] Yunel Escobar, [3/3B] Chipper Jones, [4/C] Brian McCann, [5/2B] Martin Prado, [6/1B] Troy Glaus / Eric Hinske, [7 & 8/OF] Melky Cabrera, Matt Diaz, Jason Heyward

Projected Bench – C David Ross, IF Omar Infante, F Gregor Blanco

Best off-season move – First Base –Troy Glaus / Eric Hinske – While the Braves could have signed Adam LaRoche to a deal, they decided to make a couple of value moves and bring some utility depth to their roster. Glaus plays third base as well and can spell Chipper and Hinske can also take some days in the outfield.

Worst off-season move – Javier Vazquez – I didn’t have a problem with the trade itself, but if Melky Cabrera isn’t starting for the Braves somewhere in the outfield then this was a terrible trade for the Braves. I know the Braves had a surplus of starters last year, but if Javy is in the Braves rotation and Medlen and Kawakami are in the bullpen for long relief, is anyone complaining about a Lowe-Vazquez-Jurrjens-Hudson-Hanson
rotation? I don’t think so.

Move that needs to pan out – Closer. If Billy Wagner pitches like he did to end last season, then this could be an improvement over the Soriano/Gonzalez platoon of seasons past. If it doesn’t work out then the Braves could be in for a long season of heartburn and indigestion in the late innings.

Player to Watch – OF Jason Heyward – How could it not be him? I already want to nickname him the “The Junkyard Dog” after reading about his batting practice sessions during spring training. Everywhere I hear about this kid I only hear positive things and that he is worth the hype. This means I expect a long contract extension for him when Chipper retires.

They’ll make the playoffs if…everything comes together. The Braves as an organization have been on the outside looking in at the playoffs. But in recent years it seems that the Braves have just been missing one thing or one injury breaks their season. This year the Braves seem to be set up to make a run at the playoffs and the Phillies for the NL East title.

NL EAST OUTLOOK

Projected Wins
– Phillies (90-95), Braves (85-90), Marlins (80-85), Mets (75-80), Nationals (65-70)

I expect the Phillies to remain the class of the division. Atlanta and Florida will be in the hunt for the Wild Card. I think the Mets will take a step forward, but they don't have enough pitching to make a playoff run. I think the Nationals will be improved but are still a couple of years away from contending.

NL East Pitcher of the Year – Phillies Roy Halladay – I know, it's a layup, but still, how can you pick against him? He's dominated the AL forever and now he's facing NL lineups that are considerably weaker.

NL East Player of the Year – Braves Brian McCann – Last year he started slow after having vision problems. This year I expect him to start strong and hit cleanup in a fully protected and deep lineup in Atlanta.

NL East Rookies of the Year – Braves Heyward / Nationals Strasburg – There's so much hype behind these two guys, all they have to do is contribute to win these awards in the National League, barring another rookie somewhere having a career year.

ODDS

Phillies World Series Berth (10-1) – I don't think they'll three-peat in the NL. Teams exposed their bullpen flaws last year and there's only so long that offense can carry this team.

NL East Wild Card Berth (5-1) – Between the Braves, Marlins and even the sleeper Mets, the NL East has a great chance to have a team win the wild card. Assuming the division doesn't completely tear each other up, which I'm sure will happen.

Nationals .500 division record (50-1) – I'd take this bet. Last year the Nationals were just awful but usually they play the division tough. At the very least, they'll be much improved against the NL East from last year.

Braves O/U 150 HRs in 2010 – They only hit 149 as a team last year (much less if you take away the one McLouth and LaRoche hit with other teams). So can this year's team put together some power numbers?

Well, that's all folks. As always the comments are appreciated. I'll be back with the baseball in-between March Madness and conference tourneys and of course for April and the start of the regular season. Again, here's the link to my previous entry and the rest of my NL East team previews. Thanks for reading everyone.

Posted on: March 3, 2010 10:19 am
Edited on: March 3, 2010 11:54 am
 

NL East Team-by-Team Previews

Okay, I fibbed a little with my title. I’m saving my full blown Atlanta Braves preview for my next entry, which will be up as soon as I format it. My Atlanta preview will also have my NL East outlook where I may or may not predict things that will definitely end up being wrong.

 I’m trying to get the NL East Preview before March Madness begins because I’m going to forget about baseball for three weeks. Plus I’m going to have Metro Atlantic (MAAC) and Big East conference tournament entries for basically the next week and a half starting Thursday.

Basically I split my huge, amazing and epic NL East preview into two parts, covering the Phils, Fins, Mess and Nats now and the Bravos later with my NL East Outlook/Predictions. So, here are the other four teams in the NL East and how their seasons are shaping up for 2010.

Philadelphia Phillies (2009 – 1st place; 93-69 record)

2009 Recap – The Phillies made a valiant defense of their 2008 World Series title by losing to the NY Yankees in the 2009 version. Not much has changed for this team which is very close to establishing a mini-NL dynasty with their play.

Best off-season move – P Roy Halladay – Any time you can get the best pitcher in baseball, that’s a good thing. Yes, they had to give up Cliff Lee and other pieces to make the trade, but a Halladay-Hamels combo at the top of your rotation isn’t a bad thing. Honorable mention to 3B Placido Polanco.

Player to watch – P Cole Hamels – Hamels had a poor 2009 campaign after leading Philly to the World Series as the ace of the staff. Now he’s the No. 2 starter looking to regain his top form from two years ago. The Phillies bats were able to carry them last year, but if Hamels struggles again it doesn’t bode well for the Fightin’ Phils.

They’ll win the NL East if…their bullpen doesn’t implode. I know the Phillies rotation and batting lineups will probably be solid all year. The one question on this team will always be the bullpen. Can Brad Lidge (recovering from off-season surgery) reclaim his 2008 championship form or will he and the Phillies pen struggle? If that happens, that could blow enough games to either cause the Phils to miss the playoffs or lose a playoff series in October.

Florida Marlins (2009 – 2nd place; 87-75 record)

2009 Recap – The Marlins stayed in Wild Card contention for most of the season, rallying past the Braves in the final week of the season to finish 2<sup>nd</sup> in the NL East. This is a young team that I personally thought would go away at some point, but they never did and the same team is pretty much back for 2010.

Best Off-season move – Locking up P Josh Johnson long-term. Florida doesn’t give out a ton of big contracts, but signing their ace starter is huge. Johnson (15-5, 3.23 ERA in ’09) signed a 4-year, $39 million extension to keep playing in South Florida.

Player to Watch – 2B Dan Uggla – Trade rumors swirled around him all off-season, but Uggla is back with Florida after a disappointing 2009 season for him. His HR and RBI numbers were fine, but only hit .243 for the season and a paltry .225 with RISP. Look for him to turn it around in 2010.

They’ll make the playoffs if…continue to play well beyond their years. This is a staggeringly young team that most felt overachieved last year. But there’s a lot of talent there as well, both in the batting order and the rotation. If the pitching staff has a solid year across the board, the Marlins should be right in the thick of it again in September.

New York Mets (2009 – 4th place; 70-92 record)

2009 Recap – Last season was pretty much a debacle for the Mets as injuries hampered this team all year. The Mets weren’t able to fill the gaps with their major league or minor league farm talent, leading to a very disappointing 2009 campaign.

Best Off-season move – OF Jason Bay – Bay offers the Mets a little more power out of a team that struggled to hit homers last season in general. With Bay hitting in the middle of a healthy lineup with David Wright and Carlos Beltran, the Mets have the line up to contend in the East.

Player to Watch – 1B Daniel Murphy – If this kid can start swinging the bat a little, it could be a difference maker for this team. The Mets struggled offensively all season, much of that due to injuries and constant lineup shuffling and some consistency from their former prospect with the bat would be a welcome change of pace.  Just don’t put him in the outfield and I think he could have a decent all-around season.

They’ll make the playoffs if…they can pitch the ball. After Johan Santana, the Mets are less than impressive in their rotation with Pelfrey, Maine, Perez and Nieve. They’ll need consistent outings from the back of the rotation especially and probably great years from Pelfrey and Maine. There are a lot of question marks surrounding this team but also a lot of players looking to prove the doubters wrong.

Washington Nationals (2009 – 5th place; 59-103 record)

2009 Recap – Yikes, the Natinals (intentional typo) were about as bad as you can be, bring up the rear in all of MLB last year. But that means the No. 1 overall pick (more on him in a second) and a Nationals begin a new season with a 0-0 record.

Best Off-season move – C Ivan Rodriguez – Why? Because I’m assuming they brought in I-Rod to help out this guy…

Player to watch – P Stephen Strasburg – Rumor has it that he’ll start the season in the minor leagues. Not a bad idea given the Nationals first month of games (6 games out of 9 with Philly to start the year). Either way, he’ll be pitching in the majors early in the season and can establish himself very quickly for a team that desperately needs to find a positive direction.

They’ll make the playoffs if…Strasburg channels his inner Cy Young and pitches every day. Probably won’t happen but the Nats are always feisty, and the rest of the division knows that taking two out of three in DC won’t be as easy as it was last year.

For my Atlanta Braves preview and a quick glance at the NL East in 2010, click here.
Posted on: June 5, 2009 10:19 pm
 

McLouth Trade/ Braves Release Glavine

I would have loved to have written this was happening on Wednesday, but thanks to a faulty circuit in my house, my main computer was down as well as my wireless internet connection, rendering my laptop useless. It's been a rough week for me and technology. There will be a multi-entry series about my war with my DVR unit, but more on that later.

This entry serves two purposes. Both of which I will tackle as a rational baseball fan/writer because someone needs to be. These are things you have to do while talking all of your Philadelphia Eagles friends off the McNabb/Ried cliff every year. Dare I say, I'm getting rather good at the whole process.

Here's the thing with Glavine. Yes, he threw 11 scoreless innings before he was released. Yes, there are financial incentives that the Braves would have had to meet by adding him to the roster, but nothing crippling, like possibly $4 million max. Did the Braves front office screw up the situation - probably. But here's the big fact: Glavine wasn't throwing anything remotely close to 90mph. It might not have been close to 85mph consistently from some of the reports I've read/seen in the past few days. He's been rehabbing for basically two months and the Braves have a plethora of young pitching sitting in AAA (Tommy Hanson, Kris Medlen, etc.), Tim Hudson is due back possibly at some point this season and the Braves middle relief remains the only thing I'm not happy with on the Braves staff. (I'm avoiding the offensive problems until I talk about McLouth.)

The Braves pitching right now is at a premium and the organization thought that it wasn't best for the team to add Glavine to the rotation. Would he come out of the bullpen if asked? I don't know, maybe the Braves didn't ask him or Glavine declined. Either way, the team thought it was best to part ways. Do I care if they screwed it up? Not really, because we all know that Glavine, Maddux and Smoltz will all be in Cooperstown some day, likely all as Braves, and that they're all going to come back to Turner Field and have their numbers retired. (At least the Braves should retire their numbers, anything less than enshrining them into the team HoF would be tragic.)

Honestly, I loved Glavine. I wish he didn't go play for the Mets, but that never tainted his career for me, and niether will this. Besides, just hours after Glavine's release, the Braves made the first big move of the trading season.

Nate McLouth - Pittsburgh Pirates CF - 2008 All-Star

Clearly this kid has a ton of potential. The Jordan Mendoza-Schafer experiment failed for two reasons. One, the Braves expected him to push Garrett Anderson for playing time, maybe even platoon him in the OF, not have Schafer beat Anderson outright in spring training. Two, Schafer is not a disciplined MLB hitter yet. He's got Jeff Francoeur Syndrome - swings way too much and never takes pitches. The Braves have a more than capable player in Gregor Blanco (who I like a lot, but not as an everyday player) but felt the need to address the issue anyway by acquiring McLouth.

Here's what I know. McLouth is hitting roughly 70 points higher than all the Braves CF combined (.190 - .260). McLouth also has more homers and RBI's too (I forget his stats but Braves CF have 2 HR's and 8 RBI's, mostly Schafer's work I'm assuming since Anderson platoons with Diaz in LF). That's a considerable upgrade statistically, and McLouth adds depth to the Braves lineup since he can bat in higher in the lineup while Schafer is stuck in the 8-hole (Third reason he didn't succeed at the MLB level, he should be batting 2nd, in my opinion behind Escober. That and the Braves should steal more than once a week). With McLouth in the lineup, it extends the middle of the batting order.

(This is the Braves lineup for Friday's game against the Brewers.)

You have Johnson and Escobar at the top, giving you speed (which Cox doesn't use). That's followed by McLouth, Chipper and McCann and I would still rather see this become Chipper, McCann and McLouth in the near future because I like it better. Then you have Anderson and Francoeur (should be switched w/ Frenchy batting 6th) which aren't always easy outs (I keep telling myself this) and then Prado at 1B batting ahead of the pitcher (where's Greg Norton, I want him starting at first when Kotchman's out of the lineup). I can live with that lineup (especially considering Kotchman is out with an injury).

(Note: This is the lineup that got only two hits off of Yovani Gallardo, who has fantasy sleeper written all over him (6-2, 2.84 ERA in 73 IP counting today's game) because I don't remember him at all. The lesson, of course, is I'm a moron.)

I'm okay with both of the Braves moves. Neither can be described as a panic move or irrational move. McLouth will be around for another few years, allowing Schafer to continue to develop this season in AAA and maybe move to LF later on in the year for the Braves (Anderson's gonna get cut in August. I can feel it). The Braves also capitialized early on the trade value of McLouth, who's stock would have gone up considerably as it got closer to the trade deadline. McLouth would have been available too, everyone knows it. He's on the Pirates for crying out loud. (Sorry Pittsburgh, but eventually, you have to keep your superstar guys to win games.) And there would have been several teams interested in adding him to their roster for a late-season push/post-season run.

Besides, the Braves needed to do something. The Phillies are "El Fuego" right now (copyright, Dan Patrick), the Mets have the swine flu, the Marlins are well, um, the enigma and the Nationals are well, the Nationals. The division is still wide open.

And the Braves offense can't do any worse than it has been. It has to get more consistent. Just ask Jair Jurrjens. He got no support tonight (story of his season) and pitched another solid game. Derek Lowe thinks he's the best pitcher on the Braves staff. He's been quoted and everything, and he's cleary not wrong in that opinion.

So, it kind of helps to give your best pitcher some run support. And it kind of helps to do that sooner rather than later.

Posted on: April 6, 2009 1:22 pm
 

Long Weekend Recovery - UConn Men/Sunday Sports

Saturday night was a depressing evening. The dream of an all-Big East championship was crushed. I watched the UConn Huskies struggle to do anything against a scrappy group of Spartans from Michigan State. Then I watched Villanova get demolished by UNC, ending the Big East's run in the Men's NCAA Tourament. Not only that, I lost my dorm bracket pool to my roommate, who has Michigan State winning it all. How do you recover from such a bitter night? Watch more sports of course!

Sunday was a fantastic day of sports for me. After a night of rejection and heartbreak, I was treated to an entire day of victory.

Jeff Gordon snaps losing streak at Texas

NASCAR?!?!?! Who watches NASCAR? FYI, it's better than F1 or Indy Cart. Why? Because you've actually heard of everyone in the race. Anyway, I jumped into the race with about 50 laps to go. This gave me enough time to see Carl Edwards lose the lead on a poor pit stop and Jeff Gordon to hold off a charging Jimmie Johnson to win his first race at Texas and end a 47-race winless streak. The best part of all this? Gordon is leading the points standings early in the season and is looking for his 5th NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship.

Derek Lowe, Braves shutout Phillies on Opening Day

For the record, I think Derek Lowe's contract is reprehensible. It's terrible. I hate it. But he continues to pitch like he did last night, I'm going to have to change my mind on that in a hurry. Lowe went 8 shutout innings and was supported with a barrage of homers from Brian McCann, Jeff Francoeur and rookie Jordan Schafer. Schafer also became the 99th player in MLB history to hit a homer in his first career at-bat. Mike Gonlazez had a shaky 9th inning to close the game, but a win is a win. The Phillies also celebrated their 2008 World Series Championship complete with video highlights, raising a championship flag and a first pitch by former GM Pat Gillick. And who ruined it? Larry "Chipper" Jones and the HOTlanta Braves. Good times.

UConn Women Rout Stanford, Reach Title Game

A friend of mine adamantly told me that Stanford would crush the Huskies last night. Needless to say, he was wrong. I was hoping for an all-Big East title game, but I figured it was more likely to come from the Men's side. But thanks to Louisville's upset over Courtney Paris and Oklahoma, the Women's side will be an Big East affair. One problem with both title games though? Both favorites have blowout wins over the underdogs (UNC 98-63 @ Ford Field; UConn 93-65 @ Storrs, CT/UConn 75-36 @ Hartford, CT - Big East Tournament Final). So I'm hoping that the two finals won't be a repeat of the earlier contests, because I know CBS and ESPN hate the UConn Men and Oklahoma Women, respectfully, for potentially producing two snoozers. Imagine the hype for a UConn-UNC and a UConn-Oklahoma title game. Might make my previous blog entry relevent.

Anyway, numerous friends of mine asked me if I was okay with the UConn men losing. Aside from losing a small bracket pool to my roommate, I was fine with it. This loss was nothing compared to the George Mason upset from a few years ago (and that was no where near the worst loss of my life - Bucs over the Eagles - 2002 NFC Championship). Had UConn played better or "well enough to win the game" (an arbitrary standard that analysts use. I think it's dumb), I might have been a little more disappointed. But honestly, the UConn Men's team might have overachieved this season. After losing Jerome Dyson for the season, they struggled down the stretch losing to Syracuse in that epic 6 OT thriller and Pittsburgh twice. They weren't the same team and didn't have the same depth. Yes, Stanley "Sticks" Robinson, A.J. Price and freshman Kemba Walker were phenomenal this season, especially after Dyson went down with the injury. But UConn just wasn't as deep with out Dyson. UConn really only used a 7-man rotation for the last half of the year with Thabeet, Adrien, Robinson, Austrie and Price as the starting 5 and Walker and Gavin Edwards coming off the bench. Having Dyson allows UConn to go smaller more often with three guards and giving the big guys some more rest.

Overall, fans might remember this UConn season more for the failures, Dyson's injury, the recruiting scandal and the Final Four loss, than the great achievements. Getting to the Final Four is no easy task and making it to the Elite 8 is still a fantastic accomplishment. Navigating through the toughest conference in college basketball should grant every player in the league some sort of combat achievement from each branch of the US Military. I hope Jim Calhoun doesn't retire. He (and Geno Auriemma) are the face of Connecticut basketball. And I still think that both coaches will win another National Championship. And I'm not counting Tuesday's game in that calculation. If the UConn Women beat Louisville for thier 6ht National title and 3rd undefeated season, Geno has to win one more on top of that.

And I know both coaches would say that they should win at least two more. Possibly three. They're just such great competitors.

But we do know one thing. If Jim Calhoun retires, he's not giving a dime back. And he shouldn't have to.

- Eagle

 

Posted on: October 1, 2008 12:11 pm
Edited on: October 1, 2008 5:35 pm
 

Worst Sports Owners/Execs

For those few who have been expecting my weekly picks segments or my Big East football stuff, I apologize. I've had a busy couple of weeks and hope to start up both blog entries again for this week, but no promises. Instead, after watching Al Davis rip out Lane Kiffin's soul in a press conference yesterday, I decided it was time to post my list of worst sports owners and executives. We're breaking this down in categories (personal, national, historical, special) and there aren't any rankings, I'm just putting this to paper. Or computer...or whatever, on with the list.

PERSONAL

This list is owners or execs that I have a personal hatred towards.

Peter Karmanos, Owner, Carolina Hurricanes, NHL - Karmanos single handedly ripped the only professional team in the "Big 4" (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL) when he moved the Hartford Whalers to the hockey hotbed of Raleigh, N.C. Not only that, but he blackmailed the state of Connecticut to build a new arena, bringing back a trend that is now almost common place in sports - threatening to leave unless a new stadium/arena is built.

Ted Turner, Former Owner, Atlanta Braves, MLB - Ted Turner converted me into a Braves fan thanks to TBS and now has almost turned me against the Braves. It's not going to happen, but when Turner sold the Braves and moved them away from TBS, I bet he lost a lost of national fans as well as taking the Braves out of a large TV market and into a average one. And this has nothing to do with the fact that the Braves haven't been making the playoffs recently, I swear. But imagine if the Cubs weren't on WGN anymore. They'd be cursed for another 100 years. Whoops, maybe I shouldn't be bringing that up...moving on.

The Steinbrenners, Owners, New York Yankees, MLB - My hatred for the Yankees never came from them beating the Braves in '96 and '99. It comes from this family. Owners, in my opinion, are not allowed to go to the media and express their displeasure with the team or bash a manager. However, for comedy's sake. I want to hear more from this family, just to see themselves dig into a larger hole of stupidity.

NATIONAL


This list is for hatred on a national level or team that I personally don't root for.

Al Davis, Owner, Oakland Raiders, NFL - People didn't like this guy much before, but after yesterday's press conference, I think he certainly qualifies for this with flying colors. Can Roger Goodell fine Al Davis for being a decrepit scumbag, or would forcing him to pay Kiffin's contract be enough?

Clay Bennett, Owner, Oklahoma City Thunder, NBA - I'm not a big NBA guy, however, Ray Allen (UConn) used to play for this team and the city of Seattle has been screwed over. Clay Bennett should not be allowed to own this team and the Sonics should still be around. Either way, I'm adding the Thunder to my list of hated teams until Bennett sells them and the Sonics are back in Seattle.

Matt Millen, Former GM, Detroit Lions, NFL - This could be an honorable mention because he just got fired, but I'll throw him on here anyway. From drafting 15 WR in the first round, to the Millen Man March and the constant fans with paper bags on their heads holding "Fire Millen" signs, Matt Millen is the low standard for NFL GM's.

HONORABLE MENTION - Peter Angelos, Orioles - Dan Snyder, Redskins

HISTORICAL

This is a brief list of owners who live in historical infamy.

Walter O'Malley, Owner, Brooklyn Dodgers, MLB - Moved the Dodgers to Los Angeles.
Horace Stoneham, Owner, New York Giants, MLB - Moved the Giants to San Francisco.
Robert Irsay, Owner, Baltimore Colts, NFL - Moved the Colts to Indianapolis and alienated the Baltimore area when he pushed for expansion teams in Carolina and Jacksonville.

*- All three wanted new private stadiums from the cities/states. They instead, moved.

SPECIAL

This list comprises of two people that single-handedly almost killed two different sports (in my opinion).

David Stern, Commissioner, NBA - David Stern, overall, has done a pretty good job. However, his age-limit rule is killing college basketball. Now you have "student-athletes" that go to school for one year to do what? Take Rock and Roll 101 and play basketball? How about this rule? If you go to college you have to earn a degree, I don't care if it's a two-year degree and you earn it in three years. You go to college to get an education. The system is already a mockery, which is why "student-athlete" is in quotes, and Stern isn't helping.

Gary Bettman, Commissioner, NHL - I will never be a true hockey fan until the Whalers are back in Hartford and Bettman is out as Commissioner. Not only did Bettman have a lockout a few seasons ago, but NASCAR has passed the NHL as the 4th sport. The NHL's only national TV deal is a weekend thing with NBC. I'm not counting Versus. Someone needs to write a satire about how to not be a commissioner of a sport by writing an autobiography on Bettman.

Again, this is a rather incomplete list based on my sports knowledge and a little help from Google/Wikipedia. I'm also barely legal at 21 so my personal sports history doesn't go back that far. Again thanks for reading and feel free to post your hated/worst owners/execs below. I'll be posting some sort of MLB preview later on.

- Eagle
Posted on: August 6, 2008 8:12 pm
 

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly - August 6th

This is almost becoming a theme for me on this blog. I don't know if it works, but it's fun to write. A random smattering of sports topics from the past week or so, including one ongoing saga that might cause my brain to turn into mush...

The Good

Revolution Claim Superliga Crown

Most of you are asking, what the heck is Superliga and who are the Revolution? The New England Revs of Major League Soccer topped fellow MLS side, the Houston Dynamo, in an 8-team tournament that pits the best four teams from MLS and the Mexican Primero Division soccer clubs. The Revs topped the Dynamo 6-5 in a penalty kick shoot out after a 2-2 draw that included goals from both sides in extra time. The sad part about this game, it wasn't broadcast on TV, only on Telefutura, a spanish channel that I didn't have. But ESPN will pick up a "friendly"/exhibition between Spain's FC Barcelona and MLS' NY Red Bulls instead of the final of a "major international" tournament.

The Olympics

Forget the controversy with China and Darfur and the pollution, this event isn't about that, yet athletes continue to make it a big political soap box. I'm most looking forward to Kobe, LeBron and 'Melo and the rest of Team USA return to glory in Men's Basketball. Micheal Phelps going for some absurd amount gold medals again should be fun to watch. And the Men's and Women's National soccer teams will be in action (Women actually lost to Norway 2-0 already), meaning I've worked two soccer references into this blog and will probably lose ratings points because of it...

The Bad

Joba Chamberlain

Again, I hate the Yankees. I want to see lose 162 games every year because I hate their organization that much. I still respect the players, especially the young guys from their Series runs in the late 90s like Jeter, Posada, Rivera, Bernie. But I don't want to see this happen to the Yanks, especially with the three team AL East race with Boston and Tampa heating up. Losing Joba is a huge blow to the Yankees' already have problems in their rotation and now will be without Chamberlain for an extended period of time as he went on the DL and visited Dr. James Andrews, which is a first sign indicator that this could be serious.

NFL Gripes

Memo to the Giants and Jets franchises - Personal Seat Licenses are not the way to go. If I was a season ticket holder for a New York NFL team, I wouldn't renew my seats. I might partner up with other fans or get a package deal, but I wouldn't get season tickets. I have to pay for the right to buy season tickets? That's like charging me a thousand bucks to look at a house or a car. It makes no sense. And for that new Fan Conduct Policy, fans know where the line is. If you want to get smashed while tailgating and be a drunk, belligerent moron while at a game, fine. You can get tossed. But that's not going to stop me from jawing with the fans sitting near me. You can joke around with the kids, but they're off limits and you shouldn't be cursing near them anyways. This policy just outlines what fans should already know and I think it's useless.

The Ugly

NASCAR

Just one week after the debacle at Indianapolis, NASCAR decides to break out the rain tires and wiper blades for a Nationwide race in Montreal on a road course. And with the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series both at Watkins Glen this weekend, NASCAR will go to the rain gear again should the weather turn south once again. Nationwide drivers had enough problems last weekend, including a wreck under caution before the race was called 26 laps early. And NASCAR wants to try again? I don't like this idea. I like having the two road course dates to change things up, but let's try to solve one tire problem before tackling rain tires/equipment, okay?

Manny Being Manny Goes West

The Manny Ramirez saga in Boston finally ended with a three team deal that sent the surly slugger to the LA Dodgers. It was a sad end to an otherwise adventurous and successful tenure for Manny. He help lead the Red Sox to their first World Series in 86 years and then help lead the Sox to the title last year as well. Boston gets back Pirates All-Star Jason Bay, who's a solid player and should do well up in Boston. I don't know what caused this massive rift between Manny and the Red Sox organization this year, but it seemed to come almost suddenly to me. I'm not familiar with the background and I know that Manny has had past issues with the team, but to me it looked like water under the bridge. Either way, this trend of players being able to dictate trades and holdouts is getting old. Like another player we'll get to...

That's not a bad week or so of sports in my opinion. I returned to the Braves glog for some west coast action against the Giants. I am looking forward to the Philadelphia Eagles preseason and getting a look at a healthy offense, keyed by Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook. But there is one NFL story that will never end.

The Ugliest

Brett Favre

Brett, you can't play in Green Bay and you shouldn't play anywhere else. But please end this. I swear if I see one more ESPN Special on this...

- Eagle
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com