Posts Tagged ‘New York Yankees’

What the #!@*! are the Braves doing ?

I was about to reply to a relative’s email asking if I could make any sense of the Atlanta Braves off-season moves. I have been asked that a lot lately so I thought it was time to revive my baseball blog.

Concerning the Braves…

I have been understanding, confused, excited, and angry at some of the moves the Braves have made this off-season. What we Braves fans have to keep telling ourselves that it is all for the greater good and it will all make sense in 2017, just in time for the new stadium. Now that they are on the verge of trading Evan Gattis the “building for the future” scenario is even more plausible. The trades of Jason Heyward and Justin Upton netted a lot of young talent, both position players and pitching but pitching seems to be the focus of the Braves front office right now. Who knows what they will get in return for Gattis but I am sure it will be more top prospects who are primed to see action within the next few seasons.

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Now here is a die-hard fan’s over optimistic outlook for 2015. With no big bat in the lineup other than Freddie Freeman, the Braves are not seen as a threat. So what? They had what should have been a potent offense last season but look where it got them, a losing record and tied for second place with the lousy New York Mets in the National League East. The Braves have added a reliable on-base guy with RBI potential in Nick Markakis and a good utility infielder and pinch hitter in Alberto Callaspo. Now if they can add another contact hitter to play left field it might be these small additions that give them the magic that could never capture in 2014.

The pitching staff departures of Aaron Harang, Ervin Santana, David Carpenter, Anthony Varvaro, Kris Medlen, and Brandon Beachy were made easier with the addition of Shelby Miller, Manny Banuelos, and the too many to name young arms replenishing the Braves farm system. The veteran presence of newly acquired Jim Johnson, James Russell, and Jason Grilli in the bullpen should also help  a solid pitching rotation.

They aren’t getting as much attention for their additions as they are their subtractions but all in all I think the Braves look pretty good. The Nationals are still favored, the Marlins have gotten much better, and even if the Phillies and Mets suck they still put up a good fight so the Braves should enjoy their position as an underdog in their division for now. Once they have warmed up and worked out the kinks during Spring Training the Atlanta Braves might prove to be more than just a team building for the future but a real contender for 2015.

What else can I say when I really don’t know what the #!@*! the Braves are doing.

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Another Season is upon us.

Ahhhhhh! Great to feel the warm sun and hear the neighborhood lawnmowers hard at work. Well, I actually haven’t heard any mowers today but I did a few days ago. It is a little cool and windy at the moment but the forecast for the week is sunny and high 70’s…perfect weather for the beginning of baseball season!

Yes, the 2014 Major League Baseball season starts in earnest tomorrow, March 31st. Technically the season started in Australia last weekend when the Dodgers and Diamondbacks had a two game series. Ok another technicality is that the Padres are hosting the Dodgers tonight for their season and home opener in San Diego. The free spending and greedy Dodgers have found another way to get more attention by attempting to win their first three games before the rest of the league has even seen their first pitch.  Yes, the games in Australia and the game tonight on the West Coast do count in the standings but 25 other teams begin their 162 game regular season journey tomorrow. The Yankees and Astros start the day after tomorrow and since the Diamondbacks have already played those 2 games Down Under…when you look at the overall schedule, tomorrow truly marks the beginning of baseball!

I am of the opinion that Opening Day for MLB should be a National Holiday if it falls on a weekday, especially a Monday. Games start at 1:00 pm and go until the last game starts on the West Coast at 10:00 pm. How great would it be to have the day off to just veg on the couch and watch as many of these games as possible or better yet, go to the ballpark and catch one live! I know the “all day in front of the TV” scenario does not appeal to everyone, especially the significant others of an avid baseball fan (you know who you are), but what if you have to work and your team plays an afternoon game? My Braves are playing the Brewers tomorrow in Milwaukee at 2:00pm so I am out of luck. I can record the game but it isn’t the same plus I will have already heard the outcome before I get home regardless of how hard I try not to. I have tried before, it rarely works out.

I, like many other fans, will need to be patient for the first night game to be televised in the coming week. Thankfully we only have to wait until Tuesday.

 

Back in the Playoffs and Superstition

I am not generally a superstitious person except when it comes to baseball and even then I keep it fairly low key. Admittedly I have not posted much this year but it seemed like every time I did post the Braves immediately suffered a painful loss of went into a losing streak. I decided to wait until the post season was a certainty before I posted again.

After suffering a terrible collapse last September the Atlanta Braves have made that nightmare a distant memory tonight. They have at least clinched a Wild Card spot for the 2012 Major League Baseball Playoffs and still have a good chance of catching their rivals the National League East leading Washington Nationals….

That was the post I started about 4 weeks ago. I stopped in mid type when I realized I was typing the very thing I feared most. I was feeding into the superstition I had created and while I realized at that moment how crazy that notion was I stopped anyway…just in case.

The Braves did indeed win the top Wild Card spot but with the new 1 game playoff format they were forced to play the St.Louis Cardinals in a do or die situation. They died. I will not rehash all of the details but in summary, the Braves dug themselves into a big hole with uncharacteristically poor defensive play and then any chance they had of a rally was quashed by a an umpire’s poor judgment at a critical juncture in the game. Many water cooler, bar room, and neighborly discussions about that game have taken place since but I finally have reached a place where distance from the event and common sense have prevailed. I had nothing to do with either the Braves great 94 win season or their 1 game playoff collapse.

I have watched other teams and their fans suffer similar circumstances the Braves faced last year leading up to the playoffs, namely the Texas Rangers. I have also seen teams with great expectations like the Cincinnati Reds and the Washington Nationals not live up to expectations many were expecting of them in the post season. Most disappointing was perhaps the Baltimore Orioles who had a chance to take the AL East from the New York Yankees but came up short and then couldn’t capitalize on a weak, confused, and injured Yankee team to move on to the AL Championship series.

As the San Francisco Giants and St.Louis Cardinals fight for the National League Championship tied at 1 game each and the Detroit Tigers take the momentum of a 2 game lead over New York into the Motor City I am really enjoying these 2012 MLB playoffs. I am just enjoying the games.

Goodbye 2011, hello New Year!

All of the awards and accolades of the 2011 season have been bestowed and now that Barry Larkin and Ron Santo(Veteran’s Commitee) have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, the focus can turn to Spring training. Ok, it is still a little over a month away before pitchers and catchers report for training so maybe I should still focus on the off-season trades and signings.

News is very, very slow right now but I still check the wires everyday for a little morsel of baseball yummy. It looks like the fate of free agent Prince Fielder is the only big question that has yet to be resolved.

Obviously the Angels acquisition of Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson was a big deal and made me happy because Albert is out of the National League(and that he didn’t go tot the Marlins). These moves and the Marlins getting Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle,  Health Bell,  and most recently Carlos Zambrano might appear to be the two most significant but there were still some impactful additions made to many rosters.

The Phillies might be getting older and more injury prone but they did resign Jimmy Rollins and added a huge bullpen arm with Jonathan Papelbon. Speaking of the NL East, the Washington Nationals are trying to edge their way into competition. The Nats will have ace Stephen Strasberg returning from injury and added a solid front end starter in Gio Gonzalez. They covet Prince Fielder but I can’t imagine Fielder accepting a deal from Washington unless it was for a ridiculous amount of money and for an extended period of time(8 years +). My best guess is that Prince will sign with the Rangers or Mariners but the Mariners fall into the same category as the Nationals so the Texas Rangers make more sense.

My Braves have been very quite this off-season which suits me fine. People are shocked when I say this because they think signing or trading for a big outfield bat is the answer. Sure it would be nice to have a big bopper but at what cost? The Braves budget is in the mid $90 million range which is decent but not enough to go after the big names like a team with a $200 million to work with(Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, Phillies). I think Atlanta has a strong nucleus of young and veteran players still in place from last year’s team. Granted the team underperformed during the last two weeks of the season but I still think with experience under the belts of the rookies and younger players, a new hitting coach, and a desire for redemption the 2012 Atlanta Braves are better off without a huge, splashy signing.

We’ll see.

 

Let the games begin

I will not be talking about the end of the baseball season and the historic collapse of the Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves or the subsequent rise of the St.Louis Cardinals to World Series Champions.

I will not be talking about the awards and accolades bestowed upon the elite players of the 2011 baseball season, although the NL Rookie of the year was well deserved by the Braves closer Craig Kimbrel.

I will be talking about the off season trades and acquisitions that have already happened or will be taking place from the start of the MLB Winter Meetings in Dallas today.

Basically I wanted to touch base because I haven’t posted since a very depressing night I experienced on September 28th of this year when hope and joy turned into frustration and despair….but I will not go there.

The biggest movers and shakers since the conclusion of the World Series has been the newly named Miami Marlins. Besides the new name and look, the Marlins are on their way to changing the landscape of the NL East. They have a new and legitimate closer in Heath Bell and appear to have agreed to terms with former Met’s shortstop Jose Reyes. Now, if they can pull off the signing of Albert Pujols then the Marlins will have stolen all of the thunder before the off season really even starts.

How will the Phillies and Yankees respond to crashing in the post season while boasting the highest payrolls in the game? Can the Braves and Red Sox recover from their fore mentioned collapses? Where will  Prince, Albert, and Jimmy end up? All of these are questions I will be closely monitoring over the next few months.

Irene and the Little League World Series

Hurricane and eventual tropical storm Irene managed to wash out a few MLB baseball games over the weekend.

The Braves, Mets, Phillies, Marlins, Yankees, and Orioles were all forced to postpone their games being played  Saturday and Sunday on the East Coast. The Orioles  were able to squeeze in a double header on Sunday against the Yankees to make up for the Saturday game but the four National League teams were not able to do a double header so their games are rescheduled for later in September. However, the games might not be necessary if the Phillies and Braves remain in their current positions as NL East and Wild Card leaders.

While there was a rain delay or two in Williamsport, PA during the final two days of the Little League World Series, the games went on the kids, their parents, and the fans of these kids from all over the United States and World were treated to some great baseball. The defending champs of Japan beat Mexico to reach the finals while the team from Southern California beat a tough Montana team to try and regain the title from Japan.

It was a close game all day and the two teams headed into the 6th inning tied 1-1. Japan, a usually sure-handed team, made an error which loaded the bases and two batters later the kids from Huntington Beach, CA were celebrating the championship. It was fun to watch their youthful exuberance but also hard to watch the obvious disappointment and sadness on the faces of the Japanese team. Congratulations to all of the teams that participated during the 2 week long tournament. They all played their hearts out.

 

 

Hang in there baby

This is the time of year where Joey loses interest in baseball and I am left on my own. He isn’t quite disgusted with the game yet but I can see that the eye rolling has started when he walks through the room and I am watching baseball. Actually, he is still pretty supportive when I am watching the Braves but he just doesn’t understand why I would want to watch other teams play. I tell him you have to keep up with the competition because you never know what team you might be facing in the play-offs or even better, the World Series.

All of the division races are close right now and no one is running away from the pack. The Phils are leading the NL East but the Braves are close behind. The NL Central is wide open especially since the Pittsburgh Pirates have surprised everyone by not sucking. The Astros and Cubs are out of it but that still leaves four teams in the fight. The NL West is most likely a two team race between the World Champion Giants and the resurgent Arizona Diamondbacks.

The American League East as always seems to be a back and forth between the Yankees and Red Sox, with the Tampa Bay Rays waiting patiently not far behind. No one expected the Cleveland Indians to still be in first place of the AL Central but there they are keeping the Detroit Tigers at bay. However, never rule the White Sox out of the equation and the struggling Twins might just figure things out and make a run for it. Finally the AL West might be another battle between the Texas Rangers and the Angels but the Seattle Mariners are still relevant.

It is a long summer but hang in there baby, fall will be here before you know it.