I have spent the last three days laughing at this and not writing anything about the Braves:
Don’t go – it gets better… Rrrreeeemix!!!
I have spent the last three days laughing at this and not writing anything about the Braves:
Don’t go – it gets better… Rrrreeeemix!!!
May 10th, 2010, Milwaukee Wisconsin. In tunnels deep beneath the arena sat a solitary gladiator, his head bowed in solemn deliberation. He could hear the roar of the masses above. They called his name – thousands of them, together. The room shook from their fervor.
Down the tunnels ran a young batboy, his gait irregular and discordant – one foot hit the floor harder than the other. Into the locker room the boy ran, and he stopped short when he saw the man sitting there in the middle of the empty room. He stood and stared at the giant gladiator, too afraid to speak, but even more afraid to return to the dugout unsuccessful.
“What is it, boy?” The voice seemed to come from throughout the entire room itself. The boy shifted his weight nervously.
“My lord, Bobby Coxidopolous has summoned you to battle.”
“He’s not my master.” The man said. His voice boomed like distant rolling thunder. He still had not moved or even looked at the bat boy.
“But I didn’t say – “ The gladiator interrupted the boy by standing abruptly with a finger to his lips.
“Ssshhhh.” He pointed up at the ceiling. “do you hear them?” The boy nodded. “They summon me, not him. Not him!” He shook his fist as he yelled. “Go get my glove.”
The boy grabbed the glove from the locker. He paused as he read the name above it: “Hanson.” Then he quickly ran back to the gladiator and handed him the glove before saying, “the batter you’re facing… He’s the hardest hitter I’ve ever seen… I wouldn’t want to face him.”
The gladiator fitted his left hand into the glove and then punched the palm with his right. He looked down at the bat boy and said, “and that is why no one will remember your name.”
Okay, so I got a little carried away with the historical action epic stuff, but it was fun… Tommy Hanson nailed Ryan Braun in the elbow with a fastball on May 10, 2010. Braun hasn’t been the same since. Hanson has, he just keeps hitting batters. He’s hit 13 so far this year. He’s also not having the year many (myself included) expected him to have. But is it all bad? Stats!
In 2009, Hanson broke onto the scene with a 2.89 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and 116 K in 127 IP.
In 2010, he looks like this: 4.12 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 114 K in 113 IP.
He hit five batters in ’09, and he’s already hit 13 in ’10. But is he having problems with his control? Not from what the numbers say:
From 2009 to 2010, his K rate has jumped from 8.18 to 9.03, and his walk rate has lowered from 3.24 to 2.93 – and that’s despite plunking eight more batters. His contact rates are virtually unchanged, but his BABIP is .068 points higher than last year. Dare I say that he’s had some bad luck? I don’t know. I think only Tommy Hanson knows.
I think it has a lot to do with the mental aspect of things. It takes longer to get over negative results when you’re 23 years old than it does when you’re 26. You young guys reading this might think I’m blowin’ smoke, but you’ll realize one day when you look back at how much you change in a few years and know that I was right. Look, it just takes most younger people longer to get over shit, period. And I think that Tommy Hanson has been battling Tommy Hanson a lot this year.
But not anymore. The kid has been great in July, posting a 2.66 ERA with a 24/6 K/BB ratio. In fact, he’s had a pretty good season, save three bad games against Detroit, Cincy, and the White Sox. In those three games, Hanson gave up 17 ER in nine total innings. I expect the July numbers to continue throughout the rest of the year.
I’m easily distracted, so I started listening to music. Here are some Atlanta products that are worth listening to…
Injected – “ Faithless”
Sevendust – “Denial”
Sevendust – “Unraveling”
The Braves recently made a five-player deal with the Blue Jays, and I’d like to take an objective look at the who’s-who of the matter. Atlanta sent SS Yunel Escobar and LHP Jo-Jo Reyes to Toronto for SS Alex Gonzalez and two minor leaguers, 2B Tyler Pastornicky and LHP Tim Collins.
The Braves had the division lead at the time of the deal, and they essentially traded away two players that didn’t have much to do with their success so far this season. Not much has changed for Atlanta after the trade, as they are still 5.5 games up… I remember posting a while back that the Braves didn’t stand much of a chance at making the postseason this year. I can see that I underestimated Atlanta, and that I gave the Phillies a pass. I should have recognized the fact that the Phillies did have a roster filled with old-timers and injury risks, but I didn’t, so I have to admit that I was wrong. I did mention that I thought the Cards would take the central and two teams from the West would round out the playoff picture. Anyway, Reyes only pitched 3.1 innings this year (9 ER) so let’s say that he is a definite non-factor in 2010. That leaves Gonzalez and Escobar:
Escobar: .238 BA, 28 R, 0 HR, 19 RBI, 37 BB, 5 SB
Gonzalez: .259 BA, 47 R, 17 HR, 50 RBI, 17 BB, 1 SB
Based on first half production alone, the Braves are clear winners on this one. However, Escobar is the more disciplined hitter, and as we’ve seen since his arrival in Toronto, he was due to break out of the slump. Let’s stick with tangible considerations before the trade was made.
I make this case for the Braves: they are in first place in the division without Escobar’s help, and they added another player with some pop to help them close the deal and make a playoff run.
I make this case against them: they are in first place in the division without Escobar’s help, and they traded him away (before his bat came to life) for an over-achieving aging hitter who may have benefitted from playing in hitter-friendly ballparks.
Then you get into the intangibles; I heard things about Escobar’s attitude. Whatever, I thought that’s what managers were for. I will concede that if there were negative attitude issues at work, then this is a win for both the Braves and Escobar.
The Braves also dealt Reyes and received two 20-year old prospects. The Braves win this one, hands down. Reyes is probably not going to be anything more than a minor league player, and he’s already on the downhill slope toward 30.
Tim Collins: LHP – 46 IP, 10 Sv, 2.35 ERA, 78 K / 17 BB
He’s only 5’7”, but he is being groomed as a closer in AA. I don’t know much about him, but I read somewhere in the Atlanta Journal Constitution that he sports a mid-90’s fastball and a good curve. I don’t know what the long-term goal is for the kid, i.e. bullpen or rotation, but his strikeout rate alone makes me salivate at his future fantasy potential. Let’s face it, relievers that strikeout two or three guys an inning are fantasy baseball’s wet T-shirt contests.
Tyler Pastornicky: 2B – 81 GP, .259 BA, 51 R, 6 HR, 37 RBI, 41 BB, 24 SB
I don’t know much about this kid, either. He’s obviously fast. Time will tell if he’s a Ryan Theriot or an Ian Kinsler.
I think that the Braves made a good move with this trade, and I have read things that suggest the search isn’t over. They are still looking to improve. The second half looks pretty good for Atlanta now that they’re healthy and confident. I’m not making any predictions, but I don’t see the Mets or Phillies getting better without making some trades.
So, in unrelated news, I had this grand idea that I would chop down one of my trees with an axe. I decided I would wear shorts while chopping said tree. I started pounding away on this bad boy, and after about five licks I felt a pinch on my leg. I looked down and saw, with great horror, a swarm of yellow jackets attacking my legs. There were several on my right leg, stinging away. More of them hit me from the left flank, taking a high-low approach from my left ankle all the way up to my waist. As I began to fight back and swat the winged demons, I saw that there were two more on my arm. Panic!
I ran. Sprinting, swatting, jumping, spinning, cursing, I made it to my front yard. I looked down again, only to see that three of the beasts had followed me. I jumped and spun and swatted some more – I said about a hundred “motherfuckers” before the ordeal was over. Finally, I was freed from the clutches of the yellow and black army, and I made my way inside to take some Benadryl.
That evening, with 10 swelling, aching welts all over me, I found their nest in the light of the setting sun. At the base of the tree, scarred by a flurry of axe strokes, there was a small hole. Two of their sentries stood guard over the entrance to their nest. I had returned from my defeat to take the high ground, and the elements of darkness and surprise were both on my side. I also had a brand new can of Raid Wasp Spray.
I stepped closer to the hole and said, “remember me, motherfuckers?”
Then I sprayed the shit out of that hole. I emptied the can and watched some of the yellow jackets’ futile attempts at escape. I stood over the destruction and smoked a cigarette.
I dug up the nest the next night and burned it. Then I chopped down that tree.
“who’s the man now, bitches?”
Forgive me if some of this is political, but it’s the All-Star Break and I have to rant…
All Star Braves: Brian McCann, Tim Hudson, Jason Heyward, Martin Prado, and…. What? Omar Infante? I just typed that first line and then sat here for five minutes, looking around for something that made sense. Omar Infante? I know I was out of town for over a month, but I remained on Earth… Omar Infante? You mean the guy who plays when Chipper or another infielder needs a day off? This is like sending Billy Volek to the Pro Bowl. No Matt Kemp, no Carlos Gonzalez, almost no Votto… But Omar Infante made it. Really?
It’s hot in Georgia; 101 degrees here the other day. My time in the military included two tours in Iraq, but I still can’t stand the heat. Al Gore says it’s because of carbon emissions… But then again, he has a lot of money invested in “green” energy… While he flies all over the world in his jet.
I’m not an NBA guy, but I still love what the Miami Heat are doing. Furthermore, I think it’s great that so many people are mad about it. Bosh, Wade, and James are making a very smart move. I hope it works out for them. What about the Cavs owner and that childish letter to the fans? What…. The…. Eph….
Denial is a river in Egypt. I bet that bitch is fulla snakes.
If Janet Napolitano was the Loss-Prevention Manager at a Target retail store, she would’ve been fired a month ago. Why does she still have a job? It’s kind of a big deal that the Gulf is full of oil. I guess she’s too busy making lists of Iraq war vets that are suddenly potential domestic terrorists. What a joke.
I’m very proud of myself for drafting Carlos Gonzalez. Unfortunately, I also drafted Chad Qualls and Rick Porcello. I guess it all equals out in the end… My team fucking sucks.
Congress took an eleven day recess over the July 4th holiday. Why????? Career politicians in Washington live in fantasy land already – what the Hell do they need a two week vacation for?
Senator A: “whew, what a hard day of talking we had. I sure could use a break.”
Senator B: “Me too. I’m old as Hell.”
Senator A: “Let’s take the next two weeks off.”
Senator B: “oh no, that’s too long. This country and its people deserve better from us.”
Senator A: “you’re right… Eleven days then.” They laugh and exit stage right.
I traded James Loney away for Pablo Sandoval about a week ago. I thought it was a really good idea at the time. Now I think I do some dumb ass shit sometimes. Has anybody seen Sandoval lately? Geee-zuussss. He just looks unhealthy. Just… Just bad. During the games most guys put some seeds in their mouths and spit the shells out. He puts a whole chicken in his mouth and spits out the feathers. That’s right: he eats dem bones. I know he can afford P90X…
Why did the media spend a week celebrating the life of Robert Byrd? The guy was in the Ku-Klux-Klan!!! WTF!!!! And we’re supposed to respect the fact that he was a senator for 50 years? Why????? We need term limits for these freeloaders. There is no way in Hell that I would let some 92-year-old “Klan” member tell me what I’m supposed to do with my life. It boggles my mind that all these people came out to make public statements about how great Robert Byrd was. There really must be a shortage of great men these days. Pathetic.
Fantasy Football looms on the horizon. Chris Johnson will go #1 in 99% of drafts. There’s always at least one percent of retards out there who will take a QB #1. At least one ass clown somewhere out there is going to draft LaDanian Tomlinson first. I would rather have Ray Rice or MJD over Chris Johnson, but that’s just me. I don’t see Johnson going over 2,500 total yds this year. I’d still pick him if I had the first pick though. Wouldn’t you? Did I just draw a circle with words without even making a point?
I smoke, I have tattoos, and I cuss a lot. Growing up I always heard that these were indicative of an ignorant mind. Consider me blissful.
I wrote a yo momma joke:
Yo momma so fat… When she takes a shit, the FAA always shows up, lookin’ for the “black boxes.”
Think fast – who will have a better year? DeMaryius Thomas or Dez Bryant? Thomas. There, I said it. Note how I didn’t specify anything like “most yards” or “most TDs”, etc… I mean total body of work from game one through game 16… Who has the better year? I think Thomas will.
It costs more than one cent to make a penny… Shit like this makes me smoke.
Do you sing along with your radio when you drive? Stop that shit, you look stupid.
If you have to send someone more than 10 text messages a day, then you need to just call the motherfucker and tell ‘em. Remember how 12 years ago we just drove around out there in the world without cell phones. How did we ever survive? I get scared just thinking about it. Where’s my phone?
Coffee + research = stats?
Atlanta has gone 40-21 since May 1st, going from worst to first in the AL East. So what has changed? I definitely thought the bats needed to come alive after the month of April; the Braves only scored 85 runs and posted a .227 team batting average. In May and June, those numbers did improve, but not across the board, and especially not in any fashion that would lead me to believe that hitting alone has turned things around.
So have they climbed the ladder with defense? Hardly. The Braves currently rank 10th in the NL in Fielding %.
How about pitching? Atlanta always leans on their pitching staff, right? Well, yes and no. Stats:
April: 4.24 ERA, .240 BAA
May: 3.51 ERA, .253 BAA
June: 3.62 ERA, .249 BAA
Not much of a difference when you figure that the April ERA is really inflated by one of those blue moon moments where the Braves allowed 17 runs in one game against the offensive juggernaut known as San Diego.
So where has the turnaround come from? Dare I say luck? I might, if the wheels fall off again this year. But for now I want to highlight the five reasons I think the Braves are in first place.
1. Jonny Venters – The 25 year old lefty has been a big boost to the bullpen since his arrival. He has come in at critical moments, inducing grounders and fanning opposing hitters – all while allowing ZERO homers. He’s only allowed six earned runs in 39 innings of relief. He did blow two save opportunities, but those were in consecutive appearances against Arizona… Maybe they just have his number.
2. Troyson Glayward – the combination of Glaus and Heyward has accounted for 25 HR, 82 R, 101 RBI, and 87 BB. In May alone, they combined for 10 HR and 47 RBI. Currently, one of them is hurt, and the other is in a bit of a slump. Hopefully after the All-Star break Glayward will be back to form, providing much needed power to a team of pinch-hitters and utility men.
3. Kris Medlen – 59 K’s to 14 BB. 10 starts, 7 QS. In his last two starts (against Det & Fla) he pitched 13 innings, gave up 12 hits, allowed 2 runs, two walks, and struck out 10 batters. He’s been a pleasant surprise so far, and he’s probably the best 5th starter out there right now.
4. Bobby Cox and Roger McDowell – these two guys have done an excellent job at making lemonade from lemons. What else can you say? I get irritated with all the lineup changes and situational strategy crap, but when it works out more often than not, I’ve got to give credit where credit’s due.
5. Billy Wagner – I’ll let the closer get the save on my list. Just like when I see him coming to the mound in the 9th inning, all I can say is… It’s a wrap.
So I’m out of town for the month of May for training, stuck in a hotel in a desolate Georgia wasteland. It smells of paper mills and sulfur. Everyone drives 10 miles below the speed limit. There are more waffle houses than there are channels on the hotel television. There is no wireless internet in the hotel – well, no internet at all. At least I can get on a work computer after hours and e-mail this garbage I typed up when I was bored.
Why does everyone here have neck tattoos of people’s names in cursive?
Anyway, I had intended on writing about players I thought would breakout of their early season slumps, as well as those who would not. I mentioned Grady Sizemore. I saw on the ESPN ticker the other night that he is on the DL. I’m no longer inspired to talk about Sizemore because I was going to suggest that he was trying to play through an injury. I have no idea what his situation is other than the little “Indians place Sizemore on DL” blurb I caught while watching the Rays beat the Yankees down the other night.
I’d rather throw a couple of names out there that might be on the waiver wire for those in dire need to target. I’ve got some relatively worthless players in mind who might pick it up as the season moves along:
JHONNY PERALTA – not that I think very highly of him, but because I think he will finish the season better than he started it. Peralta has always been a streaky hitter, so don’t expect him to raise his average above .270. I do think he will finish around .260 or .270 at year’s end, so he will have to bat at least .280 from here on to do that. If you look at Peralta’s career averages you’ll see that he is right in line with tradition aside from an increased walk rate. Another plus is that he is eligible at 3B and SS, and we know how weak those two positions are this year.
The cons with Peralta – he wasn’t worth drafting, and he’s not worth owning. I’d say keep an eye on him and add him if you get in a bind for whatever reason. He just might get you .280 with 15 homers from here on out.
MIKE NAPOLI – As I’m typing I see that Napoli homered again. Look, the guy either hits the ball really far or he just swings the bat really hard and then puts the pads back on. He might hit .250 at best, but there are at least 20 more homers on the way. With Mathis out of the picture, the Angels are forced to plug Napoli into the lineup and let him swing and swing and swing. Don’t let the 40% K rate dissuade you. Instead, look at his line drive rate and understand that he is going to mash the ball when he does hit it.
The cons with Napoli – He strikes out way too much. If you need power and a catcher badly, then I’d say pick him up… Unless you want Barajas. They’re about the same as far as I’m concerned, but Barajas has already hit 10 this year, and I don’t see 20 more coming. I do see Napoli hitting 20 more, but what do I know – I hate catchers. If I had my way there wouldn’t be C spots in fantasy baseball and there wouldn’t be TE spots in fantasy football.
They’re like neck tattoos: super cool when you buy ‘em, but damn if you don’t regret that shit later.
RYAN SWEENEY – Or not. Probably won’t matter either way. 90% contact rate is nice, though.
KRIS MEDLEN – add this baby-faced bastard and enjoy. I’m tired of typing.
I wonder whatever happened to John Rocker. Would he like it here? Sweet tea, BBQ, skinny blondes who smoke and have lip rings and say “dude”. Neck tats… He would like it here. Not in this hotel though – this place is packed with busloads of retirees who stand around and bitch about the number of towels in their rooms. I swear, every morning they change their wake up time and beat me to the “continental breakfast.” And then they stand there and talk.
“wow, this is great coffee… Great coffee.”
“no, it’s too dark.”
“well, I like it better than the hotel coffee in Savannah.”
“They had enough towels there.”
“Yep. Lot of towels… Great coffee.”
Damn! Move the fuck outta the way and lemme get a damn bagel!
I apologize to any readers who click the link to this blog hoping for information about the Braves. Recently my life has been completely dominated by work, and when I haven’t been at work or otherwise working, I have been trying to spend time with the wife and kids. Also, it doesn’t help that the Braves have been… Well, they haven’t inspired me to write much about them. I am going to be out of town for the next month for training, so I have to play it by ear as far as how much writing I’ll be able to accomplish.
For those who have read and/or even enjoyed the Braves blog so far, I say thank you. As soon as I’m able (hopefully tomorrow night if the hotel has wifi) I’m going to post something I’ve been compiling notes on for a couple of weeks – summer breakouts and breakdowns. I want to give my thoughts as to why I’m not so sure Hunter Pence and Grady Sizemore are poised for the breakouts many of us expect to come at any moment. There are several others that I want to write about, and whether it’s time to get on or get off.