I don’t really have anything

Open thread. Um, point of discussion: Considering that it’s a lot easier to find a bat in right field than in center, should the Braves move their Gold Glove right fielder to center knowing he’ll just have to shift back in a couple of years?

210 thoughts on “I don’t really have anything”

  1. RE: Moving Frenchy.

    Would his plus offense as a CF overcome his questionable defense? And, how much would it cost us to get a RF? Would a Diaz-Francouer-BJones outfield send our rotation off to shiver uncontrollably in the corner of a shower while doing their ‘Leo-on-a-rocking-horse’ impression?

    That outfield wouldn’t do Chuck James any favors, but might work for Hudson and Glavine. Smoltz….ehh, I don’t have his groundball/flyball splits.

    On the surface, I would keep Frenchy where he is, and make do with whatever we can scrape up in CF. Even without Andruw, our offense should be good enough to survive with a good field/no hit in CF.

  2. If he can play adeqaute defense at that position, and it lowers what we have to put out to get that corner outfielder, then yes….

  3. The Braves look to have three, somewhat similar left-handers in their rotation at the start of next season with Glavine, James and Hampton.

    Here’s my idea: trade Chuck James and Brent Lillibridge to the Pirates for Ian Snell.

    Think it’d work?

  4. Huntington’s early comments in Pittsburgh lead me to believe that he’s gonna be a LOT smarter, and better, than Littlefield was, so it may be tougher to get one over on the Bucko’s in the years going forward.

    Of course, James/Lillibridge for Snell isn’t bad for either team, unless you’re the Braves and nervous about depleting your once deep middle infield. Snell has never put together a good Full season, but he’s talented and is #3 material. I feel ok about Escobar/Johnson up the middle; yet there are enough question marks there that I wouldn’t mind having another insurnace policy (at SS). I don’t think it’ll happen anyway.

    re: Frenchy – leave him in RF.

  5. If you’re willing to weaken the outfield at two positions by moving Frenchy, then why not just take a flyer on a CF prospect – Anderson (is that the guy we got for the Vulture?) or Lillibridge being the stop-gap CF.

    I really think that our offense is strong enough with Escobar-KJ-Chipper-Tex-McCann-Frenchy-Diaz/BJones that we can handle having a Cesar Geronimo type player in CF. (Heh, I’m showing my age with the Geronimo reference, aren’t I?).

    So keep Frenchy in RF.

  6. I think it’s easier to find decent centerfield defense than trying to find a big bat for right field. I just don’t see Frenchy as a centerfielder and I like his arm in right. Of course, Frenchy’s offense would be above average in CF but is so-so in right.

    Seat Painter, I’m with you on the Geronimo reference. I am old enough to remember him too. But, in fairness, teams could afford to carry weak hitters, a al Mark Belanger at SS, in those days. I’m not sure that’s a viable option today, except possibly at catcher.

  7. Why is it a given that Frenchy will provide less than quality defense? He’s got a plus arm for right, which means he’ll have an above average arm in center, and I think his range will be good enough to cover center. He won’t have Andruw’s range, but just his sheer foot speed will allow him to have good range in center. I don’t think moving him to center and finding someone for right will be that bad of an idea. Question is, who plays right?

  8. I think Frenchy’s arm is what made him GG in rightfield, and not his range, or his routes. Frenchy has what is called long speed, and he doesn’t get great jumps, its easier to hide that in RF than in Center. Please no Francoeur in center it wouldn’t be pretty.

  9. Who will play RF? I know the theory is it is easier to find a good hitting RF than CF, but in practice the Braves haven’t always been able to find good hitters for ‘hitters’ positions. The team has struggled to find a consistently good 1B for a long time until Teixeira, and they’ve been getting by with fluky platoons in LF for a while. I say keep Frenchy in RF untill a better RF drops in your lap.

  10. Teams back then usually had one or two really bad hitters. (On the other hand, their benches were usually stronger than today’s.) Just taking a look at World Champions:

    1971 Pirates: Dave Alley, SS, hit .227 .296 .342 (79 OPS+)
    1972 A’s: Bert Campaneris, SS, hit .240 .278 .325 (84 OPS+) That was the team that didn’t have a regular second baseman: Tim Cullen, who played 72 games, had an 88 OPS+, which was a lot better than the second and third guys.
    1973 A’s: Campy was even worse, .250 .308 .318 (81 OPS+) and Ray Fosse, C, hit .256 .291 .354 (85 OPS+)
    1974 A’s: Campy had a good year, but most-regular 2B Dick Green hit .213 .269 .275 (61 OPS+) and their most-usual first baseman and DH both had OPS+ in the eighties.
    1975 Reds: Geronimo hit .257 .327 .363 (90 OPS+) and Concepcion hit .274 .326 .353 (88 OPS+)
    1976 Reds: An exception — everyone was above average. Bench was actually one of their worst hitters.
    1977 Yankees: SS Bucky Dent hit .247 .300 .352 (79 OPS+)
    1978 Yankees: Dent was even worse, .243 .286 .317 (72 OPS+) For fun, mention this to a Red Sox fan.
    1979 Pirates: 2B Rennie Stennett hit .238 .289 .292 (56 OPS+), overshadowing C Ed Ott (86 OPS+) and SS Tim Foli (83 OPS+).
    1980 Phillies: C Bob Boone hit .229 .299 .338 (75 OPS+), thereby influencing his sons to take steroids; SS Larry Bowa hit .267 .300 .322 (71 OPS+), and CF Garry Maddox hit .259 .278 .386 (84 OPS+)

    So yeah, teams back in our youth usually had some really bad hitters. Remember, these are the best teams. The 1980 Cubs, who lost 98 games, had a second baseman named — really — Mike Tyson, with a 65 OPS+, and other regulars at 78, 88, and 62.

  11. I think the real problem is who goes to right. There isn’t a trade target or free agent that would naturally fit there. (If somebody has one, let us know).

    The question is what are the fielding deficiencies of Brandon Jones? He played left a lot last year, so I have to believe at least part of it is arm strength. In which case I say, no.

    The other option would be Diaz. He covers ground effectively (the + / – pegs him as nearly the best in baseball in left field after you adjust for innings played) and seems to have at least a plus arm for left. If he can do it, then that would let you look for LEFT FIELDERS which is certainly a bigger group to choose from.

    Except for conceding an arb yer this year (in other words, starting arbitration in 2011 and free agency after 2013 as opposed to adding another year) the focus needs to be on either (1) a cheap decent trade (DeJesus?) or (2) letting the last man standing (Anderson, Lillibridge, Schafer) get the job.

  12. Why not a guy like Steve Finley- it sounds like he’ll take a minor league contract, if he doesn’t pan out in spring training oh well. I can’t think of a better one year stop gap then him. We got the offense.

  13. The Braves have an above-average player for the position behind the plate right now in McCann. My guess is that even if Anderson or Lillibridge have to start in center, it would be about the same as last year’s offense, overall.

  14. clarke,

    I’d rather have Scott Podsednik than Steve Finley. Finley has nothing left. Podsednik might have something left, but he would most likely produce the same as Anderson or Lillibridge in center: not much.

  15. Sam,
    You’re right. I was thinking back to that 2004 year he split with arizona and the dodgers. Thats a long time for a guy that old.

  16. Eeeeeeyep.

    As for the other topic, it wouldn’t be a good idea to take Francoeur from a position where he’s adequate and move him to a position where his defense could be a liability.

  17. but just his sheer foot speed will allow him to have good range in center

    Sort of like how just his sheer foot speed will allow him to steal bases, too, right? There’s definitely more to range than foot speed.

    Count me as one, like Frank Wren, who’s against a Smurph-in-CF experiment.

  18. Again, someone has suggested that moving Frenchy to CF could be a liability. Other than a gut feeling, how could we know?

    I’m searching for range factors and such things this morning trying to get a picture. So far, I know that he has about 320 put out in each of the last 2 years. Is there an online method of comparing this with his peers?

  19. I voted for Woodward, based on his pure lack of value to the team, but if this were a poll about who was least valuable in regards to expectation, and percentage of payroll they garnered, then Andruw would have won hands down.

  20. I voted for Woodward because he didn’t do anything well the entire season.

    I vote to keep Frenchy in right. I’m not convinced he’s a major-league CF. He is what he is; let’s not make him what he’s not.

  21. Well, if the “poor range” and “bad routes” arguments are to be believed, then it just seems natural to me that Francoeur can’t be a good centerfielder because he’s bad at those things in right.

  22. For the record, I don’t believe that Frenchy is bad at those things, and even if he is, it’s like Matt Diaz: you can do it ugly if you do it right. For the most part, he does it right.

  23. I gave it to Andruw, I’m afraid. I don’t think Woody had anywhere near number of chances to hurt the team that Andruw did. I love Andruw, always have and probably always will, but his putrid 2007 was the single biggest reason the Braves lost.

  24. Woodward is the easy choice. He hasn’t deserved a spot on a major league roster in years. Why the Braves signed him rather than let a cheaper youngster handle the utility infielder role is mind boggling.

    Francoeur is perfect for RF. His defense would be exposed in CF. I’d rather go with a good defensive CF such as Anderson, Blanco, or even Lillibridge and leave Jeff where he is. I’d hope that this is the year that Jeff puts it all together. If he does, then we won’t need that extra outfield bat.

  25. Not that he would be the favorite, but shouldn’t Tanyon Sturtze at least be on the list of least valuable? Didn’t we pay him around a million bucks for nothing? Did he ever even put on a jersey?

  26. Keep Frenchy in right. I don’t want him trying to learn a new position when 100% of his focus needs to be directed to his approach at the plate.

  27. Coaching Changes:

    1. Mike Sherman in at A&M
    2. Chan Gailey fired at GT
    3. Jeff Bower will not return to Southern Miss after his 14th straight winning season

  28. chan fired?

    oh jesus, us Tar Heels are gonna get some of those recruits…

    100-1 is Tenuta (sp?) their DC as their next HC…and he’s an ASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS who HATES recruiting…

    nah, i’m not bitter at all, but you need to look no further than UNC’s defense now to see very very very very few seniors (who would have been recruited by Tenuta)

  29. I would love to see the Braves trade for Snell–but I think that it would take more than Lillibridge and James.

    Scott Podsednik’s last couple of seasons are pretty ugly–but I think that if the Braves cannot secure a quality CF, they should invite him to Spring Training or try to sign him to minor league contract. After all, he might have one more good year left…

  30. Not a good year to be replacing a coach with Michigan, Nebraska, Texas A&M open and possibly LSU, Arkansas, among others.

    The other issue is that the Athletic Department is strapped financially, so don’t look for a big name hire.

    The word in ATL is Edsel from UConn or Paul Johnson from Navy as possible replacements. Both have Tech ties.

  31. I think Paul Johnson would be a terrific hire for GT. He is still respected greatly for what he was able to do at Southern. I would love for him to bring a spread offense to GT. It might actually make one of their games bearable.

    I seriously doubt that Arkansas will be looking for a coach after what was arguably one of their biggest wins in school history. I know not all of their fans are happy, but it would be tough to fire Nutt after that game.

  32. Coaches gone:

    1. Texas A&m – Franchione out, Mike Sherman in
    2. Georgia Tech – Gailey out
    3. Michigan – Carr retires
    4. Southern Miss – Jeff Bower out/retired
    5. Duke – Ted Roof out
    6. Ole Miss – Orgeron out
    7. Nebraska – Callaghan out
    8. Baylor – Morriss out

    any others?? Im guessing Houston Nutt will be retained at Arkansas and for some reason Weiss will be at Notre Dame

  33. Another person that should be on that list is Greg Robinson of Syracuse. He has driven that program into the ground. Syracuse has never been a great team, but it was usually at least a top 30 team. Since Robinson took over it has been one of the worst teams in D-I.

  34. Podsednik sucks in center. Sucks. Not a CF. Fast as can be imagined, obviously, but takes terrible routes and doesn’t have good hands. He’s a left fielder, which, given his offense, demonstrates how much he sucks.

  35. A few things…

    1) Leave Frenchy where he is.
    2) James/Lillibridge for Snell is not exactly a good idea at this point. Not only would it deplete out infield depth, but it would alter the look of our rotation for years to come. After this year, Glavine and Hampton are gone (where are all the lefties then – Reyes would hopefully fit the bill by then)
    3) Andruw Jones is NOT the biggest reason we didn’t reach the postseason this year. We didn’t reach the post season b/c our 3 through 5 starters couldn’t go longer than 5 innings and it in turn tore up our bullpen. That being said, nobody was worse than Mark Redman b/c he left us in a catch up mode the rest of the season.
    4) I’m fine with a defensive replacement in center – our offense will be fine.

  36. I can’t believe they fired Gailey over the fact that his offense sucked.

    Screw Reggie Ball, screw calling the plays himself, screw all that “controversy”. Gailey was fired because he couldn’t beat Georgia.

    I will go on the record right now and say that the next head coach will be fired after one season if Tech loses to Georgia in 2008.

  37. Sam,

    That’s absurd. Unless they just have some interim coach for a year, the new coach will not be fired after one year unless there’s some sort of off-the-field scandal.

  38. Stu,

    Well, I suppose it’s absurd, but I really think that whoever decided this was wrong. Georgia Tech will only show marginal improvement, if any, under a new coach because they just don’t have the players. I really think it’s all on them.

  39. Is any one else sick of the Jeff Bennett propaganda Peanut’s putting out?

    In his new mailbag he’s saying that Bennett’s nearly a lock to make at least the bullpen because, oh my heavens, he’s out of options!!!1111

  40. Actually Arkansas is talking possible extension with Nutt, so I wouldn’t call him out of a job just yet.

  41. If Bennett has been effective lately, what’s the big deal with giving him a shot at the pen, he is on a minimum salary, and if he can prove effective in the Vulture’s role, then there is no harm.

  42. Braves14,

    I am not really buying that either. He had a few nice starts at the end of the season. There is nothing that would give you any indication that he could be a major contributor in the starting rotation for a full year.

  43. Gailey is gone because going 7-5, losing to Georgia, and going to the “who gives a crap” bowl every year is uninspiring. When they had a chance to grasp the brass ring last year, the team ultimately disappointed in the end, as they always have under Gailey.

  44. Seems to me that Bennett could assume the swingman (Villarreal) role this year. And he’s got better stuff than The Vulture, right?

    Sam,

    If you don’t think a coach can do better than Gailey has at Georgia Tech, I think you’re crazy. While I don’t think Tech fans should ever expect to win as many games against UGA as they lose, the ACC is terrible, and Tech should have been winning more than it has been. I think you’ll see improvement with a new coach.

  45. Because it’s Monday:
    Check out the 11 newcomers to the Hall of Fame Ballot. I would not vote for a single one of them on merit; only a few out of nostalgia.

    A-Rod negotiated a media contract with the Yankees based on reaching historic home run levels. Wonder if Boras got any of that money.

    I voted for Woodward. He’s the symbol of the diasppointing parts of 2006. He’s not in my nightmares, but the memories are still vivid.

  46. I don’t understand anyone who thinks Chan Gailey is a good coach. He has been mediocre in the NFL and just as mediocre at GT. He consistenly loses games that he should not. His teams are rarely adequately prepared, and he is just as consistently out-coached.

  47. Georgia Tech hasn’t had a complete offense in eight years, people. That’s why I think that no other coach can succeed more than Gailey has.

  48. So a better coach could not getter better performance out of the same players? Then, what exactly would make that coach “better”?

  49. Wow I completely whiffed on that Nutt story, the local paper ran this morning had a story about Nutt most likely staying and signing an extension.

  50. I do know this: I’ve never blamed Gailey for anything because I’ve always thought it was up to the players to execute whatever play would be called.

    Could it be his fault that Georgia Tech was so mediocre? Yeah. I suppose I’ll just wait for next season then. That’s all I have to say without displaying my ignorance.

  51. So you take for granted that the plays called are the right ones to have been called?

    I don’t watch a whole lotta Georgia Tech football, but I do know that they’ve recruited well enough—and have a prestigious enough history—that they should have been able to make more noise in their seriously-down-right-now conference than they have under Gailey.

  52. csg,

    I doubt it. Don’t think the fan base would get too excited about hiring a coach that was just fired by a division rival.

    Now, David Cutcliffe’s a pretty good coach. Maybe the Rebels should make a run at him. Oh, wait.

  53. It’s Georgia Tech football. They’re just not going to do a whole lot better than what Gailey has done — what Ross and O’Leary did was miraculous in retrospect. 7-5 or 8-4 is remarkable at a school with Tech’s limitations.

  54. Gailey should go back to the NFL. He is a top-flight NFL offensive coordinator.

    Sam,
    Isn’t it Gailey’s fault that they don’t have enough good players. Recruiting is also part of his job, is it not?

  55. Georgia Tech doesn’t have the fanbase or the resources of, say, Georgia. They can’t recruit on the same level. Heck, even Bobby Dodd couldn’t recruit on the same level as Alabama and Georgia back in the day.

    Nutt will officially resign, and is supposed to be at the press conference. It’s probably largely a face-saving move, but he’ll get another job somewhere without too much egg on his face.

  56. What limitations, Mac? Tech’s standards are no higher than the NCAA minimum requirements, at least not in football or men’s basketball.

    They’re in the state of Georgia. They have a pretty solid history. They’re in a very weak conference (at least right now). Their current roster, aside from maybe the QB position, shows that recruiting good players isn’t very tough.

  57. Seriously, why did A&M hire Mike Sherman? I can’t get over this.

    Mac,

    I could be wrong but I seem to recall a few top 15 recruiting classes at Tech under Gailey.

  58. You want to know why they hired Mike Sherman? Two words: Pete Carroll.

    Heck, Sherman was 57-39 as an NFL head coach, which is a lot better than Carroll. He coached six seasons, in five of which he had winning records, four of which he made the playoffs. The evidence suggests that he’s not a bad coach.

  59. I guess I just have an inferiority complex. Every year, something is always broken at Tech, whether it’s the coach’s plays, the quarterback, bad pass defense, whatever.

    Who the hell knows how the next coach will do, given the fact that Tech is half a team at this point?

  60. Pete Carroll is the exception to the rule. I can’t recall another pro coach that went to the college ranks and had success.

    I would’ve rather taken a run at Tuberville, who, by all reports, they had a legit shot at.

  61. Look, no realistic Tech fan believes that we will have a better football team year in and year out than the traditional power schools. But there is no doubt in my mind that Tech should have done better than they have the past couple of years, particularly given the relative weakness of FSU, Miami, and Va Tech compared to previous seasons.

  62. Mike Sherman was actually a pretty competent coach, and was a lot better than Wandstedt at Pitt or Callahan at Nebraska. He also has done some coaching in the college level, so has some understanding as to what it takes. I would take Mike Sherman over a lot of other coaches. I think he won the division 4 times and won a couple of playoff games.

  63. Kirk H,

    That would make sense, if Tech actually had to play FSU.

    They’ve beaten Miami twice in the space of four years, and they blew out Virginia Tech at their place last year. Hell, I never expected them to win this year, and it wasn’t because of Gailey.

  64. I don’t think it’s Georgia Tech’s academic standards per se that’s the problem but the scope of the curriculum. I’m certainly no expert on this, but my understanding is that it is heavy on engineering and not that heavy on liberal arts. When I was a TA at UGA, it was pretty well known that football and basketball players didn’t take the hardest classes. I taught Poli Sci but I will certainly acknowledge that it’s easier than physics. Not to say that Tech players don’t make the NFL but I just think a place like Tech is at a real disadvantage viz a viz someplace like Georgia in recruiting players whose primary goal is playing in the NFL and don’t have much interest in an engineering program. I doubt that Knowshon Moreno came from New Jersey to Georgia because he was impressed with the pre-med program.

  65. My point is there was a power vacuum that Tech lost the opportunity to fill. Last year, they had a legitimate chance to beat UGA, win the ACC, and raise the profile of the program in a BCS game. They failed to do any of that. Then, they didn’t do anything this year to consoldidate the gains of the previous season, beating only one decent team the entire year. It was time for a change.

  66. Marc,

    That’s what the Business Management degree is for at Tech. At least that’s my understanding.

    Trust me, I knew a couple of Georgia Tech athletes with whom I went to high school—it was possible to have a place on campus and still be very, very dumb.

  67. 90, that is exactly right. The easiest academic program at Tech is Industrial Management (at least it was back in my day), which isn’t as heavy on the math and science as the engineering majors, but is still not a walk in the park.

  68. Anyway, that’s what you seem to be implying. A change may not bring success; it could just as easily bring failure or the same thing.

    I can live with a change, sure, but I don’t think it’ll work because Georgia Tech doesn’t have all the players to get anywhere.

  69. Just so you guys know, our friends at Chop-n-Change are looking for a new writer. (I’m thinking of applying, though writing 2-3 pieces a week during the regular season is pretty heavy.) The submission deadline is December 1. Here’s the link.

  70. Well, there seems to be a disagreement between Stu and Kirk as far as Tech. I don’t doubt that there are athletes at Tech that aren’t planning to be engineers (that would be a scary thought) but, from my experience (which is almost 30 years ago)it just seems there would be more places to hide at a place like Georgia. And, at least when I was at Georgia, there were very few, if any, women at Tech (although it’s probably changed since then).

  71. Oh I think so, Stu.

    Heck, why not? He did win the SEC West in ’06 and is a PR upgrade over Orgeron.

    If I’m Ole Miss, my top candidates are:
    Houston Nutt
    Dennis Franchione
    Bo Pelini (fat chance)
    Will Muschamp (I could see that happening..)

    Muschamp would be an excellent fit, young energetic guy, much like Andy Kennedy with basketball..

  72. Message to Ole Miss fans: “We’ll take Arkansas’ castoffs!”

    I don’t disagree that Nutt would be fine for the job—who wouldn’t be better than Orgeron?—but I just don’t see it happening under the present circumstances.

  73. Haven’t seen mention that David Justice is up for the HOF this year… and he’s one of the leads for the new round of nominees, which doesn’t say much for the new nominees. Anybody think the Bonds indictment helps Murph get a few more votes this year?

  74. Nutt beat up on Mississippi State this past year, knows Arkansas inside and out, has been just about even with Auburn and Alabama..

    I think he puts Ole Miss 3rd/4th in the West year-in year-out..

  75. #106: if there were any justice in the universe, yes. In this universe, no.

    May everyone in the BBWAA who thinks Jim Rice deserves a vote and Dale doesn’t get coal in their stockings until they retire.

  76. Dale Murphy not being in the Hall of Fame is a joke. The writers who are that board are completely clueless. I know that his numbers do not look as impressive if you put them in the context of today’s numbers, but he was easily one of the best hitters during his time. He has to be in!

  77. Ububba,

    Yes, the estimable Tyrone Sorrels failed to obtain enough credits to be academically eligible at UGA. However, he did qualify academically as a student to the Georgia Institute of Technology, because he was a transfer student.

    I don’t remember any Tech students becoming academically ineligible and then later enrolling at Georgia.

  78. I am originally from Sumter County and “know of” Chan Gailey.

    I am not sure if he is that good of a coach, but I don’t think he is that bad. Yes, Tech failed to consolidate itself in a time when the ACC powers had left a vacuum. However, Tech’s primary problem has been getting the horses. On that front, stability in coaching is important and Tech’s recruiting had improved significantly.

    As a Georgia fan, this breaks two ways. One, Tech will fall back before it can come forward. However, we can’t really take glee in that. It is important for Georgia recruiting that Tech at least be pretty good. When they aren’t, then all of the players and high school coaches who have always hated Georgia can steer to Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Georgia is better off when Tech gets a few of those each year.

  79. I have never spoken to Chan Gailey personally, but from people I talk to and trust within the coaching profession, former people in his coaching staffs, people that hired him, he’s the consummate professional. I really hate it – he was one of the good guys in the trade..

  80. as someone who watched all of Chan Gailey’s games in charge of the Cowboys, Cliff I can reassure you that he is that bad of a coach.

  81. Cliff,
    Thanks for that. I forgot that tight end’s name.

    As a UGA grad, I look at Georgia Tech 2 wildly different ways:
    1) The unrealistic demon that resides inside all us Georgia fans believes that we should never lose to Tech, so it shouldn’t matter who coaches over there because we’ll always have the better players.

    2) The rational Spock that resides in few of us Georgia fans knows that Tech is due to win 2 or 3 games per decade and we’re just on an unprecedented run right now.

  82. Word is that the Angels are looking to dump Gary Mathews Jr, and may be willing to eat a large part of his salary…..if we could get him for a mid level prospect and and they pay 50-70% of his salary, would you do it?

  83. Hampton hurt.

    By David O’Brien

    November 26, 2007 5:27 PM | Link to this

    Hey, you guys aren’t going to believe this. I know, I know, it’s hard to believe, but: Mike Hampton has a hamstring injury.

    Wren didn’t know about it when I talked to him early Friday before my flight to Kansas City, but he found out later that day. He just told me.

    Looks like very good chance Hampton won’t pitch again this winter. I’m gonna write something now for the paper and online. Be back shortly.

  84. No surprise, I guess. Anything we get out of Hampton will be very expensive gravy.

    Gary Matthews is a pretty good left-handed hitter & a downright awful right-handed hitter.

  85. Aren’t there like 4 years left on his deal? They’d have to pay at least 75-80% of his salary—and I highly doubt they’d do this—for me to have even remote interest.

  86. Here’s my HOF ballot, in order of merit:

    Blyleven
    Raines
    Rice
    Murphy
    Gossage
    —cut line—
    Smith
    Parker
    Trammell
    John
    Dawson
    Baines

    Not yet considered: McGwire

  87. Sort of like how just his sheer foot speed will allow him to steal bases, too, right? There’s definitely more to range than foot speed.

    I agree. Good reads and routes are just as big. That’s not the point I was trying to make, and in my opinion, comparing it to stealing bases is different. On the base paths, you have about 80 feet from your lead-off to the bag. In the outfield, it is considerably more. While quickness (time it takes to get to full speed aspect of quickness, not necessarily foot speed) is helpful in stealing bases, long speed, as Justin Parker said, would only help a center fielder as compared to a right fielder. When the average distance from normal outfield depth to a deep fly ball is greater in center than in right field, long speed helps an outfielder. Francouer’s long speed can only help him get to balls other can’t, and that ability wouldn’t necessarily show up in right field, where there is less range necessary.

  88. Oh, and pas on Gary Matthews Jr. He has a big, big year for his standards, signs a monster contract, gets busted for PEDs, and then has a significantly worse year. I know he went from a great hitters park to a less hitter-friendly field, but the timing is just too sketchy for me.

  89. Allow me to clarify:

    My point wasn’t that playing CF is like stealing second, but that, as with stealing bases, you can’t just assume someone will have adequate defensive range in CF because he’s fast. And that’s the only criterium you listed in making the assumption that Smurph would “have good range in center.”

  90. Well, that’s not the only reason I think he’ll have good range. Plus speed helps, but he’s become a better outfielder in the two years he’s been at the major league level. If he continues even half of that growth curve, I think he’ll continue to improve into being a good center fielder. I don’t think he’ll ever be Andruw Jones-quality in center, but I think he’ll give you decent range, with a plus arm, and make him a passable center fielder defensively. With his offense, that’s a pretty good center fielder.

    The only problem with this situation is that there really isn’t a candidate to play right. Until you have someone that’s worth pushing Francouer out of his natural position, the situation is kind of pointless to debate.

  91. 104. I’m an Ole Miss fan and my list goes:

    1)Art Briles – Houston
    2) Brian Kelly – Cinncinnati
    3) Paul Johnson – Navy
    4)Norm Chow (if we have to go co-ordinator route) – Titans
    5)Rick Neueishel – Baltiomore Ravens
    6) Chris Hatcher – Georgia Southern
    7) Chuck Martin – Grand Valley State
    8) Mike Tice – Tampa Bay Bucs
    9) Glen Mason – Big Ten network
    10) Jeff Bower – Former USM coach
    11) Houston Nutt – Former Arkansas coach

  92. Rob, saying a center fielder won’t “ever be Andruw Jones-quality in center” is more or less a truism. Other than Willie Mays, basically no center fielder in the history of the game has been Andruw Jones-quality in center. I’m just not certain that Francoeur can be above average in center, because he has a disturbing tendency to take dumb routes, same as he does on the basepaths.

  93. Well alright, he may not be Vernon Wells or Torii Hunter-quality. Little bit closer to Earth…

  94. While I completely agree that Georgia has more ‘places to hide’ for athletes who are uninterested in academics, it does bear noting that the basketbally team at Georgia Tech has brought in some… um, not-so-bright guys in the past. Granted, they stayed one or two years, but the point remains that Tech can bring in athletes on par with some of the major programs in the country. I’m always curious why these things don’t translate from sport to sport (as they do at Florida or Ohio State, etc.).

  95. One thing I have noticed is that other than USC, and for awhile Miami, it’s hard for big-city schools to win consistently in football. That doesn’t seem to be the case so much in basketball.

  96. Hey, they both get in, so what’s the problem? Rice gets extra credit from me for the aura that surrounded him in the late ’70s. He was bigger than life in a way nobody else was again until McGwire.

    That’s subjective, but so is a lot of the defense of Murph. I don’t mind — I want to see him enshrined, too. But this is my damn ballot! :)

  97. Mac,

    That is an interesting point, but most big campuses are usually in smaller rural areas where you can have cheap land. There are not many programs with large campuses in the middle of cities. I think this is one of those things where you do not have many successful programs in big cities, only because there are not many big campuses in major cities.

    I personally think that is one selling point GT has. You can still get a similar atmosphere while being in the city. I think the attractions that a city brings would entice some.

  98. .293 .338 .444 looks downright good in center field but weak in the power department in right field. I don’t understand why the Braves won’t at least entertain the idea of playing Frenchy in center. I don’t think that he is gonna provide defense like Jones but then who is? Diaz or try the market for a corner outfielder seems like it would be better than looking for a stop gap no hit center fielder. Besides Shafer has a very long way to go before he makes the big club.

  99. I would have Jim Rice ahead of Dale Murphy, too. In my book, Rice just gets over the bar, but Murphy just misses it.

    Murph: 398 HR/1,266 RBI/265 BA/346 OP/469 SP/815 OPS/2 MVP Awards (never finished higher than 7th after that)

    Rice: 382 HR, 1,452 RBI/298 BA/352 OP/502 SP/854 OPS/1 MVP Award, plus 5 other times in the Top 5 voting

    I would argue that Murphy was a dominant player for 7 of the 8 years between 1980-87. I would argue that Rice was a dominant player for 10 of the 12 years between 1975-86.

    Murph, of course, was a better defender at a more critical position, he stole some bases & was a nicer guy. And there was a time when he was the very best player in the NL.

    Murphy is an odd one because IMO he wasn’t great quite long enough. (I tend to go with what I consider “HoF years.”) What’s weird is that he doesn’t have the “compiler numbers” either (i.e.—he wasn’t mediocre long enough either). A bad combo for HoF voters.

  100. Realistically, I’m sure that Gossage and Rice are going to get in. I know that in the real world, Murphy and Blyleven won’t.

  101. Another thing from Peanut’s mailbag that irritates me:

    With the expectation that Glavine will serve as a positive influence, my current guess is that James will at least be given a chance to start the year in the Majors and prove that last year’s struggles were a product of his fatigued shoulder.

    Last year’s struggles? Yeah, Reyes, Cormier, etc. were so much better than James last year.

    I don’t understand why there is even a debate about James being in the rotation. And Hampton being plugged in the 4th spot ahead of him.

  102. @141

    If Hampton can, Hapton pitches. You don’t pay him $15 mill and make him compete. If he doesn’t ‘earn’ the spot, do you cut him, and let someone else pay him the minimum? SOMEONE will take a chance on him.

    If he can pitch, he’s in there. He doesn’t ‘compete’ for a spot.

    I think the ‘competition’ for James is being blown out of proportion, maybe just to rattle his cage. MAYBE Jair Jurrjens blows him out of the water and takes the spot… But I don’t see them giving it to Jo Jo or Bennett.

    But with Hampton hurt again, the whole argument could turn out to be purely academic.

  103. Dunno if anyone posted it, but this is from DOB’s Hampton story:

    “The Braves were responsible for $48.5 million of his salary during 2003-08, but insurance covered part of it the past two seasons. Wren said insurance would pay part of it again if Hampton is DL’d in 2008.

    “The Braves have never disclosed how much of Hampton’s salary has been covered by insurance while on the disabled list; the amount was believed to be between 40-60 percent on a prorated basis.”

  104. @141

    I think that the biggest competition comes from Jurrjens seeing as how the bottom 3 in the rotation are all lefties (baring another Hampton injury) and I’m not sure BC will (or should) split Smoltz/Hudson with Glavine between them. He might slot Glavine at 3 with Jurrjens 4 and Hampton 5 to split the combo…who knows, and I’m not saying thats the way to go either!

    One name I looked at to fill centerfield this year that hasn’t been mentioned is Brad Wilkerson. The minuses: 1.) Strikes out way too much….2.) Hit only .234 (hey, that’s better than Druw’) 3.) How good can he be in CF defensively when he really hasnt played a full season there in three years?…………so yeah, I think I just answered my own question, but at least it was an interesting thought…for all of four seconds.

  105. #143–Oh, Hampton should start. He should be the 5th starter who is skipped over for extra rest. (Granted, James isn’t the most durable pitcher, but Hampton takes the cake)

  106. I honestly believe they should go with a 6 man rotation next year – assuming there are 6 quality arms to throw out. If you think about it, they only guy I would really want out there every 5 days at this point is Hudson (because of his age and seasoning). The rest of the rotation is either getting old (Smoltz, Glavine), injured (Hampton), or don’t have quite enough seasoning (James, Jujjerjerjens, Reyes). And I know Smoltz can probably handle every 5 days, but I’d rather have him well rested for the postseason, because it appears he is still our best pitcher even at his age. Don’t think it will happen, but it was just a thought…

  107. I’ll put up a shiny quarter to anyone who thinks Hampton will pitch 40 innings this year. The man’s body is wracked. He can’t do it. He’s a body double for the Monty Python parrot.

    I wouldn’t have wished it on him, but his signing was a fiasco from Day 1, and I don’t think it’s out of bounds to claim that we are where we are, and the Rockies are where they are, in large part because we took him off their hands. He’s not a bad guy, but we screwed ourselves by obtaining him.

  108. I started out saying that we aren’t where we are because of Hampton, but we probably are. Add $15M to our payroll or give us a quality starting pitcher, and we’re in the money. Of course, we’d also have Tim Spooneybarger, and I’m sure he would have helped last year. Not that this isn’t utterly pointless, but I wonder where we’d be if either a) Hampton could pitch or b) we never traded for him to begin with.

  109. Probably the same failure of postseason runs, if you ask me. We had the best rotations in the whole damn world and yet we still didn’t win.

  110. I’m sure Chris Woodward would be proud to lead this poll. I think his agent will definately use this poll to get him a new deal. Hopefully, back to the Mets.

  111. I voted for Woodward–but only because the poll is open-ended. Had it been who had the most negative influence on the 2007 Braves? or who was the biggest underachiever then it would have been a much harder question to answer. Woodward never really had much value to begin with….

  112. One would think Tech could get getter athletes than UGA when you consider the education and earning potential for a Tech grad is exponentially better than a UGA grad.

  113. I just read about the break-in 8 days before the shooting. Someone took a kitchen knife and laid it on his bed before leaving. That’s a chilling fact, and makes you think that this was a murder attempt, not a robbery gone bad.

    Agree with Cary, awful news for his family. Especially since it seemed Taylor had gotten his head on straight with the birth of his daughter last year.

  114. Unless Bobby hates Chucky, James already has a spot locked up in the rotation. He’s the only candidate beyond Smoltz, Hampton, Hudson, and Glavine who has any track record of success at the major league level. We’d all like to see him go deeper into games of course, but he’s been far better than Reyes and has much more experience than Bennett or Jurjens. Anyway since odds are Hampton will go down again in spring training, James is the 4th starter and the real competition is for who takes Hampton’s spot. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jurjens win it with Reyes or Bennett replacing Villareal as long reliever.

  115. Terrible news about Taylor, he had grown up so much from his Miami days and was finally emerging as a real safety and leader instead of being a headhunter.

  116. I would vote for Gossage and Blyleven. Murph was great but I agree with Ububba–he didn’t have enough HOF-caliber years. And yes, there are certainly worse players in the Hall but that’s not the point. On the other hand, 16% of respondents to the AJC poll think David Justice, with his .279 lifetime batting average and 305 home runs, should be in the Hall of Fame.

    It’s sad and tragic about Sean Taylor but, having attended U of M and lived in Miami for five years, it’s hard not to see this as a continuation of the UM experience. Taylor has apparently grown up–all the commentators here in DC are saying this–but so many things have happened to UM players and it just can’t be a coincidence. I don’t think this was just a random act of violence. While this may sound cynical (it is), I find it sort of silly for people to hold candlelight vigils–which people are doing in this area (DC) for a guy they don’t know and whose only connection they have is having seen him play for the Redskins. Where are the vigils for the other hundreds of people that are murdered in DC or Miami but that aren’t NFL players? Would they hold a vigil if Sean Taylor had been a lousy player?

  117. They’re holding candle-light vigils? Wow.

    I know there have been things that happened to Miami players, but there are also a lot of former Miami players in the NFL who have been fine. It’s also possible Taylor had someone stalking him; that there was an earlier break-in makes the possibility of first-degree murder much more likely. It’s terrible news all around… wow.

  118. I would think shooting someone like him in the leg was to end his football career. Maybe a drug deal gone bad or something. Of course he was hurt, I wonder if it was a ‘roid deal gone bad.

  119. No, but I think that intent to do harm that leads to death may bring the same charge. But then I don’t know…

  120. It’s been reported that the phone lines to the home were cut, and there were also other family members in the house (in addition to Taylor’s fiancee and baby who were in the bedroom with him when he was shot).

    It sounds a lot like a murder. Two shots were fired, one hit, one missed. The assailants then fled. Nothing was taken.

  121. I dont think the shot was aimed at his leg. I think it was kind of a frantic situation where Taylor noticed/confronted the intruder who then fired off some shots. The report I read was that Taylor was carrying a machete that he kept for protection and that one of the shots missed him, the other striking his leg. It doesn’t sound like a scenario where someone deliberately shot his leg with a particular purpose to end his career.

  122. Marc, sad to say I share your cynicism. The notion that he was growing up and turning his life around may indeed have been true — I certainly don’t know. What I do know is that it’s an easy thing to say, and it’s often said in these situations by people close to the deceased (because they want to believe it, whether it’s true or not), and also by those who report on the death (because it adds punch to the tragic narrative).

    For the media’s part, employing the “turning his life around” narrative even when it doesn’t seem warranted is hardly worthy of much criticism — if anything, it’s a virtuous sin. But that claim sits in black and white right next to the details of Taylor’s off-field life.

    It’s a tragedy not because he was on a path to sainthood, or because he was a great and famous athlete, but because someone lost a kid, and someone else lost a father. That’s the extent of it.

  123. I think that is actually a good hire for Ole Miss. Nutt definitely has his deficiencies, but that is probably the best case situation that Ole Miss could ask for. They are getting a quality head with a solid resume. Their only other option would be to get a coordinator again.

  124. I think the shooter could be charged with felony murder, ie, a killing during the commission of another felony (breaking into the house). It’s been a long time since law school but, as I recall, at the time i was studying for the Bar, the Florida felony murder law was pretty broad and treated felony murder as a capital crime, which means, this being Florida and Taylor being a celebrity, that the shooter could be facing the needle (or whatever the state will be allowed to use once the Supreme Court rules).

  125. Awful news on Sean Taylor

    Wryn’s Early 2008 SEC West Predictions:
    1- Auburn
    2- LSU
    3- Mississippi State
    T4- Alabama
    T4- Ole Miss
    6- Arkansas

  126. Wryn,
    I think it will take Nutt a year or two to get Ole Miss back up to speed and that Arkansas still has at least one more year out of the cellar thanks to Felix Jones. I’d say your prediction is more likely for 2009. Next year I’d switch Arkansas and Ole Miss.

  127. Felix Jones is going pro. Wow, what a surprise Auburn Guy thinks they are going to win the West. Next year must be the year they win the SEC again, right? “Next year”, sounds familiar…

  128. still laughing about someone “showing their age” by referencing ceasar geronimo. the first reds cf i remember was vada pinson, one of the best players not in( or ever seriously considered for) the HOF.

  129. Hey, give the Auburn people a break. What else do they have going for them besides a usually-pretty-good football team?

  130. A question to ponder:

    Is Nick Saban the Billy Clyde Gillespie of football this year in the SEC, or is Billy Clyde the Saban of basketball?

  131. “The report I read was that Taylor was carrying a machete that he kept for protection and that one of the shots missed him, the other striking his leg.

    That’s what happens when you bring a knife to a gun fight.

  132. I’m pretty sure you can find jorts in just about every southeastern state. I’m glad no one will ever see me in a pair of jorts…

  133. Wow, they still have trailers for student housing at Auburn? My best friend lived in a trailer when he went there–that was thirty years ago. But people at Bama shouldn’t throw stones–Tuscaloosa isn’t exactly the garden spot of the western world. I’m glad I grew up in a progressive state like Tennessee. :)

  134. Wryn’s Early 2008 SEC West Predictions:
    1- Auburn
    2- LSU
    3- Mississippi State
    T4- Alabama
    T4- Ole Miss
    6- Arkansas

    Disagree. LSU is losing 17 starters and probably their head coach. Miss St will stay around 7-5, but not much better. The SEC will come down to Auburn, LSU, and Bama, but I will give the edge to Auburn slightly

  135. I grew up in Tennessee too. Progressive is a good word to describe it here. We have “progressed’ all the way up to 1962 here. We were stuck in 1862 for the longest time.

  136. csg,

    Then the West winner will get killed by one of the small NFL teams that will be in the East (Florida, UGA, or Tennessee).

  137. if Tubby leaves or Muschamp leaves then I would say the SEC is totally up for grabs next year. Bama has a favorable schedule by losing GA and picking up Kentucky and they should get better over the spring. LSU could be a whole lot different next year. There will be a lot of guys that dont have a lot of experience playing next season

  138. With Tennessee you never know what product they’ll put out on the field. I would say that FLA and GA would clearly be the strongest two teams on paper

  139. Wow, the Nutt has landed in Oxford. Good hire, I guess.

    UGA should be very talented & experienced in ’08, but the schedule is probably going to be the toughest its ever faced.

    I’ll take the talent, though.

  140. Outside of Ainge, Tennessee doesn’t really lose anyone all that important. I think the drop off between Ainge and Crompton isn’t that great. I do agree that Florida and UGA will probably be the favorites, but I think it will be a three team race. Hell, South Carolina will be better too.

  141. Heh, as the ‘old’ Cesar Geronimo referencer, I was alive when Pinson was playing for the Reds, but, at 2 years old, was probably more concerned about avoiding toilet training than baseball.

    I do remember Clemente in the ’71 Series, and the Apollo 13 mission in ’70, but that’s about as far back as my recall goes.

  142. Smitty,

    If you think Chattanooga is bad now, you should have been there when I grew up there in the 60s/70s. It’s paradise compared to then. And Memphis wasn’t much better.

  143. i found myself driving around downtown chattanooga in the early 70’s looking for a place to eat………….what a horror show that was.

  144. Ububba @ 137: I love Murph; but if he gets in, it will because of his off-the-field character. I want to see him in, but the reasons you list are why he won’t get elected, damn it.

    barrycuda @ 178: Vada Pinson was a fine player. I never understood why he wasn’t appreciated more. I guesws playing beside Mr. Robinson makes anyone look average.

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