Brian McCann

Played much worse than he did in 2006, but was still the second-best catcher in the league. McCann’s batting average dropped by 63 points, his slugging percentage by 120. He walked less and struck out more often, and grounded into seven more double plays. Defensively, he committed more errors and was slightly less successful throwing runners out. There really aren’t any pluses here, and it’s only because he was so good in 2006 that he could drop like this and still be a productive player.

He had injuries, of course. Hand injuries, ankle injuries, and often tried to play through them but wasn’t healthy enough to hit. These things happen to a catcher. The trade of Saltalamacchia pretty much keeps the Braves from moving McCann from behind the plate, even if Teixeira leaves after the season. I still don’t know if it would have been better for the team to shift McCann and make Saltalamacchia the starter at catcher, but there’s no evidence that they ever considered it.

My expectation for 2008 is that McCann will hit somewhere between what he did last year and what he did the year before — perhaps around his career averages of .296/.351/.491. Hopefully he can avoid the leg injuries, which limited his mobility behind the plate. He is slow and he’s never going to be not slow, but he has to be more agile.

Brian McCann Statistics –

175 thoughts on “Brian McCann”

  1. His off-the-charts likability might prevent some of the backlash someone else might get for having a career year at age 22 — because let’s face it, he’s not likely to hit .333 again. I’d happily settle for those career averages on an annual basis.

  2. If he can produce .280 20 75 a year, that would be fantastic and I could live with that.

  3. I think if he stays healthy, sansho1, he can hit .300 again. But if he could always hover around .290 or better with a good OBP, I would be content.

  4. I think Brian is a fantastic hitter. He’s smart and knows when to make adjustments and he’s only 23. A position change to 1st would help his career, but there’s no reason he can’t still put up great numbers for a catcher. He will have to keep weight off as he gets older, or he will decline rapidly.

  5. I remember after his rookie season, he made some comment about how he had no intentions of changing his offseason conditioning program, even though he appeared to have room to improve in that area. Then, of course, he battled injuries last year. I never heard him comment on the matter after this season, but I really hope he chose to ramp up his workouts. Even though his “regular Joe” appearance is a big part of his appeal to many fans, I think it would be a shame not to make more of an effort to improve your body when you make your living as a professional athlete. I hope that his post-rookie season comments can be chalked up to a young kid being a little bit immature.

    This is a little off-topic, but I just reminded myself of an interview I heard last season with Kobe Bryant. The interviewer asked him what he ate on a daily basis. He said it was pretty much fast food, all day every day. He said, he ate fast food burgers, chinese food, pizza, soft drinks, whatever. The interviewer seemed more than a little surprised, and asked Kobe if he had any plans to change that. He said no, he had no intentions or desire to change the way he ate anytime in the near future. He then went on to say that, later in life, when his career was on the downslope, that he would be forced to eat healthy and take care of his body better in order to maintain a certain level of productivity, but that for now, he was just fine eating junk food all day. My question is, if you think eating healthy and taking care of your body later in life would help you to maintain certain levels, wouldn’t doing those same things today RAISE your current levels? I just really took that statement from him to mean, ‘I don’t want to try any harder now, even if I could be better. I’ll only try harder when I’m forced to.’

    Sorry to get off the subject there, but for some reason those comments from McCann always stuck out in my head. I love Brian and think he’s a great player, but I hope he puts full effort into his training to be the best player he can be.

  6. I don’t even know why Kobe plays basketball anymore unless it’s for the money. He won three titles and doesn’t really seem to like being on the Lakers.

  7. didn’t smoltz sing mccann’s praises (or continue to)? i imagine that might have something to do with why a position change may never have been considered.

    i’m fine with mccann behind the plate, but sure hope he works on moving a good bit more.

    i also don’t mind too much how bobby switches him and frenchy in the lineup… but i also haven’t looked into the numbers on that.

  8. Unless McCann is a really horrendous catcher (and he does need to work on his defense), I would never move him to another position. Offense from a catcher has really great value and I don’t know if McCann would hit enough for first base anyway. Just because a guy might improve his stats at another position doesn’t mean it would be a good move for the team. Who knows what numbers Piazza would have put up if he had moved to first base early in his career but it certainly helped his teams to have that production in a catcher.

  9. McCann’s offense will get better or will be closer to what he produced his first year after that ankle gets healed. I’m getting more and more concerned with his defense. Just seems to get a little lazy back there, needs to learn to block better

  10. McCann’s our catcher. For the most part, I like him. I hope his defense improves & he has an injury-free year.

    Before he hurt his hand last year, he was really stinging the ball. Hopefully, we’ll see more of that in ’08.

    2 other things:
    Despite the defamation suit he’s apparently filing against his trainer, I did not find Clemens at all convincing on “60 Minutes” last night.

    I’ll take LSU tonight, say, 28-20.

  11. Clemens angry denials remind me of another player that testified most vehemently before congress.

    Me thinks he doth protest too much.

  12. I think we’ll have a barn burner tonight. The NYPost forecasted a 38-36 triple OT LSU win, and that’s the type of game I think we’ll see, although I’ll say OSU in two OTs.

  13. You know, I understand that we’re supposed to be objective and all, but I think I can just come out and say it: I don’t like Clemens. As far as I can tell, no one likes Clemens. Really, not a single human being. (If I were his son I’d be pretty mad that he had to name me after a strikeout.) So it’s always possible that he’s telling the truth, but gee, even so, I’m not going to like the guy.

  14. I think LSU runs all over Oh St. Wont be as bad as the LSU/Notre Dame game last year, but it will be convincing

  15. I wonder if Clemens changes his tune before he has to meet with Congress. Part of me wants to see him go ahead and retire and part of me wants to see him in a jail cell with Bonds

  16. #13: Why are we supposed to be objective? It’s sports. The entire experience hinges on an irrational attachment to an abstract institution. Bias because you don’t like a guy actually makes more sense than bias due to a guy playing for the Yanks or Mets.

  17. I’m with ububba on Clemens. I have breifly read this morning some praise for how he handled the interview, but to me, he just seemed like he was lying and evasive. No Roger, you would not have a 3rd ear coming out of your forehead if you did steroids, but what you might have is a career resurgance after allegedly starting to take them.

  18. Add me to the list of Clemens-haters. One has to look no further back than the 2000 World Series and the bat being tossed for NO REASON at Mike Piazza, than to see that Clemens has been a bit too high on the muscle juice for several years.

    And I’m sorry, a guy generally doesn’t become even more effective in his 40’s on pure adrenaline.

    Plus, I just can’t stand Roger…I have always found him to be an arrogant a–hole. If he’s innocent, fine, but I would rather him be guilty because he’s just not very likeable.

  19. #18

    Stu – I agree on this. For some reason, I have also always found Pettitte to be a decent sorta guy. I like him. Roger is a jerk.

    The fact that the two are best buds has no bearing on the fact that one I feel sympathy for, and the other I hope gets the book thrown at him.

  20. Off-topic:

    Any Avett Brothers fans out there? I know I’m a little late to that party, but, wow, those guys are a good listen. Emotionalism is one mighty fine record.

  21. Why should we be satisfied with his career averages? Remember most similar catcher is Yogi!

    Seriously. I would take his career averages in a heartbeat. More valuable as a catcher for sure at that level of performance. Easily the best of the catchers in the NL east.

    AAR read your thing on c-n-c. Good stuff man!

  22. Johnny, thanks, dude! (I wrote a piece on Chop-N-Change questioning whether Jair should be our 5th starter next year. Personally, I think he’s too young and has had too little time in the minors.)

  23. What do you think about going further with that? I’ve talked to Alex 1 about the Braves maybe requiring that all their starting pitchers do a full year in AAA before making the majors to stay.

  24. it seems to me that we’ll never know if a guy can pitch in the majors unless he has a chance. i mean, how bad could he be? how many ganmes were flushed down the tube last year trying to find out if redmon and his ilk could pitch?

  25. Sounds like a plan considering that ( and I am referring to Mr. Remington’s painstaking research here) that Millwood is the only recent Braves pitching prospect to have flourished in the majors for any stretch of time.

    I’m convinced that rushing him probably ruined Davies. IMHO I would rather suffer through a Buddy or a Jeff Bennett at the 5 slot rather than ruin and then trade Jair.

    Question. What the heck is triple A for if you consistently jump the level with your best propects? see McCann, Francouer, Salty, etc. It sure aint for holding major league talent in reserve as I cannot think of any contribution from Richmond in recent memory. OK Buddy Carlyle but I meant contribution. Am I missing anyone?

  26. @ 23

    Stu, those guys are fantastic. Catch a live show if you can – one of the best you’ll see.

  27. Mac, I would be generally very much in favor of a AAA requirement. Obviously, you never want to prioritze the minor league team at the expense of the majors, and it breaks my heart to have to give Jeff Bennett/Jason Shiell/Travis Smith a spot in the starting rotation. But taking guys who aren’t ready from the minors to the majors seems to retard their development for good.

    In special cases — the Albert Pujols of pitching — I’d say you could waive the full year requirement. Otherwise, absolutely. A full year of AAA before they sniff the 25-man.

  28. As I wrote over at CnC, I think the Braves have generally regarded Richmond as a punishment for mediocrity — if their prospects did extra well in AA, they didn’t have to spend as much time in AAA before being rewarded with the Show.

    I agree with you, Johnny. That’s a poor way to use the minor leagues.

  29. Right — if you have a really spectacular prospect, let him just make a pit stop in Richmond. But for most pitchers, it’s better to let them get the experience and something to fall back on if things don’t work out at first in the majors.

    The Braves shouldn’t need to force Jurrjens. Even though Hampton is never going to pitch for the team, they have a number of candidates to filter through the fifth starter spot and hope one of them sticks for a few weeks. Jurrjens could be worth fifteen wins a year for the next six years, don’t break him.

    But I think that the rotation will be Smoltz-Hudson-Glavine-Jurrjens-James, barring a trade.

  30. I should add that I think that for a certain class of prospect — the ones that get by on talent but aren’t polished — AAA might actually be harder than the majors at first. The average AAA player is a guy who doesn’t have major-league-regular talent, but who has several years of upper-level experience and works hard. AAA pitchers often have skills (control or breaking stuff) that are better than major leaguers, and AAA hitters often — usually? — have better control of the strike zone, or at least walk more.

    Also, nobody really cares if you give up a three-run homer in Richmond. People care a lot if you do it in Atlanta.

  31. I think the Braves have used AAA mostly as an injury reserve. The roster there is seemingly always (especially with regard to pitching) chock-full of career minor leaguer or former ML flameout types.

    I agree that the young guys should get time there, if at all possible. (What I mean by “if at all possible” is probably best illustrated by Smurph. I think it’s inarguable that he could have used some more instruction at the minor league level, but the team needed something better than Raul Mondesi and Brian Jordan; somehow, the all the organization had that qualified was Francoeur.)

  32. OSU is on a mission–the good news is that Tigers should be as well. I agree with those who think that it will be a tight game.

    GO LSU!!

  33. I think the general belief is that a position prospect who succeeds at AA is ready for the Majors. The Braves tend to use that same thinking in regards to pitchers, usually incorrectly, who could use sometime in AAA which is normally filled with AAAA players just waiting for a shot to get back with a big club.

  34. Another note: The average age of the Atlanta Braves in 2007 (despite Julio Franco and John Smoltz) was 27.7 years old. The average age of the R-Braves was 26.8. Julio played briefly for them, and they had at least four guys over 30. (Never trust the minor league stats of anyone over 30, BTW.) I think that’s a fairly typical age for a AAA team. The AA team was more than three years younger.

  35. In theory, I agree it would be better if all the young pitchers did a year in AAA but in reality there is always going to be the need for another pitcher. Unless you are willing to settle for the likes of Redman, there really isn’t any alternative given that the days of the Big 3 (or 4) are gone. Maybe an alternative would be to start the young guys out in the bullpen for a year and break them in slowly.

    I didn’t watch the interview, don’t really care frankly if he did or did not use steroids. It’s in the past. I don’t quite understand the level of dislike for Clemens–I always thought he was a bit weird but no more arrogant than a lot of great athletes– but I admit I feel that way toward Bonds (and, no, it’s not because one is white and one is black). Obviously, anyone is entitled to make any judgments that wish as to a person’s credibility but I think you have to acknowledge that your views aren’t exactly unbiased. For baseball’s sake, it would obviously be better if Clemens was telling the truth. I think you have to weigh the incentive of McNamee to lie versus that of Clemens. The only possible incentive McNamee would have to lie is if the government pressured him to come up with a name in order to avoid prosecution. I do have some amount of skepticism about the integrity of prosecutors (especially after the Duke fiasco), but I tend to doubt they would go that far to get Clemens.

    As for McCann’s getting in better shape, I don’t understand why people simply assume that he will. He obviously hasn’t thus far. This seems to be a case where people like McCann so assume he will do the right things and give him the benefit of the doubt.

  36. Maybe in the mornings McCann can teach Francoeur plate discipline, and in the afternoon Francoeur can teach McCann… well, plate discipline.

    I am terribly, terribly sorry for that joke. I didn’t realize until I got to the second clause where it was going.

  37. IF both OSU ans LSU show up tonight, then LSU will make the Buckeyes their bithces!

    Look, if a guy is ready for the big leagues, then he PROBABLY should be there. If a guy in AA isn’t quite ready, but can help the club on a short term basis, then he needs to be on the big club. The point of the game is to win now.

    I thik that we keep hearing guys like (insert one of our soft tossing lefites “Next Glavine” here) are ready, then lets find out.

    My probelm with our pitching is we have a surplus of basically the same guy all though our orgainization, soft tossing lefties.

  38. a smart gambler would call and ask me every week what i think about the football games and then bet the opposite. so, with that in mind,,,,,,,,, THE OSU 29 LSU 20

  39. It’s like baking, Smitty. If you’re trying to bake a cake, but you don’t have a timer so you have to guess. You don’t want to overcook it, but you can usually tell when that’s about to happen. If you undercook it and cut the cake, what you’ve got there is a ruined cake. Maybe you can nibble around the edges.

  40. @41 Mac don’t know why you are apologizing. I laughed out loud.

    Second question. Are the Braves unique in how they handle stocking Richmond? Just anecdotally but I seem to read about a lot of other team’s top prospects’ AAA resumes but not ours.

    Lastly Mac a couple of threads ago you indicated that we should have tried to acquire Josh Hamilton. Which two of our pitchers would you have traded for him?

  41. I think there are more than one reason why it seems that all we have is soft tossing lefties. They are generally more polished, because they couldn’t just rely on their “stuff” to get them through. Therefore they usually dominate early in their careers at the low levels. They are left handed which every club likes and they usually have very good control, our Chuckie being the exception. You don’t see anyone labeled as a soft tossing right hander, because no one would draft a righty unless he is sitting above 90.

  42. For what it’s worth McCann has lost approx. 10-15 pounds this offseason and has worked out 4-5 days a week with the exception of a honeymoon and a week break after the season.

  43. But if you are really hungry, you can pull that cake out and eat parts of it. You can always put it back in the oven

  44. Just a recap on our conteners for starting pitching. If I left someone out let me know.

  45. #41

    I agree, Mac – very funny. Sadly, it’s the type of tacky joke I would make which is why I probably liked it.

    I also don’t think we will expect McCann to “suddenly” be in tip top shape. Some guys in life are meant to play sports and look like McCann or Terry Forster or Macay McBride. Some guys look like A-Rod and Chipper Jones.

    Then again, there’s always the case of Andruw. As has been stated in here, go back and look at pictures of Andruw Jones circa 1996 and check out Andruw the last 4-5 years. It’s like the current Andruw ate the one from the 90’s.

    As far as what mac said about pitchers pitching in Triple AAA, I agree as well. It’s become almost the habit of this organization to treat Richmond nothing more than a glorified Disabled List. I think that it should be reversed – Double AA for more of that purpose and Trip AAA, young talent should be honed.

    I also agree that barring a trade in the next 2 months for Erik Bedard, Smoltz-Glavine-Hudson-James-Jurgjens is the rotation.

  46. I always vote from my heart on the poll questions and then check the results.
    I’m shocked that Furcal has 100% when I voted.
    Should I be?

  47. #54

    If you are going to put Hampton on that list, we have to put Carl Pavano & Kevin brown as well…

  48. #56

    No, Kevin – Furcal is just better. I like Marcus as a person better, he;s a good kid, but Rafy is far more talented.

  49. Okay, I’m going to interfere in the voting now.

    Marcus Giles as a Brave: .285 .361 .448
    Rafael Furcal as a Brave: .284 .348 .409

    Furcal played for the team longer (about 700 more AB, or a season’s worth) but Marcus was certainly better per AB.

  50. I think both LSU and OSU’s offensive styles play right into the strengths of the other team’s defenses. I’m expecting a pretty ugly low scoring game.

    I don’t see LSU’s power running game being successful against OSU, who’s run defense has basically been one of the best in the country over the past 5 years. I also don’t see OSU successfully running on Dorsey and co. Of the two teams’ I’d trust LSU’s pass offense a bit more than OSU’s, because OSU’s QB really sucks bad. If OSU is forced to pass, they’re in trouble, IMO.

    I do think Tressel is going to outcoach Miles though so ultimately the game should be close.

  51. What about defense? I haven’t looked at the stats—honestly, I’m no good at interpreting defensive stats without someone telling me what they mean—but Furcal sure struck me as much more valuable than Marcus with the glove.

  52. mac — i liked the joke… because it’s something i’d say too (to echo alex r.)

    sometimes if you take an undercooked cake and put nice frosting on it, then it still might look really good. you might not be able to tell until you really get into it that it was undercooked (e.g. Francoeur).

    i think it’s a little strange how often AAA gets skipped when bringing up the kids. i’d like to see the pitchers get more seasoning, myself. and i happen to be in richmond to visit the in-laws for at least a few days every summer, so i wouldn’t mind being able to see some guys play that i’m excited about (especially now that lil schuerholz is done — heh heh).

  53. I was a big Marcus fan, but I voted for Furcal, basically because I loved watching him play defense, especially in his final year for Atlanta.

    I saw him make at least 10 plays that last year where I said to myself, “I’m not sure if there’s anybody else in the NL that makes that play.”

  54. Yeah Mac, but Furcal always had the extra speed factor and an amazing arm over at short. But Giles was also extremely underrated defensively (at least IMO). I’d have to go with Furcal.

  55. Giles liked to hit people in the head after homeruns.

    Furcal liked to hit medians with his car after drinks.

  56. I’m with ububba on this one. I liked Marcus and recognize his value to the team, but I loved watching Raffie play and run the bases.

  57. Great Posnanski post, as usual. Thanks for the link. Here’s the one from the day before:

    We learn that Jim Rice is tied for career intentional walks with, you guessed it, Terry Pendleton. (He’s also tied with Terry in intentional MVPs, of course.)

    I voted for Giles. Giles always seemed to overachieve, while Furcal always seemed to underachieve. (Maybe some of that overachievement was, er, assisted.) But I just hated watching Furcal swing from his shoetops for two weeks after hitting a home run, and loved watching Giles move from awkward to almost graceful in the field. Furcal had so much natural talent, and Giles was a fiery short guy with a knack for the gaps.

    It’s too bad what’s happened to his career. He used to be a hell of a hitter.

  58. Giles was my favorite Brave for 2-3 years, but Furcal’s 6-year run in Atlanta was so impressive and consistent…and the man could absolutely rifle a baseball across to 1B. I have to choose Furcal in the poll, but I think I miss Giles more. Close call.

  59. Giles was more fun to watch in the sense that watching him having a good time playing baseball made it enjoyable to watch and root for him.

    What Furcal could do in the field and basepaths was amazing and far surpassed what Giles could produce for excitement levels, in my opinion.

    I enjoyed Furcal highlights more than Giles highlights, but I enjoyed being a Giles fan more than a Furcal fan.

  60. My wife doesn’t like Baseball but Marcus Giles was her favorite player because he was so short, (my wife is 5 ft. tall), so she could ‘relate’.

    But I still think Furcal was the better player.

  61. I chose Furcal because he was a much better player than Marcus Giles. It seems like a good reason.

  62. I think because Furcal played well in his last half-year in Atlanta, people may have fonder memories of his tenure than of Marcus, who didn’t play well his last season. But I don’t recall ever mounting a “Trade Giles!” campaign.

    I agree on defense. Baserunning, not so much. Marcus wasn’t as fast, but he was actually a better baserunner when both were on the club.

    Leaving aside that HGH doesn’t improve athletic performance… Marcus’ decline, which is what people seem to be looking at when diagnosing substance use, is much more likely to be the decline many good young second basemen suffer, what I call Brent Gates’ Disease. It’s a tough position, and most second basemen really aren’t as talented as shortstops, which is why they’re second basemen and not shortstops.

  63. Mac,

    “Better” as in “used what he had better than Furcal” or “benefited the club more with his feats on the basepaths.”

    I know the former is true, but I don’t know that the latter was ture. While Marcus was a very good baserunner, I think Furcal, via nothing more than natural ability, was more of an asset. I may be remembering incorrectly the stats you posted on Marcus’ baserunning, though.

  64. Giles was the fan favourite till 2005 and well into 2006. Used to get the biggest cheers at the Ted. And on this blog too IRRC. And Furcal used to get ridden down mercilessly here for his “brainless” play.
    I am one of the biggest Marcu fans around, and am surprised, nay shocked, at this about turn at what he did for the Braves in the early aughts.

  65. Better in the sense that he did a better job of getting extra bases without getting thrown out. Furcal, during the time both were regulars, was an outstanding basestealer.

  66. Once, out of curiosity, I ran a quick linear regression on what factors are the best predictors of league MVP. IBB narrowly beat out HR, and nothing else was really close. I did a few by hand after that, and most years you get a pretty good list of MVP candidates when you look at the league leaders in HR and IBB. (RBIs didn’t seem to emerge as very important.)

    So in as much as MVPs are looked at when voting for the HoF, and as much as both derive from a similar process, I like that Fear Factor stat, though I’d be interested to see if it still looks as good if you take RBIs out and reweight the other two factors.

  67. Giles aggressive nature on the base paths was very endearing as well. Taking home from second on bunt attempts and other things of that nature were pretty exciting to watch. Those are the kinds of plays you can really appreciate as a fan. When someone is playing hard for your team you will like them, and no one played harder than Marcus.

    Of course, no one really HAD to play harder than Marcus, because most everyone else on the team had more natural talent.

  68. I think Furcal was a more aggressive base runner and was told to take chances and force the action more tha Giles was. That might be why he has better base running numbers.

  69. Its a sea of red here in Buckeye country. Excuse me I mean ‘scarlet’. Not sure who to root against more. Smug OSU fans or smugger SEC football fans. Sigh.

    Dang I voted for Furcal for just the reason Mac stated. My perception that he was a much better player than Giles based on Giles last season here and elsewhere.

    Mac I should have asked would you trade Jurjjens or Reyes or James AND one of our plus lower level arms for Hamilton? Its sort of like what they got from Texas.

  70. After his rookie year, I thought Furcal was pretty much overrated. He was never the force that he was in 2000. But he was at least a pretty consistent player and improved defensively at a much more difficult position. But I can’t say the Braves have particularly missed him since he left.

    Giles had two good years and then fell into an abyss. They haven’t missed him either.

  71. The Great State of Tennessee has 3 teams with a combined record of 40-1 in the Top 15 right now:

    13-0 Memphis (#2 AP, #2 Coaches’)
    12-1 Tennessee (#9 AP, #8 Coaches’)
    15-0 Vanderbilt (#13 AP, #12 Coaches’)

    FWIW, in the RPI, those teams are #1, #4 and #6, respectively.

    Go ‘Dores!

  72. As a Memphis State (now U of Memphis) alum, I always knew there was a ton of basketball talent in Memphis. I guess there is talent throughout the state as well.

  73. ummmm….

    most, if not all, of the players at Memphis are not from Tennessee.

    they might be rpi 1, 4, and 6…

    but 2 is gonna slap you all silly.

    even with our depleted team…we still managed to walk into littlejohn (no small task, mind you) and win.

    and klumpson, btw, will finish 2nd in the acc.

  74. Vandy’s roster, sorted by MPG:

    Foster — Louisiana
    Gordon — Florida
    Beal — Texas
    Neltner — Kentucky
    Ogilvy — Australia
    Metcalfe — England
    McClellan — California
    Bell — Alabama
    Drake — Alabama
    Walker — Illinois
    Graham (WO) — Nashville, TN
    Duffy (WO) — New Jersey
    Cole (WO) — Memphis, TN
    Ezeli (RS) — California (Nigeria)
    Hinkle (RS) — California

    Byars was from Memphis. JP Prince, who would be at Vanderbilt instead of UT this year but for a stupid admissions policy, is also from Memphis. Our 2 guys coming in the fall of ’08 are both from outside the state. We do have an ’09 commitment from the Nashville area.

  75. Giles left after being aweful, Furcal was still going strong. Furcal was also a lot more consistent than Giles, who went from tops at his position in the league to non-tender in like two or three years.

  76. I remember Furcal’s first season up. The first Sturday of the season in Atlanta, my 7 and 10 year old sons (both fairly good Little leaguers) and I went. I told them alittle about the base stealing phenom that had made it from A to the roster in one spring. He was supposedly 19 (we later learned he was 21). We were looking forward to watching his speed.

    In about the third inning the other team had a runner on first. Somebody on the other team hit one to right center in the gap. Furcal was playing second and went out to take the relay throw. He was set about 40 feet out on the grass about half way around from normal Second Base toward the base itself.

    He took the relay over his head and in one motion fired a rocket. It was a rising fastball to the catcher that never got more than 8 feet off the ground. It finished up about 3 feet off the ground dead onb to the catcher and created an out.

    We all stared at each other. It was THE most impressive throw I have ever seen in person. I could not believe what I had been reading didn’t say anything about his arm.

    He also was amazing in his first few years in the way he could rattle pitchers and fielders. Balls were always going down the right field line and into the stands.

  77. The Vols have 7 players from Tennessee

    3 starters and two others who see a lot of time.

    Not bad.

  78. Cliff,
    When I referenced Furcal’s defense, I definitely had his arm & range in mind.

    And, yeah, I’ve seen some near-mind boggling Furcal throws—although a few did end up in the stands.

  79. Alex will probably be around in a bit with a little contribution from the commissioner of the Big 11 that… well, if a TV commentator said it he’d at minimum get suspended.

  80. The first year the Nats were in Washington, I sat behind first base during a Braves game. I couldn’t believe how hard Furcal threw the ball.

  81. I saw that too and chose not to comment. What a moron he is for saying such things.

    Since someone took a shot at MSU though, I figured I’d take the opportunity to drop one of my favorite jokes, I’m sure you’ve all heard some variation of it.

    What do all Michigan and Michigan State students have in common?

    They all got in to Michigan State.

  82. My favorite college football joke is:

    What does the “N” on Nebraska’s helmet stand for?


    (Obviously better said than written/typed.)

  83. I’ve heard that one too. Very good, but Nebraska is very high on my list of schools that are irrelevant to me, so it doesn’t strike a chord as much as the MSU one.

    Here’s another:

    Why do Tennessee fans wear orange?

    So they can wear the same shirt for the game on Saturday, hunting on Sunday, and picking up trash on Monday.

  84. Furcal was definitely frustrating, and Giles I think gets short shrift because of the outlier 2003 season. But I’ve never seen, and may never see, a Braves shortstop play any better than Furcal did in the second half of 2005.

  85. I had to weigh rooting against OSU with rooting against the SEC and its fans’ obnoxiousness about being the best conference.

    Ultimately I decided that since the SEC actually is the best conference, I could tolerate that more than I can tolerate obnoxious OSU fans bragging about being the national champ.

    For the remainder of this offseason, I do not care how slammed the Big Ten gets, or how bad it looks compared to other conferences. Michigan did its job, I hate the rest of the big ten teams anyway, them getting repeatedly beaten by SEC teams just gives me more reason to hate them.

    Here’s to hoping the Lesticles can beat the Sweatervests.

  86. Has anyone read a projection for Yunel Escobar? He looks like a good fielder anyone see him in person to confirm that?

  87. Dix,
    Now you know how us Dawg people felt going into last year’s Florida/Ohio State game.

    Just listened to the Clemens press conference, a bizarre audio tape (which offered little, IMO) & I remain unconvinced to his position. He was all bluster & he still didn’t really answer the questions.

  88. He’s got the arm to play short — I thought he played the position pretty well, if a bit rough around the edges. I’m not particularly worried about his defense.

  89. I know I’m chiming in the Marcus v. Furcal debate a little late, but I voted for Marcus and was a little surprised at how little love he was getting. Furcal was amazing to watch in the field (until he threw the ball into the stands, which happened a lot one season, if I recall correctly), when he laid down bunts that just threw the defense into confusion, and when he attracted so much attention from the pitcher because he was such a great basestealer. I do miss him at lead off. But, at the same time, he drove me nuts quite often because he tried to hit home runs, when that really wasn’t his game. Whenever he did hit one I would think, “oh, no, now we get three weeks of strikeouts because he’ll be swinging too hard,” and usually we did. If he had stuck to his talent more often, I think I would favor him over Marcus.

    I remember Marcus as being a tough player, one who would foul off a lot of pitches after Furcal swung at the first one to start the game, a second baseman who needed help on defense and actually listened to Hubbard and became a pretty darn good one, a defender who didn’t care that the baserunner was bearing down on him, a stubborn hitter who never really feel into too many prolonged slumps, and a fun-loving player who enjoyed playing the game. He did unfortunately sustain some big injuries, but most of the were freak ones. He broke his ankle and was out for six weeks by stepping wrong at first base, he ran into Prior and got a concussion and couldn’t play in his first All-Star game, and ran into Andruw once too (and the bigger one always wins in a collision). Plus he and his wife lost their baby daughter at the beginning of one season, but even during that time he didn’t kill the team with his play (of course he did have the ankle injury around that time…).

    Anyway, while I do miss Furcal’s arm and speed, I was sadder when Marcus left and probably miss the old him more. So, I’ll take Marcus over Furcal.

  90. I had to weigh rooting against OSU with rooting against the SEC and its fans’ obnoxiousness about being the best conference.

    I’ll be rooting for OSU as well, if only because it will be more fun to knock them off next season when they have ‘defending national champs’ in front of their names.

    Honestly I would still rather watch an SC-Georgia game than this one tonight.

  91. theres a lot of twists and turns to negotiate in that road………dont hold your breath fellas

  92. I’m just hoping—likely against hope—for an early blowout so that I can convince myself to turn off the TV and go to bed early tonight.

  93. I was a big Giles fan until he popped up a bunt to the pitcher during a Braves/Astros playoff game in ’05, I believe. That bunt ended the momentum and the postseason for the Braves. Something about that bunt made me go from liking him to finding him to be rather annoying. Now that he is gone I can’t say that I miss him very much.

  94. UGA may be able to schedule USC in ’10. USC is playing OSU the next two seasons, so they’re obviously not averse to scheduling extremely high quality opponents to a home and home. UGA needs to get on that, especially since Michigan doesn’t seem to care about raising the quality of its non-conference schedule.

  95. Yeah it’s a new era in Georgia football. That ASU game next year is the first time in 60 years that they’ve come West for a game. That’s right, sixty.

    If you want to be a national program, schedule nationally. Good for them.

  96. 129 — good for them. most west teams have to come east (and not everyone’s eager to do a home and home). maybe this is a sign of things to come.

  97. I wouldn’t look for any good east-coast teams to head to Provo anytime soon, though, murphy. There’s nothing to gain there.

  98. Robert,
    We could continue to schedule between the states of South Carolina & Mississippi and still play a better schedule than most schools.

  99. The only way OSU can get back in this game is if Tressel pulls his head out of his ass and pounds the ball. You’re not going to beat LSU on the arm of Todd Boeckman. Idiot.

  100. I used to think that FOX just hated baseball — now I realize they bring B-team announcing and production values to every sport they cover.

  101. 132 — no doubt. it’s a tough sales pitch — “how about you come into our home in the thin air where we’ll probably play you pretty tough, we’ll be ready to go because it’ll probably be the biggest game of the year for us (except for against our natural rival), but we haven’t been nationally respected in some time and so you’ll be expected to win anyway — how does that sound?” not much of anything to gain for the visiting team.

  102. I asked this last thread but I don’t remember if anyone answered, so I’ll ask again. Anyone know why Lee Smith isnt in the Hall of Fame? The guy did hold the all time saves record until 2006.

  103. mike, it doesn’t make sense to me. in general i think saves are an overvalued stat… but i didn’t think most baseball writers felt that way. dunno.

  104. Because a lotta folks don’t think that saves (especially in the one-inning era) are the greatest indicator of a great relief pitcher.

  105. so after his “most overrated” epithet that he dropped on andruw, i can only imagine that jayson stark wasn’t a favorite around here (i didn’t find bravesjournal until relatively soon after). i do appreciate, however, that he votes for murph every year.

  106. Sorry, Mac, I wasn’t around to post about the link from the “Bug 11” commish, but here’s my very simple response:

    No school has become more known for “kids skipping class” then the team currently with 10 points in tonight’s ‘little’ BCS game. Ohio State.

    Yes, Bug 11…before you call out the SEC for being “fast & dumb” and not going to class, I offer you back, MAURICE CLARETT. Shut up, Bug 11.

    (yes, that article really lit an added fire into me).



    I am painfully aware of the Georgia-Oregon games that have been scheduled. Considering I am married to an Oregon Duck, my marriage maybe tested, but Jake R. will be a Dawg.

  107. So what if Trevor Hoffman were to retire before this season? In my mind, he is a hall of famer, but would the voters think so?

  108. alex r — by the way, did little jake get any braves gear this holiday season? my little guy cameron got a few items. i’ll have to upload a picture of him in his francoeur jersey one of these days.

  109. 31-10 now.

    There’s a ton of Georgia & USC players laughing their collective a–es off right now.

  110. I think Rivera & Hoffman will get into the Hall.

    Tough break for Ohio State. I don’t know how that guy didn’t block that punt. Not that I’m crying about it…

  111. Murphy3ever-

    Yes – Jake does have a little Braves outfit (a gift from my parents friends who live in Atlanta) but it’s for 3 months and he’s still too little, otherwise, I would email Mac the picture to post up here. (Stu had also suggested about posting Jake in Braves gear).

    Would love to see the Cameron Francouer pic! Sure it’s very cute!

  112. I don’t understand how us dumb, fast SEC players can outsmart the rocket scientists/great athletes of the Big 10. How is this is happening?

    I guess we’re just so fast & dumb…it’s luck.

  113. If we could get Corey Patterson for cheap — you know, $5 mill for a 1-year rental — I’d say do it. But his agent is Boras, so I doubt we’ll be able to get him for that kind of money, and I don’t think he’s worth any more than that.

  114. This LSU-Ole Miss game is pretty entertaining. Y’all should check it out.

    Are the Rebs wearing throw-back jerseys or something?

  115. Well, that was pretty abusive.

    I don’t think we’ll see Miles get greedy from here on out. He just needs a field goal & they’re about home-free.

  116. Jesse Palmer and ESPN news still not giving any love to LSU/Sec. Just keep saying over and over that it was too much like a home game for LSU

  117. Boeckman had never faced a defense as fast and athletic as LSU. And you could tell. He was completely overmatched.

  118. I’ve never really watched Jesse Palmer on TV before, but his analysis of the game was a little underwhelming.

    It was basically, “LSU wanted to get way ahead, so that they’d force Ohio State to pass.”

    Um, OK…

  119. Boeckman sucks regardless of what team he plays Jeremy. LSU was just the first team to actually build a lead and force OSU to pass and expose it. The guy is really a no name no talent “game manager”.

    so glad OSU got killed again

  120. Great win for the Tigers. After the first 10 minutes, it seemed like OSU couldn’t get any rhythm going. Good for the SEC…

    As for Clemens, hopefully someone can correct me if I have this wrong: Clemens has to be innocent. For Clemens to win the defamation lawsuit, he has to prove his innocence. If he doesn’t, he can’t prove that McNamee’s accusations were false, and he can’t win the lawsuit. If he loses the lawsuit, even if he’s still innocent, he will look guilty and screw himself even more. Is what I’m thinking about right? Anyone that knows law or just more about stuff than me help me out?

  121. I like the AP order okay, but I’m not sure I can put Missouri ahead of Oklahoma, and West Virginia goes in front of Oklahoma. Ohio State should fall further since they have no good wins. Kansas ahead of OSU.

    I would go:

    1. LSU
    2. Georgia
    3. USC
    4. West Virginia
    5. Oklahoma
    6. Missouri
    7. Kansas
    8. Ohio State
    9. Virginia Tech
    10. Tennessee/Boston College/Texas

  122. What we have is a bunch of two loss teams and another cluster*&%# of a college football season. Proving yet again how desperately a playoff system is needed.

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