Yunel Escobar

One of the most underrated players in baseball. Even his own team doesn’t seem to hold him in that high regard, though that appears to be because he’s a bit of a punk. But what we have here is a gold glove-level shortstop who hit .300 (okay, .299) with medium-range walks (.377 OBP) and power (.436 SLG). He’s entering his prime, assuming his age (27 in 2010) is correct. If he could get through the season without an injury, we’d really be talking.

Continues to be a weird player, probably the weirdest on the team now that KJ is gone. Oddly, Yunel was great against righthanders (.327/.392/.472) and terrible against lefties (.232/.343/.348). Don’t ask me why. Despite his defense, which is legitimately outstanding, doesn’t actually seem to be that great of an athlete, and is a remarkably bad baserunner. Walked just about as often as he struck out — except in June, when he walked only twice and struck out eleven times… Hit .340 in high-leverage situations.

Yunel Escobar Statistics and History – Baseball-Reference.com.

319 thoughts on “Yunel Escobar”

  1. You have a point about people being irrationally down on Melky, but this:

    He’s a lot more likely to be a plus player for the Braves than Jordan Schafer in my opinion.

    Is wrong.

    The injuries and severe lack of contact are two pretty big red flags. Maybe I’m irrationally down on Schafer, he’s still young.

  2. Wow, when you put Escobar’s stats in perspective, he’s a pretty stinkin’ good player. I myself even underrate him. He’s essentially Michael Young with better defense while putting up slightly better hitting lines in a non-hitter’s park. Michael Young is a household name in baseball circles (at least when he played short), yet most wouldn’t think of Escobar in that light.

    It probably doesn’t help that he’s a bit of a punk…

  3. Jordan Schafer was always a better prospect than Melky ever was. I don’t love or hate Melky, but two months of injured play has little predictive value compared to notebooks full of scouting reports that suggest he’s an impact player.

  4. It must be the scouting reports. For all the hype Schafer has had only one really good year stastically….. at A and high A.

    Qualified agreement with Robert. Melky will have more impact in 2010. Down the road, probably not.

    Escobar kind of sneaks up on you. Dog gone good player but you would never know with all the anti hype from the Braves. And just think he has be prominent in a lot of trades that I am glad the Braves never completed.

  5. Melky is a valuable asset due to his defensive skills, however, he’s not really an asset at anything more than $2mil in my opinion (fangraohs thinks differently)…I just dont see the Braves paying him much more than what he’s making right now and dont see why anyone else would want too either

  6. Yunel is one of my favorites. He’s just really interesting. Great defense, pull-your-hair-out baserunning, clutch hitting. I even love that he’s kind of a punk. If he didn’t play for the Braves that bat flip would probably piss me off, but since he does play for us, I absolutely love it. Looking forward to him getting even better this year.

  7. @11 – I’ll admit that I haven’t seen Melky play defense at all, but . . .

    his plus/minus numbers from 2008 (which is what I’m looking at in Fielding Bible II) are above average in center. And Dewan’s scouting report in FB II is also pretty good (good first step, good speed, plus arm for center). Did he have a terrible defensive year last year?

  8. He was bad enough that the Yankees — who rarely do stupid things — gave him 20 starts in left and 14 in right, and had him play a corner in a lot of games he didn’t start. And this is to make room for Brett Gardner, whoo.

  9. I think Yunel is quite the luxury and will be someone the Braves don’t realize how good he was until he’s gone.

    That being said sometimes he drives me crazy with swinging at the first pitch with a runner on 2nd and 2 outs. Seems like he did that 10 times in June last year.

  10. Ok Mac, so they moved Melky around in favor of Gardner. That doesn’t mean Melky can’t play center, just that Gardner is a better defensive CF. Moving Melky around might have had more to do with who the Yankees had in the corners last year.

    Another year-old tidbit from the Fielding Bible: Melky is 7th among all CFs in their 3-year zone rating. Seems like that points to at least some credible play in center.

  11. Does anyone know why UZR and Plus/Minus spit out such different numbers for Escobar’s ’08 defense? UZR has him as a little above average at 1.9, but Plus/Minus has him as the second-best in baseball with a +21?

  12. I don’t quite understand the degree of antipathy towards Melky on this blog. Let me be clear: I have a low opinion of the trade that brought him to Atlanta. Melky has yet to have a great season, but it hardly seems out of the question that he might be a productive player in Atlanta. He may be one of those player who performs at a higher standard once he is out of NYC. In any event, he has yet to play a single inning in a Braves’ uniform and he already looks to be the whipping boy for 2010….

  13. Stephen, its just hard for me to show any excitement about a player who slugged .760 in a tiny ballpark last season. No matter how good he is defensively, this team needs offense and we know thats something that he’s not really capable of providing. Add that in with the fact that we know Bobby will give him plenty of playing time and also that we are paying him 3.1 mil, it just doesnt bode well for us.

    Maybe just maybe, he’ll put up better numbers in ATL, just dont see how that can be expected.

    Career .721 OPS vs LH and .678 vs RH shouldnt cost a team 3.1 mil. With all that said, Im pulling for him to do well here, just have no expectations with him

    edit: I found a positive! – at turner field he’s 2-4 and slg 1.000 with an OPS of 1.600

  14. csg–I am not expecting that much of him, but then I regard him as a 4th outfielder–at least by the second half the season….

  15. What’s with all this bogus crap about Maddux potentially going into the HOF with a Cubs cap on?

    Does anyone really think that a few years (max) of a front office job suddenly trumps the 3 Cy Youngs and 3 WS appearances?

  16. But he can’t really play center.

    Well that’s silly, his defensive numbers are fine. The Yankees are a little infatuated with Gardner’s scrapiness, and the guys they played in the corners are old and needed to be rotated through the DH spots. No evidence for that claim.

    In any event, he has yet to play a single inning in a Braves’ uniform and he already looks to be the whipping boy for 2010….

    The opposite really. It seems expectations have been set artificially low. When he’s got an 105 OPS+ and playing a credible center folks will be jumping on the bandwagon left and right.

  17. Seen Melky play a ton in the past few years. He’s alright at all three OF positions. Has a better arm than Gardner in CF, but Gardner’s faster, in the field and on the bases.

    Yanks couldn’t play Damon anywhere but LF. Similar story with Swisher in RF. Both are shaky at best out there and Damon has one of the worst arms you’ll ever see in your life. And with Matsui on the club, neither could DH much.

    Melky is more than decent in CF. A couple years ago, he led the AL in assists out there. He’s a 4th OF and if that’s his role, he’s a pretty good one.

    FWIW, Melky had a bunch of big hits for the Yanks in ’09. He won’t have that crazy RF HR advantage at The Ted, but let’s hope can chip in big.

    Not that I hope he gets 500 AB or anything…

  18. Hey guys, need your prayers and thoughts again, just diagnosed with brain tumor #2 Surgery Feb 8th. I hope to make it to the Viera/Braves game in March, anyone want to go? My treat Box SAeats!

  19. #26–I don’t think Melky’s our CF…105 OPS?

    Sure, why not? He just completed his age 24 season. Guys do improve. If you squint hard enough you can see the Johnny Damon career path.

    It might help to have a couple of drinks first.

  20. Honestly, if Melky just reproduced last year’s numbers, in a platoon/4th OF role he will be well worth his salary. There is some expectation of improvement given his age. He’s a nice player to have on a team that suffered through ~500AB’s of French and Shafer last year at about a 66 OPS+. Plug Melky into those and you make the playoffs.

  21. @6 So was Andy Marte.

    The standard pattern seems to be:
    If you have a good offensive year at Myrtle Beach, the (ahem) toughest park to hit in Professional Baseball, then you are suddenly a star prospect. I am ok with Schafer being good. In fact I hope, wish, pray the kid becomes good. But right now he isn’t as good as Melky Cabrera.

    Stephen, my sense of the reason for the Melky hate is BECAUSE he is the only major league player we received from the trade and his frightening similarity to the French one who’s name is not be spoken.

  22. I think with Melky, it’s kind of a “I shaved my legs for this?” thing.

    We had what everyone wants (an abundance of excellent starting pitching) but it apparently burned a hole in Wren’s pocket and we ended up Melky?

    What was the rush? Now, our incredible depth is one sore arm away from being a very average staff – especially if Lowe and/or Hudson don’t excel.

    Did Melky really solve a problem? Really?

    I just really question Frank Wren’s vision.

  23. @38 – Marte hit at every level of the Braves org, not just MB. What happened to him is just about unprecedented, in terms of failing to succeed at the major league level. He really isn’t a good comp for anything.

    Having said that, I agree that Schafer is not the player Cabrera is today, but he should be before long. He’s apparently a real center fielder, and has some size on him that would project to some power. His OBP was good at A/AA, and some time in AAA this season would go a long way in his development, IMHO.

  24. From the “Not Going to Let This Go Just Yet” Department:

    For those who didn’t hear about it, here’s the short version of Calipari’s “Hoops for Haiti” project:

    On Friday night on the way to last Saturday’s game against Auburn, Calipari was speaking to a Lexington businessman who had been watching the coverage of the horror in Haiti.

    The businessman said out loud that he wished there was something they could do. Calipari thought about it, called in some favors and contacted the local tv affiliates and on Sunday had his players man the phones for an impromptu telethon that raised over

    ONE MILLION DOLLARS

    for Haiti relief.

    That’s the proper use of the bully pulpit if I ever saw one. That’s how you take advantage of your good fortune to turn it into good.

    Btw, they auctioned off a dinner with Calipari and Ashley Judd – it brought $96,000.

    Yes, we Kentucky fans are crazy.

  25. ~$100K for the Judd/Cal dinner…and only $10K for a private jet to a Cavs game, 2 floor seats at the game and the chance to meet and hang out w/ LBJ. Unbelievable.

  26. Yep , Yunel is definitely a head case, but he’s also got the potential to be a superstar. Here’s to hoping Escobar matures and lives up to his talent level.

    Damn, I wanted the Braves to make a run at Rick Ankiel, but not at 3.5 million. The Royals overpaid unless Ankiel has a comeback season.

    I’m not down on Melky Cabrera as two way players who play multiple positions and switch hit are welcome on my team. He’s also a young veteran with a reasonable contract.

    Speaking of Frank Wren… Ya’ll know what Melky Cabrera, Troy Glaus and Eric Hinske have in common?

    World Series rings and that’s thinking outside the box.

  27. Speaking of Frank Wren… Ya’ll know what Melky Cabrera, Troy Glaus and Eric Hinske have in common?

    World Series rings and that’s thinking outside the box.

    I don’t know who writes your material, but they deserve a raise.

  28. #41 Hank, No Vazquez trade no Glaus no Hinske. Wren had to move Vazquez for financial reasons. Period.

    Spike – ok whatever. I was just replying to Peter who pointed out that Schafer was young for his minor league levels that another highly regarded prospect was too and he has never amounted to anything in MLB so far. The reference to Myrtle Beach is simple. Neither Schafer nor Marte gained any notoriety at all until their outstanding seasons at Myrtle Beach.

  29. Johnny, I agree with your overall point, but Marte led the Sally league in RBI the year before at Macon as an 18 year old. He was well on the radar.

  30. 46, they would be me, myself and I. But thanks.

    When it comes to Frank Wren, the man’s personality needs work as the GM position requires expert people skills. However, Wren is an ex-player and ex-scout who has worked his way up through the ranks with the Expo’s, Marlins and Braves (although his stint with the Orioles was forgettable).

    Simply put, Frank Wren knows the game inside and out. He just needs keep building from within as corporate ownership and budgetary concerns will continue to challenge the entire Braves organization.

  31. They are much better than people expected them to be. I really like the way Fox runs the game. Fun to watch.

  32. Just got back from the UGA game. Great atmosphere, better result. UT was never really in the game. Also, Thompkins and Leslie are really fun to watch.

    Btw, is it just me or is the “OVERRATED” chant overrated? It’s kind of like saying, “Wow you must not be as good as they say you are, cause you lost to us.” Just a little pet peeve of mine.

  33. Good win for the Dawgs. I am a bit surprised the Vols lost.

    And the “over-rated” chant is overrated.

    Were the ‘Dores looking ahead today? I know they seemed to be in control at the end, but that game was closer than it should have been.

  34. I was at the UT-Georgia game, as well, and I’m sure you know that I thought it sucked. We couldn’t really have played worse.

    I will say that I was impressed with Georgia’s team, and really have been ever since the turn of the year. They haven’t played a bad game since the calendar turned. They’ve beaten two Top 25 teams, and really could be undefeated in the stretch but for a few breaks.

    I was also impressed by the Georgia crowd at the game. The place was packed and loud, and I know that place has been a mausoleum in the past.

    The Vanderbilt game now becomes even bigger than it was before. I’m not sure we can seriously compete for the conference title if we lose it.

    By the way, this is something that happens when I go to UT basketball games. I have seen us win exactly one game in person in the Pearl era. I don’t go to basketball games that often, but I have been four times. I’ve witnessed two separate losses at Auburn, this one, and a loss to LSU in the first round of the SEC Tournament when they were the sixth seed out of the West. The only win I saw was over South Carolina in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament the day of the tornado, and even in that game we really played like crap, and needed a miracle shot from Lofton to win it for us. (In case you’re wondering, I was not there when the tornado hit. Our game was in the afternoon session and the tornado hit during the evening session. I was, however, driving around town only a couple miles north of there when the tornado hit…which was also fun.) And had the tornado not forced the tournament to Georgia Tech for the rest of the weekend, I would have been back to watch us lose to Arkansas in the semifinals the next day.

  35. Amen, Parish!

    On our game yesterday, I was worried about a trap game, and I’m just glad we got the W. We dominated in the second half, when the talent and depth took over.

    Bring on the Vols!

  36. FloridaBravesFan,

    You’ve had an incredibly tough run lately, but your good attitude and resiliency are inspiring. Best wishes to you.

  37. Hang in there, FBF. Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery.

    I caught the last inning of that 1991 Game 7. I started watching baseball in 1992 (8 years old) so that was the first time I had seen any of that series (love that channel). Such a trip. I saw Terry Pendleton running around and my first thought was, “Why is the hitting coach on the field?” I guess I’ve just gotten REALLY used to seeing Chipper there over the years. :)

    Game 7 was certainly anti-climactic. Did Bobby Cox not have anyone else besides Pena to pitch in that last inning? He was having trouble issuing intentional walks and just looked exhausted.

  38. FBF, stick in there.

    I’m with Mac and most of you guys, on Yunel. He’s a great player at a young age, and might just get better. But he does just enough head-scratcher things to make you wonder if the lights are on and nobody’s home.

  39. Did anyone else know Favre was going to throw that pick?

    Now everyone can spend the next 30 weeks talking about “Will Favre retire?”

    Good for the Saints. Go Peyton.

  40. The Minnesota- Saints game was the worst coached playoff game I have seen in a long time.

    If Sean Payton coaches like that and the Saints play D like that, Manning is going to shatter some Super Bowl records.

  41. The Vikes would have won by 3 touchdowns if they could have held onto the ball. Say what you want, but Favre deserved to win that game. He got hit a ton and played tough, and aside from a really bad pass, he managed the game very well.

  42. It’s true: the bizarre run calls, the 12-man penalty, and the INT marked one of the worst “two minute drills” in football history. Vikings coaches and players should both be embarrassed by that display. And as for all the other turnovers, well, they should be pretty mortified by those too. Just an ugly game. I can’t say the Saints “deserve” it–even when they did move down the field, finally, during the OT they had help from the officials–but the Vikings certainly deserve it less.

    Go Colts.

  43. “Say what you want, but Favre deserved to win that game. ”

    I admit to being biased here, as I have loathed Favre for years, but he threw two interceptions and flubbed a handoff that resulted in a turnover at the end of the first half. Plus, on the drive Berrian fumbled, Favre hit a Saints DB in the chest three plays earlier. He is who we thought he was: the guy who threw a pick against the Giants two years ago and the Eagles two years before that, all resulting in gut-wrenching playoff losses.

  44. Yes sir, five turnovers.

    F-I-V-E.

    The Saints didn’t so much as win the game as my Vikings lost it, and they did it in ugly fashion. Had Minnesota played a clean game they would have won this game running away. But much like they have in the past…this franchise blew it again in the playoffs.

    Now we get to watch and wait as the Brett Favre off season Circus starts anew. Retired, not retired, retired, not retired, retired, not retired….

  45. I don’t really have a dog left in the NFL fight now.

    I guess I just have to root for the Colts, b/c I’m not sure I can handle the Saints winning a Super Bowl before the Falcons.

  46. Hate him or love him, but Favre is one heck of a football player. At 40 years old, he single-handedly turned an also-ran into a serious contender. The loss was hardly his fault, in fact he played quite well all things considered. One less fumble and they would have made it!

  47. Favre’s a great QB despite yesterday and other struggles in the playoffs, but I have heard people say he is better than Marino simply because he has that Super Bowl ring. That is absurd; he has consistently had much better teams than Marino did and the SB he won was as much because of Desmond Howard as Favre.

  48. @69

    At first I was pretty disappointed with the frosted tips, but they grew on me as the season went on. If he’s going to be “that guy” on our team, he might as well take it all the way.

  49. The frosted tips thing just struck me as amusing… which made me feel old as I muttered “kids these days” and rolled my eyes.

  50. Count your blessings.

    Re: Vikes
    I think Minnesota was ready to win this year. They had lotsa talent coming into this season; they just didn’t have a decent QB.

  51. If you live in NYC, the good thing about the Jets not making the Super Bowl is that you can cue the Met Moaning on WFAN, the local sports radio.

    Jet fans will get everything out of their collective system today & tomorrow. Starting Wednesday, it’ll be all Omar all the time.

    And this’ll be the first time since ’05 that, coming into the season, Atlanta should be considered a decided favorite over the Mets. I like that.

  52. Listen to Lyle Lovett’s “Ugly From the Front”, drink heavily, and pretend you’re sansho in the basement.

  53. @84
    you have to be atleast a teenager to hear my advice, so ask that question in a couple of years.

    seriously man…grow up.

  54. @ububba that whole “Atlanta should be considered a decided favorite over the Mets” thing may be part of why I decided to do the braves/mets blog with my friend Jen.

  55. BFR,
    So Jen’s a Mets fan?

    Re: NYJ
    The Jets fan is an odd bird. What you’ve gotta understand is that they have a fanatical fanbase, generally more blue-collar than Giants fans, and the Jets fanbase is the longest suffering (title-wise) in the metro NY area.

    Every francise in the area has won at least one title since the Jets won theirs (January, 1969). In fact, except for the Rangers, they’ve all won at least 2. Even the Nets have 2 ABA titles since then.

    So their view is that “when you get close, you gotta win it because we never know when you’ll be this close again.”

    Fact is, most Jets fans aren’t looking at 2009 as a stepping stone for a big 2010. Quite the contrary, they’ve been conditioned to expect the worst, like a catastrophic injury.

    Among their fans, the mantra has always been: Same Ol’ Jets.

  56. @89: Obviously you haven’t picked up on my random and pointless style of humor. Don’t take me so seriously.

  57. @92
    Well, one of my friends named Jen is a Mets fan. She’s also a Rangers fan… from CT, works at http://millburn.patch.com/ right now. We’re not exactly sure what we’re doing with the blog exactly (doubt there will be “game thread” stuff as much as there will be point/counterpoint stuff that degrades into the site’s name…)

    And that description of the Jets fans sounds much like the Mets fans doesn’t it?

  58. There are a lotta people who are Mets/Jets fans, especially on Long Island. And yes, they both tend to beat themselves up (in hilarious fashion) when things inevitably go wrong.

    The difference? Mets fans actually believe the hype. They get worked into a lather and every increment of success represents some sort of twisted revenge vs. Yankee fans who have blanketed them with a lifetime of humiliation.

    Jets fans usually don’t go that way. The animosity between Jets & Giants fans is nothing compared to the baseball or hockey fans here. Jet fans expect to lose. For some reason, a lotta Met fans don’t.

  59. Ranking Michael Stanton ahead of Jason Heyward, at this stage in their respective careers, is insane. According to many scouts, Heyward has no flaws in his offensive game — he has above average to excellent plate discipline, knowledge of the strike zone, and power. He walks almost as much as he strikes out.

    Meanwhile, Stanton has a frightening flaw in his game. He strikes out nearly three times as often as he walks, and while he has mammoth power his career minor league batting average is just .267, thanks to all those K’s — and it was just .231 last year at AA, a level that Heyward had a BA more than 100 points higher and an OPS nearly 300 points higher, at the same age.

    What a terrible case of buying into the hype.

    Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox. Dougdirt over at Minorleagueball just ranked the various minor league systems in baseball using one metric for how much prospects are worth in dollar terms, and the Braves have the third-most valuable system in baseball, behind just the Athletics and Indians (and a hair ahead of the Rays). Man, I hope we don’t miss Roy Clark too much.

  60. I might be wrong, and correct me if I am, but 4 is the lowest Heyward’s been rated by anyone in a while, right? I thought it was pretty generally acknowledged he was rated higher than Stanton (at least I think Sickels did) and was only eclipsed by (maybe) Strasburg.

  61. 101—You are correct, Shawn.

    100—Keep in mind that Piliere is a scout, not a stats guy. I agree with you, but, then, I’m no scout. He must *really* like Stanton. (I also don’t think he’s “buying into the hype” — he’s basing this on what he’s seen.)

  62. @93
    womanizing, no matter how “pointless”, is childish. even moreso when it’s typed on a freakin’ blog. it’s not funny. i dont think anyone on here thinks it’s a bit humorous.

  63. It’s also interesting that Mike Minor is our highest rated pitcher. Did Arodys not even make the list?

  64. 103,
    Carlos Santana could also be number 1 and he was rated number 16 by Piliere. Apart from all the things obviously wrong with the Braves portion of the list, the whole thing just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

  65. Quote from peanut’s new post on the home site:

    “Based solely on the raw strength shown during batting practice, Prado has as much power as anybody on the club right now.”

    i know prado was never known for any power, as far as homerun production was concerned, but wasnt prado a “poke” hitter in the minors? did he even have the ability to drive the ball when he was younger? i really cant remember the younger prado, and i hope this “power” is real that peanut discusses, and that was displayed by prado last year.

  66. 107—(a) There’s no way that’s true; (b) If it were, it would say more about the team’s power than Prado’s. To me.

  67. I guess it’s exciting that somebody thought that highly of Minor. He’s not really a top 50 prospect, is he?

  68. @110 – No. Sickels only had him 7th in our system, BA left him off, and THT had him at #4. He polished, close to the majors, and looks like a player, but not a superstar (NTTAWTT – it’s better than what most draftees turn into))

  69. I think it would be hard for me to see him as Top 100 even – he just doesn’t have the projectability, right now, to be an elite player. I gather that is the standard that these things are generated by. If he develops another plus pitch or two, then sure, he’s going to be a notch above.

  70. In terms of things like spelling and subtraction, addition’s tricky pal, I’d have to agree.

  71. I don’t think the rankings mean much, especially at that level. IIRC, Pujols wasn’t the number one prospect when he came up. It’s like saying, is Hank Aaron the fifth best player of all time or the 10th? If Heyward is only the 4th best prospect in baseball, that’s ok with me.

  72. The specifics of anyone’s prospect rankings never keep me up nights. No. 1? No. 4? No. 6? It’s not like college football rankings where it actually (and unfortunately) matters.

    Plus, I’ll become much more interested when they make The Show. The end of May should be a buncha fun.

  73. Completely OT, but the total bizareness of this just astounded me: Apparently Nancy Kerrigan’s brother killed their 70 something father. Good lord what an f’ed up world we live in.

  74. anytime I hear the name nancy kerrigan, all I can picture in my mind is her squeeling.. ” whyyy….whyy…..My Leg….My Leg…”

    That is messed up though.

  75. DOB on peanut’s quote about prado:
    “That’s true about Prado in BP — nobody on the team hits them farther. Nobody”

  76. 118 — Ha!

    College Bball…

    Don’t look now, but BYU might actually win a tourney game this year.

    (Of course they haven’t played but a few decent opponents, and now I’ve jinxed them. So, there’s that.)

  77. Gonna go get beat like a drum in the house that Lucifer runs….Phog Allen Field House in Lawrence, Kansas.

    I have it on very good authority that at KU they throw puppies in boiling water and make each freshman class sell their souls to obtain their basketball success. Seriously, how else could a school with a mascot that ridiculous be successful at anything besides being the VD conduit to the West?

    Not that I’m biased…

  78. #124–Agreed.

    Prospect lists are fun to argue about, but I can’t get too worked up about Heyward’s ranking. Sure, he should be #1 or #2, but there is just enough disquiet about his injuries to give a few putative experts a bit of doubt. I rather suspect that Heyward has had very minor injuries, but the Braves wisely shut him down a few times to play it safe. In other words, I doubt that this is a real issue. More important, it will be great to see him producing in an Atlanta Braves uniform…..

    Otherwise, it is pretty fun to see people try to rank Mike Minor; I suspect that he has moved up a few notches on some lists because I think that in a few cases some of the people who devise these lists suspect that the Braves knew a lot more about Minor than they do….

  79. Closing in the January/February sports deadzone, so… a couple TV music nods from this week:

    On Sundance Channel, Elvis Costello’s Spectacle show with guest Bruce Springsteen.
    Rarely, do you find someone getting Bruce to reveal so much about his songwriting. Had no idea that EC was that hardcore of a fan. But it’s a great interview.

    Also on PBS, Austin City Limits with The Avett Brothers & Heartless Bastards.
    I really enjoyed HB, but I wished it was a whole hour of the Avetts, who give us one of the best half-hours of music you’ll find on TV this year.

    OK, back to drooling over Jason Hayward…

  80. #131–You are so right–this is a ‘deadzone’ and for whatever reason it seems worse than last year….

  81. Say what you like about Chuckie and the window thing… but:

    James, 28, had rotator cuff and labrum surgery in November of ’08 and was subsequently non-tendered by the Braves. He missed all of 2009, but Rosenthal says Nats assistant GM Roy Clark saw James throwing 88-90 on Saturday.

    that guy making the call to snag him (or at least observing him before they snagged him) has a pretty good track record as I recall (was he the one picking? or grinning?)

  82. 131—I had no idea you were a fan of the Avetts. I’ve been rather obsessed for a couple of years, now.

    Saw that ACL show and, as usual, they rocked. Love those guys.

  83. If you haven’t seen the version of “Laundry Room” they did in the NPR studio, youtube it and enjoy.

  84. I can’t believe that Roy Clark beat Dayton Moore to Chuck James.

    Hee Haw, memories of Nurse Goodbody. Google rocks. You can actually see if your memories are accurate.

  85. If he’s healthy, I think Chuck on a minor league deal makes a lot of sense for a team. When he wasn’t hurt (before ’08) he was decent enough as a 5th starter that he’d be nice to have hanging around in AAA if somebody went down hurt.

  86. Protip – don’t google for pics of Nurse Goodbody to jog your memory with SafeSearch off.

  87. Whatever became of Burton Cummings? Along with Freddie Mercury, he had the best pipes of 70’s rock’n’roll.
    ————————–

    What’s the line on VU v. UT?

  88. MLBTR saying A’s have made “Competitive” offer for Sheets… which would be GREAT as that would take on more pitcher off the market for the Mets… cept I’d HATE for them to sign Smoltz… good, bad, or great I’d hate to see him in a Mets uniform and I’d hate to hear about it one way or the other from my friend (and brother-in-law).

  89. 140

    As far as I know, lines don’t come out until the night before a game for basketball (so the line should come out tonight). If I had to guess I’d say UT would be favored by 4.5 or so, but Chism has a gimpy knee which could really hurt as he’s our only real answer to Ogilvy.

  90. #139 – You are correct sir, safer if you search for Gunila Hutton.

    Interesting series of online articles on Johnny Damon. Hubris.

  91. @131

    Ububba–I didn’t see the EC/Springsteen exchange, but I seem to recall Costello doing a cover of “Brilliant Disguise” (to go along with his own “Brilliant Mistake,” I guess).

    On the subject of music, I’d like to give a shout out to R.E.M. for their latest release, “Live at the Olympia”. I had all but given up on them (like a lot of people) after that “Around the Sun” abomination, but “Accelerate” piqued my interest and this one pretty much has me back in the fold. R.E.M. seems to be in “make-up” mode these days: this live record makes up for the one they put out a couple of years ago, much like “Accelerate” makes up for “Sun.”

    Maybe since it’s a slow time sports-wise, now would be a good time to provide a link to my own band’s website. If you have a little time (say, 3 1/2 minutes) check out the track called “Muse of Mundanity,” which is sort of Elvis Costello meets R.E.M. meets The Police. Oh, and sorry about the name: the singer and songwriter is an English professor, and so is the lead guitarist (me), so what do you expect?

    http://www.myspace.com/miltonandthedevilsparty

  92. Burton Cummings? Funny, haven’t thought of him in forever.

    Strangely, I recently saw a seminar by his onetime bandmate Randy Bachman (The Guess Who/BTO), who explained to a Toronto audience how he wrote “Takin’ Care of Business.”

    I couldn’t believe that he filled up the whole hour, but it was actually pretty entertaining. And do the Canadians ever love their pop stars, even the older ones.

  93. 145—Chism’s always got one injury or another. I don’t think it affects much, but if it does, I won’t complain.

  94. @mlbtraderumors: RT: @MUrbanCSN: Confirmed. A’s have signed Ben Sheets. Presser in Oakland to intriuduce him at 1 p.m. #athletics

  95. #144
    Another jangleman, I see, and I catch the EC connection, for sure. Nice.

    Caught a couple REM shows on the “Accelerate” tour & the gigs were definitely bumped up considerably by the new material. Way more energy, which was encouraging. And, yeah, IMO that’s probably the best record they’ve done since “Automatic for the People.”

    BTW, went to a Police reunion show with EC opening last year. (My girl kinda dragged me, but I didn’t protest.) Elvis did a really sharp 60-minutes to a mostly disinterested Jones Beach audience and The Police were kinda The Jazz Police.

    They sort of reinterpreted some of their work, which, IMO, never needed it. I love Copeland when he’s just playing the songs. To me, he’s the most interesting player in the band, but I hate it when he takes the show into The World of Billy Cobham.

  96. $10M for Sheets? Worth it if he can hold up for the season and pitch as well as he used to… but that’s a heck of a gamble.

  97. Good gamble by the A’s (assuming the contract’s written properly).

    If he’s healthy and the A’s are out of it, could really fetch some good prospects in a stretch-drive trade.

  98. Re: Sheets
    If he can still lift his arm by then, it sounds like a deadline trade to the Mets, Yanks or BoSawx.

    EDIT: Jinx, you owe me a Coke.

  99. I really have no problem with that scout ranking Heyward 4th. I do not think most would agree with him, but ranking prospects is such a questionable exercise, it’s nice to see someone not prone to “group think.’

    Piliere (?) clearly thinks highly of the Braves’ organization, though. We have more players on that top 100 than any team and his comments indicate that Bethancourt and Vizcaino just missed.

  100. Apparently Heyman is tweeting that Sheets signed for 10M plus incentives, which is an overpay to be sure – but what the hell? Who else were the A’s gonna sign? And there’s a non-trivial chance that he either helps them stay in contention or is flipped for something useful at the deadline.

  101. I was actually hoping the Mets would drastically overpay Sheets on a multi yr deal Now that he signed a one yr deal, Im glad it wasnt with the Mets. Im pretty sure they have their sights set on Smoltz now, but after all of his comments (I havent forgotten) I kind of hope he goes there and gets shelled.

  102. With Nady signing today, you have to think the Damon shoe is going to drop doon.

    I don’t see any way he’s going anywhere but the Yankees. The rest of the talk has been Boras v. Yankees posturing.

  103. Contrary to popular myth, Boras doesn’t always get the best price for his clients. Here’s another example.

    I’ll bet that long-gone 2-year/$14 mil offer from Cashman is looking pretty good now.

  104. didnt Boras start asking for 3 yrs at $13 per but really wanted a 4th yr? seems like the last two seasons that by waiting on future deals is a bad idea. Sure wouldve like to have waited on Wagner and Saito, but cant say Im upset with either deal

  105. I don’t think it was that rich. I seem to recall Cashman initially balking at 3 years, then Boras trying for $20 mil/2 years.

    But, at this point, Damon’ll be lucky to get Abreu money—$5 mil for one year.

  106. The only competition Sheets has for 2nd best would be John Lackey’s AJ Burnett deal, Brad Penny, and Rich Harden. Among the three damaged goods labeled guys (Penny, Harden, and Sheets), I’d take Sheets any day of the week. He’s a legit ace when healthy, and he seems to have a better bill of health than Rich Harden. Plus I like the fact that he didn’t pitch at all last year.

  107. Im thinking about it. Haven’t made up my mind yet. I am going up for the Florida game this weekend, so I might skip it. My brother is a big Vandy fan so I might go to rub it in his face.

  108. If only the transitive property applied in basketball, I’d be feeling pretty confident about VU’s game on Saturday.

  109. 160, that’s the smartest thing you have said in years….of course, Huddy is locked up for three seasons and not one. But still, highly intelligent input.

  110. @165,166
    I had read that Damon started asking for 2 years 20 million. Ububba you are right. Hubris on Damon’s part.

  111. Hats off to Devin Downey. What an amazing player.

    Looks like Vandy is on top of the SEC East.

    For now.

  112. Consciously or not, the Braves are all in on the theory that it takes about 18 months for TJ surgery to ultimately heal and yield a harder thrower.

    If Hudson keeps his sinker down and has added about 5 mph, he should be a beast.

  113. Oh to have the money… there are open seats right behind home plate for season tickets… $5K a seat. If the money wasn’t so tight I’d actually be tempted by the 2-1 deal on the $415 Upper Box seats…

  114. The line for UT vs. VU opened at 5.5 and has moved to 6.5 in favor of the Vols. I actually kind of like the over for the game of 148 but would go with Vandy +6.5 if I were a gambling man.

  115. Frankie Piliere followed up his top-100 list with organizational rankings. Top-5:

    1. Tampa Bay
    2. Texas
    3. Oakland
    4. Atlanta
    5. Cleveland

    His comment on Atlanta:

    It’s never a surprise that the Braves have a strong farm system. They continue to graduate players like Tommy Hanson and yet still maintain outstanding depth. Jason Heyward is now on the cusp of big-league stardom, and there are still low-level talents like Christian Bethancourt, Julio Teheran and Arodys Vizcaino ready to move up the ranks behind him.

    Keith Law published his organizational rankings, too. Top-5:

    1. Texas
    2. Boston
    3. Tampa Bay
    4. Cleveland
    5. Atlanta

    His comment on Atlanta:

    Having Jason Heyward helps, but they have a troika of Latin American arms about to march up the system that would make a heck of a 2-3-4 behind Tommy Hanson starting in 2013 or so. They would have been higher except for a brutal draft in 2009.

  116. #187–Thanks for the post. I tend to agree with Law’s comment, except that it is too early to write off the 2009 draft. Time will tell because the Braves selected a large number of unheralded junior college players, who have yet to demonstrate their full worth. If there ever was a draft with the potential to make some scouts famous, 2009 will be it. The Braves’draft will look good if say Hefflinger or Rose or RSF or Harrlichak or some other underpublicized position player pans out.

    With respect to pitchers, Ryan Weber could quickly change the way people think about the ‘brutal draft’ of 2009….

  117. They would have been higher except for a brutal draft in 2009?

    Roy Clark’s farewell. Did he already know he was moving to DC?

  118. 182—Devan Downey is an incredible player, and he hit some ridiculous shots down the stretch, but he didn’t actually have a great game. 30 points on 29 shots? He was missing a lot of shots which he made against us, for example, when he scored 35 on 21 shots. USC-e won that one on the boards — and who could have predicted that?

    186—Tricky line. I think we’ll either win outright or lose by more than that.

  119. Not taking Matzek, Leake or Storen was terrible, and clearly money motivated.

  120. 189 – Stephen, I like your comments about making scouts famous with that 2009 draft.

    Obviously, the flaw of our system is a lack of balance between arms and bats. That’s where we probably failed in 2009, by passing up Grant Green in the 1st or some other position need in the 3rd round.

    Personally, I think we need a 3rd base prospect more than any other position, including middle infield. The eventual failures of Van Pope and Eric Campbell could really haunt us.

  121. Parish at 193,

    Braves have for many years (even before Cox came back from Toronto in 1987, as I remember) drafted and signed domestic and international position
    players very heavily as catchers, shortstops, and centerfielders. The emphasis on fielding and the possibility that guys might have to go “down the spectrum” I guess. Otherwise, they usually draft pitchers. It isn’t really new.

    I think the real reason the experts say last year was such a bad draft is that most scouts think they took a lesser player in Minor, and then no 2nd round pick because of Lowe. So, how does a national expert think you had a good draft?

    Most of these scouts and commentators only think highly of late round picks if they are high visibility prospects that want big money. Then, if the Red Sox or Yankees sign their eighth round pick to $ 900,000, the experts say “what a great job of drafting”.

    All that to say, there is a good chance that Roy was “pickin and grinnin” on these picks.

  122. 188,
    Jeffrey Lorick is another one to keep your eye on, big time sleeper from UVA. Him and Cory Harrilchak may be the two best from the ’09 draft that practically nobody is talking about.

    191,
    The list of players available at 7 I like better than Mike Minor:

    Tyler Matzek, Matt Purke (who Roy Clark asked Liberty for the money to draft, but they said no), Shelby Miller, Jacob Turner, Aaron Crow, Kyle Gibson, Tanner Scheppers, Grant Green, and Mike Leake.

    I prefer Minor to Drew Storen and Alex White, though.

  123. 187 – Was it K-Law that said in a chat he would take the Phils’ farm over the Braves’? I know he recanted subsequently, but:

    #5 – Braves
    #24 – Phillies

  124. 198 – The comment came after the trade, but Callis (per Stu) used forgetting about the trade in his excuse to change his mind.

    FWIW, I think the Braves system was clearly better before that trade (which also netted the Phils 3 top, though lesser prospects). The current disparity suggests so.

  125. People have enjoyed ripping the Braves system, if only out of habit, since the Teixeira trade. When a competent analyst finally looks at it from a mostly objective standpoint, top-5 is what you get. My explanation, at least.

  126. There were better players (at least with much higher ceilings) than Minor at #7, but the Braves also seemed less ambitious with their #5 and #6 picks (I am also surprised that Wooley turned them down). I might add that while Mycal Jones is not bad at #4 he will be 23 in May so he needs to move quickly.

    All of that said, I suspect that in a couple of years that the picks between about the 7th round until the 23rd round will look astute….

  127. Stu – Downey’s first half was pretty bad, but he pretty much won the game single handedly in the last five minutes or so. He’s a seriously special player.

    I have no idea how we out-rebounded them. Jefferson stepped up, I guess. But I think Kentucky lost the game a little bit more than we won it. And Cousins is a head case. Talented, though.

  128. Speaking of bad drafts. The 2004 debacle yielded Tyler Flowers who is currently with the White Sox.

  129. Yanks just signed Randy Winn, so apparently Damon just lost his best suitor. I wonder if DOB’s comments all winter will grow some legs now. Damon is somewhat close to our ST sites and you’d think he may want to play in ATL over Oakland. Who else could get involved? Can Wren really not make a little room in the budget and control Heyward for another season down the line? Seems like going over budget by $2-3 mil in Bobby’s last year, could or should be an option

  130. 204—I believe I said Downey was incredible, and I believe I noted his down-the-stretch performance. Still, he did not play a great game — if I were a coach, I would gladly take 1.03 points per shot from an opposing star player every single time — and the main reason you guys won was rebounding.

  131. Yup. I’m hearing Oakland for Damon.

    About Damon, Cashman said today, “His abilities exceed the money that I have.”

    IMO, Cashman just really wants to shed his older players.

  132. We don’t have any older players facing contract renewals we can shed either, unless you were counting Hudson.

  133. On Cashman and Damon (Boras),

    I think after the first exchange of ideas, the whole thing has been driven by Cashman trying to “get Boras in line”.

    Basically what Cashman’s message was (I think) is something like “Boras, for a premium superstar talent, we may have bid against ourselves before, but don’t count on us doing it again. We will offer above market for guys that have been good to us (like Damon). After that, you either take our idea on dollars and years or leave it. No ‘mystery team’ b.s.”

    For the Yankees, losing Damon may make them a slightly lesser team. Making Boras come down on his demands is of great value.

  134. I don’t know that there is a tactic that would make Boras, or any other agent, lower there asking prices across the board. It’s all about Adam Smith and that unseen hand. If they got a desirable player, he will be pursued and there will be an auction. If not, no market. I can see one of the owners screwing up on the latter part, but it’s hard to picture a decent agent messing up the former.

  135. Cashman was certainly finished dancing with Boras on this one. He had options & he didn’t have to re-sign Damon.

    I also believe that Cashman is finished committing big money to older DH-types who can’t play a position adequately (the Damons, the Giambis) or can’t play a position at all (Matsui).

    The 2010 team should have more versatility in the OF—Winn can play all three OF positions, Gardner & Granderson can play LF & CF, Swisher can play LF & RF.

    Winn was lousy in SF last year, but for the Yanks he should be fine as a 4th OF.

    But most crucially for a guy like Damon, the Yanks expect to give many more DH ABs to Posada & A-Rod, plus Nick Johnson & even some for Tex.

    In that park, Johnny Damon would probably put up good numbers again, but he’d also help create a logjam that they don’t want to revisit.

  136. I heard a couple of weeks ago that Damon hates spring training. He keeps himself in good shape all winter and only needs 2 weeks to get ready for the season, so he gets bored for the whole month.

  137. Stu, wasn’t trying to argue with you. I’m still coming to grips with this thing because I don’t understand it and, as a Carolina fan, I’ve never experienced anything like it.

    I can’t shake the thought of how much we wasted Downey.

  138. Parish (203)–I would not be surprised if at least one of those playrs makes it to the majors and several more have good enough careers in the minors to become trading chips. At a minimum, they will be interesting to watch over the coming season….

  139. Thanks for all the well wishes guys. I do have one favor to ask, I’m gonna be bed ridden for awhile, and I love to read. I havent been able to work for months, so, can any of you donate a book or two so I can keep my sanity in the hospital?

  140. Weldon, I apologize for responding so defensively. I was on edge all day in anticipation of our game tonight. Downey is seriously unbelievable. He’s been killing us since he was at Cincy.

  141. Give me an address, FBF, and they’ll be in the mail, brother.

    Email me if you’d rather not post your address here: speele [at] clemson [dot] edu.

  142. I have not been able to follow Vandy as well as I might have liked, but it now seems with a 5-0 start in SEC play that the Dores are off to their best conference start since the Clyde Lee era….

  143. Wow, didnt expect so many responses. I love good sports books, anything Steven King or James Patterson, Grisham, Carl Hiasson, etc. I’m also a history buff, I like books about early American politics, etc,You can send them to:

    Lance Easley
    7378 Crepe Myrtle Ct
    Port St John, FL 32927

    Thanks guys, its nice to know you have people you can lean on,

  144. Also, I just went through the MLB top 60 prospects, and readjusted the totals for each team. Atlanta is tied with Cleveland, KC, Tampa, and Texas for most prospects in the top 60.

    ATL: 4
    CLE: 4
    KC: 4
    TB: 4
    TEX: 4
    BOS: 3
    CIN: 3
    COL: 3
    DET: 3
    WAS: 3
    FLA: 2
    LAD: 2
    MIL: 2
    OAK: 2
    PHI: 2
    SF: 2
    TOR: 2
    ARI: 1
    BAL: 1
    CHI: 1
    HOU: 1
    LAA: 1
    MIN: 1
    NYM: 1
    NYY: 1
    PIT: 1
    SD: 1
    SEA: 1
    STL: 0
    CHW: 0

  145. @230 – I think I got a little aroused when I watched the video at that MLB.com link.

    I guess if you think about it the Braves thought “Why pay Damon what he is asking when Heyward will be as good or better?”

    When you factor in Heyward’s projected OPS, regression from Damon due to age and park factors, and Damon’s awful defense compared to average/above average defense from Heyward, standing pat is probably the smart move. Even if you wait until May to bring Heyward up.

    I’m starting to drink the Kool-Aid. This will be a fun team to watch.

  146. Even if the Braves don’t make the playoffs this year, I like the idea of building the team around Heyward, Hanson, McCann, Escobar, Freeman (hopefully), Schaefer (maybe) and other young arms coming up. It’s something like the way the Phillies built around a young core of players. I didn’t think so a few months ago, but the future-at least over the next 5-6 years–looks fairly promising.

  147. I like the core that we are building around also. However, I wish we had more position prospects (esp: infielders) who were close to being MLB ready

  148. Absolutely. Plus, in the long run, the Braves really need to upgrade their defense, especially the infield. Chipper really is a liability at third now and Prado is average at best at second. Poor defense will undermine a pitching staff, especially as the staff gets younger.

  149. 243, exactly. I totally agree.

    A perfect example is the difference between the 1990 Braves and 1991 Braves.

    John Schuerholz recognized the need to back up the Braves young pitching staff with an improved defensive team. So, Pendleton, Bream, Belliard and Nixon all had one thing in common…..They were slick glove men at each of their respective positions.

    Of course Pendleton’s bat and Nixon’s speed only enhanced the Braves offense.

  150. I like Heyward as much as the next guy, but I think the notion that he will outhit Damon next year tough to believe. The reason you get a guy like Damon is so you can let Heyward have a bit of time at AAA. It can only help his development, and will save the team a good bit of money down the road. If he does great, you flip one of Diaz/Melky/McClouth/Damon

  151. Johnny Damon isn’t going to play for the Braves, he’s too expensive and beyond the Braves budgetary constraints. Besides, Frank Wren is done reconstructing his roster.

    As for Brandon Hicks, many believe that he could play third base. As it is, his glove work is big league right now, but the bat is in question.

  152. I didn’t say Damon will or even should play for the braves. I was commenting on the notion that it is a foregone conclusion that Heyward will be on the big club next year. I am far from convinced it’s the best idea

  153. fbf,
    i know, going through chemo, that you might be nauseated often, which would make it hard to read. If you would be interested in some audiobooks (i do have some james patterson), i could most definitely help out in that area. my email is: cothrjr at hotmail dot com.

  154. FBF:

    Will you have an iPod or laptop handy in the hospital? If so, I’d be happy to send you some new music as well. I could drop a few CDs in the mail or send them to you digitally. What works for you and what do you like? I have a wide range of stuff, hopefully something for everyone’s tastes. :)

  155. Also, we have 5 players in Keith Law’s top 100:

    #1 Heyward
    #43 Vizcaino
    #63 Teheran
    #67 Freeman
    #85 R. Delgado

    That ties us for third in baseball, along with Cleveland and Cincinnati (!). Only Boston (7) and Tampa (6) have more prospects in the top 100 than we do.

  156. @254,

    Thanks for sharing, that’s incredible. Citi Field is a beautiful park to watch the Mets lose.

  157. You know, Prado plays a much better third base than second base. We will see if he can repeat his last year’s offensive performance.

    I love Heyward, but we can’t go wrong with him. I would rather be conservative than wrong. Frank, keep him in the minor until June.

    Our outfield will be Diaz, McLouth, and Melky until June. I don’t see us signing Damon because the A’s will outbid us.

  158. I don’t see a particular downside to playing Heyward right away, other than the potential money issue later on. Even if he struggles, it is rare that a hitter loses so much confidence that he flops. The only problem would be someone like Francouer, who really had significant holes in his game and could have benefitted from more time in the minors, but, obviously, he didn’t struggle in the big leagues until later. And lots of young hitters have struggled initially at a young age and then done ok. Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle comes to mind. No, I am not comparing Heyward to Mays and Mantle but if struggling a little is going to kill his confidence that quickly, there is a problem anyway. I’m not saying he would be great right away, but I think there is relatively little chance of ruining him.

    Pitchers, I think, are a little different because pitching involves less reacting than thinking.

  159. I don’t see a particular downside to playing Heyward right away, other than the potential money issue later on.

    That’s a big freaking downside, dude. I see much less downside to leaving him down until at least June.

  160. I don’t see a particular downside to playing Heyward right away, other than the potential money issue later on.

    Yeah, but this is a really big one. Can’t really just gloss over it. The Braves have three credible major league outfielders, they should keep him down unless there is an injury.

    Keeping him off the Yankees/Red Sox/Dodgers for an extra year is a big deal for me.

  161. Just thought I’d come on here and give a congrats to Stu and the rest of the Vandy people. I stand corrected, you’re pretty clearly better than us. In fact, I agree with Smitty, you’re a downright great team.

    Good luck the rest of the way…except for our return trip to Nashville, of course.

    As far as we go, I don’t think there’s any need to panic or anything, but we kind of need these next three hosting Florida, at LSU and hosting South Carolina before we head into our brutal backstretch, where we get Vandy, UK, Miss. State, South Carolina and Florida on the road and UK at home. The only games we’re a clear favorite to win during that stretch are Georgia and Arkansas at home sandwiched in there.

  162. Thanks, Nick. I have been telling people since this summer that we’re pretty good — and pretty unlike past good VU teams in how we get it done — but folks just have to see it to believe it.

    Our biggest strength is UT’s biggest weakness (now): depth. I thought that was the difference last night. We just have more good players.

    I agree that there’s no need for y’all to panic. Still plenty to work with, and Pearl is no slouch.

  163. Alex, thanks for the Law post over at Chop-n-Change.

    Stu, Robert are y’all saying that Heyward should start in Gwinette even if he has a great ST?
    Probably all of us know that right field is Heyward’s position to lose this coming spring. I don’t have a problem with him starting in the show. I have posted before that Heyward should get the Hanson treatment but I think I have changed my mind. I understand that starting his service time could end up costing millions but IHMO the Braves, correctly, are going to put the best 9 on the field.

  164. @263 – It’s an infringement on your constitutional rights. It’s outrageous, egregious, preposterous.

  165. Stu, Robert are y’all saying that Heyward should start in Gwinette even if he has a great ST?

    If it were up to me, yes, he’d stay in Gwinnett until June, no matter what his ST performance looks like.

  166. Seeing as management has punted 2010 for 2014, they might as well hold Heyward back in the minors until June. It would be a good idea even if the Braves were serious about 2010. That extra year from Heyward is a big deal.

    By 2013, I expect the goalposts will be moved to 2017, but who knows? Ballin’ on a budget.

  167. I think I was only 8 or 9 when Andruw came up, so I don’t really remember the hype surrounding him, but every time I read about Heyward I get more and more excited. But I also get a little worried, because it almost seems like a too good to be true thing. I wouldn’t call Andruw a failure, but he certainly didn’t truly live up to his hype as a prospect. And we all know what happened with Francouer. I’m almost scared to have Heyward come up too early, or do anything that might lead him closer to Frenchy than Andruw.

  168. Hey Jason Heyward just answered one of my questions:

    Dusty (Chattanooga)

    Would you be terribly disappointed if you had to start the season in AAA instead the majors?

    Jason Heyward (4:38 PM)

    No. I wouldn’t be terribly disappointed at all. That just means that’s where the organization wants me. If I start in the AAA, then there’s something to work towards. I’d rather start there and go up then the majors and go down.

  169. Dusty,

    I grew up in Chattanooga. It’s changed a hell of a lot (for the better)since I lived there. What part of town do you live in?

    Re Heyward,

    I agree that it makes sense from the money standpoint to keep him in the minors until June. I was just saying that I don’t think it would likely hurt him developmentally to start in Atlanta even if he struggled some.

  170. Stu, Robert are y’all saying that Heyward should start in Gwinette even if he has a great ST?

    If it were up to me, yes, he’d stay in Gwinnett until June, no matter what his ST performance looks like.

    Ditto. I’d feel differently if there were a gaping hole in the present OF, but I think you get by with Melk-McLouth-Matty until you are sure you are out of the woods for a Super-2.

  171. Marc,

    I grew up in the Hixson/Soddy-Daisy area, but now we live in Fort Oglethorpe, GA just across the state line.

    While I agree that it may not hurt Heyward developmentally to start with the big club, it would be much better to follow the Hanson path than the Schafer one.

  172. @272 –

    Yes. By signing Hudson to a 3 year deal, getting rid of Frenchy, bringing up Hanson, giving Prado the 2nd base job instead of going through another season of Kelly johnson’s ups and downs, improving to (at least, to say nothing of adding Heyward) an average major league outfield, and signing Wagner and Saito,management is clearly not trying to improve the team for 2010. I fully expect them to continue throwing 2010 by tearing down Turner Field.

  173. I may not agree with all the Braves moves this offseason but I do not think they punted this season either.

    If Heyward looks ready, keep him up.

  174. Greetings from Miami…
    Mark me down as keeping Heyward down til June. I think the OF will be fine, and there’s no guarantee that Heyward will open with 2 months of Darryl Strawberry-like numbers.

    Plus, I love having something to look forward to…

  175. I also want Heyward kept at AAA until June. He gains more confidence and experience and remains cheaper for the Braves. What’s not to like? McLouth, Cabrera, Diaz, and Hinske can hold their own until they bring Heyward up. I am still hoping for a Damon signing, but it seems unlikely at this point.

  176. @284

    Well, the Nats are bound to get to around .500 sooner or later.

    The other thing was: Are the Rays really supposed to be that good this year? Ninety-six wins in the AL East? Really?

  177. Rivals Recruiting Ratings have the Vols in at #7, one spot above USC. We are in on Da’Rick Rogers the #9 playing in American, along with several others.

    I know these are subjective and really mean only a little, but Dooley has done a really good job so far. I am really impressed by him to this point.

  178. it’s because, Alex, they were horrid for so long and Chuck “I learned everything from John Schuerholz” LaMar had some GREAT drafts. they are frightening, but they will lose Crawford after this year (most likely to the Yanks who will have an opening in LF) and Longoria when he hits FA.

    There are some who are down on Beckham as his tools haven’t developed into skills like they should have up to this point (ala Uptons) and their arms, while good, are nowhere near the top-10.

    they’ll be competitive, but i doubt they win the WS in the next 3-5 years.

  179. I am with those that think Heyward needs some AAA experience. Even Schafer had a great ‘season’ in the AFL before 2009 Spring Training. In contrast, Heyward was shut down (probably rightly) in the AFL. I might add that I don’t think the Braves did Schafer any favors by letting him skip AAA either….

  180. Unlike everyone else, I’m a little undecided about starting Heyward at AAA. Assuming he has a great spring and is ML ready, I would at least consider plugging him in RF. I understand the money considerations of course, but 2 month are 1/3 of a season, and last year those first two month cost us the playoffs. As far as I’m concerned, it all depends on how much of an upgrade Heyward would be over the Melkman.

    Also, I’m not as low on Schafer as most people. He played hurt last year. If healthy, he still has the potential to be quite good with the bat and really good in CF. I would definitely not waste any more money (assuming there is more money, which I doubt) on another outfielder.

  181. Stephen,

    you’re right, skipping AAA is always a little bit of a gamble. I remember one particular centerfielder who did quite alright for us after skipping AAA though.

  182. Tom–I certainly agree that it makes no sense to waste money on another outfielder at this point. Maybe if Damon came for Garrett Anderson’s price–but even then it might make more sense to keep the money and added flexibility which it might bring for later in the season…..

  183. I guess I am the only guy besides Oldtimer that’s ok with Heyward starting in the show.

    Of course all of y’all know that unless he totally sucks in ST he WILL be the starting RF this season. The position is there for him to lose.

    I disagree with anyone that says the team is building for the future. I contend that the Braves want to win now.

  184. What has changed about Heyward’s evaluations since about July 20, 2009? He played about 2 more weeks of AA ball and then about 10 days at AAA. Then, he was shut down. Then, he was sent to AFL and barely played and was shut down. He has about 6 extra months of chronological age.

    Why is that relevant? During August and September of last year we had Church on DL, McLouth unable to go, and had Reid Gorecki and Garret Anderson getting playing time with Diaz in his less favorable fielding position of right field. All this while only a few games out with a real shot at a Wild Card playoff berth with a potential “short series dominant pitching staff” that could have triggered a “magical run”.

    Either FO should admit it was stupid not to play the Heyward card then or it should give him 60 days in AAA before bringing him up.

    Does anybody know if any of the projection systems factor Heyward in?

  185. I understand the money issue and I understand the developmental issue. But, for the sake of argument, if Heyward is ready and you leave him in the minors until June, and end up out of the wildcard by a game or two, people will be complaining about not bringing him up sooner and will be yelling about what a cheapskate Liberty is. And it’s not all that uncommon for position players to make an impact at a very young age.

  186. And it’s not all that uncommon for position players to make an impact at a very young age.

    It’s actually QUITE uncommon. I defy you to find more than a handful of “impact” seasons at age 20 from a hitter. What few there are (A-Rod) are more than matched by the many that are not (Andruw Jones Age 20 – 97 OPS). And there aren’t all that many to look at simply because most players are not ready at age 20 for MLB. Even Francouer’s Fluke came at 21.

  187. Evan Longoria was signed to a 9 year deal in 2008. I don’t think he’s going anywhere, chris.

  188. Kevin,
    A little SB vibe, but more Pro Bowl. Yippee.

    There was a big ESPN booth on Ocean Drive where the reporters are doing standups.

    On the plane, the gal next to me worked for the production company that does the SB halftime show. She had CDs of The Who’s whole 13-minute show. No surprises for TV, I guess, and no Daltrey nipple slips either.

  189. After what happened with Schafer last year, I probably shouldn’t say this, but I trust the Braves mgmt to make the right decision on Heyward. If he’s ready, he should be brought up, but if they find enough holes in his overall game, he should stay in AAA. I don’t think the money savings to wait until June should be the major concern. If the guy’s close to as good as advertised the Braves should work on a McCann-type deal well before his arbitration years.

  190. @301,

    But there’s no guarantee he would sign that kind of deal. Francouer didn’t (thank God). Why hope he’ll sign a contract when you could avoid a Tim Lincecum situation by keeping him in the minors two months?

    At this point, I’d be very surprised to see him start the year in the bigs.

  191. ‘Either FO should admit it was stupid not to play the Heyward card then or it should give him 60 days in AAA before bringing him up.’

    Why? The Braves owe no one any explanation what so ever.

    I totally understand why everyone is against starting Heyward in the show this year, but the Braves have clearly communicated that he will be competing for an outfield slot this coming spring.

    I am alone I guess in saying that the team is doing the right thing by putting the best team on the field despite the service time and future money implications. My fearless prediction is that the kid will be our starting RF this year unless he just shows he is totally overmatched in ST.

  192. There isn’t a nice way to tell a player “we’re keeping you in the minors longer so we don’t have to pay you as much later.” I think all the talk about him competing for a job in spring training is just PR. Guess we’ll all see soon enough.

  193. For goodness sake, Heyward has barely 200AB’s above A ball. There’s a perfectly good non-monetary reason to start him in AAA regardless of his ST performance.

  194. Sickels weighs in on the Heyward question and others:

    http://www.talkingchop.com/

    I think the point made about Rasmus is valid–but for now it is nice to think that the Braves have yet another pithcer with an electric arm, which might yet pan out….

  195. You might as well forget about him being overmatched in Spring Training. He was in Spring Training last year and the Braves loved him, and from all indications he most certainly did not look overmatched. So I doubt they are going to see anything that makes them think he is not ready.

    If he does not start the season in Atlanta, it will be for monetary reasons, plain and simple. I think we will be OK either way. Melky, Diaz and Hinske can perform admirably on both sides of McLouth until Heyward gets called up in May. If they let him start the season in Atlanta and he turns out to be a stud, then so be it. The Braves may be cheap, but they are not dumb and I believe they will lock Heyward up long term to be the centerpiece of the franchise if he shows he is worthy of the money over the next two or three years. The SuperTwo status will be a non-issue.

  196. I will have a laptop and an IPOD in the hospital, so whatever you’d like to send would be great. I listen to a little of everything, my Ipod has stuff like The Ramones, Johnny Cash, The Who, Nirvana, I’ve got a pretty wide range of tastes. Again, I cant thank you all enough, maybe someday I can return the favors…

  197. If he does not start the season in Atlanta, it will be for monetary reasons, plain and simple.

    People keep asserting this, but I have yet to see any evidence.

  198. FBF,

    How’s your internet speed? Could I send you a Sendspace link? If not, I’m happy to burn some blank CDs and put them in the mail.

    EDIT: What’s your e-mail address?

  199. Indeed FBF – I’ll be happy to upload anything you are interested in from a vintage country/jazz/rock standpoint to megaupload and send you a link.

  200. Chattanooga is the best kept secret in the South. I’d love to live there. Learned how to ski on Lake Chickamauga. Really drastic improvement over the years.

    Vandy is catching UK at a good time. How our young guys react to learning they’re not all that will be interesting.

    I fear UT is finally feeling the effects of losing Tyler and Brian. What a waste.

    All of a sudden, I’m pulling for Tim Tebow. Must. Stop. Smoking. Crack.

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