On Your Marks…Get Set…

Just a few news updates of interest to Braves fans, to keep all informed and function as a game thread for Friday’s tilt against the Sons of Shoeless Joe Jackson

– Per Carroll Rogers in the AJC, the club anticipates having Jason Heyward and Justin Upton back in the lineup Friday night, and Fab 5 Freddie Freeman is optimistic he’ll be able to join them then or Saturday. (So much for GattisWatch ’13.)
– Professional Braves-hater Keith Law released an updated Top 50 MLB Prospects list. and managed to grudgingly slip in one Braves farmhand, Lucas Sims, at the very end:

50. Lucas Sims, RHP | Atlanta Braves (age 19) Current level: Low Class A (Rome) Preseason ranking: Unranked Sims has blown up since Atlanta moved him into the rotation after a stint in the pen to limit his innings for the year, now sitting 91-96 with a plus curveball and much-improved changeup. His walk rate dropped by nearly half when he returned to starting, and other than the lack of life on his fastball he doesn’t have any major concerns besides the usual command/control questions on any teenaged starter. He’s starting to look at least like a potential No. 3 starter, and is now the team’s best starting pitching prospect on the farm.

– From the Useless but Mildly Interesting Trivia Department, a website called Sportslogos.net did an analysis of how teams have performed in their different uniform combinations. It may or may not surprise you to learn that the Atlanta Braves top all comers at 11-1 in their weekend home cream alternates, and 12-1 if you include the smashing Atlanta Black Crackers home throwbacks they wore during a Saturday home game earlier this season (which, personally, I’d like to see them adopt as a permanent alt set or even new away uniforms, as I’ve never thought the script “Atlanta” on the current options really worked). Worst combination: the road navy blues (which are, of course, chosen by the game’s starting pitcher), in which the team sports a 9-11 record.
– According to MLB Trade Rumors, the Braves are not just focusing on lefty relievers (duh), but seriously considering a second go-round with Mike Gonzalez, currently with the Brewers.
– And finally, per the same source, Derek Lowe has decided to quietly call it a career. Which, after seventeen years and a strong hand in helping to resurrect the peaceful coexistence of the words “Boston” and “World Series champions” in the same sentence, I’d say he most definitely had. He went out with a whimper for us, but you always knew he was gonna give it every single ounce of effort he had. Thanks, Derek!

That’s all I’ve got. Tim Hudson vs. John Danks in Whatever the Hell They’re Calling It Now Park on the south side of Chicago. Makes me dream of deep dish pizza. Grlgrlgrlgrlgrlgrlgrl…

Let’s do this.

127 thoughts on “On Your Marks…Get Set…”

  1. Greetings from Denver…

    Stumbling around the 16th Street Mall downtown, I’m reminded of the Patton Oswalt quote: “Everytime you eat a steak, a hippie’s hackeysack goes down the sewer.”

    Nice town, though. Gonna try to catch the Rox, weather willing.

  2. That’s a pretty good stadium, Coors Field. My family is mostly in Ft. Collins now, so I get down there every so often.

  3. Gattis, Heyward, and JUpton back in the lineup….that’s good. Now we can go back to the question of “how we can give Gattis more at-bats?”

  4. 4 — Got the DH available this series so that won’t be an issue for the next 3 games.

  5. If the Braves are on the south side, that means they are in…oh no… That’s Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown country!

  6. @1, I’d advise getting some of that steak in burrito form at Illegal Pete’s, on the mall.

  7. Too bad this match-up didn’t come one series later. I’ll be in Chicago on business from Thursday to Friday. :/

  8. @8 Why stick Gattis in the leftfield at all this weekend if you have the DH. I’d rather see T-Bone or Reed Johnson in center…then you can leave Heyward and Justin at right and left respectively.

  9. Yeah, I think when we’re not in an AL park that it’ll be Gattis/Heyward/Upton.

    So, as we start the second half, what does everyone think will be the Braves’ result to the season? Division championship/Wild Card? First round exit, NLCS, World Series?

  10. Fair point about Heyward’s hamstring, but without knowing how severe the strain was, it’s hard to say he’s totally disqualified from center field. I think he’s better there defensively than Reed, so if he’s physically capable I would much rather see his glove and Gattis’s bat than anything of Johnson.

    @14: Pretty confident about the division at this point. Sure, collapses happen, but the Nationals have shown no ability whatsoever to escape the .500 Death Zone, and the Phillies just don’t have the lineup to make a run.

    As for the postseason, if I were a sports-wagering man, I wouldn’t bet against the Cardinals. But… inferior teams get on hot streaks in October all the time, so in the spirit of “Why not us?”: Braves all the way.

  11. I think we win the division, and honestly, there isn’t a single outcome in the postseason that would surprise me. Everyone hitting and going all the way to nobody hitting and getting blown out in 3.

    //for the record, a healthy Braves team is just as tough to handle as anyone else in the mix, and harder than most. 3rd in Runs/G and 3rd fewest Runs allowed/G.

  12. I think the Braves win the division and Teheran murders fools in the divisional round of the playoffs but the bats go quiet in the NLCS.

    Yeah. That’d be nice.

  13. @1,2

    Either of y’all planning on going to tomorrow’s game? A cubs fan friend of mine is trying to drag me along.

  14. Robert Maloof has died. If I were in Atlanta I’d go have a pint at Manny’s in his honor.

  15. What did Constanza do to warrant exclusion from the LF discussion while BJ heals?

    Constanza
    Heyward
    Jupton
    Freddie
    Oso (DH)
    McCann
    Simmons
    Johnson
    Uggla (as a second leadoff)

    One of the best lineups in baseball.

  16. @22: It’s not so much what he did as what he has failed to do, namely demonstrate that he is capable of starting for a contender on anything other than an emergency basis. I have no problem seeing him in for Gattis as a late-innings defensive replacement, but giving him a bunch of PAs for no reason would be an awful idea.

  17. As nice as it is that Constanza seems to get a lot of infield singles… Having no secondary offense, he’d have to hit about .380 to provide value as a LF.

  18. I’m with Spike, there’s absolutely nothing that would surprise me with this club either.

    If they hit a little bit (and that means timely HRs, really), they have a bullpen that can carry them a long way.

    But, of course, I could see them getting bopped in the first round by the Dodgers or something.

  19. Braves Lineup, no Heyward Terdo at 1st.

    Braves lineup: Constanza 7 RJohnson 8, JUpton 9, McCann 2, Gattis DH, Uggla 4, CJohnson 5, Simmons 6, Terdoslavich 3 (Hudson 1)

  20. @25 – so you’re happier with BJ in Constanza’s spot?

    The triumph of faith over observable reality.

  21. Does “observable reality” include the fact that Constanza has never demonstrated either the skill set nor empirical results to match what BJ has already proven he can do at the major league level, despite the fact that he is older? Or is “observable reality” exclusive of anything that happened before whatever arbitrary end points are most convenient to your argument?

  22. @30: Ha, I had no idea that Constanza was older than B.J.! That just sort of clinches it, doesn’t it? Anyone who would prefer Constanza over B.J. … well, I’m just glad Wren’s in charge and not you.

  23. I just don’t know how to address the notion that a guy hitting .263/.320/.305 AT AAA GWINNETT is a better option than BJ. How’s that for observable reality?

  24. Let’s say that everybody’s convinced BJ won’t ever be any good to this team. How does that lead anyone straight to…Constanza? I think I just convulsed involuntarily.

  25. so you’re happier with BJ in Constanza’s spot?

    The triumph of faith over observable reality.

    lol wut?

  26. I don’t think you can logically say Constanza is a better option. I do think, however, that based on his major league success this year, the fact that he was once one of our prized prospects, and a higher than zero percentage chance he’s no longer a douche that Jordan Schafer should challenge BJ for playing time. I sure as heck would like to see if he’s Denard Span or Charles Thomas.

    Great write-up on Derek Lowe, Alex. Your ability to succinctly recap someone’s entire career and all of its ebbs and flows is stellar.

  27. No complaint from me if Schafer, once healthy, cuts into BJ’s playing time. I still would think that getting BJ right has to be our priority, though.

  28. A “sunk cost” BJ Upton will cripple this franchise for a couple of years. The team has a compelling interest in playing him out of this.

  29. I think the team has a compelling interest in sitting him out of this, as well. Maybe I’m wrong, but unless you’re going to mentally lose him for the duration of his contract, I think there needs to be some sort of playing time diminishing or demotion if a player is this below league average for this long. When you’ve got a candidate who can possibly provide much more production, then I think it’s pretty obvious.

    This is one of those times when I want to be a fly on the wall in the front office. I’m sure there have been many conversations about how to get BJ Upton on track, and I’m sure there have been more than a couple conversations about the risks and rewards of sending a player with an ego as huge as BJ’s to the minors. Perhaps they know that if they do that, he’ll became an even bigger diva than he already is, and they want to avoid that. But, I’ll never know…

  30. To further clarify what I mean, I’m referring to the fact that there are huge mental flaws in BJ’s game. He has poor swing mechanics that include too much movement that creates a low contact rate, and his behavior towards umpires is going to widen his strike zone in the years to come. Those two things really need to be fixed before he’s going to become an above average hitter, and putting him in an environment like AAA where he can break down his swing mechanics may help him. I’m not saying I’m trying to “humble” him, as if that’s even possible. I’m saying forcing him to rebuild his approach before he can be put in a position to have impact on the major league team.

  31. 1. You can’t just “send” a veteran to the minors. He has to agree to the assignment. B.J. would not.

    2. You give some things you say “need to be fixed before he’s going to become an above average hitter.” Except that those things have been present, so far as I know, throughout his career, and every year until now, he has been an above-average hitter. So I question your confident assertion that he must “fix” either of those two things in order to find success.

  32. I am not entirely sure BJ could be sent down even if you wanted to without clearing waivers and his agreement to do so. He’s got 8 years of ML service time.

  33. It’s worth pointing out that BJ was actually much improved in June, going .238/.359/.452, which was actually above his career average in terms of OPS. Unfortunately he fell back down in the first part of July, but hopefully it indicates movement in the right direction.

  34. CSS is showing Indy-Gwinnett, and Beachy is pitching really well. The announcers are saying that he may go beyond his scheduled five innings.

  35. Hooray indeed, and Huddy had a nice bottom of the first. Runs would still be nice, though.

  36. Chip Caray brings us Small Sample Size Theatre. On today’s episode, Hudson sucks at Comiskey and the Braves suck against the White Sox.

  37. Can someone tell me if the Braves actually ARE the worst baserunning team in all of baseball, or do I only think that because I watch them suck at it everyday?

  38. That first pitch to Gattis was four inches off the ground, and was called a strike. And he touched second before the tag. WTF?

    PS Gordon Beckham’s dad, of the same name, was quarterback of my high school football team when I was playing in the marching band. Such a small world.

    EDIT: Dig Dugg flashes the leatha!

  39. @60- My mistake.

    But really, I’d prefer 9th. At least when Huddy, Minor or Medlen is pitching. Don’t want Andrelton ending any innings and stranding a power hitter on deck!

    In 2013, Huddy hits a homer every 36 ABs, Minor one every 36, and Medlen one every 30.

    Andrelton, one every 41.3.

    :)

    EDIT: Huddy and Medlen also walk more often…

  40. Did Rios just not run out of the box or what?

    EDIT: Flipped over to the Sox broadcast. Steve Stone said “Alex just didn’t run. Simple as that.”

  41. Rios and Constanza are providing a demonstration of how not to execute some of the simpler aspects of the sport.

  42. @79 – I just guess A LOT. You only have to be right like, 10% of the time, everyone will forget all the rest.

  43. Trivia question from CSS: Alex Wood was the 2nd Gwinnett Brave this year to play his first game there after his major league debut. Who was the first?

  44. Next year is next year and doesn’t matter for shit right now. Let’s just enjoy the now and BMac being one of the central figures that takes this team to the promised land.

  45. That it be. Beachy did look good against the Indians tonight; hopefully he’ll be ready to confuse the rotation situation soon.

    Gwinnett won 4-3, with Rasmus finishing with a 1-2-3 save.

  46. Anybody watching the Braves broadcast on MLB.tv? I’ve got two audio tracks going, about 3 seconds apart.

    I have to hear everything Chip says, TWICE.

  47. Dodgers take the lead in DC on a HR by Andre Ethier. I’d have felt very conflicted if it had been Pweeg (who went 0-4).

  48. That may be the deepest play in RF by a 2B that I’ve ever seen. And Freddie did a great job after the quarterback sack.

  49. CJ! An unspectacular but productive at bat to cap off an unspectacular but productive inning.

  50. If Simmons would only take some pitches … he jumps on 1st pitch very often … make the pitcher work …

  51. I think I’ve noticed a pattern with Simmons.

    When he’s struggling, he swings more. He swings before he gets out of the on-deck circle. He’ll swing if the pitcher tosses over to first. He seems to think that if he’s struggling, the trick is to just try harder.

    And when he’s going good, he swings more. He just can’t wait to swing. He seems to think that if he’s going good, good things are just destined to happen if he just.. swings.

  52. By the way, Christian Bethancourt hit two homers tonight.

    Is there anyone who can do the recap tomorrow? I’m at a conference and don’t think I can get away. Let me know!

  53. from under the shadow of a volcano in Costa Rica…

    it’s apparently extinct…

    and the hotel wi-fi at a full 1 MB…

    recapped, and a good night to all…

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