Game Thread: Why you should still watch…

So, yeah. I get it. You loved you some Craig Kimbrel and Jason Heyward. You’re super sad, not to mention a little angry, to see them in another uniform. I get that. I really do. I remember when they traded Dale Murphy to the Phillies. I remember when Claudell Washington went to New York. So yeah, I get that. It sucks. As a fan, I empathize a little. But as an analyst…

Actually, you know what. Let’s not even do that one again, either. Most of you already know my arguments for why they’re doing the right thing (the Markakis deal notwithstanding.) No need to rehash that again here. That’s why we have comment threads. Here, let’s just say a lot of fan favorites are gone, and not everyone is into following prospect progress over the course of multiple seasons, and some of us might be asking “why even bother?” Which is not what Opening Day is supposed to be about. So, assuming you’re not just going to punt team loyalty entirely and order your spiffy new Natinals hat online, let me suggest that there’s still some things worth watching at Turner Field this year. Here are my top five reasons to watch the Atlanta Braves in 2015, at least.

5. Freddie Freeman. Remember “Free Hugs Freddie?” He’s still there. He’s still goofy and lovable and one of the better young first basemen in the game. He won’t have his old roomie Jason to joke around with this year, but he’ll have some semblance of an order around him up top, even if Nick Markakis and Jonny Gomes are no one’s idea of stars. Braves fans should tune in at least semi-regularly to see how Freddie develops (he’s still only 24.) He’s still the face of the franchise (which has been the case since he agreed to the extension and Jason did not…)

4. Jace Peterson, Jose Peraza, and Rio Ruiz. I know, you’re not really a “prospect hound” and stuff. I get that. But these three aren’t lottery ticket fliers parked off in the Rookie Leagues or High-A Rome. Peterson is your starting 2B, Peraza is the only reason he isn’t likely to stick there full time, and Ruiz is the guy that makes Chris Johnson expendable. Peterson is my personal favorite “sleeper” for 2015. Speed to burn and a projectable hit tool make him offensively useful. As a natural shortstop, his defense at 2B should be worlds better than anything we’ve seen in years. He’s not the best prospect in baseball or anything, but I like Jace Peterson a lot. Of course, he’s made slightly redundant by Jose Peraza, who has the same general skill set but is a half year (and arb clock considerations) removed from the starting lineup in Atlanta. Ruiz is a little further out, but he too should lock down 3B before we move up to Cobb County, and I fully expect the odd man out of Peterson/Peraza to compete strongly for the “who replaces Cameron Maybin in CF” spot. All told, I expect to see much improved defense up the middle (Maybin is way better than anyone we’ve had out in CF since Michael Bourn too.)

3. Julio Teheran and Alex Wood. Ignore the offense. Tune in every couple of days to watch two of the most underrated starters in the game work. I am tempted to add Shelby Miller to this list too, but until he bounces back a little that would be too much. Julio Teheran has been my favorite Brave since he plunked Bryce Harper on the ass, and he’s also a true #1 starter in the bigs these days. If Mike Minor can return to any form of usefulness post shoulder problem, the entire rotation is locked down solid, top to bottom. But the two gems are Julio and Alex Wood. You’re a Braves fan. You should appreciate great starting pitching.

2. It’s baseball. No. Seriously. I mean, yeah, the Hawks are doing really well, and hopefully Paul Millsap’s shoulder is just bruised and will be good come playoffs, but honestly, people. The sun is out. Spring has sprung. Alabama is assaulting us all with pollen again. Go. Watch. Baseball.

1. Andrelton Simmons. I feel like ‘Rissa has already covered this one off for everyone. But just in case you forgot, Andrelton Simmons is your starting shortstop, and a baseball fan would pay to watch his team lose by double digits if he got to watch Andrelton field short every day. Simmons and Peterson/Peraza up the middle should be *amazing* for years to come. And hell, they might even learn to hit a little one day….

97 thoughts on “Game Thread: Why you should still watch…”

  1. That list is exactly why I’m watching, and despite it all was still counting down the days to opening day.

  2. Well done Sam. I’m all in. I wish I could explain why Ilike Jace Peterson so much, but I’ve been pulling for him all spring.

  3. I never would have predicted that Wood would get his first PA before he threw his first pitch.

  4. We just scored like 2% of the runs we’re expected to score all season in that half inning

  5. 7 run lead in the first inning at Miami. What this game needs is some Tommy Hanson, amiright?

  6. The top half of this inning was a lot more fun than the bottom. You can do this, Alex!

  7. Wow. Can we petition the commissioner’s office to let us play the Marlins for the rest of the season?

  8. We scored MORE than 7 runs exactly 13 times last season.

    Our most common run output last season was 3 runs, which we did 29 times.

    Only 50 times did we score MORE than 4 runs in a game last year.

    I don’t know why I’m capitalizing MORE

  9. @27, that is the exact scenario where contact matters a lot

    @28, me too. Christian has been socking it around pretty good. Hope he keeps it up

  10. “The Marlins have had some really good hitters over the years. Remember Chris Coghlan?” – Chip

    The man doesn’t mention Miguel Cabrera, Hanley Ramirez, Gary Sheffield, Moises Alou, or even Mike Lowell. He brings up Chris F. Coghlan.

  11. @33, you don’t get it. Good hitters are guys who put pressure on the defense. What sort of pressure is it when Sheff hits one 450 feet? There’s no mystery.

    Though Coghlan did hit .321 with an .850 OPS in a full season in 2009. Durn.

  12. @38, I thought the same thing on Bethancourt’s double in the first. What on earth was Stanton doing?

  13. Good list, Sam, but you missed item #6: Sutton and Powell.

    Sutton’s gold today was the top of the 4th inning, when he began to tell the story of Latos’s life and pitch selection because he didn’t want to waste all the pre-game research he’d done.

  14. hey! sniticker is gone, I guess some of the changes did make us immediately better

  15. Just watched the video of the Solano triple: ouch. Good thing it probably doesn’t matter tonight.

    Dorn! Off to a Dorn start!

  16. Glad to finally see Cody Martin pitch. Straight 89 mph fastball on the first two pitches. Hm. 3rd one tailed a bit. Hey, a K on salty!

    He’s getting some run now–I like it


  17. To reiterate, this would’ve been one of our top 13 offensive outputs from last season

  18. Braves pounding the Marlins. Hawks destroy the Phoenix for a franchise record 58th win. Nice night.

  19. 1993-94 Hawks won 57 games and traded Nique for Milquetoast Manning who promptly guided us to a feckless playoff loss to a mediocre Pacers team

  20. This is exactly what I predicted for Callaspo in countless spring posts where I said we should release him

  21. Dorn’s got a good opportunity to be 2 for 3 in GIDP chances here…

    And he’s the good 2 for 3 instead of the bad 2 for 3!

  22. I seriously wasn’t expecting the Braves to score their tenth run this season until next week. I feel like we might be peaking too early in the season…

  23. Me: Maybin is who we traded BJ for

    Wife: BJ woulda struck out there. Every time.

    I love my wife.

  24. @64 With as few high points we’re likely to see this season, no need to bring us back to reality with little things like facts.

  25. To stick with my theme:

    Braves scored 12 runs OR MORE exactly ONE time last season. Here’s to many more in 2015.

  26. #64, but your post suggests you LOVE to be that guy. Who on this forum has predicted we will contend? I’m having fun rooting for these bad news bears. Going to enjoy a season with zero expectations. Fun to mock Chip and Joe and their #MANUFAKTURE rhetoric. Hope we keep it interesting or play spoiler. I’m going to enjoy being a fan

  27. 73 — No, you’re right, I had fun watching these games too, I’m just trying to avoid the thing Mac used to call the false feeling of hope.

  28. @76, my hope is for being pesky and irritating and maybe finding a couple of dudes to be solid regulars in the next few years. #SMAWLBAWL

    It’s also interesting to see how long Paul Byrd can talk about this “new approach” and make it sound plausible

  29. Is it really smallball when you are raking doubles all over the place? That ball Bethancourt hit was flat smoked. Anything we get from him offensively will be a surprise to me.

    I think this team is going to need us to doubt them all year and try to feed off the us-against-the-world stuff. I feel like we’re up to the task.

  30. Cut the cord during the offseason, and thought I had a good workaround for the blackout restrictions . . . until today. Turns out “ad free time dot com” DNS doesn’t work with iPhone/iPad or Android this season, because MLB At Bat app now detects location using GPS. Anyone using a good workaround so far this season?

  31. @79, naw they already got that mentality.

    “The little critters of this world–they don’t know that they’re ugly.” – Stinky Wheezleteets of Ren and Stimpy

  32. It will also be interesting to watch Cahill’s progress. He can be a big plus if he regains his form.

  33. So when Saltalamacchia grounded into that double play on opening day, did that count as “put the ball in play and good things will happen; strike outs are the worst”?


    …does anyone else here believe this is happening? I suspect there might be a very few, hiding in the weeds, pariahs the lot of us…

    not the numbers themselves – the ways they are used, how they have come to be seen as the game itself…the personal becomes the impersonal…numbers are produced and used as weapons at the expense of philosophical divergence… the collegiality in these fine pages and some others is measurably less…a game with the richest traditions of fine writing and thought has been weakened not strengthened by the abuse, the overuse, of these intruders.

    measurably? ha, hoist with my own petard…but i’m not trying to quantify it with a decimal point and three digits with which i force it down your throats. It’s an opinion and all the more fun for that.

  35. pursue if you must the arcane
    a fetish for numbers sustain
    i’ll settle for words
    cohesion that girds
    the sum of the whole to a gain.

  36. This team has enough pitching and defense to be pesky. They are going to be out gunned offensively in a lot of games, but they shouldn’t lose because of kicking the ball around, and stupid things like that.

    78 wins would be a huge accomplishment in this division, but at least they appear to be watchable, and that was all I am hoping for.

  37. Thanks for the article, blazon. Interesting that the author uses music as his analogy, since, as anyone who has studied classical music knows, there is a surprising amount of math involved. As for me, I think there is a case to be made for the pleasures of fandom separate from being an armchair GM, but every time I see a writer trying to make that case it comes off as nostalgic drivel and anti-intellectualism.

  38. ralph @94

    you might argue that numbers themselves epitomize anti-intellectualism…they preclude thought when they dominate, or try to…so much easier, lazier to throw numbers into an argument than have to express why you feel what you do, no?

  39. Be nice,guys (copyright AR)

    …Alex, once again, the other day, you exhibited your mastery over the occasional warring factions on these pages with your use and careful placement of these now well known three words…perfect, they could not be improved upon…so much more gracious than STFU…

    …in this instance though i am concerned that, intentionally or not, its positioning this time seemed to embrace, int al, an entirely appropriate and proper adjective used here by one poster attempting to berate another for something said, unsaid, or said too often…i refer of course to ‘tedious’…

    in the context of a blog you certainly cannot term it a personal attack..nor is it a compliment of course…it’s a perfect choice if you come to the conclusion that someone is going on and on…and on…when you come to know in advance what they’re going to say but they still say it…

    it is classy…it’s one of those words not used as often as it should be…scarcity value adds to impact but in no way below the belt…

    it’s funny, has an element of humor in it…perfect for pulling a fellow down a rung or two while maintaining good will with the readership in general…and the object of your bombast might even be forced into a smile himself..

    so, please, let’s not exclude it from our permitted glossary here…i don’t want to go on about this again, it gets tedious.

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