Tuesday, January 30, 2007

2007 Braves Caravan pics, Part I

Okay, so I'm really late with getting these posted. What can I say, that stomach virus wiped me out a bit more than I care to admit.

As far as Saturday's signing went, all I can say is, "ehh". Way too many people in line. Way too many "Saturday shoppers at the mall who discover some celebrities are going to be signing autographs for free" people, for certain. I realize this wasn't a list of top-tier Atlanta Braves names, but come on, even the average bear with a passing interest in the Braves should recognize Pete's and Matt's names (I explained the guest list about 25 times to folks nearby).

A little FYI for Brayan Pena: many of the average bears at the signing mistook you for Andruw Jones. (Maybe you can use this passing similarity in looks to charge free dinner and drinks to Andruw's tab this season.)

The Mike Hampton Question pt. 2

I just want to reiterate that the post below is based on hopes that Mike Hampton recovers fully and is able to pitch effectively. In reality, Hampton may not rebound from the surgery, have more elbow trouble, and struggle against the big leaguers. A few people that have read the piece today have told me that I'm assuming too much, and the guy could fall apart completely. Yes, there is a chance of that happening, but c'mon let's be optimistic shall we.

The Mike Hampton Question

Mike Hampton is entering the 2007 season as a healthy pitcher wanting to get back to his winning ways. I've only read about his offseason workouts, that seem to be going nicely. Say, he gets back to 100% and pitches as expected if not, better. I think that by the end of July teams could be calling for him. Now I know that I'm playing the whatif game and I know that Hampton hasn't seen live action since 2005, but seriously how should the Braves handle the situation? It all depends on this...

1. Where does the team stand in July? Are the Braves in the thick of a pennant race or struggling to stay above .500. I like the first answer and say the team is fighting for the division, there lies this question..?

2. How does the pitching depth look? Every year someone goes down for a period of time. If there are 2 or more starters out of the rotation, then the team could be in trouble. This also depends on how well the other pitchers are performing. If Hampton is pitching better than most of the starters and the team is in a pennant race he should remain with the team. For our case, everyone is healthy and were getting strong starts while winning. This leads us to...

3. Is their a need for another positional player? Say, our LF is struggling and since our pitching has been strong, let's shop one of our starters for an OF. Hampton is a lefty and lefty starters are more of a commodity in today's game. So, does the team trade Hampton for another desired player? For our purpose, Yes.

4. What about the salary? Hampton is due $14.5M in 2007 and $15M in 2008. The Rockies are paying for the 2009 buyout of $6M. This year and next the team doesn't recieve any help from the Rockies and Marlins to cover his salary. This is all on the Braves books. I'm sure mgmt would love to free up some money for next year, possibly to go towards an Andruw extension? We also know that some teams are big spenders and would buy anything if they want it. Although I don't think the Braves could walk away w/out having to pay maybe 1/3 of his salary.

5. Trade partners? By default the Red Sox and Yankees, but I would like to add the Dodgers and Angels to the mix. Prospects, prospects, prospects. The Dodgers and Angels are loaded with prospects that could appeal to Atlanta. Of course the first two teams mentioned might be more willing to pickup more salary if they find Hampton to be a need to their cause.

6. Conclusion. Pitchers and catchers report in three weeks and the first sign of life on the diamond appears, but I can't help to think about Hampton and the possibility of a trade sometime down the road. Like I said this is just a whatif game, and I'm just playing it.

Monday, January 29, 2007


Hope to have some pictures up later today from Saturday's Braves Caravan. I've been fighting a stomach virus since late Saturday evening. Lost five pounds and look like hell, but I'm feeling much better now.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Braves Caravan of '06

Since the Braves Caravan is rolling into town tomorrow (and I'm short on both time and ideas for a post today), I thought I'd recycle a post with some pics from last year's Caravan. You can view 'em here.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

2007 Braves Caravan: Who's on the bus?

Special thanks to Adam, a fellow Braves fan and visitor to The Home, for pointing out that the e-mail in my inbox did, in fact, contain a list of who's scheduled to appear at the Braves Caravan visits this Saturday. (I've only been scouring the interweb for a couple of weeks searching for this info.)

Here are the names scheduled to appear:


Matt Diaz, Brayan Pena, Anthony Lerew, Paul Snyder, and Pete Van Wieren


Brian McCann, Ryan Langerhans, Macay McBride, Kurt Kemp, Jon Sciambi, and Joe Simpson

The Knoxville list looks to be the better of the two, but it's at a hunting and fishing expo(?!) at the Knoxville Convention Center and it costs twelve bucks to get in. The Chattanooga visit stops at Hamilton Place Mall and is free. Needless to say, I'll be heading down to the mall. Anyone else gonna be there?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Reading Material

I enjoy reading during the winter months. Their are tons of baseball related books out there to check out. Here's a few that are "Brave" related.

1. Scout's Honor- Bill Shanks

My take: You'll find some interesting stories in this book. Shanks, whom some of you might already be familiar with takes a look at how the Braves core capabilities work. The drafting/scouting/trading of player a and player b. You'll find out why certain players were drafted over others and what attracts the organization to a player . My favorite story has to be the Chipper Jones/Todd Van Poppel chapter.

2. Built to Win-John Schuerholz, Larry Guest

My take: Haven't read this one but I'm sure it contains a behind the scenes look at the art of making a trade. Whenever the book came out I remember hearing about the almost trade of Barry Bonds in the early 90's, and the almost signing of Alex Rodriguez. This book will defintely compliment Scout's Honor on my bookshelf.

3. Tales from the Braves mound-Leo Mazzone, Scott Freeman

My take: Sorry, I don't have one. This book was given a facelift before Leo took off to Baltimore. Based on reviews this book is exactly what the titles means. Leo takes a look at his relationships with past Braves pitchers while giving insight on some of the do's/don'ts of pitching. I don't think were going to get the angry tales some of us would like to read. The "what the hell were you thinking on that pitch", and the "you can't throw for piss" stories.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Alfonseca signs with Phillies

My favorite six-fingered pitcher and former Brave, Antonio Alfonseca, signed a one year deal with the Phillies today. The $380,000 deal could be worth $700,000 if he makes the club, and another $400,000 in incentives based on appearances.

Mike Gonzalez: Closer of the Future

Welcome Mr. Gonzalez to Tuner Field. A few days ago I was reading about how pumped and excited Mike was to become a Brave. You have to enjoy that. Players that actually want to be on your team and help you succeed. Mike G. has got a great attitude coming in and has the upmost respect for the Atlanta Braves. Gonzalez should be given the full-time closer position in 2008. How did Mike get to Atlanta?

Gonzalez was drafted in 1997 at the age of 19, by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Mike went on to pitch in the minors as a starter. After his 2002 campaign at double-A Altoona, Gonzalez would be moved from starter to reliever. In 2003, he started out in Single A and flew through the ranks all the way to Pittsburgh. Strangely enough, on the way to Pittsburgh he spent two games at Pawtucket, the triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. The Pirates and Red Sox made a deal that sent Scott Sauerbeck and Mike to Boston for Brandon Lyon and Anastacio Martinez, but a week later Boston traded Mike back to Pittsburgh w/Freddy Sanchez for Lyon, Martinez, and Jeff Suppan. That's is one of the weirdest trades in recent baseball memory. Regardless, Mike G. broke through w/Pittsburgh in '03 and would stay in the pen until becoming the team's closer last year. The Pirates are looking at Matt Capps as their closer for '07 and decided to move Gonzalez for a 1B with some pop and that came in the way of Adam LaRoche.

Monday, January 22, 2007

1959 Topps

Not much going on in the world o' baseball today, so I thought I'd share the bit of joy I found in the P.O. box this evening: three more additions to my 1959 Topps baseball set. I picked up team cards for the Cincinnati Red Legs, the Cleveland Indians, and the Milwaukee Braves. What can I say, I loves me some Ebay. That makes 114 cards in my collection; 458 to go.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

LaRoche/Gonzalez deal finalized

The Atlanta/Pittsburgh trade involving Adam LaRoche and Mike Gonzalez was finalized yesterday: Adam passed his physical with flying colors. So the Pirates have the left-handed power hitter they've so desperately needed since Brian Gile's departure to San Diego, and the Braves, well the Braves have gone from having one of the worst bullpens in the National League to having arguably the best 'pen in the Majors.

I've seen quite a few opinions floating around the World Wide Peanut Gallery that aren't too high on the trade. These folks feel like Atlanta gave up too much for a reliever. Personally, I'm ecstatic about the current state of baseball affairs in Atlanta. Do you think the Braves would have finished below .500 with a decent bullpen last year? Do you think the Braves would have been shut out of the playoffs for the first time in forever with a decent bullpen last year? Do you think I would have felt compelled to beat my head against the wall every third game because the bullpen couldn't hold the lead last year? Nope, nope, and nope.

Pitching is what wins (and loses) ball games. And pitching doesn't come cheap; take a look at the deals mediocre relievers signed this winter if you don't believe me. The Braves had to give up a good, young player to get a quality reliever like Gonzalez, but I seriously doubt the loss of LaRoche spells impending doom for the 2007 season. Granted, he's above average in the field and put up some nice numbers last year, but the play of Scott Thorman and Craig Wilson should at least be comparable to what we've seen at first base the past couple of seasons.

Speaking of Mr. LaRoche: I'm sure he's sorry to be leaving his teammates in Atlanta, but Adam has got to be licking his chops just thinking about that short right-field fence in Pittsburgh.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Gonzalez to be flipped?

I'm thrilled to see Gonzalez on the team, but keep in mind that there are other teams still wanting to acquire his services. What plans does Mr. Schuerholz have in mind for Mike G? Here's a recap of rumblings during the winter meetings.

Gonzalez to the Yankees for Proctor and Melky Cabrera

Gonzalez to the Red Sox for Coco Crisp and Craig Hansen

The Yanks and BoSox are teams that usually will go out of their way to get a player they want. Meaning they'll sacrifice either alot of $$ or make certain players expendable. Atlanta has shown rumored interest in all of these players. Proctor would give the Braves another penhand while Cabrera would be suited for LF. The RedSox offer is more of the same. Crisp and Cabrera could move to center if Andruw was to leave. Also Rocco Baldelli could enter the picture somehow but the D'Rays are stubborn when trading players.

Craig Wilson: A Brave At last

Who's on first? That's the story heading into the new season. Atlanta has been interested in Craig for sometime. Does anybody remember the Thomson for Wilson trade rumors??

Last year, Wilson split time between the Pirates and the Yankees. Here's a look at his numbers:

Pitt: 85G 255AB .267/.339/.478 13HR 41RBI
NYY: 40G 104AB .212/.248/.365 4HR 8RBI

Everyone knows it's too stressful to play for the Yankees, so I'll exclude those eos stats. Basically what you see from the Pittsburgh line is what your going to get from the guy. He's a lifetime .265 hitter and he'll get around 20 HR a year. I'm starting to think there's a platoon scheduled for next year, unless someone grabs the hot bat in ST. Overall, I think it's a good acquisition for the team.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Trade

Just wanted to share a link to a nice breakdown of the LaRoche/Gonzalez trade I read over at braves-nation dot com.

Wilson to sign with Braves

Former Pirate/Yankee Craig Wilson signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Atlanta Braves. Although he can play the outfield (glaring hole in left field, anyone?), he'll more than likely be part of a platoon at first base with our own Scott Thorman.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

It's Over: LaRoche becomes a Pirate

Well, I was proven wrong. The deal that's been on the mind of Pittsburgh GM Dave Littlefield has finnally happened...again. Adam LaRoche along with minor league 1B Jaime Romak have been traded to Pittsburgh for Mike Gonzalez and prospect SS Brent Lillibridge. So, the Pirates sacrificed another player to make this deal work, so did the Braves. After much debate, I'm still a bit suprised this still went down. Atlanta is able to avoid arbitration by sending LaRoche packing. Get ready for Scott Thorman in 2007! Lillibridge is supposed to be one of the Pirates top up and coming SS. I think the Braves will be looking at a double headed monster at closer. Gonzalez and Wickman might be sharing the duty. Soriano could also be involved, but I think he is more inline for the setup role this year. I'm glad to see JS rid the crap and get some quality guys in the pen!

Giles causing trouble in San Diego

Little Marcus caused a stir at this past weekend's Chargers/Pats game. According to the report, Giles and a friend got into a fight with another spectator. Giles would be handcuffed, detained, and escorted from the stadium. Where was big brother when you needed him?

A random Sosa moment

Here's a portion of something I wrote back on February 14, 2006:

I know the recent tantrums of one Sammy Sosa have been discussed ad nauseam, but this latest chunk of insight from "Mr. Home Run" begs pointing out.The Nationals have proposed a $500,000 non-guaranteed contract. Sammy wants at least a million bucks, because he's "done a lot for baseball and should be treated with respect". Hey Sammy- a half-mil non-guaranteed contract offered to a 37-year-old former steroid-junkie cheater who puts himself on the Disabled List by sneezing IS respect!

As we all remember, Sammy and his respect turned down Washington's offer. Surprisingly (insert sarcasm here), no other offers were made and Sosa sat out the 2006 season. I point this out because "Mr. Home Run" is currently mulling over a one-year, $500,000 Minor League contract from his former team, the Texas Rangers. A year out of the Majors puts things into a whole new perspective for 38-year-old former steroid-junkie cheaters, doesn't it, Cap'n Cork?

Respect sure makes ya feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but she don't pay the bills; I bet he jumps all over this deal. Personally, I hope the guy makes the club. I can't wait to see what a year off the steroids has done to Sammy's physique.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Braves update

Raphael Soriano and the Braves have avoided arbitration and agreed on a one-year contract worth $1.2 million. Assuming Soriano bounces back from the devastating line drive to the head he suffered last season, it'll be money well spent for a reliable set-up guy for Bob Wickman. (How often were we able to use the words "reliable" and "Atlanta bullpen" last year?)

Adam LaRoche and Atlanta management will likely go to arbitration. Adam is asking $3.7 million; the Braves have countered with $2.8 million. Regardless of the final figures, Adam will be making a lot more money than the $420,000 he earned during the 2006 season.

In other Braves news, former broadcaster Don Sutton has agreed to become the new Washington Nationals' TV color analyst. He'll be replacing Tom Paciorek, who's claim to fame is being one half of the broadcast team who unmercifully tortured me during FSN telecasts a couple of seasons ago.

The Sosa's making a buzz

Ex-Brave Jorge Sosa has signed with the divisional rival N.Y. Mets. Sosa inked a 1/$1.25M contract. I'm assuming Jorge will be used mostly out of the pen and as a spot starter.

Meanwhile, the other Sosa, Sammy Sosa has provided a workout for the Texas Rangers. Sosa started his career as a Ranger and is looking for another shot in the big leagues. I'm not sure what to think about Slammin Sammy. After the corked bat, steroid allegations, and disgruntled clubhouse outbursts, this guy doesn't come with light baggage. Does anyone think Sosa deserves another chance in the majors?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

We want more money!

I was looking over the list of players filing for salary arbitration yesterday; of the 106 players, three of 'em are Braves.

And who might those players be? Well, they're Adam LaRoche, Oscar Villarreal, and Raphael Soriano.

The teams and players involved will exchange salary proposals this Tuesday.

I'm asking for $1.7 million, but I'll settle for an even mil.

2007 Braves Caravan

The 2007 Braves Caravan will be making a stop at Hamilton Place Mall in Chattanooga on January 27th at 1:00 p.m.

I'm planning on heading down; anyone else gonna be able to make it?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The slow days of winter

We are at a time in the offseason where baseball is placed on the backburner of sports talk. Free agents are slowly signing with their teams while GM's and managers begin preparing for the upcoming Spring Training. Were still a month away from pitchers/catchers reporting to camp; the first sign of onfield activity in the new year.

What happened to the LaRoche rumors? I think we may have heard the end of it. I'm starting to believe that LaRoche remains a Brave next year. JS entertaining thoughts of sending him here or there have seemed to calm down. Do we really know if Schuerholz had intentions of trading him, or was it to see who would give up the most in return?

Winter Recap: In case you missed it, Rafael Soriano is without a doubt the best acquisition the Braves acquired this winter. We also claimed OF T.J. Bohm off of waivers from Seattle and signed utility man Chris Woodward. Who will not be on the team next year? Horacio Ramirez, John Thomson, Chris Reitsma are the more notable names.

Brian Jordan: He hasn't retired yet. He has been working out all winter and wants another shot at one more season. Certainly his Braves days are over, right?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Thomson signs with Blue Jays

John Thomson has signed a 1/$500K deal with the Toronto Blue Jays. The Blue Jays are giving him a shot at the rotation. I think Thomson might end up being used out of the pen. John spent three years in Atlanta but could never duplicate his first year success of 14-8 3.72 ERA. Of course, injuries played a significant role. Thomson threw 198 innings in '04 but only a combined 172 ip in the past two seasons. Good luck to John as he attempts to get things back on track.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Update: The Pittsburgh Pirates & Adam LaRoche

The potential of a deal still lingers on. Pittsburgh officials still have an interest in the Braves 1B, but the two sides can't meet in the middle. They almost had it when Gonzalez and LaRoche were swaped over a month ago, but JS pulled the plug due to health concerns on Mike G's part. Will this ever be made?

Given the holiday break it gave mgmt of both clubs time to think about it. Now that everyone is back at the office and a spark of interest still remains, it looks positive. The Braves have named Chris Duffy, but the Pirates want to keep him for now. What about one of the young gunslingers Zach Duke or Ian Snell? Nope, the Pirates are keeping all SP. It goes back and forth between the two clubs. I think the Pirates are really wanting to make the deal simply Gonzalez for LaRoche, but the Braves want to add another player to the mix. So, the saga continues....

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Reitsma signs with the Mariners

It looks like Atlanta and Seattle have worked out a pitcher exchange program: Chris Reitsma has signed a one-year deal with the Mariners to be their set-up guy. The deal includes a club option for the 2008 season.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Blogger: New and improved?

I just switched over to the "new and improved" Blogger and am giving it a test run.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Thorman to LF?...Reitsma not Returning

Happy New Year to all, and sorry for the sporadic posting. Nothing really new concerning LaRoche, Jones, or the rest of the team. Bobby Cox has mentioned that Scott Thorman could be a fit in LF next year. Not a suprise since the Braves are really wanting him in the lineup one way or another. Keeping LaRoche at 1B and giving Thorman an everyday job would make the Braves happy. What about the Langerhans and Matt Diaz's of the world? Right now, there's atleast five different players that could takeover in left; Langerhans, Diaz, Thorman, Woodward, and K.J. For once, the Braves will have two open competitions this Spring; 2B and LF.

The AJC is reporting that six teams are interested in free agent Chris Reitsma. Out of the six the Braves are not one of them. The Reds seem to be the ones making the strongest push towards signing him.