Friday, April 07, 2006

New Digs

It’s been a short run for A Ballpark View, but I have decided to shut it down and move my talents (?) over to Talking Chop. It has been a great opportunity that was given to me by longtime TC blogger Joe Hamrahi to be his supporting blogger. Talking Chop has wider readership and a better layout, and quite frankly I like writing over there better.

I still have season tickets to the Bravos, and I will be posting stories of my misadventures in the cheap seats at TC on a regular basis. Thanks to everyone who has checked in with me over the last few months, and I hope you will continue to read my daily blather over at my new home, Talking Chop.


Saturday, April 01, 2006

Making the Team Meter Gets a Shocker

The MTM formally ranked Joey Devine as a lock to make the roster, but as the roster is set this weekend, we find out that Joey will start the season at AAA. Boyer’s late spring recovery helps him make the team, along with Lance Cormier and lefty Chuck James. Another surprise addition to the bullpen is John Thompson, who moves from the starting rotation and will pitch in relief to start the season. Reitsma, Villarreal, and Remlinger fill out the 7 man bullpen.

The organization wants Devine to go down to Richmond and close. This is a tough one for me since I figured he was so impressive this spring that they would want him to grow with the big league club. Devine proved last year, by making the postseason roster, that he was ready.

On the bench side of the roster, the veteran Brian Jordan gets the nod over rookie James Jurries. Jurries did just about all one can possibly do to make the team, hitting .447 with 2 HRs and 13 RBIs to lead the team, all better numbers than Jordan.

Most people around the team know that we’ll see both Jurries and Devine in the majors at some point this season, but it is still tough to see them not get an opening day roster spot. Hopefully both of them will not let this disappointment affect their game, and can continue putting up numbers like they did this spring.

Some people will be disappointed to see Jordan make it over Jurries, but on a team that is already filled with young players it’s a smart move to fill the bench with at least one veteran. A bench role is also not the right role for a young player like Jurries who has the talent to start at the major league level. Usually young sluggers like J.J. have their timing at the plate messed up by infrequent at-bats coming off the bench. I like the pick of Jordan over Jurries, though I do feel bad that the latter did not make the squad after the spring he had.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Once Around the Horn as the Boys Head North

It’s almost the baseball season. . . for real. No more of these ‘get my work in’ exhibition games. We only have two more days of pretend games before the real season starts. Let’s take a spin around the NL East and see what our enemies are up to, com’on kids.

The New York Mess

This spring has seen the Mets work their way through injuries, and that will be the paper mache dam that holds back the flood of mediocrity during the season. Odds are Pedro will be fine, despite his toe, but the real concerns should be with Billy Wagner and whether his finger can survive the entire season. Matsui is already out, replaced by Anderson Hernandez, and even when he does come back will he live up to his once raved about potential. But will the rotation hold up with an aged Tom Glavine, a hobbled Pedro, and the severe averageness of Trachsel and Zambrano. Their pitching will make or break the team this year.

The Philadelphia Phooey’s

Ryan Howard has certainly announced his presence this spring, and is not making anyone regret trading Thome. Howard though, may be the new Rob Deer, an all or nothing hitter as evidenced by his spring numbers of 10 out of 26 hits going for home runs and 21 Ks in 78 at-bats. With whiff machines Pat Burrell, Chase Utley, Bobby Abreu, and newly acquired whiff machine Aaron Roward they should hit a lot of home runs and strike out a whole lot more. Can Gavin Floyd, who has had a great spring, finally put it together during the regular season?

The Freshman Fish

The only question will be whether they will eclipse the amount of rookies the Braves used last year. One thing is certain, the results won’t be the same. There should be a lot of excitement for this young team with Hanley Ramirez, Jeremy Hermida, and Josh Willingham. And don’t forget Miggy and D-Train.

The Washington No-Shows

Will Soriano play left field? Will he be happy there? Who really gives a crap? Soriano as a left fielder in that park will be about as good as Raul Ibanez. The good news for the Nats is that Christian Guzman, he of the .219 average a year ago, will be on the DL to start the season. The bad news, he’s being replaced by Royce Clayton (the good news about him is that he’s cut off the stupid locks he was sporting last year). After Livan Hernandez and John Patterson the rotation is a shallow wasteland.

. . . and the good guys:

The Atlanta Bravos

The Braves have a well balanced team of veterans and young players, a mix they have used successfully for a decade and a half. They will have to survive the annual bullpen trials again this season, and it seems as though they will have to either suffer or enjoy the extreme streakiness of Jeff Francoeur. A full season of Chipper getting on base in front of Andruw should make for a strong middle of the order. How much will Furcal be missed, or will his departing have the same non-effect that Drew, Sheffield, Maddux, and Glavine’s had.

If you haven’t already, call in sick on Monday and spend the day watching the full slate of games on ESPN. It’s gonna be fun.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

What I’ll be Doing on Monday, April 3rd

Is it a holiday? Why yes it is. The holiest of all holidays for baseball fans – it’s Opening Day. I have the day off, and plan to use it thusly:

11:00 am – Wake up.
12:00 pm – Baseball Tonight on ESPN
1:00 pm – First game of the day has the Nats at the Mets on ESPN
2:00 pm – Red Sox at the Rangers on ESPN2
4:00 pm – My Braves at the Dodgers on ESPN
7:00 pm – Giants at Padres on ESPN2
10:00 pm – Yankees at A’s on ESPN2

It is quite possibly baseball overload, but I don’t care – baseball season is finally here!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Cards Selling Seats

For those collectors out there, the St. Louis Cardinals are selling the seats from the old Busch Stadium. They are being sold in pairs. Of course they have Cardinal red available (pictured above), but they also have upper upper deck green, and luxury box black. Since I already have two pairs of seats from other stadiums, I am trying to hold back the temptation to buy another pair. My first pair of seats is from the old Atlanta Fulton County stadium and they are awesome neon orange. My second pair is from Dodger stadium, from last year when they switched out all the seats, and they are Dodger red (huh?). In retrospect, I should have insisted upon Dodger blue or nothing, but I believe they were already out of Dodger blue when I got around to buying them. This puts me in a difficult position with regards to any possible St. Louis seat purchase. Since I already have red ones and orange ones, I don’t really want another set of red ones, but then what is the point of getting Cardinal seats if they aren’t red. I may be forced to paint my Dodger seats, which are in rather bad condition, and when I do I can make them Dodger blue. Anyway, it’s something I’m rolling around in my head.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Braves Make Second Round of Cuts

Anthony Lerew may have been the only surprise cut yesterday, though the way he pitched early in spring it was apparent that he needs more work. But he’s a power arm that we should see at some point later in the year in Atlanta.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia turned a lot of heads this spring, but any hype about him possibly making the team was rather overblown. He’ll go down to AA and collect as many at bats as he can, and may even start to work some at first.
Dave Kelton and Michael Ryan have started to play decent, but it was already too late to challenge Diaz, Jurries, or Jordan. If they accept minor league assignments then they will provide good depth in the minors for Atlanta.
Sean White, and to some extent Chad Paronto had both pitched decently this spring. The organization wants White to start in the minors, and Paronto will provide relief depth in case it is needed.
Steve Pyzik, Cesar Crespo, Travis Smith, and Wes Obermueller were also exiled to minor league camp.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

One and a Half Weeks to go MTM Update

We’re down to the last week and a half. There should be another round of cuts coming up today, but I’ve already made my cuts. The battles are down to only a few players; James and Jordan for the last bench spot, and Lerew and Cormier for the last bullpen spot.

The marks to the left of the player's name indicates that their chances of making the team are moving up (), moving down (), or staying even (–). No mark to the left indicates there was no change from the previous week.

Players on the 40-man roster

OUT Blaine Boyer, rhp / He will start the season on the DL, even though he holds out hope that he can be ready. (Previously )
Lance Cormier, rhp / Has his roughest outing so far. Hopefully this is no cause for concern. (Previously )
Kyle Davies, rhp / This start virtually solidifies his spot in the rotation. He has been the best starter this spring, and everyone is certain that the Braves will either move Thompson, Ramirez, or Sosa to make room for the talent of Davies as a starter in the majors. (Previously )
LOCK Joey Devine, rhp / His roughest outing this spring; no strikeouts and he gave up a gopher ball. The home run ball seems to be a lingering problem for him which he needs to solve. I still think he’s the number three guy in the pen. (Previously LOCK)
Chuck James, lhp / Great outing from James, made one mistake to LoDuca, but he was solid through four. Might get that bullpen spot unless the Braves pull off a trade. (Previously ▲)
Anthony Lerew, rhp / Another promising outing for Lerew as he continues to bounce back from a horrible start to his spring. He is still suspect as to whether he makes the team. If the Braves go the trade route then he is probably the odd man out. (Previously –)
OUT Macay McBride, lhp / He now has not pitched in three weeks, it’s almost a certainty that he will start the season on the DL. What’s more troubling is that Cox says “It's an injury we haven't seen before, a little muscle tear around the wrist. It's a concern, because we were counting on him to be a big part of the bullpen.” (Previously )
LOCK Oscar Villarreal, rhp / Solid outing makes him a lock for the pen. (Previously )
James Jurries, 1b / Continues to hit like he belongs in the majors. Good sign for him in this game is that he got the start and two hits against the left hander Williams. It’s going to be hard to overlook a guy who is hitting well over .400 with power this spring. (Previously –)
LOCK Matt Diaz, of / Shows some speed to go along with the power and the fielding. DOB called him a lock, and that’s good enough for me. (Previously )

Non-roster invitees

Mike Remlinger, lhp / Got touched up for a run, but still looks like a lock for the pen with all the injuries to our other left-handers. Only a trade for another lefty may keep him from the pen. (Previously )
Brian Jordan, of / Steals another base! Would someone tell this guy he’s almost 40 years old. Cox keeps running him out there virtually every game to see if he’ll hold up, and he’s not showing signs of breaking down yet. (Previously )

Off the radar and bound for the minors: Chad Paronto, rhp; Dave Kelton, of; Michael Ryan, of; Kelly Johnson, of; Wes Obermueller, rhp.
Opening the season on the disabled list: John Foster, lhp.
Previously bound for retirement: Eddie Perez, c.
Previously off the radar Brad Baker, rhp; Scott Thorman, 1b; Kevin Barry, rhp; Jarrod Saltalamacchia, c; Jose Ascanio, rhp; Brayan Pena, c; Jonathan Schuerholz, ss; Martin Prado, 2b; Travis Smith, rhp; Sean White, rhp; Steve Pyzik, c; Clint Sammons, c; Cesar Crespo, 2b-ss.