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.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Irish MTM Update

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

Blaine Boyer, rhp / Threw on the side to batters on Tuesday and felt good. Still needs to have some good outings in games before he makes the team. (Previously )
Lance Cormier, rhp / Still pitching great. (Previously )
Kyle Davies, rhp / Peter Gammons thinks the Braves will make room for Davies in the rotation before the season starts: The Braves reportedly will move John Thomson or Horacio Ramirez to make room for Kyle Davies. One rumor is Thomson to the Mets for Victor Diaz, but it seems hard to believe that the Braves would give a starting pitcher to the Mets. His latest start against Houston was a decent one, he worked his way in and out of trouble. (Previously )
LOCK Joey Devine, rhp / More and more rumblings about him making the jump to the closer’s role. He is now a lock to make the team. (Previously )
OUT John Foster, lhp / He’s not going to start the season due to an inflamed nerve in his pitching arm. The plan is to rest him a month or so, and see how if feels after that. He will not start the season with the club, though. (Previously )
Chuck James, lhp / With some good outings, he could sneak his way into the bullpen. (Previously –)
Anthony Lerew, rhp / Finally puts a solid outing together. Then has a rough one, but keep in mind that all of the trouble came in his second inning of work. This was the same M.O. he followed last season, as I’ve pointed out before. He is very effective in his first inning of work out of the pen, but it all falls apart if he pitches a second inning. I’ll take the positives from his last two outings and say his odds of making the pen are about even right now. (Previously )
Macay McBride, lhp / Has not pitched in quite some time due to a strained muscle in his left forearm. (Previously )
Oscar Villarreal, rhp / Finally got in another WBC game, and pitched 2 innings of stellar relief. (Previously )
James Jurries, 1b / Still putting in good work. I wonder, though, if Cox and company will decide to go with the guys that have major league experience like Kelton, Ryan, or Jordan over a raw rookie like Jurries. That may also lead them to use a first base platoon less than in recent years, and give LaRoche a real shot at playing every day. (Previously )
Matt Diaz, of / Still hitting, slugs out his third spring homer to lead the team. He’s almost a lock at this point. (Previously )
Kelly Johnson, of / A hit and a walk, he keeps making his case. (Previously –)

Non-roster invitees

Wes Obermueller, rhp / Another Ooff-ermueller type outing, 3 hits, 2 walks, 3 earned, unless we’re desperate he’s not making the team. (Previously )
Chad Paronto, rhp / Couldn’t work his way out of trouble. But had a good second outing. (Previously –)
Mike Remlinger, lhp / With Foster possibly lost for the season, this is exactly the outing that Remlinger needed (followed by another good one). His stock takes a huge boost, as he is the only healthy lefty standing at the moment. (Previously )
Brian Jordan, of / Showing some speed, not bad. (Previously )
Dave Kelton, of / He’s still plugging away, and slowly getting more hits and getting better. (Previously )
Michael Ryan, of / He’s also still plugging away, and slowly getting more hits and getting better. (Previously )

Off the radar and bound for the minors: Brad Baker, rhp; Scott Thorman, 1b; Kevin Barry, rhp; Jarrod Saltalamacchia, c. Previously bound for retirement: Eddie Perez, c. Previously off the radar 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.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Tickets Arrive

My season tickets arrived in the mail today, and as you can see below they are bound in snazzy booklet form. This is by far the fanciest upper deck outfield tickets have ever looked. I can’t wait for the season to start.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Et tu, Brute?

The Braves make their first cuts of the spring on this ill-fated day.

Brad Baker is the minor league closer that came over from the Padres organization. He had an awful spring, so it’s not surprising that he was optioned to AAA.
Scott Thorman opted to play for his home country of Canada in the WBC, but got only one at bat, and was not impressive upon his return to camp. I hope he enjoyed the WBC, because it probably cost him a shot at making the big club.
Luis Hernandez, Martin Prado, and Josh Burrus were optioned to AA. Prado impressed some folks this spring, and will be on the radar of many in the organization throughout the year.
Jose Ascanio was sent to high-A ball. He was a long shot to make the pen, and he got plenty of good opportunities, but had some rough outings early. He’s got great raw talent that we may end up seeing in the majors before too long.
Kevin Barry, Clint Sammons, and Jonathan Schuerholz were all assigned to minor league camp to be distributed to different levels later on. All of those guys should end up at AAA, save for maybe Sammons who could be at AA. Barry was having a decent spring, he certainly wasn’t wowing anyone, but he was doing a decent job.

The next cuts will probably come towards the middle of next week soon after we get all of our players back from the WBC.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Ides of March Eve MTM Update

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

Brad Baker, rhp / He’s not pitching like he wants a job, 9 ER in 5.1 IP – yikes! (Previously )
Blaine Boyer, rhp / He should be ready to pitch in a game soon. Remember, this type of injury (shoulder inflammation) is a tough one to recover from, and can linger for quite some time. (Previously )
Lance Cormier, rhp / Good outing, again. (Previously )
Kyle Davies, rhp / If Horacio Ramirez and/or John Thompson continue to pitch poorly, and Davies continues his impressive spring, he may be hard to overlook for a spot in the rotation. (Previously )
Joey Devine, rhp / Get’s back on track with a five strikeout exclamation point. He needs to keep it up, but at this point he’s a lock to make the pen. He also leads all major league pitchers this spring in strikeouts with 14 in only 7 innings. With those sort of numbers he’s put himself in the mix for the closer’s role. (Previously )
John Foster, lhp / Has not gotten in a game in a while, and I can’t find out what’s wrong with him, but I assume it’s just some aches and pains. Update: He's got shoulder inflamation and it might be more. He seems to be leaning towards having Tommy John Surgury, and would therefore be out all season. (Previously )
Chuck James, lhp / Good, but not great. He’s not as good as Davies at this point, and that means he’ll most likely begin the season at AAA. But, with Sosa away at the WBC for another week, James will get another chance or two to show his stuff off. (Previously –)
Anthony Lerew, rhp / He must turn it around before he loses confidence. (Previously )
Macay McBride, lhp / He hasn’t been in a game in a while and this is why: Left-hander Macay McBride has some soreness between the foream and wrist of his pitching arm, but manager Bobby Cox didn't sound very concerned. "We'll let him rest a few days," Cox said. "If he was forced to pitch, he could." This shouldn’t hurt his chances of making the team. These spring aches and pains are common. (Previously )
Oscar Villarreal, rhp / He hasn’t pitched since he gave up that home run to Chipper last Tuesday. Hopefully he’s not injured. (Previously )
James Jurries, 1b / At the halfway point of the spring, Jurries looks like a lock to make the club. He is helped greatly by his right-handed status, as he would slot perfectly into a platoon with LaRoche. (Previously )
Scott Thorman, 1b / Yay, a hit. He needs to start getting more than one at bat per game to prove himself. The WBC may have cost him that shot. (Previously )
Matt Diaz, of / He keeps hitting. At least one beat writer thinks he’s a lock for the opening day roster. (Previously )
Kelly Johnson, of / He is slowly collecting hits and working his way back into the outfield mix. (Previously )

Non-roster invitees

Kevin Barry, rhp / Another decent outing, 2 Ks, 2 hits, something good, something bad. Barry’s a tough one to figure for the bullpen. It’s been much like this last game the whole spring for him, 5 G, 5 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 1 W, 7K. That makes him hard to pin down since he’s been giving up hits but escaping damage (quite Sosa-esque). I’m going to bump him up though, because at this point in spring you’re supposed to be separating yourself from the pack, and he seems to be doing that. (Previously –)
Wes Obermueller, rhp / Ooff-ermueller finally showed some of what made him a back of the rotation starter with an ERA north of 5 in the major leagues. (Previously )
Chad Paronto, rhp / (Previously –)
Mike Remlinger, lhp / Unless he completely turns it around, his career look like it’s at an end. His line this spring is scary: 3 G, 2.2 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 4 W, 1K. (Previously )
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, c / Continues to crush the ball and impress people, still need some work on his spring average. Nonetheless, this spring Salty has announced his presence in the organization, and proven his top prospect pedigree. If he continues his onslaught in the minors, he will arrive in the majors just after the All-Star game. (Previously –)
Brian Jordan, of / Keeps getting it done. (Previously )
Dave Kelton, of / Getting plenty of at-bats, but not getting any hits. (Previously )
Michael Ryan, of / You can’t make errors in a field this good and hope to make the team. (Previously –)

Off the radar and bound for the minors: Jonathan Schuerholz, ss. Bound for retirement: Eddie Perez, c. Previously off the radar Jose Ascanio, rhp; Brayan Pena, c; Martin Prado, 2b; Travis Smith, rhp; Sean White, rhp; Steve Pyzik, c; Clint Sammons, c; Cesar Crespo, 2b-ss;.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Pre-Sopranos MTM Update

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

Brad Baker, rhp / He got shelled again. He’s not impressing. (Previously )
Blaine Boyer, rhp / His scheduled date to make his first appearance of the spring keeps getting pushed back. He continues to feel discomfort in his shoulder and may not be ready to open the season. It’s still early, but it’s looking more likely that he’ll have to go to extended spring training, and join the team later in April. This may potentially open up another spot in the bullpen for one of the many pitchers vying for a spot. (Previously –)
Lance Cormier, rhp / He continues to put in good work. Bobby Cox is impressed: "He's got one of the best curveballs in camp, and he's sneaky-quick, in the low 90s [mph]," Cox said, noting that Cormier has good command of four pitches: cutter, curveball, changeup and fastball. (Previously )
Kyle Davies, rhp / Another excellent outing, he is making his case for a rotation spot. If he continues like this he will be hard to overlook. (Previously )
Joey Devine, rhp / He gave up an alarming number of hits, but it was during the second inning of his two inning performance. (Previously )
John Foster, lhp / (Previously )
Chuck James, lhp / (Previously –)
Anthony Lerew, rhp / Two rough outings in a row for Lerew, might have the team wondering if he is ready. His stock takes a sharp dive. (Previously )
Macay McBride, lhp / (Previously )
Oscar Villarreal, rhp / The Chipper homer aside, he is pitching well. (Previously )
James Jurries, 1b / Showing some spring power. He’ll be slowed for the next few days because of some minor injuries. . . or maybe he won’t. (Previously –)
Scott Thorman, 1b / Not getting at-bats with Team Canada means he has less of an opportunity to win a spot. (Previously )
Matt Diaz, of / It may be his good defense that helps him make the team. So far, he’s making all the right plays to help his chances. As the spring moves on, he’ll play some first which will add versatility and help his chances at making the team. Right now, he is the front runner for the 4th outfield spot since he’s playing well, already on the 40-man roster, and because the Braves made a point of going out and acquiring him this off-season. His hitting is not lacking either. (Previously –)
Kelly Johnson, of / He’s been one of the many fighting the flu. But you can’t impress if you don’t play. (Previously )

Non-roster invitees

Kevin Barry, rhp / Two good innings of work, as he continues to have a good spring. (Previously –)
Wes Obermueller, rhp / An okay outing on Friday. (Previously )
Chad Paronto, rhp / A rough first inning for Chad, but he righted the ship in his second inning of work. He’s a big guy who some think will not make the roster. He followed up with a good outing. (Previously )
Mike Remlinger, lhp / Still not able to get it together. (Previously ▼)
Eddie Perez, c / Has not yet gotten in a game. (Previously )
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, c / He is beginning his first base odyssey, but his hitting is slowing down. Great article about him here. (Previously –)
Jonathan Schuerholz, ss / Hitting wise, he’s making the best of his playing time this spring, and slammed another home run. But his fielding needs a lot of work, as he has committed three errors on Thursday. He’s headed off the radar. (Previously )
Brian Jordan, of / He handled first base like a pro his first time out. (Previously )
Dave Kelton, of / The O-fer’s are mounting, and he is being overshadowed by the other outfield contenders. (Previously –)
Michael Ryan, of / It’s an uphill battle for this non-roster outfielder, but he’s starting to do some hitting. (Previously )

Off the radar and bound for the minors: Jose Ascanio, rhp; Brayan Pena, c; Martin Prado, 2b; Travis Smith, rhp. Previously off the radar: Sean White, rhp; Steve Pyzik, c; Clint Sammons, c; Cesar Crespo, 2b-ss.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

End of Week 1 Spring Games MTM Update

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

Jose Ascanio, rhp / After getting shelled, his chances are pretty much nil. (Previously )
Brad Baker, rhp / Was compared to former Brave Greg McMichael. He’s got a great change-up. He looked good on Friday, worked his way out of a bases loaded jam, and with his minor league closing experience his chances to make the team in the bullpen were looking better until. . . he got shelled. (Previously –)
Blaine Boyer, rhp / (Previously –)
Lance Cormier, rhp / Has another good outing. His stock is rising. (Previously –)
Kyle Davies, rhp / A very strong outing Sunday, keeps him in the running for a rotation spot. His chances are increasing if rumors are true of a trade in the works with the Rangers that would send them Thompson. (Previously )
Joey Devine, rhp / Two strong innings continues to keep him at the top of the list for a bullpen spot. (Previously )
John Foster, lhp / A so-so outing, followed by a bad outing. I’m starting to wonder if the Braves really will carry two lefties in the pen. (Previously )
Chuck James, lhp / Shakey outing on Friday, he surrendered three walks which is very uncharacteristic of James. (Previously )
Anthony Lerew, rhp / You have to like a kid who is energetic about trying to be the best pitcher in the bullpen. He had a bit of a bump in the road, but it’s good to get that out during the spring. (Previously )
Macay McBride, lhp / Someone thinks he’s a lock for a spot in the pen. (Previously )
Oscar Villarreal, rhp / He got some props from Schu, if he remains healthy he’ll make the team. (Previously )
Brayan Pena, c / (Previously )
Martin Prado, 2b / Okay, so he’s not yet as versatile as Pete Orr, but I was on the right path. (Previously –)
James Jurries, 1b / Looked good in the field on Friday. He was also very aggressive at the plate and on the base paths. He’s starting to rip the ball, but there are rumors of us in talks to possibly acquire 1b Phil Nevin from the Rangers. (Previously )
Scott Thorman, 1b / (Previously )
Matt Diaz, of / (Previously –)
Kelly Johnson, of / (Previously )

Non-roster invitees

Kevin Barry, rhp / (Previously –)
Wes Obermueller, rhp / Not a good outing on Friday. (Previously –)
Chad Paronto, rhp / (Previously )
Travis Smith, rhp / Not impressive. He’ll be in the rotation at Richmond. (Previously )
Mike Remlinger, lhp / Remlinger did not look sharp on Friday, and keep in mind that he’s not really a lefty specialist. When he was with the Braves, Cox used him as a full inning setup man. The Cubs tried to use him as a specialist and he wasn’t as effective. In Friday’s game he didn’t make it out of the 5th inning. He’s got some work to do to prove he still belongs. (Previously )
Eddie Perez, c / (Previously )
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, c / Salty is a monster behind the plate. The kid is huge, built, strong. He’s probably bigger than Javy. For this reason, the organization will probably move him to first at some point this year. But barring an injury, he’ll start the season at AA. (Previously )
Jonathan Schuerholz, ss / Despite a home on Friday, he’ll be at AAA this year. (Previously ▼)
Brian Jordan, of / Brian Jordan is just a great person who deserves and needs to be on the team this year. I hope he’s able to add value as a first baseman to help his chances in making the team. He can be what Julio Franco has been to the team the last few years; a veteran presence who can be the primary pinch hitter off the bench. (Previously )
Dave Kelton, of / As one of the many in the outfield mix, he has more first base experience than the others. He’s doing some hitting as well. (Previously )
Michael Ryan, of / (Previously )

Off the radar and bound for the minors: Sean White, rhp; Steve Pyzik, c; Clint Sammons, c; Cesar Crespo, 2b-ss.

Braves Tidbits from the WBC

Holy Oscar Villarreal, Batman! Don’t tell me that Chipper’s home run wasn’t a gimme from his new teammate. None the less, it was a strong showing from the Chip-ster. This was a good exchange between Team USA manager Buck Martinez and Chipper: Martinez joked about Jones's contribution, saying, ''He's a good bench player." Jones came back with, ''I'm just trying to play my way into the lineup."

And as I predicted, there were a lot of groans in Boston as Team USA took the field with A-Rod, Jeter, and Damon in the lineup, and no Varitek. The team looks strong, though, especially the pitching.

I wouldn’t have thought Team Ozzy was that bad, but they got walloped and one-hit by the Italians. Former Brave farmhand Glenn Williams struck out twice for Australia.

Chris Reitsma got F’ed in the A by South Africa, and what many people thought would be the weakest team turned in a very strong showing and almost beat Canada. Pete Orr batted leadoff for the wacky Canadians, and managed to steal a base. But it was not a good showing by any means for Reits, who gave up two hits, a walk, and hit a batter while blowing the save. Keep in mind that it is still early in spring training, and he may not be ready yet. Let’s hope that’s the case.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Making-the-Team Meter (MTM) Update

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

Jose Ascanio, rhp / Surrendered 3 hits to college players, though he got out of trouble without surrendering a run. (Previously –)
Brad Baker, rhp / (Previously –)
Blaine Boyer, rhp / (Previously –)
Lance Cormier, rhp / Impressive in his first outing. (Previously )
Kyle Davies, rhp / He could be slotted into Sosa’s spot in the rotation while Jorge is away at the WBC. This could be his chance to prove he belongs. (Previously –)
Joey Devine, rhp / With the help of Roger McDowell, Joey has significantly improved his slider. Solid first outing, and Cox had some good words to say about him: "They all did. But Joey. . . Roger [McDowell] has been bearing down on him and it's helped. He's throwing the ball well." (Previously )
John Foster, lhp / (Previously )
Chuck James, lhp / (Previously )
Anthony Lerew, rhp / He continues to impress the coaching staff with his stuff, and if he can master his control he’ll be a lock for the roster. (Previously )
Macay McBride, lhp / Good first outing. (Previously )
Oscar Villarreal, rhp / Solid first outing, with 4 Ks in 2 innings. He’s off to Team Mexico. (Previously )
Brayan Pena, c / If Salty keeps doing his thing, he’ll jump over Pena on the depth chart. (Previously )
Martin Prado, 2b / He could be this year’s Pete Orr. (Previously not listed)
James Jurries, 1b / From Sporting News, If he proves himself defensively in camp, 1B James Jurries will platoon at first base with Adam LaRoche. The righthanded Jurries has produced impressive offensive numbers in the Minors and defensively he's just as strong as was Julio Franco. LaRoche is going to do all that he can to prove that he can hit lefties, but if Jurries impresses he will get a chance. He is also trying to get the monkey off his back. (Previously –)
Scott Thorman, 1b / Jurries seems to be the favorite, and Thorman’s left-handed which hurts his platoon chances. He’s off to Team Canada. (Previously –)
Matt Diaz, of / He’s out of options, but it seems that Langy has been given the left field job. (Previously )
Kelly Johnson, of / He has an option, and unless they carry 5 outfielders, he might be the odd man out. The fact that he and Langerhans are both left-handed means that they cannot be part of a lefty-righty platoon in left field. He could still play his way into a roster spot. (Previously )

Non-roster invitees

Kevin Barry, rhp / Pitched a scoreless inning, he’s getting himself in the bullpen mix. (Previously )
Wes Obermueller, rhp / (Previously –)
Chad Paronto, rhp / (Previously )
Travis Smith, rhp / (Previously )
Sean White, rhp / Good first outing, but he’s still such a long shot. (Previously )
Mike Remlinger, lhp / (Previously )
Eddie Perez, c / All indications are he’s not going to be healthy enough to start the season. (Previously )
Steve Pyzik, c / (Previously )
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, c / He is coming out of the gate hitting. (Previously )
Clint Sammons, c / (Previously )
Cesar Crespo, 2b-ss / Went 0 for 2 and made an error, not impressive. (Previously )
Jonathan Schuerholz, ss / (Previously )
Brian Jordan, of / (Previously )
Dave Kelton, of / Going 0 for 3 against college pitchers won’t help his cause. (Previously –)
Michael Ryan, of / Going 0 for 3 against major league pitchers won’t help his cause. (Previously –)

. . . Next MTM update early next week. . .

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Another Take on the WBC

If you didn’t like my World Baseball Classic predicting, or you simply want another opinion, then you should know that Fox Sports is doing some predicting of their own. They are also getting a bit more granular by predicting the score and outcome of each game. My predictions can be found here:
[AL: East / Central / West; NL: East / Central / West]

Meanwhile, players keep withdrawing from the Classic. The latest defections (no Cuba pun intended) have been from the US team in the form of Billy Wagner and C.C. Sabathia. They were replaced by Gary Majewski and (gulp) Al Leiter. If this continues, it may not turn out too good for the ‘home team.’

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Time to Set the DVR Alert

If you don’t have a DVR (or Tivo for you traditionalists), then it’s time to get one. With spring training games during the work day, one might have to actually skip work to watch a game! But with the new magic of DVR, the point is not to watch live TV, but to record it and play it back later while fast forwarding through all the commercials. So with this in mind, I lay out a few notable items worth recording through the end of the week.

Friday, March 3rd @ 2:00 am – WBC: Korea vs. Taiwan on ESPN2
Friday, March 3rd @ 4:30 am – WBC: Japan vs. China on ESPN2
Friday, March 3rd @ 1:00 pm – Dodgers vs. Braves on ESPN

That should take care of your weekend baseball fix. If you need more, there are some other Asian WBC games on during the weekend; you can check out the schedule here. Keep in mind, those Asian games are going to be fun for no other reason than to listen to the announcers try and pronounce some of the player’s names.


In blogging news, one of the Baseball blogging patriarchs, David Pinto of Baseball Musings, is having a pledge drive. He is one of the lucky ones that gets to blog as a full time job, and a large part of his income is generated by the once a year pledge drive. Dave was one of the first to link to this site, and gave me a great write-up on his blog. I’ve taken the time to donate a ten-spot, and if you visit his blog on a regular basis, then help support the great job he does. If you don’t visit his blog then you’re missing out on one of the best sports bloggers in the business, so check him out.