Atlanta Braves, MLB

Braves ink veteran backstop Suzuki to a one-year deal

The Atlanta Braves biggest priority coming to the off-season was finding a catcher to go along with Tyler Flowers. On Saturday they filled that need signing veteran backstop Kurt Suzuki to a one-year 2.5 million dollar deal. This isn’t a sexy move for one of the big names we either weren’t comfortable signing or someone just beats us out, but I really like this signing for us at this point.

Suzuki 33 hit .258 with nine home runs and 49 RBIs in 106 games with the Minnesota Twins last season. Those numbers don’t jump off the page, but decent considering the catching position has become being good at defense or offense not both. Those are serviceable offensive numbers for a backup catcher, which is likely the role he will have with the Braves.

Most importantly, he is very durable since the 2014 season Suzuki is one of six catches to make 2,900 appearances behind the plate. A remarkable stat considering the amount of punishment a catcher takes from foul tips and blocking balls in the dirt. He definitely provides a reliable option if Tyler Flowers were to go down with an injury or needs a day off. Who knows? Suzuki could revert back to his All-Star form he had in 2014 with the Oakland Athletics, but regardless he is a great cost friendly option for the Braves.

Additionally, Suzuki is a great clubhouse addition, especially with all the young guys in this organization. They will be able to pick his brain and watch how he goes about his business on a daily basis. The Braves pride themselves on having a great clubhouse and cohesiveness between players and personnel Suzuki is a great in that regard as well.

The Braves have done an excellent job this off-season adding veteran players that will help this young nucleus develop both on and off the field. The best part about it is most of the deals we have done this off-season are 1 to 2 years, which means they’re not blocking our top prospects they are just great stop gaps until the young guys are ready.

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Atlanta Braves, MLB

The Swanson Era has officially began in Atlanta

The Atlanta Braves took a huge step forward in the rebuilding process tonight as they called up 22-year-old shortstop Dansby Swanson to begin his career as a Brave. This is a rapid rise for the Marietta native as you recall Swanson was selected number one overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2015 draft. Then was acquired by his hometown team in December for Shelby Miller a trade that was widely criticized by many from the Diamondbacks perspective, but they were in win- now mode and were looking for an established arm to be paired with Zach Greinke.

This was a trade that gave the Atlanta Braves fan base some hope of returning to the glory days because this rebuild has been very painful seeing a lot of favorites walk out the door. This trade added a five-tool player and helped an offensive starved organization. Swanson’s arrival may be sooner than anticipated as just 26 months ago, he was in 2015 College World Series with the Vanderbilt Commodores. That being said, the team felt it was time for Swanson’s journey to begin in the majors as the team started playing respectable baseball and would be a good environment for him to walk into.

The dream come true happened yesterday against the Minnesota Twins Swanson went 2-4 both of them solid singles against Kyle Gibson. Gibson ended up with the last laugh as he threw a complete game, but I honestly don’t think anyone cared about the result they just wanted to see how the Swanson era would begin. He made a pretty good first impression I hope to see many multi-hit games and great success for many years with that Tomahawk across his chest. This is the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

From a fan’s perspective, it’s like a ray of sunshine in a season that has been lost from the very beginning. It’s a breath of fresh air because we get to go on this journey with Swanson from the very beginning and see how he continues to grow as a baseball player. His abilities as a baseball player have been well documented, but more than that he’s humble and gets it how to carry himself in whatever situation gets thrown at him. He’s what you want in a player and a person he’s a great addition to Braves Country!

Congratulations Dansby

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Atlanta Braves, MLB

Braves future even brighter following deadline

The Atlanta Braves season has been hard to stomach as they continue to rebuild for the new ballpark in 2017. They currently sit with the worst record in major league baseball at 37-69 and for a while there I questioned if they would get to the 20-win mark. However, the team has done a remarkable job restocking the pipeline with many top-flight prospects that will hopefully return us to the glory days.

As we wait for those prospects to get the call to the show I think this year’s deadline was a great turning point for this organization as they were finally able to add offense to both our system and the big-league club. John Coppola and John Hart were able to work magic first trading Lucas Harrell and Darío Alvarez to the Texas Rangers for their 20th best prospect Travis Demeritte.

Demeritte just 21 years of age hitting .272 with 25 home runs and 13 stolen bases. It’s incredible that the team was able to acquire such a high upside prospect with the average power combination that is pretty rare in baseball today. The fact that the team was able to take two guys basically off the trash heap and turn them into a bat.

Next the John’s did the impossible and traded Hector Olivera to the San Diego Padres for Matt Kemp. The Braves were not only able to get out of a bad contract and the situation with Olivera whom struggled on the field and off with domestic abuse, but they were able to get a proven major league bat in return.

Kemp is hitting .260 with 23 home runs and 69 RBIs he brings a veteran presence and hopefully some protection to first baseman Freddie Freeman lengthening our lineup putting pressure on opposing pitchers. Not only that, we have him for the next three years at a very respectable 18.5 million per year. Which seems like a lot,but we got out from under a bad situation and got a player that can help on the field daly.This move also gives us options this off-season as we now have a surplus of outfielders we may be able to address another area of weakness in a trade this off-season.

As you can see, the organization has turned a corner finally able to add pieces that will right away help the major league club. Also through this rebuild process the team has been able to create financial flexibility so we will be able to be pretty active this off-season looking to upgrade the catching and third base positions.

It’s been a tough process to watch, but it seems we will be contenders sooner rather than later. When that happens, I believe we will be able to sustain it with the bevy of prospects we’ve amassed. Stay patient Braves country we aren’t that far off!

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Atlanta Braves, MLB

Wisler putting it together for the Braves

The Atlanta Braves are wearing the struggles of the 2016 season the team currently has just 12 wins in their first 45  games to begin the season. No that’s not a typo, I wish it was, but it’s not! This is what happens when your farm system is bone dry and your big-league team has too many bad contracts and players are underperforming a teardown happens.

The positive thing about this whole situation is the team has been very active in revamping the organization from every angle doing everything in their power to get this team back to their winning ways. The team has made over 100 transactions since this process began in 2014.

The biggest improvement is the farm system, it was frankly nonexistent over the last few years because we were in a win now mode and we fell woefully short of the ultimate goal. Currently we have a system ranked in the top three in baseball with many top prospects that are knocking on the door of big-league stardom. Some of those prospects are in the big leagues right now and thriving I know that might be hard to believe with 12 wins in 45 games, but it’s true trust me!

Matt Wisler one of the key pieces that came back in the Craig Kimbrel Melvin Upton Jr trade. He has been awesome for this pitching staff and looks to be a centerpiece of the Braves starting rotation for many years to come. In 2016 he has a record of 2-3 with a 2.93 ERA.

Those numbers don’t indicate how well he’s pitched this entire year because he is dealing with an offense that couldn’t hit a beach ball right now if they tried. Wisler has pitched into the seventh inning for straight outings and into the eighth inning four times during that span. He has figured out that he belongs in the big leagues and he has that bulldog mentality that a starter needs every time he tows the rubber.

For every young baseball player there is an AW-HA type of moment where something clicks and they never look back. For Wisler I believe it was when he came out of the bullpen against Washington something happened and he just started attacking hitters and just said here it is try and hit it.

He’s taken that mentality ever since then and he is not scared of hitters making contact. Whereas before I believe the pressure of coming to a new organization and living up to the big expectations of being a top prospect caused him to try to hard and nimble around the strike zone because he wasn’t sure of himself and that got him in trouble with big-league hitters.

He is now oozing with confidence and that death stare on the mound showing opponents, he is not backing down at all. He also is willing to learn anything that will help them improve he talked to Braves legend Tom Glavine about his changeup and got some great tips that he’s brought out to the mound adding another weapon to his arsenal. At just 23 years old his willingness to learn and evolve as a pitcher shows commitment and determination to become a perennial All-Star and prove the Padres were wrong to part ways with him.

The team is no doubt wearing the results of the 2016 season in preparation for the future. The fact is, no one is enjoying how the season has played out so far, but slowly but surely we are seeing the pipeline produce great talent that will be in the big leagues for a long time. Watching  Wisler  develop and mature has been amazing to watch and I can’t wait for the other prospects to breakthrough and become mainstays in Atlanta for decades.

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Atlanta Braves, MLB

Just four games in Grey Hairs are coming fast

It’s no secret the Atlanta Braves are building for the future and it’s going to be a rough 2016 season as we bid farewell to Turner Field. However, I don’t think we could’ve gotten off to a worse start with a 0-4 record and just plain bad baseball. I understand getting beat by an opponent that’s fine, but beating yourself is inexcusable, especially at the highest level it’s really gut-wrenching.

In the first three games we blew leads of the 3-2, 1-0, and 4-0 for a team like the Braves, who aren’t expected to make much noise they have to protect every lead they have throughout the season early on they haven’t done that. The defense has been the main culprit of that it’s been putrid.

Starting with opening day AJ Pierzynski dropped the last out, allowing the tying run to score. Then in extra innings Gordon Beckham botching a routine throw allowing the eventual game-winning run on base. The ugliness has continued in the three games that have followed we made five total errors in the two games against the Cardinals and frankly there could’ve been more.

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Erick Aybar is the new shortstop replacing the defensive wizard Andrelton Simmons. It’s been a nightmare start for Aybar you hold your breath when the ball is it to him right now he botched a tailor-made double play yesterday that could have kept the game from getting so out of hand. It’s almost like he has the yips when any ball is hit to him. It’s making many question Simmons trade already because I honestly think we could have two victories if he was still on our roster. It’s something that has to get turned around quickly or Aybar might be on the pine sooner rather than later.

In the first four games the team has committed eight errors, not to mention all of the past balls and drop balls behind the dish. I didn’t expect to be world-beaters this year nobody did, but I didn’t think I’d have to wear a blindfold while watching us play. Not to mention our bullpen set a record on Friday night surrendering three pinch-hit homers that has never happened in major league history.

No question the first week has been something to forget for the Braves, but they are professionals and they see what is happening just as much as the fans do and I think they will iron out their defensive issues and at least play cleaner baseball games. If not we might see those youngsters here faster than we thought no matter where they are in our system.

I’m going to watch every game we play no matter what! That doesn’t mean I’ll make it through every one of them, though my advice for every Braves fan out there when you watch this team play make sure you have something to distract yourself with. That is the only way we are all going to make it through 162 games God help us!

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Atlanta Braves, MLB

Atlanta Braves Roster Overview

Baseball is officially back with three games to open the season on Sunday and a full slate of games on Monday. The Atlanta Braves open the season against the Washington Nationals at Turner Field. It’s a special year because the final year in Turner Field before the team moves to SunTrust Park.

It’s going to be a fun year seeing the new memories created and reminiscing about the great baseball played at that ballpark during the 2016 season. Let’s take a look at the 25-man roster and my biggest takeaways.

Starting Rotation: Julio Teheran, Bud Norris, Matt Wisler, Williams Perez, Jhoulys Chacín

Bullpen: Jon Gant, Jim Johnson, Jason Grilli, Eric O’Flaherty, Alexi Ogando, Arodys Vizcaino, Jose Ramirez, Daniel Winkler

Catchers: AJ Pierzynski, Tyler Flowers

Infielders: Freddie Freeman, Jace Peterson, Gordon Beckham, Kelly Johnson,

Erick Aybar, Adonis Garcia

Outfielders: Jeff Francoeur, Drew Stubbs, Nick Markakis, Hector Olivera, Ender Inciarte

MLB: Atlanta Braves-Spring Training Workouts

The Biggest Question Mark: The Pitching Staff

The biggest concern for the Braves in 2016 is most definitely the pitching staff and who’s going to get opponents out. The starting rotation had a roller coaster spring, but they all were able finished strong leaving a good taste in their mouth heading into the regular season. Another huge storyline for the pitching staff is the need for a bounce back year from Julio Teheran. He needs to prove the organization was right in holding on to him as his name was bantered about in trade rumors for the past two seasons.

However, The bullpen struggled throughout the spring with the exception of a few guys the team went 6-20-6 and a lot of those losses, and ties were due to blown late leads. I’ve mentioned this multiple times, but the team only has one left-handed reliever and Eric O’Flaherty whom they had to trade for in the late stages of spring training. The fact of the matter is, no one pitched well enough from the left side of the rubber to warrant a roster spot.

Another concern is Jason Grilli and Williams Perez are coming off injuries and you don’t know how they will perform when it really matters.  Additionally, they didn’t get as much work in spring training as they would like you to those injuries so that is something to watch for to begin the year.I think our offense will be better this season, if our pitching staff outperforms the projections we will have a pretty good chance to win ball games.

Biggest Surprises: Jeff Francoeur and Drew Stubbs

 

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The Atlanta Braves during this rebuilding process have taken some chances on low-cost veteran players this off-season was  no different with a former Brave Jeff Francoeur trying to restart his career where it began. Francoeur came up in 2005 with the baby Braves since then he has bounced around quite a few places. The Braves signed Francoeur to a minor-league deal and gave him one of the many opportunities this roster presented to start spring training.

Francoeur took advantage and forced his way on the roster. He hit a robust .327 with a homer and three doubles. He will provide pop off of the bench and get The starting assignments against the tough lefties. He is also very versatile with the ability to play all three-outfield positions if any of the starters need a day off.

Drew Stubbs

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The Braves signed Stubbs with three days to go in spring training. At first I was surprised he made the roster, but the team wanted a right-handed backup center fielder because Inciarte is left-handed and they didn’t want the outfield to become too left-handed heavy.

Stubbs provides speed and he is a very good outfielder, if he can make more contact and put the ball in play he can wreak havoc for opposing pitchers and defenses. He just needs to cut down on the strikeouts big-time it’s the reason he’s bounced around so many places  he tries to be more of a power hitter than he is. This move gives Fredi Gonzalez another option off the bench in late game situations with the ability to play match ups.

What I like: Roster Versatility

A trend coming back to baseball is the super utility man the ability of guys to play multiple positions. The Braves roster is full of super utility men in both the position players and the bullpen a great asset for manager Fredi Gonzalez to manipulate his roster to give his team the best chance to win every single night.

The bullpen has three options to close games Arodys Vizcaino, Jim Johnson and Jason Grilli, who have all had experience finishing games. The Braves can choose which guy they want based on matchups past history or who is the hottest at the time. A luxury many teams don’t have and hopefully the team will  take advantage.

MLB: MAR 02 Spring Training - Braves at Orioles    Kelly Johnson

This team is full of position players that can play multiple positions Atlanta native Gordon Beckham can play second, shortstop and third. Kelly Johnson can play third, second, first, and left field. Francoeur can play all three-outfield positions. 

A very valuable asset for the manager during a 162 game season it provides the ability to withstand some injuries because of the versatility that exist on the roster.

Veteran Players

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The team might be in a massive rebuild right now, but you look at the 25 man roster as currently constructed there are a ton of veteran guys. Those guys include AJ Pierzynski, Gordon Beckham, Kelly Johnson, Nick Markakis, Jeff Francoeur, and Erick Aybar. These guys have been through it all in their major-league careers and understand what it takes to win baseball games.

The Braves may struggle this year while we wait for the young guys to develop and make the big leagues, but this team will do it the right way and play hard. When the young guys start making their appearances in the show they will be able to lean on all of these veterans picking their brain to make their games better. 

An immeasurable asset to this club in a rebuilding process no one can predict what’s going to happen throughout the season who knows maybe we will shock the world!

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Conclusion

The Atlanta Braves roster is very interesting just like this season will be. Our opening schedule very unforgiving it’s ranked the hardest  of all 30 teams.So buckle your seat belts and remember stay patient Go Braves!

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