Category Archives: Atlanta Braves

Bryce Harper Destroys Julio Teheran (Again) – and Gets Plunked for It (Benches Clear)

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This was one of Harper’s more impressive home runs of the season, his 17th of the year. This one will be much more memorable then the first one he hit off Teheran this year for a couple of reasons.

And that, led to this:

I’m all for playing the game the right way, but no one did anything to Justin Upton or his teammates after he slow-walked his home run the previous night.

Have to commend Harper for not charging the mound here – his worthless team needs him right now. And I cannot believe the Nationals didn’t have the stones to retaliate. That’s honestly as big of a sign that exists that the game has passed old Davey Johnson by.

And then there’s this:

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Nothing like a few Official team twitter accounts throwing barbs at eachother; most likely a couple of college interns who will be relieved of their duties soon. Would love to ask the Braves teen that is running the control deck on twitter what Harper is supposed to do differently there?

Olney: “Scouts think Justin Upton is just an average Major Leaguer”

Yesterday on the ESPN Fantasy Focus Nate Ravitz was talking to Buster Olney about Justin Upton among other things. You probably missed this if you have a life, but we didn’t. Take a listen for yourself (12:00 mark).

Olney says that the book is out on Upton and Major League teams absolutely know how to pitch him to get him out. Scouts say you can consistently beat him on the inner half of the strike zone with fastballs, and when he attempts to adjust to that they start throwing breaking balls away.

Olney remarked that it surprised him the way Upton was cast, but those are the reports that scouts are filing to their teams.

As full of shit as a lot of scouts are, I agree with this. Upton isn’t ever going to take off and have that huge Ken Griffey Jr. type year that many thought he would when he was drafted (an example of scouts being wrong).

But if you think Upton is bad…… my goodness spend a week watching every Jason Heyward at-bat.

Atlanta is a paper lion I say; and they can still be caught because their outfield just isn’t hitting enough.

Rank Relief: A rare visit from Craig Kimbrel

rank relief 5.7-1

The Reds have been a hot and cold team, sweeping one series, getting swept another.  The Braves have one of the best records in baseball – although now they are only a half game better than the Reds.  In any case, the Reds look like the were on their way to dropping the first 2 games of the series.  Kris Medlen had pitched a decent game to give the Braves a 4-2 lead.  The Reds grabbed one run back in the 8th and then the Braves brought in the best closer (last year) in the game.  Craig Kimbrel was untouchable last year, but faltered in the WBC and has seemed human since.  Well tonight the Reds teed off.

rank relief 5.7-2

Kimbrel made quick work of the first two batters, but then gave up back to back dingers.  This was about as dramatic as any early season 9 inning game could be.  The final damage:  2 outs, 2 home runs, ballgame.  We don’t expect to see Kimbrel much here this season.  If you’re a Braves hater, enjoy it while you can.

Bryce Harper’s Opposite Field Gun-Shot off Julio Teheran

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If Julio Teheran ends up being what he’s supposed to be–you figure that these two will face each other a solid 75 or so times in the big leagues. Here’s how the first match-up went. Edge: Harper.

Harper’s missile to the opposite field put the Nationals up 2-0 in the first inning of the MLB Network showcase game. This is a rivalry that we thought would be a classic for the entire season, and the first game of it lived up to the billing.

The Braves tied the game in the bottom of the 9th inning on Ryan Zimmerman’s throwing error, and then won the game 6-4 in the 10th on a home run.

Harper put on a clinic even in an off night. After the his fifth home run of the year, he drew a walk in an 11-pitch at-bat and stole second. He had a nice at bat against Craig Kimbrel, whom no one stands a chance.

But he can hang his hat on this:

https://twitter.com/NationalsPR/status/322853100308291585

One of these is not like the others: A look at the MLB leaders in home runs

Home runs2 4.11.2013

Chris Davis, Michael Morse, Justin Upton.  These are your current MLB leaders in home runs at 6.  Who cares if it’s only April 11th.  The season has been going FOR ALMOST TWO WEEKS ALREADY.  Time to start keeping track.  All three of these players were somewhat recently cast off by their former teams.  Davis went to the Orioles last year, Morse was traded to the Mariners in the off-season, and Upton was trade for 50 cents on the dollar from the Diamondbacks.  These guys have been hot to start the season and Upton is making my Upton brothers projection looking really stupid.  The difference is that Upton is perennially touted as an MVP candidate.  The other two are not so much.  Here is the tally of their home runs so far this season.

Home runs 4.11.2013

How much can these guys keep it up?  Projections:

  • Chris Davis: 33 HR
  • Michael Morse:  31 HR
  • Justin Upton: 29 HR

 

10 Bold Predictions for 2013: BJ is the Upton with the better 2013 season

As part of our preview for the upcoming 2012 season, we’ll be doing a 10 Bold Predictions for 2013 series that will be featured between now and Opening Day. Our sixth prediction is that B.J. is the Upton with the stronger 2013 season.

Maybe the story of the off season is that the Braves were able to go out and get the talented Upton brothers.  BJ signed as a free agent from Tampa Bay and Justin was acquired via trade from Arizona.  Both brother possess tremendous athletic ability and skill and have carved out very nice careers so far.  The general consensus has long been that Justin is and will be the better player.  He has just a slightly lower career WAR than older brother BJ in one less season and has the best single season WAR between the two at 5.7.  And most thought that the Braves made a better deal to get Justin than BJ.

I’m going out on a limb though and saying BJ will have the better season.  BJ’s main struggle has been in the batting average department.  After hitting .273 in 2008, he has hovered under .250.  The power hasn’t gone away though – he hit the most home runs in his career last year with 28 and still stole 31 bases.  He is getting out of Tropicana and into a slightly better hitters park.  What if he can get back to .260 this year – that’s pretty much league average now.  And don’t forget the benefit of going to the NL where the talent is generally a notch lower.

Now what about Justin?  He’s always had the advantage in batting average, topping out at .300 in 2009.  He seemingly has been in a bad situation in Arizona where he didn’t “fit in” for some reason.  In 2011 he was just on the cusp of breaking out an MVP season (he wouldn’t have touched Matt Kemp or Ryan Braun in reality) hitting 31 home runs with 21 SB.  But last year he “regressed”, getting only 17 and 18.  That’s not a bad line, but it’s not the line of a young superstar waiting to break out.  A lot of people are pegging Justin to have a huge year now that he is free from the desert.  I’m not so sure.  I see his batting average continuing to slip just a bit to .275 or so.  The power and steals should come back some especially if he plays 158 instead of 150 games.

I see BJ besting Justin this year.  And as I researched this article I found I’m not the only one.  ZiPS projections have BJ besting Justin in WAR by a small margin – 3.8 to 3.3.  We’ll have to wait a few months or longer to see.

Final prediction:  BJ – .261, 32 HR, 92 RBI, 87 runs, 35 SB  Justin – .275, 23 HR, 75 RBI, 90 runs, 21 SB

Atlanta Braves 2013 Team Preview

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Braves fans are in for a fun year. You have to admire this organization. Chipper Jones exits stage left as possibly the greatest Atlanta Brave ever. The organization waits just a few months and brings in Justin Upton, a kid that many scouts said would be the next Ken Griffey Jr. type player and added him to a lineup who scouts said would be the next Ken Griffey Jr. type player (Jason Heyward).

The Braves have had a recent string of postseason letdowns. The had the eventual champion Giants on the ropes in 2010 and let them off the hook. They’ve lost one-game playoffs in each of the last two years. Braves fans must feel like they’re a bit snake-bitten.

Major Off-season Moves:

  • Traded for Justin Upton and Chris Johnson (for Martin Prado and Randall Delgado)
  • Signed B.J. Upton
  • Signed Gerald Laird
  • Traded for Jordan Walden (for Tommy Hanson)
  • Chipper Jones retired
  • Michael Bourn, David Ross, Jair Jurrjens signed elsewhere

The Braves run their organization in a professional manner. They’re going to have a really successful season. I expect them to be in the market for a starting pitcher along with St. Louis. If they can shore up their starting rotation, this team is going to be one of the top teams in baseball. They might be anyways, but at the end of the day I like their division rival Washington’s starting pitching a bit more.

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Mevs’ Thoughts on the Justin Upton Trade

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I considered this trade to be huge news, so the fact that I’m not getting around to writing a take on it until the week after should tell you that something pretty monumental was going on in my away-from-blogging life I try to have every once in a while.

In actuality, nothing monumental really was going on. I went with my company from my real job to Las Vegas. I gambled on Canadian hockey, saw a guy offering to be kicked in the nuts for $20 (he told me he had been kicked over 5,000 times for those of you wondering how it’s possible), and generally just did some people watching in a city that offers you a little of everything. Playing blackjack at Belagio beats the heck out of the online casinos.

The day I left, Justin Upton was dealt to Atlanta (we told you that’s where he was headed on this episode of The Baseball Show Podcast) for a package of players valued a lot less than a package for Justin Upton should have yielded.

I cannot wait to hear why Kevin Towers is the smartest man in the room on this one. Can’t. Wait. And mark my words, it will make it’s way out into the media. We’re going to know almost every juicy detail of this. Someone’s going to have some ‘splaining to do. And it’s going to be Towers.

It works out perfectly for Atlanta. They’ve now got just enough ammo to challenge the once thought to be invincible Nationals. You can just about count on Justin Upton to go off, stay free of nagging injuries, and generally be the MVP candidate he was always supposed to be. I’ve got nothing against the Braves, but no one deserves Justin Upton for a small price like that.

In closing, I want you all to remember back to that day before the 2012 season when I told you it would all fall apart for Upton and the Diamondbacks. My God I am the smartest man alive.

Image h/t: My buddies MJ & Mike

Wild Card Friday (& Predictions)

For the first time in the history of this blog (and the sport in general), the postseason kicks off with two Wildcard teams playing a one game play-in the day before the real deal gets going.

National League: St. Louis Cardinals at Atlanta Braves

The last time Fredi Gonzalez was in this situation, he didn’t fare so well. He’s not a good manager, and his immensely talented team has brought him back for a chance at redemption despite his attempts to sabotage them all. It’s a testament to the winning culture in Atlanta, and the fact that they want to send their strong leader Chipper Jones out as he deserves; a winner.

The Cardinals had enough magic last season to last them a lifetime. If you were like us, you waited all season long for a Cardinals run that never really came. We have no doubts that the Cardinals will have some great runs in the future under Mike Matheny, and this season was a nice start to his managerial career. But these Cardinals are not made with the same ingredients that made them great at this time last year. They just aren’t.

They’ve still got the ability to score and knock down fences with the best of them, but there’s some smoke and mirrors within their starting rotation. Adam Wainwright has a lot of mileage on his arm, Chris Carpenter missed most of the season, and the wildcard game starter Kyle Lohse had a career year that seems to be an anomaly more than a constant.

The baseball gods will allow the Braves to extract some sweet revenge on the team that stole their spot like a thief in the night a year ago. Fredi and the Braves will win tomorrow night in Atlanta and give Chipper Jones one final crack at a ring that has eluded him since 1995. The Cardinals season ends tomorrow.

Prediction: Braves over Cardinals

American League: Baltimore Orioles at Texas Rangers

My goodness we love Ron Washington. His speech to his troops before World Series game seven last postseason is the thing that legends are made of. And how about those tricky Orioles? Who in their right mind had Buck Showalter and the Orioles here at this point? No one. Not a damn person outside the Baltimore fan base, and if you try to tell me otherwise you’re lying.

The Orioles have strung together a rag-tag bunch that includes Mark Reynolds, Robert Andino, Nate McLouth, and Chris Davis. Of course they’ll go to the Hellhouse that is the Ballpark in Arlington, to face all of those terrifying hitters and F-bomb dropping Ron Washington and they’ll start a pitcher (Joe Saunders) who I would consider waiver wire garbage. Were they trolling late-night for catfish the night that they found Saunders? He started seven games for the Orioles this season. They haven’t a season like this since I was still searching for my first kiss. And they’re going to let Joe Saunders decide their season? This is who you throw out there to decide the biggest game this team has played in decades? That’s TV I’ve got to see.

But you know what? The baseball gods are a funny thing.

Here are teams on the opposite side of the spectrum. One team is littered with superstars, while the other just appears littered. The Rangers will throw their high-dollar import special Yu Darvish to oppose Saunders. The Rangers have about as much postseason experience up and down the roster as anyone in the field this year. The Orioles have little to none.

Everyone in the world will pick the Rangers tomorrow night. It would probably make sense to do the same. But something in my gut tells me that this Texas team has learned the just how long and impossible the journey seems. They’re jaded. They dropped the World Series two years ago. Last year they climbed back up that tall hill only to see it slip away in the most gut-wrenching fashion possible in sports. If that wasn’t enough to kill the spirits of this team, getting caught by the Oakland Athletics and losing the division title after leading the way for 99% of the season has destroyed this team’s inner conscious. I’m telling you that they’re mentally cooked.

Look back at the other side now, those tricky Orioles. They don’t know what they’re about to embark upon. They haven’t been here. They can say ‘who gives a shit, the whole damn season has been crazy anyways’. They have been starting Mark Reynolds the last few seasons. What do they care? Here’s a situation where I think lack of experience helps a team. In this one game scenario, they can catch some lightning in a bottle because they aren’t able to fully grasp the moment. All the pressure in the world is on our beloved Ron Washington and his Cocaine Cowboys of the West.

Most of all, in this life when everything seems so certain; it isn’t at all. Go the other way with the pick that everyone will go one way with. When they zig, you zag.

Prediction: Orioles over Rangers

Bryce Harper likes Oppo Bombs in Atlanta

Think back to Memorial Day weekend when Bryce Harper said hello to the world by homering to the opposite field in Atlanta off Johnny Venters.

Fast forward to last night, where an un-hittable, lights out version of Kris Medlen was on the bump for the Braves. Medlen had a career high 13 strikeouts and was throwing a shutout. Then Bryce Harper took him deep the opposite way.

Great piece of hitting by Harper, who matches his ripe young age with 19 homers. I would say it’s even odds that he makes it to 20.

See Tommy Hanson’s decreased Velocity become part of the Upper Deck

Tommy Hanson, some would say you deserved a better fate.

Here we see frame-by-frame Hanson’s once dazzling 89 MPH fastball hit into the seats in right field at Nationals Park. This was the most impressive of Harper’s five career home runs in my opinion. Watch the speed of the bat head exploding through the zone.

The blast came while opponents were still patting Steve Lombardozzi on the butt for taking his own bite out of Hanson in the way of his first big league home run.

Hanson probably had the last laugh (until he regains some RPM’s on that fastball, this happens all summer long) because the Braves won the game 3-2 and knocked the Nationals from sole possession of first place in the NL East.

Tommy Hanson's fastball is owned and dominated.

 

Bryce Harper’s Sunday Night Baseball Home Run off Livan Hernandez

In last night’s 7-2 win that finished off a Nationals sweep, Bryce Harper hit what I think was the most impressive of his four career big league home runs.

In case you weren’t watching, in the at-bat prior Livan Hernandez struck out Harper with a breaking ball. When Livan came back with a breaking ball the following at-bat, it ended up deep in the Atlanta night.

Bryce Harper Destroys Johnny Venters (Career Home Run #3)

Here’s Bryce Harper finishing a nice little Memorial Weekend Saturday (Nats won 8-4) by taking a 94 MPH Johnny Venters fastball out on a line drive the other way to left field. It was the third home run Venters has allowed to a lefty in his career. Around the bases in 16.35 seconds according to our friends @TaterTrotTrkr.

And it resulted in this:

A beautiful little impression left on the concrete wall over the fence in left. This kid is unbelievable. Just cancel football season and winter sports and lets see what he can do during all four seasons.

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/Natituder/status/206542208009113601″]