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Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Hamels To Join Braves on One-Year Deal

Left-hander Cole Hamels signed a one-year, $18 million contract with the Atlanta Braves, the team announced Wednesday.

...

Hamels joins a Braves rotation fronted by Mike Soroka and including Max Fried and Mike Foltynewicz. Two other members of the Braves’ 2019 rotation are free agents—right-hander Julio Teheran, after Atlanta declined his 2020 option, and left-hander Dallas Keuchel.

My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: December 04, 2019 at 02:52 PM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, free agency

Monday, November 25, 2019

Atlanta Braves sign catcher Travis d’Arnaud to replace Brian McCann

The Atlanta Braves signed catcher Travis d’Arnaud to a two-year, $16 million contract on Sunday, the team announced.

He gets $8 million in each of the next two seasons and agreed to donate $80,000 annually to charity.

The 30-year-old d’Arnaud split last season between the New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays. After struggling to hit with both the Mets, he got only one at-bat with the Dodgers before rebounding with the Rays, hitting .263 with 16 home runs and 67 RBIs.

He played 92 games for the Rays, seeing most of his time at catcher (76 games, 62 starts) but also made 16 starts at first base with 21 games overall at the position.

So, any thoughts on the merits of this signing?

 

QLE Posted: November 25, 2019 at 01:46 PM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, travis d'arnaud

Friday, November 22, 2019

Rosenthal: The Reds are interested in Zack Wheeler; the Braves’ big bullpen bet; more notes

As first reported by Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times, free-agent third baseman Josh Donaldson is a legitimate consideration for the Dodgers.

Donaldson, who turns 34 on Dec. 8, would provide right-handed balance for a team heavy in left-handed hitters (Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager, Max Muncy, Joc Pederson, Alex Verdugo, Gavin Lux). He also would bring an edge to a team that might benefit from such a jolt.

As the Braves discovered, Donaldson can be a bit of an acquired taste — as one club source put it, “he’s loud, in your face, an alpha who will test the room.” He went through an adjustment period in Atlanta, and Freddie Freeman talked with him at one point about better fitting into the clubhouse, the source said. But Donaldson eventually found his niche, and the Braves came to relish his daily intensity and competitiveness.

The team wants him back.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 22, 2019 at 06:54 PM | 36 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, evan white, notes, stephen strasburg, will smith, zach wheeler

Thursday, November 14, 2019

The Braves spent $40M on a reliever. Is that allowed?

The Braves just spent a chunk of money for a reliever. The $40 million Will Smith is guaranteed – the total could rise to $52 million over four seasons – isn’t a record outlay for the position, but it’s not that far off. The fourth year hinges on a club option, but the first three are for $13 million each. Aroldis Chapman, Wade Davis and Kenley Janson landed contracts at average annual values of $16-to-$17 million. Craig Kimbel will make $16 million for his next two seasons. Difference is, those guys were Brand Names.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 14, 2019 at 07:29 PM | 76 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, will smith

Friday, November 08, 2019

Braves Reportedly Prioritizing Madison Bumgarner

Now that the offseason has begun, we’re likely in for several weeks of rumors centering on longtime Giants left-hander and current free agent Madison Bumgarner. Let’s get the ball rolling in earnest: Atlanta has “made Bumgarner a priority and planned to quickly communicate that to the left-hander,” Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports California reports. If Bumgarner doesn’t re-sign with the Giants, the Braves are the front-runners for his services, according to Pavlovic.

For now, Bumgarner has until Nov. 14 to decide whether to accept the $17.8MM qualifying offer the Giants gave him earlier this week. But rejecting it looks like a formality for the 30-year-old Bumgarner, who MLBTR projects will land a four-year, $72MM contract on the open market. Whether the numbers are exact remains to be seen, but Bumgarner’s surely in line for a substantial payday, so the main question is whether San Francisco will be the team that hands it to him.

The Giants are the lone club Bumgarner has known since they selected him 10th overall in the 2007 draft. Although he has since turned into a decorated hurler who has helped the Giants to three championships, there hasn’t been any indication that the team has seriously pursued a contract extension. The Giants did elect against selling off Bumgarner prior to the July 31 trade deadline, but it’s possible they would have gone another way had it not been for an improbable midsummer surge. The team ultimately faded after its torrid July stretch, finishing 77-85, and now it could lose Bumgarner for nothing more than draft-pick compensation if he rejects its QO and heads elsewhere.

Hopefully, a sign that the hot stove may be warmer than it has been….

QLE Posted: November 08, 2019 at 12:11 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, free agency, hot stove, madison bumgarner

Thursday, November 07, 2019

MLBPA investigation of Anthopoulos shows tension between owners, players

TORONTO – A window into the level of mistrust between players and owners in baseball opened at 5:59 p.m. ET Wednesday, when the Major League Baseball Players Association sent out a statement that threw a Molotov cocktail into the business of the off-season.

The union, executive director Tony Clark said in the release, is launching “an immediate investigation” into comments Atlanta Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos made to reporters on a conference call earlier this week that “call into question the integrity of the entire free-agent system.”

“The clear description of club co-ordination is egregious,” Clark added.

Serious stuff, which makes you think that Anthopoulos, usually the careful and calculated sort, must have really stepped in it and said something damning.

A consideration of the tensions surrounding free agency at the current time, and how they could lead to all sorts of chaos in two years’ time.

 

QLE Posted: November 07, 2019 at 12:27 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: alex anthopoulos, braves, collusion, free agency, mlbpa

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Braves re-sign outfielder Nick Markakis to one-year deal

The Braves retained outfielder Nick Markakis on a one-year, $4 million deal Monday, the deadline for the team to decide on his $6 million club option.

Markakis was paid his $2 million buyout and signed for $4 million, giving him equal earnings he would’ve received if his option was picked up.

The move, which mirrors how the Braves handled catcher Tyler Flowers’ option earlier in the day, saves $2 million on payroll. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal was the first to report Markakis’ new deal.

Markakis, who turns 36 this month, has patrolled the Braves outfield since 2015. He handled both corner spots in 2019.

The Bill Buckner of our times keeps rolling along….

 

QLE Posted: November 05, 2019 at 12:27 AM | 30 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, nick markakis

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Braves decline Billy Hamilton’s option

ATLANTA (AP) — The Braves declined their part of Billy Hamilton’s mutual option for 2020, allowing the speedy outfielder to become a free agent.

Hamilton’s contract, agreed to with Kansas City last December, called for a $4.25 million salary for this year and included a $7.5 million mutual option for 2020 with a $1 million buyout. He earned an additional $200,000 this season in bonuses based on plate appearances.

So, who digs the stolen base?

QLE Posted: November 02, 2019 at 12:32 AM | 15 comment(s)
  Beats: billy hamilton, braves, options

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Braves are going to try to re-sign Josh Donaldson

From the Department of No Duh: Jon Heyman reports that the Braves will attempt to re-sign third baseman Josh Donaldson this offseason.

And to be clear, it’s not “no duh” that they would try to re-sign him. It’s no-duh that they should do so.

Last year Atlanta signed Donaldson to what was, essentially, a high-priced make-good deal, agreeing to a one-year, $23 million pact. There was risk there, of course, as Donaldson had missed much of the previous two seasons with injury and there was no guarantee that he’d be healthy in 2019. He was, however, and hit .259/.369/.509 with 37 homers and 94 RBI over 155 games. His bat and his still-excellent glove were huge reasons the Braves were able to repeat as NL East champions.

Something that will be rather interesting to follow, given our conversations concerning free agency.

 

QLE Posted: October 30, 2019 at 12:34 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, josh donaldson

Friday, October 11, 2019

Braves loss vs. Dodgers loss: which was worse?

The Braves got shellacked in the first inning last night and lost. The Dodgers took a lead late into the game only to see their manager’s choices and their relief pitchers woof it, sending them to defeat as well.

Which was worse?

Both modes of defeat bring with it a certain form of misery.

For my part I sat, as a Braves fan, and watched my team cough up ten runs in the first inning, secure in the dreadful knowledge that the game was already lost. Most people could just turn it off, I suppose, but I felt it necessary both out of professional obligation and out of a certain sense of, I dunno, mourning, that I had to keep the game on for the next three hours. Because I’m also perpetually online it led to a rather extreme sort of nastiness on Twitter and in comment sections with recriminations, complaining and all other manner of ugliness being hurled about. It was a pretty dreadful experience.

 

 

QLE Posted: October 11, 2019 at 12:24 AM | 17 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, dodgers, the agony of defeat

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Misery Index: Play-by-Play Breakdown of Braves’ Brutal First Inning in NLDS Game 5

Every baseball disaster has its own particular terroir. But, generally, they fall into one of two genres. There is the sudden individual moment: the walk-off, the disastrous error, the grand slam. This draws a clear line in a game of before and after; it is one instance of sensational pain, so that the entire endeavor implodes, and then it is over. There is no space for bargaining or strategizing or rationalizing. It is one play that remakes the game in its likeness. And then there is the slow decline: the frame that holds a thousand deaths, and so, too, a thousand missed chances to live. This one unravels gradually and then suddenly and, always, painfully. This one is the first inning of Game 5 between the Braves and the Cardinals.

It was historic (10 runs, the most ever scored in the first inning in the postseason), a little bizarre (10 runs without one home run!) and, ultimately, the foundation for a contest that was totally anticlimactic (St. Louis went on to win, 13-1). There was no one moment when this got out of hand. There was, maybe, only the moment when it transitioned from ordinary disaster to full-on caricature. So here are all of those moments, presented in chronological order by batter, rated by their misery.

No. 1, Dexter Fowler: Walk

This, on its face, is not so bad. This was but one base-runner. It was unremarkable, neither a four-pitch disaster nor an extended battle. Yet—it was a leadoff walk, in an elimination game, and, well, there’s inherent misery to that. Just a little! It’s irrational, concerned more with the shifty pressure of a bad omen than the particular realities of run expectancy, but, all the same, in however small a sense, it’s miserable.

Misery Rating: 3

Anatomy of a Disaster

 

QLE Posted: October 10, 2019 at 12:51 AM | 30 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, cardinals, nlds

Braves’ [stuff] doesn’t work in the playoffs, either

The Athletics have been something of a punching bag over the years because executive vice president and president of baseball operations Billy Beane was famously quoted in Moneyball saying, “My [stuff] doesn’t work in the playoffs. My job is to get us to the playoffs. What happens after that is […] luck.”

Since 2000, the A’s have reached the playoffs 10 times. They have advanced into the ALCS just once, in 2006, when they were swept out by the Tigers. They’re 1-6 in the Division Series and 0-3 in the AL Wild Card game, accounting for their last three playoff losses (2014, ’18-19). To call their performance in the playoffs disappointing would be an understatement.

The A’s, however, are not the only team whose [stuff] doesn’t work in the playoffs. The Twins, who were just swept out of the ALDS by the Yankees, haven’t reached the ALCS since 2002. They have failed in their last six appearances in the ALDS — mostly against the Yankees — and lost the AL Wild Card game in 2017 as well (to the Yankees).

A consideration of losing streaks in the playoffs, albeit one that has gone out of date since between when I found it and when I posted it…..

QLE Posted: October 10, 2019 at 12:44 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, braves, nationals, playoff streak, playoffs, the agony of defeat, twins

Friday, October 04, 2019

Two Playoff Teams, Two New Stadiums and One Great Divide

Two maps tell the story.

First, John Schuerholz stared into a camera and stunned a city. Unflinching, the Braves’ GM turned president, whose teams had won 14 straight division titles, explained to Atlanta baseball fans on Nov. 11, 2013, that the club was abandoning the area just south of downtown, its home since 1966. No longer would the Braves play at Turner Field, where skyscrapers looming over left center made it feel as if the entire city was watching. Instead, the franchise would build a stadium 14 miles north, in Cobb County. “This new ballpark,” Schuerholz said of what would come to be called SunTrust Park, “will be in the heart of Braves Country.”

Accompanying the announcement, the team released a map showing where, precisely, Braves Country was—and, notably, where it wasn’t. That view of the greater Atlanta area was speckled with red dots, each one indicating the home of a 2012 ticket buyer, including season-ticket holders. Only a smattering of red appeared to the east, west and south of Turner Field, while thousands of dots congealed into a ribbon above downtown that expanded into a wide swath in the half-dozen suburban and exurban counties to the north. The new stadium would be closer to the middle of that mass, which happened to embody an older, whiter and more conservative population than the city proper. Those northern suburbs were fast diversifying, yet many in Atlanta—particularly in its black population—felt slighted by the decision, their perspectives colored by decades of racial and political tension between city and sprawl.

Five months later MLS commissioner Don Garber, Falcons owner Arthur Blank and then-mayor Kasim Reed proclaimed in their own press conference that downtown Atlanta would be home to MLS’s 22nd franchise, and the new club, Atlanta United, would take the pitch in 2017, the same year the Braves headed to Cobb. The soccer team would play in the same new $1.6 billion stadium the Falcons would soon call home, but United would be no afterthought. The facility would be designed to accommodate the beautiful game from the start. Pushing back against skepticism and pointing to an influx of young professionals near Atlanta’s urban core, Blank assured MLS’s leaders he could fill the massive venue, even in a market known for lukewarm enthusiasm toward pro sports. Reed boasted that his city’s foreign-born (and, seemingly implied, soccer-loving) population was growing at the second-fastest rate in the U.S. Garber himself insisted these factors combined to make downtown an ideal MLS incubator. The city “embodies what we call a ‘new America,’” he said, “an America that’s blossoming with ethnic diversity.”

A consideration of sport and space- of interest for those who wish for a long-form read.

 

 

QLE Posted: October 04, 2019 at 12:21 AM | 13 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, soccer, stadiums, suntrust park

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

The Braves Have What It Takes for a Surprising World Series Run

The Braves were the National League’s premier franchise in the 1990s, ripping off 14 consecutive NL East titles from 1991-2005. Are we at the doorstep of a new golden age of baseball in Atlanta? It may be a bit premature to even raise such a question, though after winning the NL East in 2018 and 2019, the infrastructure for sustained success is in place. So allow us to hopscotch ahead to a bigger question: Could the Braves win it all ... this year?

There’s a case to be made, and we’re here to lay out the blueprint.

Dominant Top Four

It’s hard to find a NL team with a better top four in the lineup than Atlanta. The Braves scored a run in 35.7% of first innings this season, second in all of baseball. Their leadoff hitter is largely to thank. Ronald Acuna Jr. enters the season’s final week leading the NL in runs and stolen bases, three steals away from becoming the fifth 40-40 club member in MLB history. He’s one of three players to hit 40 homers in a season before turning 22. Only seven players under 22 have scored more runs in a single season. Acuna is perhaps the most valuable asset in the National League. One hot month could swing the postseason.

Mind you, with baseball being baseball and playoffs being the playoffs, it could end like five of their last six NL East titles did in that streak….

 

QLE Posted: September 25, 2019 at 12:32 AM | 16 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, playoffs, world series

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Braves’ postseason goals grow after another division title

ATLANTA (AP) — One year ago, just winning the NL East was enough for the rebuilding Atlanta Braves.

Now manager Brian Snitiker and general manager Alex Anthopoulos expect more.

Even as players celebrated their second straight division title with beer and bubbly on Friday night, focus shifted.

“Our first goal was to win the East and we did, and I think now that’s not good enough,” Snitker said Saturday. “I think our guys know they’re capable of a lot more than that. The goal now is the big prize. We feel like we have a team that can do that. We are deep enough, strong enough. I think that is a realistic goal, not just to want to get in but to win the whole thing.”

Bobby Cox and John Schuerholz probably would have something to say about that expectation being realistic….

 

QLE Posted: September 22, 2019 at 12:39 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, playoffs

Friday, September 20, 2019

Random notes: Dansby Swanson, so-so shortstop

We say yet again: He’s 25, and he has been unlucky with injuries. Swanson has proved he can hold a job as the shortstop – a key position – on a first-place team. He’s not the worst thing about the Braves. He’s not the best, either. He’s just OK.

Jim Furtado Posted: September 20, 2019 at 09:45 AM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, dansby swanson, the athletic

LEADING OFF: Braves set to clinch, Red Sox near elimination

POPPIN’

Ronald Acuña Jr. and the Braves are poised to break out the bubbly, with a magic number of one to clinch their second straight NL East title. They can celebrate when Mike Foltynewicz (7-5, 4.80 ERA) starts at SunTrust Park against San Francisco. A win by Atlanta or a loss by second-place Washington at Miami will seal it.

At 21, Acuña will be able to take part in a champagne toast. The star outfielder with 40 home runs wasn’t yet of legal age when the Braves won the division a year ago.

“They wouldn’t let me drink because I was a minor,” Acuña recalled, breaking into a big smile. “This year, it’s going to be different. I’m looking forward to it.”

 

QLE Posted: September 20, 2019 at 12:25 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, jose ramirez, lorenzo cain, pennant race, red sox

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Braves clinch playoff spot behind Acuña Jr.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Atlanta Braves celebrated another playoff berth with heavy hearts.

Ronald Acuña Jr. ignited the decisive four-run rally with the go-ahead, two-run double in the seventh inning, as the NL East leading Braves wrapped up a playoff berth with a 10-1 victory over the Washington Nationals on Saturday. The victory also eliminated the Phillies from winning the NL East.

But there was no celebrating in the postgame clubhouse, as the team remained concerned about utility man Charlie Culberson, who was struck directly on the right cheekbone by a 91 mph fastball in the seventh on the first pitch by Nationals reliever Fernando Rodney.

“He was good when he went to the hospital. I mean, he was alert and all of that stuff,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said of Culberson, who was pinch-hitting for starting pitcher Mike Foltynewicz with two on and no out in the seventh of a 1-1 game.

 

 

QLE Posted: September 15, 2019 at 12:16 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, charlie culberson, pennant race

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

LEADING OFF: Astros romping, Trout out, long games

CLOCKED

Big league bullpens are full this month, boosted by September call-ups, and a plethora of pitching changes is contributing to longer and longer games.

The Brewers beat Miami 8-3 Monday night in a matchup that took 4 hours, 8 minutes. The game featured 15 pitchers who combined for 14 walks.

On Sunday, the Phillies topped the Mets 10-7 in 4:29 — one minute from matching the longest nine-inning NL game. Each team used eight pitchers and the clubs used up all 16 dozen baseballs that were prepped pregame, forcing another couple dozen to be rubbed up and put in play.

On the one hand, this is the last season for the traditional system of September call-ups- on the other hand, given the general trajectory with both pace-of-play and pitcher usage, I’m not sure that will solve anything…..

QLE Posted: September 10, 2019 at 01:57 AM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, braves, mike trout, pace of play

Sunday, September 08, 2019

LEADING OFF: Braves streaking, Harper hurting, Arizona rolls

HOME OF THE BRAVES

Josh Donaldson and the Atlanta Braves have won nine in a row, their best string since 2014. The NL East leaders also have taken 13 straight at SunTrust Park.

Donaldson hit his 36th home run in a 5-4 win over Washington on Saturday night. He has 28 homers since June 11. The Nationals have lost four in a row and lead the NL wild-card race by two games over the Cubs.

Nationals ace Max Scherzer (9-5, 2.60 ERA) tries to end Atlanta’s streaks. He makes his fourth straight start since returning from back trouble — the three-time Cy Young Award winner has no decisions and a 4.66 ERA in his last four outings.

Well, here’s as good a place as any to discuss the current shape of the playoff hunt- how do we expect it will shake out?

QLE Posted: September 08, 2019 at 12:32 AM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, bryce harper, diamondbacks, gerrit cole, rays, streaks, yadier molina

Friday, September 06, 2019

Big Air is coming to the home of the Braves

ATLANTA (AP) — Big Air is coming to the home of the Braves.

The high-flying ski and snowboarding event will be held Dec. 20-21 at SunTrust Park, bringing some of the top athletes from the United States and around the world to compete off a 15-story-tall tower that will be built in the center of the 41,000-seat baseball stadium.

The Braves joined the U.S. Ski & Snowboard federation in making the announcement Thursday from the plaza beyond the center-field seats, shortly before the start of Atlanta’s game against the Washington Nationals.

It was hardly a winter-like day.

Do you suppose Cobb County would have wasted all that money on the stadium if they were told this would be typical of the events available for it other than the Braves?

 

QLE Posted: September 06, 2019 at 07:17 AM | 16 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, suntrust park

Thursday, September 05, 2019

LEADING OFF: Strasburg vs Braves, Lorenzen does it all

DOING IT ALL

Michael Lorenzen is making himself valuable wherever the Reds need him. In his latest performance, he did something no major leaguer has done since Babe Ruth in 1921.

On Wednesday, Lorenzen earned the win as a pitcher, hit a home run and played the field as Cincinnati beat the Phillies 8-5. Lorenzen pitched two innings, connected for a two-run drive and finished up in center field.

There’s something to be said concerning versatility….

 

 


Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Atlanta comfort Hurricane Dorian evacuees with free services

ATLANTA (AP) — Atlanta is welcoming Hurricane Dorian evacuees with open arms, camping spaces and America’s favorite pastime.

News outlets say Atlanta Motor Speedway and the Atlanta Braves are offering free services to residents from mandatory evacuation areas throughout Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.

 

QLE Posted: September 04, 2019 at 12:57 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, hurricane

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Mets pitchers strike out 26 Braves batters in 14 innings

New York Mets pitchers struck out 26 Braves batters last night. That ties a major league record for strikeouts in a game. Four other teams have performed the feat. The Mets joined the the then-Anaheim Angels, however, as the only two teams to strike out 26 batters and lose. Those Angels fell to the Brewers 1-0 in 17 innings in 2004. The Mets fell to the Braves last night, 2-1.

Jacob deGrom led the charge with 13 Ks in seven innings of work, with his only blemish being an RBI single surrendered to Freddie Freeman in the sixth inning. deGrom atoned for that himself, however, hitting a home run off of Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz in the bottom of the sixth to tie things up at one. That’s how things would remain when both starters left the game and it moved on to extra innings.

The people who have been singing the praises of the TTO have a lot to answer for….

 

QLE Posted: August 25, 2019 at 02:56 PM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, mets, three true outcomes

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Grudge continues to fester between Braves, Marlins

The Braves and Marlins have some bad blood, especially concerning Ronald Acuña Jr. Around this time last year, José Ureña intentionally threw at Acuña in the first at-bat of a game, leading to a benches-clearing incident. Acuña was hit on the elbow and exited the game but was ultimately fine. Acuña’s crime? Just being good at baseball. At the time, he had homered in five consecutive games, including three games against the Marlins.

In 2019, the first-place Braves and last-place Marlins have mostly minded their own business. The Marlins, however, can certainly keep a grudge it appears. With his first pitch in the bottom of the first inning Tuesday night in Atlanta, Marlins starter Elieser Hernández hit Acuña in the hip.

I’m not sure what is more embarrassing- having a grudge match with the Marlins, or not being able to win it decisively.

 

QLE Posted: August 21, 2019 at 03:49 AM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, grudge match, marlins

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