Archive for October, 2008

61: I Approve This Message

Comments and articles herein are the intellectual property and opinions of the writers and may not be copied without permission of the writers.

by Voice of Reason Raisins

Jefferson, GA – Yes, today I stand before you to talk about the issues. No beating around the bush (no pun intended) here. I’ll go straight to the heart of the matter. Let’s get to it, huh?

Economic Policy: The economy is on everyone’s mind right now, especially with the big losses recently felt in the New York markets. Yes, no New York team in the playoffs this year. Surely, though, given the current economy of Major League Baseball, those losses will begin to reverse. No bailout needed here. The pure free market economics of the sport will prove to rise above the critics as the New York teams outspend everyone else this offseason, making it difficult for the Middle Class teams to get ahead. Of course, as the Rays have proven this season, dumping good money after bad is not necessarily the answer. Judicious spending, and wise choices, always are the keys to surviving in the new age economy. We must take this lesson to heart.

National Defense Policy: I believe whole-heartedly in a strong National defense. Of course, you have to win the National League before you can defend it. I believe with a good economic approach, including the aforesaid judicious spending and wise choices, we soon could find ourselves once again defending the National League.

Health Care Policy: This year, a strong Health Care position has become a prominent part of shaping one’s platform. I believe in Health Care for everyone, and fully intend to make sure that the training room is accessible at all times. Dr. James Andrews phone number is, as always, prominently posted on the team bulletin board. Specifically, though, I believe in a more preventative approach. I believe in better offseason training and stretching. I believe that March 1st is too late to start. I believe that elite professional athletes should keep the tools of their trade, their bodies, in shape year round. I believe that, in the case of health related matters, less is more.

Foreign Policy: I believe that we should have a strong foreign policy. Whether it be in Central America, South America, the Dominican Republic, Canada, etc. I, for one, am happy that we are venturing into the Japanese market. We must, however, make sure we operate within the negotiated rules, lest we damage our relationship with our Far East brothers.

Energy Policy: I believe in alternative energy sources, as long as they are approved by Major League Baseball. No PEDs here. We have an abundance of natural energy resources, though, if our players will just take that initiative. Fruits, vegetables, complex carbohydrates, etc. are all excellent fuel choices when used efficiently and wisely.

Homeland Security Policy: We must play better baseball at home. No doubt about it. If you can win 2 out of 3 at home, and split on the road, you will win 95 games and find yourself in the playoffs.

Trade Policy: This is an area of great concern and great discussion this offseason. Obviously, coupled with the Economic issues we face, our Trade Policy has to be one that is not only attractive to our Trade partners, but maintains our own supply integrity as well. The former Trade Czar was masterful in this area.

Education Policy: I believe that no player should be left behind. All players not only should, but must have access to the finest instruction, by qualified instructors. Any instructors deemed unqualified should be summarily dismissed. Unfortunately, Terry Pendleton will return for the 2009 campaign. I am currently huddling with my advisers over this development. Secondly, all players not only should, but must have access to the teams video and tape library, as well as the “book” on pitchers and hitters throughout the league. Our players must engage themselves in proper preparation for whichever new team they encounter. To me, there is no excuse for lack of proper preparation. Those who cannot meet the mark could find themselves expelled. Just ask Jason Marquis.

Immigration Policy: I am all for legal immigration. I believe in extending opportunity to all who seek it legally. To those who come into our country illegally, if you can chuck it 95mph+ or rake like Rod Carew, I’ll find you a good lawyer…and an agent.

Agriculture Policy: This hearkens back to the very fundamentals of developing a strong organization. To build a strong team, there must be a strong farm system in place. This team has a strong farm system, but the new harvest is not yet at hand. Oh, there’ll be a couple of ripe ones to pop up early, but the real bounty is still a couple of years away. Names like, Heyward, Freeman, Hanson, Medlen, Hernandez and Hicks. The future is indeed a bright one, as long as we do not allow the plague of impatience to ravage what could be a bumper crop.

Domestic Affairs Policy: They are wrong. Period. Marriage is sacred, even though a lot of players seem to forget that sometimes on those long road trips. Of course, it’s not like this is the NBA or anything…

View of the Current Administration: The current administration is under a tremendous amount of criticism right now. Even though there are many positive points racked up over the last several years, many seem to lock in and focus on the recent failures, some of which admittedly exist. However, remember that mistakes made in the 9th inning are always magnified more than successes found in the 1st inning, and that the media doesn’t always paint an accurate picture.

I am the Voice of Reason Raisins, and I approve this message.

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60: Winds of Change are in the Air – Part II

Comments and articles herein are the intellectual property and opinions of the writers and may not be copied without permission of the writers.

by Gil in Mechanicsville

Continuing with the theme of pitching options for the Braves in 2009, I mentioned in my previous post that several young pitchers currently in the Braves organization could figure prominently in Atlanta’s plans. I’ll begin with a couple who spent time on the big league roster in 2008.

JoJo Reyes, the big young left-hander has all the tools to be a big time front line pitcher. Unfortunately, he does not seem to realize that as of yet. I think his biggest problem is he gives opposing hitters too much credit. Instead of challenging opposing batters, he tries too hard to nibble at the corners and ends up in trouble with guys on base via walks and instead of the occasional solo dinger, he will give up runs in bunches. Perhaps another year in triple A will pay dividends. After all, he is only 22 years old. Still plenty of time to develop into the player the Braves envision he will be.

Charlie Morton, another bright spot for the Brave this year, he has long had the stuff to be a major league pitcher but like many other young players, he was not sure he belonged. Guy Hanson, the pitching coach for the Richmond Braves had worked hard trying to instill the type of mental toughness required for him to be successful in the bigs. A tired arm slowed him down late in the season. After all,  those innings pitched in the Arizona Fall League and in Triple A counted too. He once again looked sharp when used for two innings of relief at the end of the season. I predict he will be one of the last pitchers to be cut at the end of spring training if the Braves make a few trades for a starter or sign a top line free agent. It should be a real dogfight between him and JoJo and Jorge for the final slots on the Braves staff.

Chuck James is still seeking the true meaning to life, or at the least his long lost ability to throw pitches that are not immediately struck with such force that his head snaps back as he watches the ball sail into the dark of night. If he was a golfer, you could describe his problem as having a case of the yips. A condition that arrives without warning and causes its victim to lose all confidence in his ability to play and makes even a two-foot putt an adventure. Chuck himself has stated he needed to re-learn how to pitch this year. From my observation his mechanics are so out of whack because he continues to try to throw across his body. It is really difficult to consistently throw a pitch to the spot you are aiming when you are changing the release point on every throw. Walks are a nemesis for him and when you combine that with his propensity to give up the long ball, an ERA that resembles the score of an Olympic gymnast is likely. He is still searching for that elusive third pitch that would prevent batters from waiting on his change-up. You can get away with only having two pitches if you also have the control necessary to keep the ball off the sweet spot of the bat but the inability to perform as needed usually results in a short afternoon for the starter and a long afternoon for the bullpen.

Anthony Larew, looked to have turned to corner and had a great future ahead of him with Atlanta. Unfortunately for him, his arrival in Atlanta coincided with a blown out elbow and the need for Tommy John surgery. Bummer…. I am happy to say he returned to the Richmond club late this season and looked good for a guy coming off rehab. he had a couple of shaky starts the first week in August but started to come around after that. I expect he will continue to improve his arm strength and be ready to challenge for the final spot in the rotation for the big Braves. If not, he will be a short cab ride away in Gwinnette and likely be one of the first call ups should the Braves staff revert to 2008 form next year.

Up and coming Tommy Hanson is going to be on a lot of Atlanta Braves fans’ short list next year. I would expect quite a few folks will want to rush him to the big leagues considering his good numbers in Pearl this year. More likely for him will be a year or at least beginning of his Atlanta stay in the yet to be named Gwinnette stadium. I would suggest that he be allowed to learn how to pitch before he is thrown into the lion’s den. After all, a mistake made in the minors is a life lesson not often repeated in the majors. No need to ruin him mentally when he has such a great future. Often folks forget that the quality of the hitting in the minors is much less than the majors. Instead of pitching around a good prospect, a pitcher is faced with a line-up of guys who can put the bat on the ball.

In part III, I will sum up my take on the bullpen prospects for 2009.

~Gil~

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