Archive for the 'Tom Glavine' Category

125: Hall Of Fame: Destiny Fulfilled

by Gil Elliott 'Gil from Mechanicsville'

by Gil Elliott
‘Gil from Mechanicsville’

This past week, we discovered that two essential parts of the long time Braves’ stellar pitching triumphant were elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Greg Maddux, aka Doggie, was without question one of the best pitchers ever to tie up a pair of baseball cleats. Those of us who were blessed with the opportunity to see Maddux pitch both in person or via the once venerable super station TBS remember so many of the gems hurled in under two hours. In an age where the average American League game often extended into four hours, when Greg was scheduled to pitch, you could still watch the game and bet on it being over early enough for you to watch your favorite prime time TV show.

Mad Dog

Mad Dog

I doubt Greg Maddux was the inventor of the strategy of pitching to contact, but he certainly was the master of its implementation. Often asked if he thought he would ever pitch a no hitter, he would reply that he doubted it. It just was not part of his game. Never blessed with the power to blow away hitters, he did possess the mind of a genius when it came to setting up hitters and keeping the ball off the sweet spot of the bat. Barry Bonds referred to him as old dipsy doddle because he never threw anything straight. Watching the game on TV allowed for us was to see the incredible movement on the ball no matter what he pitched. Ball control was his game. Anytime he issued a walk, it was of the intentional verity. The same is said of whenever he hit a batter. While he would profess innocence, everyone in the park knew his control was so fine, it was unfathomable that he could let one slip. He once pitched 51 consecutive innings without issuing a walk. Seldom did he throw more than three pitches to a batter. Of course in his typical self depreciating style, when ask to what he attributed his success, he cited having Rafael Furcal and Andrew Jones behind him certainly helped because he knew when the ball was struck, one of them would catch it.

Glavine

Glavine

The other first ballot Hall of Farmer elected who was a huge part of the Braves’ success was Tom Glavine. Another cerebral kind of guy, his game was also to make you hit his pitch. Often that pitch was a devastating change up. He lived on the outside for so long, the strike zone would became where ever he decided it should be on a particular start. When he found that batters started crowding the plate in anticipation of his extended strike zone, he learned that pitching inside was a winning strategy too.

Glavine likely would have won his 300th game as a Brave were it not for folks pushing the limits of a relationship and Tom calling the Braves’ bluff on an inside straight. I remember Glavine starting one All Star game and giving up six consecutive singles in the first inning, all ground balls. Needless to say, the National League lost that game but it was not until years later we discovered that Glavine was pitching with two cracked ribs in that game. Not that he didn’t execute his game plan, it was just the AL was hitting them where they won’t. That was the thing about Tom Terrific, he showed other pitchers on the team you did not have to be 100% to take your turn on the mound and still be successful. It also proves one can do what he is supposed to do but it still takes 8 other guys on a team to win. Glavine possessed a certain amount of grit, likely accrued from his youth hockey days. He showed others how to play through the pain. A lot of Braves fans never forgave Tom for signing with the Mets in 2003 nor his role as the President of the Baseball Player’s Association when the player’s strike of 1994 derailed the season. Say what you will, I believe it only demonstrated further his abilities as a leader both on and off the field.

Having a Hall of Fame manager to guide them did not hurt the pair either. Bobby Cox, BobbyCoxwho will also sit on the podium along with Joe Torre, Tony LaRussa and Frank Thomas, managed his teams to success, no matter their make up. Often the Braves were accused of always waiting for the three run homer to win games, seldom stealing bases or other wise employing the running game but Bobby was simply playing with the cards he was dealt. The speedy Furcal would often turn a game into a one nothing affair after legging out a single, stealing second, moving to third on a ground ball hit to second and scoring on a sac fly. Dion Sanders was another speedster employed by Cox but the two things a Bobby Cox team was known for were pitching and solid defense. Having players in the outfield who could “go get it”. Something that often contributed to the Braves pitching staff having the league leading ERA at the end of each season.

Smoltz2aHopefully, in 2015 we will be able to applaud the selection of John Smoltz, the third leg of the trinity of Braves pitching. John was the antithesis of Glavine and Maddux, relying upon power and an overwhelming split-finger pitch as opposed to finesse but that is a topic for discussion on another day.

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114: Big Ben Hits Town, Alarm IS Sounded By The Rest Of The EAST

Mechanicsville, VA

Ben Sheets started for the Atlanta Braves in the final game of a three-day set against the Mets Sunday and showed there can be life after Little League. In true storybook fashion, the big right hander showed he had not forgotten how to pitch in this league. In fact, he might very well be in a league of his own right now with a jumping 90-93mph fastball and a drop off the table curve to go with his cutter.

With a back-end of a rotation previously consisting of Mike Minor and Randle Delgato leaking more runs than a pasta strainer, Ben Sheets showed the same All-Star ability he possessed before having two arm surgeries and being away from the game nearly two years. Six innings of two hit, one walk shutout baseball sprinkled with five strikeouts and a collection of flyballs and pop-ups made for an impressive debut in Atlanta.

For some reason, many Braves fans suddenly feel a measure of invincibility. Of course, as we all know, a team is only as good as their last start but for seven straight starts, they have been mighty good.

Sometimes the addition of a good veteran arm can have a very positive impact on an entire team. It appears this might be the case with Sheets. Of course his next start might be a bit more telling, it’s can be most telling when aging muscles are awaken from a long slumber. That said, Tom Glavin remarked during the telecast that for a veteran, the question is not on if he knows how to pitch, it is if he is physically able to pitch.

75:Thoughts Out Of Left Field… Sort Of

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 – As each day of this seemingly never-ending extended Spring Training continues to move forward at a pace rivaled only by the traffic on the I-285 perimeter highway around Atlanta at 5:00pm on any given weekday, I have a few random thoughts I’d like to share…

Be forewarned, though… random means random. No telling what may spill forth.

Isn’t it strange how we clamored all winter for Braves news items in anticipation of the coming new season, and have nearly disappeared in mid-Spring? That one’s hard to figure, except that we know what we have now, well sort of. I mean, the team is here, but not really. You can’t even really look at it these games as a barometer of the potential of team’s fortunes for 2009. The WBC has taken players from not just all over our roster, but everyone else’s as well. These games really don’t mean squat.

Our star 3B has been away, then injured. Our star catcher, who needs to be working with an entirely new pitching staff, has not been present either. Our only offseason offensive acquisition, long anticipated I might add, has been injured and out. We don’t know who our CF will be. It’s just been weird.

Yet, the promise of a new season is still here… knocking on the door like a child wanting to come into Mom and Dad’s bedroom at 2:00 in the morning. It’s a mixed blessing. You love them, but are just a tad resistant to their being there.

duhHey… if our knees bent in the other direction, what would chairs look like?

I like Jordan Schafer. I like Josh Anderson, too. I look at both of those kids and see many common qualities. Actually, I see kind of the same player – except Schafer does it just a little better. In my opinion, Jordan Schafer is Josh Anderson, and then some. Schafer will be a star. Anderson will be a… well he’ll be on the roster. He’ll be on somebody’s roster, anyway. It may not be in Atlanta though. I think Jordan Schafer is taking the job and running with it, so to speak.

So Jeff Francoeur went 42 AB’s into spring before taking his first K. I gotta say, he really has made some wholesale changes to his approach at the plate. He better… Jason Heyward wants to play with the big boys in a bad way. Jason Heyward IS a big boy… and a superior talent. Jeff better start thinking about Delta for more than just endorsements.

When flies land on the ceiling, do they fly upside down and stick, or do they fly rightside up and flip at the last second?
duh2

The new pitching staff is really something. Derek Lowe has been all that and a bag of chips. Javy Vazquez has something to prove, and judging by his performance in the evil WBC, he means to prove it. Jair Jurjjens is poised to have a real breakout season. Kenshin Kawakami may have the best pure “stuff” on the staff. TommyH almost makes you wish TommyG was at home in his Barc-O-Lounger. Yet, TommyG is throwing better at this stage of his spring than in many before. Teams are calling and inquiring about Buddy Carlyle, for goodness sake. Good problems to have if you ask me. I want to see it against whole rosters, though, before anointing them as anything.

Yunel, KJ, Kotch… three solid performing consistent youngsters that may fly under a lot of people’s radar, but they will carry this team this year. Mark it, archive it, do whatever you want with it. VOR says that Yunel, KJ and Kotch will all have very solid, very consistent, very classic Braves type years. Bobby Cox will heap his accolades on those three all season long.

My 6-year-old daughter wrote a little storyhmmmm called, “I Ran Out Of Ink.” I started reading it but it was only 2 pages long. I don’t know why she didn’t finish it…

I bet Chipper is wishing he had gotten that contract extension before going to Canada and getting hurt again. He was what, 0 for 10 with 6 K’s, then pulled a muscle? Don’t get me wrong, I love Chipper Jones, and I hope he never puts on another uniform, but it’s gotta be tough for Frank Wren to think about 3 more years of Chipper when he can’t even swing a bat right now. I’m just sayin’…

Speaking of Frank, can we all agree that he had a plan, stuck hard to his blueprint, and by early results, did a pretty darn good job of building this year’s club? The pitching, from starting to relieving, looks rock solid. The infield is going to be outstanding both defensively and offensively. They may not lead the league in homers, but they may lead the league in extra base hits. They may also lead the league in RBI as a collective. Don’t laugh at that one. There will be a lot of RBI opportunities with this lineup. As Gil has many times said, there were a lot of RBI opportunities last season; they just didn’t drive ‘em in. That won’t happen outta this group this year. I’ll take consistent gap-to-gap hitters every day over all-or-nothing bashers.

teethWhat are you really supposed to do with your umbrella when you get to your car? If you take it down real quick and try to get in, you get water all over the place from the umbrella. If you try to get some of the water off before you get in, you get soaked doing it. And where do you put it? Seat? Floorboard? These may sound like trivial questions to some, but if you’ve got people in your passenger seats, this can be a daunting task.

I can’t wait for opening night. Plain and simple… I can’t. This spring has been too weird and too long already. I want to see MY team, all of them, and I want to see games that matter. I want to see jersey numbers under 60. Heck, I even want to hear Don Sutton, and I can’t believe I just typed that.

Thanks for paying attention. Now you know a little of what goes on in my mind. It’s kinda like a BB in a shoebox – it just kinda rattles around until it falls out.

L8r…

~Raisins~

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72: Spring is about to be sprung!

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

by Berigan

Well, after being revived from a near death experience, (and some nasty frostbite) Spring is about to return…unless we are about to enter a new ice age. (20 for a low Tuesday night here in the ATL!!!) I’d rather enter another gilded age, but, I don’t have a say in the matter.

Speaking of things I have no say about, your Atlanta Braves! Our Bravos are about to get paid for what many have been doing for weeks if not months already, swinging bats, and throwing the ol’ Horsehide. Or is it cowhide??? Synthetic leather like material, PETA approved???

springtraining
Whatever, the guys are getting ready for the long grind ahead of them. And that’s just spring training, never mind the actual baseball season…..and fingers crossed, post season.

One thing just about every team, save the Padres have in abundance is hope for a good season, and with a few breaks, a real playoff race to be involved in.

Remember last spring??? Me neither, but Salty reminded me in a post a few days back that we had something like 10 potential starters last year at the start of spring.
We all could imagine a rotation of Hudson, Smoltz, Glavine, Hampton, and perhaps that kid Jurrjens (If he outdueled Chucky and Jo-Jo for 5th slot) giving the Mutts and Phillies phits, err, fits. Hmm, lets, see now, which of that group was still starting in September for us???

Do I really need to recap that we lose Smoltz and Hampton, but gained Javy Vasquez, Derek Lowe, and that Japanese guy, who’s name better start rolling off my tongue PDQ??? I guess I do, if I don’t want this lead to be only 3 paragraphs long! 😉

Thats 3 guys, that if their health luck/karma doesn’t do a 180 being acox Brave, should each make 30+ starts, and go 200 + innings, which will really rest the old bullpen in May and June, and make Bobby look like he has gained 30 IQ points, and is no longer in Forrest Gump territory! 😀

A real bopper in Left will make him seem smarter than Einstein! That, and not starting McCann 12 games straight.

Anyhoo, I know we will all be writing about our hopes and dreams for the team in the coming weeks, we will get familiar with, and excited about some of the kids we only know based on their names, and what writers have written about them.

Baseball tonight occasionally does a segment where guys on the panel have to make bold predictions. Who might be a surprise MVP, what team will win the most games the 2nd half of season, etc.

heyward1My bold/crazy predictions are that if we don’t get a real left fielder in spring training, Justin Heyward will have a huge spring, sparking talk of him being the left fielder. Also, Tommy Hanson will be so impressive, and Glavine will hurt his hammy in the second to last start of spring and will go north with the club.

What are everyone else’s Batpoop crazy predictions for the Braves in 2009???

~Berigan~

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62: Uh – Did Somebody Break Wind, part III

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Gil in Mechanicsville

Okay, continuing on with the theme of “Pitching, Pitching, Pitching,” I thought I would toss in my two cents on the 2009 Braves prospects for the bullpen.

Once upon-a-time, the bullpen was a place where you banished hurlers who were either washed up or just not good enough to be a starter. Boy, have times changed. Today, starters go five or six innings or one hundred pitches or their arm falls off, whichever comes first and then the specialists are called upon. A long relief guy, a situational guy for lefties, a ground ball specialist when a double play is needed, a set up guy, the closer and the ever present “why is this guy still on the team because no one ever calls on him” guy.

Just like the real “journalists” do, I will work backwards and start with the closer. You know who that is because he is the fellow who gets most of the press and contrary to popular notion, cannot walk on water but he doesn’t need to because it never rains on his parade.

Closer possibilities for Atlanta in 2009…. (disclaimer: things can change in a hurry due to the need to trade a player for a part you do not already have or doing something stupid like putting their hand in a meat grinder or enjoying the good life a little too much and showing up stoned….)

Mike “Gonzo” Gonzalez, this kid is going to be a great one because he thinks he is suppose to be. (The antithesis of Manny Acosta) After experiencing Tommy John surgery, he made a nice recovery. Not to say there weren’t some dicey moments but just because you comeback, it does not mean you can pitch to the same level you could before you were hurt. Velocity or lack there of appears to be the most telling sign there is something wrong. The up side of all this is Gonzo will be better in 2009. He will be stronger and his fastball should return to it’s 98 mph range. The best side of all this however is the knowledge he may have gained in finding out he does not have to throw it all that hard to get hitters out. Of course I am still waiting for someone to call a balk on him with all that rocking motion.

Actually, I worry more about the Rafael (see, I told you I was hurt) Soriano, I doubt anyone took more heat than Rafael did last year over his on again off again soap opera but mostly about his supposed lack of courage because repeated MRIs failed to show any cause for his loss of speed and recurring pain. After signing a lucrative contract prior to the 2008 season, much was expected of “Mr. Sunshine”. For those of you who believe in the absolute infallibility of the medical profession I have two words, Mark Wohlers. Wohlers was vilified for his seemingly unexplainable loss of control. It was not until the Reds took a flier on him that he decided to allow for an exploratory surgery and discovered he indeed have a serious problem. Soriano had an exploratory performed by Dr. Andrews and a pinched nerved was discovered and corrected. I predict next spring Rafael will again impress the Braves Nation and remind everyone why he was paid closer money.

John Smoltz will be at a crossroads next spring. While his spirit is willing, his body may not be. The surgery performed on his shoulder does not have a track record of affording good results. The main reason is the tissues that comprise the labium are not conducive to surgical repair. It would be great to have thunder and lightning available to come out of the bullpen in 2009 but I would not bet the house on it, even though the a fore mentioned house has decidedly less market value to everyone except the tax assessor. If John does return, I predict it will be late in the spring before he believes he is ready. I would expect it will be much later in the season before he could be effective. As Braves fans we can hope but the obese woman may be warming up in the wings for the curtain call of the bearded icon.

Will Ohman will most certainly be pitching for someone else next season? Not because he was ineffective last season but because the Braves will not want to pay a set up man more than a couple of million a year. Perhaps the Braves will concede the fact a reliable lefty out of the pen is a valuable piece needed if they are to be serious about beating the Phillies and the Mets in their own division next year. I don’t foresee either of those clubs being weaker next year. Sometimes a GM has to bite the bullet and realize the cost of doing business is greater than you want it to be. I don’t see anyone else on the horizon who could fill Will Ohman’s role as effectively whatever the price.

Blaine Boyer is not my favorite Brave. I hope he can change my mind next season. I cannot put my finger on why I have lost faith in the strapping young righty who burst on the scene with such promise with the rest of the baby braves. Perhaps it’s Bobby’s perchance for using a pitcher until his arm falls off and then being surprised at the drop in performance. I had the opportunity observe Blaine on numerous occasions while with the Richmond club and if I could figure him out I would send him a telegram to advise him I was holding his career hostage. Perhaps a change in scenery would help, after all, he has all the tools to be a great reliever. He just has not mastered his Zen.

I will conclude my assessment on the Braves potential 2009 relief corps in part four.

Gil

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49: Fact or Fiction??

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By Voice of Reason Raisins

JEFFERSON, GA – I was talking with my 12-year-old son yesterday about this task of putting together a lead topic for the Braves and Stuff blog. He asked me, “What are you gonna write about?” My honest response to him was, “I don’t know. What do you think I should write about?” To this, he gave a couple of minutes thought and asked, “Does it have to be real?” I replied, “No, it does not.” Suddenly, a flurry of ideas for stories began to come forth out of the mouth of this suddenly released creative force. “The President is at the game, and Chipper Jones is batting. His bat breaks and a sharp piece barely misses the President and the Secret Service arrests Chipper and throws him in jail.” Or, “Mark Teixeira is really a spy from another country. He’s gathering intelligence from all over the country while posing as a baseball player.” I reminded him that Tex was from Baltimore, so he quickly said, “OK, it’s Escobar!” Then there was, “Brian McCann and Jeff Francoeur discover Area 54 and are held captive 54 miles below ground in an underground bunker.”

Wow… I had unknowingly tapped into an endless resource of creativity all from the perspective of the 12-year-old world. So I thought, how about a little creativity from a middle-aged dad trying desperately to stay connected to a 12-year-old world?

How about: “The Braves break Spring Training with a pitcher who dominated the Grapefruit League. Amazingly, he had not pitched in a Major League game in 2 years, but his spring games were so awesome that the Braves, and the Braves fans, came to rely on him to be an important part of their plans for 2008. In the last 2 years, he had endured knee surgery, elbow surgery and a torn hamstring. He was practically like the Bionic Man. Local sports talk radio suggested he be placed in bubble-wrap prior to his first start. Ha-ha… that’s pretty funny. As the radio hosts signed off from their show on the evening of his first regular season start, they jokingly admitted that it looked like he was going to make it. 15 minutes later, this pitcher tears a pectoral muscle and can’t answer the bell. He has yet to toe the rubber again in a Major League game.” Nah…

I got one: “A future Hall of Fame pitcher enters into the season looking for one more run to the playoffs. He even implores the Braves management to bring back one of his good buddies to make the run with him. He enters into Spring Training, but disappears from sight. He trains by himself on back fields, like a ninja, secretly preparing his new arsenal so that he can unleash his final attacks on an unsuspecting league of batsmen. As the season unfolds, his team leans on him like never before. And he is good; I mean really good. He even reaches a career milestone. You’d never know that his elbow had ever been surgically repaired. You’d never know, in fact we didn’t know, that he had once had an unprecedented procedure to fix a hole in his elbow tendon. He was dominant… for about 5 innings at a time. Then 4. Then, without warning, his shoulder began to ache. It ached badly. It ached so badly that he couldn’t throw between starts… so badly that he couldn’t sleep. It ached. He was shut down, unable to help his reeling teammates – unable to right a listing ship. But he had an idea. “If I can’t throw for 5 innings anymore, maye again lead my troops to victory!” He prepared for his triumphant return to the hails of a loving throng of worshipers. But, alas, it was not to be. His return was not triumphant. And he ached badly. He would not pick up another ball this year, nay maybe never. His own shoulder had betrayed him, and perhaps this mighty warrior shall never again taste the sweetness of victory.” No, I don’t like it…

And then there’s: “The Prodigal Son returns. He returns after many years in the camp of the enemy. Yes, he wore the hated blue and orange, he wore the scripted NY, he fought with the rival. Many things were said of this once revered man. He was accused of having ulterior motives. “No!” he said. “It was just business. Things are not as they appear.” But his former faithful did not believe. But time has a way of healing wounds, and the Prodigal Son wanted to come home. Soon, many began to believe that all was truly not as it had appeared, and his former faithful began to also wish him home. He almost made it, but alas, it was not to be. But wait! A new season dawns and he has returned. Our grizzled veteran has come home to help propel his friends and teammates to another post-season. This man had seen many campaigns, some supremely successful, others not so much. But he could battle. He had never missed any portion of a campaign over his entire Hall of Fame career. He had come home to be a workhorse for a manager that he had loved and admired. But suddenly, the well conditioned workhorse pulled a hammy and found himself inactive for the first time. Yes, even the mighty fall sometimes. But he came back fighting. Ow! His elbow hurts! Dang… He has slightly torn something in his elbow. DL’d again…” No, I don’t like that one either…

Maybe: “Hot young prospect suspended for performance enhancing drugs?!?” Maybe not…

Or: “Replacement center fielder returns from back surgery to perform wonderfully… until he injures his back.” No…

Or: “Hot young pitcher steps funny in dugout and rolls his ankle.” Uh-uh…

I know: “Major free-agent-to-be can’t perform until the calendar says it’s OK.” Still not it…

“Sore armed closer lets manager know when he can pitch.” Crazy…

“Mexican League refugee finds himself an important piece of a Major League rotation.” Never…

“Rival base runner twice tries to implant his head into the shortstop’s thigh.” Funny, but no…

I got it!!! “Stud third baseman bats .400 well into June, but gets knocked outta service when he doinks a ball off the batting cage crossbar into his own eye.” That’s a good one! But it just won’t work…

I think I’ll just go back to “Brian McCann and Jeff Francoeur discover Area 54 and are held captive 54 miles below ground in an underground bunker.” It’s more believable.

~Raisins~

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48: An Observation from an Interested Spectator

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By Gil

MECHANICSVILLE, VA – As we approach the magic one third mark of the season, most major league teams take stock of their situation to see where they stand as far as personnel and what is needed going forward. Often times this is the time when teams decide if they are buyers or sellers and if they have a chance to be serious contenders or view the likelihood of being an also ran and begin building for the next season.

The 2008 version of the Atlanta Braves had reason to believe they were a team with which to vie for the National League East and even a possible shot at returning to the World Series. Good pitching depth and a strong offensive line up was in evidence. The Braves only apparent weakness was a lack of bench strength. Funny how the wheels began to fall off even before the start of the season.

John Smoltz began the season on the DL with what we now know as likely a career ending injury. Perhaps we should think back to the night he pitched magnificently against the Astros in the Braves last appearance in the NL playoffs and a shirtless Smoltz revealed a tremendous amount of bleeding around his right shoulder. For him to pitch the past two years has been a testament to his grit but the ravages of time have apparently taken their toll and it seems to many that John has made his last pitch as a major leaguer.

Mike Hampton was never really counted on this year like he was in 2007 but all seemed ready for the stoic lefty to finally justify the $13 million due to him this year. Alas, it was not to be, another freak injury claimed him and who knows if he will ever pitch again effectively although the return of even a mildly capable Mike Hampton could yet salvage the season for the Braves.

Chuck James went down early. Never a pitcher with a large repertoire of baffling pitches to keep opposing batters off balance, his inability to keep pitches down combined with a diminished speed deferential between his fastball and his change up, he began giving up homeruns at an alarming rate. This led to his demotion back to AAA Richmond and a mind set that he has to reinvent himself as a pitcher.

The cause of Tom Glavin’s woes have finally surfaced: a sore elbow. Who else besides me sees this as a deal breaker for a 41 year old pitcher who has been know as an innings eater throughout his career? It also explains the loss of movement on his pitches and to me may be the harbinger of a season to forget for the Bravos.

The loss of Peter Moylan and the limited availability of Soriano have also put a tremendous strain on the Braves’ bullpen. There is a correlation between the effectiveness of a team’s bullpen and the number of innings they are forced to pitch. Manny Acosta is just not capable of pitching everyday and I don’t think any other pitcher on the Braves staff is either.

So, what do you have when 4/5th of your projected starting staff and three of your most effective relievers are out with injuries? A club that more closely resembles the Washington Nationals than one that resembles the Philadelphia Phillies. The Braves cannot afford to slip much further behind the front runners if they expect to have a chance this year but counting on young pitchers like Charlie Morton to come to the rescue may be placing too much of a burden on a young rookie who is only now finding success. Steve Avery comes to mind when making a comparison of expectations by the Braves Nation and the likelihood he will struggle in his début season.


~Gil~

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46: Daily Buzz Special: Braves Hall Of Fame Report.

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by Mr Fly

SAVANNAH, GA – In this special, two-part report, I’ll cover three surefire future Hall of Fame pitching aces, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz and also the baseball legend and future Hall of Fame manager, Bobby Cox.

Between hanging with Mad Dog, Glav and Smoltzie when Greg was in town Greg Maddu xrecently… to sitting in on an executive meeting concerning Bobby Cox, it’s been busy. That and, well, its Georgia peach blossom season. Just, uh… got over all the spring orange blossoms in Florida and now, you know… so many blossoms, such little time… but enough about me. Wait, one more thing about me: thanks to a nice gentleman from Mechanicsville, I now have a new press portrait. Thanks Mr. Gil for taking my picture while I was on assignment in Richmond. I gave copies to all my blossom buddies.

The following are two recent unpublished reports from my Braves travels:

Part One:

The Three Amigos Weigh-in On A Reunion.

Logged Tuesday, May 6 – ATLANTA – In this first report, we’re in the Braves Tom Glavine weight room with ‘the boys’. I was invited by Tommy Glavine (my new cheeseburger buddy) to listen in on a conversation with Mad Dog, Glav and Smoltzie. So hold onto your seats… what you’re about to read is a first time, first hand, unedited and uncut documentation of a conversation between three of the top pitchers in the modern era. You just never know what exciting scoops and revelations might come from these rare, multi-Cy Young winning get-togethers when no holds are barred, anything goes… and yours truly had exclusive access. Now, in the weight room, Smoltzie chimes in first:

John SmoltzJOHN: Real good to see you Doggie. So, how do you like San Diego?

GREG: The weather is real nice.

JOHN: No, I mean the Padres.

GREG: The weather is real nice.

JOHN: Right… got it. Better than LA, though, huh? Alyssa Milano

GREG: Ahh… well, miss seeing Alyssa and all. You know…

JOHN: Milano? Sure, but she digs the long ball. Not your style, Dog.

TOMMY: Hey Doggie, have you been to Vigilucci’s?

GREG: What’s that?

TOMMY: The great Steak & Chop House over on Prospect.

GREG: Uh, no.

TOMMY: How about Soleil over on K Street?

GREG: Um, nope.

TOMMY: They’re good restaurants. Me and my little buddy, Mr. Fly, hit those places together when we’re in the area. Some good enchilada-cheeseburgers at the stadium too. Hey Dog, why are you grinning like that? Why are you and Johnny snickering? Ok, what’s up? Did you hang some dirty underwear on my doorknob or something? What gives?

JOHN: Teeheehee.

GREG: Snork…snork…chortle…

TOMMY: Alright dammit… what are you two up to?

MR. FLY: So Doggie, you coming back to the Braves? It’d be cool.

GREG: I’d like to Mr. Fly. We’ll see soon. By the way Tommy, didn’t you get a new set of pearly white choppers up in New York ‘cause’a that sudden stop in that cab and all?

TOMMY: Yes… why? What, is something stuck in my front teeth or…

JOHN: No, they’re fine. Do they chew pretty well Tommy? Hee hee…

GREG: That grill make pretty good headway with the fork and spoon? Yuk yuk yuk…

TOMMY: Yes they fit well and work just fine but what does that have to do with… hey, why are you yukking it up? What’s so damn funny? And why the hell are you guys both staring at my belly with those smirks?

GREG: Lots of good food up there in the Big Apple, there, Tommy?

JOHN: OK, let’s hit the links guys… we’ve got us a tee time.

TOMMY: You guys will never grow up.

Part two:

Braves Management Takes A Chance… Again.

Filed Saturday, May 10 – PITTSBURGH – In this road report, I was invited to sit in on a behind the scenes executive meeting between John Schuerholz, Frank Wren and Bobby Cox. Before you read my report, just know that me and Bobby go way back. We’re pals and all, but I do like to give him a hard time. Wish he’d retire and enjoy the HOF life, work in the executive suite for the Braves, enjoy his wife and grandkids and such. Moving along, this special report begins as Bobby and Frank enter Mr. John’s executive suite at The Gardener Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh:

MR. SCHUERHOLZ: Good afternoon gents. Please have a seat. How’s life?

Bobby CoxMR. COX: It was a good game today but we just caught a few bad breaks. I thought Chucky pitched real good but it just didn’t go his way. Frustrating really. Left a few up is all. Pirates were tough. That wet weather made it tough too. Chucky’s coming around. One day soon he’ll be able to go 6 innings again. He’s working on his control right now and he has only two pitches and, oh, he has trouble remembering hitters he’s faced… even from inning to inning, but he’ll come around. Good kid. Hangs a hell’uva good window too. He just got through putting new windows in my day room at the farm. Kid did a nice job. Well, one was crooked and a few were hung too high, but he’s coming around. That one today just got away from Chucky but other than a few he left up, he pitched a good game. Dunno… scratchin’ my head over that game. He went 6, so that’s good. He’ll come around. Pirates played us tough and, boy…

MR. SCHUERHOLZ: You OK, Bobby? All well at home? How’s the wife, the farm, the grandkids?

MR COX: Oh, yeah, sure… fine. Jojo is coming around too. He’s got a few blisters and all, but he’s a good kid. Campillo’s looking good. He’s gonna be a solid pen guy. Good kid. Blisters, but good…

MR. SCHUERHOLZ: That’s fine, Bobby. Glad to hear everything’s OK.

MR. COX: Good kids. We’ll get’em tomorr…

MR. SCHUERHOLZ: That’s fine Bobby. How are you Frank?

MR. WREN: Doing great, John. Thanks. All is well on the home front.

MR. SCHUERHOLZ: Good, good. Well now, what do you think we should do about starting pitching, Frank?

MR. WREN: I’d like to send Chuck back to the minors. He sucks.

MR. SCHUERHOLZ: Yep. What do you think Bobby?

MR. COX: Good kid. Just a few hanging… pitched good today. He’s my boy. Hangs a good window too. Car detailing, runs the tractor…

MR. SCHUERHOLZ: Uh, Frank, you want to lose him right?

MR. WREN: Yes sir. I’d also like to start Campillo. He can pitch.

MR. SCHUERHOLZ: Your call Frank. Done and done then. Bobby?

MR. COX: I’m thinking about an extension of my contract.

MR. WREN: Bobby, since I’m new, I’ll let Mr. Schuerholz handle this.

MR. SCHUERHOLZ: Bobby, aren’t you about ready to wind it up, take a bow, maybe come upstairs with me, assist with player recruitment, take your place as an all-time Hall of Fame manager and executive with the Braves organization and let someone else take the reins in the dugout? Don’t you miss your family, your farm, your animals and such?

MR. COX: I like to manage. Maybe sign me to another ten-year deal. I like the games. I like to watch. Good kids. Those Pirates matched up pretty well. Chucky’ll come around. Left a few up…

MR. SCHUERHOLZ: Hmmm. Well, OK, Bobby, but let’s just do a one-year deal. You OK with that? Frank, are you good with that?

MR. WREN: Well, sir… it’s a bit, um, well… I was thinking that with Bobby’s historic run and everything he might want to slow down a bit. But I’d like it to be your call, Mr. Schuerholz.

MR. SCHUERHOLZ: Bobby? What say you? Ready to hang’em up?

MR. COX: Dunno what happened today. Wet mound. Good kid, Chucky. We’ve had a few bad bounces lately. Bats have been quiet, but they’ll come around… it’s only April…

MR. SCHUERHOLZ: Uh, Bobby, we’re well into May. But OK, you can have a one-year contract extension.

MR. WREN: Uh, John, in that case, could we talk about a strategic bench coach?

MR. SCHUERHOLZ: I hear you, Frank. We’ll talk later downstairs in the Gardener Lounge. I know it’s a Chance we’re taking here.

MR. COX: I like to watch umpires.

Mr Fly

~by Mr Fly~

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40: Greg Maddux: Best Postseason Starter Ever In His Prime?

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

by williamwallace

ATHENS, GA – John Smoltz is rightfully regarded as one of the greatest postseason pitchers in the history of the game. Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux, on the other hand, are generally considered postseason disappointments. Overall, for their careers, Smoltz has been superior to Glavine and Maddux in the postseason. Below are their career postseason records:

W

L

ERA

IP

Glavine

14

16

3.42

218

Smoltz

15

4

2.65

207

Maddux

11

14

3.34

194

Maddux and Glavine, however, were actually better postseason starters than Smoltz during the six postseasons in which they were members of the same starting rotation. The applicable period is from 1993 until 1999. Below is a grid with their performance and the average run support they received during those postseasons:

W

L

SV

ERA

WHIP

GS

IP

RS

Glavine

8

5

0

2.48

1.16

18

119.7

4.67

Smoltz

7

4

1

3.12

1.14

17

118.3

4.82

Maddux

10

9

1

2.39

1.11

21

150.7

3.86

Combined

25

18

2

2.64

1.13

56

388.7

4.41

Overall, the Braves were 32-24 when Maddux, Smoltz, and Glavine started for the Braves during the postseasons from 1993 until 1999. Below is the overall team record when each started:

W

L

ERA

RS

Glavine

12

6

2.48

4.67

Smoltz

9

8

3.12

4.82

Maddux

11

10

2.39

3.86

Overall

32

24

2.64

4.41

Below is a table of the performance of Maddux, Smoltz, and Glavine and the run support given to them in the games the Braves won when they started during those postseasons between 1993 and 1999:

G

IP

ERA

RS

Glavine

12

82.7

1.63

5.92

Smoltz

9

68.6

2.63

7.00

Maddux

11

84.7

1.60

5.36

Overall

32

236

1.91

6.03

Below is their performance and the average performance of the offense during the games the Braves lost when they started during those postseasons:

G

IP

ERA

RS

Glavine

6

37.0

4.38

2.17

Smoltz

8

49.7

3.80

2.38

Maddux

10

66.0

3.41

2.20

Overall

24

152.7

3.77

2.25

Maddux was not only the best postseason pitcher on the Braves during the era of The Big Three but, from the 1995 NLCS until the 1999 World Series, Maddux put together the best consecutive string of 120 or more innings of any postseason pitcher in the history of the game. Below are the postseason pitchers I could find that had the best consecutive string of 120 or more innings in the postseason and the average offensive run support provided them in their postseason starts:

Pitcher

Start

End

G

GS

W

L

IP

ERA

OOPS

RS

Greg Maddux

95NLCS

99WS

19

17

8

8

124

1.89

0.562

2.88

John Smoltz

91NLCSG7

97NLDS

18

18

9

2

125.3

2.01

0.573

4.78

Whitey Ford

50WS

62WSG4

18

18

10

4

124

2.03

0.586

4.50

Tom Glavine

92WS

99NLCS

19

19

9

6

129.7

2.22

0.590

4.37

Curt Schilling

93WS

2007WS

19

19

11

2

133.3

2.23

0.586

4.95

Dave Stewart

81WS

93ALCS

18

16

10

3

120.3

2.24

0.569

4.63

Orel Hershiser

85NLCS

97WSG1

18

17

8

2

121

2.38

0.575

4.35

Jim Palmer

66WS

83WS

17

15

8

3

124.3

2.61

0.640

4.67

Roger Clemens

86ALCSG7

03ALCSG3

22

22

8

5

130

3.05

0.562

3.82

Catfish Hunter

72ALCS

78WS

21

18

9

5

124.3

3.11

0.687

3.50

David Wells

89ALCS

05ALDS

26

16

10

4

120

3.15

0.647

5.44

Mike Mussina

97ALDS

06ALDS

20

19

7

7

121.3

3.19

0.660

3.26

Andy Pettitte

98ALDS

03WS

22

22

11

5

136

3.44

0.736

4.45

Randy Johnson

95ALDS

06ALDS

19

16

7

9

121

3.50

0.664

3.50

Mariano Rivera is currently at 117.3 innings and will jump to the top of this list once he surpasses 120 innings pitched in the postseason. Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, Christy Mathewson and a few others had excellent runs that did not amount to 120 innings pitched prior to the dawn of ALCS, NLCS, ALDS and NLDS play. Greg Maddux, however, had the best string of 120 or more consecutive innings ever from a starting pitcher in the postseason.

~WilliamWallace~


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