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‘Folty’ has developed into Braves’ best, most consistent pitcher

‘Folty’ has developed into Braves’ best, most consistent pitcher

PHOENIX — Pull up a chair and let’s discuss the case of Mike Foltynewicz. For in these past few months weve seen the emergence of a frontline-caliber starting pitcher, the kind of pitcher the Braves thought he would be when they traded for him in January 2015 but which seemed far from a certainty at various times in the two years that followed that deal.

The Braves have won 11 of Mike Foltynewicz’s past 13 starts entering his matchup against the power-laden Arizona lineup Tuesday in Phoenix. (AP photo)

Like when Foltynewicz again and again allowed his emotions to get the best of him in the middle of an inning, one mistake pitch or questionable umpire’s decision causing him to lose his focus, leading to another mistake and the loss of composure and … boom, a three-, four- or more-run inning and a game swirling down the drain.

Or after the frightening health he had scare near the end of the 2015 season, when his pitching arm swelled grotesquely overnight from a blood clot and Foltynewicz was rushed to the hospital and diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, requiring surgery to remove part of a rib and necessitating rest for almost an entire offseason.

He came to camp in 2016 looking frail after that difficult winter, needed a couple of months to begin catching up and posted a 4.31 ERA in 22 major league starts.

Now look at him. After a normal offseason and a full and productive spring training, Foltynewicz has made major strides mentally and physically in his first full, healthy season in the big leagues, becoming not just a solid contributor but arguably the best and most consistent on the Braves’ staff.

This after beginning the season as the No. 5 starter and the guy whose turn was skipped so the other four starters could stay on a normal schedule.

The power-armed 25-year-old is 8-5 with a 3.87 ERA in 19 games (18 starts), and in his past 13 starts Foltynewicz is 8-1 with a 3.60 ERA, 65 strikeouts and 25 walks in 75 innings. Eight of the 30 earned runs he allowed in that period – and three of 11 homers – came in one start at Washington in which he lasted 3 1/3 innings and the Braves won, 11-10.

Foltynewicz has a 2.76 ERA in the other dozen of his past 13 starts.

“That’s what the goal was coming out of spring training, not only be consistent but kind of establish yourself on the staff a little bit,” said Foltynewicz, who now speaks of what a “fun” challenge it’ll be to face the power-laden Diamondbacks lineup Tuesday night at hitter-friendly Chase Field, where they have the majors’ second-best home record.

“Kind of been a rollercoaster the last few years — have a few starts good, few starts bad, getting sent up and down (to and from minors) and all that kind of stuff. The goal this year was to be consistent and go from there,” he said. “I think I’m putting together a lot of good quality starts back to back, giving the team a good chance to win, having a little winning streak when I’m out there. So it’s all fun, and that was the plan coming out of spring training, keep pushing and keep attacking hitters. Keep going out there and pitching the way I am.”

Did we mention the Braves are 11-2 in Foltynewicz’s past 13 starts?

“I really feel like Folty’s starting to trust himself and believe in himself,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “He’s pitching with some confidence and conviction and belief that he can withstand some adversity of the course of a game now. More just kind of trusting his stuff and believing in himself is the big thing.”

The Braves lost in each of Foltynewicz’s first five starts this season despite his pitching well in most of those, allowing two or fewer earned runs in the first four of those games. He got almost no run support – one or zero runs – while in the game in four of those five starts, but didn’t let the frustration boil over this time as it had so often in the past. Instead, he kept doing his thing, kept turning in good work during the odd early season schedule and lack of normal routine.

“It’s been huge for me,” he said of maintaining composure. “There’s been a  couple of games where I kind of lost it and showed my emotions, my competitiveness, in some games when we were trying to get back to .500. But other than that, I’ve done a really good job, talking with (pitching coach Chuck Hernandez) and a bunch of coaches about  how I did, they said, ‘You’ve taken some big steps. We just don’t want you to take three steps backward.’

“Couple of games that I might have, but the next game or the game after that we were right back with some quality starts and getting some team wins.”

After his first bad start of the season, a May 5 loss to the Cardinals when he gave up seven runs and two homers in four innings and Atlanta scored no runs, Foltynewicz enjoyed three consecutive starts in which the Braves scored eight, eight and five runs while he was in the game. He won all three of those to begin the 8-1 stretch he’s been on ever since as he prepares to face the Diamondbacks, who blitzed R.A. Dickey and the Braves bullpen in a 10-2 rout in Monday’s series opener that improved Arizona’s home record to 35-17.

Foltynewicz has allowed more than three earned runs just twice in his past 13 starts and issued more than two walks in only two games in that period.

“Now we get Arizona and they plug J.D. Martinez in there, too, in that already-hot lineup,” Foltynewicz said on Sunday as he looked ahead to the matchup. “That’s going to be a fun test, but we’re playing great baseball now, we’re right in there with teams…. (The Diamondbacks) have great pitching, they plug J.D. Martinez in, hitter’s ballpark too, so just got to go out there and keep pitching the way I am, knowing I can’t blow a fastball by everyone, just use pitching — inside, outside, up, down, use the off-speed when needed, get a good game plan with whoever (catches) me.”

Let’s close with this one from Calexico, the great band from Tucson, Ariz.

Calexico

Through the gardens and fields ‘neath the tall green grass
You were walking ‘neath the moon while covering your tracks
Working your fingers down to the skin and stone
One hand on the hammer, one foot by the door
Pushed by the wind, fed by the need for moving on,
Moving on to nowhere
When division runs deep and down into the well
All the coins you dove after lost all their spell
Covered in moss walking for silver and blood
Out in the cafe, working in the grove
Guarding the port of the future you sold
Holding on, holding on to no one
Holding on, holding on to no one
One eye in the mirror, the other on the screen
Sewn in the pockets and down into the dream
Caught up in the mortar, bricks and heavy load
Wait in the shadows down the living road
Moving on, moving on to no one
Holding on, holding on to no one



Full article @ ‘Folty’ has developed into Braves’ best, most consistent pitcher

Source: Atlanta Braves blog by David O’Brien – ACJ


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Rodriguez feels healthy, confident he’ll help Braves

Rodriguez feels healthy, confident he’ll help Braves

 

PHOENIX – When Sean Rodriguez came off the disabled list just five months after major shoulder surgery on his non-throwing arm, a lot of folks wondered if the veteran and first-year Brave was pushing it a bit and coming back too soon, especially given that he went 3-for-29 with 12 strikeouts in 11 injury-rehab games at four minor league levels.

The emergence of rookie Johan Camargo and activation from the DL of Sean Rodriguez (right) gives the Braves two versatile pieces who could see extensive playing time the rest of the way, and with Danny Santana give the Braves more true multi-position performers than they’ve had in some time. (AP photo)

So the response has been predictable on social media while Rodriguez has gone 1-for-14 with four walks and eight strikeouts in his first six games (four starts) off the disabled list. There have been a lot of comments on Twitter and Facebook along the lines of “I knew he came back too soon” and “He needs to spend more time in the minors.”

Rodriguez understands the reaction but isn’t surprised that he’s struggled initially – something that probably wasn’t going to change if he spent another week or two in Triple-A.

“I mean, naturally, when you’re talking about jumping into what is, quote-unquote, my opening day after the All-Star break and (other) guys are in midseason form,” said Rodriguez, 32, who was injured along with his wife and two of their children in a Jan. 28 automobile accident when the SUV he was driving was struck by the driver of a stolen police cruiser who ran through a red light (the driver of the stolen car died after the car burst into flames).

I asked him in Los Angeles this weekend if he would’ve felt a bit apprehensive regardless of whether he came back when he did or a few weeks later.

“I feel like at any level that’s going to be tough (jumping back in at midseason). So I don’t want to say I was apprehensive,” Rodriguez said. “I just basically said, you know what, I’m going to take it in stride. Obviously I can probably catch on a lot quicker than most people might expect and still feel like I can benefit and help the team win.”

He had his first hit in most recent start Saturday against the Dodgers, after getting two walks and scoring two runs in Friday’s 12-3 win at L.A. He’s had three starts at third base and one at second base, just a couple of the seven positions Rodriguez played last year in his career-best season with the Pirates (all but catcher and pitcher).

He has just one hit but does have a .316 OBP including a hit-by-pitch and the four walks, one of which loaded the bases with two out in the ninth inning in a one-run game against the Cubs (the Braves didn’t capitalize and lost 4-3).

He botched the second ground ball hit to him in his first game back, but otherwise has been solid in the field. And even though the offense could take a while to come around, Rodriguez said he feels good, that he’s healthy, and that’s the most important thing for him and for the Braves, who activated him because they believe he can help them in their hopeful push for a wild-card spot.

Keep in mind, this is a guy who last season set career highs in batting average (.270), home runs (18), RBIs (56), OBP (.349), slugging percentage (.510) and games played (140), among other statistics.

After signing a two-year, $11.5 million contract, Rodriguez could easily have sat out the entire season recovering from Feb. 14 surgery to repair his torn rotator cuff, damaged labrum and biceps tendon. Everyone in the Braves organization would have understood if he needed the entire year to recover, since initially no one expected him back before  September even in a best-cast scenario.

That he busted his tail working out and going through countless hours of rehab every day to make it back so soon was commendable, regardless of the early results since he was activated. Teammates saw him every day during homestands and appreciated his attitude and desire to get back as soon as possible.

We shouldn’t be surprised if Rodriguez puts it together before much longer. After all, he already defied all predictions about how long it would take for him to make it back.

And depending upon what happens with second baseman Brandon Phillips and first baseman Matt Adams this week with the non-waiver trade deadline approaching (July 31), it might be particularly beneficial having Rodriguez back sooner than expected, especially with shortstop Dansby Swanson continuing to struggle mightily.

The Braves also like how Rodriguez has spent time talking to Swanson during the rookie’s difficult first full season and also set a good example for ascendant rookie Johan Camargo, whose locker was beside Rodriguez’s during the four-game series at Dodger Stadium.

Bottom line, of course, Rodriguez needs to perform. And he’s confident that he will.

“I’m feeling healthy,” he said. “Shoulder gets a little sore, but I mean it’s more like normal sore that you might get after a workout, or what the body feels after maybe a tough road trip,” he said during the Dodgers series. “So it’s not a major thing that affects any kind of range of motion or movement. Which is good.

“I feel like things are starting to come together. The swing feels good, just a matter of trusting what I’m working on. I know what my approach has to be and what I want it to be, and it’ll be there consistently once I get that feeling of trust behind what I want to do and it just starts to flow a little better.”

• I’ll close with the great Glen Campbell‘s version of this Jimmie Webb-penned classic.

Glen Campbell

“BY THE TIME I GET TO PHOENIX” by Glen Campbell

By the time I get to Phoenix
She’ll be rising
She’ll find the note I left hanging on her door
She’ll laugh, when she reads the part that says I’m leaving
Cause I’ve left that girl, so many times before
By the time I make Albuquerque
She’ll be working
She’ll probably stop at lunch,
And give me a call
But she’ll just hear that phone keep on ringing
Off the wall, that’s all
By the time I make Oklahoma
She’ll be sleeping
She’ll turn softly and call my name out low
And she’ll cry, just to think, I’d really leave her
Though time and time I’ve tried to tell her so
She just didn’t know,
I would really go

 

 

 

 



Full article @ Rodriguez feels healthy, confident he’ll help Braves

Source: Atlanta Braves blog by David O’Brien – ACJ


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Everything’s always changing, and Camargo is moving up

Everything’s always changing, and Camargo is moving up

LOS ANGELES – Brian Snitker was asked Thursday why Matt Adams was no longer in the Braves lineup when facing lefty pitchers, since the manager made a point of saying for weeks that he’d told Adams he’d play every day regardless of whether the opposing starter was right- or left-handed.

Ender Inciarte (right) celebrates after Johan Camargo (on ground) made a spectacular game-ending catch in the Braves’ 6-3 win Thursday night at Dodger Stadium, snapping the Dodgers’ 11-game winning streak. (AP photo)

The answer was straightforward, as usual with  Snitker.

“We didn’t have the players,” he said. “Freddie wasn’t there and we just had to (play Adams every day). Situation we were dealt. And he did a good job. But we have other pieces now that kind of…. Everything’s always changing.”

Everything’s always changing.

That was the part of the answer that I liked, because in that simple statement, he said what could be my answer and anyone else’s answer to 95 percent of the questions we get regarding personnel and why this veteran or that hot-shot prospect is no longer a key piece or not as highly regarded as before, or simply why someone isn’t playing every day now when they were a month or a year ago.

Adams was brought in to play first base while Freddie Freeman was on the disabled list with a fractured wrist. Adams exceeded expectations to such a degree that Freeman proposed a temporary position switch for himself to third base in order to keep Adams in the lineup after Freeman returned from the DL three weeks sooner than expected.

Couple weeks after Freeman’s injury in mid-May, Braves third baseman Adonis Garcia returned from the DL, but a few days later Garcia got hurt again, this time seriously (torn thumb ligament, surgery, out at least two months).

Rio Ruiz initially impressed at third base, then slumped and fellow rookie Johan Camargo got a chance. Camargo really impressed.  Then really, really impressed. Ruiz returned to Triple-A. Camargo became the regular third baseman, but only until Freeman returned from the DL, because suddenly there was that other option, one presented by Freeman himself.

Everything’s always changing.

The Braves didn’t want to pass up the chance to have both Freeman and Adams in their lineup together. But Adams, after getting some hits in limited at-bats against lefties initially, had begun to play more to his career norms, continuing to excel against righties but not enough against lefties to warrant the far lesser defense that the Braves would have with Freeman back at first base and Camargo in the lineup against lefties. Besides, Camargo was showing he could hit, too.

And so emerged the current platoon of Freeman/Adams at first base according to the pitcher, with Freeman starting at third base against righties and at first base against lefties. And Camargo at third against lefties. And, by the way, this kid is really good, as we’ve all noticed and the Braves already knew (there was a reason they gave him a chance to make the team in spring training, but he was still a bit nervous then and dropped some balls at shortstop and got sent back down).

While all these machinations were happening, the assumed future Co-Face of the Franchise, rookie shortstop Dansby Swanson — co-FOF with Freeman — was doing what more rookies than not do. Struggling. Being inconsistent. Looking really good for a few weeks, but struggling mightily at the plate before and after that stretch and even letting the frustrations seem to carry over a bit to the field, where he made some errors on routine plays even as he turned some spectacular plays flawlessly, which should remind everyone who pays close attention that he is, indeed, quite special himself and is likely to be everything the Braves believed he would be before too long.

In the meantime, Camargo is looking like everything the Braves hoped he would be – and then some. Now, not eventually. Which doesn’t mean he couldn’t start slumping today or tomorrow.

Everything’s always changing.

Professional sports is a results business, pure and simple. And any manager, not to mention a manager on a one-year contract with an option that might or might not be exercised, is going to make out a lineup that he believes gives his team the best chance of winning. That should be a straightforward concept, but it’s crowded out these days by social-media conspiracy theories, fantasy-team lineup concerns, strong feelings about popular players (or backlash to those same players’ popularity), or just opinions expressed publicly without real foundation and espoused or accepted as fact.

Everything’s always changing.

Johan Camargo is congratulated after scoring in a recent game at Oakland. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Camargo can play three infield positions and not just play them at a serviceable level, but at a high level. (The Braves believe he can also play in the outfield.) With Swanson continuing to struggle, Camargo has lately gotten starts at shortstop when not at third base. Let’s be clear: Swanson probably does not have a bigger supporter than Snitker. The manager loves the kid. As do GM John Coppolella, president of baseball ops John Hart and all the rest of the front office.

But you know what they love even more? Winning. And right now, having Camargo in the lineup helps the Braves win, whatever position he’s in.

Everything’s always changing.

Doesn’t mean that Swanson’s future with the Braves is viewed any differently than it was three months ago. From all I’ve gathered, it’s not. No one in the organization seems to have any of the doubts that have crept into the comments of some on social media and elsewhere. He would not be the first or the 100th rookie to struggle in his first full season and go on to stardom or at least have a very long and successful career.

But baseball people know when they’re seeing something special, a talent that has “it.” And Camargo has shown a lot of “it” this season. No one is branding him the next Braves star, no one is predicting he’ll be the long-term answer at shortstop, second base or third base. Not yet. What Snitker is doing is the right thing, letting this kid spread his wings while he’s performing at this high level and feeling it, feeling the future open before him and absolutely thriving on it.

Everything’s always changing.

To ground him at this point, before he’s even shown sign of struggle? That’d be irresponsible. Even if the manager had a multi-year contract, that wouldn’t make any sense. And as I noted,  Snitker does not have a multi-year deal and is trying really hard to win now. But he’s also a 40-plus-year Brave lifer and would never do anything to harm the long-term future of the organization. Anyone who knows him knows that.

The brass aren’t about to tell  Snitker to play Swanson every day. Because his bosses know Snitker is doing the right thing and they see the same thing happening with Camargo as Snitker does. These are baseball men. Guys who, by the way, have a whole lot more vested interest in the fate of the franchise than you or I do – their careers depend on it. So they aren’t going to play favorites or let personal feelings stand in the way of the right decisions. If they do, they’ll be the ones who pay for it, one way or another.

Everything’s always changing.

In Thursday night’s series opener at Dodger Stadium, Braves second baseman Brandon Phillips left the game after the top of the sixth inning with hamstring tightness. Dansby Swanson entered at that point and Camargo shifted from shortstop to second base.

With two out in the bottom of the ninth inning, with the Braves clinging to a 6-3 lead and the Dodgers with two runners in scoring position and the potential tying run at the plate, pinch-hitter Trayce Thompson hit a pop fly. It appeared to be headed to the no-man’s land between the infield and center field, the perfectly awful spot for defenders where a ball is too shallow for the outfielders playing back at normal depth to get to and too deep and at too deep for an infielder to get to.

The crowd roared in anticipation.

But Camargo got to it. And as Gold Glove center fielder Ender Inciarte approached after making a dead sprint from his spot (Inciarte would’ve likely had to dive to have any chance at the ball), Camargo made the kind of running, twisting, look-overhead (not over-the-shoulder, but over-the-head) catch that will show up in highlight reels for some time. He ended up on his back, ball in glove.

“That was a hell of a play, wasn’t it? My God,” Snitker said. “That’s just kind of willing yourself to catch that ball, it looked like to me. That’s a huge play.”

Said Freeman, standing not far away when Camargo caught the ball: “It’s unbelievable. To do it with two hands, too – he impresses you every single night doing something new. He’s been taking that opportunity he’s been given and running with it.”

Camargo said through an interpreter: “I just tried to stick with it the entire time. I saw it kind of go off the bat and I knew it was going to go in a tough spot and be a complicated situation. But I really wasn’t thinking about that, I was just trying to keep my eye on it. I was able to chase it down and make the play.”

When asked if he ever lost track of the ball in flight, Camargo smiled. “Sort of, initially,” he said. “That’s why I kept running in the same direction, hoping that if I kept going where I initially saw it going, that I would be able to make an adjustment. That’s sort of what happened at the end, I just kind of tried to get to a spot and made the adjustment at the end, and just threw my glove out there to make the catch.”

The catch saved at least one run, probably two, since the runners were going. Most importantly, it ended the game. The Braves had snapped the Dodgers’ 11-game winning streak, won for only the second time in four seasons at Dodger Stadium, won a series opener against the team with baseball’s best record and its best home record.

Everything’s always changing.

• I’ll close with this L.A. classic from the late, great Warren Zevon.

Warren Zevon

“DESPERADOS UNDER THE EAVES” by Warren Zevon

I was sitting in the Hollywood Hawaiian Hotel
I was staring in my empty coffee cup
I was thinking that the gypsy wasn’t lyin’
All the salty margaritas in Los Angeles
I’m gonna drink ’em up

And if California slides into the ocean
Like the mystics and statistics say it will
I predict this motel will be standing until I pay my bill

Don’t the sun look angry through the trees
Don’t the trees look like crucified thieves
Don’t you feel like Desperados under the eaves
Heaven help the one who leaves

Still waking up in the mornings with shaking hands
And I’m trying to find a girl who understands me
But except in dreams you’re never really free
Don’t the sun look angry at me

I was sitting in the Hollywood Hawaiian Hotel
I was listening to the air conditioner hum
It went mmm…
Look away
(Look away down Gower Avenue, look away)

 

 



Full article @ Everything’s always changing, and Camargo is moving up

Source: Atlanta Braves blog by David O’Brien – ACJ


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Trade deadline nears, here’s what Braves might do

Trade deadline nears, here’s what Braves might do

LOS ANGELES — With the countdown underway to the July 31 non-waiver trade, rumors are ramping up, but it’s become increasingly apparent the Braves aren’t likely to make the plethora of moves that some had initially predicted, or be big-time buyers or sellers. They might do a little of both but a bit more toward the selling end.

Braves are likely to trade lefty Jaime Garcia before July 31 deadline, but might not move any other significant pieces. (AP photo)

Let me explain.

The Braves, notwithstanding three losses to the Cubs in the series that ended Wednesday, have surpassed all reasonable expectations this season and are currently three games under .500 and 8 ½ games behind for the second wild-card spot, with none of the teams ahead of them in the wild-card standings particularly overwhelming.

No one in the Braves organization is predicting they will win the World Series, but it’s not unreasonable for them to think that, given their record – 39-36 since a 6-12 start, despite playing without Freddie Freeman for seven weeks during their plus-.500 stretch – and the lack of dominant NL teams outside of the Dodgers, the Braves could stay in the wild-card picture.

And you can’t dismiss the ballpark factor. The Brave are drawing much better crowds at SunTrust Park since school let out, particularly on weekends – just look what they drew for the Diamondbacks this past weekend – and they want to keep playing well and keep those people both coming back this season and looking ahead to, and thinking buying season tickets for, next season.

The worst part of the rebuilding is over and whether or not some fans believe they should keep focusing only on the future, the Braves are truly walking those two paths now that they talked about walking at the beginning of the rebuild — back when they truthfully were walking almost exclusively on the build-for-the-future path and not the be-competitive now path. Now, they’re on both of those paths and the win-now thing is important to them.

Which brings us to the trade deadline. The Braves have pursued top-of-the-rotation starters but the asking price is so high – just look what the Cubs gave up for Jose Quintana, whom the Braves pursued – that it now looks like they’ll keep Julio Teheran rather than move him and overpay for a Sonny Gray to replace him. Asking price for Gray just doesn’t jibe with the pitcher he is and has been in recent seasons.

And while they’d be willing to part with top prospects to get Chris Archer, a true ace, well, the Rays are in the thick of the AL East race and understandably can’t trade Archer now. Would make no sense for them to do that.

The Braves would only have moved Teheran if they could bring in another young standout pitcher with multiple years of contractual control, a Quintana – they were willing to give up a lot for him, just not what the Cubs gave up – or an Archer. Or even a Gray, if the price was more reasonable, his market having become inflated by the multiple contending teams seeking to add a starter and the lack of available starters on the current market.

Yes, that means the Braves could get plenty for Teheran, but again, keep in mine the win-now part of the equation. If they trade Teheran, a two-time All-Star signed for two more seasons plus an 2020 option, the Braves would have to pay a lot more on the free-agent market for his equivalent going forward, and would blow a hole in their rotation for the rest of this season with no obvious candidates to fill in this season, particularly since they’re going to probably have to bring up a starter to replace Jaime Garcia.

Yes, I think the Braves will trade lefty Garcia, because he’s a free agent after this season. That’s the key. The Braves aren’t going to pay free-agent prices to re-sign him, so I think they’ll move him in the next 11 days.

They could also trade first baseman Matt Adams, but I think at this point they’re leaning toward keeping him because Adams makes them better now, this season, as a platoon first baseman facing righties and/or a big bat off the bench. If he were eligible for free agency after this season, he’d be traded, for sure. But he’s not.

The Braves can wait till the offseason, when more teams will likely be in the market for a first baseman – very few have a need now – and they can decide then what to do with Adams, since he’ll still be a year from free agency.

As for second baseman Brandon Phillips, he has a 12-team no-trade clause and likely wouldn’t net the Braves a significant return in the form of prospect(s), given his age (36) and the big factor: he’s a free agent after this season. If he wasn’t performing the Braves might deal him for whatever, given his pending free agency, but he has played quite well despite a groin injury that nagged him for a couple of months. And Ozzie Albies is still working on his left-handed swing at Triple-A and isn’t clearly ready for the majors.

Again, the win-now part of the equation: Phillips makes the Braves better right now, and since the return on a trade to one of 18 teams that Phillips, who grew up in Stone Mountain, could be dealt to wouldn’t likely warrant opening up that position. Not when it appears Sean Rodriguez, coming off February shoulder surgery, also still has a ways to go before he’s back to being himself.

Phillips right now, with the Braves paying only $1 million of his salary and the Reds paying the rest, is more valuable to the Braves than to other teams.

Whither Jim Johnson, you ask? Yes, he’s blown seven saves, but the Braves won three of those games. And the Braves seem likely to keep him not at all because of that fact but because of what he’s done overall since this time a year ago and the fact that he’s under contract for $4.5 million in 2018. Not saying they won’t trade him if blown away by an offer in the next 11 days, but right now indications are the Braves will keep him. Trading him would open a significant hole in a bullpen that already lacks depth.

Nick Markakis and Matt Kemp? Each is signed beyond this season, so the Braves don’t have to trade-for-whatever-they-can-get rather than let them walk via free agency. Besides, Kemp’s big salary for two more seasons is a significant drawback on the trade market. And he’s performed well for the the Braves, on balance. As for Markakis, he’s a huge piece of the Braves’ winning chemistry and a solid if not spectacular performer. Lacks power, but does plenty more besides just his intangibles.

R.A. Dickey? Again, if he were a pending free agent, he’d be dealt. But given as well as he’s pitched in the past six weeks and the reasonable $8 million option on his contract for 2018, I tend to think Braves will keep him.

Catcher Kurt Suzuki is a pending free agent and thus could be moved, but I’m not sure if the Braves can get enough in return to warrant trading a guy who’s been a pretty big piece of what they’ve done this season and might be more valuable to the Braves than to other teams at this point. But again, if they do get a decent return, it could happen.

• Let’s close with this one from the late, great Merle Haggard. Man, I miss Hag.

“A FRIEND IN CALIFORNIA” by Merle Haggard

Merle Haggard

L.A. traffic is bad this time of year
But there’s a friend of yours in California
Sure wishes you were here
And as you lay your head on your pillow tonight just remember
There’s a friend of yours in California sure misses youYou’ve got a friend in California that misses you
You’ve got a friend in California that sure misses youFort Worth can get cold this time of year
But this southern California sun is warm
You should be here
And as you lay your head on your pillow tonight just remember
There’s a friend of yours in California sure misses youYou’ve got a friend in California that misses you
You’ve got a friend in California that sure misses youYou’ve got a friend in California that misses you
You’ve got a friend in California that sure misses you

 



Full article @ Trade deadline nears, here’s what Braves might do

Source: Atlanta Braves blog by David O’Brien – ACJ


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Sean Rodriguez joining Braves; this could be good

Sean Rodriguez joining Braves; this could be good

 

One look at Sean Rodriguez’s statistics during his two-week minor league rehab assignment would suggest that perhaps the Braves are activating the 32-year-old multi-position veteran a bit too soon. I mean, he went 3-for-39 (.077) with one double, five walks, 12 strikeouts and a .191 OBP and .103 slugging percentage in 11 games at four different levels from rookie ball to Triple-A.

Sean Rodriguez set personal bests in most offensive categories in 2017 with the Pirates. (AP photo)

That included 1-for-18 in five games with Triple-A Gwinnett, going 0-for-12 in his last three rehab games in a series at Charlotte. Rodriguez was 1-for-21 with 11 strikeouts in his final five rehab games over a five-day stretch through Saturday, then got Sunday off before he’s activated tonight along with Danny Santana in a couple of moves that should help give the Braves a bench that’s extremely versatile and far better than the one they had for much of the early season. That is, if Rodriguez is ready.

The man had major shoulder surgery five months ago. Surgery that many of us thought would almost certainly sideline him for the entire season.

Rodriguez says he’s as excited as “a kid on his birthday”

We know Santana is ready. He was playing his best baseball before going on the DL during the final series before the All-Star break with a leg infection, which thankfully for him and the Braves turned out to be nothing severe such as a staph infection that might’ve kept him out more than a month.  Santana played three rehab games for Gwinnett Friday through Sunday and went 7-for-9 with four RBIs in the last two of them including a 5-for-5 game Saturday. Yeah, he’s ready.

But Rodriguez?

Well, we’ll see. But here’s the thing: The Braves are activating him because they are that confident of the impact he can make both in the field and in the clubhouse and dugout, even if it takes a little longer for his offense to catch up.

This is a guy who has already impressed teammates, team officials and coaches to such a degree that once he said he was ready to play, you had a feeling no one was going to tell him he couldn’t.

They love this guy already, just like his Pirates teammates did. And chances seem pretty good that he’ll become as popular with Braves fans as he was with Pirates fans, who loved his hard-nosed approach, his versatility and blue-collar attitude, his tenacity and fearlessness, how he was always front and center if anyone wanted to mess with the Pirates.

Folks here will surely like those same traits, assuming Rodriguez performs at a high level now or at least eventually (he’s signed through the 2018 season). Because as we saw with Bartolo Colon, being one of the most popular guys in all of baseball in 2016 as Colon was, being a lovable and almost cartoon-ish character, doesn’t mean anything if you fall on your face repeatedly when it comes time to perform.

The cheers turned to boos quickly for Big Sexy in ATL.

Then again, Rodriguez is no cartoon-ish character. Not by a mile. He’s been called Serpico for his physical resemblance to the bearded cop who was played by Al Pacino in the classic 1973 Sidney Lumet movie. And a lot of baseball fans outside Pittsburgh knew Rodriguez more than anything for the video of him angrily punching a dugout water cooler multiple times a couple of years ago. He’s the first to admit, he has a temper.

Which seems hard to believe if you’ve not seen that video or other shots of him shouting on a field. Because when you talk to him, he’s soft-spoken, makes a lot of references to God and to his family, comes across as anything but a hothead.

Rodriguez has experience at every position except catcher. (AP file photo)

It’s the competitive side of Rodriguez that triggers the beast within. And  when he can channel that energy and anger – like John Lydon once sang, “anger is an energy” – Rodriguez can be a force on a baseball field. Never was that more evident than in 2016, when he had his best season with the Pirates, playing seven different positions and setting career highs in batting average (.270), home runs (18), RBIs (56), OBP (.349), slugging percentage (.510) and games played (140), among other stats.

The Braves signed him to a two-year, $11.5 million contract in November and planned for him to start the season as their primary second baseman, then move him to a multi-position role when prospect Ozzie Albies reached the big leagues. But that was before Jan. 28, when Rodriguez was driving an SUV with his wife and two of their four children on board, and the vehicle was T-boned by a stolen police cruiser in the middle of the afternoon.

His wife and their two sons sustained injuries that required hospitalization – all are doing well now – and Rodriguez had a sore left (non-throwing) shoulder that he didn’t think was injured severely and that he wasn’t too worried about because his entire focus was on his wife and her broken bones and his sons, one of whom had a broken orbital bone around his eye.

After they all began to heal, a week or so later Rodriguez figured he better get his shoulder checked more thoroughly, since it was still throbbing when he tried to raise it.

Turns out he had major injuries including a torn rotator cuff and labrum damage, along with a biceps tendon that had to be relocated. The Braves and Rodriguez wouldn’t give any timetable for his return, perhaps because they didn’t know. But privately, most in the organization figured it was unlikely he’d return before September if he returned at all in 2017.

Five months later, he’s back. And that in and of itself says plenty about the guy, who’s been a fixture in the Braves training room and workout facilities at SunTrust Park since the week before the season began. He went from looking rather frail a week after his surgery when he stopped by Braves spring training with his arm in a sling, to having a lean but muscular physique now that looks like someone who’s spent an awful lot of time in the gym.

TV cameras have often shown him in uniform in the Braves dugout during games. One night, there were repeated shots of him standing with Dansby Swanson, talking to the rookie shortstop during a game in which a struggling Swanson was out of the lineup. Swanson has listened intently to Rodriguez, learning from the former third-round draft pick (2003) who spent five seasons in the minor leagues before his major league debut with the Angels in 2008, didn’t get 200 plate appearances in a season until 2010, and never had a full-season batting average above .251 or an OPS above .705 until last year’s .270/.859 in his age-31 season.

“I definitely enjoy my time around him,” Swanson said. “I like talking to him in the dugout just because he has so much to offer. He’s a good guy to talk to about whatever it may be. He’s worked unbelieavably hard to get back to this point and we’re really happy for him that he’s getting closer and closer to being able to make a return. Just extremely happy for him that he’s been able to come back after what everybody thought might be a season-ending kind of thing.”

Ready or not, Sean Rodriguez is about to become a Brave in full, an active player. Atlanta’s about to see what he’s about.

• Let’s close with this one from one of America’s finest and most underrated singer-songwriters, Alejandro Escovedo. He wrote this one with Chuck Prophet.

“ALWAYS A FRIEND” by Alejandro Escovedo

Alejandro Escovedo

Wasn’t I always a friend to you
Wasn’t I always a friend to you
Do you wanna be my friend
Do you wanna be my friend
Every once in a while honey let your love show
Every once in a while honey let yourself go
Nobody gets hurt no nah
Nobody gets hurt

We came here as two, we laid down as one
I don’t care if I’m not your only one
What I see in you, you see in me
But if I do you wrong
Smoke my smoke, drink my wine
Bury my snakeskin boots somewhere I’ll never find
Still be your lover, baby
Oh-oh oh oh-oh oh

Wasn’t I always a friend to you
Wasn’t I always a friend to you
Do you wanna be my friend
Do you wanna be my friend
Every once in a while honey let your love show
Every once in a while honey let yourself go
Nobody gets hurt no nah
Nobody gets hurt

Well I could be an astronaut on the wrong side of the Moon
Or wrapped up like a baby on a bus home to you
Wherever I go, will you go with me?
But if I do you wrong
Take the master suite, I’ll take the floor
Sleep in late, get your rest
I’ll catch up on mine
Still be your lover, baby
Oh-oh oh oh-oh oh

It’s only love
Oh-oh oh oh-oh oh



Full article @ Sean Rodriguez joining Braves; this could be good

Source: Atlanta Braves blog by David O’Brien – ACJ


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Good first half for Braves, now comes real test

Good first half for Braves, now comes real test

 

Now that we’ve been subjected to the usual how-to-fix-baseball musings of writers and others with no games to write or watch and too much time on their hands during the All-Star break, it’s time to get back to the business of hand, which for the Braves is the matter of determining just how far down the road they are in this rebuild and whether it’s time to be buyers, sellers or both before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

As good as Matt Adams has been since the Braves traded for him after Freddie Freeman got hurt, it makes some sense to trade him before the July 31 non-waiver deal deadline if a contender is willing to part with prospects or another piece that could help the Braves long-term. (AP photo)

I happen to think they’ll be both, and by that I mean they’ll probably trade at least two or three from the group of veterans that includes first baseman Matt Adams, second baseman Brandon Phillips, reliever Jim Johnson and lefty starter Jaime Garcia and could even entertain offers for Julio Teheran, but only if they can get a similarly accomplished starting pitcher with multiple affordable seasons of contractual control similar to what Teheran has.

A Chris Archer or Sonny Gray, for instance. But the price will be steep, with perhaps too many contenders involved and willing to make unreasonable offers if they believe such a pitcher will put them over the top this season. (Jose Quintana met that description and the Braves were in on him in trade talks this past week, but the Cubs paid more than the Braves were willing to part with in terms of prospects.)

Problem with that Teheran scenario is that, while a contender might overpay and give the Braves a couple of top prospects for Teheran, the Braves in turn would surely have to give up multiple top prospects to get either Gray or Archer or anyone else that might pop up as available before July 31. So do you keep the guy you know, who’s not as consistent as you want and who is maddeningly mediocre (or worse) at times but dominant at others, or trade for a guy you don’t know who might end up being no better and cost you prospects that could end up being better than those you acquire for trading the guy you know. If that makes any sense. My head is spinning after writing it, so it probably doesn’t.

Can’t blow a hole in your rotation long-term by trading Teheran unless you replace him with a similar pitcher with contractual control. Not unless you want to be in the same position you were in a year ago, having to buy multiple placeholders for next year’s rotation while your top prospects move ever closer to being ready but can’t reasonsably be counted on to be there out of spring training without potentially being rushed.

Anyway, trading Brandon Phillips, much as I’d hate to see him go because I genuinely like having him around, and/or Matt Adams makes more sense by the day as Johan Camargo continues to show he’s not just major league-ready, but might be a good everyday lineup option for the long term, and as Sean Rodriguez continues rehabbing in the high minors and moves closer to joining the Braves, perhaps by the end of July, and giving their bench a big boost while providing another starting option at not just three positions like Camargo, but at four, including first base.

If the Braves trade Adams they can move Freeman back to first base, play Camargo at third, have a much better defense than they do with Adams at first base and Freeman at third base, and by the end of July perhaps have Rodriguez at second, with Ozzie Albies waiting in the wings as the switch-hitting second-base prospect continues working on his left-handed swing under the tutelage of special assistant Chipper Jones and Gwinnett hitting coach John Moses.

Anyway, getting back to the season. It’s about to get a lot tougher, folks.

The Braves should feel good about their record in the first half. Really good. They surpassed expectations, especially considering they played seven weeks without their best player and a guy who was on an MVP-type pace before he got hurt. They won 20 of their last 35 games before the break and got within one game of .500 a week before the break with a sweep at Oakland that raised Atlanta’s record to 40-41.

Then they got a wakeup when they got outscored 26-8 in two home games against the Astros before splitting a series at D.C., with Freeman back in the lineup and raking again for those last six games before the break.

The Braves’ schedule in the last five weeks before the break was a walk in the park compared with their schedule in the first 32 games after the break, beginning with a weekend series at SunTrust Park against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Diamondbacks’ 53-36 record would make them the division leader in four of six MLB divisions, all but the one they’re in, the NL West — they’re 7 ½ games behind the Dodgers – and the one that’s led by the juggernaut Astros, the AL West, where Houston’s majors-best 60-29 record gives them a mammoth 16 ½-game lead over the second-place Angels and Rangers.

The D-backs will be followed into SunTrust Park by the Cubs, a major disappointment at 43-45, a mere half-game better than the Braves at the break. But the Cubs this week showed how serious they are about making a second-half run at the NL Central title – they trail the Brewers by 5 ½ games – when they traded a package that included two elite prospects for White Sox lefty Quintana.

Does anyone at all believe the Cubs won’t be significantly better than .500 in the second half? That they won’t make another move or two if needed to shore up their underperforming pitching? The Braves will have to play well to win that series, I firmly believe.

After the six home games against the D-backs and Cubs, it’s into the fryer when the Braves open a grueling 11-game, 12-day trip by traveling West for a four-game long-weekend series at Dodger Stadium, where the Dodgers are a majors-best 39-11. (Boston, at 25-14, is the only other team with fewer than 15 home losses; even the Astros have lost 18 home games.)

Dodger Stadium always rocks on the weekends, and the Braves will need to be at their best to avoid a bad start to a long trip. And when they leave L.A. it’ll be to go to the blast furnace of Phoenix in July and a three-game series at thankfully domed and air-conditioned (whatever that stadium is named now). The Dodgers have the best home record in baseball and guess who has the second-best? Yes, the D-backs. They are a game under .500 on the road, but at home Arizona is 33-15.

So, that’s seven games in seven days out West against the two teams with the best home records in baseball. Mercifully, that demanding week is followed by a day off before the Braves end the trip in Philly with another four-game series (this one a Friday through Monday set) against the woeful Phillies, who are truly terrible at 29-58. No other MLB team had fewer than 34 wins at the All-Star break, and the Phillies are 22 ½ games behind the division-leading Nationals and 10 ½ behind the fourth-place Mets. Like we said, awful.

Of course, that could also be viewed as a trap series, with the Braves going through the wringer of L.A. and Arizona and then having a day off before facing the Worst Team in Baseball. Need to at least win three of four at Philly to end that trip and finish what figures to be a difficult trip on a good note. And don’t forget, the Phillies are 5-2 against the Braves and split a four-game series at SunTrust in early June.

Because guess who the Braves face when they return from that nearly two-week trip? That’d be the Dodgers, who are at SunTrust Park for the first three nights in August. Then there’s a bit of a break in the schedule with three at home against the Marlins and two against the Phillies, with off days on either side of the Aug. 8-9 two-game home series vs. the Phillies. After that it’s on the road again for a seven-game trip to St. Louis and Colorado including four games against a Rockies team that’s currently 26-18 at home.

Bottom line, the next 32 games are going to be a grind for the Braves, far more difficult than stretch they had leading to the break, during which the Braves played a mere 12 out of 36 games against teams with winning records, including seven against the Nationals, two against the Astros and three against the Brewers. They won four of those seven vs. the Nats, lost two of three to the Brewers and got crushed in two home games against the ‘Stros.

A dozen games vs. winning teams out of 36 games leading to the break. Now 17 such games in a 32-game stretch coming out of the break, with seven of those coming against arguably the best team in the NL, the Dodgers, and six coming against the team with the second-best record in the NL, the D-backs. And of the 15 games against sub-.500 teams during that 32-game stretch, six are against the defending World Series champion Cubs and the Cardinals, who are each 43-45 at the break, a half-game better than the Braves.

So that leaves just nine games in a 32-game stretch against what might be considered bad teams, the Marlins and the Phillies, and the Braves are a combined 7-8 against those teams this season.

The Braves in the first half surpassed expectations, especially while Freeman was out. But now comes the real test.

• Let’s close with this classic from the great Bill  Withers. Because baseball is back after a four-day break, so it’s indeed a lovely day.

“LOVELY DAY” by Bill Withers

Bill Withers

When I wake up in the morning, love
And the sunlight hurts my eyes
And something without warning, love
Bears heavy on my mind

Then I look at you
And the world’s alright with me
Just one look at you
And I know it’s gonna be
A lovely day
… lovely day, lovely day, lovely day …

When the day that lies ahead of me
Seems impossible to face
When someone else instead of me
Always seems to know the way

Then I look at you
And the world’s alright with me
Just one look at you
And I know it’s gonna be
A lovely day…..

When the day that lies ahead of me
Seems impossible to face
When someone else instead of me
Always seems to know the way

Then I look at you
And the world’s alright with me
Just one look at you
And I know it’s gonna be
A lovely day……



Full article @ Good first half for Braves, now comes real test

Source: Atlanta Braves blog by David O’Brien – ACJ


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It was the night of the Rainless Rain Delay in D.C.

It was the night of the Rainless Rain Delay in D.C.

 

WASHINGTON – So I’m reading a statement from the Nationals GM regarding Thursday night’s rainless rain delay debacle at Nationals Park, wherein he goes on about how they monitor weather very closely and make any weather-related decisions in conjuction with MLB, the opposing team, the umps and players’ union and blah blah blah.

The “approaching weather” never arrived at Nationals Park on Thursday, and Nationals officials were left with egg on their faces after their poor decision to delay the game … and keep delaying it. It started more than 3 hours late despite nothing more than a drizzle/light rain for a brief period some 2 hours into the delay (before that, there was no precipitation at all).

No. Let’s cut through the B.S. and say what happened last night: The forecast said there was a good chance of rain, and the Nationals are a very good team but have such a terrible bullpen that they didn’t want to risk starting the game and then having to stop it after two, three, four innings and turning it over to the bullpen following any significant rain delay.

Period. End of story. That’s what happened.

Only the decision blew up in their faces entirely when the rain never materialized. Hell, they didn’t even bother to put the tarp down until 90 minutes into the farce of a rain delay. The only moisture was a mere drizzle some two hours into the delay – a rain so light that the game would never have been stopped; teams routinely play through that amount of rain.

There was no decision made in conjunction with the opposing team, much less with the players’ union. It was made by Nats officials, in conjunction with other Nats officials.

And as a result, a game that should never have been delayed was delayed for 3 hours, 5 minutes, and began at 10:10 p.m. with perhaps 2,000 fans left from a paid crowd of 22,724. Most had gone home before the rain delay reached the two-hour mark, the Nats having made no announcements to them about what was going on.

Many if not most Nationals fans take Metrorail to the ballpark in D.C., and the last train was to run at 11:30. If they’d stuck around most of them would’ve needed to take taxis home to the ‘burbs and beyond at 1:30 a.m., after the game ended. Fans were left to sit in their seats or wander around, buying food and drinks and wondering if the game would ever start, until a scoreboard message some 2 ½ hours into the delay said it was the “sincere hope that we will be able to play tonight’s game.” It was theatre of the absurd.

“I didn’t hear a whole lot,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said, when we asked after the game what kind of information he was getting from the Nationals early in the rain delay about when the game might start, the chances of it happening, etc. “To tell you the truth I didn’t know what was going on.”

Snitker, whose Braves know more about rain delays than any team – they lead the majors with 11 including nine this season at home – said he’d never experienced a rain delay “without rain.”

“I kind of was looking at my radar and I thought, well, if it’s not going to rain we’ve got to play,” Snitker said. “You don’t like the situation but we need to play. It would have been hard to cancel the game (if) it never rained.”

Like those of us in the pressbox and the dwindling crowd, Snitker wondered why the game wasn’t starting as the delay continued without precipitation. (I mean, we all know why – because the Nats didn’t want to lose Gonzalez and have to rely on their bullpen – but Snitker and the rest of us wondered how they could possibly keep everyone at the ballpark without starting the game when it wasn’t raining. At a certain point, say, 30-45 minutes into the delay, if it’s not raining then you have to accept the fact you miscalculated and you must start the game, whether or not it means you might lose your starting pitcher to a delay if the rain ever comes.

“You looked on the radar and the rain was dissipating and getting light,” Snitker said, “and I saw the stuff when it did start raining and I thought, we play in that every night at home. It’s nothing new for us. I mean, these guys are used to it, we haven’t started a game at home on time in I don’t know when because of the rain delays and everything. I’m just proud of the guys, how they hung in there and when the game started they got after it.”

Braves veteran Brandon Phillips, who played under Nationals manager Dusty Baker when Baker managed the Cincinnati Reds, knew like everyone else why the Nationals delayed the game initially, because of the pitching situation and not wanting to lose Gonzalez to a potential in-game delay. Still, Phillips had never seen anything quite like this.

“To tell you the truth I didn’t know what the hell was going on,” he said. :I went out there to go check the weather and I saw the sun out just chillin’ and I was just like, man, what’s going on? But I played for Dusty and the only thing I can say is, he’s a smart manager. (Phillips laughed.) That’s all I got to say. I’m glad we got it in. I’m glad we got the W. But I knew what was going on. I was like, c’mon, man, let’s just go ahead and get this game over with. But it’s better late than never, you know?….

“To tell you the truth, we knew we were going to play today. We had our mindset, but we were in here (in the clubhouse during the delay) just chillin’, hoping that it could come sooner than later. But like I said, man, Dusty’s a smart manager.”

In the end, though, the Braves came out on top. The game was played, there was no stoppage after it finally started, and the Braves won 5-2, with Mike Foltynewicz and Gonzalez both pitching six quality innings but Folty pitching a little better, and Freddie Freeman getting his 999th and 1,000th career hits on a pair of RBI doubles, and Kurt Suzuki doubling and hitting his third homer in his past two games.

“I was just trying to have a positive energy,” said Foltynewicz, who had begun his pregame stretching and warmup before the Nationals made it known the game would be delayed. “We all had positive energy in here, joking around, goofing around and just keeping it light, because who knows (when going to play)? We start a game at 10:10 and we’re all ready, we came out firing against Gio, who’s having a great year. Great defense by the team today helping me get out of a couple of jams, and great offense. Bullpen did an amazing job as well.”

That’s three wins for the Braves in four games this season at Nationals Park, where they had lost 23 of 25 games before that.

“Only thing we can do is just change whatever things were happening in the past,” said Phillips, a first-year Brave. “I’m happy that I’m here for the good part and hope we can continue to keep on doing what we’re doing. We’re just coming out here playing good baseball and hoping we can get some W’s, especially going into the All-Star break. That’s our No. 1 goal and I feel like we’ve been playing good baseball, even though I’m not playing up to par. But I’m still having good at-bats and trying to do the small things to help the team win. Matt (Kemp) will tell you the same thing — we were just talking about it. But as long as we’re winning, all you can do is just smile and keep your head up.”

Even if that means keeping your head up in the rain. Which didn’t come into play during Thursday night’s rainless rain delay.

“I guess it was all worth it in the end,” Freeman said, smiling. “Obviously it was a pretty long, somewhat delay for…whatever that was. But it was all worth it in the end when you get the win.”

Let’s close with this classic from Steve Earle about the rain coming down, since it didn’t Thursday night during #RainlessRainDelay.

Steve Earle

“THE RAIN CAME DOWN” by Steve Earle

The old man loaded up everything that he owned
On a wagon and headed out west
The old woman fearlessly faced the unknown
‘Cause she figured he knew what was best
And they settled down hard on a government grant
With six mouths to feed and forty acres to plant
And the rain came down
Like an angel come down from above
And the rain came down
It’ll wash you away and there ain’t never enoughFall turned to winter another year gone
Over and over again
Some took their lives from their land and moved on
And some stayed on to plow it back in
And the good Lord he giveth and he taketh away
And the restless shall go and the faithful shall stayNow my grandaddy died in the room he was born in
Twenty-three summers ago
But I could have sworn he was beside me this morning
When the sheriff showed up at my door
So don’t you come around here with your auctioneer man
‘Cause you can have the machines but you ain’t taking my land

 



Full article @ It was the night of the Rainless Rain Delay in D.C.

Source: Atlanta Braves blog by David O’Brien – ACJ


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Would Braves really trade Teheran? Sure they would

Would Braves really trade Teheran? Sure they would

 

Remember during the Winter Meetings when the Braves showed interest in getting one of the elite starting pitchers available, Chris Sale or Chris Archer, but ultimately decided the asking price of multiple top prospects and/or young players was too high?

They also discussed starters Sonny Gray and Jose Quintana, but decided if they were going to trade for a starter at that time it only made sense to trade for a No. 1-caliber starter.

Julio Teheran’s name has come up in trade rumors multiple times in the past and nothing happened, but don’t dismiss the latest rumor despite Teheran’s struggles this season that would seemingly reduce his trade value. He could be dealt. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

They already had signed the two oldest active pitchers in baseball, Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey, to one-year free-agent contracts in November and traded for Jaime Garcia, and with that trio joining incumbent Julio Teheran and likely Mike Foltynewicz, they seemed to already have five starters. And Braves president of baseball operations John Hart said at the Winter Meetings that the Braves were committed to having one of their young starters in the rotation, with Folty having emerged as the clear leading candidate among a group that also included the likes of Matt Wisler and Aaron Blair.

Anyway, here’s why I bring up that moment in time, that discussion. Because they kept saying they were committed to having one of their young pitchers in the rotation, yet the Braves had already added the trio of Colon, Dickey and  Garcia all on one-year deals or in the case of Garcia, on the last year of his contract, and they also had their two-time All-Star Teheran back under a very reasonable contract that still had three seasons remaining – his salaries for 2017-19 total $25.3 million — plus a $12 million team option for 2020 with a $1 million buyout.

So how would the Braves have fit a Sale or Archer (or Gray or Quintana) into their rotation if they already had added three veterans to incumbent Teheran and said multiple times that they were committed to having one of their own young pitchers, i.e. Folty, in the rotation?

And the answer, from people I talked to at that time, was that the Braves would’ve likely traded Teheran if they had been able to line up a trade for Sale or Archer. They would never have said publicly that was a possibility because the last thing you want is for would-be opening-day starter to hear he could be or could’ve been traded. But that’s what I heard could’ve and probably would’ve happened if the Braves had gotten Sale or Archer.

I bring it up today only because Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports today (Thursday) published a rumor regarding Teheran, writing “Teams in need of starting pitchers, including the Astros, have been calling the Atlanta Braves about Teheran, as they search for alternatives to the obvious top available duo of Quintana and Gray. The Braves seem to be willing to consider anything, and while last year they eventually told teams that Teheran would be staying put (and he did), they haven’t absolutely ruled out a trade for Teheran to this point.”

And because of what I heard back in December, I don’t at all doubt the validity of what Jon is hearing. Sale was the only one of the above-mentioned quartet of starters who was traded last winter, and the Red Sox gave up a bounty to get him (and right now are glad they did; Sale is 11-3 and leads AL starters with his 2.61 ERA, 166 strikeouts and 120 2/3 innings).

The Rays have indicated that Archer isn’t available, but we’ll see as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline gets closer. For now, Gray and Quintana, who is a friend and Colombian countryman of Teheran’s, are the two leading known-to-be-available starters on the market. And the Braves are among the teams interested in adding a frontline starter if they can get one who has multiple years of affordable contractual control, as do both Gray and Quintana (and, yes, Archer).

If they were to get one of those guys — or perhaps even if they don’t — the Braves might’ve decided that Teheran is what he is and, while good, he’s not an ace. And he’s maddeningly inconsistent for a frontline starter. The only reason to question the Heyman rumor at all is the fact that Teheran’s trade value would seem to be at a low point right now, seeing that he has a 5.14 ERA and 1.422 WHIP that would be his highest in a full season in each category if those numbers stay anywhere near that level, and he’s already allowed 20 home runs, only two less than he allowed in the entire season in each of his All-Star seasons in 2014 and 2016 and only seven below his career-high 27 allowed him 2015.

However….

Teams look deeper than the average fan or most of us writers look when evaluating pitchers, and if teams have scouted Teheran recently they know his velocity was higher in his last start at Oakland (he threw several pitches in the 94-95 mph range) than it’s been all season and much of the past few seasons. And even if his overall stats aren’t healthy, Teheran, by all indications, is healthy. You don’t go 4-0 with a 2.88 ERA in your eight road starts if you’re hiding an injury.

See, Teheran’s overall stats are bad this year only because he’s been terrible at new SunTrust Park, posting a 1-6 record and 7.58 ERA that’s nearly inexplicable, as is his .912 OPS and 13 homers allowed in just 46 1/3 innings at the Braves’ home ballpark. If you’re the Braves, that has to be troubling.

Whether it’s in his head or he’s just leaving too many pitches up in a park that is unforgiving many nights on well-hit fly balls, there has to be some concern from Braves officials when they’re opening-day starter and top starter is pitching like a fringe major leaguer in most home games. And even if his value right now isn’t as high as it might have been last winter, perhaps it’s higher than it might be in the coming winter should his struggles continue or worsen.

Keep in mind, there are a lot fewer starters available now than there will be in the offseason. The market might be better now for a Teheran regardless of his stats, with only a few frontline starters likely to be available and a half-dozens or so teams looking to add a starter for a playoff push.

And if the Braves could land a Sonny Gray, Jose Quintana or – unlikely as it seems at this point – Chris Archer, then they wouldn’t need to cross their fingers and hope Teheran gets it turned around for the remaining years of his deal.

The Braves are expected to trade Jaime Garcia before the July 31 deadline, and they’ve already seen his trade value plummet after four consecutive starts in which he’s allowed six earned runs three times and five earned runs Wednesday night. Would they trade both Garcia and Teheran?  I wouldn’t rule it out regardless, and especially if they were able to trade for another starters with multiple years of contractual control.

They have several top pitching prospects getting closer and closer to being ready, but the ones who’ve been most impressive, Mike Soroka and Kolby Allard at Double-A Mississippi, are still just 19 years old. That’s what some folks fail to take into account when they ask me and others, why would the Braves need to trade for another starting pitcher when they’ve accumulated all of these prospects through trades and drafts during the past couple of rebuilding years?

If they trade a couple of guys from the group that includes starters Garcia, Dickey or possibly even Teheran, would the Braves be waving a white flag on the rest of the season? Not necessarily. Not if they acquired one of the guys mentioned above. But if they don’t, then yeah, they’d clearly be aiming entirely for the future and not overly concerned about the rest of this season if they moved a couple of those guys without trading for a top-half-of-rotation pitcher this month.

It hurt losing starting prospect Patrick Weigel, who’ll turn 23 on Saturday and was poised for his first major league call-up before undergoing Tommy John surgery last month. But there are others at Triple-A Gwinnett who could help get the Braves through this season including Lucas Sims, who has been inconsistent but is 2-0 with a 3.72 ERA and 34 strikeouts (11 walks) in 29 innings over his past five starts including one really bad one that inflated his ERA in that span.

And at some point after the All-Star break the Braves could turn to old friend Kris Medlen, the popular former Braves veteran who’s worked his way up the minor league ladder in his comeback attempt. Medlen has a still-bloated 6.25 ERA in six starts since he was promoted to Gwinnett, but made considerable progress in his past two starts, allowing four earned runs and one walk in 6 2/3 innings on June 30 and two earned runs with no walks and five strikeouts in six innings of a win Wednesday night against Norfolk.

Would they really trade Teheran? All I know is that the Braves would’ve certainly considered it last winter if they had pulled the trigger on a deal for another frontline starter. And if they were willing to do it then, when he was coming off an All-Star season, it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if they’d do it now.

• I’ll close with this one from Nikki Lane, the title cut off her recent album Highway Queen.

Nikki Lane

Well I heard tell of a woman out there
With tight blue jeans and long black hair
She’ll come to play but she won’t stay
And it always brings ’em down
Some folks say there will come a day
When she’ll settle in some old town
But as best you know this long, long road
She ain’t gonna come around
Sixty thousand miles of blacktop
Countless broken hearts between
Winding lies and wide but don’t stop
Living the life of the highway queen
She’s decided, leaves your party
Haunts your mind like a melody
You can tie her down with a Marlboro Light
But the highway queen don’t need no king
Well one or two, they might have broken through
They might have nearly roped her in
But a fire like that is far too hot
It’s gonna burn and burn again
Seasons fade and so does the pain
It blows away like a like a tumbleweed
You can’t blame the girl for loving this old world
She can’t help it she’s a highway queen
Sixty thousand miles of blacktop
Countless broken hearts between
Winding lies and wide but don’t stop
Living the life of the highway queen
She’s decided, leaves your party
Haunts your mind like a melody
You can tie her down with a Marlboro Light
But the highway queen don’t need no king
Highway queen don’t need no king
Well miles and miles she keeps on rolling
Place your bets if you ain’t folding
Miles and miles, no sign of slowing
It ain’t who she loves, it’s who she’s holding
Sixty thousand miles of blacktop
Countless broken hearts between
Winding lies and wide but don’t stop
Living the life of the highway queen
She’s decided, leaves your party
Haunts your mind like a melody
You can tie her down with a Marlboro Light
But the highway queen don’t need no king
Highway queen don’t need no king
Highway queen don’t need no king
Well miles and miles she keeps on rolling
Place your bets if you ain’t folding
Miles and miles, no sign of slowing
It ain’t who she loves, it’s who she’s holding



Full article @ Would Braves really trade Teheran? Sure they would

Source: Atlanta Braves blog by David O’Brien – ACJ


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Braves front office has been astute and creative in deals

Braves front office has been astute and creative in deals

 

 

The Braves got to July 4 with a 40-41 record including a 24-20 mark since losing their best player, Freddie Freeman, to a fractured wrist. That’s something that no one in baseball could have predicted, in fact pretty much the opposite of what most anticipated when Freeman went down.

John Coppolella (left) and John Hart have reconstructed a roster using creativity, astute trades and strong scouting. (Curtis Compton/AJC photo)

To take this a little further, the Braves are 81-81 in their past 162 games after going 55-107 in their previous 162. They are two games over .500 (90-88) since their 18-46 start to the 2016 season.

Granted those brutal stretches were largely self-inflicted — the result of the Braves’ decision to take a couple of steps back to begin moving forward, to undertake the first rebuild for the organization in more than a quarter century since the Braves started an unprecedented run of 14 straight division titles at the beginning of the  ‘90s.

For so long the Braves had simply retooled, which worked well when they had both a terrific farm system and one of baseball’s top payrolls, the latter allowing the Braves to take on big salaries through trades or free agents when necessary to help put them over the top. But retooling led only to mediocrity and out-of the-postseason finishes after the Braves’ payroll was slashed following ownership changes and once the minor league system’s was weakened due to spotty drafts and trades of multiple prospects.

So the Braves went in a new direction.

They replaced Frank Wren, top assistant Bruce Manno and some others, put John Hart and John Coppolella in charge of baseball operations, and traded most of their big-salaried players or ones who were about to become big-salaried players, with the notable exceptions of Freeman, who has become one of the premier hitters in baseball, and Julio Teheran, who’s a two-time All-Star if not the ace the Braves hoped he’d be by now.

Sure, there have been some unforced errors, some bad deals along the way, most notably the lousy trade for toxic Hector Olivera that cost the Braves left-hander Alex Wood (he’s 26 and 9-0 with a 1.83 ERA this season for the Dodgers) and infield prospect Jose Peraza (.279 average, 39 stolen bases in first 156 MLB games).

But a glance at the Braves’ current roster, the roster that has enabled them to play four games over .500 in 44 games with Freeman on the DL, reveals just how shrewd and astute that GM Coppolella has been, particularly with under-the-table moves that are also a reflection of some outstanding work by Braves scouts.

A brief rundown:

— Newly minted All-Star center fielder Ender Inciarte, who won his first Gold Glove in 2016, and shortstop Dansby Swanson came from Arizona in a trade for Shelby Miller, who is 5-14 with a 5.78 ERA in 24 major league starts for the Diamondbacks over two seasons since the deal.

— Catchers Tyler Flowers and Kurt Suzuki: Braves catchers lead the majors in OBP (.380), rank second in batting average (.286) and OPS (.832) and are tied for the lead in game-winning RBIs (seven). The two of them are making a combined salary of $4.5 million this season, Suzuki on a one-year deal and Flowers in the second season of a two-year deal that also includes a $4 million team option for 2018.

— First baseman Matt Adams: The Braves scrambled after the Freeman injury and got Adams from the Cardinals two days later in a trade for minor league infielder Juan Yepez, who was nowhere among Atlanta’s top prospects and has hit .260 with a .301 OBP this season in Single-A ball. Adams has hit .285 with 12 homers, 32 RBIs and a .923 OPS in 39 games for the Braves, who will either keep him at first base for the rest of the season, make him a power bat off their bench, or trade him now or during the offseason for a significant return. Again, they got him in exchange for Juan Yepez.

— Lefty reliever Sam Freeman: The Braves signed him as a minor league free agent. He has a 2.73 ERA in 21 relief appearances with 27 strikeouts in 26 1/3 innings.

— Outfielder/infielder Danny Santana: The Braves got the versatile switch-hitter from the Twins in a May trade for Triple-A reliever Kevin Chapman. Santana has 10 extra-base hits in 91 plate appearances for the Braves and had a huge impact during their weekend three-game sweep at Oakland with his bat, his legs (he stole three bases in one game) and his defense while starting all three games in left field while Matt Kemp served as designated hitter. Chapman was released June 14 by the Twins after posting a 6.65 ERA in 23 innings this season in Triple-A.

— Reliever Jason Motte: The Braves signed the former Cardinal closer to a minor league deal April 9 after the Rockies released him at the end of spring training. Motte has a 1.78 ERA and 0.947 WHIP in 29 relief appearances for the Braves with 16 hits and five runs allowed in 25 1/3 innings.

— Lefty reliver Rex Brothers: The Braves signed the former Rockies closer to a minor league deal in February. Brothers joined the Atlanta bullpen last week after posting a 1.93 ERA in 14 appearances in Double-A and Triple-A with 22 strikeouts and five walks in 14 innings.

— Reliever Jose Ramirez: Acquired by the Braves from the Mariners in a December 2015 trade for cash or a player to be named later, after Ramirez had posted an 11.57 ERA in five appearances for Seattle in 2015. He’s become a bullpen fixture for the Braves, posting a 3.58 ERA in 33 appearances in 2016 and a 2.94 ERA in 37 appearances this season, with 62 strikeouts in a combined 66 1/3 innings over that two-year span. Won’t be eligible for arbitration until 2019. The Mariners ended up getting 28-year-old Triple-A pitcher Ryan Harper and $15,000 from the Braves in the deal.

— Reliever Luke Jackson: Braves got him from the Rangers a December trade for Tyrell Jackson. Jackson is 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA and 1.083 ERA in 19 appearances for the Braves as a short and long reliever and won’t be arb eligible until at least 2020. Jenkins is 4-8 with a 7.86 ERA in 16 starts for the Rangers’ Triple-A El Paso affiliate, allowing 110 hits (16 homers) in 81 1/3 innings with almost as many walks (52) as strikeouts (55).

— Lefty reliever Jacob Lindgren: The Braves swooped in to sign the power-armed Lindgren after the Yankees non-tendered him in hopes of re-signing him to a minor league deal in December while he rehabbed from Tommy John elbow surgery. He won’t be ready until 2018, but the former Yankees second-round draft pick (out of Mississippi State in 2014) is a potential big-impact reliever who piled up 77 strikeouts with 23 walks in just 46 2/3 minor league innings before the Yankees brought him to the big leagues, whereupon he struck out eight in his seven major league innings in 2015. He hurt his elbow early in 2016 and is out for the 2017 season.

We haven’t even mentioned pitcher Kris Medlen, the former Braves fan favorite who came back from two Tommy John surgeries and signed a minor league deal in January while rehabbing his shoulder. He has worked his way up to Triple-A, waiting in the wings. And then there’s hard-throwing lefty Jesse Biddle, the former Phillies first-rounder the Braves claimed on waivers while he was rehabbing over a year ago and is now has 47 strikeouts in 44 1/3 innings at Double-A Mississippi. He’s still just 25.

• Let’s close with this, the mighty L.A. band X’s version of the Dave Alvin-penned classic, “Fourth of July.”

“FOURTH OF JULY” by Dave Alvin

X

She’s waiting for me when I get home from work 
But things just ain’t the same 
She turns out the light and cries in the dark 
Won’t answer when I call her name 

On the stairs I smoke a cigarette alone 
The Mexican kids are shooting fireworks below 
Hey, baby, it’s the Fourth of July 
Hey, baby, it’s the Fourth of July 

She gives me her cheek when I want her lips 
And I don’t have the strength to go 
On the lost side of town in a dark apartment 
We gave up trying so long ago 

On the stairs I smoke a cigarette alone 
The Mexican kids are shooting fireworks below 
Hey, baby, it’s the Fourth of July 
Hey, baby, it’s the Fourth of July 

Whatever happened, I apologize 
So dry your tears and baby, walk outside 
It’s the Fourth of July 

 

 



Full article @ Braves front office has been astute and creative in deals

Source: Atlanta Braves blog by David O’Brien – ACJ


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Kemp returns to San Diego: Not exactly a warm embrace

Kemp returns to San Diego: Not exactly a warm embrace

Benches cleared after Matt Kemp, then of the Padres, was hit by a Julio Teheran fastball in a June 2015 game against the Braves. Kemp was booed lustily upon returning to San Diego as a Brave on Tuesday. (AP file photo)

 

In his first game at San Diego since the Padres traded him to the Braves, Matt Kemp went 0-for-4 with a strikeout Tuesday including 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position. This pleased what seemed to be a majority of fans in attendance at Petco Park, judging from the boisterous round of boos Kemp received upon being introduced each time he came to bat.

It was about the only thing to warm the hearts of Padres fans on a night when Braves rookie Sean Newcomb had another and perhaps his best start in a 3-0 Atlanta win.

Kemp used to hurt the Padres a lot during his nine years with the Dodgers before being traded to San Diego before the 2015 season, and he’s been significantly more productive for the Braves since being traded from the Padres to Atlanta in late July 2016, so he couldn’t have been surprised by the reception he received.

And judging from his reaction to questions by a couple of San Diego media members during a rather uncomfortable interview at his locker a few hours before the game, Kemp also didn’t seem surprised by the tone of their questions, several of which stemmed from this “Hello Atlanta” letter published by The Players’ Tribune after the trade to the Braves.

The Padres have had immense roster churn in the past couple of seasons and the only Padre who appeared in both Tuesday’s series-opening loss to the Braves  and Kemp’s last game for the Padres was All-Star Wil Myers, who was asked by San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Bryce Miller to comment on Kemp upon his first trip back to play in San Diego.

“Matt Kemp is a guy who was born to hit,” Myers said. “He’s going to put up offensive numbers every single year. He’s going to hit 30 (homers) and drive in 100, because those are the things he takes pride in.”

What about defense, Miller asked. “Dude can hit,” Myers said, “and that’s all that matters.”

Those of us who cover the Braves have had no problems with Kemp since he arrived in Atlanta last summer. He’s not the most available player in terms of interviews, but he’s there far more often than not when we want to speak to him, and he can be playful, funny and engaging with reporters, as he is seemingly all the time with teammates.

That’s the most important thing, by the way, not how he interacts with us reporters, but with teammates and coaches. He’s been embraced by teammates such as Freddie Freeman from Day 1 in Atlanta, and his playful, sometimes loud personality has been an integral part of a Braves clubhouse chemistry that every player says has helped them in the past couple of years, both to finish strong in a 2016 season that started in dismal fashion and to overcome some rough patches early this season.

Despite cooling off in June, Kemp still has a .315 average, .356 OBP, and .538 slugging percentage for an .894 OPS, with 32 extra-base hits (12 homers) and 35 RBIs in 63 games. The average would be his highest since 2011, when then-Dodgers center fielder Kemp was the MVP runner-up after hitting .324 with career-bests in homers (39), RBIs (126) and OPS (.986). He was a first-time All-Star and won his second Gold Glove and second Silver Slugger award that year.

His current OPS would be his best since .906 in 2012, when he made his second consecutive All-Star team.

Kemp reported to spring training this year in better shape and started out blazing when the regular season began, hitting an otherworldly .352 with 16 doubles, 10 home runs, 30 RBIs and a .387 OBP, .614 slugging percentage and 1.001 OPS in his first 42 games through June 2, despite an April stint on the disabled list for a hamstring strain.

In his past 21 games beginning June 3, Kemp has hit .227 (17-for-75) with four doubles, two homers, five RBIs, a .284 OBP and .360 slugging percentage (.644 OPS). He has one homer, three RBIs and no multi-hit games in his past 10, but the Braves are 7-3 in those games, another sign of how others in their offense have stepped forward to carry the load on any given night in the absence, figuratively or literally, of the two sluggers in the middle, Kemp and star Freddie Freeman, who’s been out six weeks with a fractured wrist.

With the Padres, Kemp hit .264 with a modest .763 OPS but had 46 homers and 169 RBIs in 254 games. That included 156 games in 2015 after being traded from the Dodgers in the offseason, and 100 games in 2016 before he was traded to the Braves at the end of July when the Braves were looking to dump the toxic contract Hector Olivera and the Padres were ready to move on front Kemp. The Olivera trade – it cost the Braves Alex Wood and Jose Peraza – was the worst the Braves have made in years, but at least the Braves ended up a year later with Kemp, albeit after taking on more money to cover about $18 million annually of his $21.5 million salary in a contract that runs through 2019.

But getting back to that contentious interview at Kemp’s locker Tuesday, which could be used as a textbook example of why some players develop a bad relationship with the media and have a hard time changing their attitude toward us once they do start to develop an us-versus-them view of the situation. I’ve seen it many times before with players on teams I’ve covered in Miami and Atlanta, how a player can come to that team or go to another team and I’ll hear about what a bad guy he was – or in a couple of cases, what a good guy he was – when we experienced none of that while he was with the team I covered. Bobby Bonilla, for example: Loathsome reputation with the Mets, but a productive, engaging, media-friendly player with the Marlins (having Jim Leyland as manager at that time certainly helped).

Anyway, here’s how the Kemp interview went Tuesday, as a couple of us Atlanta reporters listened in while he got interviewed by a couple of San Diego reporters.

The first question was a standard softball, something along the lines of what it’s like to be back in San Diego

Kemp: “I miss my house, man. I got to sleep in my bed. I was excited. I’m refreshed. Ready to place some baseball.”

Then the tone turned quickly. “When you first got to the Braves, you wrote a piece for (The Players’) Tribune talking about them getting the Matt Kemp of old. Which Matt Kemp did San Diego get for the time you were here?”

“They got a good Matt Kemp. (Laughs.) Y’all are funny, right off the bat. I mean, I came here and I had a couple of injuries, so it was tough for me getting back.  The further I get away from my injuries, I feel like the more I get back to (being) myself. I worked hard when I was here. I enjoyed my time when I was here. And I gave San Diego everything I had.”

Were you comfortable being a face guy – at your intro press conference you and (then  Padres manager) Buddy Black talked about you being really the face of the organization. Did you like that role, were you comfortable?

“I mean, I’ve played on some teams where I was one of the (main) guys, so it was nothing new for me. I don’t know what else I can say about that.”

In your words in that Players’ Tribune piece, you talked about building a reputation as lazy or a bad teammate. How did you mean that, in the context of San Diego or…

(Kemp begins answer before question finished) “I’ve never considered myself a bad teammate. You can ask the teams I’ve played on. That was something somebody gave me, I don’t know where it came from. But I’ve never been bad teammate, I always had my teammates’ back. I’ve always enjoyed playing this game, I’ve always had fun, and like I said, I enjoyed playing here in San Diego in the time I was here. Beautiful city, great fans. I’m just in Atlanta right now and I’m enjoying myself.”

“We keep asking you questions from the past, is there anything you would have changed from when you were here?”

“No, not at all. I feel like we had some better teams, we could have played a lot better than we did. We didn’t. It is what it is. I’m on the Atlanta Braves now, enjoying myself and having fun playing baseball.”

Kemp was asked for any keys to having such a great start this year

“No, I’m just having fun. I think people have always considered me a slow starter; I don’t know where that came from. I think I’ve only had a couple of seasons where I kind of started off a little slow and finished strong, but it’s good to get off to a good start. I’m just trying to ride this wave and keep it going for the whole year.”

On Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler calling his comments in the Players’ Tribune article “B.S.” and current manager Andy Green taking offense to Kemp implying Atlanta was more of a baseball city than San Diego.

“You (San Diego columnist) just want to talk about drama.”

Columnist: I’m just curious what you think about it.

“Honestly it doesn’t matter to me, I’ve already moved on. Atlanta Braves. Good.”

The Padres changed managers from Bud Black to interim manager Pat Murphy 65 games into Kemp’s only full season with the Padres in 2015, and then to current manager Andy Green after the 2015 season. Kemp was asked to compare Black to the current manager.

“Buddy Black was a great manager. I didn’t have that much time with Murph. I’m with a great manager now (Brian Snitker), a guy that I enjoy playing for…. Are you talking about Andy or the manager I’m playing with now?”

“Andy,” the reporter responded.

“Oh. Well, I didn’t get that much time with him as well, we were only there for three months. But he’s a great communicator, he’s got a lot of knowledge about the game and I’m sure he’s doing some great things over there with those young guys.”

Another question about his current season and what’s different now from when he was in San Diego, what’s contributed to the better production:

“I’m just off to a good start, man. I feel good, having fun.”

With that, Kemp made it clear he’d had about enough of the interview and had other things he wanted to do. And the scrum broke up.

Frankly, about the best that could be said for anyone involved in that interview was that it was over.

• OK, let’s close with this early classic from the great Tom Waits, who spent some years in San Diego and surely saw (and did) some things.

Tom Waits

“SAN DIEGO SERENADE” by Tom Waits

I never saw the morning ’til I stayed up all night
I never saw the sunshine ’til you turned out the light
I never saw my hometown until I stayed away too long
I never heard the melody, until I needed a song.

I never saw the white line, ’til I was leaving you behind
I never knew I needed you ’til I was caught up in a bind
I never spoke ‘I love you’ ’til I cursed you in vain,
I never felt my heartstrings until I nearly went insane.

I never saw the east coast ’til I move to the west
I never saw the moonlight until it shone off your breast
I never saw your heart ’til someone tried to steal, tried to steal it away
I never saw your tears until they rolled down your face.

 



Full article @ Kemp returns to San Diego: Not exactly a warm embrace

Source: Atlanta Braves blog by David O’Brien – ACJ


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