THE OFFICE HAS MOVED
Check out our new and improved home at --
All future posts will be stored at our new locale.
FOUNDED BY TWO LIFELONG BRAVES FANS, THE OFFICE SERVES AS A SANCTUARY FOR THOSE WHO LOATHE STAT WORSHIP AND MINDLESS BRAVO BASHING.
Check out our new and improved home at --
As inconsistent this season as late-career Woody Allen, the Braves recently have been utterly predictable in one sense – when a critical pitch or set of pitches is at hand, the home team is going to fail and the other team is going to come through like the ’27 Yankees crossed with the early ’70s A’s.
Where have we seen this hackneyed storyline? Team gets solid starting pitching, scratches out a run here and there to stay close entering the spooky late innings. Mediocre reliever X comes in, quickly populates the bases. Mediocre reliever Y jogs in, surrenders extra base hit and close game becomes much less close.
I'm already a big fan of the Bravos' first round draft pick:
There was no question about which major league team Cody Johnson wanted to be drafted by Tuesday.
"I grew up watching the Braves on TV," the left-handed hitting outfielder from Mosley High School in Panama City, Fla., said. "It's the only team I've ever really rooted for and it's the one place I've always wanted to play."
At just 17, the 6-foot-4 Johnson is a long way from being ready for the majors. But the Braves like his chances of eventually getting there.
"In our opinion, Cody was the premier power bat in the draft," Clark said.
Very encouraging win tonight. First, Ken Ray showed that he might just be able to handle the closer's role. Even more impressively, Horacio posted his third consecutive quality start, battling through eight innings in a MUST-win game. Frankly, I had pretty much counted Ramirez out, but Smoltzie told me in an interview this offseason to expect "Ho" to make a big comeback this season.
In no way do I intend to belittle the passing of former umpire Eric Gregg, but it's hard to ignore the coincidence that, on the night of his death, Livan Hernandez is pitching against the Braves. Gregg, you'll remember, framed a strike zone almost as large as his belly while working behind the plate during Livan's 15 K performance against the home team in Game 5 of the 1997 NLCS.
With Atlanta's pitching scuffling mightily, expect to see some new imports boarding the Richmond shuffle in the weeks ahead. Two possible candidates:
Not really, but this as close as he gets --
"That's probably the worst series we've ever had here," the Atlanta manager said after the Arizona Diamondbacks completed their domination of the Braves with a 9-3 rout Sunday at Turner Field.
I'm still not sold on the Diamondbacks, despite their dominance over the Bravos the past few weeks. However, I am bully on the boys in blue, so much so that I rate the Dodgers as the team to beat in the Senior Circuit.
Since last we met, the Braves have lost thrice, not won, made Damion Easley and Tony Clark, a pair of utility players, look like Ruth and Gehrig and further solidified themselves as a boom-and-bust team.
Wednesday night the crowd did the wave in the third inning. No half inning passes in silence: Cartoon tools and water heaters hop around bases or pitch and hit on the vast center field screen. Hot chicks in Braves shirts and little shorts exhort fans while a fat blond guy with a butt cut asks people from Florida or North Carolina or Stockbridge trivia questions. There’s an endless assault of corporate sponsored promotions, even one by a gambling casino. PA announcer Bill Bower screams at us about “our second baseman!!!!!”
It’s right there in this blog’s tagline – we are no fans of blind devotion to statistics, especially obscure creations like PECOTA. Why trust something with the same name as a mediocre utility man?
Babe Ruth and Al Jolson grew up in the same Baltimore orphanage? Overheard that last night on the "Charlie Rose" show -- guest hosted by columnist and author Frank Deford, who had former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent on as a guest. Vincent went on to relay a story I had never heard before about legendary owner (and promoter) Bill Veeck, who in 1943 had acquired the backing to purchase the Philadelphia Phillies. If the sale had gone through, Veeck planned to stock the roster with African-American players.
I'd rather see Pete Orr come in to face a lefty than Mike Remlinger. We try not to question Bobby around here, but the evidence is in: Remlinger is virtually useless against lefthanded batters.
Who knew the notorious "fat tub of goo" -- getting his second Office mention in as many nights -- had so much in common with Babe Ruth?
I gave up my usual perch in Section 407 for Wednesday night’s game for a chance to sit amongst the fortunate sons and other recipients of corporate graft in Section 102. Here’s a rundown of the evening’s sights and sounds:
Looks like Dayton Moore has his work cut out for him. I wonder if this came with a ringing endorsement from Fred McGriff?
Yeah, it could be a bad sign that Dayton Moore’s bolting. But it will be grim news indeed if ownership does not jump on Smoltzie’s 2007 option. At $8 million, that’s a bargain for an elite starter who’s also the most popular player on the team and its undisputed leader. Oh yeah, and he wants to come back, he told the local organ.
Looks like JS lieutenant Dayton Moore is KC-bound to become GM of the moribund Royals.
There’s a baseball axiom that says you have to pole ax the bad teams and hold steady against the good ones. We’re great on the first half of that; we need work on the second.
So at first glance the Tyler Yates experiment appears a failure. We'll give him some more time, but might Will Startup be the Bravos' next bullpen reinforcement?
Revised trade scenario --
Yates, 28, missed last year following rotator cuff surgery and was released by the Baltimore organization a month into this season.
Feeling that his shoulder was almost all the back back, Yates set up a workout at the Houston Astros training camp in Florida for several team and Braves director of minor league operations J.J. Picollo liked what he saw.
The Braves immediately signed the native of Hawaii in early May and Yates had a 2.16 ERA in seven appearances. In 8-1/3 innings, he allowed six hits, walked three and struck out 10.
"Everyone was raving about him," Braves manager Bobby Cox. "We've been wanting to get a look at him up here."
Yates has a fastball that reached 95-96 mph at Richmond and also a good slider. He occasionally mixes in a changeup.
Newsday, not the most reliable source, is reporting that Roger Clemens has decided to return to the Astros. As much as I loathe the Evil Empire, I'd rather the Rocket head north (actually, Boston or Texas would be my preferences).
“The situation with the bullpen now, even as early as it is, we’re far enough into the season where the body of evidence is there,” said Schuerholz.
Schuerholz doesn’t divulge a whole lot. For him, this was the equivalent of yelling, “My head’s on fire.” …..
Schuerholz still hopes a closer will emerge from within the franchise, but said: “I would be less than honest if I said we haven’t talked to people [about potential trades], because we have. Calls have been made.”
The official Brave site lends some insight into Dayton Moore's decision-making process as he ponders a move to Kansas City --
But recently there have been some thoughts developing that Braves general manager John Schuerholz may remain in his position even after his contract expires after the 2007 season.
With Moore's children nearing high school, he would like to ensure himself a GM job within the next year. Thus, he may be looking to get one as soon as possible, and, for that reason, the Royals may benefit.
Bonds made history Sunday, and no one cares. AJC columnist Jeff Schultz sums it up well:
Barry Bonds hit his 715th home run Sunday. But every overblown ESPN news break-in couldn’t drown out the sad reality of the moment. It was as awkward as it was historical. Some wanted to watch. Most wanted to cover their eyes.
This wasn’t a player punctuating greatness. This was the most vilified sports star we’ve ever seen affirming his place among the five darkest moments in baseball history.
Count them. Like plagues:
1. Eight members of the Chicago White Sox are banned for conspiring to throw the 1919 World Series.
2. Pete Rose, the game’s greatest hitter, agrees to a lifetime ban for betting — on baseball.
3. Baseball cancels the 1994 World Series, not because of natural disaster but rather mutant labor negotiators.
4. Congress holds steroid hearings. Among the Murderers Row giving testimony: Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro and Jose Canseco — who ironically turns out to be baseball’s shining light.
5. Bonds passes the great Ruth and closes in on the great Hank Aaron. But he’s the poster child of the steroid era, and his baggage and personality have led him to become the sport’s greatest pox instead of ambassador.
Thanks to Office reader Jeff for reminding us that today is the one year anniversary of Raul Mondesi's release. And I'd just about forgotten he ever played here.
It's Kenny Ray's job now. Perhaps Bobby will play match-ups here and there, but this much we can assume: Next time there's a save opportunity, Chris Reitsma won't get it. It's a shame -- Chris is a helluva guy, proven by the way his teammates, and Bobby, have stuck behind him. But he's no closer, as evidenced once again Sunday afternoon.
About a decade ago, while logging some freelance work with an Atlanta Falcons publication, I was contracted to do a piece on Craig "Ironhead" Heyward. I was immediately intimidated, considering my subject was a guy nicknamed "Ironhead."
He turned down the Red Sox last winter, so why is Dayton Moore -- the consensus heir apparent to JS -- considering an offer from the Kansas City Royals to become that team's new general manager?
During today’s Fox broadcast, Tim McCarver said he had seen a “great stat” showing that during the Braves’ 14-year run of titles the Cubs had outdrawn the home team by 6,000 fans a game.
Reacting to local radio rants by aging hack Beau Bock is like analyzing the politics of a LaRouche candidate – pointless, beyond a waste of time.
"I've followed Jerry since his days as an assistant coach, and I believe in his system of accountability and aggressive, hard-nosed football," Bock said. "Down at the Braves, I see a superstar-laden team but no appreciation for athletic ability. John Schuerholz has a hidden agenda, and we don't look for alternative ways to score runs."
In 1989, when he was still the Braves' GM (and Russ Nixon was in the dugout), Bobby backed out of a blockbuster deal that might've revitalized the franchise a year before the '91 miracle.
What if the Braves had pulled the trigger on Murphy-to-the-Mets? Doesn't the idea of having a .400 hitter (Lenny Dykstra) and a 30-homer man (Howard Johnson) and a card-carrying closer (Rick Aguilera) seem even sweeter in retrospect than it did at the time?
Rob Neyer has a new book out called Big Book of Baseball Blunders in which he chronicles some of the most egregious front office blunders in baseball history. For instance, he relays the story of how Babe Ruth became a Boston Brave. I always just assumed that it was a sentimental move to let The Babe finish his career in Beantown without having to face the Yankees. Nothing could be further from the truth, which might be good fodder for another entry.
Sam Bass got me thinking as well, and he's directed my sights toward Scot Shields (no relation to ex-Brave hurler Steve Shields) of the struggling O.C. Angels. He's not a closer, but he's as durable a reliever as there is in baseball, accumulating 198 innings out of the pen from 2004-05. Yet he's never spent time on the DL, and this season he's off to a stellar start, with a 1.03 ERA through 26 innings pitched.
Sam Bass over at the Brave-O-Matic blog raises interesting possibilities regarding new closers. He suggests that the home team should explore raiding the Cubs pen, which is loaded with relatively expensive set-up men who are little use to a floundering team.
Yeah, it’s maddeningly inconsistent. Yet for all the bitching and moaning – including some from this blog -- and even after an anemic series in Arizona and first two games in San Diego, the Braves’ offense is fourth in the National League in runs scored.
And sometimes, so are comparisons. I hate to be right on this, and no doubt the jury remains sequestered, but lately whenever I see Marcus Giles at bat I'm reminded of Bret Boone, circa 1999.
Matt Diaz is on an incredible run, the likes of which we've rarely, if ever, seen from a Braves hitter. Again, that's 19 hits in his last 30 AB's. I don't know how he does it, but I'm convinced, and the Office staff offers its apologies for our early season doubts (long live the agricultural shot!) In addition, Diaz is competent in left and is a minor threat on the bases.
Nothing makes me want to sling a monitor across a room like reading online comments from imbeciles blasting Bobby Cox. I become especially enraged when they write things like one did on ajc.com the other day about how “astute baseball fans” realize Bobby’s a bad manager because of the Braves postseason losses.
In his 25th year as a big league skipper, Cox remains sharp. The Braves finished in last place in 1990, his first season in Atlanta; they've won the division title each year since, a staggering run of success. Cox is an outstanding talent evaluator: He helped build the Braves as a general manager before he took over in the dugout, and has won despite Atlanta's payroll decreasing noticeably in recent years.
One of the reasons both veterans and youngsters enjoying playing for him, says historian Bruce Markusen, is because "his strength as a manager is his ability to assign sensible roles that his players are capable of handling." It is rare to hear any of Cox's players say a bad word about him. "If you can't play for him," Fred McGriff once said, "you can't play for anyone."
For his first pitch to Cubs leadoff hitter Juan Pierre, Peavy went to a double-pump windup reminiscent of an era that was long gone by the time Peavy was born in 1981.
It was Peavy's own way of saluting the Negro Leagues, which the Padres were officially doing.
“It just seemed like the right thing to do," Peavy said yesterday. “We were wearing old-style uniforms. And Satchel Paige is a Mobile (Ala.) guy like me. I just wanted to say, 'I know what you guys did and who you are.' "
Cheering for a team so thin on talent, Braves fans are forced to focus on the positives, regardless of the outcome.