Early Freddi Era Review

Freddy Gon is concerning me so far, don’t change your lineup just because the AJC or MEDIA keep asking about it; here’s an idea Bobby Jr- How about you don’t coddle all the players that stink it up in your post gm interview saying how good they all did ‘battling’ and ‘hitting the ball hard’, do they keep stats for those? Francoeur could hit the ball hard. He acts like mother goose instead of a establishing his identity as a manager, I’m tired of this lax ‘ we will work this out through the season or later on attitude that the braves have always had.. Let’s be a man Freddy!

Baseball & Dollars

Random MLB facts that may surprise you… Kelly Johnson is the highest paid Diamondback. Kyle Davies is the highest paid Royals Starting Pitcher. Jeff Francoeur is the second highest paid Royals Position Player. If you divided annual salary by games, Alex Rodriguez makes more money in 3 games than Jason Heyward will make in the ENTIRE season. Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt’s yearly salary is more than the entire Royals roster. The Cleveland Indians Payroll is 39 million. Travis Hafner & Fausto Carmona make 19 million; the other 23 players combine to make 20 million. The LA Angels outfielders makes 54 million, more than the entire payroll of 6 major league teams. Josh Willingham is the highest paid Oakland A’s player. The Phillies rotation makes 67 million; 10 major league teams have a payroll of less than that. Matt Diaz is the 3rd highest paid Pirates hitter, but is not a starter. The San Diego Padres have 2 players under gauranteed contracts after the 2011 season.

Braves Superlatives

The Next Big Thing – Julio Teheran This 20 year old Columbian pitcher is projected as a staff ace; recently rated the #5 overall prospect/#1 overall pitcher by Baseball America. Teheran throws a fastball that touches 97, a plus 12-6 curve and a plus changeup. Expect big things from him in 2012. Most Disappointing –  Jordan Schafer/Kenshin Kawakami Pick your poison- Schafer was once a can’t miss-top prospect who homered in his first major league AB; since then he has been in a tailspin, hitting .201 in 58 games with AAA Gwinnett in 2010. Kawakami, A Japanese pitcher the Braves signed to a 3 year deal, went 1-10 with the club in 2010. Most Under The Radar – Jonny Venters Very quietly had been a dominant force in the Braves bullpen. His career numbers include a 2.00 ERA, 93K, 39BB, 1.17 WHIP in 85 innings pitched. Most Fun – Peter Moylan This tatted-up Australian sidearmer seems like a really cool, down to earth guy; check out his Twitter and you would probably agree. Most Likely To Jump In A Fight – Dan Uggla Uggla is known as a great teammate and very nosed ballplayer. Plus- does his scoreboard photo make him look like a serial killer in some ways? Best Swing – Chipper Jones Chipper has always had a great stroke; ESPN recognized it as one of the top 10 in the game in 2009. Most Respected – Brian McCann McCann never shows a hint of cockiness in interviews or while he plays; he has always been a fan favorite. A quiet star with a growing trophy case, McCann successfully goes about his business without drawing much attention to himself. Best Stuff – Craig KimbrelWhen the Braves are on the road, fans of the home team may start hitting the exits. Through this point in his career- Kimbrel has the the highest strike out rate to batters faced in major league history. Most Likely To Be A Yankee –Tommy HansonHanson hired Scott Boras for an agent in 2010, likely trying to cash in when he becomes an unrestricted free-agent in 2016. Best Teammate – David RossRoss could start for several other teams in the major leagues, but instead enjoys his role as the Braves backup. Ross plays hard, is recognized as a GREAT clubhouse guy and usually produces when called upon. Most Swagger – Jason HeywardJason glides on the bases and in the outfield and is an extremely imposing hitter in the on deck circle. Heyward would easily be tagged as the Braves ‘coolest’ player. Most Likely To Make You Laugh –Tim HudsonIf you haven’t seen some of his videos of scaring Eddie Perez a few years back, make sure you check that out on YouTube- It’s hilarious. Most Unforgettable – Brooks ConradBrooks arguably had the best game (walk-off grand slam trailing 9-3 in the 9th) and worst game (3 errors in game 3 of NLDS) of any Braves player in the 2010 season. Unfortunately for him, most people will remember him for the worst. Most Likely Spends Too Much Time On Their Hair – Nate McClouthDon’t get me wrong- I am one of the few fans that still like him, but Nasty Nate and his retro medieval knight hair style is a bit to ‘pretty’ for a ballplayer.

Ranking Braves – Total Value

Here is my ranking of players on the Braves roster for overall value, or in other words- players least likely to be involved in a trade or transaction to another team. Player value is completely different than skill level; for example- Ryan Zimmerman would be more valuable to a team than Alex Rodriguez, because his production at 6.3 million/year is much more valuable than A-Rod’s production at 33 million/year. This is just my opinion, you may disagree on a few of these… SURE! He’s Available #26 George Sherrill – If you want him, you got him. #25 Scott Linebrink – Why not?#24 Nate McLouth – Braves are hoping he will rebound, but owed 10+ million in 2012.#23 Matt Young – Career minor leaguer.#22 Brooks Conrad – Not much value to any team, decent bat off the bench.#21 Brandon Hicks – Still young, but projects as a bench/utility player.#20 Cristhian Martinez  – Average bullpen arm. Willing to Listen  #19 Eric Hinske – Solid affordable bench bat, good clubhouse presence, but could be expendable.#18 Eric O’Flaherty – Another solid bullpen arm, but his type is a dime a dozen in the Braves system.#17 Peter Moylan – Great stopper out of the bullpen, but increasing value will raise salary next year.#16 David Ross – Cheap and consistent bench catcher, much better than Corky Miller.#15 Alex Gonzalez – Great shortstop production wise for only 2.75 mil.#14 Derek Lowe – Veteran that has done everything the Braves could have asked for. A very durable consistent, inning-eating pitcher that always gives the team a chance to win. #13 Jair Jurrjens – Injury concerns over the past 2 years, along with the success of Minor and Beachy have made Jurrjens a possible trade piece if the right deal came along. No Way, Unless You Blow Us Away  #12 Chipper Jones – Still the face of the franchise, expensive and injury riddled star who’s value is not what it used to be, but hey- It’s still Chipper Jones!#11 Brandon Beachy – Really nice young starting pitcher that hasn’t done anything but pitch really well.#10 Mike Minor – Lefty starting pitcher, top draft pick and prospect that the team is still very high on.#9 Jonny Venters – Outstanding young and cheap bullpen arm and second best pitcher out of the pen. Would the Braves deal him if another team needed a closer and offered a nice package? #8 Dan Uggla – Arguably the best 2nd baseman in baseball since Utley’s always hurt; very hard nosed and hard working guy under a very reasonable contract for the next 5 years.#7 Martin Prado – Breakout player that is always trying to improve his game, a 2010 all-star that is making only 3.1 million in 2011.#6 Tim Hudson – Ace of the staff that gave the Braves a GREAT hometown discount. The Untouchables  #5 Craig Kimbrel – Wow, if the baseball world doesn’t know his name by now- they will soon. 22.2 innings pitched, 45 K’s and only 1 earned run allowed so far in his young career. A 22 year old dominant closer making 400k isn’t going anywhere.#4 Freddie Freeman – Could be the Braves powerful, all-star caliber first baseman for the next 10 years.#3 Tommy Hanson – Ace of the future; Braves wouldn’t trade him for Roy Halladay. Hanson wouldn’t even be brought up in trade discussion by another club.#2 Brian McCann – Good catcher’s are hard to find; In his first 5 big league seasons- McCann is a 5x All-Star and 4x Silver Slugger Award winner.   #1 Jason Heyward – No explanation necessary. The most hyped Brave since…well… anyone ever, is an explosive 5 tool player with out of the roof value. The rest of the league has taken notice; As a rookie- Heyward was voted to the All-Star game as a National League starter, finishing with the 6th highest vote total in the league.

Former Bravos: Where Now?

Former Atlanta Braves still in baseball: Pete Orr- Philadelphia PhilliesBlaine Boyer- New York MetsRyan Langerhans- Seattle MarinersLance Cormier- Los Angeles DodgersChad Paronto- Houston AstrosJo Jo Reyes- Toronto Blue JaysWillie Harris- New York MetsAndruw Jones- New York YankeesCharlie Morton- Pittsburgh PiratesBrent Lillibridge- Chicago White Sox Scott Thorman- Toledo Mudhens (Tigers AAA)Buddy Carlyle- Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees (Yankees AAA)Chuck James- Rochester Red Wings (Twins AAA)Corky Miller- Louisville Bats (Reds AAA)Clint Sammons- New Orleans Zephyrs (Mets AAA)Brandon Jones- Nashville Sounds (Brewers AAA)Anthony Lerew- Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks (Japan)Greg Norton- Manager, New Orleans Zephyrs Apparently Dayton Moore still have a love affair with former Atlanta players; these are former Braves on the Royals 40-man roster: Kyle DaviesBruce ChenBrayan PenaWilson BetemitMelky CabreraJeff FrancoeurGregor Blanco

Jeff Francoeur – Reality Check

In the world of professional athletics today, image and marketability can give someone the overwhelming benefit of the doubt. These athletes generally cruise along and survive by being with a popular franchise (Reggie Bush, Dale Jr.), having great past accomplishments that don’t match their current production (Derek Jeter, Brett Favre) or they are very good looking & attractive (Danica Patrick, Anna Kournikova). Jeff Francoeur has a little bit of each of these attached to his career; he was a very hyped, legendary high school prospect at Parkview HS in Georgia, winning multiple state championships in both football and baseball. The Braves selected him in the first round in the 2002 draft, a franchise that has a very large fan base all over the country thanks to TBS. He got through the system fairly quickly and found nothing but success in his first year in the majors, making a Sports Illustrated cover headlined as ‘The Natural.’ Frenchy has since failed to make the necessary adjustments to match those numbers at any level, but the real seller for Francoeur is his million dollar smile, christian messages and support from female fans. It is still difficult to attend a game at Turner Field and not see his #7 shirt or jersey worm by dozens on Braves fans. The reality is that Jeff is not much of a baseball player these days; in 2009 Atlanta’s golden boy was basically given away to a division rival and in 2010 was traded to Texas to provide some bench depth and spark for the playoffs (IMO it was a marketing move, Texas needed to land a cheap ‘goodlooking’ player to keep interest and support high in the fan base.). Since Opening Day 2008-Francoeur has basically been an everyday player, playing in 451 games. His production since then has been a TOTAL of 40 homers in 1647 at bats, a batting average of .255 and a league worst OBP of around .300. He strikes out a lot and does not draw many walks making him a risk in clutch or late game situations.In 2011 he was not offered a returning contract with Texas an opted to sign for less with the Royals as an everyday player instead on the Red Sox as a platoon type player. Francoeur hit .227 in spring training and still keeps his positive attitude insisting he is still an everyday player. If you can’t make it in Kansas City, well, you can’t make it anywhere, and I don’t foresee Francoeur making any kind of breakouts again in 2011.