Archive for the ‘Atlanta Braves’ Category

his name is dan uggla

The business of compiling a playoff roster is a messy one indeed. The Wild Card teams must consider many additional factors and have so many contingencies to plan for. The season is on the line, after all. Managers try building the best team they can to win one game.

For Cleveland, that meant pitchers. More pitchers. Pitchers stacked on pitchers stacked on top of more pitchers. Eleven in total, including two would-be starters if the Tribe moves on to the next round of games. The Red Sox set their roster similarly, opting for 11 pitchers on the post season roster.

Keeping starters over relievers makes sense, as those starters likely make better relievers than the guys who do that job ordinarily. It’s the hierarchy of pitching talent, really. Terry Francona dreamed on Corey Kluber, who averages 93 mph as a starter, humping his fastball in at 96 or even 97 in an all-out, one inning outing in a do-or-die game. That’s a better option than…the seventh guy in Cleveland’s usual bullpen. The Rays, conversely, only dressed nine pitchers for the battle in Cleveland. A study in contrasts, you know? (Tampa Bay will likely replace one position player with David Price for the ALDS.)

The Reds made their choices, keeping Billy Hamilton on their bench as a potential late-game weapon. Sadly, the nation was deprived the chance watching Billy run as no Red was able to getting on base on his behalf.

Unlike last season, the Atlanta Braves are spared the pain of the Wild Card game. Already home and cooled in the division series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Braves made some…brave (?) choices in building their NLDS roster. They kept trade deadline acquisition Scott Downs off the roster, opting for left-handed starter Alex Wood as their second bullpen lefty instead.

The big news, of course, is the choice to leave struggling slugger Dan Uggla on the sidelines. Or in the pressbox. Or at home. Wherever. Not on the field, because Dan Uggla ain’t playing in the NLDS. A bold choice that could end up being the right one for Fredi Gonzalez.

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MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Detroit Tigers

As I have noted in past installments of these ratings, this season has been one of the more static in terms of which players are on top and bottom of these ratings, at least the way I remember it. It may be that my memory is getting faulty, or maybe just selective. I dunno. But in this (likely) final rating of the season, there is still some interesting stuff to discuss beyond simply the ratings, leaders, and trailers.

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Brett Davis - USA Today Sports

Brett Davis – USA Today Sports

The closest the Braves have come to losing over their current winning streak — 10 games after a 4-1 Sunday night victory — was on July 29th, the fourth game in the stretch. Jordan Walden, giving usual closer Craig Kimbrel a rest day, allowed the tying run on a walk and two consecutive hits. With two outs and the bases loaded, Atlanta summoned its new secret bullpen weapon: left-hander Scott Downs, brought in via trade earlier that day from the Angels.

Downs, facing venerated fellow left-hander Todd Helton, made this tremendous play to get out of the inning:

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God bless the Houston Astros. If you’re going to run out a terrible roster with another top draft pick in mind, you don’t half-ass it. You go out and clear the decks of ANYTHING of value as soon as you can. The Astros traded their best pitcher and, possibly, only valid reliever this morning, shipping Jose Veras to the Tigers in exchange for teenage low-A outfielder Danry Vasquez and a player to be named later.

A few scant hours later, the Angels shipped out dependable lefty Scott Downs to Atlanta, netting rookie Cory Rasmus in return. Two nice acquisitions for two playoff-bound teams at very reasonable prices.

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Minnesota Twins v Atlanta Braves

Evan Gattis is more than just a baseball player. Right now, he is a terrific story of redemption and perseverance masquerading as a baseball player, an enormous man nicknamed El Oso Blanco – the White Bear – during a winter league stint in Venezuela.

The hulking frame, the cool nickname, everything down to the lack of batting gloves and wristbands, Evan Gattis is a hacky screenwriters dream, even more-so now that he is playing baseball at an uncommonly high level.

If Evan Gattis continues playing baseball as he’s played for the first two plus months of his big league career, he’ll no longer be a story first and a baseball player second. But for now, he is the subject of feature-length profiles everywhere he goes. His rich backstory is prime for the profiling (here are two such profiles, by Erika Gilbert of the National Post and Emma Span for Sports On Earth) but his numbers are beginning to eclipse the story of the troubled/wandering soul who made his way back to baseball after years away from the game.

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Coming into the season, hopes were high for Andrelton Simmons of the Atlanta Braves. He put on a show at the World Baseball Classic, demonstrating the skills that made his injury-shortened 2012 season.

While the power he displayed when facing random Taiwainese pitchers is yet to materialize in the big leagues, the defense that helped him essentially rise from single-A to the Show in one year has been on display pretty much every night.

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San Diego Padres v Los Angeles Dodgers

Stripped to a two-man bare essence, today’s Getting Blanked podcast features talk of the touching tributes to Boston made league-wide, the injury bug that keeps haunting the Dodgers (though it was a calf not a shoulder as we guessed/forgot), the suspended Phillies/Reds game which gave Jonathan Papelbon too much time to think (with a hat tip to CSN Philadelphia) and the Barves unstoppable Barvitude.

Hit the mp3 link for direct download right here.

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