- Grapefruit League baseball starts tomorrow. David O’Brien has provided a full day-by-day list of all pitchers scheduled to appear this week. Tommy Hanson will take the mound in tomorrow’s opener vs. the Mets, which will be broadcast on MLB Network. It is one of 12 Braves games to be televised this spring, including March 23, 24 and 26 dates on EPSN.
- Jair Jurrjens had an “excellent” throwing session Monday morning, as Mark Bowman reports. He only threw around 15 pitches, but did so pain free. Encouraging news to say the least. Jurrjens will throw another bullpen session Wednesday.
- Here is D. Orlando Ledbetter’s 5 things we learned at the NFL combine. In it, he explains why Julius Peppers is too expensive and doesn’t fit in the Falcons plan of being fiscally responsible. He also provides a strong indication from Thomas Dimitroff that the team will not draft a defensive end in round 1. Dimitroff said he believes getting Peria Jerry back next season will help the pass rush from the interior and he feels Kroy Biermann can get the job done opposite of John Abraham.
- Earlier in the week, Sean Weatherspoon told Ledbetter that he’d like to play for the Falcons. I’ve been on the Weatherspoon bandwagon since the Senior Bowl. If the team really is satisfied with its defensive ends, the likelihood is that the 19th pick will be spent on a cornerback. But if there are no capable DBs available, and Weatherspoon is still there, I think he’d be a great fit.
- Mark Bradley has decided that the Falcons shouldn’t spend their first round pick on CJ Spiller. Glad he’s on board. I thought that it was a common sentiment among Falcons fans that with no 2nd round pick, the team couldn’t to take a luxury item like Spiller in round 1. But when Bradley entertained the idea last week, fifty-five percent of respondents said the Falcs would be “nuts” to pass on the speedster from Clemson.
Posted in Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Falcons, Major League Baseball, NFL
Tagged AJC, Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Falcons, broadcasting, D. Orlando Ledbetter, David O'Brien, NFL, nfl draft, Spring Training, Tommy Hanson
Jeff Schultz delivered on his promise for a fresh Jason Heyward column. Seemingly contrite for his own contribution to the hyperbole machine, he cautions readers to temper their expectations for J-Hey.
“The expectations in the past few weeks have grown like some mutant life form. First we wondered if he could make the team in spring training. Then we wondered how many cars he would destroy in batting practice. Now there’s a thought he has first ballot Hall of Famer stamped on his forehead. And if not, what’s wrong with those crazy voters?
….All of this begs the question: Is there a danger in expecting too much too soon?”
Astoundingly, Schultz doesn’t just contradict himself, he even hyperlinks us to the very column, to serve as an example of expectations gone wild. Are we expecting too much too soon? I don’t know. But after three separate AJC articles about the sound his bat makes during during batting practice in 72 hours, I’m leaning toward yes. If Schultz wants to find out who’s building Heyward up to an unreachable level, he needn’t look far. The answer is just one hyperlink away.
There’s little worry that Heyward won’t be able to handle the spotlight. His demeanor and patience at the plate are far beyond most of his peers, he’s an Albert Pujols/Manny Ramirez level genius at the plate. Don’t believe me? Compare Pujols’ minor league stats to Heyward’s, they’re remarkably similar. Heyward’s combined OPS for A, AA and AAA last season was .963, Albert’s OPS was .920 over three levels at age 20. The strikeout-to-walk ratios are nearly identical (47 SOs,46 walks for Pujols, 51 of each for Heyward) and the power and averages are similar as well. I’m not worried about Heyward failing to live up to the lofty image we’ve constructed for him, it’s very clear we’re dealing with a special talent. While it’s obvious why so many are enamored with the kid, his career will be more enjoyable if the Atlanta media stops being so annoyingly repetitive in singing his praises.
Other Braves notes-
- Buster Olney notes the Braves players and coaches have not shied away from singing Heyward’s praises. Compared to the way most veteran players deflect attention from high profile rookies, it’s a valid point.
- DOB says Jair Jurrjens may be close to returning. Jurrjens has been throwing pain-free for a few days and will look to throw his first bullpen session Monday.
- Tim Hudson was inducted into the inaugural Wall of Fame at Auburn. Frank Thomas and Bo Jackson were also honored in the class.
- Meant to discuss this earlier, but with all the Heyward hype it’s easy to forget about the other aspects of the team. With Jesse Chavez possibly emerging and Scott Proctor on track to be ready by April, the Braves patchwork bullpen just might come together. Still not sure how reliable a back end consisting of a 40 (Takashi Saito) and 38 year old (Billy Wagner) will be, but there is at least some promising depth behind them. With Moylan, Medlan, O’Flaherty, Chavez and hopefully Proctor, Cox will at least have more options than he did last season.
- Chipper Jones spoke honestly about retirement. My take is that like Bobby Cox, I can’t picture Braves baseball without him. Until he’s not wearing a tomahawk on his chest for opening day 2011, there’s no way I believe Chip’s remotely close to hanging it up.
- The Grapefruit league is less than a week away. I wouldn’t know it by looking outside, but it’s good to know that it’s almost spring somewhere, and Braves baseball will be here soon enough.
Posted in Atlanta Braves, Major League Baseball, Opinion
Tagged AJC, Albert Pujols, Atlanta Braves, Bobby Cox, Chipper Jones, David O'Brien, Jair Jurrjens, Jason Heyward, Jeff Schultz, retirement, Tim Hudson
A day after Jair Jurrjens told David O’Brien his shoulder was fine, DOB filed another report from Braves camp saying JJ is “not out of the woods yet”. Pitching coach Roger McDowell said that Jurrjens was feeling minimal pain during a long toss session this morning.
No structural damage, shoulder feels great, but we’re not out of the woods yet. Sound familiar to you? I don’t want to keep beating Barbaro, but I’m growing more worried about JJ’s shoulder with every report I read, given the similarities between him and every young pitcher who has ever had arm problems. First they get discomfort, then an MRI, followed by a clean bill of health, then minimal pain, then, boom, arm problems. 60 day DL.
Let’s hope there’s nothing really wrong, but the reality is we won’t know if its serious until it’s too late.
- Minor League baseball players will now be subject to blood-tests for HGH. The players union has resisted blood tests for years. But without major league service time, these players are not in the union so they’ll have no choice. This is a groundbreaking move for American professional sports, no other league currently tests for HGH.
- Jair Jurrjens told David O’Brien that his shoulder feels better. Also in the report was the revelation that Jordan Schafer’s tats now stretch from shoulder to elbow. Oh, and his hand is still progressing slowly.
- Who remembers JR House? The former Pirates farmhand and high school football hero signed a minor league contract with the Braves. Coming out of Nitro, WV high in 1998, House chose the minor leagues over a football scholarship to West Virginia, only to return to Morgantown for a year in 2004. He’s been a journeyman catcher ever since. 10 years ago, he shared the South Atlantic league MVP with Josh Hamilton.
- Georgia Tech is losing a really good option-QB to Georgia Southern. Jaybo Shaw was a ran the triple-option to perfection in limited time, but got tired of waiting behind Josh Nesbitt. Former Tech asssitant coach Jeff Monken has installed the same offense in Statesboro.