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Chop-N-Change: An Atlanta Braves Blog | Page 28

Glavine's Back Where He Belongs; John Sickels Loves Our Minor League Arms

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Two nice things. First of all, Tom Glavine finally did what we all hoped he'd do: he retired and came back to the Braves organization, joining our front office. He's a very smart guy who also seems to have personal integrity, and during his long tenure as a Player's Association representative he undoubtedly made a lot of front office contacts and learned a lot about the business of baseball. I couldn't be happier to have him back with the organization for the long haul. He was my first favorite player, you know?

Then, John Sickels did an incredibly detailed and very complimentary writeup of the Braves' most prominent pitching prospects at Rome and Myrtle Beach, which you really just need to go read. The money line comes at the end:

Overall, the A-ball level looks very impressive in terms of pitching depth for the Braves. And these are just the obvious names that show up on prospect lists; there are other organization arms that could slot in, too. The bottom line is that both Myrtle Beach and Rome should have pitching staffs composed entirely of pitchers with major league potential, without much filler fodder.
Yeah, baby!

Oh, Crap

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The Tigers offered Johnny Damon $14 million for two years. I'm guessing that he's out of our hands.

Braves Make Offer To Damon

Written by Tom Gieryn on .

UPDATE 2: O'Brien changes his original report, now saying the Braves' offer is closer to $4.5 million total.  He doesn't think that's enough to get a deal done, but he says it's a strong first offer.  Tyler Kepner of the New York Times tweets that the offer is $2 million plus $2 million deferred, which is close to the Yankees' final offer.

UPDATE: O'Brien now adds that the Braves' offer is "believed to be worth at least $5 million, although some of that would be deferred."

It's been awhile since we've seen anything resembling a "real" rumor regarding the Braves, but today we've definitely got something on our hands.  Mark Bowman of MLB.com and David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution are both reporting that the Braves have made a one-year contract offer to free-agent left fielder Johnny Damon.  O'Brien characterizes the offer as "initial," says that the Braves' interest is "increased" and that they've even had Chipper Jones make a recruiting call of sorts to Damon.  Bowman's source adds that at least some of the money is deferred.  O'Brien (who has a pretty good connection with Scott Boras) tells us that Boras and Damon are still holding out for a two-year offer.

I remain 100% in support of a move to add outfield quality and depth by signing Damon, especially if some of the money involved is deferred.  I'd even be willing to make a two-year offer, worth perhaps $8 million total--again assuming deferral of some of the salary.  Even if Damon doesn't repeat his 2009 season (which he won't, given his age and his move out of NuYankee Stadium), he'll still likely be an offensive asset.  He can lead off and allow Nate McLouth to hit lower in the order.  Baseball Prospectus even projects him to be a neutral defender in the outfield; even if he's a negative, he'll be an improvement on Garret Anderson out there.  Have no fear that Jason Heyward will get his chance at stardom, with or without Damon.  I see the downside as minimal, and the upside as extremely significant.

Hanging with Heyward

Written by Kristi Dosh on .

Earlier this week I was lucky enough to spend some time with the number one prospect in Major League Baseball, Jason Heyward.  He and I are both involved with L.E.A.D., an amazing organization in Atlanta that is bringing baseball to the inner-city in a new and innovative way.  In the past, I've had the pleasure of volunteering with his mother, who is simply delightful.  I knew before I ever spoke with Jason that he was an outstanding young man because of his hands-on involvement with L.E.A.D. and the wonderful upbringing he had with such terrific parents.

I wasn't disappointed in anything I observed about Jason Heyward up close and personal earlier this week.  I was lucky enough to get to sit in on his session in the batting cage, and I was struck by his professional demeanor.  While he carried on conversations with other players outside of the cage, he was completely focused inside the cage.  It was impossible to watch and not notice how seriously he took this opportunity to hit in the cage and get instruction.

I observed several things about Heyward's routine in the cage.  In a round of soft toss I noticed that he was lifting his back leg up and bending at the knee when he swung.  Later, I asked hitting instructor, CJ Stewart, why Jason was picking up his back leg during soft toss.  CJ explained that this was part of a drill Heyward learned years ago that teaches the importance of shifting your weight during your swing from the back to front leg.  As a pitching instructor who makes my easily-embarrassed teenage girls stand on one leg for the "flamingo drill," this is going to make for a great example.  Even Jason Heyward, the number one prospect in Minor League Baseball, goes back to drills to improve his game.  Take notes, girls!

Another thing I noticed was that Heyward talked to himself in the later rounds.  He'd call out a situation as he got in his stance, like "runner on second," and then he'd say something like, "That'll work!" after the contact if he thought he hit the ball like he wanted.  I also noted that he took the time to get in his stance before each pitch and both his stance and his swing remained consistent through all of the rounds he took in the cage. 

If you haven't already heard, Heyward has a beautiful swing.  And  if you haven't heard, you probably shouldn't call yourself a baseball fan because it's impossible to escape the talk of this rising talent.  His stature and the full follow-through on his swings most reminds me of Fred McGriff, who I've heard him compared to more than once.  It makes me excited to be a Braves fan.

For me, the only thing better than a top prospect who is reminiscent of Fred McGriff is one who is also a great role model for young fans.  Heyward is all that and more.  The first time I met him was in early November at a luncheon for L.E.A.D.  I've been to events in the past when sports figures or celebrities slipped in just before they took the podium and slipped back out immediately after they spoke.  It seems to happen more often than not, but it's not what happened when Jason Heyward came to the L.E.A.D. luncheon.  I saw him pose for dozens of pictures with people and spend time talking to some of the young athletes who participate in L.E.A.D.  His speech was all about giving back and getting involved, and after observing him I don't doubt that he will continue to be an integral part of L.E.A.D. throughout the years. 

The second time I saw Jason was the day following the luncheon when he participated in the celebrity clinic L.E.A.D. put on for inner-city youth.  Jason was there from start to finish, along with his parents and brother who were also extraordinarily kind and generous people. 

Going into my third encounter with Jason this week, I wanted to respect him while he worked in the cage, but I was also dying to talk to him about some of the subjects in my book.  I waited until he was done batting and then asked if he'd mind a couple of questions.  It wasn't at all an interview but just a fun chat with someone else who loves the game of baseball.  He was incredibly generous with his time and knowledgeable about the inner-workings of the business of baseball.  It was truly a pleasure to talk to him.

With the natural talent that he has so well refined through his hard work, Jason Heyward is sure to be an impactful addition to the Braves lineup.  More than that though, he's a terrific role model for all the young fans.  You may not agree that sports figures should be role models, but the bottom line is that they are and so often they forget the little guys out there watching them with hopeful eyes.  Jason Heyward is someone all Braves fans, young or old, will be proud to claim as our own.

So, a big thank you to Jason Heyward and CJ Stewart for letting me have a front row seat outside the cage, and a special thanks to Jason for letting me pick his brain on boring things like revenue sharing!  Also, thanks to Dexter Fowler, Jay Austin, Scott Robinson and Telvin Nash for letting me watch their sessions in the cage as well!  It was an afternoon any baseball fan would love to have!

Javy Lopez kinda sorta all but admits to using steroids

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David O'Brien's latest blog post quotes part of a long interview that Javy Lopez did with Atlanta Baseball Talk.

Here's the important part, as transcribed by O'Brien (it comes at around 40:30):

Lopez was then asked flatly if players were looking at steroids as an option and using them.

“Uh, yes,” he said. “In my opinion, yes…. I mean, how can I explain this? It’s like if you’re going to race cars, if you’re going to race a car and some people are using nitro in the fuel [Lopez laughed], and you see them winning all the time, and you’re using regular gas – you know what? If they’re using nitro and they’ve been winning, well, I’d be stupid enough not to use nitro, too.”

Look, everyone's innocent until proven guilty. But people have been whispering about Javy since his career year in 2003, when he hit 43 home runs in just 129 games and batted .328/.378/.687. I'm not trying to indict him on circumstantial evidence... but it's not hard to see what he's saying. He's saying that when everyone's using, you have to use too. And it doesn't seem like a stretch to imagine that he's actually talking about himself.

The Greatest Meme in the History of Whatever.

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You're probably aware that our old friend Rany Jazayerli has occasional differences of opinion with the Royals brain trust regarding their management of the team. Yet despite Rany's years of torment, the team still manages to surprise him. Just two days ago, he noticed a quote by an unnamed team official who was expressing shock that the 2009 season went as badly as it did:

Everybody thought we had the greatest offseason in the history of whatever and people in the game were saying we did as good as anybody in improving the team.

Which... yeah. Wow.

After dropping his jaw for several paragraphs, Rany finally responds to it:

I could criticize this quote from now till kingdom come, but really, this quote transcends criticism. It is a masterpiece of hallucinatory thinking. I’m convinced the secret to cold fusion is locked somewhere inside that quote. So the only proper response is not criticism – it is mockery.

Rany then challenged his readers to invent other historical situations to which this meme could be applied -- including France in World War II, the makers of Heaven's Gate, and the advisers to Martha Coakley's losing Senate campaign in Massachusetts -- and I thought that our corner of the blogosphere should contribute.

The producers of "The Magic Hour" with Magic Johnson, 1998: Everybody thought we had the greatest talk show in the history of whatever and people in the business were saying we did as good as anybody in hiring a talk show host.

Nikita Khrushchev, 1962: Everybody thought we had the greatest missiles in the history of whatever and people in the Kremlin were saying we did as good as anybody in picking a country to put them in.

Atlanta, 1864: Everybody thought we had the greatest wooden buildings in the history of whatever and people in the Confederacy were saying we did as good as anybody at making them fireproof.

Your turn!

Asst. GM on Damon: "Never Say Never"

Written by Tom Gieryn on .

Bill Shanks of Scout.com has a report from the Braves' Caravan in Macon today, where he quotes assistant general manager Bruce Manno on the possibility of the Braves signing free-agent left fielder Johnny Damon: "Never say never."  Shanks points out the similarity between Damon's situation and that of Garret Anderson last winter.  Both are Scott Boras clients.  Anderson signed with the Braves last year on February 22, at a $9.5 million pay cut from his 2008 salary.  Shanks also has a pretty good article on why the Braves need to sign Damon.  Though I don't agree with him on all his points, his point #1 is enough for me: Damon makes the lineup significantly better.  I'm holding out hope.

Our Top Story Tonight: Johnny Damon Still Not a Brave

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So, like, there's less than nothing going on. I really would love it if the Braves got Johnny Damon -- because I really would love it if they kept Heyward on the farm for a couple more months, to get in his licks against pitchers with secondary pitches and keep his arbitration clock stopped. But I would be shocked if they did. It's February, which means their pennies are more or less counted, and Damon's already balked at 1 year, $6 million from the Yanks. I doubt that we'd be able to offer him much more than Garret Anderson money. His bat would look very nice in our lineup, provided that he doesn't remember how old he is, but I just don't believe we're gonna get him. (Apparently, we haven't spoken to Scott Boras about Damon in a month and a half, but those kind of rumors are about as unreliable as it gets, especially when Boras is involved.)

Sucks, though.

One piece of good news: it looks like the leader of the Pakistan Taliban is dead.

Chop-N-Change Mobile Applications

Written by Bloguin on .

iphoneWe're proud to announce a partnership with Notice Software for mobile applications of  Chop-N-Change and other Bloguin partner sites for the Iphone and Android Smart Phones (read the press release)

Although bloggers probably don't get away from their computers enough, we understand that you do. However that shouldn't hinder your ability to consume some of the great content across Bloguin when you know you're in a boring conversation, waiting for your friend, on the road, procrastinating at work, or stuck at a horrible movie with Nicholas Cage in it.

By downloading one of these apps you'll be able to:

- be notified of new content updates
- read and search through all articles
- see relevant content across the network
- and in a future release have the ability to read and leave comments

Below is a list of the sites that have applications as well as a few screenshots of what to expect along with some links on how to get these applications. We'll be updating this list as more sites become available.

iphoneChop-N-Change

Iphone App

Android- just search Chop-N-Change in app store

 

 

Bloguin

Info page

Iphone Apps


Keith Law and MLB.com Agree: The Braves Have One of the Best Farm Systems in the Majors

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In the last 24 hours, two more lists of top prospects have come out: MLB.com's Top 60 and Keith Law's Top 100. Both lists are largely scout-driven, though MLB.com's is basically the result of a poll and Law's is mostly based on his own eyes. Law also said that he tended to give weight to high-upside players, rather than lower-upside players who were nonetheless closer to the majors -- which is why Mike Minor was #58 on the MLB.com list and left off of Law's list entirely.

Still, there were a lot of similarities. Jason Heyward was #1 on both (and both posted video of his smooth, sweet swing). And they praised a lot of other Braves prospects as well. The Braves had four prospects listed on the MLB.com list, tied for most in baseball with the Indians, Rays, and Royals. They had five prospects on Law's list, tied for third-most in baseball with the Indians and Reds, and behind only the Red Sox and Rays. No matter how you look at it, a growing consensus of scouts agrees that the Braves system is one of the best in the big leagues, and by far one of the best in the NL.

The four Braves on the MLB.com list were #1 Jason Heyward, #34 Julio Teheran, #58 Mike Minor, and #59 Freddie Freeman. The five Braves on the Law list were #1 Jason Heyward, #43 Arodys Vizcaino, #63 Julio Teheran, #67 Freddie Freeman, and #85 Randall Dalgado. Christian Bethancourt was nowhere to be found on either list, but I'm guessing we'll see plenty of his name next year.

Just because I'm a glutton for praise, I've pasted what they wrote, below the jump...


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