Results tagged ‘ Atlanta Braves ’
Well the first game of the 2009 season has come and gone, and I am left very content and still anxious for tomorrow’s slate of games. Let’s reflect on today’s game with my very first GAME OF THE DAY RECAP:
The story tonight was Derek Lowe.
Lowe was phenomenal in his first start with the Braves. He pitched 8 shutout innings, gave up only 2 hits, and did not walk one batter. His control was impeccable. The K-Zone on ESPN gave a great illustration on just how precise he was in his pitches. He was hitting corners and dropping balls out of the zone just in time to fan batters. He only struck out 4 batters, but he got most of his outs on ground balls, which is what you love to see from your pitcher. The first hit off of Lowe was Carlos Ruiz grounding a ball over top of 3rd base after Jeff Francoeur dropped a ball in foul territory that should’ve been caught. The second hit was a grounder up the middle by Jimmy Rollins. No one on the Phillies made good contact until the 9th when Lowe was out of the game, and Mike Gonzalez was pitching. Gonzo gave up 1 run, 2 hits and a walk, which at one point brought Ryan Howard up representing the tying run. Gonzalez got his 3 outs, but now starts the season with an ugly 9.00 ERA.
The Braves offense was the total opposite of the Phillies. They came out smoking the ball. Chipper Jones got one base with a 2 out hit in the first which was followed by a towering Brian McCann home run to the second deck in right field. Jeff Francoeur then led off the 2nd with a home run of his own, and rookie Jordan Schafer hit a home run in his first ever big league at bat 2 batters later. Phillies’ starter Brett Myers settled down after that, and finished the game with a line of 6 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 6 K. Myers didn’t look good at all in this game, but I guess you could say he did give the Phillies somewhat of a shot to win the game, actually I’d credit that more towards Mike Gonzalez.
The Braves finished with 8 hits, Phillies with 4, and neither team committed an error.
As for my prediction, I was incredibly wrong when I said the Braves wouldn’t hit any home runs, I did however predict Jordan Schafer to have an RBI, and I got the winner of the game right, which is really all that matters.
This now brings me to a competitive offer to the rest of you bloggers. I am going to start a contest where any blogger who wants to compete will pick the winners to all the games once a week, on Fridays, and we’ll see who predicts the most right. So every Friday bloggers will post their predicted winners, and we’ll add all the stuff up every week and keep running standings. I figure Friday is a good day for it because there are never afternoon games Fridays so people will have all day to get their picks in. Leave a comment if you’re going to compete!
Tomorrow is the best day of the year, I don’t think I’ll be sleeping very much tonight!
Alright well we are only 10 days away from opening night, so I figured now is a great chance to start my divisional previews. Since I’m a national league guy, we’ll start right at the top with the National League East. I will rank the teams in 3 categories, hitting, pitching, and peripherals (if you will). Let’s get to it.
- The Mets come in to 2009 with something to prove. They have two consecutive years of choking in September which both resulted in missing the playoffs. This team’s offense has been one of the best in the game the last 5 years. In 2008, they averaged 4.9 runs a game, tied for 2nd in the national league. This lineup features great hitters in Jose Reyes, David Wright, Carlos Beltran, and Carlos Delgado, along with a young left fielder in Daniel Murphy with loads of potential.
- The world champion Phillies tied the Mets for 2nd in the NL in runs per game last year. Their offense was led by Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Pat Burrell. The Phillies lost Burrell to free agency this offseason, but picked up Raul Ibanez to help fill the void. All-in-all, this lineup is deadly and could very well lead the Phillies to their 2nd division title in as many years.
- The Marlins are full of youth. This unit averaged 4.8 runs per game last season, a very solid number. The signs show this team going no where but up. The offense is led by Hanley Ramirez, and supported by Jeremy Hermida, Dan Uggla, and soon to be 22 year old Cameron Maybin. I definitely see the Marlins contending with the top of this division, almost singly because of this offense.
- The Nationals made a splash this offseason by adding Adam Dunn, who is far and away the best hitter on this team. That should provide done with a lot of confidence, and my guess is he’ll be swinging for the fences every single at bat. This could result in a 50+ home run season for one of the big league’s best power hitters. Dunn will be helped by (still young) Ryan Zimmerman, Lastings Milledge, and Elijah Dukes, who all have potential to put up good numbers this year.
- It seems like the Braves have been going downhill for a couple of years now. They’re record streak of division titles ended in 2007, and the offense doesn’t look potent. They averaged 4.6 runs per game last year. Their offense (still) features Chipper Jones, however it’s kind of weak after that because of the offseason loss of Mark Teixeira. Brian McCann is a budding young slugger at the catcher position, but it’s bad news when you rely on your catcher for most of your offense. Guys that need to step up this year are Josh Anderson, Kelly Johnson, and Casey Kotchman.
- The Phillies ranked first in the NL East in runs allowed last year. Their pitching is what got them to the World Series. Cole Hamels is an already established ace who will just keep getting better, barring that elbow issue. Brett Myers, Joe Blanton, and Jamey Moyer should lead the Phillies to once again rank first in runs allowed this year.
- Two words : Johan Santana. Johan is probably my pick for Cy Young this year. He is going to be unbelievable. The problem is, there isn’t much in this rotation after him. Mike Pelfrey and John Maine could both have solid seasons, but there are question marks. If those guys pitch well, this pitching staff could be the best the Mets have had in awhile.
- I almost took the Braves to be second in this category. The offseason additions of Derek Lowe and Javier Vasquez should do nothing but improve last year’s mark of 4.8 runs allowed per game. 2008 breakout Jair Jurrjens makes a very nice looking 3 starter. I really like this pitching staff for the Braves. Although Mike Gonzalez is kind of shaky in the closer role. I’m rooting for him though.
- The Marlins are very youthful on this side of the ball as well. At the top of this staff is Ricky Nolasco, who could have a monster season. Josh Johnson and Chris Volstad are also guys with a lot of upside. Andrew Miller will be in the 5 spot, which could really determine how this rotation fairs. Miller was a top prospect and has nasty stuff. If he takes positive strides this year, this Marlins rotation could surprise you.
- I was generous to the Nats in putting them 4th in the hitting race, but it’s not going to happen here. John Lannon, Scott Olsen, Daniel Cabrera, and another Zimmerman? Really? Nationals lose a ton of games because of this rotation.
So here’s my final standings for the 2009 National League East:
New York Mets…………………..98 – 64
Philadelphia Philles………….. 90 – 72
Florida Marlins…………………..85 – 79
Atlanta Braves……………………78 – 86
Washington Nationals…………68 – 96
Alright we are now only 11 days away from opening night, when the Philadelphia Phillies begin their quest to defend their championship against the Atlanta Braves. As we approach the final week of spring training, the every day big league hitters are really starting to gear up and really start swinging the bats. I’m looking forward to looking around the league to see what happens in this last week of spring training, but I am even more looking forward to the end of spring training. It’s been going on forever, let’s get to the regular season already! Anyways, let’s get to some Pirates news.
The Pirates defeated the Atlanta Braves 5-2 last night. The big story here was Ross Ohlendorf. Ross pitched 6 scoreless innings, giving up 5 hits and striking out 3. His spring ERA is now down to 0.59, making him a lock for a spot in the starting rotation (at least he’s a lock in my book). He has looked terrific, being efficient and location all of his pitches extremely well. I’d love to see him in the 4th spot in the rotation, preceded by Maholm, Snell, and Duke, and followed by Karstens. The Pirates offense was provided by Craig Monroe, Nate McLouth, and Ryan Doumit. Let’s take a closer look at these three hitters, shall we??
- Craig Monroe
Craig Monroe has been stellar for his new team this spring. He’s hitting .302 with 12 RBI and 6 runs. Monroe is a lifetime .253 hitter, which is obviously not too good. He has had three 20+ home run seasons, but that’s in his past. Monroe is going to be nothing more than a pinch hitter and a situational player. I don’t know who will have the advantage between Monroe and Hinske. They will be two great players coming off the bench. Personally, I like Eric Hinske better, just because of his defense. Hinske, by the way, is a career .254 hitter. He had 24 homers in his first season, and hit 20 again last season. His defense is definitely superior to that of Monroe, but the way Monroe has looked this spring, I don’t see how you could look him over that quickly. It’s a good problem to have. If the Pirates do indeed record their 17th consecutive losing season, it won’t be the fault of the outfield.
- Nate McLouth
Nate McLouth, pretty much the single reason to watch the Pirates last year, had success out of nowhere. No one expected him to do that. The only reason he even became an every day player was because of his awesome performance in spring training last year. He is mimicking that success again this spring. He’s hitting .325 with 3 home runs and 8 RBI. The average is good to see. McLouth hit .276 last year. Don’t expect a .300 season from McLouth. I’m a little weary of his power numbers as well, I don’t see him hitting 26 homers again this year. If he stays healthy all year, he’ll probably eclipse 20. I would also say he’s not going to repeat his RBI number again (94). Hitting in the 3 hole, it’s a guaranteed minimum 75, with potential to get to 100. I’m thinking somewhere in the mid to high 80′s. With hitters Nyjer Morgan and Freddy Sanchez hitting in front of him, I’m not seeing many runners to be on base for Nate (at least until Andrew McCutchen starts leading off for the Pirates). Nate could very well make his 2nd consecutive all-star appearance, just because the rest of the club is so mediocre.
- Ryan Doumit
Ryan Doumit is one of the pillars that is holding the future together for the Pirates. He’s been showing good signs this spring as well. He is hitting .295 with 2 home runs and a .477 slugging percentage. Doumit is a rare catcher. He hit .318 last year, and it’s pretty rare to see a catcher hit that far above .300. His career average is .278. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Doumit’s average take a step backwards this year, but I definitely can see his power numbers rising. He hit a career high 15 homers last year. I expect Ryan to raise that number into the 20′s this year. This guy has great potential, and hitting in the clean up spot could warrant a legitimate chance to get to 100 RBI. Although his 69 ribs last year suggest otherwise. Maybe I’m expecting too much out of him, but I see Doumit as our best offensive player, so he’d better perform.
The Pirates play another night game tonight against the Rays at 7. Jeff Karstens will take the mound to try and boost his chances at making the rotation. We should be hearing word from manager John Russell soon about who the rotation will be. This is definitely a big start for Karstens. He hasn’t been great this spring, but has shown good signs and had some ups, enough to put him ahead of Virgil Vasquez, atleast. Personally, I’m rooting for Karstens. Let’s Go Bucs.
Well the Pirates are off to hot start this spring. Today Tom Gorzelanny will try to continue that hot streak. It would be a really good sign if Gorzo could have a nice spring and gain some confidence heading into the season, where he really will have to show that he’s got potential, or else this team might not have as much patience with him. Last year Gorzo had some moments, but was pretty atrocious most of the time, and he was demoted to AAA for most of the season. Now he is back and trying to impress and make the opening day squad. Personally, I like Gorzo, I think he has the stuff to be a solid MLB pitcher, but he just needs to work on his control, he has some maturing to do as well, so I hope we see good things out of him this spring. Sure, he’s never gonna be a #1 starter or an all-star, but I think he can definitely help the team in the next couple years. Anyways, looking at the bucs lineup for today, there are a lot of familiar names. Let’s lay it out.