Hello again everyone from the tropical paradise otherwise known as Lower Michigan. Rumor has it that it hit 65 on the thermometer here today, but being as I was on an airplane most of the past two days I wouldn’t know much about it. Instead I was studying new and innovative ways of getting my 6’5″ frame into the six inches of space allocated to me inside CRJ regional jets. Ugh!
I did find time to peruse the ‘net for relevant Braves stuff and even got to see quite a bit of recent video. Rather than just reporting things you may have already seen, I thought I’d pass along my take on a few things. In no particular order, here they are:
Count on seeing Stephen Marek back on the major league roster during 2011, with my guess being sooner rather than later. He has quality reliever stuff and has been giving the marching order to work on his control in Gwinnett. Rarely does everyone in the pen work out the way you think in spring training. I think he may be the first call-up for the pen. I think Proctor is toast. Let me say that another way: I really hope that Proctor is toast. The Braves have been incredibly patient with him in his recovery. From my perspective, he’s a year behind where he should be. He’s had more opportunity to regain arm strength than most would have gotten. I say that the Braves should put him on waivers. If he gets claimed, withdraw the waivers and work out a trade. More likely, he clears waivers and the Braves can assign him somewhere to keep working on what now seems to me to be a reclamation project. Chipper is obviously dialed-in. I think Fred alluded to Chipper version 2008. I think he looks more like Chipper version 2007, as his power stroke is back. Everyone needs to remember, though, that it’s always been hard for him to keep the swing dialed-in from both sides at the same time. As I’ve said before, though, the Hall-Of-Fame version of Chipper would respond to the problem by tightening things up on the problem side, giving up power for a while but not a lot of anything else. I really think that Chipper has a good chance of surprising a lot of people this year. He’ll start the season in better shape relative to wear and tear than he would have sans injury. And the injury has forced him into a workout regimen that I think will help cut down on the “nicks and bruises” that he usually loses so much time to. I’m going on record to predict he hits over .300 with 25+ homers while appearing in over 130 games. Brian McCann and Luis Salazar had a very long conversation yesterday. You can read a great piece on the conversation written by Mark Bowman on MLB.com here. . The key thing I got out of this was that McCann really does not (did not?) have his head back on straight before they spoke. I mean, I’m not crazy, I don’t expect him to snap his fingers and just be over it. But it did seem to me to be “invading his space” during games. At the concentration level these guys have to maintain, this just cannot be the case without a major impact on performance. The good news to me is that Salazar is being incredibly understanding and forgiving. He seems to be genuinely concerned with Brian’s well-being, not as a player but as a human being. And this sure makes Salazar an amazing human being in my book.
That’s it for now from me. I feel like I’m leaving something out that I meant to talk about. Oh yeah — Billy Wagner. I can’t believe that not a single person has commented on my last update. Heck, I even went so far as to make most of it serious. And sitting in the dog pen interviewing his dog “Slider”; man, it was muddy and poopy (and can you believe he makes the dog live outside? I have four labs who wonder why they don’t get to eat at the table like the rest of the family) . So, c’mon gang, let’s hear from you on this or on Billy!
Tags: Atlanta Braves Billy Wagner Braves Brian Mccann Chipper Jones Luis Salazar Scott Proctor Stephen Marek