Red Hot Braves Head to Chicago

After taking 6 of 7 from the West Division leading Diamondbacks and Wildcard chasing Giants the red hot Braves head to Wrigley today to face the Cubbies for four before ending the month in New York with three against the Mets.  Since taking 2 of 3 from the Braves last weekend the Cubs are 3 and 3 losing a series to Houston 2-1 and winning 2 of 3 from arch rivals the Cardinals. In the interim they pit Carlos Zambrano on the disqualified list and finally fired long time GM Jim Hendry. Life is nothing if not interesting in Cub land. Tonight they start their most dependable starter in recent history Ryan Dempster against Jair Jurrjens.

Dempster is 10-8 with a 4.61 ERA and 1.374 WHIP this year. He’s averaging nearly a strikeout an inning and just under a home run a game. Playing in the “Friendly Confines” that isn’t a bad home run stat. In his last five starts Dempster is 3-1 with a 3.09 ERA and a 1.188 WHIP allowing 11 runs in his 32 innings.

Everyone knows the struggles Jurrjens has faced since the All Star break. A strained knee forced a visit to the disabled list and in his three starts he’s 0-2 with a 5.50 ERA, a 1.556 WHIP and 11 runs allowed in his 18 innings including three homers. I’m looking for Jurrjens to get back on track and be a force for us in the playoffs. Wrigley is tough on pitchers. If he can assert himself there it will be a good sign for the Braves. Game time is 8:05 eastern tonight.

Peter Moylan will begin an injury rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett tonight following surgery on May 17 to repair a bulging disk in his lower back. Hurry back Pete, Scott Linebrink needs a vacation. Meanwhile Tommy Hanson (shoulder) plans to throw in the bullpen before tonight’s game in Chicago and could begin a rehab stint with Greenville on Saturday.

Now some random stuff I saw this morning that I found interesting or amusing and wanted to foist upon you.

I found the following tidbit from John Autin at the Baseball Reference Blog interesting this morning.

Hudson and Venters and Kimbrel, oh my! That trio of Bravos shut out the Snakes on 5 hits, while Alex Gonzalez‘s HR dealt Josh Collmenter a 1-0 loss and completed a 3-game sweep of the NL West leaders. It was ATL’s 2nd 1-0 win this week, and Arizona’s 5th straight loss, during which they’ve scored 6 runs; they now lead the Giants by 1.5 games.

  • Gonzalez has homered in 2 of Atlanta’s 3 wins by 1-0 wins this year. Chipper Jones homered in the other.
  • The win was Hudson’s 13th this year and the 178th of his career, tying him with Hippo Vaughn at #158 on the all-time Wins list. (Will I use any excuse to name-drop Hippo Vaughn? I haven’t found one yet that didn’t suffice!) Hudson’s 86 wins since joining Atlanta in 2005 are 39 more than other Brave; and since reaching the majors in 1999, he’s 2nd in Wins, 4th in IP and 3rd in Wins Above Replacement

— Who’d’ve thunk it?, James Loney went 4 for 4 with a HR and a double (just his 3rd multi-XBH game of the year) … but Kevin Millwood still got his first NL win since 2004.

— The Mets announced a welcome change in their family-friendly Sunday program for the rest of the season: Instead of running the bases after the game, kids age 10 and under can take part in a pre-game throwing contest. The winner gets to pitch the 8th inning.

John is always a font of information, some of it useful . I encourage you to check him out.

According to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune  the Cubs have approached Greg Maddux about remaining in the organization but bulldog was close to Hendry so what the answer will be only he knows.

The Angels Jered Weaver to a five-year, $85MM contract extension including a full no-trade clause, according to Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports (via Twitter), and various “significant” bonuses for winning the Cy Young and MVP awards and for earning All-Star berths. This buys out Weaver’s last year of arbitration and four years of free agency. It’s also the first time I can remember that Scott Boras hasn’t taken his players through arbitration to free agency regardless of who they played for. It may mark a realization by Boras that things are changing a bit in the free agent market and taking a really good offer early is not longer hurting his commission his client’s earning potential.

From a Braves point of view both Hanson and Jurrjens are Boras clients. Hanson isn’t eligible for his first arbitration year until 2013 with free agency available in 2016 and any extension talk with him is at least three years out.  Jurrjens has two arbitration years left and will be a free agent in 2014 so I don’t expect a move from either side until this time next year.

Michael Bourn is also a Boras client. I know the Braves would love to sign him to an extension before he hits free agency but most thought Boras would block that. This move by Weaver opens up the possibility that an extension is possible if the sides can agree reasonable terms. It will be interesting to see we can actually strike a deal with Boras and Air-Bourn or if the Weaver contract was a one off forced by Weaver’s directive to keep him with the Angels as long as possible.

Well, off to work now. If you have comments or questions let me know.

Tags: Greg Maddux Jair Jurrjens Jered Weaver Ryan Dempster Scott Boras Tommy Hanson

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