July 17, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann (16) shown on the on deck circle prior to his at bat against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at Turner Field. The Giants defeated the Braves 9-0. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Morning Chop: Braves News 3/29


Mar 7, 2013; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves left fielder Justin Upton (8) against the Detroit Tigers during a spring training game at Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Sports Jerks Network

2013 MLB Spring Training Stats Leaders


Justin Upton (ATL): 19/67, .284 BA, .930 OPS, 6 HR, 19 RBI, 12 R, 1 SB

One of two newly acquired Uptons, Justin leads the league with 19 RBI in just 67 at-bats this spring for the Braves who have four players on the leaders list. Over his last four seasons Upton is averaging a .286 BA, .846 OPS, 23 HR, 78 RBI, 92 R, 19 SB, and 30 2B.

Freddie Freeman (ATL): 25/73, .342 BA, 7 HR, 16 RBI, 15 R

In his first two seasons, Freeman hit 45 homers and drove in 171 – all before turning 23. Not only is he already a top 10 first baseman, he is still developing. I fully expect to see Freeman in his first All-Star game this season.

Juan Francisco (ATL): 23/65, .354 BA, 1.065 OPS, 6 HR, 14 RBI, 12 R, 4 2B

When Francisco was tasked with replacing Chipper Jones, I had my doubts (and I still do), but the 26-year-old is looking great through 23 spring games and with a strong lineup around him composed of the Uptons, Freeman, and Jayson Heyward, he just might be able to pull off a solid season.

Julio Teheran (ATL): 26 IP, 1.04 ERA, 0.62 WHIP, 35 K, 9 BB

Teheran has been one of the biggest stories of the spring, striking out a league-leading 35 batters while allowing just seven hits in 26 innings of work. Not only does Teheran have a lock on the Braves rotation, the 22-year-old is quickly becoming one of the most talked about fantasy prospects everywhere you look.


The Leadoff Walk

Mar 21, 2013; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons (19) reaches for a ground ball during the second inning against the Washington Nationals at Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Spring Spotlight: Andrelton Simmons

In the years since boasting the likes of Rafael Furcal and Edgar Renteria as its starting shortstop, the Atlanta Braves have been searching for a building block to man the position. Last season, the team handed the duties to rookie Tyler Pastornicky to begin the season, but he proved to be an inadequate starter for the contending Braves, and in mid-June, the team promoted one of its top prospects, Andrelton Simmons, as his replacement. The 22-year old did not disappoint.
Limited to just 49 games thanks to a midseason call-up and a broken hand suffered in July, Simmons dazzled during his abbreviated rookie season. After hitting .299/.352/.397 during his minor league career, Simmons surprised by holding his own during his first exposure to the big leagues. When the season ended, Simmons owned a .289/.335/.416 slash-line to go with an impressive 21/12 K/BB ratio. This kind of offensive production was a shock to many given the questions surrounding his bat’s ability to translate to the pro game.
Should Simmons play a full season, he could very well challenge Troy Tulowitzki, who remains the gold standard for offensive talent at the position, as the best all-around shortstop in baseball.

Brian McCann‘s Return Delayed

Braves catcher Brian McCann’s progress from offseason shoulder surgery has hit a bump and the six-time All Star’s return to game action is likely to be delayed more than initially expected. His original timetable had him slated for an early-April appearance in Atlanta’s lineup, but it looks more likely McCann will be sidelined for much of the season’s opening month.
This isn’t the worst news for Atlanta, as reports indicate McCann’s recovery isn’t stalling on the offensive end but with his ability to make throws from behind the plate. Considering he’s never been someone who has earned a ton of value with his throwing arm, this is a best-case scenario as far as setbacks go.
Despite his woes overall and a bum shoulder, McCann did manage 20 homers in 2012. With surgery and a cautious approach to his recovery, there’s no reason to think McCann won’t be at full strength in 2013, and in turn, surpassing last year’s home run total. Missing the first few weeks of the season may prevent McCann from making his seventh All Star team, but barring a setback, there’s no reason not to expect a return to All Star-level production at the plate.

Jonny Venters to see Dr. Andrews


Mar 7, 2013; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Jonny Venters (39) against the Detroit Tigers during a spring training game at Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Jonny Venters, the Atlanta Braves setup man, will have his sore elbow examined by Dr. James Andrews next week, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Andrews performed Tommy John surgery on Venters’ right elbow in 2005, when the pitcher was still in the minors. The famed orthopedic surgeon can’t see Venters until Wednesday because of the Easter holiday weekend.

Venters left Tuesday’s game with soreness in the elbow.

“It didn’t swell up,” he said, according to the newspaper. “It wasn’t terrible (on Wednesday), soreness-wise. Most of the soreness is in my muscles. So thats good. … I’m not too awful worried about it being anything.”




Why the Atlanta Braves Will Win the NL East in 2013

As we prepare for the 2013 season, many projections will have the Washington Nationals finishing ahead of the Atlanta Braves in the National League East — and for good reason.

However, if the Braves catch a couple of breaks along the way, it would not be much of a stretch to say this team could win the division and possibly the World Series.

…The Nationals are a great team that should easily make the playoffs and compete for the title. But if they slip up even in the slightest, the Braves will be right there waiting to take advantage.



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