May 15, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA: Atlanta Braves outfielder Justin Upton blows a bubble against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Series Preview: Dodgers at Braves, ATL Views


We teamed back up with Lasorda’s Lair for the weekend series against the LA Dodgers as now they asked us the questions…below are the answers we provided for them!

 

Lasorda’s Lair: Is it time for for people aside from Fantasy owners to be concerned about Jason Heyward?

April 18, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Atlanta Braves right fielder Jason Heyward (22) at bat against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the third inning at PNC Park. The Atlanta Braves won 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Tomahawk Take: My gut is to say no…but others will say yes.  I’m still a huge ambassador of Jason Heyward and believe he will continue to grow into the player most thought he would be.  Yes, his 2013 start wasn’t the prettiest (it was actually very ugly hitting .121 with only two home runs) but remember it’s still May.  He had an emergency appendectomy surgery back in late April and has been on the DL since.  Hopefully his time on the DL has given him time to think about his swing and come back hitting like he did last year and his rookie season.

 

LL: Who is the next “Stud” in the Braves system?

TT: I’d have to go with the 23-year-old starting pitcher J.R. Graham.  He a Justin Verlander type pitcher as he get stronger as his inning and pitches add up.  He hits 100 on the radar gun and can hit that late in games.  He had a fantastic spring training in 2013 but the Braves sent him to Double-A to gain more experience.  Earlier this week he experience trouble with his throwing shoulder and had to go get it checked out.  We are still waiting on the results but hopefully it’s nothing major.

 

LL: Evan Gattis was swinging the bat really well and Brian McCann has come off the DL firing…how do the Braves get both of these guys AB’s?

TT: Evan Gattis has been a terrific story earlier this year for Atlanta and the fans to grab a hold of.  His back story and how he got to the Braves is an even better one.  But, the 26-year-old still needs some time to grow.  He got off to a rocket start but now is hitting on .246 and now that McCann is back, he will take over the catching role full time.  But with Jason Heyward supposedly coming off the DL on Friday, I believe they send Gattis down to Triple-A for him to continue seeing pitches and get routine at bats.  I can’t see them still his bat on the bench…send him to Gwinnett and let him catch, he may be the Braves 2014 starting catcher.

 

LL: Can the platoon at 3B with Chris Johnson and Juan Francisco provide enough offense or has Francisco won the job with Johnson’s recent struggles?

TT: True, Chris Johnson went on a recent slump going 0-18 but has gone 4-7 in the last two games he played in.  Johnson is still batting .324 in the 30 games he played in…the highest on the team.  Juan Francisco is hitting .258 in the 28 games he’s seen action in.  The platoon has seemed to work so far for Braves skipper Fredi Gonzalez so I see him continuing the sharing of playing time.

 

LL: Remind me how the Braves got Justin Upton for what they gave up? As a Dodgers fan he scared me every time he was at the plate…the question is will his brother perform up to his contract? The Braves seemed to pay a lot for a career .250 hitter.

TT: The Braves received Justin Upton and Chris Johnson in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks in January for five players including All-Star Martin Prado, one of their top pitching prospects Randall Delgado, right handed pitcher Zeke Spruill, shortstop Nick Ahmed and first basemen Brandon Drury.  Justin has started the season putting up MVP type numbers and he is as talented as anyone to put those numbers up all season.  Now on the other side of the coin is his brother B.J. Upton who has started 2013 wearing two left shoes…batting an awful .145 with a .242 on base percentage.  He’s supposedly an option for our leadoff spot but hitting like he is, he should be in the leadoff spot for the water cooler.  We’ve seen he’s got the talent to have good seasons so hopefully he can bounce out of his slump but there is no question the Braves did over pay for him.

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  • cheadrick

    Nice Q&A Jeff. Go Braves! Lots of questions I would love to have asked you Dodger guys ;)

  • fireboss

    Hi Jeff, is there a link to the Dodger questions you asked him?