Morning Chop: A Summary of Atlanta Braves’ News
Nicholson-Smith On McCann, Tanaka, Hudson, Johan
- Brian McCann hasn’t ruled out a return to the Braves, despite the fact that most pundits are projecting him to sign with an American League team on a contract that’s far too expensive for Atlanta’s liking. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes profiled McCann in September and predicted a five-year, $80MM deal.
- Tim Hudson‘s agent, Paul Cohen of TWC Sports, told Nicholson-Smith that his client wants to play for two or three more seasons and is interested in signing a multiyear contract this winter. I profiled Hudson last month, projecting a one-year, $9MM contract, but noted that some teams may be interested at two years.
Braves land 11 nominations for 2013 GIBBYs
Breakout seasons, Simmons’ defense highlight candidates for awards
ATLANTA — Over the next couple of weeks, the baseball world will debate the candidacies of the players positioned to be named the Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner in their respective leagues. At the same time, fans will have the opportunity to cast their votes to determine the winner in each of the wide-ranging categories recognized by the Greatness in Baseball Yearly (GIBBY) Awards.
The Braves candidates for this year’s GIBBY Awards are Craig Kimbrel (best closer), Andrelton Simmons (best defensive player and top play), Chris Johnson (breakout hitter), Mike Minor(breakout pitcher), Luis Avilan (top setup man), Evan Gattis and Julio Teheran (best rookie), Fredi Gonzalez (top manager), Frank Wren (top executive) and the Upton brothers (best walk-off home run).
Major League Baseball’s A-listers will take home 2013 GIBBY trophies — the ultimate honors of the industry’s awards season — based on votes by media, front-office personnel, MLB alumni, fans at MLB.com and the Society for American Baseball Research.
This year’s GIBBY Awards feature nominees in 22 categories. Individual honors will go to the MLB MVP, in addition to the year’s best starting pitcher, hitter, closer, setup man, rookie, breakout hitter, breakout pitcher, comeback player, defensive player, manager, executive and postseason performer.
Atlanta Braves: Is John Smoltz a Hall of Famer?
COMMENTARY | My favorite story about former Atlanta Braves starting pitcher John Smoltz comes in the form of a legendary injury report. It’s so legendary that Smoltz has vehemently denied its authenticity, calling it an urban legend.
The story goes that Smoltz, perhaps in a hurry or perhaps just not quite thinking straight, tried to iron a shirt that he was still wearing. He achieved predictable results, burning his chest, and was left needing to awkwardly explain to his team trainer the concerning lesion. Smoltz’s explanation of what happened is unfortunately plausible, so maybe none of it ever happened.
Regardless of the veracity of the ironing story, Smoltz’s career has proven his baseball intelligence by producing a career as unique as his legendary injury. Here are five reasons why he belongs in the Hall of Fame.
As Smoltz dominated, so did the Braves
Smoltz made his major-league debut in 1988, making 12 unremarkable starts before breaking out in 1989. From 1989-1993, Smoltz averaged 34 starts, nearly 232 innings pitched, 14 wins, an ERA between 2.85 and 3.85, and accumulated 20.9 fWAR. He was one of the game’s greats for the five years leading up to the strike, and a key cog for the Atlanta Braves as they began their record-setting run of division titles. He scuffled, relatively speaking, during the shortened 1994 season and returned to form in 1995. Then in 1996, he produced his career year.
Expanded replay to be tested in fall league
NEW YORK Expanded instant replay will be given a test next week by Major League Baseball at the Arizona Fall League.
MLB said the new video review procedures will be used during five AFL games from Tuesday through Nov. 9. AFL umpires will work the games and MLB umpires will observe. The contemplated procedures allow each manager one challenge over the first six innings and two from the seventh inning on. Challenged calls will be reviewed by a crew in MLB headquarters in New York City, which will make a final ruling.
Expanded video review, developed by Atlanta Braves President John Schuerholz, MLB Executive Vice President Joe Torre and MLB Special Assistant to the Commissioner Tony La Russa, is subject to approval by owners, the players’ association and the umpires’ union.
“The opportunity to test our ideas under game conditions with future major leaguers will be an important next step,” Schuerholz said in a statement Friday. “We look forward to examining new perspectives generated by play on the field and learning what modifications might prove beneficial before our committee issues our formal recommendation later this offseason.”
With Gritty Slugger Brian McCann, It’s Buyer Beware
When it comes to Brian McCann, the free-agent catcher who has spent his entire career with the Atlanta Braves, the phrase most often used is old school. A big, burly, bearded catcher with a picture-perfect left-handed swing, McCann is easy to imagine playing in baseball’s early days.
His reputation as someone not of this era was cemented in September when a preening Carlos Gomez of the Milwaukee Brewers circled the bases after a home run. As Gomez rounded third, McCann transformed into baseball’s version of Gandalf the Grey, standing in front of home plate, his mask on top of his head, his face bright red and his body language saying clearly to Gomez, “You shall not pass.”
It was, in the end, a pointless protest against Gomez’s cartoonish antics; the run was counted on an obstruction call against McCann. But that did not stop scores of writers from singing the praises of McCann, 29, for protecting baseball’s unwritten rules.
McCann’s fire, determination and leadership have some observers projecting a contract worth $100 million over six seasons. But given his position, his recent decline in durability and an expected drop in production as he enters his 30s, he appears to be the most likely of this off-season’s big-ticket free agents to end up becoming an albatross for the team that signs him.