Morning Chop: A Summary of Braves’ News
McDowell ‘happy with results’ of new Braves pact
ATLANTA — Roger McDowell entertained the option of becoming the Phillies’ pitching coach. But after receiving what he viewed as a fair contract from the Braves, he accepted the opportunity to continue working with a talented young pitching staff that he has helped mold over the past few years.
“I know I have my own kids, but I also have the pitching staff,” McDowell said. “Having seen them from their beginnings and seeing them grow up and go through their bumps and bruises, the chance to be able to continue being there for them is huge.”
As last week progressed, the possibility that McDowell could exit Atlanta seemed to increase. But everything changed on Saturday, when Braves general manager Frank Wren improved the financial aspect of the two-year contract he had offered McDowell three days earlier at Turner Field.
Without revealing the financial specifics, McDowell simply said he had no reluctance accepting this offer, which allows him to extend his long tenure with the Braves and remain close to his wife and children in Atlanta.
“There was always a hope it would happen,” McDowell said. “This was the organization where [Braves president and former general manager] John Schuerholz and [former manager] Bobby [Cox] gave me an opportunity to become a big league pitching coach. It was always my hope and desire that I would get to stay here. The Braves’ organization made it happen, and I am very happy with the results.”
Atlanta Braves Should Pursue Second Go-Round With Jeff Baker
Most fans probably have little-to-no memory of Jeff Baker spending September 2012 as a part of the Atlanta Braves roster. After all, GM Frank Wren brought the right-handed hitting utility man to the team in a deal that received little attention as it went down on Aug. 31 of that same year. The move was made in an effort to help shore up the bench for the stretch run, but the results did little to inspire.
In the short time he spent with the Braves, Baker appeared in just 14 games managing to scratch out a mere two hits over 19 at-bats. After the season came to a close, the franchise decided to sever ties and let him enter free agency.
In January of this year, the Texas Rangers decided to give Baker a shot at adding depth to their bench when they came to terms on a one-year contract worth $1.75 million. That price ended up being a bargain as the 32-year-old proved to be a solid part of the offense, especially versus lefties. Baker crushed southpaws to the tune of a 1.073 OPS and belted 10 homers in 123 plate appearances against them. As he once again hits the free-agent market, that level of production is sure to bring him a heftier payday this offseason.
Brian McCann may replace Saltalamacchia
After being drafted in the first round in 2003, Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s path to the majors with the Atlanta Braves was obstructed by fellow blue-chip catcher Brian McCann.
Now, in the ultimate irony, McCann could replace Saltalamacchia with the Red Sox.
If the Sox elect to move on from Saltalamacchia behind the plate — and it sure seems like the World Series champions are leaning in that direction — they likely will make a push for McCann, who also became a free agent last weekend. Although McCann figures to draw interest from several teams, including the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers, his agent told the Herald that the 29-year-old is “fascinated” by the possibility of playing for the Sox.
“Certainly, Boston is a city that Brian likes, and he has always respected the organization and the front office,” said B.B. Abbott, who stopped short of saying whether the Red Sox have called to express their interest. “Obviously, the coaching staff and the clubhouse unity is attractive. He has also always been fascinated with the fan base, their support of the Red Sox, and the history of the organization. Boston would certainly be a place that would be a consideration for Brian.”
Rant Sports MLB Top 50 Players of 2014: No. 36 Jason Heyward
Jason Heyward burst onto the scene in his first season with the Atlanta Braves in 2010, hitting a home run in his first ever MLB at-bat. Ever since then, he has struggled to stay on the field because of injuries. When healthy, Heyward is one of the more talented and exciting players in baseball.
In his rookie season, he hit for a .277/.393/.456 slash line with 18 home runs and 11 stolen bases. Heyward displayed amazing plate discipline and vision for a rookie, walking in 14.6 percent of his plate appearances.
Atlanta Braves Rumors
- The Braves have outrighted second baseman Philip Gosselin to Triple-A Gwinnett,according to the team’s Transactions page. The 25-year-old Gosselin made his MLB debut this year, collecting a pair of singles and a walk in seven plate appearances. In 469 minor league plate appearnces split between Double-A and Triple-A, Gosselin batted .254/.299/.318.