Morning Chop: A Summary of Atlanta Braves’ News
[Editorial Note: During Christmas, Atlanta Braves' News slows down to a crawl. I've posted some new items here, but some of them are a few days old. They may well be items you missed though, so I'm hoping to get you caught up. Enjoy, and hope you had a marvelous Christmas!]
New year brings an enthusiastic outlook for Atlanta
ATLANTA — Change is in the air with the arrival of every new year. Resolutions will lead many to alter their diet and exercise habits with the hope of gaining a new and improved look.
With this winter’s free-agent departures of Tim Hudson and Brian McCann, the Braves lost their two longest-tenured players and slightly altered the look of a roster that, for the first time since 1987, will not include a player who played with John Smoltz in Atlanta.
But a strong sense of familiarity still surrounds the Braves as they enter 2014, anxiously looking forward to building on the success of a new era that was celebrated in September, when the club captured the National League East title.
Most of the same players who played a key role in winning the division title will be back to defend it. Each of the eight position players projected to be in the lineup on a regular basis made at least 89 starts for the Braves last year.
Three members of the projected Opening Day rotation made at least 10 starts for Atlanta in 2013. Manager Fredi Gonzalez‘s bullpen will also once again feature closer Craig Kimbrel and the three men — Jordan Walden, David Carpenter and Luis Avilan — who spent this summer proving to be capable setup men.
This has been a relatively quiet offseason for Braves general manager Frank Wren. Over the past few weeks, he has added depth by signing veteran starting pitcher Gavin Floyd and acquiring Ryan Doumit from the Twins to serve as a switch-hitting pinch-hitter with the capability of serving as a third catcher and a backup option at first base and the corner-outfield spots.
But, for the most part, Wren has spent this winter developing the belief that there was not much reason to tinker with what he already had the opportunity to bring into this new year.
DALE MURPHY NIGHT, 6/4/91
Dare you not to shed a tear as Murph trots onto the field in a Phillies uni to the accompaniment of “Auld Lang Syne” on the organ. Or during Number 3′s humble speech.
With Ernie Sr. as the MC — no one, save perhaps for Pearl Sandow, loved the Braves more.
DISSOLUTION OF A MARRIAGE: How the Braves’ partnership with Atlanta went bad
The Atlanta Braves prodded Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration for more attention on Turner Field, but what the team really wanted was something city officials said they couldn’t give: Total control.
Hundreds of emails released last week by the city show the Braves’ dismay at the slow pace of negotiations about a new lease. A senior executive complained in March about the team “being passed around” while the city approved a $1.2 billion stadium deal with the Falcons. The Braves saw the Falcons deal as fast-tracked while they had little to show after two years of talks with Reed’s administration.
But despite the team’s dissatisfaction with the city’s responsiveness, the Braves’ move to suburban Cobb County ultimately boils down to this: The city couldn’t give the Braves what they wanted — total control from concept to redevelopment of 55 acres the city and Fulton County own around Turner Field — because of conflict-of-interest laws.
The Braves at one point wanted to be given all the land around the downtown stadium. When told that ownership of the land could only be transferred through an open bidding process, the Braves didn’t want to risk losing the property to another bidder, city officials said.
The team later wanted to craft the bid process for the stadium-area redevelopment, apply for the work and select the winner — something city officials said was illegal. Under those conditions, they said, the Braves would have so great an advantage in winning the bid that the project could not have avoided a court challenge.
Atlanta Deputy COO suspended over Braves email
The Deputy Chief Operating Officer of the city of Atlanta is speaking out after being suspended for sending an offensive email.
FOX 5 News has obtained that email sent during talks between the Atlanta Braves and city officials over a stadium deal caused Hans Utz to be suspended. In the email, Utz uses a racial slur and profanity.
“They are not going to be calling themselves the Cobb Crackers or Smyrna (expletive deleted). They will be the Atlanta Braves and that’s an indication of the value of the city,” Utz wrote in that email that eventually led to his suspension.
The emailed remarks were made during the period where Atlanta was negotiating with the Braves to stay inside city limits. Since then, Cobb County has approved a new stadium site for the Braves, but the comments, email and others led to the unpaid suspension of Utz.
At least one city leader is disappointed by the disparaging remarks.