Fight Night 1999: Perez vs. Byrd
The first-place Braves were fighting to keep their slim half-game lead in the NL East against the visiting Phillies. John Smoltz was on the mound, but he had given up four runs in three innings. The game had already seen some excitement in that Bobby Cox was ejected for arguing a double play call in the third inning, and the stadium suffered a 16-minute power outage. Leading off the bottom of the third was catcher Eddie Perez, stepping in against Paul Byrd, who had been teammates with Perez for two years prior and whom Byrd considered a friend; their lockers were right next to each other, after all. This was the second start in a week for Byrd against the Braves: just five days earlier, he was tagged for three home runs in a six-inning start at Philadelphia.
In that start, Byrd hit Perez in the back with a pitch in his first plate appearance of the game. Neither made a serious issue of it at the time, but now it’s a different story. Fast forward to the 30th, and in Perez’s first plate appearance, Byrd again plunks Perez but on the first pitch. Perez glares at Byrd and shouts some choice words at him, but no fighting ensues. Yet.
Unthinkable Roster Shake-Up in Atlanta Continues with Loss of O’Flaherty
Eric O’Flaherty has been a part of the Atlanta Braves bullpen since the team claimed him off waivers from Seattle in November of 2008.
He became an increasingly better pitcher during his time with the team, and in 2011 he partnered with Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel to create the strongest back end of a major league bullpen in years. That season, according to MLB.com, he became the first reliever in history torecord a sub-1.00 ERA with over 70 appearances.
So what in the world is Frank Wren doing by letting O’Flaherty go? His contract with Oakland (per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports) is valued at $7 million with a possibility of becoming $10 million, which, for an elite reliever, is a great deal.
What could possibly be the ultimate goal in this decision? If it is a move to save money, that makes no sense at all. If it is to improve the bullpen, that is absolutely absurd. The secret was out on O’Flaherty in 2012, when he threw for a 1.73 ERA over 64 appearances of undefeated pitching.
He not only lived up to the hype—he clearly established himself as one of the game’s greatest relievers.
Evan Gattis: Atlanta Braves Catcher Should Have MVP Caliber Season
or the catcher position in 2013, the Atlanta Braves really went all out. They had one of the game’s best catchers manning the position in Brian McCann but still were able to get time for both Gerald Laird and Evan Gattis at the position. Gattis went on to have a rookie season good enough to place him seventh in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. That’s with him bouncing all over the field, picking up a great deal of time in left field by the end of the year.
As the 2014 pitchers and catchers day to report draws nearer, you can bet that Gattis is looking forward to hitting camp as the team’s number one catcher. Laird is still there and will no doubt provide great backup as well as the ability for Gattis to learn from a catching veteran the ins and outs of the MLB catching game. Ryan Doumit has been brought in to spell them both at that spot as well as provide a solid bench bat.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE 10 YEARS MAKE
In 2003, the Braves’ $106 million payroll was the third-highest in baseball, behind only the Yankees and Mets.
In 2013, they ranked 16th, with $89 million committed to player salaries. In 2014, the Royals and D’backs appear primed to have higher payrolls.
I hate to be keep being a wet blanket, but those who think the Braves will re-sign either Jay Hey or Freddie are dreaming. It ain’t happening.
Blame Liberty, and the man who made their ownership possible:
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