The Braves have had two major losses this off-season, as Tim Hudson and Brian McCann have moved on and left some holes not only in the lineup, but also in the leadership role. Otherwise, Atlanta has pretty much left their team intact. They have made two acquisitions, starting pitcher Gavin Floyd, and catcher Ryan Doumit. Gavin Floyd will give the starting rotation depth as he is coming back from Tommy John surgery and won’t be back until around May. Doumit is an interesting case, as we saw last season Fredi Gonzalez likes to carry three catchers on the team. Doumit’s original position is catcher, but can also play in the outfield as well as at first base. Doumit will give the Braves flexibility as it will give them the option of pinch hitting Evan Gattis when he’s not starting for Gerald Laird. Ryan can also serve as a backup plan just in case B.J. Upton doesn’t return to form.
With the departure of Hudson and McCann, a big question being asked is “who will be the leader of the team?” Surprisingly, the longest tenured Brave is now starting pitcher Kris Medlen. It appears that the team is comfortable with the players they have right now being the leadership for the team. Freddie Freeman, Jason Heyward, Kris Medlen and even Craig Kimbrel are on the list of the leaders of the ball club. Recently resigned pitcher Freddy Garcia will also be a factor as he will add a lot of experience to the Braves if he makes the roster at any point in the season.
The Bravos surely can’t afford another season like the ones B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla put up last year. Uggla finished the season with a .179 batting average and Upton ended with a .184 batting average, career lows for both players. Both of them will strike out a lot, but if each can hit anywhere around .240 with 20+ home runs, the Braves will take it. Expect to see much improvement from Upton as he is just too talented to struggle again like he did last season. As for Uggla, hopefully he gets accustomed to the LASIK surgery he had to deal with and can start hitting like the Dan Uggla of old. Both Dan and B.J. are crucial for the success of the team especially if they make it to the playoffs. If Uggla’s struggles continue expect to see prospect Tommy La Stella, Ramiro Pena, and Tyler Pastornicky split some playing time at second base.
Squeeze play? Braves face ‘Herculean effort’ on new stadium
For the Atlanta Braves to break ground on a new stadium in Cobb County by Jan. 1, 2015, a “Herculean effort” will be required to get all the legal and financial agreements in place.
The Braves, in fact, will have to accomplish in less than a year what is taking the Atlanta Falcons, the Georgia World Congress Center Authority and the city of Atlanta more than two years to put together. And the new Braves stadium is supposed to open ahead of the new Atlanta Falcons stadium in time for the 2017 baseball season.
Dan Kolber, a veteran Atlanta municipal securities attorney who was a founding partner of Jackson Securities and is now president and CEO of Intellivest Securities, reviewed the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Atlanta Braves, Cobb County and the Cobb-Marietta Coliseum & Exhibit Hall Authority.
In a lengthy interview, Kolber, who also writes a column for Atlanta Business Chronicle, said the elephant in the room was whether it would be possible for the Braves and Cobb to be able to negotiate all the agreements and get them approved through the various governmental bodies and then be able to get all the bond documents ready to go to market without any threat of litigation by the end of the year.
Even Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee acknowledged the enormity of what needs to happen within the next 11 months. “We know this is a Herculean effort to get done, but we are confident we are going to get it done,” Lee said in a brief interview on Jan. 28. “We will get it done.”
The MLBPA has spoken to Major League Baseball COO Rob Manfred about their concerns over team executives talking about whether or not they’re negotiating with free agents, which is a violation of the collective bargaining agreement, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports. Some players are also upset at the slow pace of the free agent pitching market, and while Rosenthal says the union could consider filing a grievance, such an action would be hard to prove given that teams have already spent close to $2 billion on free agents this offseason.
Here’s some more from around baseball on Super Bowl Sunday…
- The Braves will have to make some tough decisions about which of their young core players they want to extend while keeping their payroll in check, Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes (subscription required). The experience of many of Atlanta’s best young players is another issue, Baseball Prospectus’ Ben Lindbergh tells Bradley, since “most of them have established themselves. (The Braves) possibly might have already missed the window of getting a good deal.”
Home-Run Hot Dogs: The Best Dogs from America’s Baseball Stadiums
According to the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council (NHDSC), this year baseball fans will consume more than 21 million hot dogs at stadiums across the country. That’s enough to round the bases 29,691 times!
Baseball fans are not just fans of franks. The NHDSC predicts ballparks will also serve nearly 5 million sausages this year. Whichever side you support, we’ve rounded up some of the top dogs and sausages from ballparks across America. Which Major League frankfurter is the most FAN-tastic? We’ll leave it up to you to decide.
Atlanta Braves Dixie Dog
Stadium: Turner Field
Why It’s a Hit: It’s fried. Down South, they know how to do fried food right, and a ballpark hot dog is no exception. Braves fans can enjoy this flash-fried, all-beef dog — which is a whole foot long and weighs half a pound — topped with a mustard-based barbecue sauce, pulled pork, a creamy Southern-style slaw, and pickles.
M-Braves & Spectrum Events College Series Tickets on Sale February 3
The Mississippi Braves and Spectrum Eventshave announced the 2014 college baseball schedule at Trustmark Park. Tickets go on sale to the general public Monday, February 3 at 9:00 AM. Game dates and individual ticket prices are listed below. First pitch for all games is schedule for 6:30 PM. Gates open at 5:00 PM.
Date Game Club Level Dugout Level Field Level General Admission
March 25 Ole Miss vs Southern Miss $22 $15 $10 $8
April 8 Southern Miss vs Mississippi State $22 $20 $12 $10
April 22 Ole Miss vs Mississippi State $52 $52 / $32 $25 $12
*Home teams are listed second and will be located in the third base dugout.
Tickets may be purchased in person at the Trustmark Park Box Office or by calling 888-BRAVES4. Fans may also purchase tickets online through Ticketmaster. For sponsorship opportunities, suite and party deck rentals, please contact Laura Kestenbaum at 601.351.2078.
The Mississippi Braves is the Double-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves. Since making the move from Greenville, SC, in 2005, over 80 M-Braves have gone on to play in the big leagues. The M-Braves have made postseason play three times and went on to win the Southern League Championship in 2008. The M-Braves open the 2014 season Thursday, April 3 at Trustmark Park. Season tickets are on sale now. Stop by Trustmark Park or call 888-BRAVES4 Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. For the latest news and updates, visit mississippibraves.com, facebook.com/mbraves and twitter.com/mbraves.