Morning Chop: Atlanta Braves News 2/18

AJC

Braves’ Medlen to shave head for charity

There is a chance that the Braves’ opening day starter will be bald.

Sep 14, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Kris Medlen (54) pitches against the San Diego Padres during the eighth inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

I’m writing a column later today on the Braves’ starting rotation and addressing the question about whether an “ace” as the No. 1 starter is needed. Medlen, Julio Teheran and Mike Minor (in that order) are the most likely candidates to start opening day in Milwaukee on March 31.

If it’s Medlen, you’ll see a closely shaven scalp under his hat. The Braves’ pitcher has a full head of hair but he is going to have it shaven on Wednesday to help raise awareness and funding for cancer research. He will have his head shaved by a local child who is battling cancer.

The event is being staged by a partnership between the “Rally Foundation,” the Atlanta-based charity that former Braves’ catcher Brian McCann has long been affiliated, and  the “Vs. Cancer Foundation.” Medlen took over as local spokesman for the Rally Foundation after McCann signed with the New York Yankees as a free agent.

A shaved head or a strange haircut hardly will be a new experience for the often amusing Medlen.

“I shaved my head a bunch of times,” he said. “I was an idiot before. I always had decent hair so I would grow mohawks, to-the-skin mohawks. Yeah. I was stupid. Not a big deal.”

 

Fox Sports

2014 Braves preview

Player to watch: B.J. Upton. Last season was a nightmare as he hit a career-low .184/.268/.557 with nine homers in the first year of the biggest free-agent deal in franchise history. After losing McCann, who hit 20 or more homers in six consecutive seasons, the onus will be on the elder Upton to rediscover his power stroke.

Why they will win: The bullpen is as good as it gets and the rotation allowed three runs or less in 75 games last season (third in the NL) and figures to get better should Beachy stay healthy. If the offense can find some consistency, especially from Uggla and B.J. Upton, it’s a recipe for an NL East repeat.

Why they will lose: Amid those home runs were 1,384 strikeouts, marking the third season in a row the Braves set a franchise record in that department. It’s simply a feast-or-famine club and if the pitching staff can’t keep Atlanta in games, it could make it difficult to get anywhere near 96 wins again.

Ken Rosenthal’s outlook: Every season, it seems, people overlook the Braves. I’m tempted to do it again, particularly after the free-agent defections of catcher Brian McCann and right-hander Tim Hudson. The rotation lacks a veteran ace. The bullpen lacks a proven setup man in front of All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel. The offense, unless B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla snap out of it, has too many outs. Yet, even though the Braves’ only additions are super-utility man Ryan Doumit and right-hander Gavin Floyd, they’re talented enough to compete for a wild card – and maybe even surprise the Nationals, just like they did a year ago.

 

ESPN

Braves betting big on core group

Four contract extensions and $222.7 million later, is it safe to say we have our answer?

“I think we do,” said Kimbrel with a laugh Monday, a day after signing a four-year, $42 million contract.

And the answer is: That Braves window is now open for many years to come.

In the past two weeks, they’ve practically handed out extensions like bobbleheads — one for two years (Jason Heyward), one for four years (Kimbrel), one for six years (Julio Teheran) and one for eight years (Freeman).

“We do even numbers only,” joked GM Frank Wren, as he contemplated who on his roster might be about to receive the forthcoming 10-, 12- and 14-year extensions he’ll no doubt be doling out in the next half-hour or so. Or not.

But for the Braves, this is no joke. This is a statement. And that statement is …

“If we were going to be competitive,” Wren said, “we needed to keep this core together.”

 

Sports World Report

Homer Bailey Trade Rumors: Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, Dodgers, Seattle Mariners

Homer Bailey has been mentioned in trade rumors numerous times this offseason to teams like the Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, Dodgers, Seattle Mariners, New York Mets and Baltimore Orioles, but now it appears that the star pitcher and the Cincinatti Reds are getting close to a major contract extension and that comes after reports emerged that the two sides were far apart.

Bailey came into the offseason after going 11-2 with two career no hitters under his belt and he had a solid 3.49 ERA in 2013, but the looming contract extension and the possibility that it would be too expensive were the main reasons that any trade talks came up. According to ESPN.com and Hardball Talk, that may all be over with now, as the pitcher and the Reds are now “close” to an extension and the deal is expected to be in the nine figured after Bailey made $5.35 million last season.

The Braves lost Tim Hudson in the offseason and signed names like Freddy Garcia and Gavin Floyd and that was one reason why Bailey’s name came up in rumors. The 27-year-old pitcher has the potential to be the top name on the free agent market if he makes it there after the season and keeping him in the rotation gives the Reds one of the best in the NL with Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos even after Bronson Arroyo left. Bailey looks to be in line for a contract over $100 million but likely less than the $147 million that Zack Greinke got and the $155 million that Masahiro Tanaka got from the Yankees

Topics: Atlanta Braves, FanSided

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