One thing I’ve heard throughout Spring Training at least 100 times now is that you can’t buy too much into Spring Training numbers.
However, when it comes to being a Braves fan, the stats that a handful of their younger players are putting up this spring call for a lot of attention. Now, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved what Atlanta did this offseason. The acquisitions of B.J. and Justin Upton makes this team an automatic contendor in 2013 just a few short months after Chipper Jones announced his retirement.
But the additions scare me a little bit, considering the caliber of young position players the Braves have waiting in the wings. Today, I wouldn’t trade what the Braves did this offseason to see if these younger guys pay off. But it would be flat out nieve to think Atlanta’s solidified outfield might block or even cause some of these young stars to find new teams.
Here’s a look at a handful of those hot position players and why they would make the team most years:
• Joey Terdoslavich (spring stats: .432 BA, 1 HR, 8 RBI, .595 SLG)
The 24-year-old first baseman / outfielder definitely has his path to the majors blocked by the likes of Atlanta’s stellar outfield and with the emergence of Freddie Freeman, he just can’t find a home on the big league roster. Terdoslavich was being groomed in the minors to eventually fill Jones’ cleats, but because of poor defense, the Braves has to explore other defensive postions for the young slugger. He has dabbled behind the plate and in the outfield. It obviously didn’t work out as Terdoslavich is listed as a first baseman on Atlanta’s Spring Training roster. It seems the Braves don’t trust much in his outfield defense, either. I’m just not sure if it would matter because of the players higher than him on depth chart. Sure, the Braves could use Terdoslavich as a pinch hitter, but that usually doesn’t suit younger players to well. Terdoslavich has proven he belongs on the big league roster this season, hitting .432 with one home run and eight RBIs in his 37 at bats this spring. He probably won’t make it, though, and begin the season in AAA. (more…)
BY BRANDON J. SMITH, Couchsideshow.com senior blogger
Some may think of left field as that position where a youth baseball coach would hide his worst player. In Major League Baseball, it’s quite the contrary, In fact, many former center fielders, who had a younger player with a tad more defensive skills bump them out of their former positions, will usually move just one spot left. It also seems like a lot of the games top power hitters call left field their home. We’ll look at both cases in today’s blog of the top 10 left fielders in the game today:
10. Josh Willingham, Minnesota Twins (.260 BA, 35 HR, 110 RBI, 2.9 WAR) – One of the most underrated power hitters in baseball.
9. David Murphy, Texas Rangers (.304 BA, 15 HR, 61 RBI, 10 SB, 3.2 WAR) – One of the most underrated players in baseball.
8. Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland Athletics (.292 BA, 23 HR, 82 RBI, 16 SB, 3.4 WAR) – Great rookie season from the defected Cuban, expect more in 2013.
7. Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies (.303 BA, 22 HR, 85 RBI, 20 SB, 1.3 WAR) – Big platoon split due to Coors Field.
6. Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals (.294 BA, 14 HR, 72 RBI, 10 SB, 6.2 WAR) – Excellent defensive fielder with an improved bat.
5. Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals (.295 BA, 27 HR, 102 RBI, 3.8 WAR)
Holliday is one of the great sure things in baseball. Consistently reliable slugger who drives in runs and generally does things well. One of the things he doesn’t do well is defend, or really have great range, at least not anymore. Regardless, he’ll be a big factor the Cardinals yet again.
The MLB hot stove has heaten up early this offseason.
The Toronto Blue Jays started the late-fall flames with their blockbuster deal that picked up any sort of talent the Miami Marlins still had. Then Toronto struck again, signing 2012 MLB All-Star Game MVP Melky Cabrera, who will be fresh off a 50-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs. The rest of the young offseason has already seen a plethora of re-signings and small-end swaps to keep fans interested enough to care.
Just two months into this uncharacteristic MLB offseason things have been exciting without a top name free agent finding a new home. With names like Josh Hamilton, and Zack Greinke on the market, it’s unusual Free Agency hasn’t been the talk of this early offseason buzz. But all of that may have ended Wednesday afternoon when the Atlanta Braves struck a deal with B.J. Upton, who is considered the top free agent center fielder. (more…)
BY BRANDON J. SMITH, Couchsideshow.com writer
What are the odds of Shane Doan being recognized if he walked into any random supermarket around Phoenix at any point between 1996 and 2011? I’m not sure, he’s a big guy, but you could find plenty of 6-foot-2, 220-pound bros at your local gym. If you lined him up with Luis Gonzalez, Steve Nash, and Larry Fitzgerald, who do you think an average Arizona sports fan would gravitate to first?
Maybe at this point his popularity has increased incrementally, but over the past 15 years, given the amount of coverage the Phoenix Coyotes have received, I doubt Arizona fans have given Doan his proper due.
He’s the longest tenured professional athlete in Arizona sports today, and a last remaining member of the original Winnipeg Jets when they moved to downtown Phoenix in 1996, but I’m wondering how much he’s really appreciated overall. To give his time here some perspective, there are no current Expos with the Washington Nationals, and it’s been around seven years since that franchise moved from Montreal. You seldom get players to stick around in the same city for an extended period of time, and Doan has done it with the least popular franchise in Arizona.
How overshadowed has Doan been? Let’s think about the other three sports teams in Phoenix.
BY BRANDON J. SMITH, Couchsideshow,com writer
Predictions are a great waste of time. They provide opportunities for petty arguments that will last from now until the end of time, now that the season is on our doorstep, it’s time to prophesize the 2012 winners and losers.
• Reasoning: The slightly biased Dbacks fan in me is fearful of a regression by the Snakes. After a modest overachieving season in 2011, whereas the Giants lost all semblance of offense in the stretch run, San Francisco is expecting a full season of superstar Buster Posey, along with the best starting staff west of the Mississippi. A normalized progression of events along with an improved Rockies bunch will make this west particularly wild.
• Reasoning: In all honesty, you can interchange the top three teams in the central, and you’d have a legit chance of making bank in Vegas. The Cardinals lost first baseman Albert Pujols, but they come into the season with a strong team, and ace Adam Wainwright as he returns from Tommy John surgery. The Reds had a busy offseason where they traded for the solid Padre Mat Latos, while signing closer Ryan Madson who is now out for the season. To sure up the back end of the pen, they acquired underrated lefty Sean Marshall, who will see plenty of end game action. And not to forget, they just resigned the premier first basemen in the NL in Joey Votto, who will be in Cincy for years to come. What’s wrong with the Brewers? Not much, I’m having a hard time pegging their success; they are returning the same roster minus Prince Fielder and adding Aramis Ramirez. Aside from that, the pitching staff is still very good, but for some reason, the Cardinals still feel like the team to beat in this division to me. Oh, and let’s not forget they are the reigning World Series champions. (more…)
In part nine of Couch Side’s series of the best players in the MLB by position, I’ll take a look at the top five right fielders for 2012.
I grew up playing the undesirable position in legion baseball, but I never let position No. 9 ever bother me. It’s one of the most valuable spots on the diamond, which is why managers choose to place their strongest throwing outfielders in the right corner. Despite Ichiro’s raw fielding ability, the Seattle Mariners never really thought bout placing him in center to chase down balls. His cannon was to valuable. It’s a position that may not get a lot of hype, yet we can never question it’s importance.
Here’s five right fielders in Major League Baseball who show us just how vital right field can be to a big-league club.
When will teams start pitching around this guy? It had better be this year or MVP voters may want to give Jo Baut a little more love. Last season, the 31-year-old set a career high in batting average (.301) while smacking 43 home runs and 103 RBI. In 2010, he easily led the league with 54 homers and 124 RBI. To say the least, this guy is now just entering his prime and he’s doing it loudly. Bautista’s power numbers are somewhat unmatched. Not a single player has belted at least 50 home runs during the past two seasons and maybe only a couple have reached the 40-home run plateau last season. I expect nothing but great things in the future from Bautista. And if he ever gets on an actual contender, his numbers should only improve with more protection in the lineup. (more…)