May 02, 2012

Braves of the Past

While this is almost completely irrelevant to the current season, I thought it would be fun to take a look at some Braves of yonder years, especially those still part of the game, and ask the question beloved by tabloids and VH1: Where are they now?

Andruw Jones: Remember that skinny kid from Curacao with the big smile who could cover center field like a tarp? Well, he’s all grown up, and his current gig is as a backup left fielder for the Yankees. Since leaving Atlanta in 2007, he’s bounced around the league and only played in more than 100 games in a season once. I used to play the MLB2K video games, and the game commentators were programmed to say a few things about each player for each team. In one of them, probably 2K2 or 3, the stock phrase the commentators used when Andruw made a catch was something like this: “It’s clear that he’s the best center fielder in the game today. The only question is, is he the best center fielder ever?”  I think we all know the answer at this point. I’ve always had a soft spot for Andruw, and I wish his career could have turned out better, but he seems to be happy in his current role. Besides, if he sticks around with the Yankees long enough, he’s bound to get a ring.

Jordan Schafer: Most people probably know what Schafer is up to these days, but I couldn’t resist. His career has been like a car wreck. No, wait, it’s been like a circus. No, I’ve got it: it’s been like a circus of car wrecks. I still remember watching his Major-League debut, seeing him hit a homerun in his first at-bat, and thinking, this kid is the real deal. He then proceeded to perform dismally, get sent to the minors, give HGH a try, and be arrested for possession of marijuana. He did start this season with the Astros by reaching base in 23 consecutive games, but then he got ejected for throwing a temper tantrum at second base. Also, he’s day-to-day with one of those nagging oblique strains. If you watched the Houston series last month, then you know Schafer had the cojones to test Chipper’s bare-hand abilities with a leadoff bunt. Chipper reminded him who’s boss.

Brent Lillibridge: I went to a Braves game in Toronto a few years ago. Before the game started, Bobby Cox came out of the dugout and to the railing near my section of seats. Immediately, an enormous crowd surrounded him, hounding him for autographs. At the same time, some short, skinny rookie in a Braves cap stood at the railing about thirty feet away. One or two people gave him a ball to sign, but there was no line for him. Mostly he got curious stares. I didn’t even know his name. That player was Brent Lillibridge. Unlike the other players on this list, you might have completely forgotten about our friend Brent. To be fair, he played less than thirty games with Atlanta.  Since 2008 (the season he played in Atlanta), Lillibridge has been part of the White Sox organization, and the last three years, he’s stayed in the Majors. And here’s something fascinating: as of today, Lillibridge has more stolen bases (6) this season than hits (4).

Derek Lowe: There must be something in the water in Cleveland. That’s the only way I can explain it. Anyone who followed the Braves last year will tell you that Lowe didn’t earn a spot on the roster, that paying him 10 million dollars to play for the Indians was our best option. Yet, so far this season, he’s been nothing short of an ace. He has almost half as many wins already this year as he had all of last year, and he’s pitching like the Derek Lowe of the pre-Braves days. Don’t get me wrong, I still think we made the right move, and I don’t want him back. I just don’t understand it. Maybe he just needed a change of scenery. Whatever the case, I’m happy for him. Right now, the Indians lead the AL Central (with an 11-10 record), so there’s a chance we could see our old friend in the playoffs.

Who are your favorite former Braves? Leave their stories in the comments.

Find me on Twitter: @ThomasMDuncan



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