May 27, 2011

Schafer’s Last Stand

I was planning on writing a piece on the future of the Braves outfield this week—I actually contacted the Gwinnett Braves (since they were up at Lehigh Valley this week) to see if they’d let me get an interview with guys like Jordan Schafer or Matt Young, but was shot down. I kind of figured they would, but it was worth a shot!

Then, the Braves current outfield started dropping like flies. The players (outfielders) that may have been a part of the Braves’ future are now forced to perform in the present.  When Jason Heyward was put on the DL (which should have happened a week ago) it was no surprise to us. When Nate McLouth injured himself standing at the plate, it threw a wrench in the works. What was thought to be a very strong outfield at the beginning of the year— Heyward, McLouth and Prado (assuming McLouth could somewhat come back) is now the biggest question mark (for the next 2 weeks) in the NL East.

I like Wilkin Ramirez—OK let me re-phrase that, I like his skill set. He has yet to put it all together. He can run, hit for power, and field very well, but he has been so inconsistent that he was basically given to the Braves (from Detroit). If this guy can figure it out, he is going to be a Justin Upton-type player – yes, that good! But that is a big IF.

When Jordan Schafer won the starting job in 2009, and especially after that first series in Philly, everyone thought he would be patrolling CF at the TED for the next 10+ years. Unfortunately, it has not worked out as we had all hoped. Injuries have led to Schafer being thought of as what could have been. Well Jordan, this is your chance…

This may be the last shot Schafer has with the Braves and I am rooting for him. He has shown that he can play the position (being the best fielding OF in the Braves’ system), but he needs to show he can do it at the plate as well, more specifically, hit the inside fastball. It didn’t take long for pitchers to figure out they could get him out on fastballs inside and above his hands. If I know it, he has to…. I don’t think the Great Gazoo helmet did him any favors in Pittsburgh…

I wasn’t shocked on Monday when I heard both Heyward and McLouth were on the DL, and I wasn’t surprised when I heard who was being called up—but I was a little disappointed. I really wanted to get a look at Mauro Gomez. You may remember him as the big guy who hit the Walk-off home run in the first exhibition game at Turner Field against the Twins. 

So far the 26-year-old Gomez is hitting .341/.384/.591 9HR 35 RBI, or in Layman’s terms—He is killing the ball! I get the Braves want to give Schafer another shot and want Ramirez’ tools on their bench, but if not now, I really want Gomez to get a shot. Of course, just because someone is tearing it up in AAA doesn’t mean it will translate to the majors – case in point Barbaro Canizares. I don’t think Gomez is another Barbaro.

Since we are focused on the Braves OF I want to bring up one more name: Jose Constanza. He is no spring chicken for rookies (27 yrs old) and he isn’t going to provide much power, if any…But he can run like the wind! He has averaged 35 stolen bases in his six previous minor league seasons (he has 10 SB this year.) Speed is something that has been talked about a lot lately regarding the Braves and it never hurts to have a guy on the bench that can burn on the bases, just ask the Red Sox.

*****

Obscure Brave of the week: Mike Kelly (I figured we’d stick with an outfielder)

I’m not talking about Mike “King” Kelly, the great star of the Boston Beaneaters, but the outfielder that played parts of two seasons for the Braves (94-95) and later the Reds, Devil Rays and Rockies.

Kelly was drafted by the Braves in the 1st round of the 1991 Draft out of Arizona State, where we won the Golden Spikes Award and Rotary Smith Award, both given to the best college player that year. Unfortunately, Kelly didn’t pan out as well as the guy the Braves picked in the 1st round the year before…

Kelly played in 97 games for the Braves Championship year of 1995. However, most of his action came off the bench. He had his best year with the Devil Rays in 1998 where he hit a career high 10HR 33 RBI. His final season was spent with the Rockies in 1999.  I have no clue what-so-ever what Kelly is doing now.

Follow me on Twitter @BRAVEinNY.

 

 

3 Responses to “Schafer’s Last Stand”

  1. 1
    Jo-Bu Says:

    Jordan is sure making a good case for himself if the Braves don’t want to pickup McLouth’s option. I don’t think the Braves will pickup that 10.65 Million option for 2012. I think Jordan has superior defensive skills and his power might not return but one thing is for sure: When Jordan gets the ball, he knows what to do with it — and that’s to throw it, and throw it with great accuracy. This guy has been collecting bunt base hits down at Gwinnett and has shown the big league club that he can do that in the big leagues this week. Though his numbers down in Triple-A have not been impressive this season, I think he’s showing that he belongs on the big club.

  2. 2
    Runnin Says:

    Jordan simply brings more to the game than Nate — better D and better base running. I hope he’s here to stay and so far he looks like he deserves it.

  3. 3
    BRAVEinNY (Matt) Says:

    Guys- you are right on. Jordan looks like a different player this time. He’s not trying to hit home runs every at-bat, he is using his speed (which God knows the Braves need) and is playing terrific in the field. I will take this player in CF any day.

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