August 14, 2011

Triple Heyw-AAA-rd?

I couldn’t have been happier to see Chipper Jones’ name in the line up earlier this week, or so I thought. Then I saw he was hitting in the 5th spot—finally! I really never thought Fredi would move him down in the order (where he should have been for the last three years) and give him an opportunity to drive in some runs. You have to admit, he is still clutch.

We all knew that eventually someone else was going to be batting #3 for the Braves and until recently many Braves fans, including me, thought it was going to be Jason Heyward. It seems to be a sensitive point for many people, especially after reading Vinnie’s blog and all the comments. Like most Braves fans I have loved this kid since before he was called up. I hope he is the Braves #3 hitter of the future, but right now the only team he should be hitting 3rd for is Gwinnett (or maybe the Mets).

With Chipper back, Martin Prado is back in left field, newly acquired Michael Bourn is in center and Jose Constanza deserves to be in RF. I wish I could say Heyward does, but right now, Constanza gives the Braves the best chance to win and that’s what the pennant race is all about.

Constanza, who has spent five full seasons in the minor leagues, has been putting up good numbers since he signed with the Cleveland Indians organization; He is a career .290AVG hitter and has 233 stolen bases. It’s not like all of a sudden, he is playing over his head—the kid has talent. HE can go get the ball in the outfield, which we have all seen (ask Jose Reyes) and has been a menace on the base path. I love having Constanza at the bottom of the order, teaming up with Bourne to create a weapon the Braves haven’t possessed in many years—SPEED!

Lately the Braves have added speed to go along with their home run power to create a formidable offense to go down the stretch. While the Braves would always be waiting for the 3-run home run, they can now play small-ball and really give pitchers fits when they get on base—which they have been doing tremendously (they just have to figure out how to get them in more often).

I really think this newly added dynamic can give the Braves that edge they need to knock out Philadelphia in the playoffs. That is if their pitching can get back on track…

I was glad when I heard Jair Jurrjens was put on the DL, not because I don’t like him, but he hasn’t been “himself’ since the All-Star break. It looks like it was due to his knee and hopefully this will resolve the problem. The Braves need the Jurrjens that dominated the first half of the year to have a shot at Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hammels.

To take it one step further, I would really like to see Tommy Hanson placed on the 15-day DL to rest the tendonitis in his shoulder. Obviously with San Francisco and Arizona coming to town, I want the Braves best pitchers on the mound (Hanson being one of them), but I want the strongest rotation possible going into the playoffs (yes, I am thinking that far ahead) and a rested Tommy Hanson would give the Braves just that. It’s not like they don’t have a few stud pitching prospects to make a start or two…

*****

Obscure Braves of the week: Charles Thomas

Charles Thomas was selected in the 19th round of the 2000 draft by the Atlanta Braves. He worked his way through the minor leagues and was called up to the majors in June of 2004, where he was a contributor to the Braves playoff run. He hit .283 7HR 31RBI in 83 games for the Braves and played a terrific LF.

Thomas, teamed along with Andruw Jones in CF and JD Drew in RF led Bobby Cox to nickname the outfield, “The Kudzu Kids” for their speed and ability to track down what seemed like every ball hit to the OF.  The spark Thomas provided the Braves in 2004 reminds me a lot of what Conztanza has done so far this year (except I don’t think Thomas ever licked his bat).

Of course, we all remember Thomas better for being the key piece that was sent to Oakland to get Tim Hudson in a Braves uniform, but Thomas was really good for the Braves, but unfortunately for Oakland, not so much.  Thomas last played professionally for the Nashville Sounds, a AAA club of the Milwaukee Brewers, in 2007.

*****

I am a huge Braves fan, but even more so I am a baseball fan. I love the history, the trivia, the players, and the science behind it. It is relaxing and exciting all at the same time—the only game where the defense has the ball. It’s the best game in the world…

One of the things I love to do when talking about baseball is to bring up trivia. I love the Jayson Stark question on Mike and Mike in the Morning, the one on MLB Network, and hell, even the AFLAC questions every game.

While I was in Atlanta, Walter Banks was grilling me on some questions and I felt like I held my own. I want to pose the same challenge to the readers on Atlanta Baseball Talk, so here is a trivia question for you. I just want to preface this by saying Ron Gant is DEFINITELY not an answer…

Five teams in baseball have retired the jersey #5, who are they players?

No cheating!

Follow me on Follow me on Twitter @BRAVEinNY.

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4 Responses to “Triple Heyw-AAA-rd?”

  1. 1
    Ryan Says:

    Jose Constanza is a career minor leaguer. He’s a 27 year old who was never a prospect. I’m sorry, but he doesn’t have much talent. We’re talking about a guy who’s never OPS’d even .800 in the minor leagues and doesn’t play particularly good defense. He’s had a nice run, but it will end with a hard collision towards Earth. It’s no different than Joe Mather or Wilkin Ramirez having a nice couple of weeks.

  2. 2
    BRAVEinNY (Matt) Says:

    I agree with you, for the most part…

    I don’t think Constanza is going to be an everyday player at the major-league level, but right now he is playing well, so let’s ride the wave and and get as much out of him as possible. I don’t doubt this is his career year, so why not take advantage of it?

    Heyward is the guy of the future, but when one guy is hitting .400 and the other barely over .200, go with the hot hand until reality sets back in.

  3. 3
    Nate Says:

    Bench (Reds), DiMaggio (yanks), Bagwell (Houston) is as far as I got. Good question. I thought of the 3 right away, but the second 2 are pretty tough. Especially if you’re a younger fan.

  4. 4
    BRAVEinNY (Matt) Says:

    You have the first two right- DiMaggio and Bench…

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