Series Preview: Atlanta Braves II

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Headlines

Colon Milestone: Bartolo Colon gets another crack at passing Pedro Martinez on the career wins list among Dominican-born pitchers Monday night in Atlanta. Bart holds a career win percentage of 58.6% (Pedro posted an incredible 68.7% of his 18 years in baseball) and will pitch twice in this upcoming week of fantasy baseball.

Letting his ‘Gaard down: Opposing base-runners are now 12 of 13 in stolen base attempts against Noah Syndergaard as the Giants went 3-3 yesterday. This is certainly a flaw in the young flamethrower’s game, albeit a tolerable one when considering his ability to keep runners off the base-paths. Syndergaard is a bit slower to the plate than most starters, and Ron Darling hinted at a ‘tell’ or a ‘twitch’ of which runners may be picking up on and taking advantage.

25th man: Juan Lagares is now batting .306 (11-for-36) with two doubles, a triple and two RBIs in just seven games this year. Lagares appears to be as fit and agile as he has ever been, and has also contributed solidly on the defensive side of the ball.

In other news: This little kid is probably the most bad ass 5-year old on the entire block.

Know Your Foe

We teamed up with Shaun from Atlanta Baseball Talk for this Q&A – which touches on the Atlanta’s promising future, and the Mets promising ‘right now’.

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Q. The Mets young rotation has drawn some comparison to the staff that lead the Braves to sixteen years of dominance; does that comparison irk Braves fans – or do you see some truth to the statement? If you had to bet on one guy from the Mets rotation to have a Maddux/Glavine/Smoltz type of career, who would it be?

I don’t think Braves fans mind the comparisons.  It helps that the Braves’ pitchers are in the Hall of Fame and won a World Series, so they realize that any rotation that comes along is going to have to reach those destinations to keep up.  I think most rational fans take it as a compliment that folks make those kinds of comparisons.  They respect the Mets’ staff.  It helps that the Braves are rebuilding and they aren’t really in any sort of competition with the Mets for a playoff spot.

You’d have to say Noah Syndergaard has the best chance to have a Hall of Fame career, at this point.  Even when Harvey burst onto the scene, he didn’t miss bats at the same rate Syndergaard has.  So far Syndergaard has avoided serious arm injury and he’s the youngest pitcher in the rotation.

Q. The Braves only recorded two losing campaigns from 1991 through 2013 – but have been in a bit of drought since. How difficult is it to enter re-build mode after almost 25 years of winning baseball? Was the start to the season to be expected at this point, or was it insult to injury?

The rebuild is frustrating because the Braves had a good, young team not that long ago; with Freeman, Heyward, Justin Upton, Simmons, Teheran, and Kimbrel.  In the Ted Turner days, maybe the team can afford to keep that core together for another 4-5 years after they did.  But knowing Justin and Heyward were going to walk after 2015, knowing the farm system was in shambles, knowing the Ted Turner days are long gone and having news come out that Frank Wren ran off a lot of good baseball people, most die-hard fans realize a rebuild is something the organization had to do.

I don’t think anyone expected the historically bad start to this season.  But I wouldn’t say it’s extremely surprising either.  It’s a bad team playing a tough schedule to open the season.  After Opening Day, in a lame-duck season for Turner Field, I don’t think a lot of fans were showing up to the ballpark anyway to see this team; and it didn’t matter whether the team started the season bad or historically bad.

Q. At the cost of wins and losses, the Braves have built themselves an impressive farm system – led by top prospect Dansby Swanson and a plethora of young pitching. How high are the fan’s expectations of Dansby Swanson? Does former Mets’ prospect Rob Whalen stand out among the Braves sea of pitching talent?

I think fans expect Swanson and Ozzie Albies to be all-star caliber players.  I think fans realize it’s unfair to expect another Chipper Jones but I do think they expect Swanson to be the key piece of the rebuilt Braves.

Most fans probably don’t know who Rob Whalen is.  John Gant is getting more attention, of course, because he’s been in the big leagues and because of his strange delivery.  Also Fangraphs’ Dan Farnsworth surprisingly ranked him as the Braves’ #2 prospect coming into this season.  Neither prospect really stands out like other pitching prospects.

 

John Gant has impressed early in his Braves career. Gant was part of the package that sent Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson to Queens last summer.
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Q. Freddie Freeman has been the heir apparent to Chipper Jones as the guy Mets fans love to hate. Has the long term expectations of his career shifted in light of the re-build strategy? What would it take for another team to lure away Freddie Freeman without it causing bedlam among fans?
Freeman’s struggles since his wrist injury are concerning.  I don’t think we are panicking yet but we are worried that Freeman won’t get back to what he was.  Plus, it’s a double-edged sword, as the Braves would be selling low if they tried to trade Freeman at this point.
GM John Coppolella and the front office have said Freeman isn’t going anywhere.  I could sort of see a scenario where a team blows the Braves away with an offer and Coppolella can just make the case that it was an offer they couldn’t refuse.  That seems more unlikely if Freeman continues to struggle.  To answer the question, I think it would take very young all-star talent or major league ready top prospects for fans not to flip out.  It will need to be a name or names that the baseball fans in this city recognize.  Trying to do a clever trade involving unheralded and unheard of prospects probably wouldn’t work with Freeman, if they are concerned with P.R.

 

Q. If you were able to change the beer that flowed from the taps of Turner Field – what would be your beer of choice? Is there a local brew that would be in the discussion?
I feel like craHead Brewer James Nock of Sweetwater Brewing Company - Atlanta,ft, specialty, or local beers are only available in certain spots at Turner Field.  You have to go out of your way to find those types of beers at The Ted, which I’m guessing has something to do with contracts they have with Budweiser or other companies.  Sweetwater is the most famous local brewery, so having Sweetwater beers, and other local brews, widely available would be a nice touch.

 

 

Flashback

I threw together a few of my favorite Mets vs. Braves highlights as an extra feature in this week’s post.

June 30th, 2000 – The Comeback

Here are some news clips and highlights from the Mets’ 10-run 8th inning comeback against the then dominant Atlanta Braves:

May 1st, 1990 – David Cone’s Blunder

David Cone gave up two runs while arguing a botched call at first base against the Braves on May 1st, 1990. This clip is a reminder that LOLMets has always existed – if only by another name. I can’t help but wonder how this would go down in the age of instant replay:

April 8th, 2014 – The Belly Jiggle

April 8th, 2014 is a date the will live in infamy in annals of Mets history. Bartolo Colon had a fine outing against the Braves, but won Mets fans over permanently with a self-denigrating yet joyous belly jiggle in the dugout:

September 21st, 2001 – Piazza’s Healing Homer

There isn’t much to say that hasn’t already been said about perhaps the greatest moment in Mets history. In the first game since the tragic occurrences of 9-11, a city that was still very much broken reveled in a brief sports moment that reminded Mets fans how to smile again:

Standings & Probables

Nationals 17-7 .708
Mets 15-8 .652 (getting closer!)
Phillies 15-10 .600
Marlins 12-12 .500
Braves 6-18 .250

Monday, May 2 Bartolo Colon (1-1 3.42 ) vs. Mike Foltynewicz (0-0 0.00 ERA)

Saturday, May 3 Matt Harvey (2-3 4.76 ERA) vs.  Matt Wisler (0-2 4.26 ERA)

Sunday,  May 4 Steven Matz (3-1 3.86 ERA) vs. Jhoulys Chacin (1-1 3.26 ERA)

Beer From the Bad Guys

Terrapin Beer Company RecreationAle

I grabbed this at a bar in downtown DC (RFD – recommend it for convenience, solid beer menu, ample seating, plenty of screens for sports) last week thinking I was ordering a pale ale. It proved a happy accident, as it proved to be quite a fascinating comparison to Terrapin’s other session IPA that I had for our last Atlanta Braves Series Preview, Hi-5.

RecreationAle pours a clear straw, with a quickly vanishing head. Very little nose to speak of. The hop blend is decent, but quickly gives way to a watery, uninspiring body. The finish is a rather one-note, lightly bitter end to the proceedings. My pet peeve on session IPAs is when they just taste like an regular IPA has been cut with water. RecreationAle suffers from this very issue.

But that’s really my main source of confusion. Terrapin has already proven they make a damn fine session IPA with Hi-5! RecreationAle is an easy drinker, which is part of the goal on a sessionable beer. But the stark contrast between RecreationAle and Hi-5, which doesn’t suffer from the watery session IPA issue and is light years better, is odd.

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Scouting Report (20-80 scale)

See: 50

Smell: 45

Taste: 50

Feel: 40

Overall: 45

RecreationAle is framed as a beverage you bring along on a camping trip or the like. Personally, I’d leave it home and bring Hi-5 instead. LGM!

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