Sloppy, but I’ll take it

What a game, what a game. It wasn’t what I would call a "pretty win" but as we all know in this 162 game season, any win is a good win, whether it be by one run, or ten. With the way the wild card is, and all those divisional games, you know that divisions can easily be decided by the way teams play against teams that they only meet up against twice in a season, or once in the case of some interleague opponents. So Braves fans, rejoice. A win is a win and this one is definetly one we will look back and not say, "What if…?" about.

I really must say I was impressed by Adam LaRoche today. His first at bat was a three run home run, and despite having a quiet game besides that, he showed a lot more control at the plate over last year. Which is a good thing, because he had the tendency to swing at pitches that were so high, you’d think he was being intentionally walked. With Julio Franco now with the Mets, the platoon at first is now Adam LaRoche and veteran, Brian Jordan. Which I am very curious to see how that works out. Edgar Renteria’s performance was also really good. He had a few hits, and his defense looked like that of his prior years in the NL. I feel as if he will be back to his old self, and that is exactly what we need.

For the pitching. Tim Hudson was fine, then it was the 5th inning and he looked like a fish out of water. I don’t know what exactly went wrong for him, I’m just glad that after his mishaps, the Braves got a three run home run from Andruw Jones to even out the damage done. The Braves need to learn to stop giving Jeff Kent pitches to hit as well. We have two more games against him this week, not to mention a series in Atlanta, and we can’t just feed him hits. It’s got to stop. Same with Rafael Furcal. We know his playing style, we should be able to defend him a lot better than we did today. Ridiculous.

The bullpen, as expected, was shaky. Blaine Boyer couldn’t get his curveball to come close to the plate, and Lance Cormier wasn’t exactly impressive either. Oscar Villarreal was a bright spot, so was John Thomson. I’m very glad that Chris Reitsma had it in him to finish out the game, despite letting runners on in classic Reitsma style. I hope he can take that as a confidence builder to some extent, because he needs it. Let’s face it here, he is the closer. And if you look around the league at your Huston Streets, your Billy Wagners, and your Mariano Riveras, you know letting the leadoff man reach base in a closing situation is completely unacceptable. I really hope that Roger McDowell gets to work with Reitsma one-on-one and try to get some control in him, because honestly, Reitsma is a very talented young man who has potential to be a lights out closer. It is really only a matter of time and for Braves fans, we hope it is sooner rather than later that he finds his out pitch.

Already, I have an idea of who I would like to see in the bullpen roles, although it was reported by Bobby Cox that there are no set roles, besides having Reitsma in the closer role. Personally, I would like to have John Thomson in the 8th, Oscar Villarreal in the 7th (Or Blaine Boyer). But then again, Thomson is new to the relief role, so it is doubtful how he will do, although today he didn’t do half bad.

Here’s to a great season. Happy reading!

❤ julie

It is here

I have waited.

I have waited through football season. I cheered hockey’s return in October. I cheered on the Seminoles in the Orange Bowl and I crossed my fingers for the White Sox to win the World Series.

And now it’s finally back.

Opening day. I don’t think the way it feels can be topped. I love just sitting here and watching game after game all day. It is well worth requesting a day off work for, believe me. I was going to goto Philly today to attend the Phils/Cards game but chose not to, because "my" Braves are on ESPN at 4PM. And call me crazy, but that takes first priority.

I can’t wait to see the regular season debut of Edgar Renteria as a Brave. I can’t wait to see Tim Hudson stare down his former Braves’ teammate, Rafael Furcal. I want to see Edgar turn double plays with Marcus Giles. I want to see Jeff Francoeur and Brian McCann’s sophomore season be a sophomore success, not the dreaded slump. I want to see Andruw Jones make dazzling catches in centerfield, and I want to see Chipper Jones hit a home run. I want to see how the bullpen will look with the help of new pitching coach, Roger McDowell. I want to see that Chris Reitsma is the best choice for our closer, and that John Thomson will make a smooth transition from a starting role to that of a reliever.

As for non-Braves moments today, I want to see if Jimmy Rollins will get a hit off of Chris Carpenter, and if not off him, then a member of the solid St.Louis bullpen. I want to sit on the edge of my seat to watch the Roy Oswalt/Dontrelle Willis matchup. I want to see the Red Sox and Yankees. I want to see if the Mets are really "all that" as they take on the Nationals.

Yeah. Its back.

And I don’t think I could be any happier!

Happy blogging and blog reading to all. Here’s to a great season!

❤ julie

Looking forward

What will people say this year is the reason we can’t win? In 2004 it was the lack of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Javy Lopez. In 2005 it was because we let Gary Sheffield and JD Drew depart. But now its Leo Mazzone. If the so called experts think the Braves will fail due to the loss of a pitching coach, then they need to go back to the prior years where the Braves were shadowed with doubt to continue their run of division crowns.

A lot of the younger pitchers said Leo tried to turn every one of them into Greg Maddux. Instead of molding talent the pitchers have, he tried to change them. Leo never even pitched a game in the situations our relievers will pitch in (Lets ignore our starters. Theyre fine…). McDowell is a relatively younger coach than Leo, so that might make it easier to relate. Plus he was a pitcher not so many years ago and I think that will help. We have a very young and impressionable bullpen and I think McDowell is just the guy we need. After all, the starting pitching and hitting wasn’t our problem in 05′. It was our bullpen.

So the way I see it is this. Why is so much emphasis being put on putting an end to the Braves’ division dominance? It is not like the Braves in recent years have dominated the year from the start. Sometimes we get off to this slow start and we play catch up until the post All Star break. We don’t go out every offseason and make life altering blockbuster trades. More than half the time we rely on our farm system. Minus the deals with Hudson, Sheffield, Renteria, and Drew, we haven’t really gotten "big" names in the past years. Most of our big names we have now came up with us. So that is what makes me have such faith in who we have.

But how do I really see the Braves in the NL East this year? I can’t give you a solid prediction but I do see us winning it again this year. I see it to be an even tighter race for first though.

Sometimes the good guys don’t always finish last.

❤ julie

Still here

I just thought I’d post a note to those who read this blog that I in fact am still around, but I don’t have anything I feel the need to blog about at the moment. When the right topic for me comes around, I will be blogging away!

❤ Julie!!!

Realizations

First of all, on a non baseball related note, I would like to take this time to say how HAPPY that I am for my Flyers because they have a cozy lead in the division over the Rangers, Devils, and Penguins. Always remember to support the Flyers’ AHL affiliate too. Long live the "Purple Reign". And the Orange Bowl is on tonight as well. Let’s give it up for my boys of FSU!!! Go kick some Penn State/"Papa Joe" ***!!

Back to baseball.

Well, I dreaded this. It looks as if the closer for the Braves is going to be Chris Reitsma. He was forced into this role last year after Dan Kolb failed to get runners out. I think it might be allright. I mean, if he knows this is going to be his role, and he gets used to the idea instead of it being forced on him it might go well.

There is a lot of talking on Braves boards about trading Jorge Sosa. Sorry folks, but I would be so angry about this if it happened. He needs to work on his control a little bit, but hey, for the most part so does 3/4 of the Braves bullpen from last season. I want him to stay in Atlanta and continue to be an effective starter. Once he gets his control better and stops loading the bases(Even though he is very talented in working out of jams.) he will lower his pitch count and get more innings in him. I see his potential, and not that my opinion counts, but I want him to stick around. This has nothing to do with his pitching, but he is such a friendly and outgoing person. When he signed my jersey in September at a game in Philly. The next night I went to the game as well and I was asking Wilson Betemit to sign on a baseball for my mom, and Jorge waved and asked if I was from Atlanta and I said no, and I also said I’m going the next night (It was a 4 game series. I skipped the first game to watch the Eagles game. Turns out the Eagles lost that game. Big wow…)and Jorge said "That’s my turn in!" To which I thought, "Huh?" and then I figured it out, the next night he was pitching. I got to shake his hand and thank him again for signing my jersey the night before. So if ANYONE ever gets a chance to meet this guy I swear you wont be sorry. But long story short, I want this guy to stay in Atlanta, and NOT just because of how nice he is. Although it is a benefit.

I am sure I will have more to talk about later. Thanks for reading!

Rock on!
❤ Julie

The deal of Damon

First of all, I might as well discuss Johnny Damon, might as well. I mean, everyone else seems to be obsessed with this story. But I guess since I am not seriously involved in the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry it shouldn’t have to mean anything to me. A guy switches teams to a "rival" team and sudden;y he is public enemy #1.

The Red Sox, like most teams(And I dont mean this in a bad way) have a player and the city  of the team, turns this player into an idol. Imagine if the Cardinals lost Albert Pujols, or if the Giants lost Bonds. Or even if the Blue Jays lost Roy Halladay. The city would probably go into a state of mourning. True, it’s not the end of the world. But I can see their point. After all the Braves lost Furcal and we loved him as a player. But life goes on, people. Look at who the Red Sox still have. People need to realize that Johnny is not the face of the Red Sox. You guys still have David Ortiz and all the other bats.

I didn’t think Red Sox fans would ever get over losing Garciaparra, but I bet any Sox fan now could care less that he is with the Dodgers now. I’m not trying to generalize all Red Sox fans. I’m just saying that even though they are saying it is the worst thing that could have happened, it isn’t.

In my defense, I can’t imagine a Braves team without the Jones’ boys, Smoltz, and Giles. But if any of them were to leave/retire, I would be bummed, but the world would still keep turning. I thought the entire baseball world was out to get me when the Orioles signed Javy Lopez a few years ago. He was my favorite Braves player my entire life and not having him on the team was almost unimaginable. But life went on, and I still cheer him on.

But how do Red Sox fans cheer on Damon if they still like him? Good question. I think the rule is that if you like Boston, you can’t like the Yankees and vice versa. Good rule, but isn’t there a rule that you can still like a player? He didn’t ever do anything to disgrace the sport, he is a nice guy, talented player, and not bad looking either(Sorry. Had to add that on there.) I mean, wouldn’t you take more money too if you had the chance? I don’t see Damon as the type of guy to go say "Thanks for the ring, now screw you!". I read the guy’s book, and he seems like a good guy. He is trying to raise his children and support a family, and I don’t think he is a jerk for taking more money for that reason or any other reason.

It might be weird to see him as a Yankee. Wonder how many people will show up at Fenway in Red Sox Damon jerseys in 2006. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Rock on!
🙂 Julie

Eischen resigned

Soriano continues to make D.C sports headlines, and its easy to overlook the fact that the Nationals resigned veteran reliever, Joey Eischen, to a one year contract.Philliesgamefun_007

Eischen has been a favorite "non-Brave" of mine since he joined the Expos/Nationals five years ago. He is someone the Braves traditionally have success against. Not to mention, he is one of baseball’s most down to earth nice guys. I went to Philly in April 2005 with my mom to see the Nationals play. I had an out of state friend and his parents at the game, so I decided to go. But they left early (around the 6th inning), and my mom and I went to watch the rest of the game from the bullpen. And that’s when I saw Joey. As I loudly rooted against the Phillies, Joey laughed and waved at my mom and I and tossed me a baseball. But it missed me, and landed on the little ledge below me and right above the bullpen. (For those familiar with Citizens Bank Park, you know what I mean). And I waved at this security guard and he got another guard to use a broom and dustpan to scoop it up for me since it was out of reach. After this ordeal was over (That Eischen was watching), he came over and tossed me another ball to my mom.

Shortly after that game, Joey went on the 60 DL for elbow surgery. I sent him a letter to wish him well, and in the letter told him the events of that day. And when I went to see the Nationals again in August, I went to the bullpen to cheer him on, and he asked "Weren’t you here in the spring?" and I said that I was.

Long story short, he is a non-Brave that recognizes me and he is a good guy. I wish him a great year in 2006. Except when he plays against Atlanta. Then all bets are off.

Rock on!
🙂 Julie

Sizing up the Thursday news

Ok, now that the Braves have let Edgar Renteria replace Rafael Furcal, should I find a new picture of myself for my photo on here? Yeah, but let’s wait till I meet a Braves player in Philly next year. Maybe I will finally meet Marcus Giles, and not just get his autograph, batting gloves, and baseballs. Let’s see.

So let’s see, what happened today that is worth talking about? Besides the signing of Renteria. Which I feel is a smart move. He definetly is a good deal for the Braves, price wise, and in every aspect, despite he has slightly less steals than Furcal has had for us.

One closer found a new home, and one closer chose to stay in the home he has been in for years. Todd Jones has rejoined the Tigers, where he was the Detroit closer from 1997-2001. From what I heard, he was well liked and respected there, and I bet the Tigers fans are happy to have them back. Wonder if he will again make his intro music "Mr. Jones" that he had there before. Hmmm. Until then, I will hang onto the special baseball he gave me and be happy. Also, Trevor Hoffman has chosen to stay with the Padres. Smart move, Trevor. Finish your career there. (Not that I’d have minded him becoming a Brave, haha).

Back to the Braves for a brief moment. I’ve been discussing the potential trading possibilities of Johnny Estrada for some time now and it has (finally) taken place. He is now with the Diamondbacks. In exchange for Johnny, we got relief pitchers Lance Cormier and Oscar Villarreal. Now personally, I have never heard about them before. When I hear the name "Cormier", I only think of Rheal.

In perhaps the stupidest trade, the Nationals aquire Alfonso Soriano from the Rangers in exchange for Brad Wilkerson and Termell Sledge. I don’t exactly know what the Nationals were thinking on this one. Wilkerson, in a sense, WAS the Nationals. He was the team leader and the fans love Brad. He was their top hitter and everything. This is nothing against Soriano, but for some reason I don’t see him adjusting to the NL very well. If it wasn’t for his time as a Yankee, do you really think his name would be as big as it is? I see the Rangers definetly getting more out of this trade.

But I’m starting to really applaud the Blue Jays. I am starting to think they are looking like a competitive team. Not only did they sign A.J Burnett, but they also landed B.J Ryan and Lyle Overbay. Call me nuts, but I think the Jays just might make a wild card run this year. I don’t see them winning it, but expect them to be competitive.

The White Sox acquired Rob Mackowiak from Pittsburgh in a little talked about trade. I like Rob. He is a very complete player, and I hope he gets more of a chance than what he got as a member of the Pirates.

Till later…

Rock on!
🙂 Julie

Enter the supposed hype

Renteria? Could it be? Let’s wait till afternoon or whatever! After all its 4:49 a.m and trades don’t happen at this hour of the morning.

Then again I have too much time on my hands because I couldn’t sleep at all. Too much caffeine at the Flyers game tonight. I’ve been out all day and I sure missed out on some fun baseball news.Me_and_aj_burnett

A.J Burnett signed a deal with the Blue Jays. And pardon myself for saying this, but he looks "very nice" in the Toronto gear. (Sheesh, I’m not blind here folks. Even as a Braves fan, I could not resist getting my picture taken with this cool pitcher!) But Toronto still is just a pitching team. Halladay, Lilly, and Burnett will put up nice numbers but until the Jays can put forth some more offense, it will be an uphill battle to get past the Yanks and the Sox in the AL East. Hmmm. But you never know! What will the impact of A.J really be? Food for thought.

Back to the potential Renteria deal. Honestly, I do hope it happens. Renteria is a pesky hitter, and I would much rather have Edgar for us, rather than being a pain in the you know what against us. He has always been a pain in the Braves sides.

Looks like we won’t get Lugo from Tampa. They want us to give up Brian McCann. Ummm, no way. It is very possible that Estrada will be traded to some team in desperate need of a catcher, and McCann has definetly shown what he is able to do with his bat, and it doesn’t hurt that he is excellent at picking off potential base stealers. So could it be adios for Estrada? This fan hopes so. It is nothing personal against Johnny, but he has not been the same since his home plate collision against the Angels last year.

I will write more later because again, no sleep. Plus I want to wait and see if the deal goes down before I jump the gun.

Rock on!
🙂 Julie

A little NL East chatter

I knew it was inevitable. Rafael Furcal is gone, but he isn’t a Cub. And he is not a Met either. Welcome to the Dodgers, Raffy.

Now the two people the Braves were focused on keeping have both departed to New York. Fantastic. But if you think I am heartbroken or disappointed, you are very wrong. I am a little bummed, after all, because Rafael turned an ordinary trip to a ballgame into a memorable experience for me in 2004. But here’s what we have to gain:

Due to the fact that Chipper reworked his contract to get a paycut, we are now able to spend money on a solid closer, perhaps Todd Jones or Trevor Hoffman. But maybe we will get a virtual unknown to do the job that Dan Kolb failed to do in 2005. We now have more money to spend on eventually resigning both Andruw Jones and Marcus Giles after the 2007 season is over and done with. And there are teams that may be willing to part ways with a solid shortstop in exchange for a catcher, because God only knows the Braves have catchers to part with, like Johnny Estrada who is not worth the money we pay him. And Brayan Pena, who is a great young prospect.

Well I’ve been meaning to post a little more on the whole Billy Wagner-Tom Gordon-Kyle Farnsworth triangle. But seriously, what is there to actually say about it? The Phillies seem to be getting the bad end of this deal. The Yanks are taking a risk with Farnsworth, because even though he was solid with the Braves, he does have the tendency to be a wild pitcher with little control. Big winner in all this? The Mets. But the Mets are not the overall winner so far this offseason.

So who is the winner so far? Id have to say the Marlins. After getting a new manager in Joe Girardi, they have a manager who might be able to understand the youth of the team. I think the Marlins will have an off year next year, with the departures of Beckett, Lowell, Burnett, Delgado, LoDuca, among others. But its definetly a time for the youth movement in the Marlins. I don’t see them going out and getting a big all star power hitter, but I do see them trying to bring up players from their farm system. The Marlins do not have a bad farm system at all.

I think even though the Mets were the winners in the relief pitcher triangle, I don’t think they were the big offseason winners so far. With the aquisition of Billy Wagner, that solidifies their bullpen. Now where will this put Braden Looper? Where will we see him in 2006? So do I think the Mets have their pitching staff set? Bullpen wise, yes, I do. Now we all know they got LoDuca and Delgado. But everyone should know that a big name doesn’t mean a World Series title. Because honestly, besides Paul Konerko and the injury plagued Frank Thomas, what members of the White Sox were known around baseball as being a major threat at the plate om a regular basis? Not many if you really think hard. So the Mets will need to show the baseball world that big names can bring big things to the team.

Now back to the Braves, I don’t know where this will leave us. I hear the constant rumors with the Devil Rays with Julio Lugo. Not a bad choice. But time, and winter meetings will tell.

Rock on!
🙂 Julie