Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built

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15 Nov

No. 1: Hank Aaron

Righthanded Hitting, Righthanded Throwing Outfielder/First Baseman
Seasons With Braves: 1954-1974
Stats With Braves: .310 .377 .567, 733 HR, 2202 RBI, 2107 RS

What to say about a legend? Well, to begin, I think the Hammer is actually a little underrated. There’s a tendency to see him as a very good player for a long time. He was a great player; he won only one MVP award but earned four or five more. From 1955 to 1975 he made the All-Star team every year; he got MVP votes every year from 1955 to 1973. His 76 Black Ink points are eighth all-time. But all those league-leading seasons are drowned out by his many, many seasons among the leaders; nobody has finished in the top ten so much, in so many different things, as Hank Aaron. Only Cobb ranks ahead of him in the Grey Ink test, and Cobb didn’t have quite the breadth of contributions.

He didn’t play in a basestealing era like Cobb, but he was a career 78 percent basestealer who stole as many as 31 in a season, which was good for second in the league. He was a Gold Glove outfielder who played 293 games in center, and would have played more except that the team had good glove men and could afford to keep him in right. The power you know something of; he hit line drives with the best of them, and a whole lot of those left the park. He won two batting titles and finished in the top ten twelve times. The only thing Hank didn’t do was draw a lot of walks, but his isolated OBP is a little better than the league.

Aaron actually wanted to pass Cobb, not Ruth, and become the all-time hits leader; he started concentrating on home runs more when he moved to Atlanta. As it happened, he’s still third on the all-time hits list. Bonds will probably pass him for home runs, but his RBI record is probably beyond reach, and he might hold off Bonds for extra-base hits as well. Oh, and there are other differences.

Two more points of possible interest are that Aaron was a middle infielder when he entered organized baseball, moved off second base soon after (though he did play over 40 games at the position in the majors) and that at first he batted cross-handed — that is, righthanded but with a grip more like a left-hander’s. He’s speculated that if he maybe would have been even better had he been a switch-hitter, since he had a head start on the grip. Anyway, he started hitting the “right way” while with Indianapolis, I believe; Bill James speculates that the early hitting the “wrong way” might have helped Aaron gain his phenomenal wrist strength.

Hank was born in Mobile in 1934, three years after Willie Mays was born in the Birmingham area; it’s not necessarily meaningful that these two dominant figures were born in my home state, I just like to point it out. It is probably meaningful that a huge number of other quality players, highlighted by Willie McCovey, also came out of the Mobile area in Aaron’s wake. Many of them looked to him as a leader, and even wore 44 in tribute to him. Aaron played with the local segregated team, the Mobile Black Bears, then with the Indianapolis Clowns, before signing with the then-Boston Braves in 1952. Two years later, he was with the big club, now in Milwaukee. He was fourth in the rookie of the year balloting, but still pretty raw. He would not be raw for long.

A year-by-year summary of Aaron’s career would be really long, and fairly repetitive; he was great, and consistently great, for twenty years. Hitting the highlights… He made the first of those twenty-one consecutive All-Star teams in 1955. In 1956, he won the batting title. In 1957, at the age of 23, he won his lone MVP award, hitting .322/.378/.600 with 44 home runs, as the M-Braves won their only World Series title. Lew Burdette won three games to take the Series MVP, but Aaron was the offensive star, hitting .393 (the team as a whole hit .209) with three homers and seven RBI.

Those Braves teams were really talented, but never could get over the hump again. Hank just kept hitting — and fielding, winning the Gold Glove from 1958 to 1960. In 1958 he hit well again in the Series, but the team lost in seven. In 1959 he had his greatest year, leading the league in batting average (at .355), slugging, OPS, hits, total bases, and runs created, finishing third in homers and RBI. They gave the MVP to the shortstop of a last-place team, while the Braves lost a three-game playoff to the Dodgers, losing the last game in the twelfth inning. In 1963, he came closest to the Triple Crown, finishing third in batting average and leading in homers and RBI (and also in runs).

In 1966, the Braves moved to Atlanta; Hank was not crazy about this for obvious reasons, plus he liked Milwaukee. At the same time, he recognized that the different conditions in Atlanta called for a different approach, and started pulling the ball more. He’d won two home run titles in Milwaukee. He won two in his first two years in Atlanta. At the same time, he was no longer a threat to win the batting title, finishing out of the top ten when he led the league in homers and RBI in his first Atlanta season. Considered just for his time in Atlanta, I would still rank Aaron second among hitters, behind Chipper but ahead of Murphy and Andruw.

He faded a little in 1968, but who didn’t? He came back strong and at 35 was the offensive star of the 1969 NL West champs, and hit well again in a losing cause in the NLCS. (In three career postseason series, seventeen games, Aaron hit a combined .362/.405/.710 with six homers and sixteen RBI.)

Aaron was just about the only Brave who didn’t have a bad year in 1970. In 1971, he hit a career-high 47 homers, and at that point, with 639 homers, people started to take notice. After a bad-by-his-standards 1972, he came back with 40 homers in 1973, finishing the year with 713 homers.

Major League Baseball, then as always, was basically run by jackasses, and they decided to put the Braves on the road to start the season, the traditional season-opening series at Cincinnati. Eddie Mathews was managing the Braves and had no intention of letting Hank break the record anywhere but at home. Bowie Kuhn ordered Mathews to put Aaron in the lineup for at least two games in Cincinnati; I don’t know if it was unprecedented for the commissioner to make out the lineup card, but it’s certainly unusual. Aaron tied the record on opening day. In the home opener, he broke it.

1974 was otherwise pretty much the end of the road; he hit only 18 more homers and wound up with a .268/.341/.491 line, and couldn’t really play the field anymore. Bud Selig — speaking of jackass commissioners — arranged to acquire Hank for the Brewers (the Braves got Dave May, plus a minor leaguer who never played in the bigs) where he could serve as part-time DH. Aaron didn’t play well in two seasons in the AL.

In 1977, Hank took over as the Braves’ VP for Player Development, a position he held until 1989. He isn’t considered to have been successful in the job, but the team’s actual drafts in this period look pretty good to me, and the core of the 1991 squad was largely acquired on his watch — Gant, Justice, Glavine, Avery, and Blauser in the draft, Smoltz through trade. Also, he had the integrity to cut his son when it became clear the younger Aaron had no future as a baseball player. (HINT) I believe he’s still on the team’s board of directors but has no day-to-day role.

Hank Aaron Statistics – Baseball-Reference.com

101 Responses to “No. 1: Hank Aaron”

  1. 1
    joel kauffman Says:

    My absolute all-time favorite player! Hank Aaron is the reason I’m an Atlanta Braves fan. I was flipping the dial on an old radio my father had given me as an 11 year old and stumbled across a baseball game where this guy named Hank Aaron hit a home run as I was listening. The way Milo Hamilton called this home run was so exciting I stated tuning in every night and was soon hooked. Hank was my hero and I loved the fact that he was a take care of business kind of guy!

    Great job on this list of all-time Braves Mac!

  2. 2
    W Diehl Says:

    Basically Chipper plus Andruw… Lots of those HRs hit when HRs were hard to come by. I came to watch baseball in the 1960s, and the guys who could hit 40 HRs then were a breed apart. (Of course, no one exercised, so who knows…?)

    Mac, this is a fantastic write-up; a fitting cap to a brilliant series (even if I think Glavine > Niekro). The highlight of being a Braves fan in 2006 (just ahead of the post-All Star break road trip…)

  3. 3
    ububba Says:

    Aaron was traded to Milwaukee, mainly for Dave May, a left-handed slugger who had a couple good years for the Brewers, but platooned in ATL (if I remember correctly).

    And Aaron’s last big hurrah, the 1973 season, was really ridiculous: 40 HRs in less than 400 ABs.

    Yes, his wrists were unbelievable. I remember going to a game as a kid, sitting in RF and seeing Aaron wrist a screaming liner to right center that the Phils RF Jay Johnstone completely overran because the ball cut back against him like a golf shot. I had a perfect angle of it & was in complete awe.

    A couple other Aaron memories: I remember trying to get home from school on opening day 1974 to catch the game where Aaron could tie the Babe’s record. A friend’s mom offered to give me a ride & I accepted because I figured I’d get home quicker & catch the game.

    Wrong. She stopped at the Piggly Wiggly on the way & I had to listen to Milo Hamilton call the HR on the radio as I waited for her in her station wagon. Off Jack Billingham, I think.

    After Hank broke the record, I had a big poster in my room of the record-breaking HR with a little white circle around the ball in flight, Downing’s in follow-thru & you can see Buckner in LF. I got it as a member of the Magnavox 715 Club (a family friend had a TV dealership in the neighborhood). I wish I still had that poster. I can still remember the time on the Stadium clock—9:07.

    And I’m also proud to say that Hank Aaron played in the very first MLB game I ever attended.

  4. 4
    brule™ Says:

    You know Jake Peavy also was born in Mobile. His number is 44. I heard the number is so meaningful because it is closely connected with the Hank Aaron’s number. Right?

  5. 5
    Stephen now in the UAE Says:

    I grew up in Atlanta and I can remember when the principal announced to our startled world geography class over the intercom that Hank Aaron had tied Babe Ruth. Everybody was incredibly happy, but a bit concerned that he would break the record in Cincy.

    Happily enough, I was in the outfield seats for opening night and will never forget Aaron’s 715. Even though I actually managed to call the pitch (Downing had walked Aaron on a 4-0 count and was booed; in Aaron’s second at bat he began with another ball. I sensed that he would finally give Hank a pitch to hit) I never saw the ball clear the fence. Everyone jumped to their feet and I only knew it was an HR by the crowd noise.

    The game was stopped for about 10 minutes and sustained applause broke out. It was really amazing the applauses would dye down then start back up. It was as if people did not know how to cheer adequately for Aaron’s great feat.

    Later it began to rain and we all headed home happy…

    Finally, I believe that Aaron was traded for Dave May–whom the Braves eventually sent to Texas as part of a deal for Jeff Burroughs…

  6. 6
    Remy Says:

    I liked Aaron because he was humble.

  7. 7
    Godot Says:

    If you need more reason to like Aaron, I believe he is on the board for Krispy Kreme !!

  8. 8
    Johnny Says:

    Mac, My eternal gratitude for a job well done. Thanks man.

    Hank Aaron. Sure wish some of today’s players would learn how to conduct themselves with the same class and humility. I remember a Sport magazine article on professional sports salaries. Hank was the highest paid athlete then, making a cool 200,000 dollars per year.

  9. 9
    Bill Cooper Says:

    I’ve been a baseball nut since 1952, and I have always thought Mr. Aaron was the most under-appreciated player ever. Anything Mays could do, Aaron could do, only without the big-city hoopla. He has to be in the top two or three position players of all time.

  10. 10
    sansho1 Says:

    Great stuff, Stephen. So you were one of the 600,000 people in the stands that night? ;)

    My dad and uncle were also there. Dad saw it, Uncle was off getting a hot dog. He always was a bit scattered….

  11. 11
    samion Says:

    The Hammer! Excellent end to an excellent list. I’ve always been amazed that the Home Run King can have more career HRs than anyone and yet still be underrated, which I think he is by baseball nation.

    He is often knocked because it took Hank about 3,000 more ABs to hit as many as Ruth did. Personally, I don’t really care. Aaron had so much class with the way he played the game, that just puts him even further ahead of Ruth, who lacked any class whatsoever.

    Not really related to the subject, I found it interesting that Andruw Jones is nowhere to be found on baseball-reference’s “most similar by age” list. Just a random side note that I thought I would share.

  12. 12
    csg Says:

    new rumors….

    Maybe LaRoche for Tiger pitching

    http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061115/SPORTS02/611150412/1050

  13. 13
    csg Says:

    oh yeah, the Red Sox won the bidding at 51.11million. Who wants to bet that they were just trying to block the Yankees and they wont come to an agreement.

  14. 14
    Randy Says:

    Mac, congratulations on just a fantastic series of articles. Hank is the #1 Brave and you are correct, he is underrated.

  15. 15
    Bill Cooper Says:

    Mac, I also thank you for the excellent series and congratulate you on your rise to journalistic prominence. Now I can say I read Mac when he was merely ran the best Braves blog.

  16. 16
    Bill Cooper Says:

    Let’s make that:

    Mac, I also thank you for the excellent series and congratulate you on your rise to journalistic prominence. Now I can say I read Mac when he merely ran the best Braves blog.

    Isn’t spell check wonderful?

  17. 17
    csg Says:

    People have absolutely lost their minds. Oj Simpson is coming out with a new book this week and also doing an interview with Fox.

    The name of the book, “If I did it, here’s how it happened.”

    He hypothetically describes how the murders would have been committed. In the two-part event, Simpson describes how he would have carried out the murders he has vehemently denied committing for over a decade.

    Why discuss something you would have done if you didnt do it. People will do anything for a buck!

  18. 18
    csg Says:

    D-Rays Win Akinori Iwamura Bid

    According to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Devil Rays have won the bid for infielder Akinori Iwamura.

  19. 19
    A.West Says:

    I can’t recall watching a game with Aaron, I was only 4 when he left Atlanta. However, I remember that I went to the same Montessori school in the Sandy Springs area that one of his kids was attending, which made me feel special.

  20. 20
    bamadan Says:

    I don’t really collect sports memorabilia. But I do have a framed poster from Hank Aaron day in 1974 hanging in my office. It has Aaron with a drawing of Ruth in the background as well as a picture of swing 715 and several other shots. Then it lists his seasonal accomplishments year by year in short blub fashion.

    He isn’t considered to have been successful in the job, but the team’s actual drafts in this period look pretty good to me, and the core of the 1991 squad was largely acquired on his watch — Gant, Justice, Glavine, Avery, and Blauser in the draft, Smoltz through trade.

    All or virtually all of them were added after Cox came back and was serving as GM while Aaron was shunted aside to a more cerimonial role. Aaron’s time as VP was mostly treading water, having inherited Murphy & Niekro and not surronded them with much of anything and then a long slide into awfulness after the early 80s until Cox’s arrival.

    … but his RBI record is probably beyond reach

    Its a long way away, but A-Rod has a very good chance. Through the same age, A-Rod has about a 100 ribbie lead. If A-Rod plays until he is 42, he would need to average 84 RsBI per year to break that record. A-Rod is also about 80 HRs above Aaron’s pace for the HR crown; he’d need to average only 24 per year through age 42 to get 756. Baring injury, psychological breakdown, or just a willingness to quit and spend his money, Rodriguez will probably break that record.

    But look at all the advantages A-Rod would have. Much smaller parks and a much more homer friendly era.

    Anyway …

    What a tremendous baseball player Henry Aaron was.

    And what a tremendous series of articles by Mac.

  21. 21
    ububba Says:

    LaRoche for Bonderman? Interesting. So…Chipper to 1B?

    Speaking of OJ…

    At the Bob Dylan concert the other night, who was sitting across the aisle from me? “Legal Dream Team” member Barry Scheck. I thought about asking him if he still had DNA on his hands, but I figured I’d let it go.

  22. 22
    bledsoe Says:

    Never heard of him.

    It was complete serendipity that I became a Braves fan, and complete serendipity that as a result I got to see this man play. I’m pretty lucky.

  23. 23
    Kevin Lee Says:

    ububba;
    What a life!

    On Hank:
    If you’re looking for a discussion on the best ever, start here.

    He did a Wheaties commercial in the 70′s that had as a basis a bad day at the plate for Aaron. I didn’t appreciate it at the time because I knew how great he played. Who wants to see heroes fail?
    I can’t conceive of any player today doing one like it, although big egos are not a recent developement.
    What is incredible is that Hank could look so gracious and exceptional even in failure. Hank’s attitude was the only a great one can have. Some days this game a bitch.
    But look out tomorrow!

  24. 24
    Dan Says:

    I saw that too about Adam LaRoche for Jeremy Bonderman. I don’t think I like it. If it was somebody like Jake Peavy, yes, but Bonderman?

  25. 25
    Stephen now in the UAE Says:

    I could imagine LaRoche and Giles for Peavy and Linebrink, but I do not see why the Tigers want to part with Bonderman. I just hope that that Braves can get some quality starting pitching….

  26. 26
    bmac Says:

    Awesome series Mac, thanks. Aaron is my favorite player of all time. I only got to see him play in person once, in the Astrodome, towards the end of his career, but it’s still my favorite baseball memory. And the Astrodome was a horrible place to play, and watch, baseball. Even worse than the Kingdome.

  27. 27
    Kevin Lee Says:

    Sorry for the misspellings. I get a little emotional talking about Hank. He used to tear up the Big Red Machine until they stopped pitching to him. You could look it up.

    Thanks, Mac. You’re the best!

  28. 28
    csg Says:

    I dont see SD wanting LaRoche unless they can flip him somewhere else. Adrian Gonzalez put up very similar number, maybe even better numbers, and is still cheaper than LaRoche. I dont see us trading LaRoche unless we think Thorman is ready for the everyday duties. I still dont see Chipper moving.

  29. 29
    JonathanF Says:

    I was at the 715 game as well, down the 1st base line. The two idiots who ran onto the field to congratulate him during the home run trot were two rows in front of me. The thing I remember most about that night was how cold it was… really, really cold. The stadium lost about one-third of the spectators after Hank hit 715, and Atlanta came into a lot of criticism for that, but trust me… it was really cold. I had to beg my father to let us stay.

    One more little known piece of trivia… Meryl Streep named her son after Hank Aaron.

  30. 30
    Colin Says:

    I agree Aaron is underrated. To have hit that many homers despite having several years in a pitchers’ era is amazing.

    I always come to appreciate Hank most when some guy reaches, say, 400 homers. And you think to yourself, “Man, Bagwell, Manny, A-Rod, Thomas, Griffey – they’re good!” And then you realize they still have 355 more to go.

    Great series, Mac.

  31. 31
    Sam Says:

    Yep, dittos for a great series. :)

    I can’t believe we’re talking so casually about trading LaRoche! We couldn’t get anyone REALLY good for him!

  32. 32
    Marc Schneider Says:

    There was a period of time in which people were talking about Roberto Clemente as being the best right fielder in baseball. I never bought it. Obviously, Clemente was a great player, but Aaron was better in every way, except, possibly, strength of arm. Clemente was more flamboyant, but I remember Hank making every play in right field and making them look easy because he knew how to play the hitters.

    Unfortunately, Hank was not always so popular among fans at the time because he didn’t have the right complexion to pass Babe Ruth. But if the city of Atlanta deserves credit for anything, it’s for being the birthplace of Martin Luther King and being the place where the Hammer passed Babe Ruth.

  33. 33
    Johnny Says:

    @31 It would be a couple of teams gambling that the last season is a new standard of performance instead of an outlier. Bonderman’s strikeout/walk ratio and innings make him intruiging. As for LaRoche the Braves, if they can, should leverage last season for a quality pitcher. Replacements? Well Thorman’s minor league career looks almost exactly like LaRoche’s and we could move Chipper to 1B. Bring Vinny Casiilla back……just kidding. Anyway you get the idea.

  34. 34
    csg Says:

    latest trade…the Mets got “a Brian Jordan type outfielder.”

    http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/6172222

  35. 35
    Dan Says:

    Mets get: Ben Johnson and Jon Adkins
    Padres get: Heath Bell and Royce Ring

    Do the Padres really need more relief pitching?

  36. 36
    Another Alex R. Says:

    Joe Morgan has gone on record many times as saying that Hank Aaron is one of the most underrated players ever. Weirdly enough, he’s right!

    I’d take Bonderman in a heartbeat. A HEARTBEAT.

  37. 37
    csg Says:

    #35 – its just setting up the Giles for Linebrink deal even more. I think it’ll happen by weeks end!

    #36 – agree completely….w/ Bondo that is

  38. 38
    csg Says:

    this is sad….now going to start testing Golfers for P.E. Drugs. Oh yeah, not even male golfers yet!

    http://sports.espn.go.com/golf/news/story?id=2662865

  39. 39
    hoboken_wood Says:

    Where in that article does it say anything about LaRoche for Bonderman? Or is it out there somewhere else?

  40. 40
    Jay10 Says:

    Giles to San Diego is unlikely now…

    http://www.signonsandiego.com/sports/padres/20061115-9999-1s15padres.html

  41. 41
    Jay10 Says:

    From that link:

    “With the way the relief pitching is shaking out, it would be difficult for us to trade Linebrink,” said Towers. “Someone would really have to overpay. If we keep Linebrink, Giles won’t happen.”

  42. 42
    Dan Says:

    Unlikely does not mean impossible. Plus that article is eight hours old, maybe the two new guys would make Linebrink easier to obtain.

  43. 43
    Andy H. Says:

    I’d trade LaRoche for Bonderman, easy. Worry about 1B after you get Bonderman in the rotation.

    Other news: Ex-Brave Mark DeRosa signs with the Cubs, 3/$13M

  44. 44
    hoboken_wood Says:

    Again, where are the Bonderman/LaRoche rumors coming from?

  45. 45
    Andy H. Says:

    “Again, where are the Bonderman/LaRoche rumors coming from?”

    See post # 12.

  46. 46
    csg Says:

    hoboken, refer to #12…the article is about Bondo for Teixeira.

    They also make reference to Atlanta and how we are reluctant to part ways with LaRoche.

  47. 47
    Jay10 Says:

    Hoboken_wood,

    I assume that the Bonderman/LaRoche rumor is because if they are looking to trade Bonderman for Teixeira then in all likely hood they would offer at least Bonderman for LaRoche. Not sure, but thats what I took from the article.

  48. 48
    Stu Says:

    Jay…are you serious??? Your statement implies that LaRoche is greater-than-or-equal-to Teixiera! If they’re offering Bonderman for Teixeira, the Braves would have to offer MORE than just LaRoche to get him.

    At least, in a rational world, they would.

  49. 49
    mraver Says:

    There’s a brief mention of the fact that Atlanta has a very good, low-priced LH 1B and that they’d be interested in pitching in return and probably ask for a lot.

    Personally, I’d do Bondo for LaRoche…. Probably try to get another live arm included or something, but Bondo is good. Add that to the fact that we currently have LaRoche, Jr. (in Scott Thorman) and no place to put him. I think it might be a good move for the Braves if for no other reason than the fact that Thorman is currently wasted talent and that we’re unlikely to get the kind of return for Thorman that we can get for LaRoche. Bonderman could legitimately be an elite pitcher here for a while, and the offense (Chipper, AJ, McCann, Francoeur, etc.) will score plenty of runs without LaRoche.

    With that said, we’ll still need a backup 1B (preferably RH-hitting and capable of playing 3B and LF). I mean, maybe we can get Diaz some reps there. At 6’1″ he’s got the size, and there aren’t a lot of good options out there….

    lineup/bench for next year?
    C McCann
    1B Thorman
    2B Aybar
    SS Renteria
    3B Chipper
    LF Diaz
    CF AJ
    RF Francoeur
    Bench: KJ (2B/LF), Langerhans (OF), Penya (C), Orr (PR, SS, 2B, 3B)

    I think I’d be okay with that.

  50. 50
    bmac Says:

    csg & Stu are right, the article was about Texeira for Bonderman, and LaRoche was thrown into the mix as another first base option, not necessarily for Bonderman. The Tigers would want more for Bonderman than LaRoche straight up.

  51. 51
    mraver Says:

    And as for LaRoche vs. Teixeira, LaRoche hit better than Teixeira in a much more pitcher-friendly context, and is only 6 months older. He’s significantly cheaper and you won’t be dealing in-league. I can see why he would be considered similar to Teixeira if you’re Detroit.

    Oh, his defense is better, too.

  52. 52
    Jay10 Says:

    Stu,

    No, i’m not saying that LaRoche is as good/or better than Teixeira. Obviously what I said didn’t come out the right way.

  53. 53
    Tad Says:

    Hammerin Hank .. so may childhood memories .. like was posted on here by someone else ..listening to those games when I was 10 to 11 years old on the radio … Milo Hamilton doing his .. THERE’s a DRIVE ..WAY BACK and THAT BALL IS GONE !!! HOMERUN HENRY AARON … man those were good times …. by far my all time favorite player …. I used to imitate his batters box approach from standing and proping the bat on his leg and fitting his helmut on his head .. and then taking those warmup swings with that little flick of the wrist’s at the end … I can see it now ….

  54. 54
    Stu Says:

    mraver,

    LaRoche was better last year. All year prior, Teixeira was way better. Like, not even close. Teixeira has to have the higher upside going forward.

  55. 55
    mraver Says:

    Stu-

    Not necessarily. If you consider that last years’ numbers indicate a shift in LaRoche’s level of play, and if you take into account park factors and salary, it’s not unreasonable to think that LaRoche could be a better fit for Detroit than Teixeira.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’d probably take Teixeira. I’m just saying that it may be closer than many think. :-)

  56. 56
    csg Says:

    sources say the Phils are close to signing Wes Helms. I guess he’ll be a utility player

  57. 57
    Jay10 Says:

    I know this was said yesterday, but Jeff Bowden was given $537 k to resign. I guess those boosters really want the Bowdens out of Tallahassee.

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2006/football/ncaa/11/15/bowden.payoff.ap/index.html

  58. 58
    csg Says:

    another source…now the Blue Jays could be after our Brian Giles, I think they meant Marcus though

    http://www.sportsnet.ca/baseball/columnist.jsp?content=20061114_183045_4452

  59. 59
    JoshQ Says:

    I find it amazing that we are even finding it possible to get Bonderman for LaRoche. I say that because 9 months ago we would have only been able to to Bonderman’s jock for LaRoche. Amazing what one good season can stir up.

  60. 60
    Stephen now in the UAE Says:

    Coming back to ‘the Hammer from Mobile’–as Milo Hamilton used to say–this man remains underated as both a player and a man. Marc Schneider’s comparison above to Clemente is revealing: Aaron is remembered as the HR king while Clemente is remembered not only for his overall excellence, but his heart. To take nothing away from Clemente, Aaron had a more difficult challenge–which has not yet received adequate coverage here.

    Chasing Babe Ruth meant more than mere numbers. The struggles associated with the civil rights movement were hardly distant memories that they are today and the resentment which many had against Aaron was ugly. Aaron chased the Babe, dealing not only with the media, but also enduring hate mail, nasty fans and death threats. Aaron did this with a quiet dignity; looking back I was too young to appreciate this, but I can see that he handled this situation profoundly.

    Aaron was once asked whether he was comfortable undermining the memory of the Babe and he replied that he “did not want people to forget Babe Ruth…he just did not want them to forget Hank Aaron either”. He had a great 1973, but tailed off in 1974 and I cannot help think that all of the pressure and nastiness made him age faster. Baseball fans are familiar with the impact that the media had on Roger Maris in 1961, but Aaron had to endure so much more.

    In the end, he shattered Ruth’s record and did so with humility and dignity. A lesser man and a lesser player might have easily failed. Aaron succeeded and offered a generation of fans–from all backgrounds–a great occasion to forget differeces and unite in honoring a noble achievement.

  61. 61
    bledsoe Says:

    Another couple of favorite anecdotes about Hank.

    Once, as a rookie, an opposing catcher noticed he was batting with the label of the bat down. The catcher said, ” You’re supposed to be able to read the label.” Hank looked at him and said, “I ain’t up here to read.”

    Also, Hank never left the batters’ box once he stepped in. He just stayed there, daring the guy to throw him a strike.

    George Will has an anecdote at Men at Work in which the Dodgers were coming to play the Braves and the pitching staff was having a meeting to go over the Braves hitters, their weaknesses, how they were going to attack them, etc. They got to Henry and no one said anything at all. Collectively, no clue as to how to get him out. After a while, the coach said, “Just make sure there’s no one on when he hits it.”

  62. 62
    Jay10 Says:

    Hmm, I wonder what Toronto would offer for giles???

  63. 63
    Jay10 Says:

    Woody Paige is talking about the Yanks going after Maddux and/or Thomson to counter their loss of Matsuzaka to the Sox…umm…okay

  64. 64
    ububba Says:

    There’s no doubt that Tex is better than LaRoche, but he makes $6.4 Mil & LaRoche makes $420,000—the story implied that LaRoche would be a cheaper 1B solution for Detroit.

    bledsoe,
    Barry Scheck was on OJ’s legal defense team.

    Kevin,
    I remember those Wheaties commercials. I recall that Chiefs kicker Jan Stenerud was another subject–”Hey, Jan, you didn’t have your wheaties!”

  65. 65
    Dan Says:

    Thomson, as in the Braves’ John Thomson? Someone on ESPN really said that John Thomson can counter Daisuke Matzusaka?

  66. 66
    csg Says:

    over the course of one game maybe

  67. 67
    Jay10 Says:

    Hahahahaha,

    Yes, of course that someone was Woody Paige so….yeah.

  68. 68
    csg Says:

    I thought Smitty was going to his barber, I guess he had nothing to tell him

  69. 69
    Colin Says:

    The Giles talk on Linebrink sounds to me like a PR war kinda thing. Probably they want to give up Linebrink for Giles, and JS wants more, and now they’re trying to inflate what they think of lInebrink

  70. 70
    csg Says:

    I dont really think we are in a position to ask for more. We need bullpen help and salary relief and we can do both by moving him. There aren’t many suitors willing to take on a $5.5 million dollar 2B one year away from Free Agency. If we can get Linebrink for Giles straight up JS needs to do that, but that’s just my opinion.

  71. 71
    Dan Says:

    Giles for Linebrink straight up is a great deal. Anyone who says otherwise can look at Tyler Yates.

    Also Jim Leyland and Joe Girardi win AL and NL manager of the year awards.

  72. 72
    Another Alex R. Says:

    I once met Woody Paige in a supermarket. I said, “Hey, I’ve seen you on ESPN. Is Skip Bayless here too?” His eyes flashed blood-red and his lips curled into a snarl as he bared his fangs and began to knaw at my shopping cart.

    Come to think of it, that wasn’t Woody Paige after all.

  73. 73
    Zach Says:

    The Padres start by trading their second baseman. Next they load up on relievers from the Mets by getting Heath Bell and Royce Ring. It’s looking more and more like a Giles for Linebrink is going to happen. I don’t care what Towers says. His moves don’t back up his words. I am a supporter of this trade and hope it works out.

  74. 74
    bmac Says:

    One of my favorite quotes about Aaron…”Trying to sneak a fastball past Hank Aaron is like trying to sneak sunrise past a rooster.”

  75. 75
    bamadan Says:

    Oh great. We have roughly a bazillion years of the baseball equivilent of making silk purses out of sows ears — turning scrap heap relievers into a great bullpen. One horrible year and fans are lining up to trade a young player with a long history of quality performance for a 30 year old middle reliever. Unless JS knows more about the steroid allegations I’ve heard bandied about for the Giles brothers, I think such a move is somewhere between unbelievably stupid and fricken asinine.

  76. 76
    Cliff Harpe Says:

    On Aaron, a few more reasons that he is underrated and / or underappreicated. The media market of New York overpowered his career. Television was the new thing inthe early 1950′s and the nightly news for all 3 networks (that’s right, kiddies, there were only 3 then) was broadcast from New York. Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle entered MLB about one or two years before Aaron with phenomenal early success. I think many were pulling for one or the other of them for years and then they fell apart and this guy they barely knew, Aaron, zoomed past the Golden Boys.

    With Mays, personality and flair comes into it. This was the “Say, Hey Kid.” His smile can still light up a room.

    Also, he wasn’t even the Great Kid Wonder on his own team. Again, Mathews entered MLB at about two years before Aaron. His first 8 years or so were phenomenal, particularly for a third baseman. Aaron might not have been the best position player on his own team (and almost certainly wasn’t ADJUSTED FOR POSITION) before 1960.

  77. 77
    Mac Thomason Says:

    The Mathews thing isn’t really true, Cliff. Mathews’ best year was in 1953, before Aaron joined the team. Through 1955, he was the superior player, and in 1959 he was considered to be but wasn’t. He wasn’t nearly as good from 1956-58 and nobody thought he was.

  78. 78
    csg Says:

    #75 – “One horrible year and fans are lining up to trade a young player with a long history of quality performance for a 30 year old middle reliever. ”

    A young player that is a FA after next year. We have 4 other 2B at the market minimum that can produce. I guess everyone here forgets what it was like with our bullpen last year. Let me remind you that Ken Ray, Chris Reitsma, and Jorge Sosa were trying to close games for us and lets dont even think about how hard it was to get to those guys. Our scrap heaps definitely didnt cut it and I guess an injury prone, over paid 2B is worth more than a solid setup guy for less money. Maybe I’m the confused one.

    Giles = $6 million
    Prado, Aybar, Orr, Johnson, Linebrink = $3 million

  79. 79
    Sam Says:

    @71

    I’m starting to agree with bandman. The Braves need the Padres to give up someone else along with Linebrink for M. Giles.

  80. 80
    Smitty Says:

    Okay, got my hair cut and here is the deal.

    Giles, HoRam, PTBN and LaRoche to the Blue Jays
    Vernon Wells, Jason Frasor and Adam Lind to the Braves

  81. 81
    Sam Says:

    I’m starting to suspect that Linebrink is a stinking pile of crap covered in gold: pretty soon, someone is going to find that out.

  82. 82
    csg Says:

    Linebrink is also a FA after 07, I think

  83. 83
    Another Alex R. Says:

    I think that overstates it, Sam. I’d say he’s a middle reliever covered in gold, which says about all you have to say.

  84. 84
    pedro Says:

    Smitty that trade is ridiculous. There’s no way that trade is going to happen, not even in a Xbox.

  85. 85
    CConaway Says:

    Mac, could you please outlaw the phrase “Chipper to 1B”?

  86. 86
    Marc Schneider Says:

    In fairness to Mays, he missed two prime years to the service or he would almost certainly have passed Ruth before Hank did. And, while it’s true the NY media overlooked Aaron, later in his career, it helped him because it was the 1969 playoffs against the Mets (in which Hank homered in each game) that I think really propelled him to national prominence even before people thought about him passing Ruth. That playoff gave him the nickname “Bad Henry” (coined, I think, by Tom Seaver), which seemed to catch on in the media for awhile.

  87. 87
    pedro Says:

    How about we rely again in Boyer, Reitsma, and the other LHP who I seem to forget his name every time.

  88. 88
    spike (now in Yokohama) Says:

    Favorite Aaron comment (from Ken Burn’s “Baseball” I think) “he does everything Mantle does except his hat doesn’t fall off while he’s doing it.”

  89. 89
    csg Says:

    how about we dont

  90. 90
    pedro Says:

    Man! Isn’t Matsuzaka overrated??? How much did the BoSox paid to at least talk to him??? I think it was 51 mil. And if they don’t sign him they will lose that money. I din’t think he is worth it.

  91. 91
    ububba Says:

    To anyone who insists on reminding everyone else about the ’05 bullpen: Thank you.

    We can disagree on how to address our lousy bullpen, but let’s please not forget that, from game to game for most of ’05, it was a minefield and it still stands to be improved.

    And, the way I see it, that requires some effort & perhaps some sacrifice from other positions. We won 79 games last year—standing still equals death.

  92. 92
    Jay10 Says:

    I thought if the Sox and Matsuzaka don’t agree on a contract, he goes back to Japan for two more years(he will be a free agent then) and the Sox get the $51 mil back…..

  93. 93
    pedro Says:

    Oh!So the money they give to the team is like an insurance. Now I understand.

  94. 94
    hoboken_wood Says:

    I agree with ububba. But I can’t shake the feeling that although Marcus is probably the best trading chip the Braves have to get the type of reliever needed, this situation has a small tinge of desperation attached to it. Sort of, “we’re hoping to trade him anyway, and since our ‘pen is dogsh*t, we may as well try and get this guy, even though we could possibly do better.”

    Wild analogy, but it’s like having the money to spend on a PS3, but they’re temporarily sold out, so instead of waiting for the PS3 or better yet, saving your money, you buy a PS2. We can afford a PS3, but we gotta have something NOW, so we settle.

  95. 95
    pedro Says:

    Hey that was a great metaphor hoboken!

  96. 96
    bamadan Says:

    Favorite Aaron comment (from Ken Burn’s “Baseball” I think) “he does everything Mantle does except his hat doesn’t fall off while he’s doing it.”

    Close. That was comparing Aaron and Mays, not Mantle.

  97. 97
    hoboken_wood Says:

    Thanks….shot in the dark, like I said, but it fit as I was typing it.

  98. 98
    Johnny Says:

    A guy that plays for 75 innings or so for an above average everyday player. Great trade. Your lineup of 2b wannabes is suspect at best.
    Prado – what based on his stellar year at Rome?
    Aybar – looked great in the PCL…….just like everyone else in the world.
    Orr – yeah right.
    Johnson – he’s a left fielder now for a reason. Glenn Hubbard is good but really …….
    I know that Giles is gone. But if all we get is Scott Linebrink then John Schuerholz is on crystal meth.
    Please ask the Cubs what they got for all that high priced middle relief they paid for….or the Reds what they got for 2 good position players. The best teams build their bullpens on the cheap. 2005 was a bad experience for the Braves but 2002, the year that we led the league in ERA with the likes of Hammond, Holmes, Grybowski, and Remlinger is still fresh in my memory.

  99. 99
    Connor Mccutcheon Says:

    I type in ” weaknesses of Hank Aaron” ( for my project) it broght up NO. 1 Hank Aaron – Braves Journal and it did not give me any info on ” Weaknesses of Hank Aaron” This was not helpful a little bit.

  100. 100
    Connor Mccutcheon Says:

    Come on the guy hit 755 home runs Barry Bond aint passing that!

  101. 101
    Mac Thomason Says:

    He really didn’t have any weaknesses. He didn’t walk all that much, but it was average or above average, and he did everything else well and every year. Nobody since Honus Wagner has been good at so many things.

    Where are you from, Connor? My first name is short for “McCutcheon”, which is my mother’s maiden name.

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