Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built

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10 Feb

Almost There…

We’re just one day from spring training, and this is how I feel. We’re almost there…

Will our ragtag band of rebels manage to destroy the Death Star in Washington? Or will our best efforts merely shake them but fail to blow up the battle station?

I’m trying to think of analogies for all the characters. Here’s the best I can do:

Luke — Justin Upton
Leia — B.J. Upton
Han — Jason Heyward
Chewbacca — Craig Kimbrel
Biggs — Eric O’Flaherty
Wedge — Jonny Venters
R2-D2 — Brian McCann
C-3PO — Kris Medlen
Obi-Wan — Chipper Jones
Yoda — Bobby Cox

Any other ideas? Please let me know in the comments!

125 Responses to “Almost There…”

  1. 1
    mravery Says:

    Well, aside from Medlen obviously being better suited for the height-challenged R2-D2 rather than 3PO, I like the list.

    Just don’t tell BJ he’s a chick. :-)

  2. 2
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Heh, yeah. I wonder if the Uptons read this blog?

    I couldn’t make Medlen R2-D2, just because McCann has a lot more in common with R2’s physical build than anyone else on the team. Obviously, Brian’s taller than R2, but they both share that round, barrel chest.

  3. 3
    Randy Says:

    Jabba the Hut = Dan Kolb
    Pizza the Hut = Melky Cabrera

  4. 4
    DowneasterJC Says:

    Someone should link to each players’ write up on their respective Twitter feeds.

  5. 5
    PaulV Says:

    R2-D2 and McCann have great skills of analysis . McCann knows batters and R2-D2 knows computer systems.

  6. 6
    desert Says:

    Amazing idea, AAR!

    Jar-Jar Binks: Fredi Gonzalez
    Admiral Ackbar: Frank Wren
    Greedo: Jonathan Papelbon
    Anakin: Bryce Harper (with the full potential to turn to Vader; right now he’s just annoying)
    Cantina bartender (http://tinyurl.com/6bwg5bm): Julian Taveraz
    Palpatine: Ted Lerner
    Mace Windu: Tim Hudson
    Boba Fett: Strasburg
    Lando Calrissian: Andruw Jones

  7. 7
    spike Says:

    If I may take mild issue, Jar-Jar is clearly DOB, and Palpatine is Loria.

  8. 8
    desert Says:

    Okay, Fredi can be that boss guy (Boss Nass?). Loria is certainly evil incarnate, but it’s more of an idiotic evil rather than a malicious evil. If he ever fields a half-competitive team, then he can become the Emperor.

  9. 9
    spike Says:

    They won a WS more recently than we have -

  10. 10
    desert Says:

    True, true. You do raise an excellent point; however, Palpatine would have rather obliterated his Death Star (which wasn’t funded by the taxpayers of Aldeeran, thank you very much) rather than allow this:

    http://tinyurl.com/a5po7f5

    anywhere within 97 parsecs of it.

  11. 11
    spike Says:

    Scott Proctor as Luke’s tauntaun. Never able to regain form after surgery….

    Eric Gregg as the Sarlaac
    Bob Wickman as Jabba

  12. 12
    Adam M Says:

    I kind of feel like Palpatine is Selig.

  13. 13
    krugerindustrialsmoothing Says:

    Mac is “the force”

  14. 14
    Rusty S. Says:

    @13 – This thread is over.

  15. 15
    Smitty Says:

    Bryce Harper is Darth Vader

  16. 16
    td Says:

    I would have to think that going to the dark side would mean playing for the Mets.

  17. 17
    braves14 Says:

    The Trade Federation – Mets
    Qui-Gon Jinn – Greg Maddux
    Padme Amidala – Stan Kasten
    Storm Troopers – Jeff Francoeur, Delmon Young

  18. 18
    desert Says:

    17, That may be the most apt equivalent of the Mets, anywhere and in any universe.

  19. 19
    Kevin Lee Says:

    Smitty

    With respect, for me, Darth Vader will always be Jeff Francoeur.

  20. 20
    krugerindustrialsmoothing Says:

    I nominate Buster Posey for Jabba the Outt

  21. 21
    John R. Says:

    Jane Fonda=Barbarella.

  22. 22
    Justin Brown Says:

    Palpatine…the umpire who called the infield fly rule.

  23. 23
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Darth Maul — Shane Victorino

  24. 24
    el_gato_grande Says:

    Is it a foregone conclusion that Corky Miller plays all the ewoks at once? If not, Brooks Conrad & Marcus Giles could also fit. Also, I feel like there’s got to be a way to relate the “It’s a Trap” scene to the Teixeira deal somehow

  25. 25
    ryan c Says:

    @22
    Was going to post that same thing.

  26. 26
    oldtimer? Says:

    Jane Fonda is the dancer who gets eaten by the Rancor in Return of the Jedi.

  27. 27
    DJ Says:

    Off topic, but there was a ton of love for Skyfall on here months back. Good movie, but not great.

    ***SPOLIER ALERT***

    Is anyone else concerned that ending at Skyfall was stolen from Home Alone? Gimmicky traps built in an old house keeping trained assassins at bay. I kept waiting for the Wet Bandits to drop from the stealth helicopter and step on a rake.

    Also saw Argo. Awesome film.

  28. 28
    Seat Painter Says:

    C’mon guys, we all know McCann is ROTJ-era Leia – you know, the chafracter who gets shot IN THE SHOULDER (emphasis added – d’uh!).

    R2D2 – c’mon – Dan Uggla, anyone?

    Wedge – Andrelton Simmons; young, go-getter, not counted on to carry the attack by himself…

    Generic Stormtrooper #4 – Francoeur the Incompetent.

  29. 29
    mravery Says:

    @26- I tend to agree. Plus the bad guy’s whole Joker act…. I dunno. The set pieces were great, but I wasn’t wild about the plot.

  30. 30
    Mark Graybill Says:

    @26: Here’s a funny installment from the “Honest Trailers” series that makes the same comparison with Home Alone.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FWfg__wKSY

    FWIW, it doesn’t bother me. Context is everything, and there’s nothing new under the sun. I can still laugh at the HT clip, though.

  31. 31
    joelk Says:

    Thanks for the link Mark, that was hilarious!

  32. 32
    JonathanF Says:

    A quick bleg. I find myself in Downtown Austin today. Throwing myself at the mercy of my most knowledgable friends on the net, anybody got a lunch recommendation they can shoot at me in the next hour? Thanks to all. I eat just about anything.

  33. 33
    Swaff Says:

    If it was not Monday franklins bbq is amazing, Smiths market is bbq and fresh food at its bet

  34. 34
    Bethany Says:

    @26 I freaking loved the ending. I geeked out when I realized it was going to be a booby trap moshpit of awesome.

  35. 35
    c. shorter Says:

    26 – I just felt like the ending was over the top. I’ll have to check out the link on HT later.

    Remembering the “Wet Bandits” cracked me up.

    I watched Casino Royale again this weekend. Still good!

  36. 36
    Michael Says:

    @31 – It’s not exactly downtown but if you have a car there is a mexican place called Juan in a Million that is great. Probably a mile from downtown Austin. You won’t regret it.

  37. 37
    DJ Says:

    @29 – Thanks for sharing. I love that someone else noticed this. My wife fell asleep during the movie and later asked how the ending was….I told her “it was just like Home Alone”. She will not be watching the rest of the movie.

  38. 38
    ububba Says:

    JonF,
    If you like BBQ…

    Iron Works BBQ on Red River St.

    Lamberts BBQ Downtown, 401 W. 2nd St

    Both joints are terrific.

  39. 39
    Johnny Says:

    @34 – Juan in a Million…. what a great name for a restaurant.

    The Star Wars analogies are great. However, I refuse to imagine ANY male in the Princess Leia slave costume.

    edit: @29 terrific link. funny very funny. I never thought about the Home Alone thing until then.

  40. 40
    MikeM Says:

    Princess Leia is Beth Keener, duh.

  41. 41
    justhank Says:

    I haven’t seen every installment, but MLB Network has been running a series called “Top Ten Right Now” wherein they identify the ten best shortstops, ten best third-basemen, etc., er, right now.

    So far, not a lot of Braves have shown up. McCann, yes, and at least one of the Uptons and J-Hey.

    Anyone else I missed?

    Btw, they’ve got Elvis ranked at or near the top of shortstops. Tell me again why we made that trade?

  42. 42
    JoeCraigMcMurtry Says:

    McCann, J-Hey and JUpton are shoo-ins. Andrelton Simmons is a top 10 shortstop (despite what MLB Network might think). And unless one believes that Shin-Soo Choo can really play centerfield, and that both Angel Pagan and Dexter Fowler are better, BJ Upton is also a top 10 centerfielder. That’s potentially five positions and I suspect few teams can boast better.

    We probably don’t have any top ten SPs but at least one and arguably two relievers (are there nine relievers not named Kimbrel that are better than O’Flaherty?).

  43. 43
    Grst Says:

    @39 I’ve seen them all, and felt the Braves were well represented. Here’s who made the lists (The Shredder’s, anyway)

    C: McCann
    RP: Kimbrel & EOF
    RF: Heyward (Bill James had him at #1, the Shredder at #3) & J. Upton
    2B: Uggla

    It’s likely the only thing keeping Simmons off the list was sample size. He’ll be on it next year. And Bill James had Freeman in his top ten, and I suspect he’ll make The Shredder’s with another solid year as well. I can very easily conceive Medlen cracking the SP list next year too.

    I’d be interested in seeing team tallies from the top tens, but I can’t imagine many with more than us.

    On the other hand, former Braves Bourn and Prado also made their respective lists.

  44. 44
    PaulV Says:

    Prado in LF or 3B

  45. 45
    Bethany Says:

    Here’s another way to look at things: We’re going into this season with either the best or second best outfield in the majors, and we’ve got the best bullpen in the majors too.

  46. 46
    Grst Says:

    @42 It was LF

  47. 47
    ryan c Says:

    McCann, Simmons, Uggla, Heyward, and the Uptons are all top 10 at their positions. BJ should easily be in the top 10 now that Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, and Josh Hamilton are no longer CF. He was number 11 last year according to fangraphs.

  48. 48
    ryan c Says:

    Shoot…Bourn at 48 million and Prado at 40 sounds better than the Uptons at 110.

  49. 49
    Johnny Says:

    Bourne sort of miscalculated the market. Not that 48 million bucks is chump change.

  50. 50
    desert Says:

    @46, If either of the Uptons live up to their potential, 110 for them is going to seem like a bargain. I’m personally happy that the Braves weren’t satisfied with consistency, but instead went for the risk and incredible upside. It’s not my money, after all.

  51. 51
    mravery Says:

    @46- Not to me it doesn’t. :-(

    You could convince me that Bourne at 4/48 is better than Bupton at 5/75. Actually, I think I might prefer Bourne. But Jupton’s contract is far superior to Prado’s.

  52. 52
    Grst Says:

    Rosenthal said the Braves were willing to do 4 years at $10-$12 per, I think. But at the time they thought his asking price was much higher so pursued other options. I’m glad they didn’t wait around on the off chance that no one had signed Bourne by February.

    That said, I tend to agree with @48 & @49.

  53. 53
    PaulV Says:

    Braves getting Uptons lowered Bourne’s price. We would not have gotten him that cheap and what is value of pick we would lose?

  54. 54
    mravery Says:

    PECOTA projections are out, fwiw. Since no one has commented on them here, I’ll say that they look pretty good for the Braves. Not really a lot of disasters in the lineup, and they project bounce-backs from McCann and Uggla. Best part: surprisingly little “collapse” probability outside of Andrelton, and pretty solid chances for improvement over last year nearly across the board.

    A strong top-to-bottom lineup that plays good defense…. Yep. That’s what I see when I look at the Braves’ roster. And ignore 3B. ^_^

  55. 55
    desert Says:

    @51, Didn’t we already lose our pick for BJ Upton?

    @50, If that’s the case, I think it indicates that the Braves would have comfortably gone to 4/15 or 5/13 for Bourn (if they were actually starting conversations at 10-12/year for 4 years… the Braves are notoriously cheap with these things, it seems). That makes me think that Bourn probably was looking for something like 5/75 or 5/90, given that talks progressed nowhere. I think he’d have gotten it had the Mets not made a big deal of the 11 pick, or the Twins weren’t stupid enough to trade two MLB center fielders to our division rivals for chump change (okay, maybe not the Philly deal, but that Span deal was just awful), or Arizona hadn’t decided to trade Chris Young, or maybe even if Hamilton hadn’t gone to Texas.

    In the end, it seems that everything that could have gone wrong for Bourn this offseason did. Too bad, too; the guy has been criminally underrated and really did deserve his payday.

  56. 56
    desert Says:

    Oh yes, and Shane Victorino is earning more annually than Michael Bourn.

  57. 57
    One Eye Says:

    Franklin’s is the best BBQ in Austin. Going south a bit to Lockhart is also a good bet (Black’s, Smittys).

  58. 58
    PaulV Says:

    @53 Yep. But we will gain one for losing Bourne after first round

  59. 59
    PaulV Says:

    If Cleveland is in bottom 10 they will just not lose one.

  60. 60
    jjschiller Says:

    I think the Braves genuinely like BJ Upton more than Bourn.

    They were connected to Upton several times before they acquired Bourn. And going all the way to 5/75 with Upton without even really checking in on Bourn doesn’t sound like “We thought he’d be out of our price range, so we never bothered.” The alternative turned out to be the biggest FA deal in franchise history. Not what I’d call a shrewd budgetary alternative ..

    I think they just believe in Upton’s tools more than Bourn, who has basically actualized his potential. Can’t say I blame them. He’s been a very useful player as it is, without ever having but everything together in a single season.

    As an aside, looking at the drastically different kinds of seasons BJ has had, I wonder how much bring part of such a sputtering offense effected his approach. I wonder if maybe he made a series of concious efforts to “be more (fill-in-the-blank) this year.”

  61. 61
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    As I wrote a month ago: “I think that it’s very possible that the reason that Upton’s walks have declined in recent years is that he was pressing to live up to expectations, and so he sold out for power. If that is the case, then he may have less pressure in Atlanta to do the same.”

    I think that Upton’s diminishing plate discipline and increasing homers in recent years may have been connected to the pressure that he was put under, from the moment he arrived in Tampa, to perform and be a star. The fact that Tampa’s offense was often mediocre-to-bad, and tied to a superstar third baseman who was slightly injury-prone, can’t have helped. In Atlanta he won’t be under the same kind of pressure. He may not have the limitless potential that he had when he was 20, but he won’t have the same negative pressures that he faced then.

  62. 62
    Grst Says:

    @57 They’ll still lose a pick, just not the first rounder. In this case the third, since they lost the second round pick when they signed Swisher. That’s my understanding, anyway.

  63. 63
    desert Says:

    @60, Yeah, they’ll lose the 69th overall pick (a ‘competitive balance’ pick, apparently)

    @56, Thanks for clarifying that. I had misunderstood your original comment.

    @58, I think that sums up what happened really well. Had Bourn been available for something completely unrealistic like 4/40, the Braves might have swooped him up. I think you’re right though, Bourn and Upton were probably looking for similar amounts and the Braves definitely preferred Upton.

  64. 64
    Seat Painter Says:

    Well, Bossman Jr won’t have to worry this year about playing with an injury-prone superstar third baseman. So, he can relax and let the goodness flow.

  65. 65
    Smitty Says:

    Year three and four and that Bourn deal probably won’t look as good as the Upton deal

  66. 66
    Smitty Says:

    @59

    But he could have issues trying to “live up to his contract”

  67. 67
    Marc Schneider Says:

    “In the end, it seems that everything that could have gone wrong for Bourn this offseason did. Too bad, too; the guy has been criminally underrated and really did deserve his payday.”

    I know it’s hard living on $12 million a year but I expect that Bourn will somehow still be able to put food on his table.

  68. 68
    Johnny Says:

    @65 – Yeah, 48 million bucks is a lot of dough no matter how you slice and dice it. Yeah it sucks that he didn’t get 75 or 80 but I ain’t crying for him.

  69. 69
    ryan c Says:

    Looking at similar players for Bourn, Brett Butler is #2 on the list and he seems like a really good comp for Bourn. If Bourn takes Butler’s career path, that contract will only be about half of what Bourn is worth. Isn’t it true that players like Bourn don’t decline very fast?

    Looking at player comps for Prado is a bit tricky as it seems Prado has a work ethic beyond the majority of Major Leaguers. I hope my statement @46 is wrong but 9 years of Prado and Bourn at 100 million seems like a better deal than 8 of Upton and Upton at 110. Both Uptons have had flashes of brilliance combined with years of maddening results, while both Bourn and Prado have been undervalued by the entire major leagues because they were never uber prospects and/or never played for the Yanks or Red Sox.

    I like the potential of the Uptons, but the inconsistency from year to year scares me. I hope I’m very wrong.

    Edit: And yes, I do agree that we could have never signed Bourn for that contract so my concern is moot.

  70. 70
    spike Says:

    I think representing at 5/75 and signing at 4/48 as the fallback was pretty close to the plan all along. Bourn and Boras can’t feel too badly about this.

    Also, 4 Alabama football players have been arrested for robbery.

    http://www.al.com/alabamafootball/team/1360676633-236-118/report-as-many-as-4.html

  71. 71
    spike Says:

    And the hat idea has been dropped

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/blog/eye-on-baseball/21686937

  72. 72
    spike Says:

    Anybody know what is required for the 5th year to vest? 5/60 makes it a whole lot better for Bourn.

  73. 73
    jjschiller Says:

    @46, 67 – I’m not getting it. Prado is older NOW than Jupton will be at the END of his contract. And Jupton’s career-worst season was as about on par almost any season Prado has had in his career.

    You should probably just reduce your argument to “Bourn’s a better deal than Bupton.”

    To which I would respond: Bourn’s “value” (in terms of WAR) is based almost exclusively on defense. Defense is the most untrustworthy portion of any “win” based evaluation.

    Bourn has never slugged .400. Not even one time. Upton has slugged under .400 only once. And despite the knock on BJ Upton for his on-base struggles… he’s a career .336 to Bourn’s .339. And Bourn is two years older than Upton. And sure.. Kenny Lofton. How about.. Chone Figgins?

    So Upton got $3m more each year, and one extra year. Sounds like an overpay. But if you believe that Upton is slightly under-rated defensively and Bourn is slightly over-rated, as the Braves have expressed, then that evens the gap.

    But if Bourn’s a better deal than Upton.. he’s a better deal at a price that IS THE RESULT OF US SIGNING UPTON.

    And what gap there is doesn’t not overcome the huge difference between Prado and Jupton.

  74. 74
    Adam R Says:

    But if Bourn’s a better deal than Upton.. he’s a better deal at a price that IS THE RESULT OF US SIGNING UPTON.

    Exactly. I wrote and deleted a longer post to this effect last night.

    If we hadn’t signed Bupton and were still in the bidding for Bourn, almost by definition, Bourn would’ve gotten higher than 4/48 or 5/60 because we would’ve had to compete with the Indians, at least.

  75. 75
    spike Says:

    Apparently the Mets offered 4/48 as well, but wanted Bourn to wait a couple weeks until they got a ruling on their draft pick. With spring training on the way, he opted not to.

  76. 76
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    The fifth year vests if he gets 550 PA in the fourth year of the deal. Bourn’s been generally healthy in his career; here are his PA counts in each of his five full seasons in the big leagues: 514, 678, 605, 722, 703.

    Over those five years, he has averaged 4.3 PA per game played, which means that he’d get to 550 PA in about 128 games. Unless injuries absolutely wreck him (or he gets moved out of leadoff), I think it’s a pretty good bet that this will be a 5 year, $60 million deal.

  77. 77
    Stu Says:

    Mets, LOL.

  78. 78
    ryan c Says:

    @71
    You mean the huge potential of Jupton, as his average performances year to year haven’t been far superior to Prado’s. Sure, age is a factor, but shouldn’t desire to succeed also be considered? As his teammates point out, Prado’s desire is 2nd to none.

  79. 79
    Smitty Says:

    You also have to look at something else here. The Braves didn’t sign BJ to replace Bourn, per say, but to replace Chipper.

  80. 80
    PaulV Says:

    I have no idea of how Bourne may decline in next 4 years, but he surely declined second half of 2012.

  81. 81
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    That’s actually very in character for Bourn in his career. He wears down in the second half. Here’s his OPS by month:

    April/March: .726
    May: .682
    June: .765
    July: .701
    August: .685
    Sept/Oct: .660

  82. 82
    jjschiller Says:

    A 24 year old, with 3000 PA’s and a career OPS .832 compared to a 28 year old with 2500 PA’s and career OPS .780?

    But yes, of course it’s about potential. You’re betting what they WILL DO, based on a combination of what they’ve done before and how old were they when they did it. We’ve 24 year olds with 0 career ML PA’s that we still believe in. This guy has 3000 PA’s and an .832 OPS.

  83. 83
    IthacaBraves Says:

    Power is down in MLB. Having 6 guys who are virtual locks for 20 HR, most of whom are likely to flirt with 30 could really set this club apart.

  84. 84
    desert Says:

    So… projected Pecota Standings:

    NLE
    Washington 88-74
    Atlanta 82-80
    New York 80-82
    Philadelphia 80-82
    Miami 66-96

    NLC
    Cincinnati 92-70
    St. Louis 84-78
    Milwaukee 79-83
    Pittsburgh 79-83
    Chicago 77-85

    NLW
    Los Angeles 93-69
    San Francisco 85-77
    Arizona 84-78
    San Diego 76-86
    Colorado 72-90

    ALE
    New York 92-70
    Boston 86-76
    Tampa 86-76
    Toronto 85-77
    Baltimore 74-88

    ALC
    Detroit 92-70
    Cleveland 80-82
    Chicago 77-85
    Kansas City 76-86
    Minnesota 66-96

    ALW
    Los Angeles 90-72
    Texas 87-75
    Oakland 83-79
    Seattle 79-83
    Houston 63-99

    Certainly some interesting projections. Apparently we’re a .500 team, but that’s not as surprising as Washington being projected for the third-best record in the NL. Two games separating the Mets and us… that’s also surprising. Really, everything looks about right apart from the NL East.

  85. 85
    ryan c Says:

    @80
    I think I’m playing devils advocate here, as I completely understand the thought process but cannot bring myself to believe in it. I know that the Uptons over the course of the next 4 years are supposed to outperform Prado and Bourn but I just cannot convince myself that it will happen.

  86. 86
    Smitty Says:

    82-80 probably mean Fredi is in trouble (unless it is due to injuries…)

  87. 87
    Smitty Says:

    I would also take the under on Houston winning 63 games.

  88. 88
    NickH Says:

    @82 Those PECOTA projections look pretty weird – I’d agree that they generally got the expected order of finish within each division right, with the notable exception of the AL East (I’d put the Jays at the top of the division, right above the Yanks). On the NL side, I think PECOTA has significantly underestimated both the Nats and Braves, and overestimated the Dodgers.

  89. 89
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    As far as I’m aware, most people have taken PECOTA with a grain of salt since Nate Silver left Baseball Prospectus. It’s had a lot of wacky-looking results over the last few years.

  90. 90
    Grst Says:

    @82 Don’t buy it. Not for a second.

  91. 91
    spike Says:

    2006 was the only year since the strike shortened 1995 season that had only two teams >= 89 wins in the NL. Call me skeptical

  92. 92
    ububba Says:

    Having seen the same movie many years in a row, I generally overestimate the Yankees’ divisional chances, but I’ll take the under this year. This team is older than Miss Jane Pittman.

  93. 93
    DJ Says:

    Spring Training is here!!! Spring training is here!!!

    UK will lose by 10-20 points tonight at UF.

    The Indians got a steal with Bourn for 4/$48 (realistically 5/$60 as someone noted above).

  94. 94
    Grst Says:

    Heyward looks ripped.

  95. 95
    DJ Says:

    82 – 80 would be immensely disappointing, even with Fredi at the helm of this ship.

    Did Kyle Lohse ever sign? What is he seeking?

  96. 96
    Parish Says:

    Those projections have to be about starting pitching. You have to admit that’s pretty important and our rotation has some question marks.

    I am guessing PECOTA does not believe in Minor and Medlen like most of us do.

  97. 97
    desert Says:

    I really doubt that anyone in the NL Central is going to win 90 games. Now that the Astros have left, you could really take 3 or 4 wins away from any of those teams. Last year, Houston went

    4-11 against St. Louis
    5-10 against Cincinnati
    5-12 against Pittsburgh

    That +7, +5, and +7 win margin isn’t going to be there for the Central this year.

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say that our starting pitching ends the year ranked 11th in WAR. Medlen and Minor are going to be good, Teheran is not going to -as- sucky, Maholm and Hudson will be a tick above-average and comfortable 3s. Beachy is going to return and win 9 games down the stretch.

  98. 98
    jjschiller Says:

    Heyward looks like an action figure.

    Juan looks good, too. Though, the real difference is unclear to me, as all the “fit Juan” pics have been of him in his under-armour shirts, and I had never seen him in anything but his baggy jersey prior to the “fit Juan” stories.

    But he’ll certainly give himself a better shot by being even Miguel Cabrera sized, rather than Pablo Sandoval sized.

    Count me as still concerned about our pitching depth. We’re coming up on Mike Minor’s (Venters? Kimbrel?!) turn to take a mandatory season off for elbow surgery.

  99. 99
    desert Says:

    Holy moly, Jason is ripped.

    Gerald Laird looks like a young Fredi Gonzalez:

    http://www.ajc.com/gallery/sports/baseball/braves-pitching-camp/g7gR/#3062853

  100. 100
    ktbass Says:

    @97
    He looks like he should be coaching 3rd base.

    Kimbrel has a very fugly hat on his head…

  101. 101
    Smitty Says:

    @98

    I have a bad feeling it will be Kimbrel’s turn

  102. 102
    Bethany Says:

    http://www.ajc.com/gallery/sports/baseball/braves-begin-workouts/g7wM/#3107334

    Ahhhhhhh, the White Bear.

  103. 103
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Wait. Does this mean Jason Heyward and B.J. Upton hook up in next season’s sequel, but only after some really, really awkward pseudo-romantic scenes between Justin and B.J. this year?

    Because dude. That’s going to be weird.

  104. 104
    JonathanF Says:

    Apologies for the belated thanks, ububba and one eye… just coming out of a brisket/sausage coma. (michael as well, but I didn’t get there)

  105. 105
    ububba Says:

    Lambert’s or Iron Works?

  106. 106
    desert Says:

    @100, That album is has the Uptons confused in pictures 4 and 5, right? This maybe the start of a season trend… or can I not tell them apart? Also, Heyward’s left bicep at picture 6. My goodness.

  107. 107
    c. shorter Says:

    104 — I too wondered if they’re going to learn the difference between the two of them.

  108. 108
    Michael Says:

    @104 – BJ kind of looks like a right-handed Crime Dog at the plate.

  109. 109
    DG Says:

    Otis Nixon is back in the news: http://m.usatoday.com/article/news/1912711

  110. 110
    JonathanF Says:

    ububba: Iron Works (and Franklin’s, but not on the same day)

  111. 111
    mravery Says:

    Just watched the Florida/KY game. What an awesome game until Noel got hurt. :-(

    I was nervous going into it since I’d seen an ESPN doing a lot of coverage of Noel while I was out tonight, but turns out the reason wasn’t a dominant performance on his part. Quite the contrary, actually. While Noel was certainly a dominant force, it was Patrick Murphy who looked like the better player tonight. And what a game from Casey Prather. I was cursing at him non-stop during the Arkansas game, but I guess he just needed a few games to get back to 100% or something, because he was good against Mississippi State last Saturday, and he was a revelation tonight. Making great cuts, getting easy hoops, and playing OUTSTANDING defense. It wasn’t a great shooting night for UF, and they got beat badly in transition a lot, but Kentucky was exactly the sort of team I though Florida would have trouble with, and UF showed up huge.

    We’ll see if Florida can do it on Kentucky’s home court in a few weeks, and I hope by then Noel will be back at 100%. I’m pumped. :-D

  112. 112
    Grst Says:

    @104 They look right to me, though perhaps they changed them since you posted. BJ is the more slender one on the right and the one hitting.

  113. 113
    desert Says:

    @110, Yup, it seems that they changed it.

  114. 114
    ktbass Says:

    @99
    I’m not too worried about Kimbrel’s arm. He hasn’t pitched a ton of innings, like Venters in ’10 (83) and ’11 (88).

    It is nice to have Luis “The Untoucháble” Avilán waiting in the wings, just in case.

  115. 115
    Trace Says:

    Hope Noel isn’t seriously injured, though it certainly doesn’t look good. That would be a real shame.

  116. 116
    justhank Says:

    Early rumor is that it’s a dislocated or torn patellar tendon.

    I did that playing basketball when I was younger. I guess there’s a worse pain, but I never felt it. You can’t get to the ground fast enough.

    Probably gone for the season.

    Gators look good. Class of the SEC this year, for sure.

  117. 117
    justhank Says:

    @112 – look at all those tildes. Now you’re just showin’ off.

    How did you do that, by the way?

  118. 118
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    I look forward to a few years of “one of the Uptons” captions.

  119. 119
    DowneasterJC Says:

    I want to know who did the captions for that gallery. “Jason Heyward does batting practice”? You don’t do batting practice, you take it.

    Sigh.

  120. 120
    desert Says:

    @117, Heyward does what he wants.

  121. 121
    JoeCraigMcMurtry Says:

    @115

    On most keyboards it is Option+E followed by keystroke.

  122. 122
    JoeCraigMcMurtry Says:

    Let’s play ball already.

  123. 123
    ktbass Says:

    @115
    I cheated and just copy/pasted from the Yahoo! depth chart

    http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/teams/atl/depthchart

  124. 124
    JoeCraigMcMurtry Says:

    I can’t remember ever seeing a Brave with a sweeter swing from the right side of the plate than JUpton. It’s perfect. Heyward’s swing looks almost ridiculous in comparison. He’s got his shoulder diving in and arms and hands and elbows moving all over the place. The contrast is perhaps strengthened by the fact that he’s built like a comic book superhero.

  125. 125
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    New thread.

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