What's Making Me Talk: A Brave New World
It isn't often that one team has all the major headlines in one week—unless, of course, that team is the New York Yankees, and that coverage is being brought to you by the Worldwide Leader.
Or by me, that one week, by complete mistake. Seriously, I didn't plan that; it just happened.
But the Atlanta Braves reached that feat this past week when they not only pulled off the first big trade of the 2009 season, but also went ahead and pulled off the biggest blunder of the 2009 season.
You may be asking yourself, why is dropping Tom Glavine a blunder? Well, not really a blunder, but I'll get to that second.
Let's first talk about Nate McLouth going from Pittsburgh to Atlanta in a shocking mid-week deal that netted the Pirates three prospects.
Starting with Pittsburgh's side, because it's much easier to segue into the Glavine bit when I'm talking about the Braves, right?
Look, you don't need to know anything else that previously happened. Just read this article about a letter that GM Neal Huntington sent out to the three Pittsburgh Pirates season ticket holders.
Not only are the fans upset, but so are the players in that locker room. They look it as a slap in the face to their entire team, and why shouldn't they?
It's barely June, and while this team isn't winning a division crown in 2009, they at least had the talent to break the streak of consecutive losing seasons.
Adam LaRoche really said it the best: This move could be good for four years down the line, but no one in there is thinking about four years from now.
They are thinking about the present. They are trying to win.
Look, I'm not going to bash Huntington for trying to improve a non-contending team for the future. I'm fully aware of the blueprint he's using. I've seen it applied in Cleveland, and Huntington has even re-used the words, "sustain championship success."
But trading your All-Star center fielder two months into the season after you signed him to a three-year contract extension in the offseason?
That's a lot of pressure Huntington has hoisted upon himself. This deal better be too good to pass up. The players, every single one of them, better pan out to be major league players.
The buildup of this deal being one that was too good for Huntington to not pull the trigger I'm afraid is just too much, and that is Neal's own fault. It better work out, or it will be over for him in Pittsburgh real quick.
Atlanta, on the other hand, went ahead and got themselves outfield help—not just for this year, but for the next few years—in getting Nate McLouth.
He's the perfect baseball player for any team, and he'll fit right in with Bobby Cox and that belief system in place.
They couldn't have acquired a better player—someone they can slot at the top of the lineup (a place McLouth can hit from, but didn't because the Pirates lacked a true three-hole hitter) and who can be a stable leadoff guy, something the Braves have been searching for.
In certain occasions, McLouth can also be a three-hole hitter, which just adds to his versatility and value.
A Brave New Mistake
Now that I've been down on the Pirates and have praised the Braves, it's time to get on the Braves.
Let's be honest here—the Braves mucked up this situation in the worst way.
They alienated a franchise legend and basically threw a large slab of mud in the middle of the relationship between Tom Glavine and themselves.
I'm not saying they shouldn't have released him, and I'm not in agreement with Glavine possibly filing a grievance against the Braves.
What I'm not a fan of is the way they told Glavine that they were releasing him and how he really wasn't useful anymore.
Having him go through the rehab process in their system is a nice thing, and the bonus would have been nicer if Glavine could have started for them and given them solid work.
Glavine doesn't really owe them anything, and they don't really owe him anything, but the gesture was there from Atlanta, and Glavine was making the attempt because Atlanta had the need.
But really, it wasn't going to work out.
What went wrong was with the explanation to Glavine and why they were releasing him.
The Braves and President John Schuerholz have done their best to make good of the situation with quotes like the following.
"I tossed and turned pretty much all night long, really, after we finished our meeting with Tommy, thinking about, here's this guy who has meant so much to our franchise, to the game of baseball, Hall of Famer. Represented our city in grand fashion. And the meeting ended in a way that didn't make me feel good."
But what's done is done, and for once, an A-plus organization like the Atlanta Braves failed to conduct themselves as you would expect them to.
Every franchise makes mistakes, and Atlanta has very rarely made them in the Schuerholz slash Bobby Cox era. I think this is one mistake, though, that they wished they would have not made to begin with.
You can say what you want, but...
You can say what you want about the Wii video game system, but I have a lot to learn.
I played it for the first time this past weekend, and the tennis was frustrating. But then I played baseball, and aside from a three-run home run I hit, I couldn't figure out how to pitch.
Like how do you throw a screwball? I kept throwing 64 MPH fastballs and then a screwball that was like 89 MPH.
But I didn't know how I was doing it. Do you flick your wrist or something in some different way? Can I throw a knuckleball with the Wii remote?
It's all fascinating stuff, and it probably won't make me go out and get a Wii, but I'm determined to find out. So if you know any information about this, please tell me.
I also played the PS3 for the first time, and I played last year's version of The Bigs. Everyone looked like they were on steroids, and Ryan Garko was no exception.
Here are my thoughts that aren't long enough to drag out or just too stupid for someone to even think of. They are randomly scribbled notes in my notebook, duh.
—A milestone for the New York Yankees and their 18-game errorless streak. It doesn't say anything about their superb defense, but rather their ability to not screw up routine plays, which isn't bad by any means.
—Rich Hill has control problems still. He managed to throw seven innings of shutout ball on Monday to improve to 2-0 with three walks. Come Sunday, he walks four in just the first inning, only records two outs, and gives up three earned.
—Nice to see Joakim Soria back for the Royals. I kind of didn't notice he was gone, because the Royals only had one save in the time he was on the disabled list.
—Zach Duke: 6-4 with a 2.62 ERA. I just thought you should know.
—Matt Joyce had a four-RBI game. I keep saying the Rays got the better end of that deal with the Tigers, and while that might not look like the case right now, the Rays still got themselves a player.
—Savior, thy name is Burke Badenhop for the Florida Marlins. Five innings of shutout ball with just one hit allowed on Tuesday after Anibal Sanchez reached his limit in his first game since coming off the disabled list.
—A couple of nice career starts for starting pitchers. Best name ever Antonio Bastardo is 2-0 with a six-inning, one-run debut on Tuesday. But bow down to Vin Mazzaro for the Oakland Athletics, who has now pitched 13.2 scoreless innings to start his career 2-0 as well.
—Josh Beckett was seven outs away from a no-hitter on Wednesday. Someone was about three outs away from jinxing him anyway.
—J.C. Romero is back with the Phillies, but I'm too lazy to look up how well he's done since. Begin the Manny Ramirez countdown.
—Two Bobby Abreu notes this week. The first is to congratulate him on his 2,000th hit of his career. The second is to congratulate him on his second home run of the season.
—This was a week for complete games, and you are going to find that out now.
—Jeff Niemann started it off on Wednesday with a two-hit shutout. He struck out nine, threw exactly 100 pitches, and faced just 30 hitters. He also had streaks of 14 and 12 straight hitters retired.
—Thursday saw five complete games and six pitchers throw at least eight innings of work.
—Roy Halladay threw two complete games last week, got to the 10-win mark, had a career high in strikeouts (14), and um, yeah, he's just really good.
—Saturday saw three pitchers, Edwin Jackson, John Lannan, and Jon Lester, throw complete games and combine for just 10 hits, two earned runs, and 18 strikeouts.
—The Arizona Diamondbacks' bullpen basically threw a complete game on Sunday in their 18-inning affair with the San Diego Padres. What is it with these NL West teams and their long games? The bullpen combined for nine hitless innings with three walks and eight strikeouts.
—More notes from that game: Mark Reynolds had just one hit (struck out four times in case you were wondering), but his hit was a big three-run homer in the top of the 18th. San Diego scored one run in the seventh off a Kevin Kouzmanoff solo shot and then came back for five in the ninth to tie it with a David Eckstein three-run blast. Man, the Pads are the life-support daddies.
—Cliff Lee finally got some run support in his third win of the season. How is a pitcher 3-6 with a 2.96 ERA?
—Skip Schumaker has started 43 games at second base this year. After being horrendous in spring training, he's committed just one error. Consider this your jinx, Skip.
—Gordon Beckham was called up on Thursday and has gone 0-for-10 to start his career. Too soon, Chicago?
—On the opposite end of the spectrum, Andrew McCutchen finally got the call, and it took the trade of Nate McLouth to do so. He's been a nice spark at the top of the lineup for the Pirates.
—Chris Carpenter and Josh Johnson are what I like to call good. Just don't get hurt, guys.
—Carlos Zambrano hit a home run in his 100th win. Stats you've never heard before, I'm telling you. Meanwhile, Brad Penny lost a bid for his 100th win.
—Here is another stat you've never heard of before. The Cincinnati Reds had just one hitter who was hitting at or above .300 on Friday. It was the pitcher, Micah Owings.
—Zach Greinke allowed just his first home run all year, and then he gave up the second in the same game. Just goes to show you how good he's been pitching.
—Travis Hafner went off the disabled list and into the fire to hit a home run in his first game back.
—Ichiro's 27-game hit streak is over, sad face. I'll take this time to point out that I will not recognize hit streaks that do not reach at least 20 games. Keep going Aaron Rowand.
—It looks like the Rays are going to have Mariano Rivera's number this year. Second game he's blown against them came on Saturday.
—The Yankees had the last laugh on Sunday though, as they won a game the way you'd expect the Rays to win a game. Aside from a Nick Swisher solo home run in the third, they scored three runs in the eighth via a walk and two groundouts.
—If four-run saves counted, Kerry Wood would have four more saves to his total. The Indians just do not get ahead by very much in the ninth inning. They either are being beat, are being blown out, or are blowing out the other team.
—Jamie Moyer pitched seven innings last week, his longest outing this season. Come on old guy!
These Are My Links, You Shall Click Them
This isn't even right if you ask me.
The shortest three seconds of Joba Chamberlain's life are also the slowest three seconds of our lives.
Twitter couldn't reach the big time until they've been sued by a famous person. Tony La Russa fixes that.
Trade me? Usually players are like, no way man. Matt Holliday is perfectly fine with it. God bless his little heart.
I'm willing to give Keith Hernandez a pass on this one—just a poor choice of words.
Great to see the son of Rockies' catcher Yorvit Torrealba rescued safely. It's obvious that the Venezuelan players are always having these types of issues with their families and safety.
Roundabout of Randomness
Edinson Volquez off the disabled list and back on as quick as that. No coincidence here, but the guy he was traded for, Josh Hamilton, was placed on the disabled list for the second time this year as well.
The downside for the Rangers in that move—Hamilton is out for two months.
Congratulations to Randy Johnson for becoming a 300-game winner, probably the last for a long time. If there are any two pitchers who have been around for a while and still have plenty of years left that could do it, they would be named CC Sabathia and Johan Santana.
Johnson's teammate Tim Lincecum has the potential, but he'll need a better team around him, and he can't break down at all. He's got youth on his side.
How about the crowd at his 300th win though? I know it was rainy, a doubleheader, and it was at the Nationals' home ballpark, but damn. You would think more people would like to see history be made.
The Phillies lost their seven-game win streak last week when Andre Ethier had a walk-off hit on Friday, and amazingly enough, he did it again on Saturday with a second straight walk-off hit against the Phillies.
That's how you have a good weekend.
Rotation returns last week for Chien-Ming Wang, who went 4.2 innings and gave up five earned. Same old same old it seems, but he only walked one. Kelvim Escobar made his first start since 2007 and went five innings, giving up two runs. He walked five, but it's great to see him back in action.
On the other hand, it may be some time before we see Fausto Carmona back in the Cleveland rotation. He was demoted to Arizona rookie ball after giving up two three-run home runs to Jason Kubel on Thursday.
The move makes sense though and isn't quite Dontrelle Willis territory. The Indians are going to work with him at their Goodyear, Arizona training complex before they send him to Columbus or Akron.
Carmona is battling through some control and focus issues if you ask me. He's overthrowing, getting discouraged easily, not slowing the game down like he's supposed to, and just not pitching like himself.
A well-needed demotion, and hopefully the Indians can work with them at their new spring digs to get him right before ultimately sending him back up to the show.
Two straight Tribe notes, but it is also the late note of this past week. Cleveland sports lost someone truly special this past week when former Indians owner Dick Jacobs passed away.
Mostly known throughout baseball as the name of the Indians home ballpark, Jacobs Field, now Progressive Field, if a Cleveland fan tells you that Jacobs was a savior to the Cleveland franchise, you damn well better take their word for it, which is what I'm doing right now.
Jacobs not only saved the Cleveland franchise from possible relocation; he also made them contenders again.
He facilitated the rebirth of the Indians franchise under general manager John Hart by paying the bills and letting Hart do his thing. He got the new stadium that fans still lovingly call "The Jake" up and running.
He was the reason the Indians were still around to make a few runs at the World Series.
He will be missed by all the Cleveland faithful. Rest in peace, Mr. Jacobs—Cleveland owes you our baseball team.
Thank you for keeping the Tribe where it was meant to be. We'll never forget you.
I stopped calling it "The Jake" because I'm a modernist, and I believe in the fact that baseball is a business to some extent. But this Friday, for one more time, I'm going to see a ballgame, and I'm going to see it at The Jake.
Nino Colla is Talking every Monday of the baseball season, or whenever time needs to be wasted, provided objects don't get thrown.
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