Posts Tagged ‘San Diego Padres

12
Jan
10

Greg Maddux joins Cubs front office

Former Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs pitching icon Greg Maddux will now return to the Cubs in a new role: special assistant to general manager Jim Hendry.

Maddux will provide input in all aspects of baseball operations, including assisting in player development and evaluation, as well as helping with instruction of major and minor leaguers in Spring Training.

Maddux is one of the greatest students of the game; this is a huge move for the Cubs.

Maddux will put his astute knowledge and baseball intellect to good use in this new position, which could serve as a stepping stone for a larger role with the club in the future as an executive, coach, manager, or even general manager.

The Braves were rumored to be one of a few teams interested in bringing Greg Maddux to Spring Training this year as a special instructor.

Many in the organization had hoped to lure both Maddux and Tom Glavine back to camp in an effort to bring two of the franchise’s most storied players back into the fold.

That scenario was squashed when Maddux received a bigger and better offer from the Cubs; his new title holds much more weight and responsibility.

Many in BravesNation wonder why GM Frank Wren didn’t “up the ante” and make Maddux a similar offer to join the Braves’ front office in an effort to compete with the Cubs?

I’m sure, among other things, Wren recognized Maddux’s strong desire to remain out west near his family.

Maddux was in no particular rush to return to baseball; he has only been removed from the game for one year.

A factor that almost certainly sweetened the pot for Maddux is that the Cubs play in Arizona during Spring Training, which is a lot closer to Maddux’s Las Vegas home than the Orlando-based Braves’ complex in Florida.

From a business perspective, while it would have been great for the Braves organization in the short and long-term to get Maddux back, the assumption that Wren could have done more to make it happen is unfounded.

Chicago was just the right fit at the right time for Maddux.

Maddux began his career with the Cubs in 1986, where he won his first Cy Young Award in 1992, before leaving as a free agent to sign with Atlanta that winter.

From ’93 to 2003, Maddux pitched for the Braves where he went on to capture three more consecutive Cy Young’s from 1993-1995 and helped lead Atlanta to the playoffs every season in which he played for them.

The 355-game-winner also won his only World Series ring as a member of the Braves Championship team in ’95.

Maddux later returned to Chicago for his second stint with the club from 2004-2006 and won his 300th game as a member of the Cubs during the 2005 season.

He was traded to the Dodgers at the end of the ’06 year before retiring at the conclusion of the 2008 season with the San Diego Padres.

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05
Aug
09

D-Lowe poised for LA return as Braves finish off Pads…

Braves pitcher Derek Lowe

Braves pitcher Derek Lowe

Atlanta Braves ace Derek Lowe is set to oppose his former mates on Thursday in Los Angeles as the Braves open a four-game set against the NL West leading Dodgers.

Lowe spent the previous four seasons with the Dodgers before opting to sign with Atlanta as a free agent this past winter. He is currently 11-7 on the year with a 4.21 ERA for the Braves.

In his last start in Atlanta, which was also against his former team, Lowe pitched six innings allowing three runs on five hits. In 66 career starts at Dodgers Stadium, Lowe is 33-23 with a 3.21 ERA.

As Atlanta waits for the challenge of facing the mighty Dodgers, they can savor their series win against the Padres, which was capped with a 6-2 victory Wednesday afternoon.

Rookie Tommy Hanson continued to make a strong case for Rookie of the Year honors with another solid outing in the Braves win.

Hanson allowed two runs on five hits in six innings with five strikeouts. The 22-year old rookie improved to 6-2 on the year.

The Braves hope to end their west coast swing on a high note by putting forth their best effort against the Dodgers.

If Atlanta can win the series, their chances of playing October baseball become that much greater.

03
Aug
09

The state of the Braves… post trade deadline.

Adam LaRoche returns to Atlanta

Adam LaRoche returns to Atlanta

The July 31 non-waiver trade deadline has come and gone leaving many in Braves Nation wondering, does this team have the horses to be legitimate contenders for a playoff spot heading down the stretch?

Before Monday night’s game against the San Diego Padres, the Braves find themselves in third place in the National League East, seven games behind first place Philadelphia. While the division remains a lofty goal for Atlanta, it is certainly not out of reach.

The Braves have dominated the defending champions this season winning seven of nine games against them. The Bravos overwhelming success against the Fightin’ Phils coupled with the fact that the two rivals are still scheduled to meet nine more times before the season concludes, offers a definite sense of hope.

Still, Philadelphia has been riding a hot streak since the All-Star Break and with the addition of a bona fide ace to their rotation in Cliff Lee, the division does appear to be a long shot.

That means Atlanta’s best chance of playing October baseball will likely be if the team nabs the National League Wild Card.

The Braves are only five games out of the Wild Card spot but are chasing four teams, including the Florida Marlins, another divisional foe.

So, are the Braves contenders or pretenders?

With a starting rotation that ranked third in the National League heading into Sunday night’s game against the Dodgers, and a revamped line-up which has improved on the dearth of power that has plagued the team all season long, the Braves seem poised to make a run.

In July, the Braves manufactured an NL-best .828 OPS and ranked third in both runs (139) and home runs (32). That production is a stark contrast from an inconsistent and often shoddy offensive showing from the team in the season’s first three months.

The Braves also feel their mid-season acquisitions of Nate McLouth and Adam LaRoche give the club a more potent offensive punch going forward.

McLouth has been a stabilizing force in the lead-off spot, allowing the rest of the line-up to gel and settle into their roles.

LaRoche, who played for Atlanta through the 2006 season, knows the organization well and has statistically performed big in the second half of the season.

While LaRoche’s career .252 batting average leaves something to be desired, his .295 average after the All-Star break combined with his impending free agency, are reasons why the Braves decided to re-acquire their former slick fielding first baseman.

The improved offense stands to benefit what has been a solid, but often under-appreciated Braves pitching staff.

A rotation comprised of Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens, Javier Vazquez, Kenshin Kawakami, and rookie sensation Tommy Hanson could go up against any rotation in baseball.

And, in the coming weeks, the Braves staff looks to get that much stronger and deeper with the return of Tim Hudson from Tommy John surgery.

The Braves bullpen boasts three relievers in the top six in appearances in Peter Moylan (58), Mike Gonzalez (53) and Eric O’Flaherty (43).

While the back of the bullpen has held up thus far, the team wouldn’t mind adding another arm to the mix for the stretch run.

Any reliever acquired would have to pass through waivers, sometimes making it harder for a team to complete a deal, although the Braves are still exploring any and all options.

If the Braves could indeed bolster their bullpen, that fresh arm could provide added security to what could otherwise become an overexposed relief corps.

So, again, the question looms… contenders or pretenders?

The Braves have given every indication, on the field and off, that they are poised, confident and ready to compete for a playoff spot.

It was the team’s consistently strong starting pitching that has kept them afloat early in the season and it will be the team’s starting pitching that will give them their best shot at October.

One can never have enough pitching. Good pitching beats good hitting. These age old adages have been proven true time and time again and are the main reason why the Braves were able to win fourteen consecutive division titles.

With that being said… do the Braves still have holes?

Absolutely.

But, so does every team.

And, this team’s holes have become increasingly less glaring.

So, buckle up Braves fans. It’s going to be a wild ride to the finish.




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