August 19, 2009 at 3:36 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Joke, Pitching
After throwing seven straight quality starts in a span that saw him go 4-0 with a 2.91 ERA, Derek Lowe expanded his arsenal by adding a batting-practice fastball to go along with his sinker, curveball, and change-up.
“It’s really going to help me take it to the next level.” Lowe said in a press conference before his start Tuesday night. “I’ve been working on the pitch for awhile with Roger [McDowell, Braves' Pitching Coach]. I was able to consistently throw it letter-high over the heart of the plate with no movement, but Roger really helped me tone it down to about 81 MPH, just like a batting practice fastball should be.”
Lowe’s new pitch was on display Tuesday night as he was touched up for eleven hits in just 3 and 2/3 innings. Most of the damage came in the 4th when Lowe broke out the new weapon. The Mets totaled 8 runs on 10 hits–9 off of Lowe’s new BP Fastball, as he calls it.
“It was perfect, really” former Atlanta Braves outfielder Jeff Francoeur said. “He was doing a great job of getting the ball over the plate, it was easy to see, and it was coming in at the perfect speed. I don’t think anyone had trouble getting around on it or seeing it. It was just like taking live BP.”
Lowe was just happy he was able to do his job, even if he was charged with the loss.
“I’ve got my batting practice fastball now, I really think it’s a pitch I’ll be able to utilize over the next 4 years–the life of my contract. The Braves brought me in to give them quality innings for the next 4 years and I think this batting practice fastball is going to help me accomplish that.” Lowe continues, “There will be plenty more opportunities to throw batting practice in the future, on and off the field. I now know what I’ve got to do. Zero in on the heart of the plate, slow it down, and keep it straight as an arrow.”
Lowe, who signed the largest free agent contract in Atlanta Braves club history this past off-season–$60 million over 4 years–is prepared to use the BP Fastball in his next start against the Marlins on August 23.
“The Marlins are a young, aggressive team”, said Lowe. “They’ll really thrive off of the BP fastball. Just serve it up and let their unrefined tools do the work.”
July 30, 2009 at 8:53 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Injuries, Joke, Transactions
Those may be the most encouraging words uttered this week. Jeff Bennett is a free agent. As David O’Brien of the AJC reports:
Jeff Bennett is a free agent. Braves had suspended his pay after he broke his hand punching the wall, and Bennett filed a grievance. Braves had to either give him his pay or let him become a free agent, and they opted for latter option.
Hard to argue with their decision. Though Bennett wasn’t making more than the league minimum, he was a very bad and it was probably in the best interest of the club to never activate him again anyway.
To truly understand how bad Bennett was during his time with the Atlanta Braves in 2009, you had to watch him. The statistics don’t do how bad he was enough justice. The statistics do indicate he was very bad. The 3.18 ERA is extremely deceiving. He was very bad at getting hitters out, but somehow good at stranding them on base. In 34.0 IP, he allowed 42 hits and 21 walks, good for a 1.853 WHIP. Yet somehow only 13 of the 63 baserunners he allowed managed to score. An 80% strand rate. I can’t really explain it. Most of it is just luck. Stranding runners on base is not a repeatable skill. Getting hitters out is. If you get them out with men on base more frequently you’re more lucky than good. Here’s a fun fact: he had one game where he gave up a hit and 3 walks in 2/3 of an inning, walking Carlos Beltran with the bases loaded to end the game. If they had finished the game, he probably would’ve given up more runs, considering batters have hit .316/.415/.421 against him. The league, for example, hits .258/.330/.407. That was basically the story for Bennett all year. Walking in the game-winning run.
But like I said, the statistics don’t do him justice. He was much worse than that. He was a pathetic pitcher. In 2008 he was decent. But he gained quite a bit of weight in the off-season and his sinker just sort of, well, stopped sinking. This is a problem. When you’re a sinker-baller and your sinker doesn’t sink you stink. And Jeff Bennett stunk. I think the defining Jeff Bennett moment of the season would be the game he appeared in immediately before his last with the Braves. In this game, he entered in the bottom of the 9th in Fenway park scheduled to face the 8-9-1 hitters. Nick Green, and I would look up the next two batters he was scheduled to face, but it didn’t matter, because he gave up a 1st pitch home run to Nick Green. Yes, the Nick Green.
The writing was basically on the wall at that point. In his next outing he gave up a run, punched a door, broke his left hand, went out and pitched another inning with a broken hand (he didn’t notice it was broken), and was put on the DL and stopped receiving a paycheck the next day. He thought he should still be getting paid. Fair enough. He filed a grievance. The league said the Braves have to either pay him or grant him free agency. They chose the latter. End of story. And a good ending for the Braves, because most Braves fans never want to see him again. By the way, his rehab hadn’t exactly gone well. He gave up 5 hits, a walk, struck out nobody, allowed 4 runs, and threw a wild pitch in 2 appearances (2.0 IP) for Class AAA Gwinnett.
Good Riddance, Jeff Bennett.
July 21, 2009 at 4:24 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Chipper Jones, Injuries, Joke
Every blog needs an official joke according to Joe Posnanski, so I’ve taken a page out of his book and I’m pleased to present you with the official Capitol Avenue Club joke*.
*This isn’t the original form of the joke, but I’ve tailored it for my purposes and adopted it as my own.
Some time in the not so distant future, David Wright goes down south for a duck hunting trip one October. He rents a pair of waders, borrows a 12-gauge from Adam LaRoche, and gets all the camouflage he needs for the hunt at his local Wal-Mart. He spends the night at a hotel near the lake he’ll be hunting on, wakes up at 3:30 AM, gets ready, and heads to the lake. After he gets to his blind around 5:00 AM, he waits until the sun comes up and the ducks to start moving. For three hours he furiously pursues his limit, but to no avail. Just as he’s ready to call it a day, one duck shy of his limit, he sees a crippled wood duck flying and figures he might have a shot at getting his limit. He takes a rather long shot and somehow connects with the duck, sufficient to knock it to the ground, though it lands away from the water.
So he gets in his boat and travels over to the shore where he anchors the boat and begins to look for the duck. As he’s heading in the general direction of the duck he sees a fence that encloses a rather large field. So, assuming the duck landed in the field, he starts towards the fence as a tractor, heading in his direction from the other side of the fence, becomes visible. As he approaches the fence so does the tractor and a man steps off to greet David. Low and behold, that man is Chipper Jones.
David says: “Chipper Jones! I haven’t seen you since you hit that walk-off go-ahead, decisive homer at Shea Stadium Citi Field in game 7 of the 2013 NLCS. How have you been?”
Chipper replies: “Not too bad, David. What brings you down here?”
“Well, I’m just trying to get my mind off of the massive meltdown the Mets just experienced again, so I thought I’d come down here and do a little hunting to clear my mind.”
“So I guess you’re responsible for this.”
Chipper holds up his right hand, which he has wrapped around the neck of a slain wood duck. David’s eyes light up, he’s finally found the duck and has his limit.
“Oh, great!”, David replies, “You found my duck.”
“What do you mean your duck?”, Chipper said, “it landed on my property.”
“Well I killed it, so it’s mine, right?” David replied.
“No sir. My property, my duck.”
“Come on, Chipper, that’s my limit you’re holding.”
“Nope. It’s my first of the day.”
“Chipper, don’t be an ass, or I may just call the police.”
Chipper sort of chuckles at the notion and proposes a counter-offer.
“I’ll tell you what, around here, we settle things by the 3-kick rule“.
“I beg your pardon?”
“You’ve never heard of the 3-kick rule?”, Chipper replies in shock.
“No, I’m afraid I haven’t.” David admits.
“Well, here’s how it works. I kick you three times, then you kick me three times. We go back and forth until someone “gives”. Whoever prevails, wins.”
David’s eye starts to sparkle.
“You mean to tell me that an old man like you wants to challenge me to a kicking contest?”
“You bet. You’ve got no idea what’s coming.”
“OK, then.” David replies, “You’re on”.
David stands ready with his hands covering his groin area as Chipper readies himself to commence kicking. Chipper takes a step forward and delivers a forceful kick–aided by his steel-toe boots–right into the kneecap of Wright. David keels over in pain and grabs his kneecap. Just as he bends down, Chipper comes back with another, this time right in the face. Wright leans back, nose bleeding and in an extraordinary amount of pain. Before he even realizes what happens, Chipper delivers a third blow right between the legs. Wright immediately falls to the ground and begins to vomit. After 5 minutes of recovery, Wright finally looks up and musters up what energy he has left and says in a raspy, barely audible voice,
“Alright you son of a b****, my turn now.”
Chipper sort of smiles at him and says,
“Nah, that’s alright”, and he throws the wood duck and hits David Wright in the side of the face.
“I give. You can have the duck”