By Ray Glier
ATLANTA___Saturday night, I asked John Hart, the Braves president of baseball operations, if the decision on a new manager would be made sooner or later. Hart said it would take the “appropriate time.” The Braves, after all, have to conform to Major League Baseball’s edict of interviewing minority candidates (my words, not his).
They have interviewed three minority candidates with a fourth, Ron Washington, due to get his chance. Bench coach Terry Pendleton, first base coach Eddie Perez, and third base coach Bo Porter have been interviewed.
Considering the Braves’ decent second half of the season, I think it will be an upset if Brian Snitker, the interim manager, does not get the job.
I haven’t seen Julio Teheran hit 95 mph all season. He did it Sunday. He sat at 94. What was he waiting for? I know there was a stint on the DL for a right lat strain, but it took six weeks to act like a consistent No. 1?
There is no doubt the Braves new ballpark is going to be a big improvement over Turner Field. SunTrust Park is going to be more fan-friendly. The concourses are going to be along three levels, not just one, and it is going to be a bright, airy venue.
The cantilevered decks are going to get more fans closer to the field. Jeff Francoeur told me the new park is going to have nooks and crannies and some character foul pole to foul pole. The neighborhood doesn’t look like much, but the inside of the park will be terrific.
We’ll see about the traffic. Do you really think Cobb County is going to let the traffic make a disaster of this jewel?
I think SunTrust is going to be spectacular for baseball….
still….the way the Braves went about the business of moving was wrong. The club left bitterness in its wake with the secret deal. I saw ousted Cobb County commissioner Tim Lee on Saturday night outside the Braves’ clubhouse and felt no mercy. He got what he deserved.
Now the Braves are getting what they deserve, which are fans turning away from the team. The traffic on the connector is going to cut off the southside of town from the new ballpark. Cobb County will be able to do something about traffic near the stadium, but not downtown.
The Braves are also getting what they deserve in the protracted talks for a new spring training home. Politicians in south Florida and the west coast of Florida have seen the Braves’ deals for ballparks in Gwinnett and Cobb. Those politicians have balked at John Schuerholz’ asking price to have the Braves move down from Disney. Those pols want to keep their jobs.
Freddie Freeman told me the addition of Matt Kemp “lengthened out the lineup.” It was a great move by GM John Coppolella on August 2 to snag Kemp. The Braves could go left-right-left-right and not get cornered by bullpen matchups. Kemp is a pro and when he came to the plate that explosive bat got you to the edge of your seat.
Shortstop Dansby Swanson is way better than I thought. He’s got obvious skills, but here’s what else. Did you see the fist pumps and the juice after his big plays Saturday and Sunday? There was some talk the Braves might have to go acquire some “energy” in the offseason, perhaps a hot dog second baseman like the Reds Brandon Phillips, who plays a joyful game.
Swanson fills that void.
The Braves starting pitching is not going catch up to a decent lineup in 2017. I don’t see it. We’ll see when the pressure of May and staying in the race in June comes along. We’ll see.
I hope the club keeps Josh Collmenter around for the staff. The right-handed pitcher is a joy to watch with that delivery and cunning on the mound. He was 2-0 after being acquired in August. The Braves control his rights for 2017. We’ll see what his asking price is for 2017.