-The Mitchell Report still garners some attention. The House is planning more hearings and reporters are stealing my shtick. Gene Sapakoff of the The Post and Courier had this to say about the Braves.
Base On Balls: The Atlanta Braves. They received a free pass, with no current organization members named. But think of the Mitchell Report as a highway patrolman. Not every speeder on I-26 gets stopped, just the ones who zoom by active radar guns. Braves fans should be glad baseball's radar gun was pointed at the New York Mets clubhouse and not the one at 755 Hank Aaron Drive.
-As I said in my previous post, the lack of proof on the current Braves may have more to do with their location than anything.
-On the other side, a player not mentioned in the Mitchell Report suddenly got a deal after it. Javy Lopez, who we all suspected, signed a minor league deal with the Braves with an invitation to camp. And man, Marky Bowman skates around the suspected steroid usage, too.
The initial glance at the current Lopez could cause some to feel like they've ventured into the past. Gone is that bulky, muscular frame that he carried during his final years in Atlanta.
It has been replaced by that slender, athletic build that he possessed when he first introduced himself to Braves fans nearly 15 years ago.
-Gee Marky, I wonder why. You mean now that he isn't doing steroids, he suddenly looks more like a man and not like he was chisled out of granite? Wowzors, that's a new one there. How come writers have to do this? "Oh, he looks more slender and athletic than he did." That happens when you depend on more natural ways of playing a game that used to have a 35 years-of-age ceiling.
-A couple of former Braves caught on with new teams. Ron Mahay picked up $8 million over the next two seasons from the Royals. This one did not make a whole lot of sense, I gotta say. A one year deal for a reliever when you benefit more with trading him is sensible, but the Royals aren't going to be a frontrunner this year. Grabbing Mahay at that salary and committment is a bit much, Dayton. Elsewhere, The Supreme Nacho Burrito signed with Houston. Paronto never got a second chance in Atlanta after his demotion, which probably says something about his attitude.
-The Braves also picked up OF Joe Borchard on a minor league deal with an invite. I like this despite Borchard hitting .205/.284/.352 over 301 major league games. Always give a former major prospect under the age of 30 a chance if you are investing so little.
-Mark Teixeira had knee surgery. Nothing to see here.
-Finally, SI.com's Jon Weisman went over the best staffs in the NL and placed the Braves fourth behind the D'Backs, Dodgers, and Brewers.
• Above-average (6 points): John Smoltz, Tim Hudson
• Average to above-average (4): Tom Glavine, Chuck James
• Mystery (1): Mike Hampton
• Up-and-coming (2): Jair Jurrjens, Jo-Jo Reyes
• Below-average (0): Dan Smith, Jeff Bennett
Comment: Two keys to Atlanta's rotation, Smoltz and prodigal son Glavine, are each more than 40 years old, and Hampton hasn't pitched in a regular season game in more than two seasons. Jurrjens and Reyes are up-and-coming but unproven. And yet, as you'll see, this group qualifies as the best group of starters in the NL East.
-I'd say it's a fairly good study. I give him a lot of credit for not overranking Glavine and really lumping him with James, which makes sense. I still think we need a pitcher, but there is some depth here and that is a plus. Weisman ranks the rest of the NL East as such: Mets (8th), Phillies (10th), Marlins (15th), Nats (16th), I think the Mets and Phillies could both be pushed up 2-3 spots.