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BRAVES UPDATE

“No matter how good you are, you’re going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are you’re going to win one-third of your games. It’s the other third that makes the difference.”

—  Tommy Lasorda

The Braves were 42 and 47 as of July 15, 2015 and on a 5 game losing streak.  They ended June seemingly in the hunt for first place in the National League East.  July started off with 2 wins and a loss to the Phillies, 2 wins and a loss to the Brewers and then 4 straight losses at Colorado on July 9, 10, 11 and 12.

The Braves began a 6-game home stand against the Cubs and Dodgers beginning Friday, July 17 without RH reliever Jason Grili.  Grili suffered an Achilles tendon injury on Saturday, July 11, while covering first base on a ground ball hit to the right of first baseman Chris Johnson in the 3 to 2 loss to the Rockies.  The Braves lost 2 of 3 to the Cubs and July 20-22 won 2 of 3 versus the Dodgers. Off on July 23, they resumed play on July 24 with a road trip to St. Louis, Baltimore and ending in Philadelphia.

Going into their home stand against the Braves, the Cardinals were 64-31 and first in the National League Central Division.  They had won 6 of their last 10 games.  The Braves managed to win only one of three against the Cardinals.  The Orioles were 46-48, fourth in the AL Eastern Division and had lost 7 of their last 10 games before winning three at home against the Braves.   The Braves entered Philadelphia having lost 7 of their last 10 games and lose the first one on July 30 to Philadelphia which drops the Braves to 46-55 still third in the National League East.  They are 9 games away from .500 and 9 games behind the first place Nationals.

Freddie Freeman remained on the DL for most of July for his wrist injury and according to Jeff Schultz with the Atlanta Journal Constitution would not likely be back prior to mid-August.  Braves’ President of Baseball Operations, John Hart, told Schultz that Freeman’s injury was “more serious than we thought.”  Freeman was batting .299 prior to going on the disabled list June 18 with a .367 OBP and a .520 SLG.  Kelly Johnson .267 BA and .314 OBP along with Chris Johnson .234 BA and .269 OBP had been manning first base in his absence.  Freeman’s bat has been missing from the lineup.   However, after hitting off of a tee, doing some soft toss, and feeling “great,” Freeman was reinstated for the series against the Cardinals.  His timing seems off after only playing one minor league game before coming back on July 25.  He has 3 hits in his last 23 at bats (although one was a 2 run home run against the Orioles).

With the trade deadline looming there are rumors (Bleacher Report – a division of Turner Sports) that the Braves may be interested in trading their young right hander, Julio Teheran. The speculation is that the Dodgers after losing several pitchers to the DL including Carlos Frias (15 day DL), Christ Hatcher, (15 day DL), Bandon McCarthy (60 day DL), Paco Rodriquez, (60 day DL), Hyuan Jin Ryu (60 day DL), may be wanting some help as they progress toward fall.  The “rumor” appears to have first been reported by Fox News MLB reporter Ken Rosenthal.  Rosenthal, according to Jeff Schultz (Atlanta Journal Constitution), states that “Two rival executives said Wednesday that the Braves are open to trading right-hander Julio Teheran — “quite open,” was how one put it.”

Schultz, however, contradicts that rumor.  Schultz reports, “A source with knowledge of the Braves’ thinking said that the team is not even considering such a move, explaining that Teheran is only 24, in the second year of a club-friendly six-year, $32.4 million contract and part of a deep crop of young pitchers the club worked hard to assemble.”  Schultz says a Teheran trade at this time makes no sense.  I agree. Teheran is good but has had some issues with control.  According to the statistics posted on MLB.com, he is 6-6 with a 4.71 ERA, and 49 walks in 124.1 innings this year.  Teheran had 45 walks in 185.2 innings pitched in 2013 and only 51 walks in 221 innings in 2014.  Assuming he stays healthy and continues a good work ethic, he should have many years left as a starter and should continue to contribute this year.   Teheran had his slider working on July 22 against the Dodgers despite the loss.  He struck out 11, walked 3 with 6 hits and 3 earned runs in 7 innings.  He appeared on July 28 for 4 innings against Baltimore.  He allowed 5 hits, 5 earned runs, had 4 walks and 4 strike outs in the loss.

As reported on MLB Trade Rumors, by Jeff Todd and Steve Adams, as of July 30, 2015, one day before the 4 p.m. July 31 deadline, the Braves have completed a trade (which did not include Teheran).  The trade as reported is as follows:

“The Dodgers, Marlins and Braves have swung one of the most complex three-team trades in recent history. The “basic” structure of the deal (though there’s nothing basic about this move) is as follows: the Dodgers will receive right-hander Mat Latos and first baseman Michael Morse from the Marlins. They’ll also add top prospect Jose Peraza and pitchers Alex Wood, Bronson ArroyoJim Johnson and Luis Avilan from the Braves. Atlanta, in turn, will receive infielder Hector Olivera, lefty Paco Rodriguez and minor leaguer Zachary Bird from the Dodgers. The Braves are also picking up Miami’s Competitive Balance Round A pick in next year’s draft (No. 35 overall). The Marlins will come out of this deal with three minor league pitchers — Kevin Guzman, Jeff Brigham and Victor Araujo — plus the financial relief of shedding the remaining $14.3MM that is owed to Latos and Morse. Each team has announced the trade’s completion.”

The Braves believe that Olivera (a former Cuban National Team standout) will help them offensively with his bat.  He plays every infield position but short stop and also plays outfield.  He will probably see some time at third base once his ham string injury heals.  He was a hot commodity obtained by the Dodgers for over 62 million which included a 28 million signing bonus.  The Braves will owe him about 32 million in the trade deal.

Paco Rodriquez is a 24 year old former University of Florida player who had his debut with the Dodgers in 2012.  According to Baseball-Reference.com, he has appeared in 18 games this year with 10.1 innings pitched and an ERA of 2.61.   He is currently on the 60 day DL for the Braves having recently had arthroscopic surgery on his left elbow.

Zachary Bird is a 20 year old right hander, drafted in 2012 by the Dodgers out of Murrah High School in Jackson, Mississippi.  According to Baseball-Reference.com, he is playing for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes in the California League.  He has pitched 89 innings with an ERA of 4.75.

The Braves have had some issues with their pitchers on the DL.  Brunson Arroyo (60 day DL, now traded to the Dodgers) out for the season with elbow surgery.  Mike Minor, (60 day DL) a former standout at Vanderbilt, is out with shoulder surgery.  Joshua Outman who had thoracic outlet surgery is now pitching in the Gulf Coast League on rehab assignment.  He is still weeks away from rejoining the Braves according to a recent tweet by David O’Brien. (ESPN).  Williams Perez who was smashed in the foot by a ball hit up the middle on June 27, 2015 against the Pirates, is on the 15 day DL and may rejoin the Braves in the next few weeks.  Shae Simmon, who underwent Tommy John Surgery back in the spring, is likely out for the season. Daniel Winkler (Tommy John surgery, 2014) and Chris Withrow (Tommy John Surgery, 2014) who was traded to the Braves on May 27, 2015 along with Juan Uribe are both on the 60 day DL for the Braves.

The Braves will finish up their road trip with the Phillies on Sunday, August 2 and will be back at home on August 3 versus the Giants.

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