It's safe to say that Andrelton Simmons is a happy camper right now down in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. after agreeing to a seven-year, $58 million deal, which he considers to be a 'dream come true' after growing up watching the Braves. The contract extension now tops the Cubs Anthony Rizzo's (7yr-41 mil) for the largest given to a player subject to American draft rules with less than two years of service time. Even if Simmons turns out to be mediocre with the bat, Mlb.com's Mark Bowman believes the deal is still a good one for possibly the best defensive player in all of baseball.
Fangraphs Dave Cameron is all over the Braves extensions again. In his article he believes that in long term deals both sides should be taking risks. These are the type of contracts young and talented players should be going for these days.
The past two and a half weeks the Braves have dished out big money, in fact a total of 280.7 million for five players. DOB reports that Wren was not the only mastermind behind the deals going down as CEO Terry McGuirk and president John Schuerholz were involved throughout the entire process. The next targets for extensions could be Kris Medlen and Mike Minor.
The Dark Star, Fla. blogger and Braves beat writer since 2002 for AJC reminisces on watching the platinum winning shortstop sit at his locker and try out new gloves from his sponsors before practice one day this week. He says seeing the 24-year old defensive vacuum try on the new gloves, some which were BP outfield shag gloves, was like watching an artist try out his new paint brushes. Thanks for painting the picture for us Dave.
SB Nations Marc Normandin writes about why the Braves paid so much to a .256 career hitter. As they say defense wins championships.
Rated by Baseball America as the No. 93 top prospect in baseball, 24-year old hard throwing right hander J.R. Graham is ready to show his worth in Spring Training. In fact, in Mark Bowman's article he is always trying to stand out especially when his mother is in attendance. His mother is legally blind, but to help her spot him on the baseball field he often wears white baseball cleats with high pants rolled up with stirrups. Graham in his last two seasons at Double-A Mississippi he has posted a 3.56 ERA with 70 strikeouts in 81 innings pitched. After a shoulder strain last season he is healthy and all ready for camp.
Take a look at AJC's gallery from the team's second full day of team workouts. Some of the highlights include Bobby Cox taking in some batting practice and Craig Kimbrel getting caught in the middle of the sprinkler system at Champion Field.
Check out this video link to see who won the battle between Evan Gattis, "El Oso Blanco", and David Carpenter. In this one it's literally power vs. power.
Ramiro Pena was having a solid season last year, especially against righties with a .313 average and three home runs in 80 at-bats, before he tore the labrum in his throwing shoulder. He has reported back to camp fully healthy and looks to pick up where he left off.
Talking Chops Andrew Sisson brings awareness to how big it is for the Braves to control the base paths this season. Last year they ranked first in the majors with 18 pickoffs. Out of the four catchers on the current roster Christian Bethancourt has the highest caught stealing ratio at 37 percent.
After having to release Gamel due to reoccurring knee problems the team will be looking for someone this spring to emerge and make the final bench spot. As of right now Jordan Schafer, Gerald Laird, Ramiro Pena, and Ryan Doumit are all practically guaranteed spots so that leaves one spot open. TC's Ben Duronio thinks the battle will come down between Joey Terdoslavich and Tyler Pastornicky.
The late Jim Fregosi meant quite a bit to the Braves organization and left a lasting impact on the game of baseball with his great personality and love of the game. Mlb.com was able to talk with Wren and Schuerholz and get their opinion on not only one of their colleagues but good friends as well. They plan to honor him at some point this season but are not sure yet when that will be.
League Wide News:
The Giants fan, Bryan Stow, who was brutally beaten outside of Dodgers stadium nearly three years ago has been served justice as two men plead guilty to the assault after being caught saying they committed the crime on a prison recorder.
As insurance after Ryan Dempster announced he will not play in 2014, the Boston Red Sox agreed with veteran lefty Chris Capuano to a one-year, $2.25 million deal. He could see some spot starts this season and be the team's long inning relief man. He was 4-7 last season with a 4.26 ERA for the Dodgers in 20 starts.
According to Baseball America's Aaron Fitt the Philadelphia Phillies alerted the NCAA back in Novemeber that two of their top picks had violated the NCAA's "no-agent" rule. The two were Oregon State LHP Ben Wetzler and Washington State OF Jason Monda.