Tag: Eric Hinske

Eric Hinske Re-Signing Guarantees Braves A Playoff Spot in 2011

By re-signing Eric Hinske this offseason, the Atlanta Braves brought back arguably their best bench player, as well as all but guaranteed themselves a place in the 2011 postseason.

Hinske, 33, has been to the postseason each of the last four years, each time with a different organization.

In 2007, Hinske found himself in Boston, where he played in 84 games, ending with six home runs and 21 RBI. That year, the Boston Red Sox clinched their first AL East title since 1995 and went on to win the World Series, Hinske’s first World Series ring.

That offseason, Hinske signed a minor-league contract with the Tampa Bay Rays, but earned an invite to Spring Training. After a solid performance at Spring Training, Hinske was added to the Rays’ 40-man roster in late March and was named the club’s opening day right fielder.

The 2008 season saw Hinske hit 20 home runs for the Rays, who won the AL East pennant. The Rays made it to the World Series for the first time in franchise history that season, but lost to the NL East champion Philadelphia Phillies.

In January 2009, Hinske signed a one-year contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he played in 54 games before being traded to the New York Yankees in July.  In 39 games with the Yankees, Hinske hit seven home runs in his 84 at-bats.

The team clinched the AL East pennant and went on to the World Series, Hinske’s third straight World Series appearance with his third different team, all of which were from the AL East.

The Yankees went on to win the Fall Classic, earning Hinske his second career championship ring.

On January 5, 2010, Hinske reached a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Atlanta Braves. Over the course of the season, Hinske appeared in 131 games. He ended the season with 11 home runs, 51 RBI and a .256 batting average.

In one of his more memorable at bats of the season, Hinske hit a go-ahead two-run home run off San Francisco Giants reliever Sergio Romo in the eighth inning of Game 3 of the NLDS. However, the Braves ultimately lost the game and were eliminated in Game 4.

On December 2, 2010, the Braves signed Hinske to a one-year, $1.45 million contract that includes an option for the 2012 season, further ensuring their likelihood to clinch a playoff berth in 2011.

Look for Hinske’s talent, and luck, to carry the Braves into the postseason for a second consecutive season.

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Atlanta Braves Acquire Veteran Scott Linebrink From Chicago White Sox

The Atlanta Braves acquired veteran right hander Scott Linebrink today from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for pitching prospect Kyle Cofield.

The move solidified the Braves’ need to add a veteran presence in the bullpen. He will help out with the impressive, young core of arms the Braves already possess.

Kyle Cofield, a towering 6’5″, 230 lbs. right hander, was mostly a starter before he was moved to the bullpen this season. Cofield compiled a 25-26 record and 4.12 ERA through 485 minor league innings pitched, though the 23-year old has yet to advance past Double-A. He has had issues with his command as well, issuing 4.9 BB/9 (walks per nine innings).

Scott Linebrink, 33-year old journeyman, struggled in his time with the White Sox, but that can almost surely be attributed to the hitter’s environment of U.S. Cellular Field.

Linebrink allowed 16 homeruns (eight in 2010) and amassed a 4.65 ERA in 85 innings pitched at U.S. Cellular. Away from the unfriendly confines of his home stadium, Linebrink produced a much more respectable 3.88 ERA—though he allowed 12 homeruns.

Though he isn’t getting any younger, Linebrink should enjoy being back in the National League and have a respectable 2011 campaign with the Atlanta Braves, barring any injuries.


Other Transactions

Matt Diaz has likely played his last game for the Atlanta Braves. The club non-tendered the clubhouse and fan favorite yesterday.

Diaz’ sense of humor, terrorizing of lefties and hard nosed playing style will certainly be missed by Braves players and fans.

Diaz was told he would never be a major league ballplayer, yet the Braves and Bobby Cox took a chance on the relatively unknown 27-year old (at the time). Diaz didn’t disappoint in his five seasons with Atlanta, pounding Johan Santana and other left handed pitchers.

Diaz hit .305 with 41 homeruns, 128 RBIs and 28 stolen bases in 1,385 at bats with the Braves.

While Diaz will not be returning to the ballclub in all likelihood, the move ensured that 1B/OF Eric Hinske would be staying in Atlanta. The Braves locked Hinske up with a one year, $1.45 million deal yesterday as well.

The former Rookie of the Year provided many clutch at bats off the bench and as a starter in 2010. He provides some positional flexibility as well as late inning power off the bench.

We’re just a week away from the Winter Meetings and Frank Wren will go in with a relatively clear conscience. He’s fulfilled the Braves’ most pressing needs thus far and seems to be content. You can’t rule out Wren making a surprise deal, but the Braves’ acquisitions seem to be all but wrapped up unless the Braves get an offer they can’t refuse.

Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment box below. You can e-mail me suggestions or questions at jtmcadams@aol.com. Follow me on Twitter @JoeSportswriter.

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Atlanta Braves Baseball: Don’t Hate Brooks Conrad; He Needs The Fans Behind Him

     The Atlanta Braves were one out away from completing another storybook come from behind victory when things fell apart in the top of the ninth. Earlier, in the bottom of the eighth, Alex Gonzalez singled and Eric Hinske hit a pinch hit home run off of Sergio Romo to the Braves up by a score of 2-1. Hinke’s homer was just the fourth Brave hit of the night but it came at such an opportune time.

     Without closer Billy Wagner, Manager, Bobby Cox, went to rookie Craig Kimbrel to put the game away. He quickly earned two outs and it was apparent that Giants hitters were having a difficult time catching up to the youngster’s fastball. With two outs and two strikes,  Braves catcher, Brian McCann, called for a slider. This was a mistake. No one had been close to hitting the fastball. Put the guy away with the heat.

      The pitch that was thrown was a slider and it came across the plate at 87 miles per hour, or approximately 10 miles per hour slower than the fastball. It was knocked for a base hit and with two runners on base Bobby Cox pulled Kimbrel from the game. I believe this was also a mistake. Did Bobby take Kimbrel out because he thought he would buckle under the pressure? So far, the rookie had faced four batters and he had been great. Yes, he had given up a hit and a walk, but not a run.

     Mike Dunn would only face one batter, the Giants first baseman, Aubrey Huff. With two strikes, Huff was able to go to right field with a pitch on the outside corner and Jason Heyward’s throw to the plate was not accurate enough to keep the Giants from tying the game.

     With the score tied, and with Peter Moylan, the ground ball wizard, on the mound, it looked as if we might go to extra innings in the event the Braves couldn’t score in the ninth. Moylan got his ground ball but it was a hot shot to second baseman, Brooks Conrad.

     It had already been a rough night for Conrad before the ball came his way in the top of the ninth. Guilty of two errors in preceding innings, Conrad allowed the sharply hit ball to go between his legs and another Giant run was able to cross the plate. The “little man that could” was not able to on this night.

     Brooks Conrad committed three errors. He would not have been out there to commit the errors in the first place had he not walloped several pinch hit home runs to tie or win games earlier in the season.

     Remember that guy? 

     He is the guy who hit a grand slam home run to beat the Reds. That one game helped the Braves win the Wild Card by just one game. Brooks Conrad was guilty of helping the Braves lose an important game against the San Francisco Giants on Sunday.

      Much of Braves country wants Conrad out for the next game but that would be another mistake on top of mistakes that have already been made. Can’t change anything in the past. No one feels worse about those errors than Brooks Conrad. He will have to live with them a lifetime.

     Fortunately, the will not be such bitter memories if the Braves can come back and win two games; one at home and one on the road. To do this, the offense will have to wake up. The stats look good for the San Francisco starting pitchers, however, I do not believe they have been as good as the Braves have been bad. That’s right. The Braves offense has been terrible and that is why the Giants pitchers have walked away with such wonderful statistics.

     The Atlanta Braves are very capable of winning two games against the Giants. They must hit the ball and they must commit no errors of any type at any type. Atlanta has pitching that can get it done but they need help from the offense. Much of the Braves offense is injured but there are plenty of guys out there who can hit the baseball. Why can they muster no offense lately?

     The Braves hitters are swinging at way too many bad pitches. Can they slow things down and jump on Giants pitching early? Perhaps it is simply a matter of the Atlanta players trying way too hard at the plate and even so in the field. They want to do it so bad for Bobby. Perhaps they are exerting too much adrenaline and it causing them to overreact? They simply need to relax and have fun. They are capable. They are a close knit group and if anyone can win, they can.

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Troy Glaus Secures Win in Ninth; Braves Up 1 1/2 Games in NL East

When the Atlanta Braves signed Troy Glaus this past offseason, they hoped for an offensive spark that has been lacking at first base in recent years; they got much more than they bargained for. 

Glaus has been stellar this year, and last night was no exception.  Glaus hit a home run off Robinson Tejada on an 0-2 count to give the Braves a 5-4 victory over the tough-luck Royals Saturday night.

Glaus went 1-4 in the game, his homer being his only hit, and Brian McCann also homered to run the Braves’ winning streak to four games and send their home record to 23-7.  Billy Wagner worked the ninth to earn the win.

The Royals, under skipper Ned Yost, still struggle to compete in a mediocre AL Central.  Yost, who served as the Braves third base coach, bench coach, and bullpen coach during the 1990s, was hired to give the team a bit of a boost.  The boost hasn’t found its way to the diamond, and the Royals fell to 29-40 on the year, fourth place in the AL Central ahead of a lackadaisical Cleveland Indians club still holding out hope for Travis Hafner to return to his power days.

The Royals have some good players, such as Scott Podsednik and Jose Guillen, but just can’t seem to keep it together.

The Braves, whose win on Saturday pushed their lead to 1 1/2 games over the surging New York Mets, are trying to bring a championship to Atlanta; they last won it all in 1995.  Manager Bobby Cox is retiring at season’s end, giving the Braves tremendous motivation to win a ring.

Saturday’s game showed a typical example of what the Braves are doing right this year.  This team is clutch, with guys like Martin Prado (.310 with runners in scoring position and two outs), Troy Glaus (.424 with RISP and two outs), Eric Hinske (.357 with RISP and two outs), and Jason Heyward (.353 with RISP and 2 outs) leading the way.

This team does extremely well rallying with two outs and finds ways to win late in the game.  This tortoise out of the gate turns into the rabbit at the finish line, owners of the third best record in the majors and the best record in the National League.  Happy days are here again in Atlanta; can these Braves keep it up?  All signs point to yes.

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Glaus on First, Prado on Second and I Don’t Know on Third

If the recent news and rumors turn out to be true, the Braves have a big question on their hands—who is the Braves’ everyday third baseman after 2010 (or perhaps the rest of this season)?

It’s not a simple question to answer.

Third base is the one position the Braves do not have a long-term solution for. The face of the franchise will be Jason Heyward, who is primed to be in right field and in the heart of the Braves order for years to come.

Despite a rough start to for Yunel Escobar, he and Martin Prado form a solid, if not spectacular at times, combination at the middle of the diamond.

The Braves are flush with veterans and youngsters for their starting rotation, and have the enviable position of having 6 starters right now, with Kris Medlen seemingly supplanting Kenshin Kawakami as the best starter outside the trio of Lowe, Hudson and Hanson.

With rookies Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel making their debuts in the majors this season, the bullpen seems solid for the future when you also consider that Peter Moylan and Eric O’Flaherty have been effective and conceivably have their best years ahead of them.

Brian McCann is the NL’s best catcher and Troy Glaus is having a renaissance season since switching to first. Even if he’s not the long-term solution at first, Freddie Freeman is waiting in the wings.

Who’s on first? Glaus or Freeman.

What’s the name of the guy on second? Prado, an All-Star.

Third base? I don’t know.

Chipper Jones is there for now, but for now could mean a few days, a few weeks, or a few months.

Who do the Braves have on their roster who could play third? There are more than a few options.


Glaus made several All-Star teams and was named World Series MVP while playing third base. However, I think most might agree that part of the reason his bat has thunder in it is because he has less wear and tear defensively playing first base.


Most would consider Hinske’s days of being an everyday player over, especially given his struggles hitting lefties. He’s been productive in a platoon role and won AL Rookie of the Year in 2002 with the Blue Jays. However, few, if any in the Braves organization, see Hinske as anything more than a role/bench player, a role he has played very well this season.


Considering the undersized utility infielder’s size, he’s not your prototypical power hitting third baseman. However, he’s been very productive, still in his prime at 28 years old, and as recently as a week ago, was hitting a robust .328 with 16 RBIs. He’s a solid player, who could be more than just a super-utility guy that the Braves love to plug in at short, second, third or in the outfield.


The 30-year old version of Crash Davis has been waiting for his opportunity for a long time and this may be it. He’s got some pop in his bat for someone standing 5’11” and weighing only 180lbs—as evidenced by his opposite field pinch-hit grand slam against the Reds last month. The Braves right now don’t need Conrad to be a 2nd or 3rd place hitter in their lineup, and being a switch-hitter gives him an advantage over others that he wouldn’t necessarily have to be part of a platoon.


While he’s been playing shortstop for a few years, some in the Braves organization hoped the 6’2″, 200 lb glove wizard would have gain some offensive skills. While he’s progressed to AAA, he’s only hitting .211, and his track record doesn’t indicate that he’d be much of an offensive threat in the majors.


Currently playing with AA Mississippi, he’s probably a name most Braves fans have never heard of. He’s not considered a high-ceiling prospect, isn’t on the Braves’ 40-man roster, and is already 26 years old. However, he was signed as a free agent in June 2008, and only had 79 at-bats at Low A ball in 2008. In 2009 with Myrtle Beach (not a hitter-friendly park) his .287/.328/.444 line (.772 OPS) with 15 HR, 32 doubles and 87 RBIs in 130 games and 505 at bats was decent. The ceiling isn’t very high on Linares, and he still likely needs another year in the minors. At Mississippi, he’s currently hitting .259 with 8 HR and 29 RBIs.


He’s not flashy or the first person you’d think of as the Braves’ third baseman, however there are plenty of reasons to think that for this year and possibly a few more to follow, Wigginton is a possible solution until the Braves figure out who they can convert or develop to play 3rd base at the major league level for a long time.

Looking at Wigginton’s career stats—nothing jumps out at you. He’s currently in the midst of a fantastic season with .273/.358/.495, 13 HR and 38 RBIs on a terrible Orioles team, and he’s affordable, with a current salary of $3.5M for 2010. Every full season of his career, the 32 year-old journeyman (Mets, Pirates, Rays, Astros, Orioles) has hit between .258 and .284, and his 162 game averages are 22 HR and 77 RBIs. Considering Chipper Jones got paid $14M for numbers that were no better last year, he is a viable option. The bigger question is however, what would the Braves have to give up to get him.

Would a package of Jo-Jo Reyes, Jordan Schafer and another prospect bring Wigginton to the Atlanta? I know the Orioles need to rebuild and don’t have the talent in their system.

How would the Braves lineup look if the Braves could pull of the trade. Perhaps

2B – Martin Prado

3B – Ty Wigginton or SS Yunel Escobar

RF – Jason Heyward

1B – Troy Glaus

C – Brian McCann

SS – Yunel Escobar or Ty Wigginton

LF – Eric Hinske/Matt Diaz

CF – Melky Cabrera/Nate McLouth


Replacing a Hall of Fame third baseman is no easy task. The Braves could explore other trade options and perhaps target a AA/AAA third baseman in another team’s farm system who has some depth at that position. Who knows what the farm systems of the Yankees, Mets, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Rays or Rangers are hiding; teams who have answers at the hot corner with All-Star caliber players and no foreseeable need for major offensive help at the time.

Regardless, I’m sure Frank Wren and John Scheurholz are channeling Abbott and Costello to figure out the solution to that riddle.


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Atlanta Braves’ Win Over Twins Highlights Team Depth, Frank Wren’s Brilliance

When Frank Wren replaced John Schuerholz as General Manager a couple of years ago, Braves’ fans were undoubtedly skeptical that he could come in and make such a difference. I think now that even the skeptics can be silenced by the performance of Frank Wren in building a ballclub that can be defined by words like “deep,” “versatile,” and “talented.”

Tonight showed just how those words ring true about the 2010 Atlanta Braves.

In Bobby Cox’s last season, the Braves wanted to make a run for the pennant. The roster at the start looked tentatively good, but it remained to be seen if this club could do well. The first month of the season was atrocious for the Braves. No one could seem to hit, pitching fell through more times than not, and a couple of guys carried the load for keeping this Braves squad from hitting the bottom of the pond. Boy, has that changed.

Flash to tonight’s game against the Minnesota Twins. Derek Lowe, a pickup by Frank Wren in the free agent market in January 2009, came out of the gate strong, giving up two runs and keeping the big bashers of the Minnesota lineup subdued. His official line was 7.1 innings, six hits, two runs (both of them earned), three walks, and four strikeouts. He left with the game tied at two runs apiece, with Eric O’Flaherty entering and retiring Justin Morneau.

Then Peter Moylan, who owns a nearly 9.00 ERA in his last 10 appearances (8.57), entered and walked Michael Cuddyer, and displayed his frustration by barking at home plate umpire Jerry Layne on a pitch that was proven to be a ball low and inside. The next pitcher to enter could arguably be considered the best middle reliever the Braves have in their bullpen—Jonny Venters.

Venters came on to face the lefty Jason Kubel and, after running the count to 2-2 and Kubel fouling a couple of balls off, Venters whizzed a 94 mph fastball by Kubel middle of the belt and away to end the inning. The top of the ninth held all of the suspense as the Braves sought to take the lead and keep the game from going into extras. The Braves did not fail to deliver.

After Melky Cabrera popped out, Gregor Blanco walked on four straight pitches. With Martin Prado hitting, Bobby Cox pulled a trick out of his hat and called for a hit-and-run. Prado singled to left and the hustling speedster Gregor Blanco went from first to third easily.

The next play displayed the genius of the man who is calling it quits after this season and shows just why Bobby Cox will be sorely missed next year.

With emerging star Brooks Conrad hitting, Bobby Cox called for a suicide squeeze, sending Blanco from third; Conrad made the perfect bunt and got on base himself, preserving the inning and scoring the go-ahead run from third. Jason Heyward, nursing a sore left thumb, fouled out to third and Brian McCann was blown away by an angry Jose Mijares.

Billy Wagner closed out the ninth to pick up the save and to preserve the win by Jonny Venters.

Key elements to the game included Eric Hinske (free agent this year), Eric O’Flaherty (waiver, 2009), Melky Cabrera [home run] (trade, offseason), Jonny Venters (draft, 2003 [Wren was the senior assistant GM]), Martin Prado (undrafted free agent, 2001), Brooks Conrad (free agent, offseason), Gregor Blanco (undrafted free agent, 2000), and Billy Wagner (free agent, offseason).

This team is chock full of talent that Frank Wren has either directly or indirectly been instrumental in bringing to Atlanta. Wren signed Troy Glaus, who has been exceptional for Atlanta. He signed Eric Hinske, whose clutch performances have vastly improved this Braves’ ballclub.

Brooks Conrad was mired in a Houston Astros organization that just had no room for him; he has since proven the Astros wrong. Eric O’Flaherty was left to die in the Seattle Mariners organization and then placed on the waiver wires; Atlanta deftly snagged this talented lefty at no cost to them. Billy Wagner has bounced back from surgery to regain his fastball and his dominance, going 11 for 13 in save opportunities.

This isn’t Wren’s first rodeo. He was instrumental, with Dave Dombrowski, in constructing the Marlins farm system and the 1997 team that won the World Series. Under Dombrowski, the Marlins’ front office was considered the best in baseball for several years (completely blameless in the firesale by Wayne Huizenga).

Wren was demonized in Baltimore for signing Albert Belle to such a massive contract, but Belle carried a reputation that warranted such a contract. All in all, Frank Wren has amassed a team that is rich in talent, incredibly deep, and, if all elements stay working together as they are now, just might give Bobby Cox the going away present of a lifetime: a World Series ring.

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Nate McLouth And The Hole In Atlanta’s Lineup

It’s June 1st and I have an alarming stat for Braves fans—this year’s primary starting pitchers (Hanson, Hudson, Kawakami, Lowe and Medlen) are having a more successful year at the plate than the starting centerfielder, Nate McLouth. Through 51 games (nearly a third of the year!) the pitchers are hitting .184 and McClouth is hitting .179 with no signs of coming out of his slump. In fact, it’s hard for me to even call what’s happening with McLouth a slump at this point.


The Braves have straightened out most of their issues in the lineup—Yunel Escobar, Melky Cabrera and Chipper Jones have heated up while Jason Heyward, Martin Prado and Troy Glaus are still more than holding up their ends of the bargain. McLouth is the lone holdout and has seemed allergic to any kind of success at the plate, save the one dramatic walk-off home run earlier in the year.


So what is there to do? The Braves have five options in the outfield—Heyward, Cabrera, McLouth, Eric Hinske and Gregor Blanco—and I think they need to shift the hierarchy, which is something Bobby Cox has been notoriously slow to do in the past. But in order to really take advantage of what’s possible for the team this year (a playoff berth and beyond) it is completely necessary and needs to happen sooner rather than later. 


Right now Heyward and McLouth play every day in right field and center field, respectively, with a rotating cast in left field. Heyward is entrenched in right field, but it’s time to see what Cabrera can do on a full-time basis.


I propose that Cox start an outfield of Heyward, Cabrera and Hinske as the primary lineup. Hinske has exactly the same number of hits as McLouth in almost half the at-bats and has proven himself as a quality ballplayer over the years.


On days when Hinske needs a rest or there’s bad pitching matchup for him, put McLouth in center and shift Cabrera to left. It may seem drastic and crazy to use McLouth as a fourth outfield considering his salary, but something needs to happen. The Braves are playing well right now and Cox needs to strike while the iron is hot. 


Two other options would be to use Blanco on a more regular basis (but he seems to have settled in as a pinch runner and late inning defensive replacement) or to bring up Jordan Schafer from triple-A. I happen to believe that the Cabrera/Hinske option is superior to this, but if you disagree please let me know in the comments. 

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Atlanta Braves: Re-Analyzing the Left Field Situation

I’m sure most of you have been in the following situation: You make a decision, it turns out bad, and when you look back at it you realize that you overlooked a major factor which likely led to your bad decision.

Well that’s how I feel about the Atlanta Braves left-field situation right now.

After an offseason of speculating players, platoons, and positions, I realize that I overlooked an obvious solution from the beginning: Eric Hinske.

Signed to be a utility player and pinch hitter, I (along with most others, I assume) never really looked at Hinske as a viable candidate to start in the outfield. The Braves obviously felt the same way, as Hinske started off the year on the bench, pinch hitting in almost every game.

But going through Hinske’s career numbers last night, I realized that if I was given stats (and not names) to choose from, I would have chosen Hinske to platoon in left field with Matt Diaz.

Before getting into the discussion on Hinske and Melky Cabrera, I just want to discuss Diaz for a second. I know he is off to a terrible start this year (like Melky and Nate McLouth), but his career numbers vs. lefties are .303/.351/.524, and those easily make him the best option against left-handed pitchers.

Since the Cabrera trade, it’s generally been assumed that he would start against right-handed pitchers in a platoon with Diaz. But how do his numbers actually stand up to Hinske’s? Not that well. Here are their career splits against right-handed pitchers.

Melky Cabrera .272/.331/.387

Eric Hinske .264/.348/.458

As you can see, Cabrera has the higher average, but Hinske gets on base more and has a lot more power than Melky.

In a line-up that isn’t designed to manufacture a ton of runs, a player like Hinske, who can drive players on first base in much more frequently, would seem to have more value.

However, Melky does have some intangibles working in his favor. He is 7 years younger than Hinske (25 to 32) and is a switch hitter (although he hasn’t exactly impressed anyone with his .248 career average against left-handed pitchers).

On defense, a place where Melky probably looks a lot better to the naked eye, there really isn’t much difference between the two. Hinske’s career UZR 150 in the outfield (he has only played the corner spots) is 0.4, while Melky’s is—1.9. To be fair, Melky is hurt because he has spent most of his time in centerfield (which is harder to play), but his UZR 150 in left field is only 0.4, which is no better than Hinske’s.

All in all, I think that Hinske is clearly the better option in left field for the Braves. Although they lose their best pinch hitter and a little bit of speed in the lineup, the Braves would have added power which would eventually help create more runs.

Once you throw in the fact that Melky has been ice cold to start 2010, it’s clear that Hinske should be starting the majority of the games in left field.

Also, I will be on Stache Radio this Sunday night at 11:15 (the show starts at 11) to discuss the Braves and their upcoming series with the New York Mets so be sure to tune in.

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Hinske, Conrad, Glaus Lead Braves To Sweep: Can the Offense Keep it Up?

Talk about a turnaround.

Just six games ago, the Braves were shut-out by the No. 2 man on the all-time homers allowed list.

Now, they find themselves dumping a high-powered Brewers attack out of a dust pan and into the trash after outscoring the Brew Crew by an unbelievable (keep in mind we’re talking about the team ranked next-to-last in runs in the NL coming into this series) 21-run margin over three games. 

The heroes of this series (outside of the usual suspects Jason Heyward, who returned to the line-up for game two of this series and went on to steal two bases, and Martin Prado, who hit a grand slam in game one) may be surprising, though.

Troy Glaus, Brooks Conrad, and Eric Hinske played out of their minds (the latter two in only the two final games).

Glaus went 5-for-13 (.385) with two homers, five RBIs, three runs scored, and also tacked on two walks. 

Hinske, while manning what had been a massive left field hole for the Braves, went 3-for-6 (.500) with three doubles, four RBIs, and only one strikeout to two bases on balls.

Brooks went 4-for-9 (.444) with two homers (both off of Carlos Villanueva to right field), five RBIs, and some pretty slick fielding over at the hot corner.


Not bad for two guys that have been riding the pine all year, (though Hinske has shown all season that he has deserved better) and another that for the month of April was being called “washed up” by many in Braves Nation.

But, the question remains: can the Braves keep it up?

After all, they dazzled us with the bats in the opening series and have been putting up eight- nine- and ten-spots at various points over the course of the ’10 campaign–what makes this series of gappers, drives, and lucky bloops any different?

Well, I’ll tell youit comes down to the personnel.

And with the group that was thrown out for the Milwaukee series, I really, honestly, believe that this is for real (knock on wood).

Add to that the fact that this line-up has been lacking two cogs in Yunel Escobar and Chipper Jones that have been vital to the team’s success over the past few years, and this thing looks downright scary come their expected returns this Saturday (I’m referring to them being “in there” togetherChipper will be back sooner).

Just imagine…

R 2B Martin Prado
L RF Jason “Manchild” Heyward
S 3B Chipper Jones
R 1B Troy Glaus
L  C Brian McCann
L LF Eric Hinske
R SS Yunel Escobar (yeah, I believe the ’09 Escobar is the real Escobar) 
L CF Nate McLouth

With the performances in the month of May for those guys, there is plenty to support a Braves starting staff that only gave up three earned runs (Hanson with zero, Hudson with one, and Lowe, typically with the highest, with two) to the Brewers in this past series.

Now, there will be a hitch here and there (after all, this is baseball we’re talking about), no doubt about it (and with Conrad swinging a big bat, I’d almost be willing to give him Jones’ position for a while and stick with the Infante/McLouth-Prado-Heyward set-up…but we all know that’s not going to happen).

But there is no way that this group can be as anemic as the Leche/Diaz-packed order we saw at the start of this most recent road trip (which the Braves managed to finish up 5-4 in spite of those awful orders).

I’m not going to call a 15-game win-streak for the Braves right nownot by a long shot.

But, I am going to call for some good success on the horizon (if that makes sense) since this team finally seems to be coming around.

See all you needed was a little…

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