Posted tagged ‘Atlanta Braves’

Ballpark Review: Turner Field

June 1, 2015

Franchise: Atlanta Braves

Year Opened: 1997

Capacity: 49,586

Games Attended: May 23 & 24, 2015 v Milwaukee Brewers

Sec 204, Row, Row 1, Seat 4; Sec 105, Row 5, Seat 4

Over Memorial Day Weekend I had the chance to catch two Braves games in Atlanta. When reading ballpark rankings in the past, Turner Field always placed near the bottom. So my expectations were not that high.

1) Aesthetics- 16/25

Exterior- 3/5

The open outfield exterior of Turner is great, especially the brick wall where the ticket windows are located. However, the exterior running from third around to first definitely make Turner look more like a stadium than a field.

Interior- 7/10

From afar, Turner Field doesn’t seem special. But seeing this place in person was awesome. The video board looked nicer, the advertisements looked nicer, everything looked nicer. I love the championship banners displayed in left and the coke bottle and Chik-Fil-A in the upper deck. For an older, “bland” stadium those details make it stand out from others (think US Cellular).

Backdrop 6/10

You can’t see the skyline from the lower levels, but you can from the first base side of the upper deck and it is a great sight. While Turner lacks a skyline like Pittsburgh, fountains like KC, or any other unique part of the backdrop, it still comes together as a whole.

2) Seats &View- 15/20

Sight lines- 8/10

In the first game, we sat in the 200 level. This is still the field level but further back than the 100 level. Despite that, it was still a good seat that felt close and gave a great vantage point of the whole field. For the second game, we had the pleasure of sitting five rows back of home plate. These were by far the best seats I have had for a ML game. Even though we sat so close, there was still a good angle to pick up balls hit to the outfield. These tickets also came with access to the 755 Club- which was a blast- as I’ll mention later on.

Proximity- 4/5

Before the games we walked around to get a feel for the park and the upper deck was great as well. You don’t feel like you are sitting up too high at all and the top row of the upper deck was just as good as the first row. The vantage point is good, you get a view of the skyline, and the seats are angled so that people sitting in front of you won’t be in the way.

Outfield seats are also nice and are probably the most affordable. Really, there are very poor seats in the house.

Recommendation: 200 level, the sections that align with the batter circle on each side. There were probably 50 fouls hit into these sections each game. A lot of people went home happy with a souvenir as a result.

Comfort: 3/5

The seats were somewhat cramped, but there was good leg room.

3) Atmosphere- 11/15

Fan Participation- 4/5

The atmosphere was fantastic. The crowd was into the game and knew when to cheer and boo. Hearing the tomahawk chant in person was great and when it came time to close the game out for a Braves win, the crowd noise was deafening. Braves fans certainly impressed me.

Attendance- 3/5

A lot of people, myself included, rag on the Braves for low attendance figures, even when they were annual division winners. However, both games I attended had to have had at least 30,000 people there.

Fan Knowledge- 4/5

Braves fans are the real deal.

4) Attractions- 14/15

Museum & Team History- 9/10

The team museum is in Scouts Alley and one only needs a token to enter. The museum was very in-depth, showcasing uniforms throughout team history, the dugout bench from Fulton County, history on the different cities and eras of the franchise, as well as lockers highlighting awards and stories from past players and seasons.

Stuff to See and Do- 5/5

The attractions at Turner Field blew away just about all the other stadiums I have been to. First, when pull up to the parking lot you see they still have a cutout of the old Atlanta Fulton County Stadium, which is really cool. You can go stand on the old pitchers mound or dig into the batters box. Moreover, the spot of Hank Aaron’s 715th career HR is marked off with the original fence. As you walk past this in the parking lot and carry onto the stadium, you see several statues, plaques, and tributes to past players such as Warren Spahn, Eddie Matthews, Greg Maddux, and many more. For a history junkie like myself, this is awesome.

Now once inside the stadium, you have Scouts Alley to the right. For just 10 tokens, you get a free Braves shirt and a chance to take batting practice in a cage or speed pitch. It’s a great gimmick for kids to enjoy their Turner experience, while making easy money.

5) Food & Drink- 8/10

Hot Dog- 3.5/5

To begin- the classic hot dog. They offered a jumbo dog for $6. Take or leave that price, but it was a better foot long dog than I expected. Most longer hot dogs suck, in my opinion. But this wasn’t bad. Not the best ballpark dog, but not disappointing.

Best of the Rest- 4.5/5

A lot of this ranking is based on the food I ate, the food offerings, and the beer. As for the beer, they just have the run of the mill drink choices. But a 25oz’er for $10 is good for ballpark prices (I once got a 16oz Bud from Yankee Stadium for $12). They offered some southern food and BBQ along with ballpark staples. There was even a Chik-Fil-A stand which is the greatest thing ever. At least it was until I walked around the 755 Club. Food wasn’t free up there, but it was amazing. You could get 5 star, restaurant quality fajitas, pasta, or asian food for $12. Yes, only $12. There are also dessert stands with froyo, cheesecake, and giant cookies. A meal might be $12, but it’s the best $12 I’ve spent at a ballpark.

6) Game Entertainment & Presentation- 2/5

The one thing I can’t really recall, because of its low presence, was game entertainment. There was a mascot race and a lot of the “Kiss Cam” stuff, but that was about it. Although they did have a unique “oblivious cam” that stayed on a person until they realized they were on camera. Now some people find the lack of game entertainment to be a good thing, but it hurts Turner Field in my rankings.

7) Cleanliness- 3/5

Turner Field was meh when it came to cleanliness. I mean, it was clean, but you could tell was a 20 year or so old stadium. Some of the bathrooms smelled funky and you could tell the concourse had been through some shit. But it didn’t detract from the game experience.

8) Local Scene & Location- 1/5

There is no local scene at the park other than a rib joint. But downtown Atlanta is a five minute drive and there is more than enough to do there.

9) Access & Cost- 2/5

Between Scouts Alley, the good food, and merchandise, it can be easy to spend a lot of money at the park. But for the quality of your seats and food, there is good value in the money you’re spending. Their ticket prices and food prices are probably above average, but unlike a lot of places you get your money’s worth.

As for access, you have to drive. There is ample parking which leads to a lot of tailgating, but there is no good transportation system getting to the park.

10)- Misc +3

Stats & Info- 1

I have seen better, but all the info needed was present and easy to spot. They went pretty in-depth with player info, going so far as to state their MLB service time.

Out-of-Town Scoreboard- 0

Wasn’t a fan.

Concourse- 1

It was open so I could see the game when getting beer.

Roof- 0

Tradition- 1

The Tomahawk chop!

Personal Opinion- 4/5

As I mentioned at the start, I had low expectations for Turner. But I was amazed with the whole experience. If you want to tailgate, you can do so. If you want to catch BP, you are more than welcome to (and A LOT of balls were hit into the LF seats). If you want to learn about the team history, you can do so. If you want to buy some cool gear, you can do so. If you want good food, you will get it. If you want a good seat, you will have one. Turner Field is a great park worthy of visit for baseball fans.

Overall Score- 79/115

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Atlanta Braves to Get New Stadium

November 13, 2013

In big news this week the Atlanta Braves have announced plans for a new stadium in 2017. With their lease at Turner Field ending in 2016, the Braves will move to Cobb Country, a more suburban outskirt of Atlanta, and demolish Turner Field.

I personally find this to be huge news. Turner Field was built for the 1996 Olympics and the Braves began play there in 1997. That means in 2016 the Braves will have played 19 seasons in Turner Field. Business-wise I think it’s a good move. Despite being a very successful franchise the Braves have had terrible attendance. Moving to Cobb County, an amateur baseball hotbed, could drive attendance. Moreover, if the Braves will be the stadium owners, then they will make a lot of money off rent and other events because the plan is to make the stadium a facility that can host events year round.

But I am concerned about the impact this will have future stadium plans. The 1990s-2000s saw a boom in stadium building. With new stadiums teams do get a honeymoon period for a couple seasons. However, most stadiums are publicly funded and despite the propaganda that is out there, the public does lose financially when they fund new stadiums. If the Braves can get a new stadium so soon after getting another stadium, will other teams try getting new stadiums as well? For example, Jacobs Field is considered a nice stadium and will be 20 years old soon, if it isn’t already. But it’s not a place that can hold events all year and lacks the amount of luxury suites that bring in tons of money for teams. Will these start lobbying for new stadiums so soon after building other stadiums?

My fear is yes. And as stated above, I am concerned because if new stadiums are publicly funded, the local community loses, as stadiums become more and more commercialized as they cater to corporations.

 

Divisional Preview: NL East

March 20, 2011

Not much of a prelude here, the NL East by far is the best division in the National League. The Braves and Phillies are probably the best two teams in the league, and Marlins would be competing for the divisional title in the other two divisions.So lets get to the predictions.

1) Philadelphia Phillies (93-69)

They are the best team in the league, easily in my opinion. Between Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt I just don’t see how they can falter, even if the Braves have a great season. That’s three probable HOF pitchers, still on the top of their game, and another AS-caliber pitcher. They will be contending in just about every single game they play this season. The bullpen may be the team’s weakest point, but it’s not bad enough to be of major concern. Brad Lidge may be Mr. Inconsistent, but Ryan Madson is a good reliever who will make important appearances late in games.

The biggest blow to their title run is the probable loss of Chase Utley. It’s such a shame because Utley has probably been the best player in baseball outside Albert Pujols the past half decade. Yet he never got the MVP hardware he deserved and more than ever it looks like we will never see the 7+ WAR Utley again. Don’t me wrong, the skill is still there, but he has the body of a 70 year old man. I don’t want to say his career is over, because that’s quite dramatic, but it’s on life support in my opinion. Losing Utley is devastating because Polanco and Rollins and Ibanez aren’t young doves anymore, and replacing Jayson Werth with Ben Francisco and a raw Domonic Brown isn’t going to lead to more runs. The offense has been a strong point for the Phillies during their recent power grip on the NL East, but the 2011 version could be their worst offense of the past few seasons.

That said, the Phillies should win the division once again.

Players to watch: Domonic Brown, Shane Victorino

2) Atlanta Braves (90-72)

Although the Phillies appear to be the easy favorites, the Atlanta Braves have a real chance of winning the division. The rotation isn’t as good as the Phillies ungodly rotation, but it’s still one of the best in the NL. Tommy Hanson is a stud, and as long as their healthy, Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe, and Jair Jurrjens make a good 2-4. Moreover, Mike Minor should be a big asset for the Braves at the bottom of the rotation. Last year in nine starts, he had a K rate above 9, a BB rate in the 2s, and an FIP of 3.77. Are those numbers he would have kept up across a full season? Probably not, but the point is the kid is the real deal and I expect big things from him. And despite the loss of Billy Wagner, the bullpen will be a strength once again with Johnny Venters, Craig Kimbrel, Scott Linebrink, etc.

Now here is where I make a bold prediction. The Braves offense will be better than the Phillies offense. Brian McCann is a severely underrated catcher, Freddie Freeman is the favorite to win Rookie of the Year, Uggla is one of the best hitting second baseman in baseball, Chipper Jones can still produce with the bat, Martin Prado is an above average bat, and Jayson Heyward is already an MVP candidate in just his sophomore season.The Braves can get on base, they can slug, and they can score runs.

I don’t think they’ll catch Philadelphia, but they sure will give Philly a run for their money.

Players to watch: Jayson Heyward, Mike Minor

3) Florida Marlins (84-76)

The Marlins will be 2011s biggest surprise. In the NL East they are overshadowed by Philadelphia and Atlanta, but they have a winning roster capable of contending and winning in the NL West and NL Central. The staff is led by Josh Johnson, a stud pitcher who should have won the 2010 Cy Young award if he had not hurt his back. After him, the Marlins have a pair of solid pitchers in Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez. Rounding out the rotation are question marks in Javier Vazquez and Chris Volstad, but if they work out the Marlins will have a tough rotation. Florida also completed a bullpen overhaul in the off-season and now have several good arms to complement Leo Nunez, Clay Hensley, and Burke Badenhop.

The Marlins have a very young offense that has the potential to be scary good in the future, and possibly 2011. They are led by Hanley Ramirez who is already one of the best offensive shortstops in baseball history. Also leading the attack are young players in Gaby Sanchez, Logan Morrison, Chris Coghlan, and power hitter Mike Stanton. They may not have the firepower to hang with Philly and Atlanta, but make no mistake, Florida is a good team.

Players to watch: Mike Stanton, Josh Johnson

New York Mets (79-83)

Ah, the poor old New York Mets. Between the mistakes of Omar Minaya to the Ponzi Scheme, the Mets have become a giant joke in baseball. But with the hiring of Sandy Alderson, the Mets seem serious about making a return to prominence. Unfortunately for Mets fans, that return won’t be in 2011. First off, the rotation is shit considering Johan Santana will miss most of the season. That means the Mets will have to rely on the likes of Mike Pelfrey, RA Dickey, Chris Capuano, Pat Misch, etc. I actually like Jon Niese, but he is not a top of the rotation pitcher. And outside K-Rod, the bullpen isn’t good either.

The lineup is a little bit more potent, but it’s not exactly good. Ike Davis is an up and coming first baseman, and even with “struggles” the past couple years, David Wright is a star player at third. Even Jason Bay could have a good offensive season. But what can they expect from Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, and Angel Pagan? Was Pagan’s 2010 season a fluke? Can Beltran still play? Will Jose Reyes return to his old self? If not, 2011 could be a long and dreary season in Queens.

Players to watch: Jose Reyes, Ike Davis

5) Washington Nationals (69-93)

The future is bright in DC. 2011- not so much. With Bryce Harper figuring to make his debut in 2012 and with Stephen Strasburg ready to return in 2012, the Nationals could soon be a contender. But for now, they are still a last place ball club.

Without Strasburg, the rotation is not good. Jordan Zimmerman has a future, and Tom Gorzelanny is okay, but they will be giving lots of starts to the likes of Livan Hernandez, John Lannan, and Jason Marquis. On a positive note, the bullpen is good, led by Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard, and Sean Burnett.

The lineup should be more potent than the past with the acquisition of Jayson Werth to team up with Ryan Zimmerman, but as a whole the lineup is nothing special. The Nationals are hoping Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa can emerge as good everyday players, but they may still experience growing pains in 2011.

Players to watch: Ryan Zimmerman, Jordan Zimmerman

 

Dan Uggla staying in Atlanta for a long time

January 5, 2011

He signed a 5/$62mil extension today.

I do not like this deal for Atlanta. Sure, he is coming off a 5.1 fWAR season, but the Braves will be paying him a fair amount of money for his age 31-35 seasons. Granted he might still be good NOW, but come 2013 and beyond, I can’t say with confidence he will still be a worthwhile player. At $12.4mil per year, it means Uggla will pretty need to be a 2-3 WAR player throughout the contract. There’s a chance that might happen. But there’s also a chance he is dreadful in a couple years.

So far in over 3300 career games Uggla has a 3.9 WAR/700, but in my opinion his production could get ugly. He has always been an offensive player. His career wRC+ is 121. But his defense is putrid- his fielding value is -22. As he gets older, I can only imagine that will get worse and when I say worse, I mean bad enough to shave a complete win off his value. Moreover, I can only imagine his offensive production will dip sometime soon as he enters his mid-thirties. Considering offense is the one thing lifting his value, that could be his nail in the coffin. If the offense dips, Uggla goes from a 3-4 WAR player to a 1 WAR who will be paid $12.4mil.

Atlanta is taking a chance here, hoping Uggla will continue to hit and hit and hit. I have tough time believing his bat won’t be slowing down in 2013when he is 33 years old or 2015 when he is 35 years old. In my opinion, the smart move would have been to try and win a playoff spot with him this season, and then turn him loose and receive two draft picks. After the 2011 season, former Braves in Kelly Johnson and Omar Infante may be free agents. They could bring them in on a shorter term deal for less money and get similar production.

Is Andruw Jones a Hall of Famer?

December 31, 2010

Fangraphs asks the question. My answer is a resounding, YES, YES, YES!

I believe to be eligible you need to have a 10+ year playing career.

Jones was a great player for about 10-11 consecutive seasons. There are several players in the HOF who have had less consecutive and less total great seasons.

He should be in.

From 1998-2006, nine seasons, he had 7 seasons where his WAR was above the MVP level of 6.0. The other two years? 5.4 and 5.8. Yeah, so he essentially was an MVP caliber player for a straight nine seasons. In 1997 and 2007 he was in the 3 WAR range, which is good.

A center fielder who hit .338/.488/.353(OBP/SLG/wOBA) with a career fielding score of 274! 274!

You can’t judge players on recent performance, which is what you’d be doing with Andruw Jones if you don’t vote him in.

Sure, it would have helped his cause had he been productive in his thirties, but he did more than enough during his twenties.

Even if you use rWAR, he still has a career 60 WAR and 240 defensive value. People don’t think his offensive numbers are too great, but for a center fielder they are good (if not as good as contemporaries in Griffey and Edmonds) and his defensive numbers are INSANE.

The HOF median WAR for hitters is 58. The median WAE is 21.5. The median WAM is 2.6. Jones has an fWAR of 70.5, well above the HOF median. His WAE is 35.5, well above the HOF median. His WAM is 7.6, well above the HOF median. And WAM wouldn’t include two seasons of exactly 6.0 WAR.

If this doesn’t persuade you, then I don’t know what will. So I will end with two graphs to summarize everything. The graphs compare Jones to fellow center field contemporaries, who I also believe are HOF’ers: KGIII, Jim Edmonds, and Kenny Lofton.

 

 

Cliff Lee is a Philadelphia Phillie

December 14, 2010

WOW. This might be the biggest off-season news story in baseball history. For real.

 

5 years and $100mil. $20mil per year. Yeah.

 

Not only is this out of left field, but it’s a STEAL for Philadelphia.

 

If you recall, I thought he could be worth as much as $147.5mil over five years or around $29mil per season. So Philly is saving ~$9mil per year in projected value or $47.5mil total. This is groundbreaking.

Does this give Philly the best rotation of all-time? Maybe, maybe not. The 1990s Braves had an okay staff. But we’re looking at three Hall of Fame pitchers, still pitching as if in their prime, and a fourth pitcher who could be a Hall of Famer one day. Simply amazing.

I thought Boston was going to be clear World Series favorites, but if Philly doesn’t win it all, they should all have to retire. But for real, I will myself when Boston and Philly play in the World Series.

The thing is, it’s such a good deal. If he signed in Philly for 7/$161mil or whatever deal the Yanks offered, it wouldn’t be so great. But it’s 5/$100mil. That is well below his market value. Wow.

Cliff Lee needs to enter the Witness Protection Program. He is the most hated person in the MLBPU. They  might hire people to do bodily harm to Lee.

 

As for the Yanks, sell sell sell on 2011. Stock up for 2012 and beyond when the Killer B’s and other top prospects are ready. Trade Nick Swisher while his value is high. 2011 is a lost cause.

We better get Russell Martin so this off-season isn’t a total lost cause. He could regain his past power and become an All-Star again. If not, he is the perfect person to split time with Jesus Montero and since we won’t compete in 2011, it allows us to take it slow with Montero.

Worst off-season ever.

The Florida Marlins busy day

November 17, 2010

The Florida Marlins stole the headlines today by trading All-Star second baseman Dan Uggla to the Atlanta Braves, and then reaching the verge of signing John Buck to a 3/$18mil deal.

Yeah, so lets start with the Buck potential signing to get it out of the way. Buck seemed destined for Boston, or even the Bronx, but will be landing in South Beach at $6mil per year. That’s about fair for him. He will just need to be average for three seasons in order to be worth the deal. However, the deal is kind of a head scratcher. It’s “only” $6mil a year, but currently he will have the third highest contract on the team. It’s also the team’s biggest FA signing since Carlos Delgado in 2005. So yeah, they “opened the bank” for John Buck. Why? By trading Uggla and potential in Cameron Maybin, it doesn’t seem like the team is desperately trying to compete in 2011, so there is no need for a veteran catcher, especially one that will be their third most expensive player. Moreover, he is a Type B free agent, which means he cost them a draft pick. So I am not a fan of the free agent signing.

Now onto the bigger news: the Dan Uggla trade. In return, they got Omar Infante and Mike Dunn. Wow. Uggla isn’t amazing, but he is better than Omar Infante and Mike Dunn. So if money was a non-issue, they would take Dan Uggla to be on their team over those two. In reality, the Marlins are picking up $6mil a year now from the Buck trade, and $2.5mil from Omar Infante, who will be gone after the season, and about $500k from Dunn. That’s $9mil for 2011. Uggla rejected a deal that would have paid him $12mil in 2011. So let’s say Uggla would have been willing to take $14mil a year. That’s $5mil a year more. For the Marlins, that is a big deal. Plus, they would be out Infante’s contract of 2011 and only owe Buck $12mil more. Uggla would have cost about an additional $42mil over three years, at which point he may not producing at a clip that is worth $42mil.

So trading Uggla makes sense, if you ask me. But I don’t know if they got the best return. They could have let Uggla walk and received two draft picks. That would be close to or around $10mil. Instead they are getting one year of Infante. Lets say he repeats his 2010 and has a 2.5 WAR season worth about $12mil. But take away his contract and his net value is $9.5mil. Or you can keep Uggla. Lets say he produces a 4 WAR season worth $18mil. Then in arbitration he will make about $14mil using the 40/60/80 scale. So, that’s a surplus of $4mil for the Marlins. But Uggla will net them two draft picks of about $10mil in value. So Uggla’s total value is $14mil, compared to $9.5 for Infante. So the smart move is to keep Uggla, or trade him for a value greater than $14mil.

It doesn’t look like the Marlins did that. Sorry, Marlin fan.