Covering the Atlanta Braves Bases: Chris Sale, Jesse Chavez and Trade Targets

Sean Murphy blasted a 449-foot homer during a rehab assignment that could have served as a warning shot to the rest of the league. The Atlanta Braves are 27-18 despite an all-hitting, no-hay offense. What will happen when power is restored? Let’s explore in this Braves briefing, where Athleticism National reporters and columnists weigh in on the path forward for Atlanta.

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Power Rankings: The Atlanta Braves are #5

For this week’s Power Rankings, we’ve selected each team’s most influential prospect who could debut this season. Although we generally avoided prospects who had already reached the majors, a few standouts were included.

Save: 27-17 (from Tuesday morning)
Latest power ranking: 2

Prospect to watch: RHP Hurston Waldrep

Atlanta’s starting rotation contains a Spencer Strider-sized hole. (Extra points if someone can fill out the mustache.) Bryce Elder has struggled in the majors. Neither Dylan Dodd nor AJ Smith-Shawver wowed observers in the minors. So maybe Waldrep, a 2023 first-round pick, can make a big jump from his current position in Double-A Mississippi. It has a nasty splitter, which facilitates a fastball with excellent velocity but poor movement. The splitter might be enough to earn a big league audition unless the Braves try to fill that Strider-sized hole at the trade deadline. — Andy McCullough

Latest successes

ICYMI, our national writers have given their thoughts on what they’re hearing and seeing

1. The tourist guide

In Tyler Kepner’s weekly Sliders column, he detailed a Braves reliever who seems well-qualified to serve as a ballpark guide.

It seemed unlikely that Jesse Chavez would set foot in a major league clubhouse, much less dozens of them. Chavez, who turns 41 in August, entered pro football as a 42nd-round pick of the Texas Rangers in 2002 — and he’s still here, filling in for the Atlanta Braves.

Jesse Chavez knows which stadium clubhouse has a complete book of Nintendo and Super Nintendo games. (Kyle Ross / USA Today)

As the oldest player in the National League, Jesse Chavez had an appropriate response when recently asked to name his favorite MLB club: “Anyone with a nap room,” he replied. laughing near his locker at Citi Field. Chavez travels with hip-high recovery boots for his legs, and when he puts them on, he thinks, why not doze off?

However, during his waking hours, Chávez is a keen observer. He played for nine teams (including three separate tours with Atlanta) and pitched in 34 ballparks, retaining vivid memories of each clubhouse.

Some are close to the action, like in Milwaukee, where the clubhouse door opens directly into the dugout. Others are remote, like the old Metrodome in Minneapolis, with 33 steps and a hallway separating the clubhouse and dugout. Some offer cheesesteaks (Philadelphia), others offer haircuts (Miami) — and some (like Anaheim, Chavez says) need an overhaul.

Here’s a five-stop behind-the-scenes tour of a tough right-hander:

Wrigley Field, Chicago: “It’s a maze. You don’t want to forget anything up there. And you also need to take care of your head. I had a blown save there once – it stinks that you can get a blown save when you get an out, giving up someone else’s run – but I had one, and I was (upset). I was going up the tunnel to get angry in the clubhouse, and boom, I screwed up. I hit him pretty hard and turned around and said, “I can’t be mad anymore. »

Comerica Park, Detroit: “When I got hit in the shin last year, it was in Detroit. That was the worst – phew. I couldn’t put any pressure on my leg and it ended up being a microfracture. There’s a lot of stairs there and the (chairlift) wasn’t working, so (coach) Sal Fasano had to carry me. I am 180 years old. He could carry me up there with one arm. Maybe a finger.

National Park, Washington: “In the canteen, they have these old photos. We actually take all the younger kids on the team there and try to guess each one. They have a little lounge area, a TV room with a sofa, it’s nice. They also hold good memories, but they took away a lot of that when people started taking them away.

Progressive Field, Cleveland: “We play Golden Tee at home all the time, and in Cleveland they have all these games. If you want, they have a complete book of Nintendo and Super Nintendo games. You can buy the consoles from (the clubhouse manager) and he will bring the games to you the next day.

Oracle Park, San Francisco: “Luis Gonzalez once put a golf ball in the pot of chili, just to see if it would still be there on the day of the getaway – and it was. And then I guess when they came back to play them again, of course, it was still there. Now on top of the pot of chili there is a golf ball.

2. Jim Bowden has the answers

Jim Bowden, a national writer for Athleticism and former MLB Executive of the Year, answered 20 reader questions about the trade deadline. And the Braves were a hot topic:

For an underperforming but loaded roster, in what areas are the Braves trying to improve without mixing things up too much? — Matthew P. … What are the chances the Braves shake something up with their starting nine if they continue to underperform? -Josh R.

The Braves’ biggest need is another starting pitcher. A huge hole was created when they lost Spencer Strider to season-ending elbow surgery. They could also use an additional reliever. In terms of player position, they are good enough to win the World Series as is. There’s no chance they’re going to shake up their core from nine, nor should they.

Zach Eflin emerges as a potential trade target. Who else could be on the list? (Michael McLoone / USA Today)

Aside from Zach Eflin, what are some realistic starting pitcher trade options that the Braves can pursue? -Justin F.

Jesús Luzardo of the Marlins, Erick Fedde of the White Sox, JP Sears of the A’s, Tyler Anderson and Patrick Sandoval of the Angels, Jack Flaherty of the Tigers, Chris Bassitt of the Blue Jays and Luis Severino of the Mets.

3. The legendary “fire station” shot from a Brave of yesteryear

Oddibe McDowell played for the Braves in 1989 and 1990, hitting 14 homers in 585 at-bats over two seasons. But years earlier, he won one that left him with a story to tell. Our own Steve Buckley caught up with McDowell for this story about legendary racetracks across America. McDowell’s contribution to long ball history dates back to Veterans Field in Chatham, Massachusetts on June 26, 1984.

Former major league outfielder Oddibe McDowell, now in his 10th season as baseball coach at McArthur High School in his hometown of Hollywood, Fla., apologized for only having a few minutes to talk, as training begins soon. But when asked about the home run he hit for the 1984 U.S. Olympic baseball team to settle problems in an exhibition game against the All-Stars of the Cape Cod League, McDowell responded in a way that made it seem like he wasn’t present. I’m in no hurry.

“Oh, the fire station,” he said over the phone, laughing softly.

Oddibe McDowell scored at Candlestick Park in 1990, but it was nothing compared to his 502-foot blast years earlier. (Focus on sports / Getty Images)

Yes, the fire station. And then McDowell recounted an anecdote from a few years ago about a friend who was planning a trip to Chatham, Massachusetts, a small tourist town on the southeastern tip of Cape Cod.

“I told him, ‘Ask people about the home run I hit toward the fire station,'” McDowell said. “I told him I played there once and caught a ball and it went a long way.

How far away was the shot? Helping with this story is a dream team of Cape Cod League stalwarts, including league historian Mike Richard, longtime publicist John Garner, Chatham Anglers president Steve West and field manager Robby Grenier – joined by retired Chatham Fire Department Chief Pete Connick – participated. on a mission to measure the distance of McDowell’s home run. They started at home plate, continued past the 357 sign in right center and stopped where the ball is believed to have skipped into the old fire station. Their discovery: 502 feet.

(For the full story, click here.)

Viral moment of the week

Do you remember this guy? This swing looks familiar, and he should return to Atlanta soon.

baseball beat

Our beatwriter David O’Brien has selected what you need to know

Did you catch this?

Last summer, when MLB announced the 2023 All-Star rosters, the Braves dominated the selections. Eight players – eight! – made the initial cut. There’s no chance of that happening again this year since the Braves’ All-Star roster looks like a trio of Chris Sale, Reynaldo López and Marcell Ozuna.

But Sale’s performance, in particular, looks so strong that teammate Charlie Morton suggested the southpaw could be aiming for a different type of elite company. Morton thinks the sale could end in Cooperstown.

As O’Brien wrote:

After making just 56 starts from 2019-2023 and going 17-18 with a 4.16 ERA over that span, Sale is back throwing fastballs in the mid-to-high 90 mph range, completing a slider about as devastating as any pitch in the majors.

“I mean, he’s pretty mean,” Morton said, smiling and confirming that, yes, he meant the Hall of Fame promotion. “You look at the body of work and you look at the way he throws the ball. … He’s one of my favorite pitchers – of my generation, he’s one of the guys I really looked forward to watching pitch. And having him as a teammate is pretty cool.

When Sale was traded to the Braves in exchange for prospect Vaughn Grissom in late December, he didn’t worry but instead focused his attention on doing everything he could to prepare to help a team that has done much more victories and competitions in recent years. than the Red Sox. He signed a two-year, $38 million extension with the Braves a week after the trade, with both sides showing commitment and the deal giving Sale a chance to focus solely on pitching and not to worry about where he might be in a year.

Field notes

And now, a little word from the comments section

(Top photo by Chris Sale: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)