Monday, February 28, 2011

So Spring Training Started?

So according to one or two articles I’ve read online, apparently Spring Training started recently. You could have fooled me as I look outside and still see a foot of snow on the ground. So it was a bit odd watching the Braves play the Mets in sunny Florida on tv while my heater was on full blast.

The one thing that’s starting to get me in the baseball mood is planning this season’s trips. Being a Braves fan in Upstate, NY means you really have to plan ahead to see your team play. Right now I’m looking at 1 or 2 games against the Nationals in DC during opening weekend, 2 or 3 games at Turner Field in June, 2 or 3 games against the Cubs in Chicago in August and probably a couple games against the Mets in New York throughout the season (that’s really the only same-day trip to see the team play). The Gwinnett Braves also play in Syracuse in August, so I’m hoping to catch a game or two there, as well.

But until the regular season starts, Spring Training will hold my attention from afar. Over the first few games, I’ve been pleased with how the regulars are doing and have been happy to see Nate McLouth start off strong. Outside of seeing how some of the prospects play, here are the main questions I have for the next month:

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What's The Deal With Barbaro Canizares?

Ever since I really started following Braves prospects a few years ago (instead of simply being aware of who the top up-and-comers were), the one player whose situation has puzzled me the most is 1B/DH Barbaro Canizares. The Cuban defector was signed by the Braves in early 2006 and has spent nearly his entire career in the team's minor league system.

Taking a look at some of his stats and accolades, without any preconceived thoughts, we see that Canizares put up a .341/.403/.504 line last year with 13 HR and 77 RBI in 425 AB with the Triple A Gwinnett Braves. That .341 average was tops in the International League (3 guys were next closest at .319, including some guy named Freddie Freeman) and was named to his third consecutive IL All-Star team (3 post-season selections, 2 mid-season selections). And don't think this was a one-year fluke. His 4 season Triple A slash is .314/.374/.458, almost dead equal with his career (5 seasons) minor league line of .314/.375/.455. The guy doesn't strike out much (about 12% of his Triple A plate appearances) and has remained relatively consistent throughout his career (his worst OPS in 4 Triple A seasons was .785 in 2008).

And Barbaro continues to impress in the off-season. He led his Obergon Mexican Pacific winter team to the league title and a berth in the Caribbean Series, hitting .320 with 12 HR and 45 RBI in just 56 games. Canizares stepped it up in the seven-game championship series, mashing 2 HR and adding 8 RBI. Sounds like a decent player, right? Especially for a team that hasn't had much to get excited about at 1B over the past handful of season (this year being the exception, of course).