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Talking Chop Answers Some Questions From AN

Happy Friday! In honor of the A's and Braves series this weekend, gondeee over at the Atlanta Braves site, Talking Chop, and I have exchanged a few quick Q&A's for your reading pleasure. I thought it would be nice to start looking forward to a new series. My questions are in bold; his answers below. I hope you enjoy!

1) Tim Hudson has been a fan favorite in Oakland ever since his major league debut. What is the general feel about him in Atlanta? And do you consider him an 'injury risk' like we always did?

He was mysteriously ineffective his second year in Atlanta, but if there's one constant it is that he's been healthy, so I don't think anyone here really considers him an injury risk (knock on wood). He's been our best (and most uninjured) pitcher this year and he's pretty much the ace of our staff -- I think most Atlanta fans feel good about that. He's signed for another two years, at what may turn out to be a very affordable price. Tim really fits right in -- it feels kind of like he's always been a Brave.

2) When the A's parted ways with Mark Kotsay, it was widely assumed that his career was all but over. How did Atlanta fans feel about his acquisition, and how do they feel about his start this year?

When we acquired Kotsay -- for what seemed like a pretty hefty price-- the headline on my site was "Kotsay it Ain't So!" I wrote quite a bit of negative things about the trade, and most Braves fans agreed. I think many of us thought his career was almost over as well. But the more I watch Kotsay, the more I like him. I don't Andruw-Jones-like him, I don't Tim-Hudson-like him, I don't know if I really even J-D-Drew-like him, but I like his hustle and his bat has been a pleasant surprise so far this year. Now, Jamie Kotsay on the other hand, I was very excited about acquiring.....

3) How do you feel about the rumors of Smoltz coming back as a closer when he gets off the DL?

I just want him to be healthy. Whether or not he's relieving or starting, if he's healthy, then he'll be our most effective pitcher.If he does come back as our closer for the rest of the year and Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez come back from surgery, then we will likely have the best bullpen on the planet. I would say though, that we need him more as a starter, and I would prefer he return in that role. (By the way, today is John Smoltz' 41st birthday.)

4) What do you think of your new GM?

He likes to make trades. He has put together a good team with a lot of depth, and that depth, especially in the rotation and bullpen, is really paying off right now. He's probably done about all he can do from the GM's box, now it's up to Cox and the players to make the team on the field win like they're supposed to win on paper.

5) What is your overall feeling about the Braves this season, and their chances in the NL East? How glad are you that the Braves did not re-sign Andruw Jones? Will they sign Teixeira (a favorite of mine)? Should they? Are there any minor league prospects you would like to see come up? What do you think would improve their season?

The Braves so far have vastly underachieved and have let a lot of games slip away. Their record in one-run games is atrocious and a point of great frustration for us the fans. I think every Braves fan knew we weren't going to resign Andruw, and most of us believed he would continue the downward spiral he began two years ago (and so far,we're right). I think if Andruw was out of our price range, then Tex certainly is -- Boras will make sure of it, and there'll be some other owner who's willing to break the bank for the prize slugger of next year's free agent market. I have never been a fan of committing somuch money to one player, especially one with a history of injuries. As for minor leaguers who could help the Braves, you know we're a lot like the A's in our never ending supply of minor league talent. You may actually get to see the major league debut one of our young starters, Charlie Morton, with the way Chuck James is pitching rightnow. We just promoted our top young pitcher, Tommy Hanson, to double-A, so he may not be more than a year away from the majors, but I'm more than anxious to see him. Jordan Schafer will probably take over for Kotsay next year, and when he returns from suspension he may get a look this year. Infielder Brent Lillibridge may get some more major league time later in the season, and we still have another Jones(Brandon) who is a second half player.