Chipper Jones to retire after this year

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Chipper Jones swing.jpgUPDATE: O’Brien Reports that Jones is meeting with Bobby Cox and GM Frank Wren today and that afterward he will address the media.  It seems apparent that announcing his retirement is the purpose of the meeting and press conference.

11:00 A.M.: David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution just tweeted that, while unconfirmed, Chipper Jones has told people that he’s going to retire at the end of the season.

This would not shock me. He already made noises about this last season and earlier this season, and he has been a non-factor as the Braves have climbed into first place in the NL East.  When he has played Jones has hit .228/.375/.341.  His primary replacement, Omar Infante, has hit .314/.351/.387.

It would be one thing if the Braves were playing terrible baseball — maybe Jones would feel like he was badly needed or something — but any sensible person in Jones’ position would realize that, however hard it is to admit, the Braves simply don’t need his production anymore.  And though I respect Chipper Jones as a player and am grateful for all of his accomplishments on the field, I look at the $26 million he’s owed for 2011 and 2012 and wonder just how much the team could be improved if it was devoted to finding an outfielder or two. I bet he thinks about that too. At least when he’s not thinking about how nice it would be to spend more time fishing and stuff.

Still no official word from Jones or the team, of course, but let’s speculate about a couple of things.  First point of speculation is not exactly a stretch: if Jones retires after this year, he joins Ken Griffey Jr. as a first-time inductee in 2016.  I think this is a lock. He’s one of the top third basemen of all time, he has an MVP Award, a World Series ring, a reputation for coming up big in big situations, he’s never been accused of PED use and he was the one offensive constant (or at least near-constant) for the Braves’ run of division titles.  I’ll take — and subsequently dismiss — counterarguments in the comments.

Second bit of speculation, but much, much wilder: Chipper Jones gets named as the Braves’ new manager next year.  OK, maybe that needs about ten more “wilds” in front of it, but he’s been at Bobby Cox’s right hand for the past 16 or 17 seasons, he’s smart, and he has what seems like the right kind of temperament to handle the job.

Does he have the desire? Hell if I know, but at least it gives us something to talk about while we wait for Jones and/or the team to either confirm or deny O’Brien’s report.

Swanson, Olson go deep vs Scherzer, Braves take NL East lead

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ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered off Max Scherzer, lifting the Atlanta Braves to a crucial 4-2 victory Saturday night over the New York Mets and a one-game lead in the NL East.

The defending World Series champions beat aces Jacob deGrom and Scherzer on consecutive nights to take their biggest lead of the season in the division. New York, which held a 10 1/2-game cushion on June 1, faces its biggest deficit of the year with four games remaining.

Atlanta will try for a three-game sweep Sunday night, with the winner earning the season-series tiebreaker between the teams. Even though both teams are headed to the postseason, that’s important because the NL East champion gets a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Swanson’s 24th homer, a go-ahead, two-run shot in the fifth inning, touched off a frenzy among the sold-out crowd at Truist Park, the ball sailing a few rows up into the seats in left-center to make it 3-2. Olson hit his 32nd homer in the sixth, a solo shot into Chop House seats in right to put Atlanta up 4-2.

Austin Riley led off the fourth with a double and scored on Olson’s single to make it 1-all.

Kyle Wright (21-5) gave up two runs and seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts in five innings as he won his eighth straight decision. The Braves have won 16 of his last 17 starts.

New York went up 2-1 in the fifth when Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil hit consecutive two-out singles.

The Mets led 1-0 in the first when Brandon Nimmo singled, advanced on a walk and a single and scored on Eduardo Escobar‘s groundout. Wright, who threw 30 pitches in the first, stranded two runners in scoring position to prevent further damage.

Scherzer (11-5) allowed a first-inning single to Riley and a third-inning infield single to Ronald Acuna Jr., who advanced to third on a fielding error by Lindor at shortstop but was stranded when Michael Harris II lined out to center. Scherzer patted his glove and pumped his fist as he walked off the mound.

Scherzer was charged with nine hits and four runs with no walks and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings as the Mets were knocked out of first place for only the third day all season.

The Braves have won five of the last six against New York to tie the season series 9-all, outscoring the Mets 37-16 over that stretch.

Atlanta’s bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA in September, got a perfect inning from Dylan Lee in the sixth. Jesse Chavez faced four batters in the seventh, Raisel Iglesias faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his NL-leading 39th save in 46 chances.

Since the Braves were a season low-tying four games under .500 at 23-27 after play on May 31, they have gone 76-32, tying the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the majors over that span. They were a season-worst 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Mets on June 1.

Wright, the only 20-game winner in baseball this season, hasn’t officially become the first Braves pitcher to lead the league in wins outright since Russ Ortiz had 21 in 2003, but the Dodgers’ Julio Urias has 17 and can’t reach 20 before the regular season ends.

Wright will become the first Braves pitcher since Hall of Famer Tom Glavine in 2000 to lead the majors in wins. Houston ace Justin Verlander also has 17.

Wright began the game 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in six career starts and one relief appearance against the Mets.

The Braves, who got homers from Riley, Olson and Swanson off deGrom on Friday, lead the NL with 240 homers.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. Manager Buck Showalter said Marte is experiencing less pain but not enough to take the next step in his recovery. Marte has been sidelined since Sept. 7.

Braves: RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique. Manager Brian Snitker said there is no timetable for the rookie’s return. Strider has been sidelined since Sept. 21.

NICE GLOVE

Harris ran back and jumped to catch Nimmo’s fly against the wall in center field for the first out of the third.

UP NEXT

Mets RHP Chris Bassitt (15-8, 3.27 ERA) will face RHP Charlie Morton (9-6, 4.29) as the teams conclude a three-game series.