I’ve been down lately too. I admit that. But when I’m in an “average” mood, I can see this team for what it’s worth.
They are clearly underperforming.Yeah, yeah, whatever about the hitting up to norms. What is a norm anyway? You can’t throw in a person’s career year and their worst year and average out the rest and come up with what is expected. How a player should hit and how they should throw is based on what you EXPECT them do do according to their age, what they have done lately, and a few environmental factors (new team, new league, new position, whatever).
I think it can get really complicated doing an analysis player-by-player so I’m not going to do it, but I’ll throw out a few highlights.
I think Jeff Francouer can do a bit better. He has had a better approach this season so I think he’ll do better as the season goes along. He won’t hit like a RF is supposed to but if he does better than last season, then the Braves will definitely benefit.
I believe Kotchman is capable of a lot more. I think he will have a break out season: Most homers and best average he has ever had. No, he’s not the best first baseman the Braves could ever have or had, but given the entire make up of the team, he isn’t bad.
Not sure about centerfield. It may turn out that Schafer is sent down eventually. With that many strikeouts and with him seemingly swinging for the fences every time up there, he needs some “conditioning” at another level. I’ve seen Chipper take plenty of easy swings to get on base so why can’t Schafer? I have yet to see him EVER put bat on ball. He has been getting walks though but that could be because he is hitting 8th and pitchers aren’t giving him anything to hit. At least he is smart enough to take pitches. I’ll give him that.
Garret Anderson is not horrible. I don’t think he’s that great either but hey, we didn’t get this guy to push this team over the top and into the World Series. Clearly, he is a stop gap, and a guy that fills a position to keep our team from looking like complete FOOLs this season. He’ll come around. .290-.300 with 12-15 homers is not terrible. Look at what he is doing now. No way that he finishes the season like this.
As far as the rest of the team, just continue to perform as expected.
The Braves offense wasn’t bad last year. Didn’t hit many homers but they did finish pretty well in run scored—which isn’t bad playing in Turner Field. So with the additions and if Frenchy can do better than last year, the offense should be okay. Lack of team speed is a serious issue and I’m really not sure why we don’t bring in someone like Tim Raines or Joe Morgan (or whoever was a good base stealer) and teach this team how to get good leads and steal. Virtually anyone can steal a few bases—even the slowest of the slow if they simply learn how to do it.
I can name several lumbering oafs have a few stolen bases in their careers. Adam Dunn has 59 stolen bases and has only been caught 20 times. That’s a 75% career stolen base %. Not bad. By the way, he is batting .310 so far this season. Career year perhaps?
Bunting runners over to me is dumb. That’s an out and a team that relies on hitting singles needs every out because eventually someone is going to make contact. I’d rather try to hit and run every single time someone is on. This team has a lot of guys who can make contact so why not run and swing away??
The only two players in the line up who strike out too much are Franceour and Johnson—which is one big reason why he should be batting 8th not 1st or 2nd!! Despite this, Frenchy can put the bat on the ball with runners on—where it counts. You know it, I know it. Yunel, Chipper, Kotchman, McCann, and Garret Anderson don’t strike out an extraordinary amount. So why not hit and run?
Anyway, I think the team is going to do fine with the offense in the end.
I’m really not worried about making the playoffs. As others have said, this team ain’t built for winning it all. But hey, it’s possible that the team could be playing in October. Why not? Everyone else in the National League has glaring holes and the Braves have a pretty decent starting staff and they tend to finish well with replacements.
That’s the key. Last year they had NO ONE to bring up. This year this team has more weapons. I’m betting Glavine puts in a decent season—not the Glavine of old but good enough for #5. Which would be better: Reyes at 0-8 or Glavine at 4-4? I think he could do it with a 4.50 ERA. Of course we also have Hanson and Medlen just waitin’ to come up as well. Anyone with a sub-2.00 ERA in AAA generally does well in the majors.
Then we have Hudson coming back in August, but even if he doesn’t come back until 2010, that’s okay with me. At least we will have 8 starters to pick from. We can trade whomever we don’t need for some power in the line up.
As far as the bullpen, at least Soriano is doing very well, Gonzales seems to be getting better, and Moylan is coming around. The rest are so-so, but frankly every team has a bullpen at least 2-3 guys who may not belong in the majors. Man, look at the Phillies pitching staff. Yikes. That’s why I think they aren’t going to win squat this year. They just do not have any pitching at all.
We could bring up a pitcher or two to make up for whoever is going to bomb—like Bennett. I’m just waiting for the bottom to drop out. You can’t have a 2+ WHIP and maintain a 2.20 ERA for long. Anyway, how would it look with Soriano, Gonzales, Moylan, and Medlen? Pretty sweet huh?
AT LEAST WE NO LONGER HAVE BOYER ANYMORE! THANK GOD! What the hell was Bobby thinking in ST this year???
Now with all that… I haven’t even gotten to the defense. This team does not seem to have any serious liabilities in the field. Not many spectacular players but plenty of guys who don’t make big mistakes. Man, look at the Mets. What is with David Wright?
So all in all, I think this team COULD win the division. I’m not counting on it, but if everything works out well, if we even get average seasons from everyone, the team could do it. 85-90 wins perhaps? Remember: Do not look at this team now and think 85-90 wins—look at the team we could have in a month or two (see above).
Who knows, maybe this team will end up making a trade or two to shore up some positions. Potentially, the Braves could trade Johnson since he is wearing out his welcome since we have Prado. Yeah, whatever about the supersub designation. We need hitting in the line up and this guy is so impressive, I just can’t see him being out of the line up. He can hit! Could potentially trade Franceour but I doubt it will happen—but you never know. We have a few AAA pitchers combined with Johnson & Frenchy, could make for an interesting trade or two. We really need a guy in the middle of this line up to shore things up. If that happened, I would put Escobar at #1 then Kotchman or Prado at #2.
Then what do we do about Chipper when he goes out? Eh… Don’t know… ;-)