We’re about two weeks into the season now, and this is an interesting time. It’s not a time where you are starting to plan your fire sale (get off the ledge Brad Mills), and you also aren’t handing out any rings just yet. However, it is just far enough to where you can kind of make snap judgments. Things that you are pretty sure are accurate, but you wouldn’t bet your soul on it. I’ve made a couple of snap judgments so far. I have based these things off of spring training, the first 9 games, gut feelings, peer pressure, and prior knowledge of our organization. These are the facts...I think
1. Takashi Saito is good.-------I owe this man an apology. Whenever we signed Takashi Saito this offseason, I completely wrote him off. More than that, I was in an uproar. I hated Mike Gonzalez, but I was a big fan of Soriano. He had powerful stuff; only problem was you never knew if you were gonna get Automatic Raf or Sorry-ano. Still, I liked him in the bullpen, maybe not as full time closer, but still in a Braves uniform. And then we signed Saito, who was practically double his age, to take over? My expectations were lower than George Bush’s IQ. However, after two weeks, I’m ready and excited to admit that I was wrong. Through the first five games he’s been in he has looked like the guy that racked up almost 40 saves with Los Angeles a few years back. If this is a sign of things to come, then I’m definitely excited about every 8th inning the rest of the season.
2. Jason Heyward is seriously legit.-----Yes. I realize this is the equivalent of saying circles are round and getting set on fire sucks, but despite all the jokes and Jason Heyward facts, none of us really knew what to expect from him, or at least what was appropriate to expect. But this guy is good enough to make me start of this snap judgment sounding like a 15 year old girl. Barring something devastating, he’ll be the rookie of the year with enough votes to hold over and win it next year too, and may even get slight consideration for the MVP. That walk off today…I can’t even describe it. I mean I’ve literally typed then deleted 8 analogies because they wouldn’t do it justice. He has killer patience, and is doing an amazing job driving in runs at the bottom of the order. He’s probably gonna strike out a lot, but that’s too be expected, and if the past few games are any indication, he’ll stop biting on the breaking ball soon, and more than likely start making contact. Fasten your seatbelts folks…this is going to be one heck of a ride.
3. We are going to have to make a trade for a lead off hitter.------As a semi-professional comedian, I like to think I know what’s funny and what isn’t. I have this one joke that I love to tell. Unfortunately, people never laugh. They usually don’t get it, and if they do, they don’t find it funny. It tears me up inside cause I really like it, but it just isn’t effective. Much like our other outfielders not named Heyward. Since the rest of the line-up is doing extremely well, except the eight hole which is also one of those other three guys, and we don’t really have anyone in the minors who seems capable of filling the lead off role, we are gonna have to deal for someone. I don’t know who, I don’t know how, I don’t know when, but at some point in time we are going to have to face facts. We need a lead off hitter and we simply don’t have one on our roster. We’ve got a great line-up from 2-8, but we can’t get the lead off guy on ever, and not just when he’s leading off. I assume we’d have to trade off one of those three outfielders to get one, which kind of stinks cause for the most part I enjoy all three of them, but if they aren’t gonna get the job done, then we’ll have to deal them and get a guy who can get on base. Problem is, there aren’t too many leadoff hitting out fielders that are available for trade. This is why video games have the “Create a Player” feature.
4. Unless the Braves win the World Series this year Chipper Jones will be back next season.---The guy I grew up idolizing, who most people have just reduced to Old Man Jones, has been playing his heart out early on this season. HE DOVE FOR A BALL THE OTHER NIGHT! I defy you to find video proof of him ever doing that before. I’m not talking about laying out for a grounder either. I mean giving the body up to try to snag a ball. He’s been running really well, scored twice from first base, and has two stolen bases! He doesn’t have great numbers yet, but he’s trying, and had two hits today. I do think that if we win it all this year, he’ll hang up the cleats with Bobby, he’d have to, it’d be a great story and a great ending to two storied careers, but assuming we don’t, he’ll be back.
5. Yunel Escobar misses Javier Vasquez----It was great to see Javy and Yunel bond last year, and also pretty obvious to see how he mentored him and helped him to mature. So far this year, Yunel seems a bit off. I’m not even talking about performance wise, although he hasn’t been spot on there either. He seems mentally off. He may not miss Javy, he may just be frustrated trying to learn English, he may be upset with hitting the ball hard right at someone every time, he also very well could be upset with the guy who gave him that hair cut. I don’t know. But if I had to guess, I’d say not having the mentor in Vasquez is affecting him pretty negatively. Let’s hope someone else, possibly a guy like Eddie Perez, reaches out to him and mentors him up a bit.