Well, that was a productive weekend, wasn't it? After heading into Miami on the cusp of a historically bad winless start in franchise history, Atlanta not only picked up their first victory of the season, but they ended up getting a sweep of the Marlins as well. The Braves were unable to hold on to a first-inning 4-0 lead as the game ended up heading into extras, but Mallex Smith was able to break the deadlock with an RBI, and Matt Wisler ended up making the save to complete the sweep for the Braves. Meanwhile, the Twins also won some games over the weekend, which means that our friends in Baltimore will have to wait at least another season for a bad team to match the 1988 Orioles' unfathomable 0-21 start.
Despite the fact that the Braves have given us a glimmer of hope that they won't be a complete and utter disaster of a baseball team, Vegas thinks that Fredi Gonzalez isn't long for the role of Atlanta Braves manager. According to Bovada, there are currently even odds that Gonzalez will be the first manager fired.
The report of Las Vegas oddsmakers having little faith in Fredi to make it through 2016 as the manager led the AJC to ask GM John Coppolella about Fredi's job security. Copollela simply stated that he hoped that the team could turn it around soon so that "pressure" would be lifted offf of everyone involved, and he also stated again that the felt that the current team is better than last year's team -- you know, the one that went on an atrocious 1-19 run at one point of the season? That team.
He replied, "It’s different, because we had the opportunity to win five of the first seven games (this season) with leads late into the game. During that horrific streak last season, we were getting blown out. But in 2016, we have just fallen short of one big hit, one big play or one big pitch. It’s harder now, because it’s at the start of a season, where it gets magnified. We also feel that we have a better team than we did in 2015."
The last part of that answer was what caught the attention of some who read it. So we asked Coppolella what made this year’s team better than the 2015 version.
"I think it’s a deeper lineup, better bullpen, growth of young players, and improved health," he said. "Those four factors, I think, put a better team out there for us. Whether or not it leads to a better record. … It’s a better 25 (on the roster)."
Meanwhile on the farm, top pitching prospect Tyrell Jenkins is honing his craft with the knowledge that he could be an injury away from a big-league call-up at some point this season, or the Braves could be patient and continue to let him work on things in the minors. Either way, Jenkins is absolutely worth keeping an eye on, and our friends at Minor League Ball recently gave us a bit of a scouting report on how he's fared so far in the early stages of this season.
His two starts thus far in 2016 show the ups and downs of what Jenkins brings to the table. He lasted three innings in his debut, walking five batters and striking out four. 46 of his 76 pitches (60%) landed for strikes. His second start was a different Jenkins altogether. His command was better, landing 51 of his 83 pitches for strikes, however, he only walked one batter over six innings while striking out five. Based on Jenkins arsenal, this is what should be expected of him every time he takes the mound.
Our brothers in misery in the Land of Lakes were also our brothers in success this weekend, as the Minnesota Twins also collected a sweep of their own. Minnesota beat the Angels 3-2 on Sunday to complete the sweep, and it came thanks to the heroics of Oswaldo Arcia, who delivered a walk-off single in the 12th inning. While the Braves still figure to be pretty bad, this could be the start of the Twins getting their season on track so that they can possibly contend in a competitive AL Central.
The Pittsburgh Pirates gave the Milwaukee Brewers a bit of a beatdown on Sunday afternoon, as they won 9-3. The victory included an absolutely mammoth home run from Sean Rodriguez, 17 overall hits, and some lovely throwback uniforms that included yellow jerseys, black pants, and pillbox hats. The '70s were a magical time.