Washington, DC – So a 1-7 stretch here and a denizen is calling for a blog-out? No blogging in protest of the way the Braves are playing? Does that apply to beat writers as well? Can I go back to bed and leave a big white space here?
Nah, didn’t think so. Hey, aren’t we here to give fans a voice? Or are we here to make statements? Oh, wait, I guess both.
I gathered in your comments from last night that I failed you in not smoothing the edges and calming the masses, setting the blog on course for a torturous night.
Can’t say I realized that was my responsibility, and it’s not exactly simple to do when the Braves have lost seven of eight and two in a row to a team that was 1-10 when the Braves came in here. But I can see where the pessimism gets to be a really big drag, so OK, let me try for a minute.
It is early.
Fine, a little more. Pitching is keeping the Braves in games, bullpen is getting better, so the foundation is there to fix this. Those are two things that were missing last season – trust in the rotation, and some reliance on the back end of the bullpen. Those two things that are working in their favor right now (Peter Moylan has been better last three outings, and Rafael Soriano especially has been good), so the Braves just need to find a way to take advantage.
The Braves starters have an ERA of 3.59, which is second in the National League behind only (guess who?) the Pirates and their 2.79 ERA. Interestingly, Braves starters have a record of 5-6, but that’s not really their doing.
It’s 14 games into the season. Who really knows if this is just a bad stretch or the Braves are going to end up being a mediocre team. I think there are chances at both, but that’s the beauty of the long season. There are so many ups and downs, and the truth takes time to reveal itself. Being knee-jerk in baseball ends up making you look stupid sometimes.
I think right now the Braves are just trying to do a little too much – trying to take the extra base at bad times, trying to make the perfect play. It’s easy for me to say, but they just need to play within themselves.
Part of the issue right now is the Braves aren’t getting their top two guys on-base. Kelly Johnson and Yunel Escobar are a combined 2-for-17 in the first two games of this series with two singles and no walks. Neither one has reached second base. Getting something going up there would really help matters.
Oh, and for those who keep demanding an overhaul on the coaching staff? What is this, hockey? No further comment.
Oh, except this. Greg Maddux would make a great pitching coach some day. I just don’t see it happening for a while.
I was actually surprised to hear he had some interest in possibly doing that some day based on some of his comments leading up to his retirement. I always thought once he got out of the game, he was out. He wanted to be home for his family. The travel is a true grind, and coaches are in it just like players, broadcasters, and some of us hacks.
But maybe he’ll do it some day. I just doubt it’s any time soon. When I talked to him recently about the Braves retiring his jersey, I asked him if we might see him next spring training as a special instructor. Bobby Cox had mentioned wanting to get him down to Florida for that, and the Padres had beat him to the punch this spring.
Maddux said maybe when I asked. If Maddux would do it for anybody, he’d do it for Cox, but even that is not a given. Maddux said six months into retirement, he still didn’t really feel retired yet.
So give him time. And give Roger a break.
As for tonight, as Brian McCann told us after the game last night, he doesn’t plan to be in there tonight. That he’s going to need some time – he says hopefully not more than a week – to adjust to the new contact lens.
So David Ross is back in at catcher, and while he’s no McCann, he is looking good so far. He’s gone 4-for-9 (.444) with a double, a homer and three RBIs in three starts. Corky who?
And some housekeeping: Braves are holding their first bark in the Park on Sunday, May 3. Tickets are $25 for both you and your canine buddy. Tickets won’t be available the day of the game. You’ve got to register ahead at www.braves.com/bark.
Gwinnett Braves have moved their start time of their May 7 game to 6 p.m.
And if this blog has only managed to stir up the masses even more – I guess you never know – I recommend running to clear the head. That’s what I’ll be doing now.