(Staff writer Carroll Rogers is filling in for David O’Brien during this Florida Marlins series.) Miami – Well, technically at the moment I’m in Fort Lauderdale, but I don’t want to confuse. Getting ready to pack up and head over to Land Shark Stadium and see what’s what, as we pick up the reins from David O’Brien (hint) after his coverage of a disappointing weekend in Philly.
I was watching the end of the game last night, and that one seventh inning lapse kind of makes you realize how little can separate you in winning and losing a key series and how interesting it is that the ball found the two seemingly weak links in the Braves defense – Chipper Jones and Garret Anderson.
Not that either play was simple and not that either one of those guys is not capable of making really good defensive plays. But neither is what they used to be defensively – that’s an assumption I make with Garret because I didn’t get to see him much with the Angels – and it hurt there.
There were other chances to win the game, and I’m not throwing complete blame there. It’s just interesting to me how sometimes weaknesses can bubble up at the worst possible time.
I figured I’d be blogging on Tim Hudson’s return, this fair afternoon. (Well, hot, sticky, muggy, humid, typical South Florida is more like it.) With all the nagging injuries of late, that was pushed back to tomorrow, so we’ll wait right along with Hudson.
I’m sure after all this, he’s itching pretty good to get out there. And it’ll be interesting to see if Kenshin Kawakami is thrown off by being told he’d be skipped and now being sent out to pitch tonight. Maybe, just maybe, he’ll have a little something to prove after the Braves were planning to skip him. And maybe that outweighs having his routine altered. We shall see. He has a tough matchup in Josh Johnson, whom the Braves were fortunate to miss last series in Atlanta.
Johnson is 13-3 with a 3.04 ERA on the season and 3-1 with a 3.82 ERA in August. Looking for a chink in the armor? Maybe this: Johnson gave up four runs twice in his past five starts, something he hadn’t done since April 18.
We should also get some information on Nate McLouth, who was scheduled to have an MRI on his left hamstring today after his setback Saturday in Mississippi.
Center field seems a little precarious right now for the Braves and it will be interesting to see what they do with September call-ups to remedy that, if possible.
First things first. I’m not sure what that means for Jason Heyward, but my hunch would be he’s not among the call-ups tomorrow. He’s been out with a heel injury – he hasn’t played since last Tuesday. He’d cooled back off, going 5-for-his-last-34 (.147) which means now he’s just semi-mortal after going off the charts to begin his stint at Class AA Mississippi.
I’m told his heel is doing much better and he should be ready to play in the next day or so. I’m just not sure the Braves would put anything else on him right now.
So who will they bring up? Well, let’s think out loud for a second. Their two hottest guys in Gwinnett right now are both shortstops – Diory Hernandez (.325 in his past 10 games, hitting .347 in Gwinnett on the season) and Chris Burke, who also plays second base (who snapped a 12-game hitting streak on Sunday, hitting .320 in that time, and is hitting .291 in 66 games for Gwinnett).
Then there’s always second baseman Brooks Conrad, who showed what he’s capable of at the big league level when he hit .344 in 14 games when Kelly Johnson first went on the disabled list, with a double, two triples, two home runs and eight RBIs. He’s hitting .237 in his past 10 games for Class AAA Gwinnett.
I can see Bobby Cox wanting a third catcher, so you probably bring up Clint Sammons, despite his .217 average.
With Adam LaRoche sore, it might not be a bad idea to bring up Barbaro Canizares. He’s hitting .296 on the season with 12 homers and 75 RBIs. It probably wouldn’t hurt to have Gregor Blanco as an extra center fielder, but he’s had an off-year at the plate, hitting .229. And is it time to bring up Brandon Jones? He’s hit .205 in his last 10 games but .279 overall.
And folks, that’s not even talking about pitchers. Jo-Jo Reyes is 3-2 with a 3.16 ERA but you don’t need him as a starter. Vladimir Nunez, Luis Valdez and Mariano Gomez all have decent numbers. Maybe you choose someone from in there.
You want to add pieces that help you make a run these last four weeks, but you also don’t want to totally decimate Gwinnett, which has a legitimate shot to make the playoffs.
So while I pack up my computer and head for Land Shark (oh my), maybe you guys can discuss. More when I know it!