Braves still in running with 10 to go

 

Washington — If someone had said in the last week of June that the Braves would be playing important games in the last week of September, many would have scoffed. Many of us did, in fact. And why not:  the Braves were 34-40 at the time, hitting just .256 as a team and averaging 4.1 runs per game.

Tonight's starter Vazquez hasn't lost on road in three months

Tonight's starter Vazquez hasn't lost on road in three months

Their lineup was punchless, and it seemed a near-certainty that one or two of their starting pitchers would eventually break down or throw their hands in the air in frustration from the serial lack of run support.

But here we are on Sept. 25, with Atlanta entering the final 10 games of the season in second place in the wild-card standings, 3-1/2 games behind Colorado. Let’s be clear: they still face long odds if they are to overtake the Rockies and end Braves Nation’s three-year nightmare by getting back to the postseason — which once seemed a standard part of the Braves schedule when they went to 14 consecutive playoffs.

That said, it must be pointed out that Braves (82-70) are the hottest team in the field, winners of 11 of their past 13 games. They also have the most favorable remaining schedule of teams still in the wild-card hunt, beginning with tonight’s series opener against the freshly minuted 100-loss Nationals here in D.C.

• Colorado (86-67), which is 4-7 with a .234 team average and 5.36 ERA in its past 11 games, begins a three-game series tonight against Central leader St. Louis, then has three games against Milwaukee before finishing with three against West leader Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium.

• San Francisco (82-71), which is 6-9 with a .253 batting average and uncharacteristically high 5.05 ERA in his past 15 games, has three games against the Cubs, three against Arizona, and finishes with three at San Diego.

• Florida (82-71), which is 6-5 with a .264 batting average and 4.59 ERA in his past 11 games, begins a three-game series against the Mets tonight, then has three against the Braves in Atlanta, and finishes with three at East leader Philly.

• Then there are the Braves (82-70), whose 48-30 record since June 28 trails only Philly (51-29) and St. Louis (48-29) in the NL, have hit .300 and posted a 3.23 ERA while going 9-2 in their past 11, including a sweep at St. Louis and two sweeps against the Mets. The Braves’ only losses in that stretch were two home games against the Phillies.

They are the only one of the four wild-card contenders that still has 10 games left, not nine, and thus the only one of the four without an off day the rest of the way. However, the Braves couldn’t ask for a much more opportunistic remaining schedule.

They have three-game series against the Nationals, followed by a week-long, season-ending homestand that includes three games against the Marlins and four more against the Nationals to finish. What more do you want, the Pirates or Royals inserted to in the middle instead of the Marlins?

I mean, Florida’s always tough, but that’s three games out of 10, with the others against the Nationals, who just became only the fourth team in a quarter-century to lose at least 100 games in back-to-back seasons.

The Nationals are 9-25 with a .236 average and 5.73 ERA in their past 34 games.

The pitching matchups: Yeah, you could say they’re favorable this weekend for the Braves, who have Javier Vazquez, Tommy Hanson and Derek Lowe scheduled to start against the Nationals’ John Lannan, Garrett Mock, and Livan Hernandez, in that order.

Lannan is is 1-4 with a 6.39 ERA in his past eight starts, with more walks (19) than strikeouts (15) in 43-2/3 innings. Tonight he faces Vazquez, who is 4-0 with a 1.78 ERA and .195 opponents’ average in his past five starts, and hasn’t lost a road game in three months (6-0 with 2.81 ERA in his past eight road starts).

Saturday starter Mock is 0-4 with a 7.00 ERA and .303 opponents’ average in his past five starts, and the Nationals have score zero runs while he’s been in the game in his past two.

Sunday starter Hernandez, the well-traveled Livan, is 1-7 with a 7.33 ERA and .328 opponents’ average in his past nine starts.

Oh, and to make the Braves feel at home, we’ve arranged for it to rain for much of the weekend here in D.C. The rain should be here any moment now, with a good chance of rain all night and again tomorrow.

 ♣ Who likes Nationals Park? Well, local fans don’t seen too enamored of it. Or maybe they’re just staying away because the on-field product is malodorous.

But Stan Kasten really likes the place, and so, too, have couple of Braves hitters taken to the young ballpark. Martin Prado has hit .484 (15-for-31) with eight doubles and a homer in 12 games at Still-Looking-For-Corporate-Sponsorship Park, and Chipper Jones is 17-for-53 (.321) with three doubles, a triple, four homers and 10 RBI in 14 games there.

 

This sweet swing has helped fuel Braves' late-season surge

This sweet swing has helped fuel Braves' late-season surge

 

 

♣ LaRoche’s dizzying display: Just to update, this Adam LaRoche is doing some work.

Since being traded to the Braves on July 31, he’s hit .355 with 21 extra-base hits including 12 homers, 36 RBI, 23 walks, a .426 OBP and a .622 slugging percentage (1.048 OPS).

And in his 11 games, LaRoche has hit .450 with four doubles, one triple, three homers, 14 RBI and a silly 1.336 OPS. The Braves are 10-1 in those games.

In his last 13 games against the Mets (I bring this up because we just left there, and he pillaged), LaRoche hit .449 with eight doubles, five homers and 12 RBI, with a .918 slugging percentage. His Pittsburgh and Atlanta teams went 11-2 in those games, since June 1.

♣ Leyland on Cox: My man John Lowe from the Detroit Free Press sent along this anecdote from Tigers skipper Jim Leyland, after asking him about Cox retiring at end of next season.

In both 1991 and 1992, Bobby Cox’s Braves beat Jim Leyland’s Pirates in the full seven games in the National League championship series.

In 1997, Leyland’s Marlins beat Cox’s Braves in six games in the N.L. championship series. That earned Leyland a World Series trip to the visiting manager’s office in Cleveland, where he sat after Wednesday night’s Tigers game and talked about Cox’s announcement earlier in the day that he would retire as Braves manager after next season.

“He’s certainly one of the great managers of all time and one of the great guys of all time,” Leyland said. “When I heard the news today, I was thinking about how I’ve had some great moments with Bobby Cox in the playoffs — the two that he won, and the one that I won.

“We’re 10-10 against each other in post-season. We had some great games, memorable games.

“It’s an honor to have managed against him — I mean that sincerely. He’s one of those guys who’s not very friendly when you come to play them. Just a very courteous hello. A very respectful hello. A little more casual in spring training. But he’s all business. I’ve always respected that about him.

“He’s one of the all-time greats — a Hall of Fame manager.

♣ OK, we’re outta time. Gotta find my Metro stop and get over to the ballpark. Anyone watch that new comedy on NBC, called Community, that aired after The Office last night? I thought it was hilarious. Of course, I was already giddy when it started, after laughing my arse off during The Office. How long can they possibly keep this up on The Office? Season after season, it only gets better.

If it’s gonna rain tonight, I wish it’d do it early and hard, so they’d bang this and we could play a doubleheader tomorrow. That way, yours truly could get to the 9:30 Club to see sexy Karen O with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, playing tonight.

But I knew you folks can’t deal with sitting through another long rain delay, just as I can’t. So let’s just hope the rain, at least any heavy stuff, misses us altogether. And let’s hope it’s not as bad in Atlanta this weekend as the forecast says it could be. They’re calling for up to two more inches of rain. I mean, come on. “Uncle” already with the rain.

Alright, we’ll take it out with a classic from Leonard Cohen, who collapsed, apparently from exhaustion, while performing onstage a few days ago in Europe. Best wishes to the old dude, because we’ve got tix to see him at The Fox next month.

 lcohen

“TOWER OF SONG” by Leonard Cohen

Well my friends are gone and my hair is grey

I ache in the places where I used to play

And I’m crazy for love but I’m not coming on

I’m just paying my rent every day

Oh in the Tower of Song

 

I said to Hank Williams: how lonely does it get?

Hank Williams hasn’t answered yet

But I hear him coughing all night long

A hundred floors above me

In the Tower of Song

 

I was born like this, I had no choice

I was born with the gift of a golden voice

And twenty-seven angels from the Great Beyond

They tied me to this table right here

In the Tower of Song

 

So you can stick your little pins in that voodoo doll

I’m very sorry, baby, doesn’t look like me at all

I’m standing by the window where the light is strong

Ah they don’t let a woman kill you

Not in the Tower of Song

 

Now you can say that I’ve grown bitter but of this you may be sure

The rich have got their channels in the bedrooms of the poor

And there’s a mighty judgement coming, but I may be wrong

You see, you hear these funny voices

In the Tower of Song

 

I see you standing on the other side

I don’t know how the river got so wide

I loved you baby, way back when

And all the bridges are burning that we might have crossed

But I feel so close to everything that we lost

We’ll never have to lose it again

 

Now I bid you farewell, I don’t know when I’ll be back

There moving us tomorrow to that tower down the track

But you’ll be hearing from me baby, long after I’m gone

I’ll be speaking to you sweetly

From a window in the Tower of Song

 

Yeah my friends are gone and my hair is grey

I ache in the places where I used to play

And I’m crazy for love but I’m not coming on

I’m just paying my rent every day

Oh in the Tower of Song

1,146 comments Add your comment

HoCoJo

September 25th, 2009
2:24 pm

CB

September 25th, 2009
2:27 pm

HoCoJo, I could have been,I was just being nice to you.

EL

September 25th, 2009
2:27 pm

Bad Scooter

September 25th, 2009
2:27 pm

Community was much better this week than last week…doesn’t get much better than Chevy Chase

sidslidkid

September 25th, 2009
2:27 pm

Let’s go Javy!

Bad Scooter

September 25th, 2009
2:28 pm

o yeah and the blond on the show….smokin’

Nova Scotia Steve - Don't Stop Believin'

September 25th, 2009
2:29 pm

Let’s Go Bravos…

chin music

September 25th, 2009
2:30 pm

the 9:30 club’s one of my favorite venues. hope you get the chance to enjoy the lovely miss o. but not because of rain; because vazquez throws an eighty-pitch complete game that’s over by 9 pm.

sidslidkid

September 25th, 2009
2:34 pm

I went to DC for the July 4th series and wasn’t too impressed with their ballpark. It’s nice, clean and new, but it just doesn’t seem like a baseball park. I like the Ted a lot more. The food however, was much better than Turner Field… but that’s not saying much.

rammerjammer

September 25th, 2009
2:35 pm

TnBrian, gonna carry this over…

Your 2:00 post from the last blog made my point for me. The Phillies, cruising to a second straight division title, are an excellent example of what I’d like to see from our Bravos. We don’t need to go to that extreme, with their massive offense and problematic pitching, but imagine what just one power RH bat would mean to our team.

ncscoots,

Actually, one of my motivators for Braun is what you alluded to…other than Heyward, we really don’t have an OF banger in the pipeline that projects to develop anytime soon. Braun makes that problem go away through 2015. I can live with that.

RHR

September 25th, 2009
2:35 pm

Dammit DOB. You are pushing it!

:lol:

Chop Chop

September 25th, 2009
2:36 pm

Time for Javy to lose a game on the road, isn’t it?

Yep.

HoCoJo

September 25th, 2009
2:38 pm

I bought a 1/2 gallon of Parrot Bay Coconut Rum for the women tomorrow.
A group of us, along with our wives, went to a Tech game last year. The women were sloshed well before kick-off (jose cuervo) and drained the bottle. I think the rum will keep them in line this year.

Jake W.

September 25th, 2009
2:39 pm

To Paul, on the last blog, maybe you should read my 1:17 over again. I never said anything bad about Soriano…

DAP

September 25th, 2009
2:39 pm

rammerjammer, i dont think braun is going to be traded by the brewers. they have no reason at all to get rid of him. they will build that club around him for years. i dont really thing there is alot of point in talking about trading for a guy like that.

im also going to go ahead and throw this out there…i reject the idea the the braves have to get a righthanded power hitter. power hitter, yes. but i dont think it matter what side of the plate he stands on.

Nova Scotia Steve - Don't Stop Believin'

September 25th, 2009
2:41 pm

So do we collapse or do we rise???

Now we’re going to find out what this team is really made of down this 10 games stretch.

But I have to say I’m very grateful for the Atlanta Braves effort this season. Showed some grit on several occasions.

NO MORE BOBBY

September 25th, 2009
2:42 pm

Watch how fast the bandwagon fans jump back off if we lose one game to the Nats.

Nova Scotia Steve - Don't Stop Believin'

September 25th, 2009
2:43 pm

HoCoJo “I think the rum will keep them in line this year.”

There’s the statement of the year. Rum doesn’t keep anyone in line.

EVER

8O

LOL

Paul Lentz

September 25th, 2009
2:43 pm

keylargo……..Greg Norton is not a pinch hitter. At best, he’s a PINCH WALKER. Dude couldnt hit his way out of a paper bag.

It would be nice to see our so called “#1 pinch hitter” actually get a key pinch hit once in a while. The only way Norton gets on base or extends a rally is if the opposing pitcher develops amnesia and pitches him too carefully, resulting in a walk.

Tiger Woods

September 25th, 2009
2:43 pm

Big weekend in the lives of all Braves fans. If we can only take advantage of what is in front of us, hopefully the Cards will do their part and next week will be a very entertaining and exciting weekend. If y’all get bored in Atlanta come on out and watch me own some peeps in the golf tournament. GO BRAVOS!!!!!!

Paul Lentz

September 25th, 2009
2:44 pm

keylargo……….also, since the All-Star Break, Greg Norton is 6 for 30 (all singles for a .200 average) with 2 RBIs, and 9 walks.

As far as “extending rallies”, he’s scored only 1 freaking run since the All-Star Break. All he seems to do is “pass the buck” when it comes to driving in runs in key situations.

Irrational National

September 25th, 2009
2:44 pm

Let’s go Nats

TnBrian(Vazquez ace 2010)

September 25th, 2009
2:44 pm

rammerjammer, I think Wren can find a way to get a RH power bat without trading off Jurrjens. Maybe I’m wrong, but they have other pieces they could move, I would think.

The_Superhoo

September 25th, 2009
2:44 pm

Come on Bravos….keep this ride moving!

I want a difficult decision on Sunday when both the Braves and Skins play!

18 Wheels of Love

September 25th, 2009
2:45 pm

It can happen!

keylargo

September 25th, 2009
2:45 pm

Braun this year openly criticized Brewers management for not doing more to build a contender. Sounds to me like a guy who wants to compete and win and would be glad to waive his no-trade for the right team. rammerjammer

Back when the Brewers and Braves fortunes were reversed, the Brewers were going to be looking for pitching before the trading deadline. It was rumored that the Brewers would trade RFer Corey Hart to the Braves for Vazquez. I immediately said that would be a mistake with the way Vazquez was pitching and if the Brewers wanted him, it would take Ryan Braun to get him.

Braun would be the answer to a lot of problems for the Braves, but I think he is the Brewers Brian McCann. Untouchable and then the no trade clause is there too. It could probably be worked out, but you can be sure it would cost the Braves is some way.

Nova Scotia Steve - Don't Stop Believin'

September 25th, 2009
2:46 pm

NO MORE BOBBY: Watch how fast the bandwagon fans jump back off if we lose one game to the Nats.

It’s gunna clear pretty quick…

Paul Lentz

September 25th, 2009
2:46 pm

NO MORE BOBBY………….bandwagon has nothing to do with it. The Braves HAVE to sweep the Nationals this weekend. We cant just keep pace with the Rockies. We have to put pressure on them. We are still 3 out in the loss column.

NO MORE BOBBY

September 25th, 2009
2:46 pm

Nova Scotia Steve – But I have to say I’m very grateful for the Atlanta Braves effort this season.

It is very impressive what this TEAM has done. Not manager. The 2009 Braves had to battle other teams and all the bad Bobby Cox decisions at the same time. So yes I am impressed where we are having gone through some major Bobby brain farts this year.

N8 (is it 2011 yet?)

September 25th, 2009
2:47 pm

From the other blog:

Somebody stated (not sure who):

“Jurrjens is awfully valuable, but not indispensable, because we have other rotation options.”

To which scoots responded:

“Except that two of them have a single contract year remaining (as of today) and Jurrjens is under club control for multiple years.”

I think there is valid argument on both sides, pending which path (as a fan) you hope Wren goes down.

Is wanting Bobby (and maybe Chipper) to go out with a bang? If so, perhaps JJJ brings the biggest bat in return that could transform our offense, and Hudson and Vazquez are both kept, and one signs long-term? Leaving JJJ (after all, he is a Boras client), as the bargaining chip. Obviously, in this scenario, payroll would have to be upped to keep both Hudson, Vazquez and add a bat (presuming the bat has a bigger salary).

But…..

If Wren’s plan is to keep building for the long haul, while at the same time, giving Cox (and perhaps Chipper), a decent chance at winning (which they would have even without any major changes).

Some fans may want to sacrifice some future for one more powerhouse season.

Me? I say tweak the roster, improve the lineup, improving our chances next year, yet building for the future. I don’t want a powerhouse season, I want a powerhouse “run” of 4 or 5 years. To me, JJJ needs to be here to make that happen.

One of Hudson or Vazquez has to go (unless Wren can unload Lowe).

Paul Lentz

September 25th, 2009
2:47 pm

I have to run for a bit, will be back later in time for the game. Have fun fellas.

NO MORE BOBBY

September 25th, 2009
2:48 pm

I hear you Paul but there are some “fans” who only show up when we win. Just two weeks ago these blogs were topping out at 6 pages because the bandwagon fans gave up. Then we got back into the race and their Dawgs are not what they thought so they came back.

Nova Scotia Steve - Don't Stop Believin'

September 25th, 2009
2:48 pm

I’m going to call Greg Norton hits a walk-off shot down the stretch to vault us into the play-offs.

I also just downed a bottle of coconut rum and called the nearest mental institution to check myself in

trob

September 25th, 2009
2:49 pm

Knowitall

September 25th, 2009
2:49 pm

You do not trade cheap, elite starting pitching!!!!!

keylargo

September 25th, 2009
2:49 pm

Paul Lentz

You can BS all day long.

NORTON OBP .385

PRADO OBP .311

But you can’t change that.

CB

September 25th, 2009
2:50 pm

Crime shame you are leaving,Paul.

rammerjammer

September 25th, 2009
2:50 pm

DAP,

I don’t think the Brewers will trade Braun either and I probably should move on. But their rotation is a disaster and Braun would be the best guy to fix that AND fix that hole in the middle of our lineup.

OK, I’ll stop.

Nova Scotia Steve - Don't Stop Believin'

September 25th, 2009
2:50 pm

I have to admit I gave up after that Reds series and but kept a quiet eye on scores. And followed the team from afar.

And I certainly wasn’t watching every game and blogging like I was earlier in the season.

So I will admit…I lost faith after that 1-5 stretch.

HoCoJo

September 25th, 2009
2:51 pm

Nova Scotia Steve

Does that mean you’ve left the country?

RHR

September 25th, 2009
2:51 pm

I hear you Paul but there are some “fans” who only show up when we win.

Like…Paul for example.

Daniel

September 25th, 2009
2:51 pm

Alright Dave- You got me, I am back interested. I can’t help myself. Please don’t blow the game tonight!!!!

DOB- couple of quick music reccomendations: Monsters of Folk(you probably already have it), The Antlers(imagine Bon Iver with a hint of Jesus and Mary Chain), The Noisettes (Adele meets Bow wow wow) and Jay Z (probably heard about this guy too, he is just kinda popular but good album)

Frank Wren

September 25th, 2009
2:52 pm

In both 1991 and 1992, Bobby Cox’s Braves beat Jim Leyland’s Pirates in the full seven games in the National League championship series.

In 1997, Leyland’s Marlins beat Cox’s Braves in six games in the N.L. championship series. That earned Leyland a World Series trip to the visiting manager’s office in Cleveland, where he sat after Wednesday night’s Tigers game and talked about Cox’s announcement earlier in the day that he would retire as Braves manager after next season.

“He’s certainly one of the great managers of all time and one of the great guys of all time,” Leyland said. “When I heard the news today, I was thinking about how I’ve had some great moments with Bobby Cox in the playoffs — the two that he won, and the one that I won.

“We’re 10-10 against each other in post-season. We had some great games, memorable games.

“It’s an honor to have managed against him — I mean that sincerely. He’s one of those guys who’s not very friendly when you come to play them. Just a very courteous hello. A very respectful hello. A little more casual in spring training. But he’s all business. I’ve always respected that about him.

“He’s one of the all-time greats — a Hall of Fame manager.

And for some of you dumb dumbs sitting on your couch who think Cox stinks let me ask you this, Who would know better? You who have never spent 1 day in professional sports or people who have been in the game for over 30 or 40 years. Hmmmm ???

I think ill take Leylands opinion of Cox over you morons if you dont mind.

NO MORE BOBBY

September 25th, 2009
2:52 pm

Irrational National – Let’s go Nats

Why can I see this person sitting alone in the outfield seats at nationals stadium? No one else. Just empty seats and this guy.

Nova Scotia Steve - Don't Stop Believin'

September 25th, 2009
2:53 pm

HoCoJo:

No I never went anywhere…

Actually when I think about it….I never go anywhere (single tear)

DAP

September 25th, 2009
2:53 pm

keylargo NORTON OBP .385

PRADO OBP .311

where the heck are you getting those numbers?

NO MORE BOBBY

September 25th, 2009
2:54 pm

Nova Scotia Steve – So I will admit…I lost faith after that 1-5 stretch.

I think we all did. You didn’t see a lot of those BELIEVE posting then. Ha!

Space Monkey

September 25th, 2009
2:54 pm

This is starting to remind me of 1991. This team is peaking at just the right time. Wish we were closer. But this is possible, and I think the players believe it. We have a real shot here.

Col Clink

September 25th, 2009
2:55 pm

Frank Wren

Nice job with the copy/paste job. We ought to tell DOB to condense his notes and let you expand on his thoughts for now on.

Jake W.

September 25th, 2009
2:55 pm

“You can BS all day long.

NORTON OBP .385

PRADO OBP .311

But you can’t change that”-keylargo

Seriously, you are going to compare an everyday player to someone who barely gets one at bat a game. I’m sure that OBP for Norton would go down if he had to play everyday. Thankfully though, we had one guy from the bench step up when we needed him and deliver us something. Don’t hate Norton but you have to be honest, he gave us nothing in terms of what we were looking for this year. Weak argument man, very weak.

NO MORE BOBBY

September 25th, 2009
2:56 pm

We will be 2 1/2 games out tonight. I feel it and if we get into the playoffs I will change my screen name and never pick on Bobby all of 2010 (fingers crossed).

Later chumps!!

BosnianBaller

September 25th, 2009
3:01 pm

Yeah that show community is pretty funny.

RHR

September 25th, 2009
3:01 pm

where the heck are you getting those numbers?

The ones I see say Marteeen’s OBP is .350 and Norty’s is .319.

That sounds more like it..

N8 (is it 2011 yet?)

September 25th, 2009
3:02 pm

“You do not trade cheap, elite starting pitching!!!!!

You do, if you have 5 other starters, and your offense consists of your HR leader (that’s been with the team all year) having 20 HR, and your #1 pick was a college pitcher that you took at #7 overall (meaning he’ll be up, sooner than later).

But like I said, I’m not going to demand that the team wins the WS next year. But many fans will to give Bobby a big send off.

I don’t think JJJ will be traded. But that doesn’t mean he couldn’t or shouldn’t be. Would you trade him straight up for Hanley Ramirez? How about Adrian Gonzalez? How about Joe Mauer?

I honestly think at this point, that is the type of player that Wren could get from a team that is loaded with offense, and is desperate for pitching. Maybe not a guy that’s hit 40 HR or batted .350 for 2 or 3 years in the majors. But perhaps the next Hanley Ramirez or Evan Longoria, etc….

We’ve got pitching. We also have Freeman and Heyward on the way. What if Wren could trade JJJ for a monster RH hitting LF that would give us a middle of the order in 2 or 3 years that rivals the Blake Street Bombers or even some of those Braves “hearts of the order”?

With those guys all being young, Wren could spend the money on the pitching, especialy with Chipper nearing the end, and his money coming of the books. Hell. He could lock up Hudson AND Vazquez, giving us a rotation of Hudson, Hanson, KK and Vazquez (with Minor entering down the road – Lowe in the mean time).

I’m open to anything, as long as it’s not trading a blue chip prospect (or major league guy like JJJ) for a JD Drew “one year rental”.

To me, we have two untouchables in our organization that are close or already here. Hanson and Heyward. If JJJ wasn’t a Boras client, I’d have him on that list. But the fact that he likely will eventualy be gone, makes him “touchable”.

Jeff R

September 25th, 2009
3:03 pm

I used to live in DC and still go back a lot for business. Been to games at the park and have mixed feelings about it. What I don’t like is 1) no parking, virtually. It was designed to force fans onto the Metro (the subway). The expereice is okay, but I could get back to the burbs quicker driving. 2) the park doesn’t have much character. 3) whereas the parks in San Fran and Pittsburgh face the bay and the river, the DC park looks away from the Anacostia River. The park is supposed to look toward the Capitol. Maybe if you sit in the nose bleed sections you can see the dome, but I haven’t seen it. Better if the OF opened up to the river.

Otherwise, you can get some cheap seats and standing room is only $5 bucks a pop. The food is good, not great, but good.

bravesgrl4life

September 25th, 2009
3:10 pm

We are this close right now. If we can just keep winning and the rockies keep losing, the PS is ours!!!! Already told hubby I don’t care how much it costs, if the Braves get into PS play, I am getting my ticket. Don’t care if I have to sit in the upper deck, I’m gonna be there for at least one of those glorious games.

P. W. Hjort

September 25th, 2009
3:14 pm

Selling high on Jurrjens isn’t the worst idea I’ve ever heard, but only if you’re getting $1.50 on the dollar, and only if you’re filling a need with another young, cheap player or two.

FEAR

September 25th, 2009
3:17 pm

boy oh boy ya know if the rocks continue their suckfest and we can win all seven games against the nats we can pull this off. if col goes 3-7 we could still lose two to the pesky marlins and beat col by one win.

Nova Scotia Steve - Don't Stop Believin'

September 25th, 2009
3:19 pm

Hey DOB….

Can you tell us what the atmosphere is like in the clubhouse???…Do you know if the boys were watching the Rockies game last night??

michael b

September 25th, 2009
3:20 pm

Two things factor in when you get to the post season
1)Depth of your pitching staff: Can you imagine sending Vazquez, Jurrjens, and Hanson to the hill as your top starters? I like what I see.
2)Situational Hitting: I know we are good with two outs with RISP, but we cannot keep sending norton too the plate it clutch situations. This has to stop or we miss the playoffs.

fastasballs

September 25th, 2009
3:23 pm

It would be a CRIME SHAME to trade JJ unless the return is off the charts.

I think Frank is going to do great things done this offseason, just like last season & the beginning of this season. We won’t see 90% of the moves coming until they happen, which is fine by me. The Jake Peavy & Furcal dealings last year were a bit much to take, but damn glad neither deal worked out.

Hillbilly

September 25th, 2009
3:24 pm

I heard Don’t Stop Believing on the radio at lunch today. I couldn’t decide if it made me want to go the park for a Braves game and cheer until the bitter end, or go to dinner with Meadow Soprano.

Hillbilly

September 25th, 2009
3:24 pm

Or maybe combine the two and go park with Meadow Soprano…..and cheer until the bitter end.

Shaun

September 25th, 2009
3:24 pm

Are folks really arguing about Greg Norton. Now I don’t think Norton is as bad as some of his 2009 numbers indicate. But I think it’s clear that he should not be the first option off the bench.

I’m assuming keylargo is pointing to Norton’s 2nd half OBP. His OBP as a pinch hitter in 2009 is .349. But the problem is it is an empty OBP. His SLG as a pinch-hitter is .188. He’s slugging .200 in the second half. He has 2, count ‘em 2, extra-base hits all season.

As much as I firmly believe OBP is the most important single offensive stat and believe the evidence shows this, it is also obvious that OBP is not the only important stat. When a relatively old, slow player’s only halfway decent skill this year is to get on base moderately well in certain situations; that player is not all that valuable.

ugaaccountant

September 25th, 2009
3:25 pm

Yes I’d trade Jurrjens for Braun, Hanley, Morneau or Mauer type players. Only problem is their teams wouldn’t do that unless they were in a major payroll dump situation since these young sluggers aren’t the most expensive guys around.
Short of those type studs, I’ll stick with Jurrjens and Laroche thank you very much.

AJ

September 25th, 2009
3:25 pm

Here is a thought for all of you Bobby Cox bashers….how much better of a manager would he be if he had a dominant closer during the 14 year run? Other than John Smoltz, can any of you name a dominant closer the Braves have had? The guys they were grooming (Joey Devine, Tim Spooneybarger, etc.) never panned out. The bullpen has been a revolving door of guys that were at the end of their careers (Alejandro Pena, Jeff Reardon,etc) or guys that never stayed for long (Dan Kolb, Kerry Lightenberg, etc.) Imagine if he had a shut down closer like a Mariano Rivera or Joe Nathan? Sure, Soriano & Gonzalez have been way above average this season with a few hiccups, but, other than Moylan, the rest of this years bullpen most likely won’t be around next year.

Roman Gal

September 25th, 2009
3:26 pm

I love lizziebeth, she gets the best pics. RHR

I agree. Her pictures are amazing and I’m always very glad to see them.

michael b

September 25th, 2009
3:26 pm

that said….Go Braves! Hope to be going to a playoff game soon

michael b

September 25th, 2009
3:28 pm

Well Said Shaun

FEAR

September 25th, 2009
3:28 pm

AJ – even if we had a bad ass closer. cox wouldn’t use him correctly. he’d be closing games when we were up 10-3.

fastasballs

September 25th, 2009
3:29 pm

I’d love to drive up for the Nats series, but have tickets to the Miami/Virginia Tech game tomorrow, damn good seats I might add. Granted I could probably sell the Hokie tickets & pay for the entire weekend worth of Braves games, plus entertainment.

I think my Hokies are going to get their rearends kicked by Miami tomorrow, but it will be raining so that may slow the Miami air attack from Harris & company.

Chop Chop

September 25th, 2009
3:31 pm

Norton should be the first option off the bench, Shaun.

He has intangibles.

brent a.

September 25th, 2009
3:32 pm

I think many of us forget this, but 2 years ago, the Braves went into the final week of the season with an outside chance at the division. Even went into Philly and took the 1st game of a 3-game series.

With that as a backdrop, I think that with the pitching we have this year, a come from behind play-off berth actually seems more likely in 2009, than it did down the stretch in 2007.
Heck, things fading so quickly those last 5 games (2 losses in Philly, and then 2 or 3 in Houston to end the season) that many people seem to have forgotten that we actually did have a chance that year. I hear a lot of people talking about the Braves’ “3 straight losing seasons”, when actually, the Braves had a winning record in 2007.

Anyway, the 2009 Braves, as currently constructed, are actually a pretty good team. If they can dominate a terrible Nationals team, then they just may be playing into October for the first time since 2005, which would be a thrill.

Bravissimo

September 25th, 2009
3:33 pm

I hear Cox is gonna go out with a ceremonial ejection by the home plate ump next year in the last game…

abwright

September 25th, 2009
3:35 pm

michael b, 3:20 pm … “Can you imagine sending Vazquez, Jurrjens, and Hanson to the hill as your top starters?”

I can see that in 2010. But, the Braves are going to have to shut Hanson down pretty soon if they don’t want to risk him having a mediocre 2010.

IF (big if) the Braves make the playoffs in 2009, I suspect that we will see Vazquez, Lowe, Hudson, and Jurrjens.

Unless Lowe continues his misfortune, then I would expect Vazquez, Hudson, Jurrjens, and Kawakami.

P. W. Hjort

September 25th, 2009
3:36 pm

Where do you hear this, Bravissimo?

michael b

September 25th, 2009
3:37 pm

abwright- true. I keep forgetting Tommy’s a rookie

Jake W.

September 25th, 2009
3:37 pm

“As much as I firmly believe OBP is the most important single offensive stat and believe the evidence shows this, it is also obvious that OBP is not the only important stat. When a relatively old, slow player’s only halfway decent skill this year is to get on base moderately well in certain situations; that player is not all that valuable.”-Shaun

I agree. Especially when you consider that we didn’t bring Norton in to be a bench player who knows how to work a count and get on base. In terms of our bench he was the guy we brought in to drive in runs and deliver that key hit late in games. We counted on him in a pinch hitting role to have more power than Prado and Infante who were seen more as utility men. Ross was the backup catcher with pop, but since he was our only backup catcher for much of the season we can’t afford to use him as a pinch hitter that much. Norton didn’t give us what we needed from him, plain and simple. I don’t get how comparing him to what Prado has done for us does anything when you consider that we got exactly what we wanted to from Prado and even more.

CB

September 25th, 2009
3:38 pm

fastasballs, are you a Hokie grad?

Jerry

September 25th, 2009
3:39 pm

Re Greg Norton:
“During the 2008 season, no Major League player had compiled more pinch-hit homers (three) or pinch-hit RBIs (18).
In his 74 plate appearances as a pinch-hitter last year, Norton hit .316 and compiled a .473 on-base percentage.”

Then he gets hurt, misses most of the season & is batting only .139 with 72 AB this season.

Braves signed him to a big contract after last year. He is on the team & must be used as you only have 25 players on the team most of the year.

Shaun

September 25th, 2009
3:39 pm

If the Braves win the Wild Card over the Rockies, they’ll be the second-best playoff team according to Baseball Prospectus’s “secret sauce” rankings. They currently rank 9th in the majors; Dodgers are first and Yankees are second.

Secret Sauce ingredients (”three particular characteristics of teams that win more than their share of post-season games.”):

* A power pitching staff, as measured by normalized strikeout rate.
* A good closer, as measured by WXRL.
* A good defense, as measured by FRAA.

Katie

September 25th, 2009
3:40 pm

DOB- I didn’t see last night’s episode of Community, but I saw the first one last week and loved it. Joel McHale is very funny

Knowitall

September 25th, 2009
3:40 pm

N8,

But what would be the point of trading JJ? The theory is that the best way for the Braves to aquire a power hitter is via trade because they will not have the money to pay for a power hitting free agent. JJ makes next to nothing in relative terms so trading his salary for a power hitter’s salary would be essentially the same as just going out and signing a free agent. If you’re going to trade a pitcher, the idea is to trade one that will free up some salary.

cricket

September 25th, 2009
3:40 pm

Great, now we are trading JJJ for the big bat!!! I love this blog, there are many trade proposals that make you think you’ve heard it all (the crazy non-sensical stuff) here and then the blog comes back and hits you in the face and cleans your clock…

brent a.

September 25th, 2009
3:41 pm

Just a real quick note . . .

very few doubt Bobby’s place in history. But, there are many, with some good reasons, who think Bobby may be past his prime and not quite as sharp as he once was.

Rest assured, when most people are commenting on the greatness of Bobby Cox, they aren’t commenting on Bobby Cox 2006-2008. (Yes, I know, there are some that gripe about the 1 World Series, and to be fair, they may have a point. Maybe Bobby didn’t manage well in some of those series. Doesn’t make him a bad manager, just means he was unsuccessful in those situations).

No secret that Bobby has had great success. No secret that Bobby Cox is a great manager. But, that doesn’t automatically mean that currently, Bobby Cox is the best man for the Braves job, and that he hasn’t done some screwing up here the last few years.

That said, I love Bobby Cox, and would like nothing better than to see him go out a big winner as manager of the Braves.

Too many people want to make this a clear-cut, black and white argument. It isn’t. As long as Bobby is living and breathing and managing, it will be a fluid argument.

abwright

September 25th, 2009
3:41 pm

On the great Greg Norton controversy …

He has had at least two game-winning pinch hits this season, if memory serves.

He may be walking so much because “the book” said he would swing at anything and you could get him out by pitching out of the zone.

It’s not like he’s walking on borderline pitches.

I would love to see Norty get more hits (or get fewer ABs) but you cannot fault the guy for not swinging at junk waaay off the plate.

White Blood Cells

September 25th, 2009
3:42 pm

Interesting article by Rosenthall yesterday. Speculates on LaRussa and Duncan leaving St Louis For San Fran. LaRussa and Bochey are not signed by their current teams for next year. I have always liked Bochey.

N8 (is it 2011 yet?)

September 25th, 2009
3:43 pm

AJ, you mean like in 96 when we had Wohlers? How about in 1999 when Rocker was on top of his game? I pick those two seasons. Because those are the last two times the Braves got to the WS. They lost both of them

As for Spooneybarger and Devine? Who do you think is responsible for mentally mind-blanking Joey Devine?

Shaun

September 25th, 2009
3:43 pm

Especially when you consider that we didn’t bring Norton in to be a bench player who knows how to work a count and get on base.

Jake W, I agree with your take on Norton except that getting on-base is valuable onto itself. It’s not about working counts, walking, etc. It’s about scoring runs because the more baserunners, obviously the greater the chance to score. Anytime someone equates on-base percentage with walks and working counts, they are missing the most obvious reason getting on base is so important, namely that baserunners lead to runs…I digress.

abwright

September 25th, 2009
3:44 pm

michael b, 3:37 pm … “abwright- true. I keep forgetting Tommy’s a rookie”

He sure doesn’t act like a rookie, so it’s easy to forget. I wish we had Hanson pitching in the wished for playoffs. Everything else being equal, he would be my choice for starting game one.

cricket

September 25th, 2009
3:45 pm

Hanson is going to pitch if we make the playoffs.

VaBraveFan

September 25th, 2009
3:45 pm

I agree about Hanson not even looking like a Rookie. He has the composure of a vetern allstar.

DAP

September 25th, 2009
3:48 pm

NORTON OBP .385

PRADO OBP .311

But you can’t change that”-keylargo

Seriously, you are going to compare an everyday player to someone who barely gets one at bat a game. I’m sure that OBP for Norton would go down if he had to play everyday.

problem is, thats not norton’s OBP. or prados. the stats are false, unless keylargo is looking at some weird split and didnt tell us.

David O'Brien

September 25th, 2009
3:49 pm

LINEUP (Chipper and Prado are in it)

1. McLouth
2. Prado
3. Chipper
4. McCann
5. Escobar
6. Anderson
7. Diaz
8. LaRoche
9. Vazquez

FEAR

September 25th, 2009
3:49 pm

the only time I heard of Hanson being nervous was in CA when he pitched in front of his family. The guy is tough!

The Love Child of Dale Murphy and Johnny Cash

September 25th, 2009
3:50 pm

Did Coach vanish into thin air? I miss reading his glass-half-empty posts. “Whitey Herzog is God!” That was for you, Coach, where ever you are.

VaBraveFan

September 25th, 2009
3:51 pm

All the talk about getting a bat and having 6 starters, here me out.
Jurrjens prolly has the most trade value out of all 6, considering he is 23 and has pitched amazing for 2 years. We have control of him for what 2 or 3 more seasons? Also think about about this he is a Boris Client, And if he continues to improve and be a great pitcher he could command close to 100 million. We could get a great return for him in a trade. Not that i want that just putting this out there. We could possibly land a proven young hitter and prospects for him. Just an Idea.

FEAR

September 25th, 2009
3:51 pm

someone wanna explain why laroche is batting 8th? Nice one cox.

Brandon from Warner Robins

September 25th, 2009
3:52 pm

Roman Gal

September 25th, 2009
3:52 pm

Everything else being equal, he would be my choice for starting game one.

That’s where things get tricky, eh? He’s pitched a lot of innings already, so do you keep running him out there since he’s certainly one of your best pitchers, or do you try to limit his innings.

I think it’ll be very interesting to see how they handle his innings if the Braves do make the playoffs.

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