Braves’ memorable first half, in their words

ANAHEIM — They have the National League’s best record (52-36), the second-largest division lead in the majors, and six players on the NL All-Star team, if you include Jason Heyward and Billy Wagner, who are skipping the All-Star game to get healthy.

With all that success,  it’s easy to forget how dreadful the Braves looked in April, when some fans were convinced their season was over and called for the Braves to have a fire sale and bring up minor league players to prepare for the future.

Glaus didn't make All-Star team, but no Brave was more important to their May turnaround.

Glaus didn't make All-Star team, but no Brave was more instrumental in their first half.

Seriously, think about that. It happened. GM Frank Wren was being lambasted for a while by some, and now he’s looking like a legit candidate for executive of the year.

They started out 8-14, posting a 4.24 ERA while batting .228 with 81 runs in their first 22 games. And that’s including 16 runs in an opening-day win against the Cubs and Carlos Zambrano (a result made less important after we saw Big Z’s  subsequent work and eventual meltdown).

That means the Braves had scored 65 runs in a 7-14 stretch and lost nine consecutive games as of April 29.

Then they figuratively flipped a switch and became the hottest team in the league. Voila.

Beginning April 30, the Braves went 44-22 with a 3.36 ERA and .270 batting average and nearly six runs per game the rest of the way before the All-Star break, better than the Yankees (42-25) in that same period.

All-Star utility man Omar Infante's had a big role in Braves' season.

All-Star utility man Omar Infante's had a big role in Braves' season.

Since May 10, they are 39-18 with a 3.32 ERA, .274 batting average and 52 homers in 57 games, and no team has more last at-bat wins in that stretch.

So what happened? I mean, we all saw it and all have pretty good ideas of what happened. But I decided to ask a few players and the once-pilloried hitting coach what they thought was a key or keys to the rather stunning turnaround.

Hitting coach Terry Pendleton: “I think that first trip [to San Francisco and San Diego] took its toll on all of us. We left home playing a night game at home [April 8, third game of season], then flew to Frisco to play a day game [April 9]. Then having a 5-hour rain delay [series finale at San Francisco], then going to San Diego and getting our butts handed to us 17-2 [April 12, Jair Jurrjens' career-worst start], it was just like everything that could happen did.

“I think the boys have regrouped and played a lot better the past couple of months, but that first month was absolutely crazy. And for me, just watching, it felt like, when your team doesn’t hit, as a hitting coach you really have to assess what you’re doing. Is it something you’re not incorporating, is there something more you should be telling them, is there something more you should be looking at in their swings or on the video.

“For me, I have to do that. I feel I have to do that. And going back looking and doing that, there wasn’t much [lacking]. It was just baseball, and them trying to get themselves going. It was one of those things where it wasn’t one or two guys who went into a slump, it was the whole club that wasn’t hitting anything.”

Everybody but Jason Heyward, I reminded Pendleton.

“Yes, and then Troy [Glaus] got going, and when Troy got going everybody else seemed to fall into place. Switching Martin [Prado] up in the leadoff spot helped. They got going, then everybody else started doing their piece, too. And stopped trying to do too much, just doing their part.”

I asked him to elaborate on impact of Glaus’s six-week tear beginning May 1, and the move of Prado to the leadoff spot in May.

“They were big for us. I think when you get a guy in the leadoff spot that gets on and gets the team going, that pumps everybody else up to do their part,” Pendleton said. “And it takes the pressure off, so to speak. Chipper [Jones] doesn’t have to walk up with two guys out and nobody on, and try to hit a home run or something to get us going. You’ve got Martin out there, he’s doubled, the other guy’s hit a ground ball to the right side, and now [Chipper] hits a ground ball to second and we’re up 1-nothing without getting two hits.

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  “So it helps us relax. And it helps the pitching staff, too, to go out and get a lead early, whether it’s one or three. It helps everybody. Martin started hitting and Troy started driving in runs, with Jason still doing something, and everybody else starts adding their piece.”

He used another example of what a leadoff hitter can mean to a team.

“If you look at the Phillies when Jimmy Rollins isn’t leading off, they’re a different ballclub,” he said. “They just are. That one guy that adds that ingredient – Martin Prado might be that guy for us right now, you know? Those are the guys you’ve got to have in that lineup. You’ve got to have them out there every day. There are guys that you depend on.”

All-Star pitcher Tim Hudson: “We were really riding on the shoulders of Prado and Heyward, then after the first few weeks of the season Troy Glaus started raking. That was key. That kind of got everybody kick-started.”

Of Prado, Hudson said: “If he wasn’t in our lineup every day, we wouldn’t be in first place. And he’s a great teammate, what he brings to the clubhouse. He’s kind of fiery and keeps everybody in the game.”

Versatile veteran Eric Hinske has been part of three different World Series teams in the past three seasons, so he knows what it takes to get there. He’s really liked this Braves team’s chances since spring training.

“I think we just weren’t hitting at the start, really. We had trouble scoring runs,” he said. “When we started scoring runs, our pitching was always good. Just give our pitchers some run support, and we started rolling.”

Closer Billy Wagner has been unwavering in his plans to retire after the season, and seems determined to make the most of his last shot at a World Series ring.

“Bobby says it best when he says you win two out of three, you win the series, and you’ll be where you want to be,” Wagner said. “We’ve had unbelievable games. Guys have fought back to get us where we want we’re at. It’s not over.

“You see a light at the end of the tunnel and you’ve just got to stay focused and push through. We’re going to have that down period where things don’t go well, but we’ve just got to keep doing what we did, and think about winning series.”

All of the Braves talk about how important their good team chemistry has been, how it helped them get through a rough April when others were writing them off, and how it’s helped them overcome any injuries or other setbacks since.

Hinske: “It’s huge. The clubhouse is a big deal. When you’re getting along everybody wants to come to the field every day. Winning makes it easier to have a good clubhouse. You don’t ever really hear about having good clubhouses on losing teams, you know what I’m saying? But it takes 25, it’s not just one guy, so the better you get along, the more you want to come to the field and play for each other, it helps out a lot.

“I tell everyone, we expected to win coming out of spring training. It’s not like we expected to have a [nine-]game losing streak and struggle in April. But it happened. I think it shows the perseverance of our club – we were just kind of waiting to win games so we could all be happy.

“We said, man, why are we losing all these games? But it’s turned around quick, and we’ve kind of found what everybody’s role is, what we’re doing, and guys are comfortable. We’ve just got to keep going out there and playing hard.”

I asked Hinske how much fun it’s been to be part of such a dramatic turnaround within the first half of one season.

“It’s awesome,” he said. “Plus, I’ve been getting to play, too. That’s always awesome. I didn’t expect to get this many at-bats this early in the season. You never want anybody to get hurt or anything like that, but just prepare yourself like you’re going to play, and if it happens, just try to perform the best you can.

“It’s been one of the funnest years of my career, no doubt.”

Braves should have rookie sensation Heyward back this weekend.

Braves should have rookie sensation Heyward back this weekend.

The Braves’ bullpen has the second-best ERA in the league and arguably a deeper group of dominant pitchers at the back than any other NL bullpen or any Braves bullpen in recent memory.

– Lefty reliever Eric O’Flaherty: “I don’t think it gets any better than what we’re going through right now. We’ve got a great group of guys. Everybody’s having fun. On and off the field, everyone gets along great. I mean, I don’t think it gets any more fun than this. Everyone’s having a blast.

“I’ve heard a few veterans on the team say this is the best group they’ve been a part of, as far as how much fun it is and everything like that. A lot of guys who’ve been on a lot of teams. So it feels good for us to hear that.”

On being on this roll since the bad April, O’Flaherty said: “We knew we were better than that, when we were struggling. It’s a matter of just getting it done. Basically we could think we were good as long as we want, but until we actually go out there and get it done, no one really cares.

“But it feels great to just be playing like we feel like we should. We had a great spring, and we’re capping off a great first half today.”

– Veteran pitcher Derek Lowe has rebounded from one of the worst seasons of career in 2009 to have a far better first half. He was a big part of a World Series championship team in Boston and is eager to make another playoff run, knowing full well the unique enjoyment that comes from a pennant race.

“We set ourselves up nicely for the last 2-1/2 months,” Lowe said, “and this is the most exciting part. The first three months is to get yourself in situations where the last 2-1/2 months count, and we’ve done that. So hopefully we can capitalize on the situation that we’ve given ourselves.”

Kris Medlen was huge for the Braves in the first half, moving from the bullpen to fill in ably for injured starter Jurrjens. And rookie lefty Jonny Venters surpassed all expectations and became a counted-upon setup man in the bullpen, helping pick up the slack when Peter Moylan went through a rough patch and when Takashi Saito was on the DL.

I asked Hinske about guys like that having unexpected impacts.

“Every good team has someone show up that’s not supposed to do anything,” Hinske said. “It always happens. With the Yankees we had bullpen guys like Phil Hughes last year. And David Robertson. Just guys who come up from the minor leagues and do well. If you don’t have that you’re probably not going to be successful, because usually you have a hole.

“Jason Heyward — how ’bout him? We didn’t know what he was going to do. We didn’t have right fielder. I mean, we did, but he stepped in and became an All-Star. We’re waiting for him to come back [from the DL]. We’ve got Jurrjens back and we didn’t get a win from him basically in the whole first half. It’s almost like making a deadline deal, getting a healthy guy. And then Heyward’s coming back after the break. “He hurt his thumb and battled through that. But the guy carried the team [early]. If we didn’t have him, April would have been a lot worse.

“We’re all just trying to get healthy, get right back on track, keep this thing going. Because it’s still three months.”

– Martin Prado was amazed and excited to be hitting between Hanley Ramirez and Albert Pujols in the second spot in the NL All-Star lineup, but the NL batting leader is also pumped up to get back to Atlanta and get the second half started.

“Everybody’s talking about our pitching staff,” Prado said, “and the way J.J. came back, I think it makes our starting pitching even better. The second half, we know it’s going to be a pretty good challenge for us. But we don’t worry. We’re just going to play our game and handle things. Play baseball the right way.”

– All-Star catcher Brian McCann said the Braves like their chances for sound reasons.

“We’re running out a 1 or 2-caliber arm every night,” he said of the starters. “We’re getting timely hits and playing great defense, and when you do that and get quality pitching, you’re going have a chance to win more often than not.”

All-Star pitcher Tim Hudson has led a rotation that gives the Braves a strong chance to win most nights.

All-Star pitcher Tim Hudson has led a rotation that gives the Braves a strong chance to win most nights.

And then there’s Chipper Jones. The veteran third baseman’s first half this season — .252 w/ 16 doubles, 6 homers, 33 RBI, .378 OBP and .393 slugging in 72 games – wasn’t much better than his career-worst second half in 2009 (.236 w/ 8 doubles, 9 homers, 30 RBIs, .361 OBP and .389 slugging in 66 games).

However, Jones was significantly improved in the last few weeks before the All-Star break, a surge that directly coincided with the leaked news that he was leaning toward retirement after the 2010 season and met with Braves officials to tell them.

After batting .228 with three homers, 22 RBIs and a .716 OPS in 51 games through June 14, Chipper has hit .307 with three homers, 11 RBIs and an .891 OPS in his past 21 games.

I did a Q&A with Chipper that will run in Thursday’s paper and probably be posted tonight or tomorrow online. He was candid as usual, and I thought gave some very thoughtful responses about how he’s adjusted his view and basically discarded any individual goals for the rest of the season.

He said that being a contributor, a role player of sorts, for a contending team that’s really hitting its stride, is more rewarding that being a major offensive force for a mediocre team.

“I stopped looking at the numbers a month ago, and I just try to concentrate every day on being one-ninth of the equation that helps us win,” he said. “I’m hitting third and playing third or, right now, the best team in the National League, record-wise. And how can you be unhappy with that?

“I got my five opportunities with the bat a game to influence the game, and a couple of plays in the field. I’m just trying to do that as flawlessly as possible, and at the end of the day after a win, it’s been a successful day.

Since the story leaked that he was leaning toward retirement,  Chipper Jones' performance has improved significantly.

Since the story leaked that he was leaning toward retirement, Chipper Jones' performance has improved significantly.

“I’m not worried about whether I’m hitting .220 or .250 or .270, or where the RBIs and home runs are. I’m just going to go out there and compete.”

Look for the rest of that Q&A on the blog soon. And for now, I hope you all enjoy watching Prado and the rest of the Braves in the All-Star game and getting ready for the second half that starts Thursday. It’s going to be an interesting ride to the finish, I have a feeling.

What are you guys feeling about the Braves’ chances? Give us your predictions for where they’ll finish in the division race and the postseason, assuming you think they’ll get to the playoffs.

All right, let’s close this one out with a superb tune from the mighty Neil Young, “Like A Hurricane.” We found a few videos for this, including a live one of young Neil rockin’ out, another live one of old Neil still rockin’ out, and the studio version of this sublime cut. Enjoy. Neil’s a treasure.

neil-young-acoustic

“LIKE A HURRICANE” by Neil Young

Once I thought I saw you

in a crowded hazy bar,

Dancing on the light

from star to star.

Far across the moonbeam

I know that’s who you are,

I saw your brown eyes

turning once to fire.

You are like a hurricane

There’s calm in your eyes.

And I’m gettin’ blown away

To somewhere safer

where the feeling stays.

I want to love you but

I’m getting blown away.

I am just a dreamer,

but you are just a dream,

You could have been

anyone to me.

Before that moment

you touched my lips

That perfect feeling

when time just slips

Away between us

on our foggy trip.

You are like a hurricane

There’s calm in your eyes.

And I’m gettin’ blown away

To somewhere safer

where the feeling stays.

I want to love you but

I’m getting blown away.

You are just a dreamer,

and I am just a dream.

You could have been

anyone to me.

Before that moment

you touched my lips

That perfect feeling

when time just slips

Away between us

on our foggy trip.

You are like a hurricane

There’s calm in your eyes.

And I’m gettin’ blown away

To somewhere safer

where the feeling stays.

I want to love you but

I’m getting blown away

2,522 comments Add your comment

BravesFanInKy

July 13th, 2010
3:30 pm

I was so fast, there really wasn’t even a blog posted yet.

Nova Scotia Steve - Enter Sandman

July 13th, 2010
3:33 pm

“LIKE A HURRICANE” by Neil Young

I immediately youtube’d this song. Great stuff

McFann :Ô: :Ô:

July 13th, 2010
3:36 pm

Thanks for the new Blog, Chief! Good stuff…

Steve from OH

July 13th, 2010
3:44 pm

Epic bloggage there, DOB. Well done.

Crime Dog

July 13th, 2010
3:46 pm

Whew that’s a lot of transcribing you did there, DOB. I know that’s the bane of a sportswriter’s existence. Thanks for the work.

Fred

July 13th, 2010
3:47 pm

Great blog and great tune. Thanks, DOB, enjoy the game and have a safe trip home.

Nöcho

July 13th, 2010
3:47 pm

Can’t wait for the rest of the Chipper interview. Very glad he’s taking that approach. Because while I doubt he can be a consitent threat to be among the HR/RBI/OPS leaders of the “in their prime” 3B/3-hole hitters anymore, he CERTAINLY can be a contributing prescence on a winning team, and that’s about all I ask.

Nova Scotia Steve - Enter Sandman

July 13th, 2010
3:48 pm

I wonder if we will see Hudson tonight? Will McCann get time?

I’m really looking forward to this all-star game.

Braves Fan in the Navy

July 13th, 2010
3:49 pm

DOB, any rumors flying around over there concerning potential trades?

nemov

July 13th, 2010
3:50 pm

How many teams have had a nine game losing streak during the season ended up winning the World Series? There can’t be that many.

itcouldbeworse

July 13th, 2010
3:50 pm

very nice blog DOB

Mitchie-san

July 13th, 2010
3:51 pm

McFann :Ô: :Ô:

July 13th, 2010
3:51 pm

Nova Scotia Steve

We shall see! He better not have Molina catch the entire game…And Timmy, well, he sure as HECK better get to pitch!

I’m really looking forward to this all-star game.

I am, too, but I’m also nervous…hope each of our batters get at least one hit, and that Timmy pitches a 1-2-3 inning!

Brave4life-1995 all over again??

July 13th, 2010
3:53 pm

Great work DOB

CC

July 13th, 2010
3:53 pm

one great half down, one more to go. Braves indeed “flipped a switch” and have once again become the team to beat in the NL East. Great job Braves, great job DOB, let’s hope the NL wins this game tonight and who knows- maybe sets up home-field advantage for the World Series in Atlanta. I know what some of you will say. Hey, but who knows? Nobody saw 1991 coming, so who’s to say this isn’t one of those “years of destiny” kind of things?

Starring Kam Fong as Chin Ho

July 13th, 2010
3:54 pm

Great group of guys these Braves are, makes it real easy to be a fan. DOB for all you do, this next Buds for (me) you!!

Wayne in Utah

July 13th, 2010
3:58 pm

Any updates on McLouth and how he’s doing in Gwinnett (don’t have time to go over and check it out). If Nate comes back rejuvenated and playing to his capability, it could make for an interesting decision as to the lineup. I have heard he prefers to bat 2nd or 3rd. Maybe a Prado/McLouth/Chipper top 3 would work?

Go w/ the tractor trailers in the 4 and 5 slots, with Heyward batting 6th. Then our LF or SS, depending on who’s hitting the best.

McFann

Why nervous? It’s a baseball game. Supposed to be fun. Not to worry, Mac will show well for our team.

Mike in La

July 13th, 2010
3:58 pm

Great blog. So proud to be a Braves fan. We’ve got a great team to cheer for that has a legit chance to go all the way. The best part of this success is that the team seems to consist of a group of good people that also happen to be solid players. There are no premadona-scott boras-play for the highest bidder type of players on this team. It may sound funny but I knew that this team was going to be successful after they lost their ninth straight earlier in the year. When Bobby Cox and Chipper stood up and said that the team had gotten in the mess together and would get out of it together, it spoke volumes about the type of character on the team. There was no finger pointing like there would have been in Boston or New York or LA. That’s whats truly special about this organization, and a product of the wonderful work that Bobby has done over his tenure.

RHR

July 13th, 2010
3:59 pm

Thanks for the all star coverage and can’t wait for the Chipper Q & A. He’s liable to say anything, which is what makes his interviews and even just post game quips so great.

CC

July 13th, 2010
4:00 pm

not that I’m pushing for it to happen… but there’s plenty of talk about Cory Hart being available, and it is pretty convenient that Milwaukee is in for a four-game series after the break. So, Braves and Brew Crew have nearly a week of face-to-face meeting time, meanwhile Hart is a power-hitting right-handed outfielder- which is exactly what the Braves appear to need. Perfect fit? Again, not saying we have to do it, but it makes some sense. Then again, this team is playing very well before any trades, so I’s be happy to stand pat as well. Thoughts?

CraZyTRaDeMaN

July 13th, 2010
4:00 pm

Hudson pitches the bottom of the ninth and Omar pinch hits in the top of the ninth. Hits game winning HR. National League wins 2-1 The win goes to Hudson. Omar gets MVP!!! :roll:

Just saying it could happen!!!

Macdaddy

July 13th, 2010
4:01 pm

BravesFanInKy – It must be that notoriously quick Kentucky internet internet connectivity.

In response to the blog – Their postseason chances are as good as it gets. Lord knows the Gnats and Marlins aint coming back. The Phillies don’t have any rhythm and the Mets are a team poised for a meltdown. I think they’ll make the postseason, but a bat needs to be added. Maybe Adam Jones or Austin Kearns.

Geaux Braves!

CraZyTRaDeMaN

July 13th, 2010
4:01 pm

meant to say Hudson pitches bottom of 8th

TNBraves Fan

July 13th, 2010
4:01 pm

Hey DOB any thoughts on Bobby not being selected to help coach the All-Star team with Manuel? I understand picking Bud Black, but Bruce Bochey? Could there be some hard feelings seeing as the Phils are falling fast and the Braves are rising to the top? Kinda makes me sad that Bobby couldn’t get in for his last All-Star game. Also, you’d think that with all the Braves on the team Chuck would want their coach there to help out. Any thoughts??

Chris Snow

July 13th, 2010
4:01 pm

I’m super excited that Prado is starting in the AS game tonight! He more than deserves it and am looking forward to watching the game! And yeah I’d really like for Huddy, Mc Cann, and Infante to get some playing time as well.

Brave4life-1995 all over again??

July 13th, 2010
4:01 pm

Red carpet show

McFann :Ô: :Ô:

July 13th, 2010
4:02 pm

Wayne

I’ve been nervous about pretty much every game since April 18th, 2009. :lol: It’s totally ridiculous, I know…especially for the All-Star Game…

Not to worry, Mac will show well for our team.

Egad…I just keep envisioning him coming up with RISP/2 outs. 8O + :( (That’s for a nervous emoticon.)

Chris Snow

July 13th, 2010
4:02 pm

I thought that Manuel did invite Bobby to coach but he declined.

NC Braves Fan

July 13th, 2010
4:03 pm

I’d feel better about the Braves if they went out and got one more proven RH bat for the outfield. If they do that, they’ve got as good a chance as anyone else of getting back to the Series I would think.

All things equal they could probably win it outright, but I suspect the Phils, Rockies and other competitors are going to be pretty aggressive with trades this month. Should be a fun second half!

nemov

July 13th, 2010
4:04 pm

Cox was asked to come to the All Star Game and declined.

Chris Snow

July 13th, 2010
4:04 pm

I would sure love to see Infante come to bat tonight with runners on and clear the bases…so all the critics can shut the hell up about him not being deserving to be there.

CraZyTRaDeMaN

July 13th, 2010
4:05 pm

Wayne in Utah, He is 4 for 11 he has 1 Hr and 1 SB. A National league scout said it was the best swings he had seen from Mclouth in about a year.

Brave4life-1995 all over again??

July 13th, 2010
4:05 pm

Who is that fat chick A-rod

Heyward4MVP22

July 13th, 2010
4:06 pm

Good blog as always..

I say we finish with 93-95 wins, make the playoffs, who knows what happens once you get in. I like our chances, should be a good 2nd half.

Crime Dog

July 13th, 2010
4:06 pm

I thought that Manuel did invite Bobby to coach but he declined.

That’s what happened. Bobby wanted the days off.

McFann :Ô: :Ô:

July 13th, 2010
4:06 pm

Chris Snow @ 4:04–

YEAH!! :twisted:

Brave4life-1995 all over again??

July 13th, 2010
4:06 pm

Go Braves!

July 13th, 2010
4:07 pm

” it’s easy to forget how dreadful the Braves looked in April, when some fans were convinced their season was over and called for the Braves to have a fire sale and bring up minor league players to prepare for the future.
Seriously, think about that. It happened. GM Frank Wren was being lambasted for a while by some”

And it was the ATL sports reporters leading the way with all the negativity and criticism…..now you act like you’ve been behind the Braves the whole time.

Brave4life-1995 all over again??

July 13th, 2010
4:07 pm

I hope the media didn’t mess with Infante head, he is an all star in my book

chin music

July 13th, 2010
4:07 pm

wow! great stuff, dob! this team looked special from day one. they have one of the most favorable second-half schedules in baseball, a key piece coming back in heyward (and maybe two, if mclouth is recuperated physically and, more importantly, mentally), and serious farm-system pitching depth from which they can deal to get a bat before the trade deadline. i really like this team’s chances of playing in late october if key players can stay healthy.

Rhino

July 13th, 2010
4:10 pm

Wren definitely deserves consideration for exec of the year award if the Braves can keep it up. Glaus and Wagner have been fantastic additions. Melky too!

http://www.rhinorant.com

Supes

July 13th, 2010
4:12 pm

I see that ANDERS voted…he’s the 1 vote for the finish 2nd miss the playoffs…always the optimist that man :SMIRK:

Great blog DOB, nice quotes looking forward to the Chipper Q/A

Crime Dog

July 13th, 2010
4:12 pm

And it was the ATL sports reporters leading the way with all the negativity and criticism…..now you act like you’ve been behind the Braves the whole time.

Hooray for reading comprehension! DOB was talking suicidal Braves bloggers off the ledge in April, but by all means, continue to hate “the media.”

southern hope

July 13th, 2010
4:12 pm

DOB. Dude. You can really write. Seriously.

TBrown

July 13th, 2010
4:12 pm

Question for the ATL residents-

Anyone been to a concert at the Chastain Park Amphitheater? Good venue? Are there good seats/bad seats? Anything happen if it rains? Any input is appreciated.

Thanks guys

bravesgrl4lifeeeeeeeee

July 13th, 2010
4:13 pm

Anybody think that the knock in the head mighta done some good for Nate? Sometimes stuff like that can happen.

McFann :Ô: :Ô:

July 13th, 2010
4:14 pm

Sweet…are they in Disney Land??

Shaun

July 13th, 2010
4:14 pm

According to Baseball Reference’s Simple Rating System (based on run differential and strength of schedule), the Braves are the 5th best team in baseball.

According to Baseball Prospectus and their projection systems, the Braves are expected to win around 93 games this season and have the best record in the NL, the 3rd or 4th best record in baseball and the only team in baseball to hang with the AL East’s big 3.

Granted, these are obviously based on a system that takes into account a number of factors, and it’s impossible to predict the future. But it tells us a lot about how good this team is.

Anyone who criticized Wren has to be kicking himself/herself.

Rob from SC

July 13th, 2010
4:15 pm

Heyward is awesome and getting healthy while Prado might be the MVP of the National League. Medlen has been great, but Jonny Venters has also been fantastic. He really should get ROY votes because he was needed big time.

I think Kimbrel will do the same thing for us in the second half.

Rob from SC

July 13th, 2010
4:15 pm

Rob from SC

July 13th, 2010
3:28 pm
DOB

Is Luis Valdez ever planning on returning to the United States?

bravesgrl4lifeeeeeeeee

July 13th, 2010
4:15 pm

TBrown, I’ve been to a good many concerts at Chastain. Great venue. Small and quite intimate. The biggest problem with it, tho, is for table shows, people go more to socialize than to enjoy the show. However, I was there in May for the ZZTop show and it was not too bad. My ex-boss had season tickets in some sweet seats, and I used to get tickets once in a while. Miss those days as the hubby springs for the cheaper seats :)

Steve from OH

July 13th, 2010
4:17 pm

If Wren doesn’t get consideration for exec of the year, I don’t know who can.

NYC_Brave

July 13th, 2010
4:17 pm

In that poll, I voted for a 2nd place finish and a wild-card spot. I’m trying not to get my hopes up…

thinbreakness

July 13th, 2010
4:19 pm

crazytrade-
Let’s hope, McLouth playing decent sure solves a problem.

Bleakley

July 13th, 2010
4:20 pm

No doubt that this is a playoff team. The Phillies make me nervous in the second half but regardless I see 95 wins. Our pitching could handle anybody in the postseason.So we’ll see…..but I have a great feeling about this ballclub.

alphadawg

July 13th, 2010
4:20 pm

GREAT story today DOB. and the live Neil Young “Like a Hurricane” on youtube just ROCKS. Keep up the good work, please……

Bobbeeee's Cox

July 13th, 2010
4:21 pm

because infante’s value is as a utility man and im talking about dan uggla who would be awesome as a brave

That’s what everyone said about Prado too. Listen, if a “utility” guy starts, how does that limit his versatility? I argued this same concept the last few years when people said Prado was best as a utility guy.

If, say for instance, our LF goes down while Infante is our starting 2B, couldn’t you just move Infante to LF and put someone else at 2B? You could move Infante to LF, Prado to 2B, and Conrad to 3B. It’s the same thing as having him come off the bench.

I don’t know….if Chipper does retire, then I’d rather have Prado at 3rd, and Infante at 2B over Uggla. Better defense, cheaper player where you could spend more on an outfield bat, like a Carl Crawford, and you wouldn’t have to trade away the farm to a division rival.

merculf

July 13th, 2010
4:24 pm

Infante needs to get into the game! What’s the point of bringing a utility player if you won’t use him? Good Luck tonight to all of the Braves!

Brave4life-1995 all over again??

July 13th, 2010
4:25 pm

If Escobar had his usual year he would be at the all-star game. No short stop is having a monster year other than Troy Tulo. Maybe next year Escobar, i still believe in ya

Brave4life-1995 all over again??

July 13th, 2010
4:26 pm

Swisher, Ortiz, Cliff lee………. can they talk about anyone else

Chris Snow

July 13th, 2010
4:27 pm

I think Venters should be our closer next year… I bet Bobby was saving him last Sunday to close the game if needed…course we just couldn’t score any runs in that game.

Rob from SC

July 13th, 2010
4:30 pm

Chris Snow

Cox needs to limit Saito’s innings in the second half big time. He should only be used three times a week

Rob from SC

July 13th, 2010
4:31 pm

we do need to make some adjustments in the pen because in Kawakami and Chavez we have some dead weight.

rrosson3

July 13th, 2010
4:32 pm

DOB

How did Heywards BP go out there in Anaheim?

Brave4life-1995 all over again??

July 13th, 2010
4:32 pm

Brian McCann sitting alone in the chevy :(

bravesgrl4lifeeeeeeeee

July 13th, 2010
4:33 pm

McFann, someone is impersonating you on FB. Here’s a link to the Brian McCann fansite on FB: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Brian-McCann/18262524238?ref=ts&v=wall#!/pages/Brian-McCann/18262524238.

Claims to be his biggest fan, but I believe you are the official one :)

TBrown

July 13th, 2010
4:34 pm

bravesgrl4lifeeeee-

Thank you. I’m assuming the show goes on even if it rains?

Let's Go Bravos!

July 13th, 2010
4:34 pm

Great Job Bravos! I’m looking forward to a great second half of the season. Question, has anyone even seen Kawikami since he moved to the bullpen? I mean I haven’t even seen his face since he’s been put down there.

ncscoots

July 13th, 2010
4:36 pm

You could move Infante to LF, Prado to 2B, and Conrad to 3B.

Face just blew off the CBI meter. Gimme a sec to fix that, before we get a few more posts like that one.

Trey

July 13th, 2010
4:37 pm

We was browsing the ajc and we saw on front page that George Steinbrinner died. We was shocked of the news and we think that the All Star game will make a tribute to Steinbrinner. We hope that doesn’t make the AL more competitive this year in honor of Steinbrinner and beat the NL again. Maybe we was right and the sports world are celebrities and die in threes. We first was saying that three years in a row, three announcers die, but this year two Yankees die. First Bob Sheppard, now George Steinbrinner. We hope Joe Torre’s not next, maybe going to LA will have saved him.

Wrightformvp

July 13th, 2010
4:37 pm

The Braves have indeed had a good 1st half, but I highly doubt that will continue for the second half. I just honestly don’t believe the Braves are that good, and I think this first half has been a fluke. The pitching rotation for the Braves is pretty good. But your outfield is miserable and perhaps the worst in the league. Aside from Jason Heyward, Cabrera, Diaz, Blanco are all 4th outfielders on most teams. McClouth has really lost it, and really hasn’t been good for the Braves at all. Yunel Escobar has regressed and has a really piss poor attitude.

You’ve got no team speed and no real homerun threat in the lineup.

Now you look at the Mets and Phillies.
Both teams has speed and power all through the lineup. The Mets have had spectacular pitching performances and will be even more of an offensive threat once Beltran returns.

The Braves have looked good for the first half, but the Mets and Phillies aren’t going away, and there is no way your team is good enough to compete against either team for the duration of the season. You might win the WC-don’t know, but it will be either the Phils or the Mets who wind up winning the division.

Trey

July 13th, 2010
4:37 pm

Yeah, I copied that from SC.

bravesgrl4lifeeeeeeeee

July 13th, 2010
4:37 pm

I believe so, TBrown. If you google the park, there is probably a rain policy on their website. I say Google it because I’ve always found it to be a little tricky to find.

Brave4life-1995 all over again??

July 13th, 2010
4:38 pm

Harold Reynold says that right now it is a pitching game, but if Jason Heyward was in the game it would
be a offense game. hahahaa

Chris Snow

July 13th, 2010
4:39 pm

LGB I was thinking the same…I’ve seen him in the “pen” , but he hasn’t made any appearances since going there.

Trey

July 13th, 2010
4:39 pm

Yeah, those were words from Sonny.

Shaun

July 13th, 2010
4:40 pm

Bobbeeee’s Cox, Infante, at best, is a league-average hitter and at his age, he is what he is and he’s not likely to get better. Absolutely nothing wrong with that but I’m not sure he should be an everyday player on a contender. That said, I don’t think Uggla is a good option if the Braves want to add an infielder or if we are talking about moving pieces around if Chipper is gone. Uggla is expensive and while he’s had some big seasons, he doesn’t figure to age well especially not relative to what he could command in salary. He’s basically just disciplined enough at the plate to get by and he’s a short, stocky guy; those players often don’t age well.

Jay H.

July 13th, 2010
4:40 pm

Chris Snow
Look at Kimbrell’s numbers, and wait to see him in the second half here before giving that closer’s spot away. I like Venters a lot, but I heard he might be a starter.

Brave4life-1995 all over again??

July 13th, 2010
4:40 pm

WrightforMVP

Yeah, and Pagan will keep up his surge. Face it you are a HOMER just get outa here

Lew

July 13th, 2010
4:41 pm

CC-We’ve discussed a possible acquisition of Hart. Some feel it might be a decent idea, others – like myself – think that he might well be another case (like unfortuNATE) of a player having a career year with a club that has no pressure or expectations to win, hitting for more power than he’s shown in the past in a hitter’s park (which The Ted ain’t). He’ll likely cost a premium worth way more than what you might get in return.

bravesgrl4lifeeeeeeeee

July 13th, 2010
4:41 pm

WrightforMVP = another Mets troll :roll:

Chief Pitchanono

July 13th, 2010
4:41 pm

Looking back as a fan this has been one of the funnest first halfs of Braves baseball in quite a while. Guess it seems kinda sweeter, since its been a few years since we’ve played this well. This is a great team and something the whole city should be proud of. As with everybaseball season the excitement will hit a new level for the second half as the playoffs get closer and most of us can’t hardly wait. Gotta keep it going and finish this thing so they can send Bobby, Chipper and Wags out on top.

Bobbeeee's Cox

July 13th, 2010
4:42 pm

scoots,

what’s wrong with that post? What needs to be fixed? Just saying, it doesn’t affect Infante’s versatility if you have him starting next year if Chipper retires. It doesn’t mean you can’t have these guys play other positions if there is a need for them to. And, it certainly doesn’t mean a player is more useful as a utility guy than a starter. If a player can play, you play them. Were you joking again or what? I’m confused ;)

thinbreakness

July 13th, 2010
4:43 pm

Wright for MVP-
That was funny, good laugh, good laugh

Chris Snow

July 13th, 2010
4:44 pm

I just love seeing Venters come in late in the game with that nasty ass sinker of his, and sending the opposing batters back to their dugout shaking their heads! He has been something else, that is for sure!

Supes

July 13th, 2010
4:45 pm

Darn…ANDERS managed to vote again from a different IP addy :SMIRK: Way to go sir!

Lew

July 13th, 2010
4:45 pm

Bobbeee’s Cox-Infante himself indicated in an interview in the past couple days that he’s a utility player. The problem with putting good utility players in starting roles is that you usually weaken your pool of utility players and by extension, the team.

The Braves have been successful this year specifically BECAUSE they have a great bench. No sens weakening what has been a strength. Would you prefer a bench of Orr, Woodward and Willie Harris like we’ve had in the past? Where did that get us.

Omar’s not worried about being a role player or accepting his role. You shouldn’t be either.

Bob Sheppard

July 13th, 2010
4:45 pm

Ladies and gentleman, now being rejected from the gates of heaven, number 666, the designated ahole, George Steinbrenner, number 666

Shannon Herrmann

July 13th, 2010
4:46 pm

Thanks for writing this! I really enjoy the posts like this where the players are candid and relaxed! Great team and I’m so excited about the second half!!!

rrosson3

July 13th, 2010
4:46 pm

20 bucks infante gets game winning hit!

Wrightformvp

July 13th, 2010
4:46 pm

Laugh now thinbreakness, but what I am telling you is true. The Mets and Phillies are both better than the Braves. Period. And even if the Braves pull of winning the division, you don’t hold a candle to the teams that will be in the playoffs. Red Sox, Yankees and Rays. I would prepare myself if I were you, because unless your GM trades for another bat in the outfield, your luck is going to run out. And I’m hearing your GM is NOT going to make a trade, because he thinks that having Nate McClouth and Jason Heyward back would be like mid season trades. Heyward maybe-McClouth? Laughable.

Lew

July 13th, 2010
4:47 pm

And if Chippr DOES retire, we’ll have $14 mil to use to replace him. Do that by signing a more marquee free agent and keep a strong bench. If you have the $$$$$, makes no sense to go the cheap route.

ncscoots

July 13th, 2010
4:48 pm

If a player can play, you play them. Were you joking again or what? I’m confused

Sorry, man. I can’t resist a little poke when the scrub-love starts getting hip-deep. Infante/Conrad/Prado is more like getaway-day than every-day.

Crime Dog

July 13th, 2010
4:49 pm

Remember that one time the Mets won a division? Me neither.

Shaun

July 13th, 2010
4:49 pm

Both teams has speed and power all through the lineup.– Wrightformvp

Offense is mostly about getting on base and slugging. And winning is about run differential (run creation and run prevention). You completely ignored run prevention regarding the NL East race.

The Phillies appear to have enough to win the division. The Mets are probably a longer shot but wouldn’t be shocking if they win it. And of course the Braves are perfectly capable too because they probably have better run prevention than those two teams and their run creation is not too shabby either. If you take off the fan glasses for a moment and are objective, you’ll see things as they really are. I know that’s hard for a lot of sports fans to do.

Bobbeeee's Cox

July 13th, 2010
4:49 pm

I have to give credit where credit is due, because I finally broke down and ripped TP a new one after the 8th loss of that 9 game losing streak. TP has got this team hitting at the plate the way I always wanted them to during their 15 year run. Guys aren’t wasting at-bats, nor swinging for the fences. They making it tough on opposing pitchers, etc….being patient in each at-bat which gets them opportunities later in the games, and it’s paid off thus far. It’s a completely different mentality that the Braves teams in the past, and now my expectations are the highest they’ve ever been as a fan because of that and the pitching they throw out there every day.

Love Chipper’s quotes too.

Brave4life-1995 all over again??

July 13th, 2010
4:49 pm

WrightforMVP

.” And I’m hearing your GM is NOT going to make a trade” , Where do you get your sources. IDIOT. Oh yeah and ii heard that the Mets didnt get Cliff lee, the 2nd option is Jake Westbrook. Yeah he will get you to the playoffs.

thinbreakness

July 13th, 2010
4:50 pm

Fair enough, Wrightformvp. We don’t have to agree, and we sure don’t have to settle the matter ourselves; the teams will do that.

RC

July 13th, 2010
4:51 pm

Wrightformvp,

The points you made about the Braves’ weakness in your first post were all true….yet they still are 4 games up at the break. I don’t buy the “they were lucky” rationale, so tell me exactly what is going to change over the next 2.5 months that will cause them to fall back in the race. If anything I’d say they are likely to improve upon those shortcomings, making them an even stronger team.

Brave4life-1995 all over again??

July 13th, 2010
4:51 pm

WirhgtforMVP

Ike David look like crap at the plate just cause he ht a HR in the series doesnt mean crap. The dude has no plate discipline. breaking balls will easily get him out.

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