ESPN still likes Phillies, but everybody has issues in East

Since the Braves have won the first two games on this home stand and so many people seem excited again about the team’s chances to win the National League East, I thought it would be good idea today to get a sampling of what’s being written about their primary competition in the division: Philadelphia, New York and Florida. I’m sure I will hear about this from Stan Kasten in Washington.

You know what stands out? Nobody seems to be terribly thrilled. (That said, I still don’t see the Braves winning the division. For my one-sided debate with Mark Bradley, click here for this week’s Wednesday Face Off.)

Around the division:

From Philadelphia . . .

♦ Former major-leaguer Eric Young wrote for ESPN that the Phillies fans shouldn’t be concerned, despite a recent stretch that saw the team lose seven of eight games. Here’s his kicker: “The biggest reason why there is no reason to worry about the Phillies, even when they fall into ruts like the one they’ve experience the past 11 days or so, is simple: No other team in the N.L. East has the kind of talent the Phillies have. The Mets’ have major holes in their rotation, the Marlins are too young and the Braves don’t have enough hitting to make the necessary run.”

♦ Rich Hoffman, a pal from the Philadelphia Daily News, counters that there is something to worry about — and that the Phillies need another pitcher to close the deal. The core of his argument: “It is true that Brad Lidge will have to come back and be Brad Lidge again, or none of this will work. It is also true that Jimmy Rollins will have to be some semblance of Jimmy Rollins again or this offense never will reach its potential, especially in the absence of the injured Raul Ibanez. But more starting pitching would help everybody. … It is what fixed a floundering Phillies team last summer and it is what will be needed to fix a floundering Phillies team this summer.”

From New York . . .

♦ John Harper of the New York Daily News said the Mets are so desperate to create offense that in Tuesday’s 3-0 loss to St. Louis — with a runner on base and nobody out – manager Jerry Manuel “tried what amounted to a fake-bunt, hit-and-run that backfired as [Livan] Hernandez swung and missed and [Luis] Castillo was thrown out stealing.” Quoth Manuel: “With the lack of offense, we have to be creative.”

♦ The Newark Star-Ledger referenced New York’s injury problems – Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado and Jose Reyes all are on the disabled list – and said the issue is magnified by the recent struggles of Gary Sheffield. Sheffield is hitting only .250 in June after a .348 May and Manuel has rested him in three of the last four games. That leaves no protection in the lineup for David Wright. Manuel on Sheffield: “It’s no secret that his legs [are] still somewhat bothering him.”

From South Florida . . .

♦ Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald notes that the Marlins went from a potential crushing defeat (blowing a 6-1 lead) to defeating Baltimore in 12 innings, which lifted Florida to a .500 record for the first time since May 13. The most relieved player: closer Matt Lindstrom, who was handed a 6-3 lead in the ninth but allowed three runs and four hits in two-thirds of an inning.

26 comments Add your comment

Hillbilly Deluxe

June 24th, 2009
3:09 pm

The Fish have a history of good second half runs. They may well pull it off. The Mets, being the Mets, will probably implode.

RDM

June 24th, 2009
3:31 pm

The Braves don’t have the bats. They are no better than a .500 ball club, unless several guys really pick it up.

TMoney

June 24th, 2009
3:32 pm

I’ve noticed a trend with the Braves each year through the 2006 season: June is their worst month. Here’s my evidence.

2006: 6-21, .222 winning percentage. 2007: 13-15, .464 winning percentage. 2008: 11-16, .407 winning percentage. 2009: 9-11, .450 winning percentage. When we say that this is a make or break home stand, it is absolutely true. With 6 games to go in June, the Braves can end the month with anywhere between a .577 winning percentage and a .346 winning percentage for the month. As it has been the previous 3 seasons, now is the time when the Braves with either bend, or break.

Cody

June 24th, 2009
3:56 pm

Phillies all the way. Mr. Schultz kind sir…any idea on when the fine city of Los Angeles might get an NFL franchise. It was a hot topic in recent years, but the hip southern Californians are still waiting. I sort of miss the ol’ Rams even though they use to slap our beloved Falcons around on a yearly basis. I would be an interesting part of a blog for us patiently waiting football fans.

Larry

June 24th, 2009
4:36 pm

Yet another obvious article from a cream puff AJC writer. Honestly now, did anyone learn anything whatsoever from this?

David

June 24th, 2009
4:49 pm

Why doesn’t anybody call out Liberty Media for not spending any money?
Why should we spend our hard earned money for tickets if they won’t spend some money on players?

John

June 24th, 2009
4:54 pm

The Braves are terrible and I hope they lose everytime until Chippie is gone. Eleven errows in what, 45 games. An all-star is suppose to be good in the field and hitter. I see Hanson has got talent but he’s hard down nasty looking. Despite all my dilikes, I still like the Yankees if for no other reason, they are clean cut.

Adam

June 24th, 2009
5:18 pm

Hitting opens the game up and we’re asking a group of above average starters to be Hall of Famers.

Philly’s hitting allows their pitchers to be average.
Ditto New York (when they get their guys back).

Florida is the team capable of making the run — good young pitching…. good young hitting.
Remind you of a team we once had?? (’91).

SimpleDawg

June 24th, 2009
5:28 pm

Don’t give up on the Braves just yet.

Good starting pitching is like the “cream that rises to the top”…..it usually shows up over time. The Braves have been getting pretty good starting pitching, and now that Moylan is beginning to produce outs instead of runs, the bullpen looks better.

The bats are showing some signs of life. If Frenchy can continue to try to stifle his urge to swing at every pitch, even he may prove to be an asset to the offense instead of the automatic out. Prado needs to play second base more….less KJ is better. KJ has the prettiest since Bob Horner; his only problem is that he has contact issues.

Oh by the way, whoever the moron is who suggested that we trade Chipper should retire or go wherever Terrence Moore went…..we get rid of one idiot, and another pops up.

Supes

June 24th, 2009
5:33 pm

Schultz…

Pitching wins over hitting in baseball (in the long run).

Braves have the deepest, most consistant starting rotation in the NL East, and the pen isn’t “half bad” with Soriano and Gonzo closing out games.

The one thing the Braves sorely need is…TIMELY hitting with RISP. Clutch hits. Don’t need to score 10 runs like the Phillies to win games.

Just keep scoring 4 or more runs per game, getting those timely hits.

Pitching and defense (which as of late has been really subpar), plus timely defense and maybe the Braves can pull this division out.

johnny bravo

June 24th, 2009
5:52 pm

just think of all the great pitching lost by an awful offense. they’re capable but do they have the desire,

johnny bravo

June 24th, 2009
5:57 pm

btw, this stretch of home games will tell us if they’re indeed wanna be a part of the east race. looks up for grabs now

Paul H

June 24th, 2009
6:16 pm

It’s a shame how many great pitching performances have been wasted by this brutal offense (and middle bullpen). Until the offense steps up, it’s another 4th place finish.

Mitch C

June 24th, 2009
6:30 pm

These points are why I told you in your other post that the Braves are not out of it. Right now, there is no other team in the division that scares me where I can say “This team (The Mets, Phils, or Marlins, is going to win 90 to 95 games, and put us away by August). This year may well turn out to be like 1973, where four of the five teams, except the Nats, hang around, and the division is decided by whoever is hot for a week or two in September. Philly has a chance to put some space between themselves and the Mets and Braves, especially with the Mets injury problems, but, so far, it hasnt happened, and will hopefully continue not to happen.

Mitch

Mitch C

June 24th, 2009
6:34 pm

I should also mention one other thing. I have the MLB extra innings package, and I listen to many of the games each night, even just in passing, besides the Braves. I turned on the Mets-Cards game last night, and, from the way Met announcers Gary Cohen, Ron Darling, and Keith Hernandez were talking, it sounded as if they were resigned to saying the same thing I just said. Their position was “If we can just hang around, until the two Carlos, and Reyes get back, then we have a chance. As long as Philly, or the other teams dont get hot”.

I will be shocked if the Mets make any kind of run now. Philly is the team to watch right now, but so far, it hasnt happened.

Mitch

Be-little, BeBOLD

June 24th, 2009
6:45 pm

Bring back Mark DeRosa and force both Frenchy and Johnson to produce or be replaced by Prado and DeRo since Mark can play OF/IF . . . think that just might change things.

o-me

June 24th, 2009
7:04 pm

Frenchy and Guillen deal in works..ESPN rumor

CTrim

June 24th, 2009
7:26 pm

We might have a shot if we let Kurt Rambis manange the away games.

John

June 24th, 2009
8:09 pm

How in the world can you watch the after game show Mitch. Jon and Joe are worse that a pregnant girl showing up naming you as you are giving your wedding vows. I mute them all game. I wish both of them would get lockjaw.

@jpaulrussell

June 25th, 2009
1:27 am

So, if Kelly doesnt get hot in the next week or two do the Braves try to trade to make up for lack of offense or do they rely on Omar Infante when he comes back? Also what in the hell do they do to get Yunel to keep his head in the game for 9 innings? Did you see that throw down by McCann…? On the money hti the guy in the back! Catch it in from of the runner ADJUST…or if youre Yunel … let it get past you and into the outfield.

Kevin

June 25th, 2009
7:19 am

But they voted bobby cox as the best manager to lose for i mean play for…chipper loves bobby just wish show it on field at times like fenchy n and that so called second baseman…Oh yea kelly johnson!I’m sorry braves had chance should won if bennett not in game but old cox puts in a bad pitcher again.Oh well maybe Nick green can hit 3 homers friday at fenway park um i mean Turner field!Go braves oh wait maybe redsox oh gee maybe G-Braves oh well someone will win…here in georgia!

Hilton Head Island

June 25th, 2009
10:45 am

Even in the midst of the Braves’ unprecedented 14-year run, the sports media-at-large found it difficult to say anything positive about them. The Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, and Phillies are the darlings of the MLB media because they’ve all spent so much money that they’re SUPPOSED to win, they’re supposed to be the best, they’re supposed to embarrass the rest of baseball, they’re supposed to be justifying their expenditures. Well, with the exception of the Red Sox, that hasn’t exactly happened this year and the “can’t miss” teams with ridiculous payrolls like the Mets and Phillies find themselves mediocre, with many problems, and just a shade ahead of the “hapless” Braves. ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE…although as long as Cox continues to use Jeff Bennett our chances are lessened.

BTW Jeff, you wrote about numbers yesterday and how they show the Braves have no chance this year…look at Jeff Bennet’s line from last night. It doesn’t look all that bad, and neither does his ERA for the year for that matter, but how many games has he lost for us? How many inherited runners has he allowed to score this year? A boat load. Just a little proof that numbers are not always what they appear.

GO BRAVES! AND GO HOME JEFF BENNETT!!

Coach ( 2010 or Bust)

June 26th, 2009
1:36 am

SELL

SELL

SELL

Did I say SELLLLLLLLLLL !!!!! Yes, I did.

John

June 28th, 2009
12:34 pm

While the offense comes to us courtesy of Frank Wren and the cheapskates at Liberty Media it is the responsibility of Bobby Cox to get things moving in a different direction.Why are there no heads rolling on the floor of the dugout? We are pretty much stuck with the position players we have, but we need a field manager with some fire and competitive spirit. We need some change we can believe in and we need it NOW!!

ManOfTeal

July 2nd, 2009
8:51 am

The Marlins will win the division this year. Go Marlins!!!!

Homer

July 9th, 2009
10:54 am

FIRE SCHULTZ!!