The Braves have won seven of their last 10, which qualifies as a hot streak for a .500 team that hasn’t been north of break-even since June 9 (they were 29-28 after a 4-3 win over Pittsburgh).
It’s a good sign for a team that has had to blow up the blueprint more than a few times this season. But with the trade deadline (July 31) just 11 days away, their post-season chances aren’t any clearer than they were weeks ago. Consider:
♦ National League East: It’s not concession time yet. But Philadelphia leads the Braves by 6 1/2 games and, more importantly, by eight in the loss column. The Phillies have won eight straight and 12 of 13 since being swept at Turner Field. Logic says they’ve already gone through their funk and they’re not going to go through another. The lineup is too good. The pitching might be getting better. They’ve taken a low-cost flier on Pedro Martinez and they’re probably leading the Roy Halladay sweepstakes. (Philly has scouted all of Halladay’s starts lately, including even the All-Star Game. Toronto has been scouting the Phils’ minor-league teams.) Bottom line: Winning the East looks like a long shot.
♦ Wild-card race: The biggest plus to taking three of four from New York is it pretty much buried the Mets in the wild-card race. But the Braves are still only tied for fifth at 4 1/2 behind San Francisco — tonight’s opponent. That’s the difficulty of winning the wild-card — not all the teams you’re battling lose at the same time because they’re playing each other.
So here’s the question (and I think I know your answer): If you’re Braves general manager Frank Wren, what do you do? Commit to trying to make the playoffs this season or start looking toward next year? The answer would be easy — commit to this season — if the trade deadline wasn’t coming up. Going to the game tonight but just curious to hear your thoughts.