We’re LIVE from Braves (who beat up the bottom feeders)

I don't know why -- I just felt like posting a picture of the Brooks Conrad/grand slam postgame celebration again.

Don't know why -- I just felt like posting a picture of the Brooks Conrad, grand slam, postgame celebration again. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

If we still can’t be certain how good the Braves are this season, at least this much seems clear: They know how to bank victories against the teams they’re supposed to.

Just did a little calculating before tonight’s game against Pittsburgh. The Braves are 15-4 against the bottom six teams in the National League. That includes the Pirates (3-1), Florida (2-1), Chicago (2-1), Milwaukee (3-0)., Arizona (2-1) and Houston (3-0).

Against the others? Not so great.

Just subtract 15-4 from the Braves’ overall record of 26-22 and you’re left with an 11-18 record against the other teams. This is noteworthy because after finishing this series against Pittsburgh, the Braves play 14 of their next 17 games against Philadelphia (27-20), Los Angeles (27-21), Minnesota (28-20) and Tampa Bay (33-16).

In short, we will get a much better feel for the Braves’ postseason chances by mid-June when that difficult run is complete. This is likely to be central to an expanded column that I work on later.

General manager Frank Wren said he believes the 11-18 record is overstated because of the Braves’ early offensive problems during a nine-game losing streak. But he doesn’t completely discount it.

“I think part of that is skewed because when we were going through that nine-game losing streak we were playing the best teams,” he said. “We were just not playing very good baseball. But I think we match up well with teams. If we’re going to have a good season, we’re going to have to play well against those teams as well, and I think we will.”

Moving Martin Prado to leadoff and Jason Heyward to the two hole obviously has helped the lineup. In the last nine games, the team has scored 54 runs, an average of 6.0 per game. They shouldn’t take a step back tonight. Pirates starter Brian Burres has an earned run average of 5.40. In his last three starts, he has lasted only a combined 13 2/3 innings, allowing 14 runs (12 earned) and 19 hits.

So how do you feel about the Braves right now? Are you comfortable with their lineup as it stands?

I’ll be blogging live if you’re not too busy grilling to ask questions.

178 comments Add your comment

Mike S

May 29th, 2010
6:22 pm

Hows the weather in Atl ? Rain ?

sean

May 29th, 2010
6:29 pm

I posted this line from the get go.
1. Prado
2. Heyward
3. Chipper
It just makes since. One time Chipper was asked about Heyward being up there and he said that they would be top heavy. I’m glag the move was made.

Real UT

May 29th, 2010
6:29 pm

The lineup is pretty decent. I still don’t get why McOut is still playing CF against lefties. Actually, I don’t get why he is still playing at all. Yeah the guy was an All-Star, but it was with the Pirates as their only representative. He is pretty terrible at the plate. I guess his defense is good, but it’s like having two pitchers in the lineup right now, and even the pitchers probably have more hits than McOut over the past week. It seems like Melky in CF and Omar/Hinske in LF would make a much more competitive line up. Than again, we’re playing the Buccos, so as long as Cox doesn’t do anything crazy, like last Sunday’s lineup, this should be an easy sweep. I agree that we’ll really see who this team is over the next month.

Del

May 29th, 2010
6:31 pm

Jeff, Who is starting in CF tonight? Didn’t think I would ever say this, but I hope it is Melky. Enough of Mr Strikeout already!!

AdirondackDave

May 29th, 2010
6:32 pm

Jeff — Is the grim weather in sight yet?

todd grantham

May 29th, 2010
6:33 pm

Jeffrey, you hit the nail on the head. bottom feeders. it wont be so pretty on the upcoming road trip i”m afraid.

sean

May 29th, 2010
6:36 pm

I dont understand why Omar dosen’t play left field against left handers.

AdirondackDave

May 29th, 2010
6:36 pm

UT — Nate is still playing because Diaz is out for another month or so. When Matt’s back and healthy Nate becomes the club’s pinch runner.

AdirondackDave

May 29th, 2010
6:38 pm

Sean — Omar in left against lefties also makes a lot more sense than McLouth.

Bob Horner stayed hurt

May 29th, 2010
6:39 pm

Dang Jeff…you tell the truth..and it makes me worry about the Braves….those stats were ugly…and Todd, you’ll eat those words….(I hope…)

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Denita Clara and TDC, Jeff Schultz. Jeff Schultz said: We’re LIVE from Braves (who beat up the bottom feeders) http://bit.ly/aNzrjy [...]

Mike S

May 29th, 2010
6:43 pm

AdirondackDave if Diaz is going to be a regular when he returns where will he play LF ? if so Nate or Melky will start in CF.Then where does Hinske go ?

Jeff Schultz

May 29th, 2010
6:45 pm

Mike S. — No rain yet. But it looks threatening.

Snickerz

May 29th, 2010
6:46 pm

Can’t Infante play centerfield? I mean, I guess Nate is better defensively, but Id like to see that as a way for Omar Infante to get some starts.

Too bad Schafer is not looking good in AAA.

Jeff Schultz

May 29th, 2010
6:46 pm

Real UT — I agree with you on McLouth (or McOut as you put it). That’s why organization is hoping/praying Jordan Schafer comes around and eventually fills that spot.

Jeff Schultz

May 29th, 2010
6:47 pm

Del — McLouth starts in center and bats eighth.

Jeff Schultz

May 29th, 2010
6:47 pm

Adirondack — Not wet yet.

Jeff Schultz

May 29th, 2010
6:48 pm

Todd Grantham — Thanks. Chipper actually used “bottom feeders” in a quote, which I’ll use later.

Real UT

May 29th, 2010
6:49 pm

Jeff, is that why they signed the most recent Cuban defector? I think his name is something Gomez. That signing kind of made me think Schafer may be struggling a little, but I guess it could also be to fill a spot in AAA?

NEW CARS

May 29th, 2010
6:54 pm

It’s funny that a year ago everyone was on the Braves for NOT beating up on the weaker teams. As a matter of fact, we would have probably made the playoffs had we played a little against the likes of the Nats and the Pirates….It doesn’t matter how you get 90-95 wins, but it is a lot easier if you whip the folks you’re supposed to…It means less pressure against the Phils and Cards….

Mike S

May 29th, 2010
6:54 pm

Doesn’t look like there’s much help down on the farm unless Schafer gets it going, with Glaus producing they won’t be rushing Freddie Freeman up. Do you see the Braves trying to find some help on the trade market ? If so what would they look for?

rekingball

May 29th, 2010
6:54 pm

Reid Adair

May 29th, 2010
6:56 pm

“General manager Frank Wren said he believes the 11-18 record is overstated because of the Braves’ early offensive problems during a nine-game losing streak.”

Yes, that would be “offensive problems” led by some of Wren’s prized acquisitions – Melky Cabrera, Troy Glaus, Eric Hinske and Nate McLouth.

“But he doesn’t completely discount it.”

Probably because the facts can’t be discounted.

Wren wanted all of us to believe that the off-season signings of Cabrera, Glaus and Hinske were going to signfiicantly improve the Braves’ everyday lineup. So far, surprise! Wren’s been wrong. The worst part may well be how much Cabrera has played, even though he’s not an everyday player.

jesse james

May 29th, 2010
7:02 pm

Ross may be the best backup catcher in the majors. He deserves alot of credit for the turnaround. It is great to see someone that puts the team first in this day of individuals. Don’t you feel sorry for Milton Bradley?

rekingball

May 29th, 2010
7:04 pm

Several of the wins in the last 2 or 3 weeks are the results of significant contributions, from some of Wren’s acquisitions.

clay

May 29th, 2010
7:04 pm

the braves will be fine on the upcoming part of the schedule. just think even if we only 4 of the nine games during the nine game losing streak. That puts that “other” record at 14-13 against the other teams. So everyone dont doubt the braves. they have turned the ship around.

extremus

May 29th, 2010
7:05 pm

It was very good to see Derek Lowe have a good outing last night; it may be the best he’s pitched for the Braves since his opening start last year. Hopefully he and the other starters can reign it in and overcome the inconsistencies and bugaboos (read: no wins for Kawakami) that have so far frustrated them at times. Overall the pitching staff seems to be okay, though if Kawakami fails to win in even his next two tries I would look for help in Gwinnett for another fifth starter.

The lineup still has some problems, obviously. Brian McCann continues to struggle with vision issues and hasn’t been playing at 100 percent health-wise, it seems. Chipper is, let’s face it, now more of a table-setter than a realistic power threat, so perhaps he and Heyward actually should swap spots in the batting order. Nate McLouth and Melky Cabrera have both underperformed to the point of pretty much being automatic outs all season. Yunel Escobar, who seemed to be heating up a bit in Florida, looked frustrated again last night. I’m personnally for putting Infante in at shortstop for awhile if Escobar doesn’t get things together fast. As for the outfield, I think bringing up Mitch Jones could help at least in the area of production if not defensively. Jones strikes out a lot but has a lot of power, and frankly I can’t see how he could be as bad as McLouth and Cabrera have been.

Another possibility is in getting outside help via trade before the deadline. I don’t think we need a “big name” necessarily, but certainly a solid, consistent catalyst, perhaps a speedy table-setter or a servicable guy who hits for average and decent power for the outfield. It’ll be interesting to see if Frank Wren will make any moves, because from the look of things, the NL East may now be the best division in baseball top-to-bottom. The Braves simply can’t afford to ignore their needs if they want to get back to the postseason this year.

rekingball

May 29th, 2010
7:05 pm

Feel sorry for Milton Bradley’s teammates.

rekingball

May 29th, 2010
7:08 pm

I was wondering if tonights game, or tommorows game is the one out of the three game series, that Cox doesn’t care about winning.
2 out of 3 is what he likes to do.

Jeff Schultz

May 29th, 2010
7:13 pm

Real UT — His name is Yasser Gomez.

Jeff Schultz

May 29th, 2010
7:14 pm

That wasn’t even close. Unless Glaus missed tag, McCutchen was out by a mile on Medlen’s pickoff to first.

jesse james

May 29th, 2010
7:18 pm

rekingball – I’m like you about some of our lineups, but over a 162 game schedule I guess it has payed off some years. I guess that is why I will always have great respect for the oldtimers and especially Cal Ripken. Like Cal said I can rest from November to February. Put me in Coach.

Jeff Schultz

May 29th, 2010
7:22 pm

Medlen walks first two of the game and gets out of it. Braves coming up: Prado-Heyward-Chipper.

J.J.M

May 29th, 2010
7:26 pm

Hey Jeff whats the chances of heyward doing the home run derby this season?

Jeff Schultz

May 29th, 2010
7:27 pm

Anybody out there think this kid has a chance to stick?

Real UT

May 29th, 2010
7:27 pm

Heyward SMASH!

Real UT

May 29th, 2010
7:27 pm

Heyward SMASH!

J.J.M

May 29th, 2010
7:27 pm

and thats the reason I asked lol

Jeff Schultz

May 29th, 2010
7:31 pm

Surprise! Chipper Jones stole a base. Bigger surprise! He got up!

Real UT

May 29th, 2010
7:31 pm

Chipper with a steal? Wow, he must be feeling good now.

RJ in KS

May 29th, 2010
7:31 pm

Jeff, what are realistic numbers for Jason by the end of the season? Have his numbers already exceeded what the front office was hoping for?

DHD

May 29th, 2010
7:32 pm

Why do you AJC guys have yet ANOTHER article about Francoeur???? Let it go, would you? It is AMAZING at how many article you do on former players. Wow.

D B Cooper

May 29th, 2010
7:33 pm

I dont have faith in the pitching staff yet. They are 1 injury from gettin shelled every 4th nite. Lets see in mid summer when the arms have some innings on them.

Jeff Schultz

May 29th, 2010
7:33 pm

RJ in KS — Jason’s current numbers, demeanor and pretty much everything you could have imagined have exceeded everybody’s expectations. Everybody knew he was good, but not like this.

Jeff Schultz

May 29th, 2010
7:34 pm

DHD — I didn’t do anything on Francoeur. Don’t know what you’re talking about.

Jeff Schultz

May 29th, 2010
7:34 pm

D.B. Cooper — Jurrjens is a huge injury, given what he means to this staff. He needs to come back strong.

Real UT

May 29th, 2010
7:37 pm

Jeff, do you think Medlen has any shot at staying in the rotation if and when JJ is healthy and starting again? Do you think maybe they’ll move KK to the pen?

Real UT

May 29th, 2010
7:39 pm

Maybe I asked that at the wrong time…..

DaveinNEPA

May 29th, 2010
7:42 pm

Somebody explain to me why Bobby has Escobar hitting 5th tonight.If Hinske and McCann aren’t playing tonight, I think it would make more sense to have Ross batting 5th and leave Escobar in the 7 hole.

Jeff Schultz

May 29th, 2010
7:45 pm

Real UT — I’d think that’s a real possibility. But I also think it will be a little while before Jurrjens is back. Hamstrings are tricky, like ankles. Can’t rush it or you can have a significant setback.