Never let it be said that I don’t try to serve the audience. Here’s a little something with which to disagree while you’re sitting around monitoring the Braves-Cubs game this afternoon. Here are first-half Braves superlatives, and whatever the opposite of superlative might be.
Most Valuable Player: Javier Vazquez. I didn’t much like this trade over the winter, but only a fool would argue with the results. He has outpitched Derek Lowe (by quite a bit) and Jair Jurrjens (barely). But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t trade Vazquez for the right big bat.
Least Valuable Player: It’s tempting to say Greg Norton — hard to top, as it were, a .098 batting average — but nobody really expected much of Norton. And I’m sure Kelly Johnson (.214 BA) will receive much support in this competitive category, and I can’t say as Casey Kotchman has done all that much, either. But Jeff Francoeur is the choice: He has 18 extra-base hits and 12 walks in 316 plate appearances. That’s awful.
Best rookie: Here’s a hint — his first name’s Tommy.
Worst rookie: Jordan Schafer had 34 hits against 63 strikeouts before being demoted. He hit a home run on Opening Night in Philly and only one thereafter. He wasn’t ready. And now he’s blocked by Nate McLouth.
Best outfielder: This is a bit like being the most accomplished ice fisherman in Florida, but it is, virtually by default, Glidin’ Garret Anderson. He has five home runs and 30 RBIs in 216 at-bats, which makes him the Babe Ruth of this crew.
Best series: Martin Prado against the Phillies last week — 7-for-12, four extra-base hits, six RBIs.
Worst outing: Jeff Bennett against the Yankees on June 23. Yielded the go-ahead single to A-Rod and a homer to Nick Swisher, and in between he broke the little finger on his left hand by punching a door. This revelation prompted Blindog to offer this on the ol’ blog: “When I read that Jeff Bennett had broken his non-pitching hand, I thought … which one?”
Best game: The 5-4 defeat of Philly last Tuesday. Prado had four hits and four RBIs, three of which tied the game, the last of which won it.
Worst game: The 1-0 loss to Boston and the ancient knuckleballer Tim Wakefield. Not because it was so poorly played but because the Braves seemed so … helpless.
Wildest week: The Braves demoted Jordan Schafer, released Tom Glavine, traded for Nate McLouth, promoted Tommy Hanson, got trashed by John Smoltz and Glavine, apologized to Glavine and managed to get shut out in consecutive games by Milwaukee. That was June 1 through June 7. A month later, I’m still dizzy.
Worst season by a Hall of Fame manager: Let’s stipulate by saying a bad season by Bobby Cox would be the best season Bobby Valentine has ever had. But still … the Braves have pitched too well to be under .500 at this late date. No, they can’t hit much, but Cox waited too long — bloggers, take a bow — to bench Kelly Johnson and to let Francoeur linger as his everyday right fielder.
Best-case scenario: The Phillies don’t find any pitching and the Mets never get healthy and the Braves win the NL East by default.
Worst-case scenario: Frank Wren gets antsy and trades away the rest of the farm system for a short-term rental bat and the Braves do as they did when they got Mark Teixeira two Julys ago — finish third anyway.