The view from Philly: First-place Braves are nothing special

The "easy out" celebrates a home run -- against Philadelphia. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

The "easy out" celebrates a home run -- against Philadelphia. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Bob Ford of the Philadelphia Inquirer still believes the road to the World Series runs through Philadelphia, and maybe it does. A check of the NL East standings, however, reveals that the regal Phillies are six games behind a team that Mr. Ford doesn’t regard as anything special.

Writes Ford:

The Braves are a nice team, really nice in some ways, but the notion that leapfrogging the Braves would require super-human effort is ridiculous. The Phillies, if they play as they can, have nothing to worry about, either from Atlanta or from their alleged co-rivals, the Mets.

Me, I’m a worrier by nature. Were I six games behind the Bad News Bears with 70 games remaining, I’d be getting antsy. More Ford:

The Braves are nothing like the team that so recently dominated the division. Those Atlanta teams were built on great starting staffs, just enough offense and some decent power production in the launching pads of Fulton County Stadium and Turner Field.

What do the Braves have now? Well, they have a [six]-game lead over the Phillies and they have a great player in second baseman Martin Prado and an ace starter in Tim Hudson. Beyond that, they have as many peaks and valleys as any other team …

Beyond Hudson, Atlanta’s staff includes talented young Jair Jurrjens who is just back from the disabled list and carrying around a 4.75 ERA. Kris Medlen had a good first half of the season, but he has just 15 career starts and how he will hold up is unknown. There is Derek Lowe, who won Sunday to go 10-8, but with another ERA over four runs per game. There is Tommy Hanson , also just above .500 and another ERA over four runs. Perhaps on a given day, with one given game to win, Tim Hudson would be a problem, but there isn’t much separating the starting staff from that of the Phillies.

To be fair, Mr. Ford does credit the Braves as having the better bullpen, though he wonders if, “with one game to save, you’d feel any more comfortable with [Billy] Wagner than with Brad Lidge. By the end of the season, the difference could be minuscule.” (Well, I suppose it could.)

And the Braves’ offense, which has outhit Philly’s .261 to .255 and ranks first in the National League in on-base percentage — the Phillies are 12th — is likewise seen as inconsequential. Writes Mr. Ford:

On offense, the Braves are 12th in the National League in slugging percentage. Among their players with enough at-bats to be eligible for league leadership, only Prado is hitting better than .270. Troy Glaus and Brian McCann, the all-star MVP, have decent power numbers, but they are also easy outs. Chipper Jones, the holdover from the previous era, is battling a hamstring injury and has been inconsistent at the plate.

I am now going to cite a first baseman’s on-base percentage. It is .366. I am now going to cite another first baseman’s on-base percentage. It is .357. The first first baseman is Glaus. The second is Ryan Howard. Easy out, eh?

I could do this back-and-forth all day, but I’ll leave that to you. (Why should I have all the fun?) I will close with Mr. Ford’s closing argument, such as it is:

If the Phils don’t go for it this year, hopefully it won’t be because they think Braves are a magical, uncatchable team. The Braves are fine, but they aren’t as good as the real Phillies, should the real Phillies choose to show themselves this season.

The only NL East team truly capable of keeping the Phils out of the postseason isn’t found in an opposing dugout but in the mirrors of their own clubhouse.

360 comments Add your comment

Chris

July 20th, 2010
12:53 pm

Did I make it? A magic day?

CSpin

July 20th, 2010
12:54 pm

Philly Schmilly

Tommy

July 20th, 2010
12:57 pm

Almost first…

Myron Bolitar

July 20th, 2010
12:59 pm

Wow! McCann is an easy out? Why wouldn’t we feel more comfortable with our closer than they would their’s?

Myron Bolitar

July 20th, 2010
1:00 pm

Are Philly writers usually this “glass half full” when discussing their team’s chances?

Mark Bradley

July 20th, 2010
1:02 pm

Kudos, Chris

F-105 Thunderchief

July 20th, 2010
1:03 pm

Seventh!!!!!

Let's Go Bravos!

July 20th, 2010
1:04 pm

I hate Phillies fans and writers! Our starting pitching is ten times better than theirs, our bullpen is 20 times better than theirs, before Utley got hurt, Prado was playing better than him. We are better at Catcher, 2nd, third (when Chipper is healthy or Infante is in there), and Right Field (before Heyward hurt his thumb). Glaus and Howard are very comparable. I hope the Phillies win the Wild Card and then we have to play them. We’ll show them who is better!

Tim Tebow's Tears

July 20th, 2010
1:04 pm

hahahhahaha Just goes to show how warped their view of reality is

BCC0224

July 20th, 2010
1:04 pm

We also have the loyalty and respect of manager Bobby Cox by the players, who want to win it all in Bobby’s last year, to send him out on a high note…

Plus I don’t see the Phillies doing things like everyone leaving the dugout after a guy hits a walk-off homerun (McCloth in April) nor give a veteran a crowd-pleasing standing ovation, like the Braves did when Chipper got the game-winning hit. Those things may lead to a division title or even the World Series title.

Tenth?!?

Chris

July 20th, 2010
1:05 pm

Actually what Ford wrote is not altogether incendiary/kicking the ant hill. Other than giving McCann and the bullpen a little short shrift, he’s fairly accurate but he is leaving out that thing…that chemistry thing.
I know the famous Earl Weaver explanation of chemistry in baseball but there is something to a group of players jelling and picking each other up,,,other players putting pressure on each other is always more effective than most any coach’s influence.

j

July 20th, 2010
1:06 pm

This guy is a jerk-off. Braves have much better pitching. The Phils have been nothing sice they were caught stealing signs. They have cheated for the past 2 years and they suck now that they are on the same playing field as the rest of the league. I hope this fires the Braves up becasue we are much better than them.

JMayne

July 20th, 2010
1:06 pm

This guy is an idiot. I watched them last night against the cards. Not pretty. Kendrick allowed 3 bombs in one inning. And they were bombs, no cheapies. Better send a tweet to that guy in philly. Theres only 70 games left. Do the math. Its definitely not impossible, but every night the phils go out and give up 3 run leads, thats one lest game they have to make it up. Some quickies about the phils…5 games over .500, 5-5 in last 10 and dropeed 7 of 12 to the braves. They have time, but they better turn it around….quick. Go braves.

Reality Check

July 20th, 2010
1:07 pm

Mark, this just sounds like sour grapes to me. Atlanta has beaten the Phillies five of last six, so I do not think the Atl is scared of them. Even without the injuries something just doesn’t mesh with Phildelphia this year. If the hometown paper wants to spin it this way let them have it. Most Braves fans would take the division or wild card going into this year so we should battle for one or the other.

Matt Stigall

July 20th, 2010
1:07 pm

I love how the Phillies writer pick and chose his stats.

Sure Jurrjens has a high ERA, but did he look up his stats after returning from the DL?

Funny, he described previous Braves teams “were built on great starting staffs, just enough offense and some decent power production in the launching pads of Fulton County Stadium and Turner Field.” That’s exactly how I would describe the team this year.

Gumby

July 20th, 2010
1:07 pm

What else is he going to say? That the Phillies are a crappy team with no chance? He’s just writing local team propaganda. The Phillies are a good team but hopefully ours is better. Like Tom Glavine said on Sunday, it’s marathon with peaks and valleys.Right now it’s ours to lose.

Tim Tebow's Tears

July 20th, 2010
1:07 pm

chank a long chong

July 20th, 2010
1:07 pm

ok, really? i’ll give you a push or even give the phills the slight edge w/ hamels/halladay vs. hudson/jurrjens. but ur gonna take moyer, blanton and kendrick over hanson, lowe and medlen? really? i know i know, u only need 3 starters come post season, but u gotta make it there first! wild cards r gonna b hard 2 come by w/ st. louis and cincy dominating the otherwise deplorable central division!

F-105 Thunderchief

July 20th, 2010
1:08 pm

Let the first-place team be doubted all the way to the Series. Actually, the guy is right, the Braves could stumble. But, I’m not thinking it’s nearly as likely as he does.

Andy

July 20th, 2010
1:08 pm

There you go Bob Ford. Spin Jurrjens’ numbers like he can’t pitch.

CSpin

July 20th, 2010
1:09 pm

Why is this guy trying to deny that these are the “real” Phillies? The season is over half over! Sure you’ve got some key players on the DL, but the Phillies don’t have HALF of the depth our bench has. I mean, c’mon. Take the blinders off.

Chewbacca

July 20th, 2010
1:10 pm

Well what’s the view from ATL?

elroy

July 20th, 2010
1:11 pm

That’s Philadelphia for you. I believe the Braves are better than what that thinks but I do agree that the Phillies are still a strong team. Utley being out hurts them bad. Still much baseball to be played. my money is on the bravos.

dap01

July 20th, 2010
1:11 pm

I hope the actual Phillies think like that writer thinks. If they do, they will be watching the Braves play in October.

gadawgs

July 20th, 2010
1:11 pm

This guy Ford is a complete imbecile. If we were just talking about a two/three week stretch here and not the entire first half as a gauge he may have a point. The Braves rotation top to bottome is MUCH better than Philly. Halladay is the only starter that they have that is better than what we have and he cannot pitch every game. Also, our bullpen is much better than theirs as well. I would take Wags over Lidge any day of the week and twice on Sunday (that was stupid comment made by Ford). Our offense I believe has scored MORE runs than there vaunted murderers row has and if they trade Jason Werth they will be even less of a force. I love our team and our approach to the plate. We do not give up at bats and we have character and heart. Mr. Ford is wrong because these Braves as assembled will finsih ahead of his Phillies. One more thing Mr. Ford you say McCann is an easy out? Really? Seriously? The only time that Brian has struggled is when he could not SEE you idiot. Now that his eyes are fixed he is raking. Your assinine comments and lack of knowledge coupled with your lack of objectivity leaves one wondering who signs your check the Philadelphia (National) Inquirer or the Phillies. You sir have no credibility whatsover.

TampaGator

July 20th, 2010
1:13 pm

The Braves can’t match the Phillies starting lineup…even at second base. But I believe Hudson, right now, is every bit as good and reliable as the #1 starter for the Phils. And I will take any of the other Braves starters over any of the Phil starters….hands down. Bullpen….lights out in favor of the Braves…and I would take Wagner in one game over Lidge any day. Lidge will most likely lose the game for you. Wagner is mostly likely to strike out the side without even thinking about it. Wagner pitches with blinders on. Lidge is a head case. The Braves bench is better too. The Braves win the division in a close one…but not to the Phils….to the second place Mets….by 2 games. The Phils finish 7 back in 3rd place.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mark Bradley, JLH. JLH said: RT @MarkBradleyAJC: The view from Philly: First-place #Braves are nothing special. http://bit.ly/cXdE9t [...]

Myron Bolitar

July 20th, 2010
1:15 pm

“decent power in launching pads of AFCS and Turner Field”. He’s calling OUR PLACE a launching pad? What is their place……Williamsport?

JMayne

July 20th, 2010
1:17 pm

The braves have a better offense this season. Better number of hits, batting avg, obp, and ops. Not even close in pitching. Better era by almost a half a run. 50 more strikeouts and the better batting avg against. The phils commit an errior every 62.07 chances….the braves commit one every 54.97 chances. Thats offense, defense, and pitching. That guy is an idiot. 70 games left. Down by 6 full games. Do the math. The phils are 4 games over .500!! The braves are a .5 game from having the best record in the leauge. phils are 5-5 in their last 10 and 7 of 12 to the braves. Sounds, looks like a .500 team to me. Go braves. Shut these idiots up.

Paul in RDU

July 20th, 2010
1:18 pm

Bob Ford is an idiot – The Philadelphia Inquirer’s baseball writing went down hill when Jason Stark left.

Bluestreak

July 20th, 2010
1:18 pm

Just like a Philly Phan (not an objective writer), no one can beat the Phillies…its only if the Phillies lose.

Chad

July 20th, 2010
1:19 pm

Here is a favorite quote of mine from the article:
“The Braves did make a Braves-like move recently, sending away talented, but undisciplined shortstop Yunel Escobar in favor of Alex Gonzalez, one of those quiet professionals more to the liking of their grumpy, old-school manager.”

Here is a Phillies-like move: making a great trade to get Halladay. However, sending Cliff Lee away for a pile of poo. Cliff Lee sure would look good in a Phils uniform right now.

The way I see it, I still believe the Phillies are a good team. They are dangerous. However, their pitching is crap. Halladay is a beast, that has been over worked, Moyer is a Jekyll and Hyde pitcher, Blanton is throwing batting practice, Hamels is decent and inconsistent, and Kendrick is terrible. Their bullpen stinks. Lidge has the same problems as Moyer.

Utley’s injury hurt them.

Never underestimate team chemistry.

WonderDawg

July 20th, 2010
1:19 pm

I think the key right now is Hanson. Which pitcher is he gonna be the second half? Dr Jekyll or Mr Hyde?

JMayne

July 20th, 2010
1:19 pm

thats supposed to say 5-5 in last 10 and lost 7 of 12 to the braves this season. Sorry i was blinded with fury.

AmosM

July 20th, 2010
1:22 pm

That’s funny. I was looking at Philly’s record the other day and recalling their recent games with Chicago and thinking maybe *they* were nothing special either. Perhaps we can rename our division the Nothing Special East so when the Braves win it, Philly writers and fans won’t feel so badly.

jeff c.

July 20th, 2010
1:22 pm

On paper, yes, the Phils are more talented. But just like our former SS Y. Escobar, they did not show up in the first half. Their ace pitcher Halladay has been getting pushed around a little recently, and no body other than Howard is clutch. I don’t see the Braves going on another 9 game skid, nor do I see Philly winning 9+ in a row. I belive the Phils are going to have to play .750 the rest of the way to have a chance.

Gumby

July 20th, 2010
1:23 pm

Bob Ford? Wasn’t it him and his brother Charlie that shot Jesse James in the back?

GT Alum

July 20th, 2010
1:26 pm

As long as we end the year in first place in the division, who cares what Ford or any other writer thinks? I thought this was going to have quotes from the folks in the Phillies’ clubhouse. I’d be more interested in their opinions, and I’d bet they’d be a lot less quick to dismiss the Braves.

The Real Brave

July 20th, 2010
1:27 pm

And why should we care what this …… says?

Ted M

July 20th, 2010
1:27 pm

when Utley comes back their offense could easily blow the Braves offense away (except catcher only 20 RBI from their top 2 catchers). But the Philly’s starters suck; Halladay barely over .500, the old man won’t a second half comparable to his first half, Kendrick stinks, Blanton stinks, Hamels maybe maybe not.

Braves win even if Rollins, Werth, Ibanez and Victorino turn it around offensively.

Mark Bradley

July 20th, 2010
1:29 pm

I have great respect for the Phillies. But the standings don’t lie. In 2010, the Braves have been a better team. Of their 20 most recent series, they’ve won or halved 19.

Steve

July 20th, 2010
1:29 pm

Typical answer I would expect from a Philly fan. I grew up in Western Pennsylvania and we never considered Philadelphia a part of PA!!!! :) The fact of the matter is our starting staff and bullpen in much better than the Phillie’s. I would give their offense a slight edge especially if they get Chase back. I think our Braves are for real this year and I think this is the best TEAM we have had! They are great team mates that pick each other up!

damien

July 20th, 2010
1:30 pm

One too many cheezesteaks for this idiot. He should be worried that its taking the “real” phillies to show themselves. The season is half over and the “real” team cant show up. philly ppl are stupid. cant understand the way they think.

DHD

July 20th, 2010
1:30 pm

I’m glad they feel this way. I hope they think we stink.

GT Alum

July 20th, 2010
1:33 pm

Also, this is probably a bit of dissatisfaction that’s brewing in Philly that the Phillies’ roster has supposedly gotten better this year (adding Halladay) but that they’re not playing anywhere near as well. If they end the season in third place, the fans might turn pretty ugly and display the type of behavior Philadelphia sports fans are known so well for.

Tim

July 20th, 2010
1:33 pm

So the point is that “IF the Phillie’s play up to their potential they can easily take the east”

If I had a dollar for every under-achieving team or person that didn’t get as far as they should have I’d be a rich man.

ArkyTech

July 20th, 2010
1:33 pm

Ha! Typical Philly writers. Setting up their home team in order to trash them later when they don’t meet the columnist’s expectations.

Johnny DangerDawg

July 20th, 2010
1:36 pm

Maybe is the Phillies pull out the binoculars and steal signs again they can get back into first place.

justdhoo

July 20th, 2010
1:36 pm

Ridiculous. The Braves have the best record IN THE MAJOR LEAGUES since our early 9 game losing streak. If they play like that the rest of the year, no matter how good Philly gets, 6 games is going to be tough if not impossible to make up.

Bruce Mac

July 20th, 2010
1:36 pm

I think the guy is exactly correct. If the Phillies played like the Phillies they win the East. The problem is they are not and don’t act like they are going to play like the Phillies. The Braves are no power house but are a nice team as he says. I am not sure there is a power house team in the Majors this year. The Yankees are not that good and Braves are at least as good as the Rays. Maybe Texas is the team in 2010, we will see. Just hope the Braves make playoffs for a change.