Heat Check: Braves’ pitching gets cold; pennant fever on hold

Brandon Beachy after yielding a home run Sunday. (AP photo)

Brandon Beachy after yielding a homer. (AP photo)

Who’s hot? Who’s not? Glad you asked, or else there’d be no reason for our Monday Heat Check. Which begins now.

The Braves’ pitching: Don’t look now — hey, I told you not to look – but the team that had the lowest ERA in baseball no longer has the lowest ERA in baseball. Fact is, the Braves aren’t in the top five. The team ERA, which hovered near 3.00 for  the longest time, has risen to 3.36, sixth-best in the majors. The starters’ ERA is now the eighth-best overall; the relievers’ ERA is the fifth-best. Meaning: It’s not all Scott Proctor’s fault, though he has done his bit. Heat Index: Is that an autumn chill in the air?

The Braves’ hitting: It’s still terrible. Only three teams — Washington, San Diego and Seattle — have hit for a lower average. Only five — the aforementioned three plus Oakland and Minnesota — have a lower on-base percentage. If MLB had an award for the year’s best hitting coach, Larry Parrish would not be your leader in the clubhouse. Heat Index: Can’t hit for average, can’t reach base. Talk about a wintry mix.

The Braves’ trade outlook: They need to make one, preferably a good one. Heat Index: Frank Wren has burned through two cell-phone batteries in the past 36 hours.

Georgia Tech’s appeal of its NCAA sanctions: The Jackets apparently plan to file one, which means we get to hear them whine some more. Heat Index: Not sure about the wisdom of that blowtorch strategy — “First we’ll all line up to rip the NCAA, and then we’ll beg them to go easy on us.”

Mark Richt’s seat: A disconnect was witnessed at the SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala. People who live outside Georgia were wondering who will be the Bulldogs’ next head coach. People who live in Georgia were wondering if Richt might be the 2011 SEC coach of the year. Heat Index: Richt’s job is not yet in question and won’t be until he loses another game.

Zaza Pachulia: The Z-man used his Twitter feed to announce he and the Turkish team Besiktas couldn’t agree on terms. So Zaza’s staying here to play for the Hawks. Who are locked out and therefore not playing. Good career move. Heat Index: Here’s a sizzling notion — trade Josh Smith to Bestiktas for Deron Williams. Would that be legal?

The NFL: The league is about to become unlocked-out. Everyone seems happy about this. Heat Index: Everyone will be less happy when training camp commences and it’s 98 degrees. Couldn’t the players’ association have held out another month?

The Atlanta Spirit: Having sold the Thrashers, that august body is in negotiations to sell the Hawks and Philips Arena. Heat Index: A cold chill just went down the spine of this correspondent as he realized he might not have these owners to kick around anymore.

By Mark Bradley

96 comments Add your comment

ROLL TIDE!

July 25th, 2011
9:47 am

FIRST !!!!

Suck It, UGA Haters !!!

ROLL TIDE!

July 25th, 2011
9:49 am

The Braves need to ship Derek Lowe’s “Lowe-Down” drunken behind somewhere else.

We can get Little Leaguers to server up batting practice against NL Central teams.

HEIL SABAN!!!!

NCAA

July 25th, 2011
9:52 am

Want to know everything that’s wrong with college football? Just look at Alabama and Auburn.

ROLL TIDE!

July 25th, 2011
9:52 am

SERVE up, BP!

Whatever…

Even when I wear my Braves gear around town, I still get a “ROLLLLLL TIDE!” from intelligent sports fans who know winners when they see them.

The Phillies can KNEEL BEFORE SABAN, too! (Just like Richt)

Mark Bradley

July 25th, 2011
9:53 am

Kudos to ROLL TIDE! Although I wish he’d be a tad more magnanimous.

PreyDawg

July 25th, 2011
9:55 am

Mark, I am glad you mentioned hitting coaches. Why did it take so long for Uggula to make whatever adjustments he has made? Why suddenly can Heyward not hit anything but dribblers to second base for double plays? As consistently as he is hitting grounders to the infield, isn’t there some adjustment that should be made? As strong as this kid is, how can he not occasionally get air under the ball? Where the heck is the power? I am baffled.

And yet these slumps dont go on for a handful of games. They grind on and on and on. At bat after at bat. It’s like groundhog day. Does the Braves pitching coach even try?

ROLL TIDE!

July 25th, 2011
10:00 am

Sorry for not being more magnanimous today, Mark.

After all the undeserved bashing of COACH SABAN by the AJC (particularly a certain Kentucky-centric AJC sports writer) over the past week, in addition to watching the Braves give away games to the Reds, the need was there to stand up to the haters this morning.

Bulldog Fans, just like Phillies & Mets fans, belong in kennels.

HEIL SABAN!

FEAR SABAN! (Just like Mark Bradley & Mark Richt do)

Eddie

July 25th, 2011
10:02 am

Mark … thought for sure you’d work in Fred “Fire Dog” McGriff to heat up the Braves. Didn’t the press box catch on fire when they acquired him? Need some of that!

Mark Bradley

July 25th, 2011
10:03 am

It did indeed, Eddie.

fork

July 25th, 2011
10:03 am

Stick me in the Atlanta Braves.

TechLiesCheats

July 25th, 2011
10:04 am

Couldn’t say it better Mark, I am already SO sick of hearing techies, D-Rad and Coach Johnson whine about the NCAA punishing the GT cover-up.

Tech Lies, Tech Cheats

ROLL TIDE!

July 25th, 2011
10:05 am

Great idea about “catching fire” for a postseason run!

If the Braves decide to set fire to the press box this year, can we at least make sure the doors to said press box are locked while the ATLANTA SPIRIT GROUP members are watching the game from there.

Bruce Levenson

July 25th, 2011
10:09 am

Shut your hole, ROLL TIDE!, before I punch you in your stupid face!

Herschel Talker

July 25th, 2011
10:10 am

MB:

How about swapping out Proctor for Kawakami?

HT

ROLL TIDE!

July 25th, 2011
10:11 am

Bruce Levenson went to UGA ???

Hmmm…

Actually, THAT explains quite a bit.

Jerry Blooger

July 25th, 2011
10:12 am

Mark – good column which means I agree with about 75% of it. LOL We all should realize the hitting coach is the most overated position on any major league team. Most players have Dads , brothers minor league coaches and whoever that they run to for help. It seems most players have short terms of stupidity that puts them in slumps and and like most of us it takes a down turn to get pride out the way and listen to anyone.

DawginLex

July 25th, 2011
10:16 am

I watched the Media Days and noticed some things:

1.) How can you not like Derek Dooley? Good lord that man has got class and seems to be really level headed. UT is fortunate to have him

2.) Saban made some good points about several things especially fans acting like idiots.

3.) Richt really impressed me as being a coach who is disgusted being where he is yet he looks like he has something really good coming and he knows it.

4.) Houston Nutt=Used car salesman

5.) Joker Phillips is a class act and can also recruit.

Captain Alabama: The First NCAA Violator

July 25th, 2011
10:16 am

Steroids in Baseball ain’t got nothing on me!

DawginLex

July 25th, 2011
10:17 am

roll tide

That’s a lot of spewing for a 4th place SEC west team.

Enjoy watching Arkansas light you up

Go for 2

July 25th, 2011
10:17 am

Mark:

the fact that you wrote UGa being picked for 2 in the SEC as a POSITIVE just shows how mediocre the prgram really is. So, why didn’t you mention that, if true, the SEC media is saying UGa’s AD will be in a tough position as to whether he let’s Richt go. I am sure that’s why you predict Dawgs to win SEC East because you don’t want to have to deal with the Richt issue and get in bad with UGa (have to cater to your base, understand).

submariner

July 25th, 2011
10:20 am

What happened to the Carlos Quinton rumors?

Go for 2

July 25th, 2011
10:21 am

Hey, Mark: Just to show how thoughtless your pieces are…how long ago was it when you asserted the Braves were the 2nd best team in baseball? That was just another example of an MB throw away, make the local team happy, article that has no factual basis.

Coach Joe

July 25th, 2011
10:22 am

Braves may limp into the Play-offs , but any other team with three left handers is gonna blow us away..

WE can;t hit, but we really can’t hit left handers…(Dontrell Willis-please!!!!).

BulldogBen

July 25th, 2011
10:22 am

It seems the talk of the Braves having a pitching staff on par with the Phillies was a little premature.

As good as we are on paper, I still just think we’re where we were last year; a good, not great team that still struggles when we play the elite teams of baseball. I feel like we’re being set up for a giant let down.

Only way this team will compete for a title is if Lowe finds some late season magic (which has been his M.O.), Chipper comes back and puts up good numbers, and we pick up a bat.

Heyward is now taking the mantle Uggla has carried most of the season of “Giant Hole In Lineup”.

Russ the spotted bulldog

July 25th, 2011
10:24 am

After Georgia drops games to Boise State and SC, fans, who have apparently repressed the 6-7 season and the whipping by UCF, will be howling for Richt’s head. These people have the delusions of Cubs’ fans without the class.

Kerryb

July 25th, 2011
10:24 am

It’s not all of the Braves pitchers that have gone cold. It’s Derrick “5 inning” Lowe and the middle relievers. I agree with what Linebrink said about that pitch in the 9th last night. He threw a good down and away fastball and the guy hit a pitch he wasn’t suppose to be able to. Tip your hat to the guy. Sometimes hitters hit good pitches.

jumbo dumbo gumbo

July 25th, 2011
10:24 am

blowtorch? your an idiot who demonizes GT, bitter gray hair old man

Kerryb

July 25th, 2011
10:25 am

What I want to ask is, are all of you Georgia haters going to be prepared to eat crow at the end of the season?

BulldogBen

July 25th, 2011
10:25 am

Cubs fans classy? WOW. Talk about delusional.

Kerryb

July 25th, 2011
10:26 am

Not all of the pitchers for the Braves have gone cold. It’s mainly Derrick “5 inning” Lowe and the middle relievers.

captguitarman

July 25th, 2011
10:27 am

I think it’s just a technicality for you to say that CMR is not in danger now, but he will be right after the first game.

Even though it is instinctively difficult to pick a team to win with such pathetic hitting, I still think that good pitching still wins over a strong offense (see Colorado Rockies). Sometimes it really hurts your eyes, though. I recall one game in the Colorado series where the Braves had runners on second and third with no one out, and did not score, and they lost. My little league coach would have had a hemmorage if our little league team didn’t always score at least one run in innings like that. It is amazing to watch sometimes. But, what the heck happened to all of the Braves’ pitchers since the All-Star break? Are they just getting tired of carrying the load? If they are and don’t bounce back, it’s all over. The Wild Card, once thought to be in the bag, is not such a sure bet now. Time to start keeping the lights on for some post game batting practice – like unhappy little league, high school, and college coaches do.

Fish Bisch

July 25th, 2011
10:28 am

Braves will miss entire playoffs. Pitchinig is already starting to unravel.

Kerryb

July 25th, 2011
10:28 am

So, what will all of you haters be saying when UGA beats Boise State 35-14.

Fish Bisch

July 25th, 2011
10:28 am

Braves will miss playoffs. Pitching has unraveled.

Sonny Clusters

July 25th, 2011
10:36 am

We always believed in playing hard every game. Running hard to first base could mean the infielder will hurry up and make a mistake. There are some Braves apparently too cool to run hard to the base. Jason Heyward isn’t just hitting ground balls he is hitting 10-hoppers to second. Yes, there is an adjustment. Ask Larry Parrish. We was disappointed in the way the team has been playing lately. Getting runners over and in is still a big part of winning. The Braves are waiting for the 3-run homerun and when they don’t get it they lose. If we was Fredi we would have a slingshot in the dugout and we would shoot at a runner that didn’t hustle to the bag. Bad habit. Do it twice and it’s a habit.

Scott L.

July 25th, 2011
10:37 am

Hey McDowell! What was my pitch count in that game last night?

techfan

July 25th, 2011
10:39 am

I never realized how much Mark Bradley hates GT until this whole NCAA debacle. If anything positive came out of the situation, its that we get so see a lot of people’s true colors.

BulldogBen

July 25th, 2011
10:41 am

Mitchell, I hear ya but the hitting coach always gets most of the blame when the team isn’t hitting and NONE of the credit when they are. I’d argue our base running is just as atrocious. I’ve seen some TERRIBLE bone headed base running. Of course, we don’t really have anyone that can really run out there so it’s not that often.

Still, I’m with you on Parrish on one thing; we’re one of the worst bunting teams in the league.

We seem to have lots of mental errors on the little things. For me, that starts with Fredi.

dawg day afternoon

July 25th, 2011
10:44 am

techfan: looks like Bradley was right about the whining at teck.

DawgDad

July 25th, 2011
10:46 am

No time to panic, but yes, this team needs to make some moves. They do need extra help in the bullpen, and they desperately need at least one right handed outfielder who can hit and play defense.

I’m tired of hearing “we’ll get Chipper back and that’s like adding a player”. Really? Just how much are they counting on out of Chipper at this point? Anything positive the Braves get is a bonus; what Wren needs to “count on” in his planning is Chipper going down for the count.

Ted M

July 25th, 2011
10:53 am

Sonny – Freeman should have had a triple last night and scored on sac fly on ther next batter but sadly he didn’t run hard out of the box…that would have won the game for us.

Alex Gonzalez never runs hard.

Ted M

July 25th, 2011
10:55 am

Mark – save my disappearing post – Thx Ted

Herschel Talker

July 25th, 2011
11:02 am

Kerryb:

Please give me some of the drugs you’re having. You are delusional, my friend. We will not recover as a program until Richt has been sent permanently packing. He is one hell of a great man and one hell of a terrible coach.

HT

DawgDad

July 25th, 2011
11:02 am

“Jason Heyward isn’t just hitting ground balls he is hitting 10-hoppers to second.” Looked to me like he was hitting bullets at Phillips. Problem is, that’s Phillips out there.

gobraves

July 25th, 2011
11:05 am

Why not use Teheran or Minor in bullpen?

Ted M

July 25th, 2011
11:19 am

Saved – Thx

dap01

July 25th, 2011
11:28 am

Tehran and Visc should be used as soon as possible in the bullpen. Our bullpen stinks outside the big three. And by the way, we have too few people in our lineup that can hit.

Joey

July 25th, 2011
11:28 am

Actually, ROLL TIDE! (wow, all caps and an exclamation mark), Richt has had more trouble with 3 different UF coaches than Saban.

And as far as kneeling before him, he probably can’t take a leak without soaking you . . .

Michael in Dunwoody

July 25th, 2011
11:31 am

Mark, I’m willing to give our pitchers the benefit of the doubt, having just played in Coors and the Great American Small Park, where fly balls that wouldn’t reach the warning track at Turner are home runs (see: Brandon Phillips). Let’s wait and see how they do versus the Pirates and the Marlins; I think they’ll get back on track.

dogtarded

July 25th, 2011
11:35 am

ha ha….georgia fans make me laugh