OK, so they probably shouldn’t run out and hire Johnny Bench. He retired in 1983. But the game that wouldn’t end — and by rights should have kept going — could well influence what the Braves do the rest of the week.
The trade deadline is Sunday. Brian McCann, the Braves’ MVP, will miss the next two or three weeks with a strained oblique. (By the way, there’s a move afoot to change the team nickname to the “Obliques.” Why is it no other club seems to have such trouble with that particular body part?) He’s the biggest bat on a team that has no other big bats.
It has been reported by ESPN’s Buster Olney that the Braves have said no to the Mets’ insistence that any trade for the two-month rental Carlos Beltran would have to include one of the organization’s four top pitching prospects — Julio Teheran, Arodys Vizcaino, Mike Minor, Randall Delgado. Does this injury change Frank Wren’s thinking?
On the plus side, the Braves still lead the wild-card chase by 3 1/2 games over Arizona. On the minus, they’re only 6-6 since the All-Star break and they’ve slipped six games behind the Phillies in the National League East. And they’re still not hitting much: They’ve scored five runs in 28 innings against the Pirates, and one of those came by way of umpire Jerry Meals’ sense of charity.
The Braves can get by for a bit with David Ross as the everyday catcher. He’s a good No. 2. But it’s becoming less clear if they can win a World Series with this batting order, and with the batting order having suffered another loss it’s no longer a given that this club will make it to October. I think it will. (The Braves can still pitch, even if the team ERA has taken a hit in recent days.) But current events do not fill me with the same sense of certainty I had two weeks ago.
By Mark Bradley