The Braves, as noted, have played their way into a spot of bother. But this is baseball, where momentum is tomorrow’s — by now, that would be today’s — starting pitcher, who would be Randall Delgado. So hope remains. That said …
I know you folks. (Not personally, not even Sonny Clusters — at least not to my knowledge.) I know you’re not willing to rely on ephemeral concepts like momentum and fate. You want managerial action! And here’s where I ask: With his team reeling, what should Fredi Gonzalez do?
(I pause to note: Unlike his predecessor, who relied on his iPhone for electronic interaction, Fredi has a laptop. There’s no guarantee he’ll see the fruits of your wisdom, but there’s a chance. And if your advice is sagacious enough … well, you could be the one who saves the Braves!)
Being a famously splendid sport, I’ll go first. My advice to the skipper:
• Tell Chipper Jones, “The next time the ball is hit your way, try to find it.”
• Tell Derek Lowe, “The next time you pitch, throw left-handed.”
• Tell Jason Heyward, “That stuff you were doing last year? Do it again.”
• Tell Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson, “Stop hurting.”
• Tell his hitters, “When there’s a man in scoring position, try to drive him in.”
See, I’m not really sure a turn-over-the-postgame-spread-table tantrum is in order. I don’t for a second believe the Braves aren’t trying as hard as they can. (Think about it. Why would they not be trying hard? Because they’d much rather be lumped with the ‘64 Phillies than partake of postseason play?)
I do believe the injuries to Jurrjens and Hanson have put a greater load on the bullpen, and the load on the bullpen was already immense. I do believe Brian McCann’s post-DL slump has put a strain on a lineup that didn’t have a Prince Fielder or a Ryan Braun in the first place. (Note that Milwaukee has both those guys.) I also note that, if you go by that “expected wins” stat, the Braves’ overall numbers suggest they should be 83-71, not 87-67. So maybe they’ve actually gotten good value from this roster, which could be taken as a sign of — gasp! — skilled managing.
But I know you folks, and I know that’s not what you want to hear. You want action! You want accountability! You want resignations on the postgame-spread table! You want to see this team Play With More Emotion! You want all that stuff you wanted but didn’t get to your satisfaction with Bobby Cox and charge and aren’t getting with Fredi G., either. So here’s your chance.
Tell Fredi what to do. And if your suggestion is good enough and he happens to see it, I’m reasonably certain he’ll tip his cap to you.
By Mark Bradley