Posts Tagged ‘MLB’

Don’t look now, but the Bravos are back in this thing!

They’re back in it. We can’t know if they’re going to win it, but they’re in it. The Braves went 6-4 on their loudest homestand in years, and if 6-4 doesn’t sound all that hot, let’s recall they were 2-4 as of Sunday morning. Let’s also recall that only five days ago a lot of us figured they’d wind up 2-8.

But they didn’t. They roused themselves and played at a higher level than we had seen since Memorial Day, which not coincidentally marked the last time they had won a series. Back then they swept the Blue Jays, who were leading the AL East. This time they swept the reigning World Series champs, who arrived leading the NL East but who depart in a first-place tie.

The Florida Marlins are now co-leaders, and the Braves, while still in fourth place, are only two games back. Talk about exquisite timing. Lose three to the Phils and they would have been eight games out and surely looking to dump salary at month’s end. They’re not dumping anything now. They figure with their …

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The Hot Button: Should the Braves trade Yunel Escobar?

Yunel Escobar is, shall we say, a different sort of Brave. He has blond highlights in his hair. He doesn’t always pay attention. He has a temper and is given to the sulks. He has yet to respond to the gentle urgings of Bobby Cox, which have become less gentle over time.

According to Buster Olney of ESPN.com, the Braves “are willing to trade Escobar for a good hitter right now.” (Link requires registration.) But I don’t think they will. Nor do I believe they should. Because Yunel Escobar is a different sort of Brave in another way:

He can really hit. And he can really play.

The Braves have become so skilled at siphoning off higher-maintenance types that they have lesser tolerance for one than do, say, the Yankees or the Dodgers. But sometimes a higher level of maintenance isn’t just needed but advisable. Some guys are worth the trouble. John Rocker was not. Yunel Escobar is.

He’s a great talent who comes with an inherent disconnect. He doesn’t speak much English. (He’s from …

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Your attention, please: Braves have a new second sacker

You know dumb ol’ Bobby Cox? The manager who never changes his mind? The one who wouldn’t give up on Kelly Johnson as his second baseman no matter how little he hit?

Bobby Cox announced Tuesday night he has a new second baseman.

After Martin Prado had four hits (two singles, a double and a homer) and four RBIs (three to tie the game on three separate occasions, the fourth to win it in the 10th), Cox said: “Every time he’s in there, he does something good.”

So an enterprising journalist (blush) asked the manager: Is Prado your starting second baseman?

Should Martin Prado start at 2B the rest of the season?

  • Yes.
  • No.

View Results

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Said Cox: “Right now, yes. He’s too hot to take out, unless his groin flares up.”

Contrary to popular belief, Cox isn’t the world’s biggest idiot. (As we know, this enterprising journalist is the world’s biggest idiot.) He has seen his team not hit for what seems like forever, and he has seen the nudge Prado has provided. …

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After 75 forgettable games, Braves have one to remember

When you’ve played 75 games and nothing much has happened, you’re looking for that one good night. You’re looking for a start, a spark, a reason to keep hoping when you’re a good week away from even nosing above .500. Maybe this was that night. Maybe this was the start of something, if not quite big, then at least bigger than what we’ve seen.

The Braves blew a game against the reigning world champs and won it anyway. They won it because Gregor Blanco, who was playing only because Bobby Cox decided after batting practice that Nate McLouth shouldn’t, and Martin Prado, playing only because Kelly Johnson has forgotten how, mustered seven hits between them.

They won it because they outpitched the Phillies, which everyone does, and also outhit them, which you wouldn’t figure these Braves could ever do. They won it despite two horrendous pitches from Mike Gonzalez that turned a 3-2 lead into a 4-3 deficit. They won it in the way the Braves used to win games all the time but this team …

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Braves’ solid-gold arms are undone by dime-store bats

If pitching is 75 percent — or 90 percent; estimates vary — of baseball, why are the Braves further under .500 than they’ve been all season?

Because the other 25 (or 10) percent of their team is worth about 10 cents.

Without meaning to say it, Brian McCann said it perfectly: “We’ve got to start playing better baseball.” Then he checked himself. “Not better baseball — we’ve got to swing the bats better.”

The Braves swing the bats just fine. It’s the hitting part that bumfuzzles them. They’ve scored one run in two games against the Red Sox, who have managed only five but have already won this loud and steamy series. Jair Jurrjens was rather good Friday night but wound up the loser. Javier Vazquez was nigh-great Saturday and got beaten 1-nil by a 42-year-old who throws about 42 mph.

The Braves mustered three singles against Tim Wakefield, who was knuckle-dusting the Braves in October 17 years ago, and Garret Anderson’s two-out double off the heat-bringing Johnathan Papelbon. …

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A Lowe-down dirty shame – the Braves’ ace is in a hole

Two days ago I called Derek Lowe the Braves’ ace because that’s how I’ve come to see him. Alas, he’s not pitching like one. We can hope this is a momentary lapse, the kind every pitcher must endure and correct over the course of a six-month season. But the cold truth is that Lowe isn’t looking Lowe-like.

Over his past six starts he has yielded 48 hits and 24 earned runs in 32 2/3 innings. He has won once in a month. He has had to be removed in the middle of innings in his past three outings. His ERA has grown from 3.45 on May 23 to 4.53 today. Only once since he settled in as a big-league pitcher more than a decade ago has Lowe finished a season with an ERA that lofty.

This is, as I say, unlike him. And the reason Lowe isn’t being Lowe is because his famed sinker seems not to be sinking. Over his first 10 starts — six of them wins — he recorded 101 ground outs against 47 air outs. Over his past six starts — four of them losses — the ratio is 53 against 33.

You can say, “Well, …

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Bloggers demand a Braves’ change, and Bennett obliges!

Never think for one moment the ol’ blog is lacking in power. On the live chat from Game 2 of the Yankee series, Jeff Bennett was a source of much conversation/consternation. I’m quoting here:

Varodrunner, 8:53 p.m.: You cannot put Bennett into that situation and expect anything different outcome – Bobby is INSANE.

Ross, 8:54: Why the FREAKING HELL is Bennett in the game??????? What is WRONG WITH COX???

Kris in NC, 8:56: Time to go watch something else. Why in the world do you bring in Bennett? Medlen was doing fine. Bennett was the same guy who came in and gave up the walk off HR to none other Nick Green on Sunday. Now he gave up a 2 run RBI to A-’roid.

Greg, 8:56: Seriously…why haven’t they demoted Bennett yet? there’s got to be SOMEONE else…

Norris, 9 p.m.: How can we put our worst pitcher in the game to pitch against AROD with the bases loaded. Bobby Cox is an absolute idiot for that move. Bennett has no business in the majors much less coming in the game in that …

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Live from the ballyard: A flip-flop explained, A-Rod eyed

It was only a week ago I suggested the Braves’ season could be finished, at least as a vibrant entity, by the Fourth of July. Today I wrote there’s a way they can win the NL East. And now you’re saying, “There Bradley goes again, flip-flopping like a flounder on the dock at Fisherman’s Wharf.”

And I say, in my fishy defense: Things change.

The Braves are playing better. The Phillies lost six in a row. The Mets are hurting. Winning the division seems infinitely more do-able today than it did June 17. But — and you knew there was a “but” coming, didn’t you? — they can’t stop playing.

They’ve split their first four games against the Red Sox and Yankees. They have five to go, and then three against the Phillies. These eight games will determine the course of July and beyond.

Go 5-3 or better and the Braves will have proved something to themselves and the watching world. Go 3-5 or worse and they’ll have given their doubters — which I, on occasion, have obviously been — further …

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Should Braves need a manager, I’d consider these guys

Today’s discussion of Bobby Cox leads inevitably to another discussion: If not Cox, then who?

Were I running the Braves and in the market for a manager, I wouldn’t feel bound to recycle the usual names. (Jim Riggleman, Jerry Narron, et al.) Unless I could convince Terry Francona to leave the Red Sox — and I don’t think John Henry and Theo Epstein would let him — I’d look to two coaches.

Neither of them is Terry Pendleton, and here’s why: I think he’ll be a very good manager someday, but I don’t think the man coming after Cox needs to have apprenticed under Cox. (This also applies to Fredi Gonzalez and Ned Yost.) There’s a sense of sameness about the Braves — how could there not be, this manager having been in place 19 years? — that I wouldn’t be sorry to see dissipate. I’d look outside. I’d consider:

Brad Mills, bench coach, Boston Red Sox: He has worked alongside Francona, who was his college roommate, in both Philadelphia and Boston, and I consider the Sox the new model …

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The highlight of my so-called career: I jinx Chipper Jones!

Last year I put the Bradley Whammy on the Braves and the Bulldogs. I’ve since done it to the Falcons in the desert and the Magic in the finals. I am, I think we’ll all agree, uncanny when it comes to affixing a hex. But I have, you should know, just attained a career acme.

I have chumped Chipper.

He was hitting .335 and leading the National League in on-base percentage when I endeavored to write a little something nice about him last week. He hasn’t had a hit since. He’s 0-for-21. The worst he has ever been at any point in his major-league existence is 0-for-23.

I knew I was really good. (Or, depending on your slant, really bad.) I had no idea I was capable of something like this.

So now I’ve decided to use my powers for good, not evil. I am hereby proclaiming — proclaiming, you hear? — that the economy will never, ever get better! Never! Ever! We’re all bound for penury!

I think that ought to do it. You and your 401(k) will thank me within the month. As for poor Chipper …

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