Having shut my door here at work for some wind-down time, I thought I’d take a couple of minutes and throw out a few observations from last night’s game that might make for interesting discussions. Not that the announcers thought them important or anything, but who cares what they think anyway, right? . In no particular order, here they are:
- Nate McLouth.
Nate has been the poster boy for every Braves blogger lately, it seems. Most seem ready to ignore his body of work in the spring, ignore the fact that his start thus far is really not alarmingly slow (and in actuality is much better than his work last year), and ignore all the professional opinions on the subject. At the least, they want to drop him way down in the order and insert Heyward into the number two slot. At worst, they are ready to trade him for a bag of balls and, failing that, cut him loose. Wow, talk about being hard to please! I for one think that he has to be given more time. From a practical perspective, there just aren’t a lot of better options realistically open to the team right now. Plus, sample sizes are ridiculously small right now. Further, Fredi is smart enough to know the trade-offs of batting second versus batting sixth, even if those of us more statistically minded people may forget that from time to time. I do see one red flag, though, and Fred Owens here mentioned it earlier today. McLouth has forgotten his drills several times already this season and reverted to him uppercut swing. Hence his high strikeout totals. Those of us who have ever attempted to change our golf swings should appreciate how easy this is to do in the heat of battle. Again, I say have a little more patience. Give him another 10 games then let’s revisit the issue.
Brian McCann’s defense.
So far this season, I think Brian’s off-season conditioning has been much more apparent in his work behind the plate than his work at the plate. His seems much quicker and more agile and even looks better than he did as a kid. He is blocking balls away and balls in the dirt much better than last year. He is catching throws from the field better than ever and getting tags down (with two great examples last night). I have no way of quantifying it, but to my eye he was absolutely terrible at catching throws from the outfield or on the relay last year, even when errors weren’t charged. This year it’s like he’s a whole new man. There is one problem I see, though, and in my opinion it will need correction or it will cost the team. Brian’s throws to second base almost all tail into the runner. This is bad for a number of reasons. It will get your fielders hurt. It will result in a lot of balls winding up in the outfield and runners winding up on third. In the best case, it makes throwing out the runner much harder, as the runner only has to run about 87 feet while the fielder has to try to move the extra three feet to get into position and get the tag down. Usually there is a mechanical issue causing the problem. Give me the tape equipment and a few hours and I’ll find it. The good news is that the Braves coaches should be able to find it faster.
- Martin Prado’s throwing arm.
When an infielder is moved to the outfield, more often than not he is “blessed” with an infielder’s arm, one that has accuracy and sometimes velocity but often no carry. This is absolutely not the case with Prado. He threw out a runner at the plate last night, which would have been his second assist of the season if not for a call of interference on Chipper a couple of games ago. Not only is his arm powerful, his technique is outstanding. Last night he laid back on the ball, making sure that he was charging forward when he released the ball. He also laid himself out flat on release, transferring 100% of his energy to the throw. I’d say better than textbook, as you can’t really teach the technique as most outfielders can’t execute it. Riddle me this, though: Joe Simpson was an outfielder who certainly wasn’t considered a slugger. He had to justify his position at least partly through his fielding. Why wouldn’t he latch onto this play and illustrate to the audience just how good this really was?
OK, enough from me. What do you all think? Anything else they should have discussed that they omitted?