Hello again everyone from Fabulous Southeast Michigan, where once again I think we have the best weather in the country right now. For those folks down in Texas, like Fred Owens of this site, we feel for you and want you to know that we are ready to host you at one of our fine hospitality establishments. I know a week’s vacation up here and away from all that would do you good. And we could use the business!
But back to the business of baseball, if you will. All over the Web you can feel the fear and sense the panic about to set in. Everyone seems to focus on the impending implosion of the Braves, speculating if this team is about to join the Mets teams of recent vintage that have collapsed in September. For all of you that are of a similar mindset, I implore you to sit back in your favorite comfortable chair, take your shoes off, fix yourself a cool drink, and relax. If you have a scrip for one, take a Xanax. If not, sip a Jack on the rocks. Bottom line: chill!
Why do I say this? I say this because the Braves have recently been befallen by the perils of luck and chance. They have lost several one run games. They have lost extra-inning games. They have had balls bounce in truly strange directions. They have had normally stellar fielders make bone-headed plays. They’ve even had to let Scott Linebrink take the mound. Simply put, excepting the catch Eric Hinske made in left field to steal back a home run ball, if it can go wrong it pretty much has.
On the positive side, most of the fundamentals are still in place. The exception to that statement is the starting pitching, where the team has obviously missed Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens. While I think most observers believe that JJ will not pitch again in the regular season (if at all), it’s looking more and more like Hanson will be back. That gives the team Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, and Brandon Beachy at the top of the rotation. That’s not ideal, but it’s still better than most. At this point I think Derek Lowe gets one more shot to turn things around. If he doesn’t, think either Mike Minor, Randall Delgado, or even Julio Teheran get the fourth pitching slot for the post-season.
Post-season you say? I do. The Braves still lead the Cardinals by 4.5 games (4 games in the loss column) with 14 to play (15 for St. Louis). If the Braves go 7 and 7, the Cardinals have to go 12 and 3 to tie. The Braves will do better than 7-7, in my opinion. If they go 8-6 (turning just one loss into a win), the Cardinals have to go 13-2 to tie. I just don’t see it happening.
The critical things from my perspective are: 1) Build some momentum going into the playoffs 2) Get the rotation set and 3) Calm down Brian McCann‘s swing, so that he’ll be ready to contribute and out of this prolonged slump. I have another thought on McCann that will be coming in another post shortly.
That’s my take. Please share yours.