Hello once again from the frozen Winterland of Southeast Michigan! It’s almost as cold as the Braves team up here!
With the continued downward spiral of the team, I think it’s now a legitimate question: Should the Braves shift into panic mode?
In the business world, we sometimes jokingly refer to times like these as “burn the furniture” moments, as in “it’s better to burn the furniture than it is to freeze to death”.
While it’s certainly true that the Braves can now hear the Cardinals’ footsteps, with the Cards only three back in the lost column as I write this piece, it will still very likely take the Braves playing even worse than they are playing right now for the Cardinals to take the wild card (there are hundreds of sites across the ‘Net posting the math, so I decided to be contrarian and not post it here; the important thing to remember is that the Braves will probably have to play even worse to lose. I don’t think it will happen, and here are a few of the reasons why:
1) Most of the recent misfortune has come from one run games and extra inning games. These results tend to slightlyfavor the teams with strong bullpens over time. Look for lady luck to not be quite so pissed at the Braves the rest of the way.
2) Speaking of bullpens, the Braves pen has not been quite so bullet proof of late. Having said that, I for one wouldn’t bet against them down the stretch. If anything, I think Fredi’s usage patterns have improved recently. Don’t look for many more games to be lost on account of the pen, except of corse if Scott Linebrink is involved.
3) There’s a reason that St. Louis is behind the Braves. Almost all objective viewers think Atlanta is a better team. The odds of the Cardinals playing .750 ball the rest of the way aren’t high.
4) Chipper said earlier this year that he might not be able to carry the team on his back anymore, but he could still contribute. As we’ve all seen since his return from knee surgery, he has strapped the team on his back. I don’t think Chipper will let this team blow it at this point.
5) I think that we’ll see pitching reinforcements in the persons of Tommy Hanson and Kris Medlen coming the team’s way the last week of the season. Combined with Tim Hudson, Brandon Beachy, Mike Minor, and Randall Delgado, that should be enough starting pitching to get the job done, with Medlen there to help bridge to the back end pen men!
6) Finally, I heard two of the ESPN talking dead-heads say that they thought the Cardinals were going to win this thing. Could there be a stronger endorsement for the Braves?
One last thought crossed my mind that I wanted to mention. If, heaven forbid, it’s still close coming into those last three games with the Phillies, keep this in mind: Charlie Manuel’s number one priority that weekend will be getting his team ready for the play offs. If this means resting regulars, pulling starting pitchers early, or adjusting his pitching rotation, then that’s what he’ll do. And this will be expected and accepted behavior; Tony LaGenius would do the same thing if the roles were reversed.
So, once again, I say relax. Come see me again if the Braves lose two more in a row. I’ll stop biting my fingernails long enough to talk to you about it :-). Better yet, give us your take in the comments section; we always love to hear from our readers!
Tags: Atlanta Braves Braves Chipper Jones Craig Kimbrel Derek Lowe Jonny Venters Kris Medlen Mike Minor Philadelphia Phillies Randall Delgado Scott Linebrink St. Louis Cardinals Tim Hudson Tommy Hanson