Tomahawk Take’s Morning Chop – Braves News and Commentary
Is Mark Mulder Right About Atlanta Braves Having ‘No Pop’?
According to Baseball Tonight’s Mark Mulder, the Atlanta Braves place only fifth in the power rankings (ESPN has them second, behind only the Los Angeles Dodgers).
Mulder states that “nothing pops out at you” with the Braves, citing this as a weighty enough fault to drop the team with the best record in baseball from the top spot all the way down to No. 5.
To put it quite bluntly, Mulder is an idiot.
Pop, pizzazz, flair, style, showmanship, bravado or anything else you may choose to call that implacable quality that makes a team “worth watching” – it matters so very little when it comes to creating a championship team.
NL Rookie of the Year Watch: Still a two-horse race
[Editorial Comment: CBS mentions two Braves players in the rookie of the year race ~ Julio Teheran (as still in the mix) and Evan Gattis (as on the outside looking in). I concur, sort of, but there’s time for that to change, and you never know how voters will vote.)
Julio Teheran, Braves: Teheran still qualifies as a rookie despite receiving cups of coffee in each of the last two seasons. The 22-year-old has been arguably the best pitcher on the Atlanta staff, going 11-7 with a 3.01 ERA (129 ERA+) and 1.20 WHIP. He also has a strong strikeout rate (8.3 K/9), but like Fernandez, Teheran will have workload monitored in the coming weeks. He’s thrown 161 1/3 innings across 26 starts so far.
Evan Gattis, Braves: Has fallen off a bit after a great start. Hitting .247/.304/.487 (111 OPS+) with 16 home runs and a great background story might nab him some down-ballot votes.
Braves Can’t Give Away More Games
The Atlanta Braves lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the National League now stands at a slim two games, with 23 games left in the season. The Pittsburgh Pirates are 4 games behind the Braves, followed by the St. Louis Cardinals at 5.
Wednesday afternoon the Braves started Kameron Loeon the mound, and had Elliott Johnson at third base, Paul Janish at shortstop and Gerald Laird at catcher. In other words, the Braves started an aging pitcher in the twilight of his career, and had Andrelton Simmons, Brian McCann and Chris Johnson take the day off. Not much firepower in that line-up.
If finishing with the best record in the National League is important, then how can you put a team like that on the field? Sure you want players to have days off between now and the end of the season, but how can you put a line-up like that out on the field if you are serious about winning the game?
Can the Braves Afford McCann?
It’s the question to which we all really want to know the answer.
Until this point in the season, the question about Brian McCann was largely whether or not the Braves should keep McCann, as in was he even worth investing a large amount of money. But hitting .271/.344/.495 and providing 3 wins in about a half-season’s amount of games tends to make one think that he’s healthy and productive. Having re-established his value, the question is now how much he will cost. Yadier Molina just signed a 5-year, $75 million contract, and while that should be higher than what McCann could demand because, well, Molina is a perennial MVP candidate without an injury history, McCann could ask for 5 years and probably $13-15 per year because of market forces. Knowing the annual cost, can the Braves even afford it even if they wanted? The answer lies in the new TV money.