GM Frank Wren was on XM Radio Power Alley this morning talking about the Braves clinching the east and how the post season might look. Here are the highlights from my notes.
On the subject of the lineup Wren told Mike Ferrin and Mike Stanton that the Braves would put out the best lineup regardless of who has the most playing time. That seems to imply an outfield of Evan Gattis, Jason Heyward and Justin Upton and an infield that has Elliot Johnson at second base. In an AL park you may see Jordan Schafer in left and Gattis as DH.
Ask about Alex Wood, Wren was noncommittal at this stage but seemed to lean towards using Woody out of the bullpen. He said that you often have a game where the starter has trouble early and you need a long man who’s stretched out; that’s Woody. He also said that Woody had done well in relief early in the year. I could see him being extremely valuable in a five game series as a left handed power arm. In the seven game series that follow the question is do you trust Paul Maholm or Freddy Garcia ahead of Wood as a starter? I don’t. Not withstanding Barry Zito slicing up the Tigers while Justin Verlander flopped around,o in post season play power arms generally win. While Woody has struggled of late and I still believe he lacks the pitching maturity to win when his stuff isn’t at its best, he’s a much better option. I think the Braves do as well. Using Woody in the pen and perhaps skipping a start will give him a lot of rest and that will hopefully revive his left arm. With Brian McCann or Gerald Laird behind the plate to guide him (you won’t see Gattis back there in post season play) he can work his way through any difficulties and if not the soft tossers can come out of the pen and eat innings.
Wren was enthusiastic about Kris Medlen’s performances in the second half – 2.63 ERA, 1.075 WHIP, 64K, 13 walks, opponents hitting .241 with an OBP of just .277 – and barring injury I expect him to start game one in Atlanta. Like the Braves Medlen does better at home posting a 2.45 and a 1.238 WHIP at the Ted and a 4.04 ERA and 1.270 WHIP on the road. a Mike Minor would I believe follow Meds and Julio Teheran would pitch game three. The GM also said that Freddie Freeman was team MVP but we know from other interviews that Terry Pendleton calls Andrelton Simmons “The Difference” because of his play at short and Simba is in fact having a superb year defensively. His 6.6 WAR is fourth among NL every day players, but his DWAR of 5.5 is first by a margin of 1.1. His defensive runs saved (DRS) of 42 leads MLB. Hitters get the glory and I love Freddie Freeman, but without SIMBA at SS the Braves would be up a creek
On Another Note
I live in Texas and the possibility that Nelson Cruz would get suspended hung over the Rangers all year. I heard Jon Daniels say many times that they were not going to worry about that until it happened but USA Today Sports reported late Sunday night that the Rangers offered the Braves Matt Garza, closer Joe Nathan and outfielder David Murphy for Justin Upton. That makes little sense to me. I know the Rangers needed JUP but trading the starter you just acquired, your closer and a pretty good platoon outfielder albeit one having a bad year doesn’t make any sense at all. Still stranger things have happened. Pity they didn’t offer Dan Uggla for Ian Kinsler.
That’s A Wrap
Bear in mind that I was trying to take notes while the GM talked and I’m paraphrasing his words. This is the way things are today, who knows what tomorrow will bring. The Braves have to keep winning to get home field advantage throughout the playoffs.