Topic: Major League Baseball
Clarksville, TN – As the calendar readies a turn to September and the Braves postseason chances officially dwindle to zero, it’s time to take stock of what’s important.
The Atlanta Braves are in third place in the National League East, but need a telescope to see the top of the division and are somehow even further back in the Wild Card hunt. Barring a season-ending run the likes of which have never been seen (to reach 85 wins, Atlanta would need to go 31-4 the rest of the way as of Wednesday, and even that may not be enough to garner a postseason bid), the competitive part of the season is over.
Clarksville, TN – In an up-and-down (mostly down) Atlanta Braves season, you take solace in the little things. Jace Peterson looking like a potential cornerstone, for instance. The A.J. Pierzynski Revival. The on-going delight that is watching Andrelton Simmons range deep into the hole, make the impossible backhanded stab, stop on a dime, set, load his cannon of an arm and throw a hustling batter out by two steps.
But the most enjoyable phrase we’ve heard all season happened last week:
“The Braves have purchased the contract of Peter Moylan from Triple-A Gwinnett.”
Clarksville, TN – You want me to talk about John Hart and the Confusing, Off-the-Wall, Nonsensical, Very Weird Deal or do you want me to talk about something else? I have to mention it, obviously, but I can do it in 80 words or I can do it 800 words.
You picked 80. Smart.
I think when you make a deal where the biggest principles involved are a 24-year old mid-rotation starter, a 21-year old top prospect, a two-time All-Star closer and a 30-year old super prospect whose never seen a big-league pitch and has a sketchy injury history—and the only one you end up with is the 30-year old—then unless the 30-year old turns into steroids-era Mark McGwire or better, you lost the trade. But hey, no pressure Hector Olivera. Pickles.
(Sorry, I was on 79. Needed one more.)
He begins the season with the prohibitive favorite Los Angeles Dodgers as the starting third baseman, only he’s kind of average and some Mets castoff named Justin Turner starts playing out of his mind, so the Dodgers send him to Atlanta, which wouldn’t be awkward except that they did so right in the middle of a series against the Braves.
So he and his stogies and a half-dozen of his cars come to Atlanta and become sort of folk-hero-y; after all, the last time we saw him he was ruining the best chance of an extended playoff run during the Fredi Gonzalez era. But he shuffles Chris Johnson to the pine and delivers some nice moments while with the Bravos and hey, here’s another photo of him smoking a big cigar with the Stanley Cup because Juan Uribe rolls like a boss.
Clarksville, TN – For Fredi and John in ‘15
The Braves hit the halfway point on Saturday night – a dominant 9-5 win against the Phillies that was over by the fifth inning and brought the Braves within a game of .500 at 40-41.
And that this team – with one consistently good starting pitcher, a revolving door of castoffs for a bullpen and an offense best described as ‘Freddie Freeman, Cameron Maybin and six guys you may have heard of’ – is sniffing the possibility of .500 ball and maybe not selling at the deadline is Fredi Gonzalez’s greatest achievement. Well done.
I know this is not an earth-shattering revelation, but the lack of Freddie Freeman the last two weeks has thrown an already-limp lineup into utter disarray.
Teams cannot survive with one marquee attraction in a lineup full of has-beens, not-quites and never-weres but the subtraction of Freeman hurts the ones his presence had helped. Cameron Maybin (.229, 4 runs), Jace Peterson (.189, 2 runs) and Juan Uribe (.167, 1 extra-base hit) have all struggled during Freeman’s absence, clearly suffering once opposing pitcher’s no longer have to worry about working around the burly lefty.
Don’t look now.
(Seriously. There’s nothing to look at except your computer screen. Maybe your dog. He doesn’t care.)
With seven days left in June, the Atlanta Braves are two games back of the Washington Nationals and a game-and-a-half behind the New York Mets in the National League East race.
This, obviously, was not how life was supposed to turn out. As David O’Brien tweeted on Monday, for all the 100-loss truthers out there, the Braves would have to go 27-65 the rest of the way to hit that mark. And more people were on the 100-loss train at the beginning of this season than any of us would like to admit. I’ll admit I had those dark thoughts until I stepped back and completely looked the situation over.
Clarksville, TN – So far, you have to hand it to John Hart. Shelby Miller, Mike Foltynewicz and Jace Peterson already look like potential long-timers, while Matt Wisler, Tyrell Jenkins and Mallex Smith show great promise.
Meanwhile, Craig Kimbrel has an ERA over 4.00 and Jason Heyward is making my MVP boasting look woefully misinformed (I swear I wasn’t reverse-jinxing it, Cardinal fans – I still believe he’ll be very good for someone), so Hart looks like Nostradamus right now. In fact, he’s set the Braves up to be pretty good for a while at almost every spot.
Written by Colby Wilson
For all the talk about pitching wunderkind Matt Wisler – and that talk looks justified in the very early returns – Maybin was a distant third on most people’s list for ‘most important player acquired in the Craig Kimbrel deal’, behind Carlos Quentin, and may have mattered less to some than the acquisition of a competitive balance draft choice.
Yet Cameron Maybin has been the outfield presence the Braves have sorely needed in 2015, quickly becoming an every-day fixture in centerfield and playing exemplary defense as such to offset his sometimes-streaky offense.
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