Sunday, July 24, 2005

Last night as a microcosm of the Braves' season

Three reasons:

1. Andruw Jones was the hero. The fact that he homered on a fastball at shoulder height only adds to the representative quality of the game. Do the D-Backs not have scouts? How do you throw three pitches to Jones in the 9th inning of a tie game and none of them are off-speed?

2. Dan Kolb blew a late lead. He saw three batters and gave up a fly ball to the warning track in center, a walk to punch-and-judy Quinton McCracken, and then a laced double to Tony Clark. Bobby had little patience for Dan's fine work and lifted him for Chris Reitsma, who bailed Danny Boy out of another loss.

3. The Braves' staff didn't do a good job of keeping the opponent off base (15 snakes reached base in nine innings, ten by the free pass variety, and a 3-2 game took over three hours as a result,) but they didn't allow any big hits (only one extra base hit allowed: Clark's double off of Dan Doodie) and therefore, they didn't allow many runs. For the past two years, the strength of the Braves' staff has been not giving up extra base hits. They're 5th in the NL in SLG allowed, but only 9th in OBP allowed; last year, they were 2nd in the NL in SLG allowed and 8th in OBP allowed.

Other thoughts on the game:

1. Jorge Sosa is incredibly consistent. He throws about five innings every start, given up very few runs, strikes out a fair number, and the only bad thing you can say about him is that his control isn't very good and that runs his pitch counts up so he can't last longer into the game. Once he learns to actually pitch, he'll be a real asset.

2. Watching Jeff Francoeur hit, you can't help but notice how the ball jumps off of his bat. The guy has real power. I've been more impressed with him than I was with Andy Marte, which is a bit of a surprise since Marte was thought of as more major league ready prior to the season.

3. Chipper and Hampton's struggles to get healthy illustrate the dangers of committing a lot of money to older players. They've given the Braves almost nothing since May and they suffer regular set-backs in their efforts to get healthy. At this stage, anything we get from either player has to be considered a bonus. I'm just hoping that one of Hampton or Thomson are healthy and effective by September. At this stage, Thomson seems like the more likely bet, but that's probably only because he hasn't tried to come back yet and we haven't been subjected to the "Thomson scratched after injuring shoulder removing carry-on bag from overhead bin" stories.

4. Rafael Furcal was clearly unable to figure out Brad Halsey's move to the plate last night because he was on base twice and never attempted to steal, despite the fact that the patient Kelly Johnson was at the dish. Furcal needed to be running more, given the Braves' struggles against Halsey, especially because Chris Snyder behind the plate has only thrown out 27.5% of the runners attempting to steal against him.

5. My G-d does the Snakes' bullpen suck.

No comments: