Possibly the worst title for a post in this blog's history, but I need something in that subject line.
1. I watched most of the game on Sunday (I could get used to the idea of waking up at 10:00 a.m. on a Sunday and watching a game while still in bed) and got very frustrated by Bobby. John Thomson was in complete command of the game through six innings, having allowed one baserunner through six (on a soft single) on only 74 pitches. I know the guy didn't have a full spring training, but lifting him after only 74 pitches? And instead leveraging a bullpen that has thrown a ton of innings over the first two weeks of the season? The Braves' starters have been a major weakness, with the exception of Smoltz and Thomson, so Cox needed to get as much as he could from a starter on a rare day where the Braves were getting a good start. On the other hand, Cox has always been great at making decisions that pay off over the six-month marathon and his regular season record is impeccable, so I'll defer to him on that front.
2. Mayhem in the AM had Chris Dimino on this morning from New York, which excited me because it meant that at least one person on the radio would be able to comment intelligently about the Braves. Instead, just about every question they asked him was about the Mets. For once, I was buying the criticisms of Atlanta as a sports town. I expect ESPN to fall over themselves to hype the Mets ("Wait, we can hype the Yankees, Red Sox, and Mets? All in one season? And pay lip service to the hinterlands? Outstanding!"), but when the pre-eminent morning sports talk show spends all their time fawning over the Mets two weeks into the season, we have a problem. The term "carpetbaggers" came repeatedly rolling from my mouth as if I was Nathan Bedford Forrest, and I actually like the Mayhem guys. I'm now embarrassed. Let's move on.
The Gary Carter jersey is in the sack.
(In defense of Mayhem, they followed up their love-making session with the Amazins with a great two-part interview with Michael Gearon, one of the Atlanta Spirit owners. For one thing, it was nice to hear actual discussion of the Hawks that went beyond "we should have drafted Chris Paul." The most interesting nugget that emerged from the discussion was Gearon challenging Nick Cellini on his repeated assertions that Luol Deng is better than Josh Childress. Gearon said that Billy Knight's rationale for not taking Deng was that he had body that would lead him to be injured regularly. [Deng has been healthy all year this year, so that might have been a mistake.] Gearon went on to say that Childress is the player that other teams ask for the most when approaching the Hawks with trade offers, which indicates that he has value that scouts see, but that doesn't show up in terms of points and rebounds. By the end of the interview, I was fired up about a 25-55 team. I'm embarrassed yet again. Let's move on.)
3. The objective for the Braves in April and May is to stay close so their customary summer run can vault them into the lead in the division. The Mets aren't going to play .833 ball over the course of an entire season. Xavier Nady isn't Babe Ruth and they still have Jose Reyes and Paul LoDuca at the top of their lineup. (A related point would be to say that they still have Willie Randolph as their manager and we have Bobby Cox.) The Braves' major concern right now has to be their starting pitching. Tim Hudson can't possibly be worse than he's been in his first three starts, but even assuming that he turns it around (and Wednesday would be a great day for him to do so, since he owned the Mets last year), the Braves are still weak at the four and five spots in the rotation. Jorge Sosa is proving that his peripherals were a better measure of his merit last year than his 13-3 record, Kyle Davies is still pitching like he did after his first month as a starter last year, and Horacio Ramirez...well, let's not go there. The pitching has me concerned enough that Chuck James' ten good innings in relief all of a sudden have me clamoring for him to be thrown into the starting rotation. And to think that Schuerholtz wanted to trade Thomson in spring training because we had plenty of starters. If the starting pitching can be shored up, then the Braves will stay close to the Mets, then make a run that will remind the Mets that they aren't supposed to win the division.