Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Quick Brave Thoughts

The rapidly expanding wife and I went to the Ted yesterday and were greeted by a exhibition on how not to play baseball by the Braves, who surrendered four in the first despite the fact that none of the Dodgers' hits went for extra bases. LA parlayed a number of singles, many of the seeing-eye variety, and some truly horrendous defense into a significant lead that they never relinquished. Chipper made a big error on a relatively straight-forward throw home that allowed the inning to go from a two-run inning to a four-run inning. That, combined with Adam LaRoche having another awe-inspiring day at the plate (0-4, including two one-pitch at-bats; he also grounded into a double play with runners on the corners to immediately short-circuit the Braves' one rally that had gotten them back to 8-5), have convinced me that he needs to play first and Betemit needs to play third. Betemit is a better third baseman than LaRoche is a first baseman and I would prefer to get Chipper to a position where his lack of range and suddenly erratic arm make less of a negative impact. Then again, Bobby Cox is a Hall of Fame manager and I'm a frustrated sports writer because he doesn't overreact to one game or even two months, so I'll trust his patience on LaRoche.

Speaking of Bobby's long-term sense, he made a classic strategy over tactics move yesterday. With the Braves down 8-1 going into the bottom of the 4th, he let Lance Cormier hit for himself to lead off the inning. Normally, this would be a bad move as it signalled that the Braves were giving up on the game. However, the move made sense because it allowed Bobby to keep from taxing the bullpen too much, which was more important than the marginal lost opportunity of winning the game. Anyway, it wasn't a conventional move, but it was the right one as it allowed Bobby to get another inning out of the last man in the bullpen.

Speaking of bullpens, the Dodgers had a terrible one earlier this year, but they look good now in the department. Their killer B's - Beimel, Broxton, and Baez - combined for four shutout innings and all have ERAs under 2.50. I know I sound like a spoiled child complaining about anything relating to the produce from the Braves farm system, but where is our reservoir of young, flame-throwing relievers? Oh yeah, in Milwaukee having been traded for the worst reliever ever. Or in St. Louis having been traded for one year of J.D. Drew.

Another thought that occurred to me yesterday: if I were Barry Bonds, I would take one look at the "aw, isn't that nice" coverage of Nomar's resurgence and puke. Screw Barry's before and after; how about this guy's:

Given one of the key criteria used to convict Bonds - major body changes - Nomar should be asked a few tough questions as well. Admittedly, Nomar never admitted to using the cream or the clear, nor has there been a carefully-footnoted book setting forth the case that Nomar used steroids, but on the other hand, Bonds has not had the telltale steroid injury: ligament/tendon strains that just don't heal. I've never had any reason to dislike Nomar and we share an ability to marry way above ourselves, but sometimes, I feel bad for Barry that he's become the scapegoat for the fact that lots and lots of baseball players broke federal law to get an advantage on the diamond.


Ed said...

It would be nice to have a few quality young relievers, given that it seems written in stone that 95% of the Braves' games this year will be decided by one run.

By the way, don't feel sorry for Barry. Yeah, he's getting more than his fair share of blame for the steriod age, but didn't he get the most mileage out of that era, given that we were almost ready to crown him the greatest hitter of all time? I don't remember anybody else being given the "greatest ever" treatment, not even McGwire or Sosa. Certainly not Nomar.

Steve S said...

Actually, Bonds is used as a classic 'roids poster child since he put on so much weight in his late 30s... The 2 pictures you show of Nomar compare him at maybe 20 and 28, give or take. It seems more reasonable to add mass during those years.

Trey said...

Um..."The rapidly expanding wife?"

Eric said...

Yeah...I hope she's pregnant, or a female body-builder!

On the subject of the Braves...I think we may finally be paying the Royals back for Schuerholz. Dayton Moore is one of the biggest reasons we've had such a strong minor league system over the last few years.

Losing him will hurt, but he may be the perfect GM for a small market team.

Michael said...

Yes, the wife is pregnant, hence the line about "rapidly expanding."

Ed, Barry does get ripped in part because of his stature as a player and his threat to the biggest record in American sports, but shouldn't other players be thrown under the bus as well? Why is Jason Giambi not subject to any scrutiny at all?

Steve, many sites use Barry's pictures from the early 90s to establish massive body changes. My point was simply that the same comparisons can be made with Nomar (or any one of a number of other players). That is distinct from Barry's power surge in '99, which I think we all agree was the partial result of chemistry because hitters don't get that much better at that stage in their careers.

Eric, I keep thinking of when the Braves lost Chuck LaMar, who was also the head of scouting, IIRC, and whose departure didn't hurt the team. This organization is much, much bigger than one guy.