Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Rock Bottom

If I had to say one nice thing about the Braves this morning, I would probably stammer for a while and then mention the fact that Bobby Cox has won a lot of games as a manager. Otherwise, it would be damn near impossible. The past three games have been the unofficial "stick a fork in 'em" games for the team. The Braves have allowed 34 runs in the three games and have allowed 10+ in three straight games for the first time since 1986. (Incidentally, the starters for those three games? Rick Mahler, Craig McMurtry, and Zane Smith. The three losses came in a July 4-6 series against Montreal. Oddly enough, the Braves had won seven of eight coming into that series and were only 1.5 games out of first. The sweep by the Expos triggered a vintage stretch for the '84-'90 Braves in which they lost 11 of 12, including a three-game series against the Mets in which the Braves were outscored 26-2. We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.)

The lineup last night could have doubled as Bobby Cox's concession speech. Mark Kotsay was signed to be the #8 hitter, but he was hitting clean-up last night. The starting lineup included Gregor Blanco, Omar Infante, and Clint Sammons. And that's before we get to Jeff Francoeur, who is still a favorite among the parts of the crowd who aren't bothered by a .287 OBP. Charlie Morton was the starting pitcher. Morton and Jo-Jo Reyes are doing their best to disabuse Braves fans of the optimism that we had weeks ago when it looked like we had the makings of a good, young pitching staff. After the team's experience this year with older starters (punctuated by Tim Hudson's elbow injury that will likely keep him out for the rest of the year), a collection of young hurlers seemed like a good idea. Not so much when the youngsters are doing things like allowing seven earned in three and two-thirds innings.

Opposing teams can look forward to facing a Braves team that has been gutted of its starters. They can also look forward to coming to the Ted and being greeted by a bevy of their own fans. The crowd last night was at least one-third Cardinals fans. Braves fans have a tendency to not support a bad team (the horror!) and instead focus on college football when the calendar turns to August and the Braves aren't good. Don't say I didn't warn you when the Cubs come in later this month and then the Mets arrive in September. Hell, I'm a pretty committed Braves fan and I'm ready to start thinking about Georgia's fullback situation instead of the local baseball collective. I'm no masochist.


blackertai said...

Well, the only good news that might come out of this is at least the Braves will get something for Tex. If we hadn't fallen apart, we might be trading to get players right, which obviously would only have hurt us in the long-run rebuilding-wise.

peacedog said...

I hate the rumored deals for Tex I'm hearing about, though. I want a good young pitching prospect, or I'd just as soon angle for the draft picks.

peacedog said...

It's not a very good deal (we weren't going to do much better, perhaps, but that's a topic for another time).

Don't believe anything you read about Kotchman's power potential. The next time he snows real power will be the first time he's shown power professionally. His walk rate dipped this year and is probably the main reason for his OPS dip from last year. New Angel's hitting coach. . . so maybe the new environment will do him some good. Fantastic average hitter in the minors, but as you well know BA is overrated and he's not shown it in the majors. The good strikezone command is tempered by the low walk rate and lack of power.

Baseball Prospectus is right: a low powered first baseman in your lineup is someone you have to compensate for, not build around.

Unknown said...

I too am fairly concerned about his OBP dip this year. Still though, this was unfortunately the best deal the Braves had on the table, most likely. Here is some more of my thoughts on the deal:


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