Friday, July 10, 2009

Is the Outfield Really the Problem?

On one of the Braves' telecasts this week, the production team flashed a stat that Atlanta is dead last in Major League Baseball in run differential after the sixth inning. The Braves lost a game on Saturday when they led 3-0 after six. Last night, the Braves had a 5-4 lead after six, but Peter Moylan and Mike Gonzalez (two of the team's four allegedly reliable relievers) contrived to turn that into a 7-6 loss. The Braves' struggles in late innings imply problems with the bullpen and the bench. There has been a lot of talk of adding a big outfield bat and I'm not opposed to that move if it can be done without mortgaging the future. (There's a controversial conclusion!) However, Frank Wren could more easily improve the Braves' fortunes in the later innings by getting bullpen help and a bat for the bench, two categories of improvements that can typically be done cheaply. The major question is whether the Braves will be in a position to benefit from tinkering.

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