Friday, May 7, 2010

Braves stink.

The Atlanta Braves stink.

Let's face it, our hometown South team is awful.  The hitting sucks, the pitching is so-so.  Only the bullpen is decent, as a unit.  At least since they don't hit, the losses only take a couple of hours to endure.  Tonight, the Braves were shutout on 2 hits by Jamie Moyer.  Jamie Moyer!  The guy is 101 years old (ok, 47), and throws 82 mph with a tailwind.

Here in the ATL, people are fretting that this team is too awful to even compete.  I am starting to worry that they are digging a hole too large to get out of.  We could follow the Bobby Cox "stay the course" routine.  We have nearly an entire team hitting at levels way, way below their career averages.  Surely, that can't continue.  Only two regulars are hitting better than their career averages, Martin Prado, and Jason Heyward (and, who knows, .296 might be below his career average).  Let's look at the other regulars:

  • Matt Diaz, LF, .190 (.304 career)
  • Melky Cabrera, LF, .191 (.266 career)
  • Nate McLouth, CF, .187 (.257 career)
  • Chipper Jones, 3B, .231 (.307 career)
  • Troy Glaus, 1B, .228 (.255 career)
  • Yunel Escobar, SS, .215 (.297 career)
  • Brian McCann, C, .243 (.292 career)
So, if we assume these guys will come back to their career averages, we should see some improvement in the Braves run scoring.  Since hitters tend to find their natural averages, we have to assume that most of these guys will find their way back.  If I were playing GM, though, I'd have to have some concern about a couple of these guys career averages.  Melky Cabrera and Nate McLouth are not that great to start with, and you have to wonder how much Cabrera's stats were influenced by playing at Yankee stadium.  So, that's 2 guys without much of an upside to begin with.  Two other guys, Chipper Jones, and Troy Glaus, we have to wonder what they have left in the tank.  Chipper's power numbers have been way down the last two seasons, and Glaus has not shown that he's recovered from his injured 2009 year.  Yunel Escobar is a head case, so, that leaves only McCann and Diaz that we can have any real confidence that they will recover and produce. 

Now, how about the pitching.  Turns out, not that great.  Braves starters are only 7th in ERA in the NL.  And, look at these guys ERA's:
  • Hudson: 2.82
  • Hanson: 2.83
  • Lowe: 6.16
  • Kawakami: 5.47
  • Jurrjens: 6.38
Ouch!  Jurrjens escaped the sophomore wall last season, but it appears he has hit it here at the beginning of this one.  Kawakami was never that good, and Lowe, like Chipper, is probably at the end of the road.  Of course, the Braves management knew this, and tried to unload him during the Fall and Spring, with no takers. Unfortunately, the rest of baseball knew it as well.

So, what do the Braves do?  Tomorrow, Kris Medlen, who I really like, is getting a start as Jurrjens is on the DL, but he's really auditioning for Kawakami's slot.  If it goes well, look for Kawakami to audition for Lowe's spot.  Here we run into problems, because although Lowe had a great career as a closer, he's not going back to the bullpen for the large contract the Braves gave him.  So, KK is the odd man out here.

What's my prognosis?

Continued losing.  I think this is a 75 win team, at best.  By late June, the Braves will finally be acknowledged sellers.  Perhaps Lowe will right himself enough that a sucker can be found to send us some prospects.  Although I think the organization has largely soured on him, I expect we'll see Freddie Freeman before the all-star break and Glaus will get traded.  Could Chipper be on the block?  That would hurt in Cox's last season, because I think if Chipper has another sub-par year, he's going to retire, and he wants to do it in a Braves uniform.  So, if Chipper is playing well, he stays.  If he's not, no one is going to want him anyway, and he's going to veto a trade.  So, Chipper stays.  I think it's a possibility that Escobar goes. If Bobby was staying, he'd be gone, because he is the kind of player Cox can't stomach.  With Bobby going, it depends on his trade value.  I could see him going.  

I don't think any of the other pitchers go.  Jojo Reyes (remember him) may get thrown into a mid-season trade, but KK has no value to anyone, and Hudson and Hanson aren't going anywhere.

So, dismal!

Go Phillies.

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