Notes on 755 Hank Aaron Dr

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I told you they weren't pushovers

We lose a 2-1 game, then win a game 6-5. Chuck James continued to walk that tightrope in game one, but managed to only give up runs on two bases-empty home runs. Smoltz is definitely not an ace any more. A solid #3, maybe a #4. That's still valuable, but if he's our best starter, we're not going to win in the playoffs.

Jason Shiell tomorrow night, against Scott Olsen. He's not pitched well against Atlanta, but he's averaging about a strikeout an inning. We'll see...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

It's not whether you win or lose - well, actually it is

As long as we keep winning series, things will work out. A 7-2 road trip has to be considered a success by any measure. It would be nice if the Mets would go on a losing streak, but that's probably not going to happen. Keep your eyes on the wild card race; that's the only race we're likely to be in.

Well, that, and the race for heaviest bullpen, according to a bunch of the posters over at Braves Journal.

Ken Ray seems to have hit a wall. Maybe the addition of Wickman will let Bobby give Kenny some rest, and he'll be all right. He's worked a lot this season, quite possibly more than he's ever pitched in his career - certainly more pressure than ever in his career.

Florida's next. They're no pushovers; we're only a game and a half ahead of them right now. They swept us last month when we faced them in Florida, bringing the season series to 6-4, Atlanta. And they've gotten better as the season has gone on.

Friday, July 21, 2006

We're ahead of the Phillies?

When did that happen? I must have been asleep or something. Anyway, that means instead of using this series to catch up, we need to use it to at least hold the measly one game lead we have on them right now. It's one of those oddball four game series that runs through Monday, and we don't use our fifth starter (whoever that is this week) in it, so that's good.'s transactions still don't show who got sent down to make room for Wickman. I'm betting on Barry. The game notes aren't up yet either.

However, the starting lineup is up at Yahoo, and it appears Betemit is starting at 2B again. That's a whole week Giles has missed. And with the twelve-man pitching staff, I really wish that the Braves would have put Giles on the 15-day DL and brought up either Prado or Lil' Tony. Playing with a short bench hasn't hurt them yet, but why take the chance?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Two out of three ain't bad

As long as the Braves don't have to face Chris Carpenter too often, they'll be all right, apparently. It didn't help that they were using yet another emergency fifth starter. It seems like thats 27 starting pitchers this year. Anyway, Jason Shiell did about what you'd expect, giving up four runs in four innings. That should be good enough to get him another start - it wasn't any worse than Cormier had been giving. For that matter, it was better than Thomson's last few outings.

The offense continued its onslaught through the first two games of the series. Betemit has played well in Giles's absence. McCann has suddenly started hitting home runs, Chipper and Andruw are still in gear. The bullpen has continued to be an adventure.... The league has apparently seen enough of Kevin Barry to figure him out. Unless he makes some adjustments, his major league career will be short.

As to the starting pitching other than Shiell, it was a mixed bag. Ramirez pitched well, then left with a hamstring injury. Hopefully that was as minor as he claimed it was after the game. Hudson pitched well for five innings, then lost it. Fortunately, he'd been staked to a twelve run lead, so his collapse didn't lose the game.

The Braves made a move today, trading catcher Max Ramirez (Rome) for reliever Bob Wickman. I like that trade. Wickman, although not what he once was, is an upgrade over whoever he replaces, and Ramirez was unlikely to ever play for Atlanta. The team is loaded with catching prospects - most of them will eventually be traded.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Trade Possibilities

As the non-waiver trading deadline approaches, it's worthwhile (or at least entertaining) to speculate as to what moves the Braves might make. The obvious question is whether they should be buying or selling at the deadline. I think the last two weeks make it clear that they won't be selling. However, they're still four games below .500, and in seventh place in the wild card race. (Realistically, they have no shot at winning the division. If it happens, it will be because the Mets collapsed, and that doesn't seem likely.) So I don't expect that they'll be trading the farm away, either.

Of course, it's not like the Richmond or Mississippi rosters are full of players ready to play in the major leagues, either. Other than Saltalamacchia (whose status has taken at least some hit this season), the best prospects are in Rome and Myrtle Beach. That's going to affect what the Braves can trade for, since teams prefer higher-level prospects. The Braves do have room in the budget (reportedly $6 million), which means they can take on a salary dump.

Another problem is that the players on the major league roster the Braves would probably be most willing to trade (Diaz, Pratt, Giles, almost anyone in the bullpen) either don't have much value or don't fit too well with most potential trade partners. For example, the Pirates and Devil Rays don't need a second baseman.

One rumor flying around right now is Jorge Sosa for Ray King. That sounds to me like the type of deal we can expect. Is King an upgrade on Sosa? That's a good question, but it seems unlikely that he'd be a downgrade. And right now, that may be all we can hope for.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Braves sweep Padres

Is it possible to sweep a series in a bad way? I guess not, but the Braves' weekend sweep of the Padres comes close.

What was good? Well, they won all three games. The offense was impressive. Any time you score at least ten runs in three straight games, that's a good thing. Chipper in particular is playing out of his mind right now. Smoltz pitched well.

But there were a lot of bad things over the weekend, too. Giles got hurt again, spraining his thumb. I'm afraid that may linger, and derail his recent resurgence. The bullpen was not good overall - in the first game of the series, they blew the lead multiple times. Chuck James got another win, but it seems like each win he gets is less impressive than the last.

Any win is a good win, but if the offense slacks off, we won't be winning many games.