I know it’s still August, but the playoff feel that I have gotten this week from the Braves series win over the Giants and amazing series sweep against the Diamondbacks has got me in a fall state of mind. I’m ready for pumpkins, apple picking, football and a Braves World Series win.
2011 has really been a good year for the Braves and the holiday spirit has got me to thinking that, as a Braves fan, there are a lot of things to be thankful for right now—here are my top five:
5- Peter Moylan is going to begin a rehab assignment at AAA Gwinnett and, if all goes well, will be re-joining the Braves bullpen by Sept. 1. Many people, including me, thought the Braves were going to add a right-handed relief pitcher at the trade deadline. They chose not to act however and it looks like they made the right call. If Moylan comes back and pitches like he has in the past, the Braves are going to have one hell of a bullpen!
4- Dan Uggla is now Dan Uggla. It was tough to watch while Dan Uggla hit in the .170s for the first three months of the season. He was off-balance and looked so uncomfortable at the plate. When the calendar turned to July, something clicked and Uggla came alive. After a 33-game hitting streak his average is now around .230 and he’s now the right-handed power bat the Braves so desperately needed.
3-In a sick way I am thankful that the Phillies, Brewers and Diamondbacks are playing out of their minds right now. The way I see it, they’re playing so well that it’s nearly impossible to keep it up. We’ve all witnessed the Braves take such a huge division lead that they had it clinched by the beginning of September and didn’t have to play a meaningful game for 3-4 weeks going into the playoffs. I am hoping these teams are peaking too soon and they Braves can be there when they do. Maybe this will be the year the Braves can be the ‘hot’ team that heads into the playoffs and mows down everyone that gets in their way.
2- Back at the beginning of the year there was a lot of debate over who should be the Braves closer. Many thought Jonny Venters should be the guy and were very outspoken when Kimbrel struggled. I cannot be more thankful that Fredi Gonzalez stuck with Kimbrel through that rough patch. Kimbrel is leading the majors in saves and hasn’t allowed a run since June 11th in Houston. He is one of the most dominant closers in the game (right now) and should be the 2011 NL Rookie of the Year.
1- The Braves didn’t trade any of their top pitching prospects at the trade deadline—Thank God! (I still can’t believe the SF Giants traded Zach Wheeler for Carlos Beltran) Each of “The Four Horsemen” has pitched for the Braves this year and I don’t think anyone has looked as good as Randall Delgado did Tuesday night. WOW! He threw strikes, worked quickly and didn’t look frazzled at all, unlike his first start. His fastball was up to 97MPH and his changeup was as nasty as it gets. This kid is good!
Mike Minor followed Delgado’s great start by pitching the best game of his career on Thursday. The Giants couldn’t touch Minor, who threw 6 scoreless innings, while striking out 9. Arodys Vizcaino has been throwing gas out of the bullpen this week and has made me all but forget about Neftali Feliz, or whatever his name is…
Finally, Julio Teheran, who many think is the Braves best prospect and the best pitching prospect in baseball, has torn up AAA this year. He has put up a 13-2 with 2.14 ERA 112 K 1.13 WHIP. The funny thing is, he has probably been the least impressive guy in the majors this season. I have no doubt he can put it together and be a front of the rotation guy; it’s going to be fun to watch when he does…
Obscure Brave of the Week: Mark Redman
Redman was the first round pick of the Minnesota Twins (13th overall) in the 1995 Draft. He played for a total of 7 teams in MLB and was the lone All-Star for the KC Royals in 2006.
Redman signed with the Braves in March of 2007 and was absolutely horrible. He posted a 0-4 11.63 ERA in 6 games before being released on May 22nd. I guess what I’m trying to say is I’m THANKFUL he was only with the Braves for 6 games and I never have to see him on the mound again!
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By the way…The five teams to retire Jersey #5 are: NY Yankees (By the way…The five teams to retire Jersey #5 are: NY Yankees (Joe DiMaggio), Cincinnati Reds (Johnny Bench), Detroit Tigers (Hank Greenberg), Baltimore Orioles (Brooks Robinson) and the KC Royals (George Brett).