After a stint on the 15-day DL, I am back and probably more opinionated than ever…though meds do help. It’s been a rough couple of weeks for me personally, but I am pleased to say, it has gone quite well for the Braves. They are guaranteed to go into the All-Star Break sitting in 1st place in the NL East and are looking like one of the favorites to get to the post-season.
I didn’t expect the Braves would have dominated the standings in the division as long as they had. I also didn’t except the Mets and Phillies to be having the seasons they are either. I, like the rest of the baseball world, expected the Phillies to have another huge season (which they probably still will) but injuries and poor pitching have really made the Phils seem pedestrian. I expect them to get it together with a deal at the trade deadline and Chase Utley and Placido Polanco return from injuries, giving the Braves a battle down the stretch.
The Mets on the other hand, as I’ve said before, are playing over their heads. I find it hard to believe that they can keep it up for the next three months. Maybe they will prove me wrong again (though I certainly hope not) but I just don’t see them being able to keep it going without adding a player at the deadline. From what the New York newspapers have been saying, they don’t have much to spend since the Wilpon’s lost so much in the Madoff scheme.
In terms of the Braves action at the trade deadline, I don’t see them making too many moves. I think they are actively looking for a right-handed OF bat like they have been for the past two years. Who knows what Nate McLouth will be for the rest of the season and though Gregor Blanco has been good, I don’t think they want to count on him. However, after watching Matt Diaz play in Philadelphia this last series, they may not need this bat after all. Diaz looked like his 2009-self blistering pitch after pitch off the Phillies pitchers. This could really be the shot in the arm the OF needs.
I could also see the Braves picking up a reliever. I know this is one of their strong points, but Venters, O’Flaherty and Moylan seem like they have pitched in every game and, do you really want Jesse Chavez to come in when it counts?
At the beginning of the season I made ‘10 Bold Predications’ for the 2010 season. Let’s check in to see how I’m doing…
Jair Jurrjens will win 20 games- Well, I didn’t foresee Jurrjens missing two months to kick-off the season, so there really is no chance of this happening but, the Braves are looking good for the second half of the year with Jurrjens’ fresh arm. As everyone has been saying, it’s like the Braves just made a trade for an Ace starting pitcher, as Jurrjens has been the Braves #1 pitcher over the past two years.
Jason Heyward will win 2010 NL ROY- This one’s not looking too bad. Heyward was named NL Rookie of the Month for both April and June and is the best all-around rookie so far. He will be challenged by Marlins 1b Gaby Sanchez, Cardinals SP Jaime Garcia and Mr. Strasburg; I call him this because I don’t want to be impolite to the best pitcher ever born (according to ESPN). If the recent DL stint really does heal Heyward’s thumb and he can return to his earlier form, he will win the ROY award, no matter what Strasburg does.
Troy Glaus will hit 25 HRs- I’m going to say this one will happen. Glaus has been so good for the first half of the year; he was on a lot of mid-season MVP boards. I don’t think anyone could have thought Glaus would have been this good over the last two months. Glaus needs 11 more jimmy-jacks to reach 25 and unless he gets injured, he will do it.
Yunel Escobar will make the 2010 All-Star Team- Eshhh…The Braves did have two middle infielders named to the All-Star Team, but Escobar wasn’t one of them. Honestly, when I heard Omar Infante made the All-Star Team I thought I was daydreaming from the pain meds, but after realizing I was awake and semi-coherent, I couldn’t be happier for him. Not only is he not an All-Star, Escobar has been flat-out bad at the plate this season. He is one of the only starting players in the majors to have 0 HRs. Even Corky Miller connected on a long ball this year! I don’t know what to say about him…The Braves best clutch hitter a year ago is now a liability at the plate and after watching him in the field this first game against the Mets, he needs to ride the pine. Something needs to be done, the question is what…
Chipper Jones will rebound- OK, so I am going to go ahead and say I was wrong here. Chipper has been puttering around .250 AVG all season and I don’t think it’s going to get much better. He just looks old. It kills me to say it, but he looks like he is on his way out. Chipper will finish the season probably a little better than he started, and he will get his walks and some clutch hits along the way, but I have a feeling that this is it and I’m going to enjoy watching him now, while I still can.
Derek Lowe will finish with an ERA below 4.00- Another one I am going to concede. Lowe hasn’t been awful, but now with Jurrjens back, I think I can safely say he is the #5 pitcher in the rotation, which isn’t bad at all. I don’t think there is another team in MLB with a better all-around rotation than the Braves. Lowe won’t finish with an ERA below 4.oo, but he will have 15 wins again— to me that is much more important.
Billy Wagner will save 40 games- He does have a shot at 40, but even if he doesn’t quite get there, I cannot be more pleased with the way Wagner has pitched this season. He has been a lock-down closer; something that the Braves desperately needed. This is Wagner’s final season, and it is going to be one of his best when it is all said and done. This one is too close to call right now, we just have to sit back and watch.
The Mets will lose 82 games- Unfortunately, this one is not going to happen. I am not going to go into my feelings about the Mets again, so we will just leave it at that. I was wrong.
The Braves will make the Playoffs- This one is going to happen for a lot of reasons and I’m not just stopping at the playoffs. The Braves will win the World Series. I have some inside information here. I can’t divulge where it came from, but trust me on this one, there are just too many things that are happening that will make this come true.
First, it’s Bobby’s final season. They HAVE to do it for Bobby. That’s all I need to say about that. Second, they are playing really well, they have the best pitching in the league, their defense would make Tom Emanski jealous and their offense ain’t too shabby either. Third; they have Erick Hinske. Fourth (and most important); before this season a good friend asked me if I would give up a certain body part for the Braves to win the 2010 World Series. After a minute of thought I said, “Sure, why not?” Well…it just so happens that fate has taken said body part from me, so I now expect fate to put a new flag at The Ted. The Braves will win the World Series. THEY OWE ME!!!!!!!
Bobby Cox will swear at Angel Hernandez- Come on, of course he did!
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Until Next time…Go Braves!