August 28, 2010

Pennant Race Heats Up as Teams Cool Off

First off, I have to say Wednesday’s series finale against the Colorado Rockies was disgusting; I can’t put it any other way. I left work with the Braves leading 10-1, I got home and somehow it was 10-6 and as I was on the verge of becoming physically ill, it ended 12-10 It was by far the worst non-Mets game of the year and was a journey of sorts for me—through the 5 stages of grief. Let’s go back to my brain on Wednesday…

Stage 1: Denial- There is no way the Braves can afford to lose a series to the Rockies; especially when they have a 9-run lead to start the game. Sure, anything can happen at Coors Field, but they have that humidor now. This kind of stuff doesn’t happen anymore right? I mean, how can this happen?! There is no way the Phillies aren’t in first place by the weekend; they are playing the Astros….the Astros! I must be dreaming.

Stage 2: Anger- This is ridiculous! Who do they think they are?! Why the hell is Kyle Farnsworth an MLB player! Bobby Cox is going to pitch Jonny Venters in every game of the season and will never be heard from again. In fact, I’d be surprised if he doesn’t lose the arm entirely. Well, there goes that 2.5 game lead over the Phillies. This is crap!

Stage 3: Bargaining- Please, please let the Phillies lost tonight! Ok, I realize I ask for things all the time, but this is different…The Braves have to turn it around; they have to win this year. They owe me!

Stage 4: Depression- This sucks. I really thought this was going to be the year. But, if they play like this in August, what does that mean for October? Well, if they even get there. I’ll probably be stuck watching more crappy college football matchups (like Syracuse vs. Hofstra) again this fall.

Stage 5: Acceptance- OK, well you can’t win ‘em all right? I mean, it’s only three games. They have a pretty easy schedule ahead of them…Marlins, Mets at home and then the Marlins and Pirate on the road. They’ll beat those teams…they have to.

Over reaction? Yeah, probably. But at the time it always seems like it’s the end of the world. The crazy thing is, the Braves got swept by the Rockies in a 3-game series and the Braves ended up gaining ½ game on the Phillies, who were swept in their 4-game series (at home) against the Astros. I can honestly say I did not see that one coming.

*****

We are less than a week away from September 1st call-ups and the Braves have a few guys that I really want to see (and some I really would rather never see again) that could be on that list. First and foremost is Freddie Freeman. The 20-year-old first baseman is tearing up AAA pitching and is showing everyone why he is on the Braves “untouchables” list. Freeman is hitting .324 18HR 87 RBI .918 OPS in Gwinnett this season, with most of that damage coming in the second half. He is the Braves’ first baseman of the future and like the rest of “Braves Nation,” I just can’t wait to see what he can do.

Joining Freeman will most likely be relief pitchers Craig Kimbrel and Stephen Marek. Kimbrel has dominated this season going 3-2 1.74 ERA 22 SV 76 SO 51.2 IP while Marek has almost matched Kimbrel dominance and surprise quite a few people going 1-1 1.17ERA 8 SV 53 SO 46 IP. I also wouldn’t be too surprised to see lefty Mike Dunn back in Atlanta.

As for more hitters, our old friend Barbaro Canizares is having another great year in AAA Gwinnett (it’s just too bad he can’t come close to that in Atlanta) hitting .337 10 HR 67 RBI, but it definitely would be nice to have a guy who has some pop on the bench. I also expect IF Brandon Hicks to come back up and join the team. He’s a guy who can pinch run for McCann and Hinske and play some SS at the end of some games.

Of course, whenever Troy Glaus is comfortable with his health, he will be back on the team and there are a few other guys who may be rewarded with a late season call-up; Wes Timmons (having a solid year in AAA), Brent Clevlen (who had a cup of coffee and a DL stint in Atlanta this year) and Joe Thurston (who many feel should have beat out Brooks Conrad this Spring). A third catcher will also be added to the roster to give the Braves some insurance and a day or two off for McCann and/or Ross. Either J.C. Boscan and Clint Sammons will be called up to help out; I’m not sure which one it will be, but both are good defensive catchers and neither can really hit their way out of a wet paper bag.

Then there are a few guys that I don’t expect to see, but I wouldn’t be too upset if we saw them. Willy Taveras has been atrocious in Gwinnett this year, but if the Braves need a guy to steal a base, late in a game, he is the guy to go to. An over shadowed deadline-deal brought OF Wilkin Ramirez from Detroit and, though he hasn’t hit for much average, can pop a home run every now and then.

Finally we have Nate McClouth and Kenshin Kawakami. What happens with these two? Well, I guess sending them on a top-secret mission to Mars is out of the question, so I assume they will be in Atlanta; I guess Kawakami will be for sure according to Bobby Cox, and he would know, wouldn’t he? McClouth is only hitting .225 for the year and Kawakami, well, is Kawakami. I guess what I’m trying to say is, I don’t mind watching these guys play…but not until Spring Training of 2011.

Until next time…Go Braves!

 

 

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