First off, let’s be clear about this…the Phillies haven’t won anything, the Braves lost first place by losing to the worst teams in the league. James McDonald…Brian Burres…who? The Braves have basically been put into second place by the Indianapolis Indians (Pirates AAA team) and hopefully will get a wakeup call for their 4-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals this weekend in Atlanta.
Now that I have that rant out of my system, let’s continue…Obviously it has been a frustrating week for Braves fans, but the bottom line is the Braves play the Phillies six more times, so that is where the NL East will most likely be decided. I can say, it seems as if the Braves can play well against the good teams (we know how they do against the poor ones) so let’s hope this stays true against the Phils.
So, with the Braves recent skid (more like train wreck) on the road, I’ve found myself trying to find an answer as to why…so I have come up with three scenarios that may explain why the Atlanta Braves have turned into the Danville Braves on the road…
- When the Braves were in Florida, Matt Diaz and some other players were surfing and he stumbled across this ancient Tiki Idol. Instead of asking the locals what it was or where It came from, he began wearing it around his neck. From this day on, the Braves have had terrible luck and the connection has not yet been made to the cursed artifact.
- On the Braves last off-day, Derek Lowe went water skiing and came across some sharks circling a wounded fish. Instead of getting out of there like a rational person, Derek decided he would just jump over the sharks to show off in front of his teammates. He did this successfully, but in hindsight he did not just “jump the shark,” he jumped a school of them.
- They just suck.
I tend to lean more to one, though as I was reading some Twitter entries last night, they tended to lean a little toward #3. The Braves don’t suck. They are in a slump and will break out of it. Any way you see it, there is plenty of time left and only ½ game (they are even in the loss column) separating the best two teams (in my mind) in the NL. Only time will tell…
For years the Braves have had the luxury of having a strong minor league system. I followed the progress of the Braves affiliates this year and though the teams didn’t finish great, there were some players that stood out. Of course the gems of the system, Randall Delgado, Mike Minor (who is up now), Julio Teheran Craig Kimbrel, and Arodys Vizcaino, but here are some other players who had great years both statistically and developmental:
AAA Gwinnett: I have spoken about Stephen Marek before (as we know we came over from Anaheim with Casey Kotchman for Mark Teixeira) but he really had a great year going 2-2 1.43 ERA 9 SV 1.13 WHIP and 56K 50.1 IP. Also, Scott Diamond, who started in AA Mississippi, finished strong with Gwinnett putting up solid numbers. Combined (AA and AAA) he went 8-7 3.47 ERA 123 K. Erik Cordier, who the Braves received for Brayan Pena was strong in both AA and AAA going 11-7 3.71 ERA 113 K 135.2 IP.
Looking down the line a bit, RHP J.J. Hoover had an outstanding year, starting in A Myrtle Beach and finishing in AA Mississippi. Hoover went 14-7 3.29 ERA 152 K, not too shabby. Since everyone is talking about Julio Teheran as being the Braves’ next stud pitcher, here is what he did combined in A Rome, A Myrtle Beach and AA Mississippi: 9-8 2.59 ERA 159 K. If you saw him pitch in the Futures Game this year, you know his stuff is nasty!
Finally, the Braves 1st round pick Matthew Lipka showed us why he was so highly regarded by the organization. Lipka played in the Gulf Coast League this summer and really flourished hitting .302 1 HR 24 RBI 20 SB .758 OPS. If he can continue putting up those numbers, especially AVG and SB, the Braves are going to finally have a guy at the top of the lineup to create havoc (not that Omar Infante hasn’t been great).