The Good: After losing two of three from both the Padres and Mets, the Braves bounced back this week to sweep the Marlins and pull to just 2 games behind the Phillies. The Braves had phenomenal pitching performances by Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens and Derek Lowe—who finally had his nasty sinker working again.
The bullpen was lights out (let’s just forget about that blown save on Wednesday; it was a lucky swing) as usual and Jonny Venters continued to make his case for the 2011 All-Star Game. Even Scott Linebrink joined in and earned a save!
The Bad: Once again, the Braves offense didn’t fare as well as the pitching—they have averaged 2.6 runs for the last 10 games. It seems like 2010 all over again, but at least that team broke out of the slump (eventually), this team has yet to break out for an extended period of time.
The Braves really do miss Jason Heyward, but it’s nothing like ESPN reported this week—basically saying Chipper is ‘calling out’ Heyward for not playing through pain. Of course this was taken way out of context (as usual) and there is no feud between the two. The fact is, Heyward is a huge presence in the lineup and he helps the Braves win. Eric Hinske has been playing great in RF for the past couple weeks, but he’s no Jason Heyward (sorry Vinnie!).
Uggla: Dan Uggla is really fighting it; I find myself pining for the days of Nate McLouth’s .180AVG. Uggla, who is now down to a .170AVG, actually finds himself in a very similar situation to McLouth; when do the Braves make a change? Although Uggla is not hurting them in the field, he is almost a sure out right now and if I were a pitcher, I’d throw him nothing but sliders off the plate. He is pulling off every pitch and if I can see it, why don’t the Braves?
During a recent broadcast, it was noted that hitting coach Larry Parish (I’m paraphrasing now) “wasn’t going speak with Uggla and make a change unless Uggla came to him first.” My reaction to this is WHAT?! What is a hitting coach for then? I don’t care who they are, or if they want help or not. If a guy is bailing out of the box, pulling off every pitch and killing the team, you better damn sure try and fix it! I hope the report was wrong.
The same thing goes for Uggla. He knows he is in a huge slump; trying to justify the contract he signed, why wouldn’t he go to the hitting coach for help? Now, maybe there are some things going on behind the scenes, but from everything I’ve seen and everything TV/Radio broadcasters and baseball writers have seen, nothing has been done yet and if Uggla doesn’t turn it around, the Braves need to take a serious look at 2B.
Obscure Brave of the week: Rudy Seanez.
Seanez was a relief pitcher for the Braves from 1998-2000 and signed with the Braves again toward the end of 2001. He pitched a total of 17 seasons starting in Cleveland, then made his way to San Diego, Los Angeles (Dodgers), Toronto, Boston, Kansas City, Florida and finally Philadelphia—phew that was a lot!
Seanez was an aggressive pitcher who could get his fastball up in the 96-97 MPH range and had a good changeup. He was a solid reliever for the Braves and was one of the guys that Leo Mazzone seemingly got from parts unknown and transformed into an above-average pitcher.
Back in the late 90’s I used to send baseball cards to players for autographs, since I lived in NY and didn’t get to many games at the time. I did so for Seanez, feeling like he probably didn’t get much fan mail, so I’d have a good shot at getting an autograph. Well, I did…but he also sent me a pamphlet about the devil; dead serious. It was all about Satan…fun stuff.
Seanez currently owns a Cold Stone Creamery in California…maybe I’ve spoken to him—my company deals with Cold Stones every day.
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