Was the Philly sweep an omen or a blip?

Hard to say, but there’s a few takeaways that should’ve been obvious before:

  • B.J. Upton can’t be trusted. He was 0-for-Philadelphia, with 7 strikeouts — three versus Kyle Kendrick. Baffling that Schafer sat on the bench all weekend even though he was apparently healthy enough to play. Until Jay Hey returns there’s no reason not to stick w/ an OF of Gattis, Schafer and the ever-unpredictable Justin, who has a .190 BA and .637 OPS over his last 19 games (63 AB). Obviously he can carry this team when hot, but when he’s not he’s as big a liability as his sibling.
  • Speaking of liabilities, Dan Uggla continues to suck. He hasn’t homered in 28 games, during which time he has 21 more strikeouts (32) than hits (9). He’s hitting .133 with no XBH since returning from LASIK surgery, regressing to the point that I’m beginning to wonder if the Braves aren’t better off with Elliot Johnson at second base. Those who still try and defend Uggla should really stop making fools of themselves.
  • Remember Jeff Suppan, the middling Cardinals starter who parlayed a stout performance in the 2006 NLCS into a big contract with the Brewers? For the Braves to advance to the World Series for the first time in 14 years, they’re going to need Paul Maholm to mimic Suppan. Because Maholm is the only realistic option as a fourth starter. Beachy has only recently begun soft-tossing so it’s questionable whether he’ll even be available out of the bullpen, while Alex Wood has either tired or been figured out by opposing hitters.
  • Jordan Walden is more important to this team than we may have realized. Without him the Braves bullpen is considerably less intimidating. Can’t say enough about how well Carpenter and Avilan have pitched up to now but I’d rather not have to depend on them alone as the bridge to Kimbrel.  Walden is reportedly “not close” to returning from a groin strain, according to the AJC’s Carroll Rogers.
  • On top of everything else, now I’m worried about Freddie’s right knee. Fredi says it’s fine after he banged it into a wall chasing a pop-up yesterday in Philly, but that knee has given him trouble before. And frankly, it’s getting difficult to trust the Braves when they say a player is day-to-day. As evident with the two Jordans and Reed Johnson, the team’s prognoses of late tend to be wildly optimistic. I’d sit Freddie for at least one game — home-field advantage won’t mean a thing if our best hitter is limping to the plate.

 

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3 Comments on Was the Philly sweep an omen or a blip?

  1. Sharon Egan // September 9, 2013 at 2:42 pm //

    Grasping at my fan’s straws, I’m starting to wonder whether the expectations of a winning city play a greater factor than the pressures of living up to big-dollar contracts with Uggla and BJ. Those who bothered coming to the ballpark when Uggs was in Miami weren’t looking for wins, and Tampa obviously gives a considerable rat’s ass less than Atlanta even about a winning club. While he’s had some moments with Baltimore, McLouth was a bust here coming over from Pittsburgh, about which ’nuff said. Contrast these guys with Laird (Tigers), Ramiro Pena (Yankees) and Walden (Angels), who played for fans and organizations with high expectations before and have continued to perform in Atlanta. As did David Ross (Boston) before he went back to the Sox.

  2. Sharon, that’s an awesome point that I’ve never really considered. I’ve never really liked Uggla as a player–even when he would rip up the Braves periodically when he was with the Stinky Fish–and maybe part of that is his aesthetic; he simply looks like a beer league player. But he may be pressing (along with his obvious physical decline; he simply isn’t a good athlete) and that may be adding to his woes.

  3. Alex Wood is ABSOLUTELY a good option as a 4th starter. A hell of an option, actually. A 24.3 K%, an 8.5 BB%, a 2.66 FIP, 3.18 xFIP, with a still-high BABIP, average LOB%, and a slightly low HR/FB. In the playoffs, the bullpen bears much more impact. If Wood goes 4-5 innings, the Braves have the capability (assuming a healthy ‘pen) to shut down the next 4-5 innings with either high-leverage arms or match-up arms. If Beachy comes back, he could even be used for 2-3 innings to bridge any gaps between the starters and the ‘pen. He certainly has the stuff to do that.

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