The year of Charlie Thomas

As bleak as things have been lately for the Bravos, we forget that the outlook was much bleaker 10 years ago. On this day 10 years ago the local nine were 34-39, 4 games out first. Johnny Estrada was carrying the offense. Chipper was batting .210. Nick Green was getting starts at 2B. As for the pitching — a rotation of John Thomson, Paul Byrd, Mike Hampton, Russ Ortiz and Jaret Wright says it all.

On June 27, 2004, entering the 8th inning of a game vs. Baltimore, the season appeared lost for good. The Braves trailed 7-1 to Matt Riley, who had a career 5.99 ERA. But at that point the tide turned dramatically. The Braves scored 7 unanswered runs off Mike DeJean, Jason Grimsley and B.J. Ryan to win the series. They reached the .500 mark a week later and never looked back, losing only 27 games the rest of the year.

Then of course they were defeated in the first round of the playoffs by the Astros. But it was a helluva run that came out of nowhere. Maybe history will repeat, though it would help to have a Charlie Thomas, the minor league journeyman who hit .288 with a .813 OPS in 83 games for the ’04 Braves before being traded in the offseason to Oakland along with Juan Cruz for Tim Hudson.

 

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6 comments

  1. I was at that game in Baltimore; was a great one to watch them come back from for sure! Of course it was when Baltimore was still really bad so their fans weren’t exactly surprised when that happened.

    It’d be nice if the Bravos were able to build a run like that again. So to go along with your analogy, who is the “Charlie Thomas and Juan Cruz” of this year that will net us David Price from the Rays?

  2. 2004 and 2005 proved to any doubters that Booby Cox was a Hall of Fame manager. Those two teams unfairly get lumped in with other Braves teams as “postseason failures”.

  3. Great point RJR. Bobby was tabbed as NL Mgr of the year for both 2004 and 2005. I wish someone would write an informative book about Bobby’s GM tenure of 1986-90 (traded for Smoltz,didnt trade Glavine, drafted Chipper). Along with Gene Michael, Bobby was the best evaluator of talent around.

  4. As brutal as the late 80s were, I had a glimmer of hope knowing that Cox was back in the org and building for the future. I had no idea we’d win 5 pennants in the 90’s, but I felt good that better times were ahead. A book about his GM tenure would be interesting for sure.

  5. Bobby doesn’t get enough credit for his work as GM. He was as responsible as JS for building the team of the 90s, drafting Chipper, Klesko, Avery, Mercker, Stanton and Wohlers and trading for Smoltz. The Braves also drafted Steve Finley, Ben McDonald and Tim Salmon during Bobby’s tenure but couldn’t sign them. The soon-to-be HOF’er also acquired Charlie Leibrandt, Marvin Freeman and Francisco Cabrera for little in return and signed Lonnie Smith off the scrap heap. Bobby was not only a better manager than Fredi — he was a better GM than Frank Wren.

  6. People forget just how bad the Braves organization was when Bobby took over in Oct 1985 ( named as GM during World Series ). It was Bobby(with help from Ted Turner)who helped mold the Braves into a model organization.

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