Much has happened since we last spoke.
1. After a brief respite, the Braves’ impotent offense has returned. In the past five games, the Bravos have hit just .212 with 16 runs. That’s how you lose three out of five despite a 1.77 ERA from your pitchers. Tonight the local nine faces arch-nemesis Dillon Gee, who has a 1.23 ERA vs. the Bravos in his past four starts. But he’s struggled lately against everyone else, with a 5.71 ERA since the All-Star break.
2. Bad news on the Jonny Venters front: DOB reports he’s scheduled to see Dr. Andrews after complaining of soreness. Every pitcher is different, but JV’s struggles give you an idea of the long odds facing Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy.
3. Looks like the phasing out of B.J. Upton has begun. Bonifacio, batting .255 with a .296 OBP as a Brave, is in the line-up again tonight. According to DOB:
The Braves will try to trade Upton this offseason – personally, I think it’s just about a fait accompli that he’s gone before spring training – and that they might do it by including Minor in a package. In other words, they’d tell a team, you can have three years of contractual control of Minor before free agency, but you’re going to have to take B.J. Upton in the deal.
I’d hate to see Minor dealt — perhaps packaging B.J. with Evan Gattis would do the trick. DOB says there’s a “pretty good chance” Gattis will be dealt in the offseason, which would be smart. Gattis tries hard but he’s a liability behind the plate, but his low salary would be attractive to AL teams in need of a power-hitting DH.
4. So the offseason promises to be an active one. But who will be in charge? According to Bob Nightengale:
Whispers are getting louder in baseball circles that if the Atlanta Braves miss the playoffs, it could result in a front-office shakeup involving GM Frank Wren and perhaps even manager Fredi Gonzalez.
Braves CEO Terry McGuirk, in a lengthy interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, did not offer any votes of confidence, saying only that they are accountable for the team’s performance.
5. Washington’s lead is now 8 games, so it’s the Wild Card or bust for the Bravos. With Michael Wacha and Yadier Molina reportedly close to returning, I’d bet on the Cards winning the Central. That leaves Milwaukee, the Braves, San Fran, Pittsburgh and Miami fighting for two spots. I’d feel a lot better about our chances if FW could acquire another lefty reliever and a pinch hitter who can hit. I think we’ve all had our fill of Ryan “Norton” Doumit.
Heyward 9, Bonifacio 8, Freeman 3, JUpton 7, Johnson 5, Gattis 2, La Stella 4, Simmons 6, Wood 1
One of my favorite Simpsons lines — Marge, thinking she just said something funny: “I’m a regular Billy Crystal.” Bart: “You got that right”.