It’s been a strange first half. If on April 1 someone said the Braves will have the same record as the Cubs and Cardinals at the break — technically a half-game behind the little bears — we all would’ve said something like, Holy Shit! Teheran, Freeman, Kemp, Ender and Dansby are going to the all star game and Jim Johnson has been rock solid.
Instead, the little bears and Redbirds have disappointed. The Braves have been better than expected despite: losing their best player for more than a month; their ace having a bad first half; the closer looking 47 years old; only one starter posting a sub-4 ERA; one pitcher turning in perhaps the worst dozen starts EVER by an Atlanta Brave; and Dansby hitting with a wet noodle for the first two months.
On the other hand, there have been an equal number of pleasant surprises and encouraging signs: Folty may be rounding into top-of-the-rotation form; when he’s played Freddie has been in the class of Henry Aaron and Chipper Jones; Matt Adams; the catchers; Newcomb; Dickey has strung together a few nice outings of late; Camargo.
I think we also have a fortunate schedule just now.
How’s that? D-backs, Cubs and Dodgers coming up? That could be a meat grinder, sure. But it will clarify exactly what chance the Bravos have to contend before the trade deadline hits. Now, I think Coppy et al would resist the temptation to give up a load of prospects to chase the chimera of a wild card shot this year under any circumstances. If the Braves sweep the D-backs, they’re 5 games back in the wild card standings. Yet this club just doesn’t boast the sort of rotation to stack up the 15-out-of-20 stretches it’ll take to make up 8 games and jump over several teams, or to run down the Nats, who have a 9.5-game lead and a really good ball club.
But for the hell of it let’s say the Braves are within 4-5 games of a wild card spot at the deadline. You still don’t give up any real jewels for a decent but not great pitcher like Sonny Gray. I’m hoping the Braves deal Adams — like CB I’m just not a fan of messing with Freddie the franchise cornerstone — Phillips, Garcia, maybe Kemp or Markakis. I can’t see a team giving up anything for Johnson, but if someone dangles a decent prospect, thank Jim for his service and send him out.
I’m not for rushing guys. Yet it’d be exciting to see Albies soon. He’s killing it in AAA. It’d be foolish to promote Acuna before September, but it’d sure be fun to see him then. Camargo looks like a switch-hitting Prado type. I love what I’ve seen from him. Get him as many ABs as possible the rest of the way. Even if they don’t want to bring up Albies, Sean Rodriguez is returning soon, so if you can get something for Phillips you’re covered at second.
Don’t get me wrong. I love what Brandon has done. I like his flair. So I wouldn’t give him away, but if the return is reasonable, move him. I can’t see the home team keeping him after his contract expires at the end of this season, anyway.
As for Julio, I really don’t want to trade him. Yeah, he’s had a subpar first half. Still he’s only 26, he’s proven himself a solid big league pitcher, he’s under team control on a very reasonable contract. I don’t see a guy like Gray as a huge upgrade. Say you deal Julio, then deal your return, in some form, for Gray. You’re just shuffling things around. Julio is homegrown and the kind of young, cheap, proven pitcher teams want, albeit one coming off a rough first half.
Anyway, I’ve missed the Bravos these last few nights. I’m eager to get the second half going.