All year we’ve been taking a look back at the silver anniversary of the worst team in Atlanta Braves history. The ’88 squad finished its season on the road vs. the Reds, three days after losing their home finale to the ‘Stros before 5,789 (which was more than the combined attendance of the first two games of the Houston series). They would lose Game 160 — two postponed games were not made up because, well, what was the point — to Cincy, 1-0. Keith Brown accounted for half his career victories in the season finale, combining with three relievers on a six-hit shutout.
As bad at that team was, no one in the Braves starting line-up that day had a BA as low as Dan Uggla’s .179 Uggla gets the start today with Chris Johnson out, a move that has nothing to do with last night’s dust-up with TP. It seems like TP may have over-reacted but the Office is always going to give the ’91 MVP the benefit of the doubt. TP has never gotten the proper recognition by Braves fans, many of whom were willing to throw him under the bus for Jeff Francoeur’s struggles.
Anyway, Johnson apologized and took the blame, so all is well. The Braves need some help from the Cubs to gain home field advantage throughout and, more importantly, avoid a first round match-up with the Dodgers. But L.A. is hurting, with Kemp and Ethier both questionable for the playoffs. Unfortunately for opposing hitters, Kershaw and Greinke are fine.
Great news about B-Mac, who might be up to catching a few innings tomorrow, according to DOB. The Cards have already won,, but as long as the Bravos win out they’ll get the top seed. At worst they’ll be seeded second, meaning the local nine will open at home on Thursday. Tonight’s line-up:
Interesting game tonight, as Medlen, the presumptive Game 1 starter, faces a pitcher as good as any the Braves will see in the playoffs (save for Clayton Kershaw). No need to rest anyone, as the Braves will have three days off before the playoffs and the key pitchers in the ‘pen haven’t seen much action this week. Still puzzled by the absence of Jordan Walden, however.
The Braves control their own destiny, as they hold the tiebreaker over the Cards. They’re guaranteed to open at home in the NLDS as either the first or second seed, but there’s a big difference between the two. First seed most likely means a match-up against the Pirates or Reds. The second seed is all but certain to face the Dodgers and Kershaw. Then again, the Dodgers haven’t been any better than the Braves in September.
Keep those fingers crossed, because right now everything’s trending positive — except Uggla, who has more strikeouts (6) than hits (4, all singles) since returning from Lasik surgery. Schafer’s quad contusion is much better, says DOB, and he likely wouldn’t have started anyway with Cliff Lee on the mound.
Then there’s this: “Heyward went to dr again continues to get good reports, could join team in MIA to continue his workouts. Idea is to get some ABs instructs.”
Fredi has done a good job thus far of resting the pitchers, and the Braves have added another reinforcement to help keep the others fresh: Princeton grad and Marietta native David Hale. The right-hander with a heavy sinker (“He’s got pitchability,” sez Fredi) gets the call from Gwinnett, where he had decent numbers as a starter. Most importantly, he’s another warm body.
1. B Upton CF 2. J Upton RF 3. Freeman 1B 4. Gattis LF 5. McCann C 6. C Johnson 3B 7. Uggla 2B 8. Simmons SS 9. Minor P
Simmons and McCann are getting a rest, and it would be incumbent on Fredi to keep everyone fresh with the division all but clinched. The magic number is 30, by the way.
There’s been some griping lately from Braves fans that this team doesn’t get enough respect nationally, and I understand the sensitivity. But we should remember that, as recently as three weeks ago, many of us were pessimistic about the local nine’s chances. And although this Braves team shouldn’t be held accountable for the October failures of past squads, it stands to reason that people are going to have doubts about their postseason chances. Being a Braves fan means wishing for the best but expecting the worst.
The 2013 Phils aren’t as bad as a M. Night Shyamalan film, but they’re getting there. They are Goofus to the Braves’ Gallant.
Gallant has won 17 of his last 20 games. Goofus (who would play well in Philly) has lost 17 of his last 20.
It’s pretty much a given that Charlie Manuel will take the fall for Philly’s demise, though he’s not the one who constructed their aging roster. Manuel accomplished something no other Phillies manager has done in my lifetime, or in many lifetimes before, winning two pennants and one World Series. Plus, he’s a genuinely nice man who saved my ass when I was assigned a freelance assignment on newly acquired Brave Danys Baez. There isn’t much to write about a middle reliever, but Manuel, who managed Baez in Cleveland, gave a freelancer he didn’t know the anecdotes I needed.
Julio T. takes the mound tonight, and Fredi needs to go easy on him the rest of the way. If he pitches 7 innings tonight he’ll match his career-high in innings pitched. Paul Maholm is about to begin a rehab assignment and, considering the Braves’ lead, a 6-man rotation makes sense.
So does acquiring a utility infielder who can hit better than Corky Miller. Paul Janish is splendid defensively but is helpless at the plate and Fan Uggla has been atrocious of late. I’ve thrown out the name Gordon Beckham, an Atlanta native who can play second and third base and is batting .299 this year. The White Sox seem willing to deal just about everyone on their roster, so FW should give the Reinsdorfs a call.
Eight years ago to the day, Jeff Francoeur, making his Braves debut, hit a three-run homer off Glendon Rusch en route to a defeat of the Cubs. The Braves improved to 49-37 with the victory — one win shy of their record today.
I’m going to start writing more panicky posts about this team. Every time I do the Braves make me look silly.
That said, I still think hitting Chris Johnson, now batting .333 with a .853 OPS, 8th is stupid.
I like Ben Revere, acquired by the Phils from Minnesota, but otherwise their offseason has been a bust. They got older, acquiring Michael Young, who’s coming off a dreadful season with the Rangers. And the 36-year-old third sacker will only make a bad fielding team worse.
Today they signed clubhouse cancer Delmon Young, another poor fielder who had a .296 OBP and .411 slugging percentage last year in Detroit. His career numbers aren’t much better.
Yes, they still have Hamels, Lee and Halladay. Lee was better than his record in 2012 but will be 34 on Opening Day. Halladay, 36 in May, wasn’t very good last season and with nearly 2,700 innings pitched you’ve got to wonder how much he’s got left. Kyle Kendrick and John Lannan complete a rotation with little depth.
Mets fans should be thrilled by the proposed R.A. Dickey to Toronto trade. New York will reportedly receive two former first round draft picks: catcher Travis d’Arnaud (.286 BA and .816 OPS in the minors) and pitcher Noah Snydergaard (13-8, 2.35 ERA, 1.085 WHIP) — an impressive haul for a 38-year-old pitcher.
New York also kept its franchise player, David Wright, for $138 million over 8 years. It’s a risky deal, as Wright will be 37 when his contract expires, but considering some of the deals handed out this winter it’s not unreasonable.
They still have a LONG way to go, as evidenced by their projected Opening Day outfield of Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Jordany Valdespin and Lucas Duda.
The Nats imported Denard Span and Dan Haren, discarding Edwin Jackson and either Rochey or Michael Morse. Call it even.
The Bravos hope to draw even before the season starts but as of now they’re on the wrong end of the Chipper and Bourn for B.J. Upton swap.
Philly is the NL version of the Yanks, aging and fading. They were able to snag a player the Braves wanted, Ben Revere, but he didn’t come cheap. Their new third baseman, Michael Young, is a middle class man’s Placido Polanco, which is another way of saying I’ll take my chances on Juan Francisco. They’re reportedly hot for Cody Ross, which is sort of like being hot for Marion Ross.
Then there’s Miami. Unfortunately for the 38 remaining Marlins fans, Jeffrey Loria did not trade himself. They have Giancarlo Stanton — for now, but don’t be surprised if Texas rescues him from south Florida.
There’s a reason Bob Uecker is self-deprecating. He really, really sucked — especially as an Atlanta Brave.
Uecker played his first and last major league games with the franchise, debuting as a Milwaukee Brave in 1962. He was re-acquired in June 1967 from the Phillies to be Joe Torre’s back-up but ended up starting 48 games, often as Knucksie’s personal catcher. Not that he was any good at it.
The Miller Lite pitchman led NL catchers in errors (11) and passed balls (27 , 25 as a Brave) despite only 59 starts. That’s more passed balls than Eddie Perez and Charlie O’Brien allowed in their careers.
Uecker was equally inept at the plate, managing but 23 hits (18 singles) in 158 Atlanta AB’s, striking out 51 times for a .146 BA. The only thing worse than his .236 OBP was a pitcher-like .215 slugging percentage. Mercifully, the Braves released Uecker four days after the season concluded. I’m surprised it took that long.
NOTE: Not ranked in order; Uecker may well be the worst of the worst. He certainly won’t be the last catcher to make out list.