The Braves Blog

Ramblings about the Braves by True Braves Fans

April 6, 2006

I’m Worried

by @ 9:52 pm.   Filed under braves games, braves news, braves players

Well folks, I have to admit I’m a little worried. No, not about the shaky pitching from our starters, that will work itself out fine. John Thomson is back in the rotation, John Smoltz and Tim Hudson will be just fine, and Jorge Sosa and Horacio Ramirez will either shape or end up doing something else (be it out of the bullpen, in AAA, or on another team).

I’ll admit the past few games have not been pretty, but when is the last time the Braves have looked good in the first few weeks? The season is bright: Edgar Renteria is playing like he did with the Cardinals, not like he did last year with the Red Sox. Brian McCann seems to be taking well to his position as catcher number one, and our bench has been looking good as well. The one young guy that hasn’t looked great yet is Jeff Francoeur, and I don’t think anyone is really worried about him not making a big impact this season.

No, the reason I am worried is the post-season predictions being made by the press. The Braves have never been given respect for the string of division titles they have won. Every year when the baseball season begins the Braves are lucky to get picked for the wild card. Normally they are chosen to finish 2nd and miss the wild card, sometimes even 3rd or 4th.

Not this year. Even after the Mets have made dramatic improvements, ESPN The Magazine picked the Braves to win the NL East. The ESPN Expert Predictions are even more dramatic. 12 of the 19 writers picked the Braves to win the NL East. Peter Gammons, who two years ago predicted the Braves would finish 4th ahead of the Expos, even picked the Braves to win the NL East. The writers that didn’t pick the Braves to win the NL East did pick them to win the wild card. This means that all 19 of them picked the Braves to make it to the post-season. Granted only 3 of them picked the Braves to make the World Series (and none of them picked the Braves to win it) but this is still big.

Now to be honest, I am not superstitious, so I don’t think that the predictions made by others are going to affect the outcome of the season. I do wonder though what caused this to happen? I mean, the Braves have started seasons before with better teams and a worst fate was expected of them. I think the reason the Braves are getting more respect this season is because of what they did last year. On the surface it was like any other season. Win a division title only to make an early exit in the playoffs. The season was anything but normal though. Bobby Cox finally was able to prove that he is the reason for the Braves success. In the past its always been easy to give credit to the great pitching. Last year the Braves played so many rookies that the driving force behind the team was finally able to shine through.

I will admit that I never truly gave Bobby Cox the credit he deserved until last season. I always knew he was a great manager, but until last year I did not know how great he really was. I think the same can be said for many sports fans and writers out there as well. I think this is the reason so many are finally predicting the Braves will make the post-season. Its because they know the Braves don’t win just because they have good players; they don’t win just because they won the year before. They win because those good players are being coached to carry on a winning tradition by one of the greatest managers ever: Bobby Cox.

Now for a recap of other goings on this week. If you want more details on any of these, check out the news section of The Braves Board.

Horacio Ramirez left Wednesday’s game with a pulled hamstring. Thursday he was placed on the DL and Ken Ray was called up from AAA to take his place on the roster. Ray will pitch out of the bullpen and John Thomson will take Ramirez’ place in the rotation. Blaine Boyer was optioned to AAA and Joey Devine was called up to take his place.

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