Ramblings about the Braves by True Braves Fans
First of all, the elephant in the room is whether or not Chipper will retire. Honestly, I don’t know. I was going against what seemed to the be the majority when I said the he wouldn’t retire at the end of this season if it ended on a high note. Given statements he’s made about retirement beginning last season, I would say that retirement is now a certainty, except for something he said Wednesday. David O’Brien asked him if he’d consider a long rehab to play again if he needed season ending surgery, and he replied “I’d have to consider it.” So, I honestly don’t know if we’ve seen him play his last game or not.
First, lets get out of the way what options aren’t even worth talking about, because all indications are that they won’t happen (and in my opinion, they shouldn’t happen):
Moving Troy Glaus to 3rd base
Regardless of how much time he’s played at 3rd base in his career, his knees are currently in no condition to play the hot corner.
Bring up Freddie Freeman to play 3rd base
Freeman is solid at first base, but professionally has almost no experience at third base. He played 5 games there 3 years ago in rookie ball. The sample size is small, but the numbers were atrocious. With moving Glaus to 3rd base being out of the question as well, its unlikely that Freddie Freeman’s timetable is going to be altered. The most likely way we’ll see him in the majors this year is if he is called up in September to help fill out the bench and provide some occasional rest for Glaus.
That brings us to the realistic options. We’ll start with my current favorite first:
Stay with what we’ve got
We’ve got at least 4 guys that can play 3rd base. Hinske, Infante, Conrad, and Prado. I like all these guys, so I wouldn’t be upset to see any of them playing at third, but I think the best everyday option is Prado. He is going to play everyday no matter what, and he is probably the best defensive option among the bunch. This leaves a spot open at 2nd base. As far as I’m aware, Hinske can’t play 2nd, so that leave Conrad and Infante to take over there. There has been a lot of discussion lately about how you keep Infante in the lineup after Prado returns. I don’t think this was really how we wanted to address that question, but it does address it. Conrad can continue to be a valuable asset off the bench, and Hinske is free to be utilized in left field and at first base. So, while you can pick your favorite combination, mine is going to be Prado at third, Infante at second. For the batting order, you keep Prado at the top, put Infante batting second, and move Heyward to the third spot. The rest of the lineup fills out the same as it has all year.
Bring on someone new
A few names have been mentioned, but the name that seems to the most attractive, and most likely to clear waivers, is %Bn%. Figgins has good points and bad. His overall numbers for the year have been below par, but he’s been playing well lately. He’s a true lead off hitter that has both speed and a high OBP. He’s also from Georgia, and playing for the “home team” can sometimes provide extra drive for a player. His salary is pretty steep, but indications are that Seattle would be willing to eat a large portion of it and/or take Kawakami in return. The latter would significantly offset Figgins’ salary. Another positive about Figgins is that he can play third, second, and center field.
What does it all mean?
So, what does it mean to a team in a hot pennant race to lose someone so valuable? Well, its not good news, thats for sure, but it also doesn’t mean the season is over. The Braves earned their current spot in first place back when Chipper wasn’t playing too well. While his recent production has been important, we’ve shown that we can succeed without it. Chipper is also a valuable member to the team off the field, and this won’t change. The impact he has just being in the clubhouse shouldn’t be underestimated. I think this makes things more difficult without question, but there is no reason to believe that its something that can keep us from winning the pennant, not to mention the world series.
Whether he’s played his last game for Atlanta or not, his season is over. He went down giving everything he had to try and get the Braves another championship. More than ever, its time to go out there and show our appreciation for all he has done for this franchise, now and in the past. It’s been 15 years since we won the world series, its time to win one again, and this time, lets Win One For The Chipper!
Kris Medlen was forced to leave tonight’s game due to “an injury to the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow,” according to the Braves. He’ll undergo and MRI on Thursday. If you aren’t sure what the UCL is, it might help to know that the medical term for Tommy John Surgery is ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction.
Depending on the severity of the issue, the Braves could face losing him for a few starts, the rest of the season, or even the rest of next season. I guess its possible that he could end up not missing any time at all, but everything I’ve read seems to indicate that he’ll definitely be making a trip to the DL, regardless of the outcome of the MRI.
Speculation has already begun on what the Braves will do in response. Obviously if its a situation where he won’t miss a start, nothing will happen. If he does miss any time, there is a lot of debate on whether the Braves will call up Mike Minor (henceforth known as MM), or if they will move KK back into the rotation.
If we do find out that we are going to be without Medlen for at least the rest of the season, I think we have to call up MM. To begin with, KK has hardly pitched since being moved to the bullpen. Chances that he’s even up to starting are pretty slim. That being said, we are in a tight pennant race, and now is not the time for MM to mature in the majors. KK has to begin getting ready because if MM shows any signs of not being able to handle the pressures of a pennant race, or merely falters for any other reasons, KK will need to step in. If we had a runaway lead or if we were out of the race, then you could afford to let MM go through some bad starts in order to further refine him. We don’t have that luxury now.
What I’m wondering is what we do if Medlen ends up needing to just miss one or two starts? Would we call up MM just to make a few spot starts and send him back down? Are there other options in on the farm that could be better utilized in such a situation? Do we have anyone in the bullpen that could be moved into such a role? I know that Venters started most of his career in the minors, but is he prepared to make a few spot starts? Even if he is, can we afford to lose him out of the pen? Could JJ go on short rest if needed? Don’t forget that he didn’t pitch for two months or so while on the DL and is much more rested than other starters.
My feeling is that in such a situation we wouldn’t call up MM. I don’t think he’s coming up this year unless its with plans for him to stay up here as part of the rotation. Instead I think we’d call up another starter from AAA or AA with the intention of him making a single start and getting sent back down.
Lots of news in relation to Heyward, Jurrjens, Kawakami, and Medlen. Check the twitter feed for links to the various stories.
It was a bit scary at the end, but %Bn% finally got his first win, and Chipper hit his 200th home run at Turner Field. The home run, his career 431st, tied him with Cal Ripken Jr. for 38th on the all-time list.
In other news, Jason Heyward finally admitted that his thumb has been bothering him. Personally, I’m glad. I think its obvious that its been an issue, and trying to play through it has not been working. Even if it means a stint on the DL, I’d rather lose him for a little while and get him back playing like he did in May, than go the entire season with him playing like he’s been playing this month. You can read more on the situation here: Jason Heyward admits he’s hurt
Well, Kawakami got more runs than usual, but he also gave up a lot more runs than usual.
Disappointing ending. Kawakami pitched a really good game, and the Braves finally scored a run, only to lose the lead (and the game) when McLouth and Heyward collided in the outfield allowing %Bn% to score on an inside the park home run. The home run also ended Moylan’s streak of consecutive appearances without giving up a home run at 123.
The good news is that McLouth appears to be okay. He was probably going to sit out today anyway since we’re facing a left hander. Maybe it will have knocked the slump out of him too?
Check out David O’Brien’s Clubhouse Comments for more insight on the above topics and more.
Another good game. %Ln%’s bad luck continued though. He pitched a good game, but left the game with it tied at 2. An RBI single by Chipper in the 8th broke the tie, and Heyward followed it up with two more RBIs on triple.
%Bn% has horrible luck. Granted, he has pitched a few bad games this year, but he hasn’t pitched anywhere near bad enough to be 0-7.
Tonight was yet another game that he pitched well enough to win, but didn’t get the run support. He only gave up 3 runs, but left with the team still trailing by 1. After the bullpen gave up a few more runs, any hope of a no decision was pretty much gone.
The Braves threatened in the top of the 9th, with driving in two runs. It wasn’t enough in the end though. Chipper tried to hit into a double play (that’s not really fair, his hustle down the line is the only reason it wasn’t one), and McCann followed up with a ground out to end the game.