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Musings on the Atlanta Braves With 31 Days Left Until Spring Training

I’m beginning to realize how much I miss baseball; and sitting here snowbound, I’m beginning to realize how much disdain I hold for winter.

(I say snowbound…there’s really about a dusting of an ice/snow/slush crap melting on the ground.  But, I live in North Carolina, therefore I’m snowbound.)

And with little more than a month left before the likes of Tim Hudson, Brian McCann and sure-to-be-rookie-sensation Freddie Freeman begin to grace the ground at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, I expect the days to start slowing down as my anticipation for action begins to grow.

Since news has been less-than-exciting over the past few weeks (save the Dan Uggla situation—getting on that here in a second), there hasn’t been much to write about.

Today, I’m making things to write about (some old-timers here may remember me doing this sort of article last year during this lull), so bear with me on some of the stupidity that’s going to be included in here.


First thing…the whole Dan Uggla situation.

Let me start by putting my opinion on the deal “on the record” (something I’ve yet to do): it’s great.

Getting a legitimate, power-hitting, right-handed, 30-homer threat for a utility infielder (as much as we all love Omar, I’m not dissing him here) and a left-handed reliever with control problems is a helluva deal.

Then, signing him below market value for five years is just icing on the cake (Uggla would probably be a 7/98 man on the open market next year).

People may have qualms about signing a guy through his age-36 season, but when you compare similar players (thanks to FanGraphs), you see a similar career track to some mustachioed second baseman that spent time with the Giants, Dodgers, Astros and Mets…I think his name was Jeff Kent.

Simply, Uggla is the only second baseman in Major League history with four consecutive seasons of 30 or more home runs, and that skillset tends to age fairly well.

To the defense, keep this in mind: a lot of his reputation comes from the ’09 All-Star Game when he botched a couple easy chances.

Granted, a negative-double-digit UZR doesn’t help his case, either, but I did find an interesting nugget on FanGraphs about Uggla’s defense.

At his old home park (poorly-configured, fast-infielded Sun Life Stadium), his UZR was -26.

On the road (which is what Turner Field was considered, you know), it was 3.4.

And if those stats don’t ring true in a larger sample size, then left field can hide him pretty well (from both an offensive expectations and defensive perspective…he couldn’t be any worse than Garret Anderson, right?).


Second thing…projecting Freddie Freeman.

We all know that Jason Heyward was a special player.

And most of us know that Freddie Freeman is a special player (in 124 AAA games, he hit .319/.378/.521 with 18 homers and 35 two-baggers as a 20-year-old for much of the season…oh, and he played killer defense).

Therefore, we can expect a Heywardian-type season from Freeman, right?

Well, I don’t think we, as fans, can put that sort of pressure on J-Hey’s Minor League best friend.

Heyward’s 91-walk season at his age is something that probably won’t be replicated for a long time.

And until we see what he can do in Major League Spring Training as the “man to lose the job,” I’m not comfortable giving a precise projection for Freeman.

But I’m going to anyway.

My line for Freeman: .260/.340/.410 with a ton of doubles.

We’ll see how many windows he breaks in camp before I change that SLG projection (smile).


The biggest deal…Craig Kimbrel.

I’m not concerned about his performance in 2011.

His 40 Ks in 20.2 innings sold me on the 5’11” right-hander.

I’m concerned about his name…”Craig” isn’t intimidating anybody coming out of the ‘pen.

He needs a nickname.

My suggestion: Midnight Specialist.

No reason…it’s just the coolest suggestion to come out of the nickname generator I used.


Last thing…my new favorite baseball player.

His name is Fernando Perez, the new fourth outfielder for the Chicago Cubs.

Reason number one: this (anybody who uses “ameliorated” and “prick” in the same interview is cool in my book).

Reason number two: the video (see elsewhere in the article).

This guy is the man, even if he does play for the Cubs.

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Atlanta Braves: The Top 5 Moments of 2010

This past year presented Atlanta Braves fans with plenty of moments to relish.

This was the first time the Braves had reached the playoffs since 2005 and was the final season for venerable manager Bobby Cox.

But, I’m staying away from those topics for this slideshow.

Instead, I’m focusing on singular moments over the course of the calendar year that Braves fans will be talking about for years to come rather than events that involved a culmination of years/months of dedicated work to draw their fanfare.

So, without further adieu, my top-five moments for the Atlanta Braves for 2010.

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Atlanta Braves Offseason Needs: Offense and an Old Guy

When the Atlanta Braves 2010 came to a close a couple weeks back at the hands of the eventual National League Champion San Francisco Giants, there was a lot of mourning at the Britt (that’s me) household.

I was resigned to filling out college applications and (gasp) putting school over baseball for a couple of weeks as I bitterly refused to watch the LCS’s for the thought of what might of been had Chipper Jones, Martin Prado, Billy Wagner and Kris Medlen been good-to-go for the first round of the playoffs.

What’s that?

I sound like a bitter fan of a team that dons blue caps with red “C”s.

Well…I guess I shouldn’t digress.

But, now that the World Series has begun and the “Least Annoying Team Left in the Playoffs” Award-winning Texas Rangers have a chance to knock off the team that broke my heart in the opening week-or-so of October, I’m feeling up to digging back into the sport that consumes my nights from about 7-10 during the summer.

As one looks at the Atlanta Braves’ roster, one notices that there are only a couple major (as there have been for the past couple of offseasons) holes to be filled.

One of which is the lack of some “grizzled old veteran” in the bullpen.

With the swagger of Billy Wagner headed for retirement greener Virginia pastures and Takashi “can’t-pitch-back-to-back-nights” Saito getting his (contract-mandated, mind you) release papers in the past couple of days, the average age of the bullpen lost a few months.

I’m not saying that the Braves have to go out and sign some Arthur Rhodes-looking 40-some-year-old just for the heck of it—don’t get that impression, at all.

I’m just saying that with the lack of experience down in the ‘pen (the most experienced guy that’s going to be relied upon next season is Peter Moylan, who has all of three FULL seasonsin the bigs), someone like Joe Beimel or Grant Balfour (both free-agents-to-be) could be helpful to the under-30 quartet of O’Flaherty, Venters, Dunn and Kimbrel that will be shutting the door in late-inning situations in 2010.

Oh, and that leads to this prediction: Kyle Farnsworth won’t be back.

The other major thing that needs help is the rotation.

Wait…this isn’t the 2008-09 offseason (isn’t it nice not to have to think about, though, isn’t it…hey, you have to find positives when you’re watching Jeff Francoeur riding the pine in the World Series before any of the other Baby Braves).

Short of dumping Kenshin Kawakami, that was a total and complete (poorly executed, I might add) joke.

But really, that only other major red flag being thrown up on the Braves’ current roster is in the outfield.

We can all celebrate now that Melky Cabrera had been given his pink slip…but (once Rick Ankiel’s option is declined) with Jason Heyward, Nate McLouth and Matt Diaz looking like the options right now, there needs to be some work.

Options range from Jayson Werth to Colby Rasmus (if he is made available, he’s a perfect fit) to Wilkin Ramirez (you know, that last-second deadline acquisition who didn’t do too badly with Gwinnett after coming over).

I’m only touching on that here to tease a slideshow coming up (I know, a real d-bag move).

The one thing that is for sure is this: the Braves weren’t that bad of a team running on three legs down the stretch.

One piece thrown in the mix here and there makes this team a pretty big threat in the National League in 2011.

After all, Hanson, Hudson, and a rejuvenated Lowe (no Jurrjens, think: trade-bait) are all penciled into manager Fredi Gonzalez’s rotation next season and there’s going to be an even slightly more matured Jason Heyward somewhere in the lineup.

All I can say right now that’s a for sure: Spring Training can’t get here fast enough.

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Atlanta Braves Take Loss in NLDS: 2010 Still Going To Be One To Remember

It started with blasts of Jason Heyward in Spring Training and probably the most memorable Major League debut in recent history.

One hundred sixty-six games and 725 tweets (by me) later, the 2010 season ends for the Atlanta Braves with Bobby Cox tipping his cap to the San Francisco Giants following Game 4 of the National League Divisional Series.

We all wanted “11 for 6” and a world championship for the capper on the illustrious career of venerable Braves manager Bobby Cox…but that’s simply not what was in the cards for a Braves team that finished the season riddled with injuries and defensive miscues.

And, before I move on, you can hate on Brooks Conrad as much as you want and place him with the title of “goat” for the Braves falling short…but the fact of the matter is this: Without “Raw Dawg’s” late-inning dramatics in three or four games over the course of the regular season, the Braves don’t even get the chance to disappoint us in the playoffs…. Dude played his guts out for the Braves all year.

As the long offseason awaits the Braves, there are a lot of things this team can build on…Jason Heyward‘s career should continue its upward track…Brian McCann is becoming a more well-rounded catcher…and the “mellow” of the team created by the veteran-rookie mixture (think: Freeman, Heyward, and Kimbrel to Jones, Lowe and B-Mac next year) should still be in place.

I’m going to keep this short…I’m kind of in shock right now (that’ll happen when you watch 98 percent of the games…).

But I think I can muster up the energy to say two more things…

First, and foremost, go Rangers.

Second: After four years of it, I think I was, emotionally, ready for this over and for the Braves to start the offseason…there’s more to write about (that, my friends, is called light sarcasm). 

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MLB Playoff Predictions: Brook Conrad’s The Key To Atlanta Braves’ Playoff Hopes

For a guy that was signed as a Minor League Free Agent prior to the 2009 season, Brooks Conrad sure has accomplished a lot for the Braves in 130 games.

In addition to accumulating a ton of nicknames (“Raw Dog” and “Dirt” being the most notable), the Magic Man from Monte Vista (that one is mine) has been involved in some of the more memorable moments in recent Braves history.

From his first Major League homer in Washington July 3, 2009 that gave the Braves a lead, to his “disappearing ball trick” in Chicago and two pinch-hit grand slams this season (including the walk-off slam off Francisco Cordero earlier this season), Conrad has left Braves fans with a menagerie of moments that will be embedded in their minds for a long while to come.

But now, the 5’11” infielder is going to be counted on for a lot more than coming through in close-and-late situations.

With Martin Prado (you know, the guy who replaced the guy with the torn ACL…Chipper Jones, or whatever his name is) out for the remainder of the season (postseason included if the Braves get to that step), the lifetime back-up is going to be called upon to man the hot corner for the Atlanta Braves.

Number 26 has accumulated a grand total of 218 ABs in four seasons between Oakland and Atlanta and has posted a career line of .225/.290/.450…that and a -.09 UZR for his career at third (although I’ll vouch for some very nice plays at the hot corner) reeks of a grossly below-average MLB player.

But, when you look solely at his 145 at-bats in 2010 and, overall, very impressive .241/.317/.497 line…you have to like the potential production in the season’s final series (and, if those results are indeed fruitful, the postseason).

Small sample size?

Most definitely (after all, he hit is first non-“latter than 7th inning” homer on September 29…that tells you when–and how much–he’s been playing).

But, when the pressure’s been highest, the “Raw Dog” has been at his best (see his 1.43 Clutch–a FanGraphs stat that tabulates how much better or worse a player is in high-leverage situations…which would be good for 7th in baseball if he had enough plate appearances–and that is most definitely what he’ll be facing over the next couple of weeks (hopefully batting behind either Derrek Lee or Brian McCann in the five hole *cough**cough*).

While “Dirt” has been a vital cog in a Braves club that has become know for the come-from-behind victory, he’s now going to be placed with the job of putting the Braves ahead in the early stages of the Braves’ coming games.

With what he has done this season, I’m comfortable voicing my confidence (that and $1 will get you a cup of coffee) in the 30-year-old being able to produce over the course of the Braves’ (hopefully…as this will mean a World Series) next four series.

However, it’s going to come down to him being confident…and, as Mark Twain once said “A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.”

But with the support all around him (see this Mark Bowman article)…I don’t see any reason as to why he can’t approve of his own “comfortability” (experience be damned).

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Bobby Cox: Five Things Atlanta Braves Fans Will Miss Most About the HOF Manager

With only four games remaining in the 2010 campaign, venerable manager Bobby Cox is making his last push for the postseason.

We all know that…and knew (or hoped) that this would be the case from the first side-sessions down at the Disney Wild World of Sports Complex in Orlando.

But, the fact that Cox is in his final stretch brandishing a cap with a fancy “A” is starting to feel “real,” if you will.

After all, if the Braves manage to lose grasp of their current Wild Card advantage in the season’s final series, No. 6 is gone for good.

Regardless of how you will be soaking in that looming reality (hopefully that “gone for good” stuff hits us, as Braves fans, some time after Game “something” in the World Series as Cox is hoisted onto his team’s shoulders in victory), be it with jubilation, anguish, or something in between, there are some things that we are all going to miss about the man who led the Atlanta Braves through their greatest run in franchise history (Boston and Milwaukee included).

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Atlanta Braves: Is It Time To Press the Panic Button in Hotlanta?

Not too long ago, the Braves were basking in the glory of a fairly sizable advantage in the National League East.

Now, on September 5, the boys from Atlanta are feeling the breath of the surging Phillies that are nipping at their heels at only a single game back.

But, with the rosters already expanded and all roles assigned, how should the Atlanta Braves approach the 2010 season’s final 25 games?

Before we fall into the fast-filling, “JUMP OFF THE EFFIN’ BANDWAGON, THIS SHIP IS SINKING FASTER THAN MARK HAMILL’s CAREER AFTER STAR WARS” abyss, we have to remember these two things:

  1. The Braves ARE, in fact, in first place.
  2. This team is not the same version of the 2010 Atlanta Braves that lost nine games in a row back in late April.

Not even close to being the same team.

This is a Braves team that has become synonymous with the word “comeback” over the past couple months.

A team known league-wide for the showmanship of the likes of Conrad, McCann, and Heyward.

Granted, there is neither a “grizzled” presence from Chipper Jones in the everyday lineup nor a primed-for-a-red-hot-month Troy Glaus to re-energize this “laggy” version of the team.

But, this has proven to be a group resilient enough, even without those guys, to make a phoenix proud. 

It’s frightening to see the defending NL Champs so close, there’s no denying that, and a 2-3 September facing par-to-subpar teams in the Mets and Phillies (as the Phillies have gone 4-1) isn’t going to do much to inspire the troops.

But, with series coming up against Pittsburgh, a slumping St. Louis team (3-9 over their past 12), and the pesky Nats (as the Phillies take on Florida, New York, and Florida again)—teams they’ve gone 5-1, 0-4 (during the April lull), and 6-6 against—you have to be at least a little hopeful for a 6-4 or 7-3 stretch over the next week-plus.

It’s not a comfortable position to be in, but there’s always a little drama in September when you don’t have some combination of Glavine, Maddux, or Smoltz in your rotation.

But, the team is No. 3 in team batting average and homers in the NL over the past 30 days, as well as No. 2 in OBP, and No. 2 in baseball (trailing only the Yankees) in runs scored.

Granted, 19-11 isn’t indicative of those statistics, but there isn’t any reason to think that the Braves can’t figure out a way to match up those offensive numbers with what has been one of the better staffs in the game (including a run that has yielded a 3.22 ERA over their past 30 contests). 

It’s going to be a tight, back-and-forth race to the finish in the East, but the Braves are still good enough to finish their quest to earn their first playoff berth since 2005.

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Chipper Jones: With Veteran Sidelined for 2010, Who Should Step In?


With the news breaking on Thursday that Chipper Jones was done for the 2010 season and, potentially, his career with a torn ACL, the Braves found themselves without some sense of certainty at the hot corner for the first time in nearly sixteen years.

Mark Twain once said: “A round man cannot be expected to fit in a square hole right away.  He must have time to modify his shape.”

But, you know what?

The Braves don’t have any men that are really square enough to fit into the hole left behind by the veteran switch-hitter…no one’s had to be shaped into that mold with the stature of the 38-year-old Jones.

And they don’t have the time to allow one of their round pegs to modify their shape.

So, the question for the Braves right now is simple: Who is going to be thrust into the square hole at third base?

On the waiver wire, names like Chone Figgins, Edwin Encarnacion, and Jose Lopez would all have to pass through all of the American League and the majority of the National League before the Braves would have an opportunity to claim them (and, even then, trade partners would likely have pretty high demands since they would know the Braves’ desperation).

And since the options down on the farm don’t exactly scream “excitement,” (Brandon Hicks, though an amazing talent in the field, lacks the bat to play regularly in the Majors; Wes Timmons is a 30-year-old career Minor Leaguer with a .964 FLD% in 104 games at third in AAA; Freddie Freeman is an amazing option if Troy Glaus moves to third…but Glaus’ running is painful to watch, so I’d imagine that his defense at the hot corner would induce a similar effect; Joe Thurston has posted a .255/.303/.376 line at AAA with the majority of his time coming at 2B) we’ll focus on the three big names currently on the big league roster 

Brooks Conrad, despite his occasional defensive brilliance and title of “Captain Clutch,” is best utilized as a bench player (at least for the time being) and has struggled when given starting opportunities in 2010 (as would be expected from a guy that has a mindset of “hack, hack, hack”).

So I think we can eliminate him from the list of contenders right off the bat (although he will, in my opinion, be a valuable asset off the bench to fill in at 2B and 3B down the stretch in the scenario I will reveal momentarily).

So, that leaves Omar Infante and the soon-to-be activated Martin Prado as the two candidates for the hot corner (with the other playing second base…so we’ll run with this theory).

Prado has shown great improvement with the glove at second base with increased playing time, but UZR likes Prado as a third baseman (3.2) more than as a second baseman (-10.1)…that’s not to say that UZR is the be-all, end-all of all types of defensive profiling–it’s just going to be our base for comparison here.

And while UZR doesn’t love Omar Infante at second (-2.5), the way things would swing with Prado at third (where Omar is at 1.0), the Braves would be at their best defensively.


And by phrasing that last paragraph in the way I did…I’ll go ahead and cut to the chase and say that I think that Martin Prado should be the Atlanta Braves’ third baseman when he returns from the disabled list sometime at the beginning of next week.

So, that brings us to our next question concerning this new-ish (since Chipper has been on-and-off the DL for years now) issue: How does the line-up set-up now?

After all, the Braves just lost the guy that’s been batting third in the line-up since 2005 (the year after JD Drew left Atlanta) and no one, obviously, has much experience being “that guy.”

In that spot, you, ideally, want a guy that’s going to be hitting for a fairly high average with a ton of doubles and a ton of hard line drives to move guys first-to-third for the four- and five guys.

With the choices at hand, you have to like Jason Heyward and Martin Prado…Heyward for the ability to hit balls hard all over the field and Prado for his average and gap power.

With those two guys/thoughts in mind, this is the line-up I’d put on the field if I were a grumpy old man with a No. 6 on my back (joke):

Pos. Name Slash Line (matchup)
2B Omar Infante .330/.360/.404
RF Jason Heyward .262/.377/.451
3B Martin Prado .315/.357/.484
C Brian McCann .273/.384/.483
LF Hinske/Diaz .256/.339/.460–.273/.317/.597
1B Troy Glaus .241/.348/.403
CF Rick Ankiel .227/.301/.391
SS Alex Gonzalez .258/.301/.483










Since four-through-eight here is largely unchanged, I’ll offer a fairly brief explanation of why I chose the 1-2-3 punch that I listed for the Braves.

By sliding Prado into the three-hole, even though Jason Heyward will likely have that spot in 2011, you give a nice doubles-hitter two very nice OBP guys in front of him and a pretty strong home run threat directly behind him. 

While the presence of Chipper Jones in the middle of the line-up was nice, this line-up loses virtually nothing in terms of offense (Chipper’s line for ’10 will go down in the books at .265/.381/.426) besides a name.

It’ll be sad if this is indeed the end of Chipper Jones‘ career, and the hole he (potentially) leaves behind pertaining to leadership and “plate presence” will be tough to replace.

But, even though the Braves are in the thick of a playoff race and will be forced to do some “on the job training” with whoever takes over the third base job, this team is equipped to move up, up, and away into the future.

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Jonny Venters: The Atlanta Braves’ New Closer?

From the third week of May to the All-Star Break, when the Atlanta Braves were rolling, Billy Wagner was one of the best closers in baseball.

Over that approximate two month stretch, the 39-year-old southpaw was 16-for-17 in save opportunities while collecting one win in a total of 23 appearances.

However, since the dawn of the second half, Wagner has blown four saves in 13 chances (and given up a go-ahead, solo homer in a non-save situation—a game the Braves would lose).

But, hey everybody goes through rough stretches, right?

Well, there is reason to believe that might not be the case here.

When you consider the fact that Wagner blew a grand total three saves in the season’s first three-and-a-half months, you have to wonder if fatigue could be catching up with him.

And when you consider further that all of his chokes, if you will,  have come either pitching on either zero or only one day’s rest (and the one day came after a high-stress BS in Florida), fatigue definitely looks as if it could be the culprit in this sudden drop-off.

Now, when the Braves assembled the 2010 club, the solution to this problem was simple: give Wags the day off and let Takashi Saito close out the game.

But now that option is, essentially, out the window.

After Saito suffered a hamstring injury in Los Angeles earlier in the season, the Braves have used the 40-year-old Japanese righty sparingly, at best, and almost never in back-to-back contests.

And if the issue with Wagner is going to be going to be going in back-to-back games, it simply doesn’t make sense to run Wagner-Saito-Wagner-Saito when save situations, hypothetically, in four straight games (or maybe that’s just me—I just am not fond of a straight-up closer rotation since you’d basically be losing one reliever every night).

So, I am proposing a sort-of John Axford-like solution with 25-year-old phenom lefty Jonny Venters.

If you don’t know who that is, I’ll offer this explanation: he’s the dude that essentially took Trevor Hoffman’s job in Milwaukee.

Venters, who has a 1.09 ERA and 17 holds in 57.2 innings out of the Braves ‘pen (and only one homer allowed, to boot), has been one of the best relievers in baseball against both lefties (.183 BAA) and righties (.163 BAA) as he has worked batters over his 96 mph sinker and late-breaking slider in late and (usually) close situations to the tune of 65 strikeouts (to 25 base on balls).

While he lacks closing experience, his arsenal definitely reeks of closer stuff.

And even though Venters (who has gone back-to-back games too many times to count) has been a key cog in the middle-relief role in Atlanta, until Wagner (who has sang Venters’ praises—that’s why I think he’d be at least somewhat cool with this sort of set-up) shows the ability to become a consistent threat to slam the door on nightly basis, Venters needs to get chances in the ninth.

By sliding Wagner down into seventh and eighth inning roles (when the game won’t be put out of reach if he gets shaken up) to work on his ability to go back-to-back or rest up, and giving Venters the near-every night job of shutting the door, the Braves, in my eyes, are giving themselves a better shot at finishing games unscathed.

That doesn’t mean Wagner gets completely kicked to the curb, though.

He would get to spell Venters occasionally and would be given the opportunity to get his job back if he performs well in set-up work (which should be the case if he gets fired up over this sort of demotion).

And if he does win the closing job back, his batteries should be re-charged from what would almost surely be a reduced workload.

Granted, the lack of “adrenaline” could make Wagner a liability any earlier than the ninth.

But even that doesn’t seem to be doing the trick for ol’ No. 13 right now.

For me, it’s an experiment worth taking a stab at—you really lose nothing by inserting a younger, equally dynamic arm into the ninth inning fold.

And if Wagner gets pissy, hey, he’s retiring after this season, anyway, right?


Shifting the load at the back of the ‘pen, on paper, makes the Braves a better team—simple as that

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Atlanta Braves: Defensive Decline Is Team’s Newest ‘Biggest Problem’

“I don’t know which is more discouraging, [the Braves’ defense] or Chickens.”
EB White


Maybe I took some creative liberties with that EB White quote (he was really talking about literature).

And maybe that wasn’t as funny as I thought it would be when I googled “discouraging quotes.”

And maybe I am just too lazy to get rid of what is becoming an introduction full of incessant rambling.

But one thing that is definitely not a “maybe” is that the Atlanta Braves’ defense has entrenched itself in a deeper rut than their sometimes anemic offense has ever found itself in 2010.

With the boot-fest that was the opening game of a three-game set against the Astros, I decided to take the initiative to check out the box scores of the Braves’ month of August (nine games).

What I found wasn’t pretty.

In those games the Braves have committed no errors only twice and have seen the following totals from the other games: one, two, one, two, two, two, and three errors. Add that up, and it’s 13 errors in nine August contests.

Overall, the boys from Hotlanta are—in newspaper-box-score-style—(5-4) for the month. In games with no errors, they are (2-0)—I’m continuing this theme throughout for the sake of “prettiness.” With one error, they are (0-2). And with two or more, miraculously, the Braves are (3-2).

Now, that might indicate that the Braves are alright with this shoddy, at best, defense.

But, eventually, as with what happened in a 10-to-4 route at the hands of the Astros, the E’s are going to start catching up with the playoff-hopeful Braves.

Those one-run decisions are going to start swaying in favor of opponents more and more (for the record, the Braves are (16-17) in those types of games).

And these now-familiar comeback kids will have fewer and fewer opportunities to work their magic.

There’s no one individual to point at, either. Troy Glaus has made his share of blunders. Alex Gonzalez, despite quite a few spectacular efforts, has booted a grounder here and there. Brian McCann has thrown a ball or two away. And Chipper Jones has mishandled a few hops at the hot corner.

And the other four regulars on the field haven’t exactly been flawless, themselves.

Now, that’s not to say it’s time to leap off the Braves’ bandwagon just yet (even with the surging Phillies lurking).

After all, they have found a way to win a majority of these games—no matter how tiny that majority may be.

But some work has to be done with the leather if the Braves hope to win the “close ones” and surge at least somewhat comfortably into the postseason. 

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