Posts Tagged ‘NL East’

What the #!@*! are the Braves doing ?

I was about to reply to a relative’s email asking if I could make any sense of the Atlanta Braves off-season moves. I have been asked that a lot lately so I thought it was time to revive my baseball blog.

Concerning the Braves…

I have been understanding, confused, excited, and angry at some of the moves the Braves have made this off-season. What we Braves fans have to keep telling ourselves that it is all for the greater good and it will all make sense in 2017, just in time for the new stadium. Now that they are on the verge of trading Evan Gattis the “building for the future” scenario is even more plausible. The trades of Jason Heyward and Justin Upton netted a lot of young talent, both position players and pitching but pitching seems to be the focus of the Braves front office right now. Who knows what they will get in return for Gattis but I am sure it will be more top prospects who are primed to see action within the next few seasons.

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Now here is a die-hard fan’s over optimistic outlook for 2015. With no big bat in the lineup other than Freddie Freeman, the Braves are not seen as a threat. So what? They had what should have been a potent offense last season but look where it got them, a losing record and tied for second place with the lousy New York Mets in the National League East. The Braves have added a reliable on-base guy with RBI potential in Nick Markakis and a good utility infielder and pinch hitter in Alberto Callaspo. Now if they can add another contact hitter to play left field it might be these small additions that give them the magic that could never capture in 2014.

The pitching staff departures of Aaron Harang, Ervin Santana, David Carpenter, Anthony Varvaro, Kris Medlen, and Brandon Beachy were made easier with the addition of Shelby Miller, Manny Banuelos, and the too many to name young arms replenishing the Braves farm system. The veteran presence of newly acquired Jim Johnson, James Russell, and Jason Grilli in the bullpen should also help  a solid pitching rotation.

They aren’t getting as much attention for their additions as they are their subtractions but all in all I think the Braves look pretty good. The Nationals are still favored, the Marlins have gotten much better, and even if the Phillies and Mets suck they still put up a good fight so the Braves should enjoy their position as an underdog in their division for now. Once they have warmed up and worked out the kinks during Spring Training the Atlanta Braves might prove to be more than just a team building for the future but a real contender for 2015.

What else can I say when I really don’t know what the #!@*! the Braves are doing.

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Back in the Playoffs and Superstition

I am not generally a superstitious person except when it comes to baseball and even then I keep it fairly low key. Admittedly I have not posted much this year but it seemed like every time I did post the Braves immediately suffered a painful loss of went into a losing streak. I decided to wait until the post season was a certainty before I posted again.

After suffering a terrible collapse last September the Atlanta Braves have made that nightmare a distant memory tonight. They have at least clinched a Wild Card spot for the 2012 Major League Baseball Playoffs and still have a good chance of catching their rivals the National League East leading Washington Nationals….

That was the post I started about 4 weeks ago. I stopped in mid type when I realized I was typing the very thing I feared most. I was feeding into the superstition I had created and while I realized at that moment how crazy that notion was I stopped anyway…just in case.

The Braves did indeed win the top Wild Card spot but with the new 1 game playoff format they were forced to play the St.Louis Cardinals in a do or die situation. They died. I will not rehash all of the details but in summary, the Braves dug themselves into a big hole with uncharacteristically poor defensive play and then any chance they had of a rally was quashed by a an umpire’s poor judgment at a critical juncture in the game. Many water cooler, bar room, and neighborly discussions about that game have taken place since but I finally have reached a place where distance from the event and common sense have prevailed. I had nothing to do with either the Braves great 94 win season or their 1 game playoff collapse.

I have watched other teams and their fans suffer similar circumstances the Braves faced last year leading up to the playoffs, namely the Texas Rangers. I have also seen teams with great expectations like the Cincinnati Reds and the Washington Nationals not live up to expectations many were expecting of them in the post season. Most disappointing was perhaps the Baltimore Orioles who had a chance to take the AL East from the New York Yankees but came up short and then couldn’t capitalize on a weak, confused, and injured Yankee team to move on to the AL Championship series.

As the San Francisco Giants and St.Louis Cardinals fight for the National League Championship tied at 1 game each and the Detroit Tigers take the momentum of a 2 game lead over New York into the Motor City I am really enjoying these 2012 MLB playoffs. I am just enjoying the games.

Back in business

Sorry for the long absence but my household has been technologically challenged. Our desktop has been running on a hamster wheel for over a year and our laptop’s hard drive recently fried. Needless to say, blogging has been on the back burner for way too long but I am happy to report that I now have access to two very functional laptops and I am very excited to be updating My Boyfriend Likes Baseball.

Both leagues have been mostly upside down this season and while some things are starting right themselves there are still from very intriguing story lines taking place. You can always expect some unexpected leaders on the standings and stats board during the first month or so but is is surprising when the season starts drifting into June and team’s like the Washington Nationals and the Baltimore Orioles are leading their respective divisions (NL East and AL East). Who would have guessed that the Philadelphia Phillies and the Boston Red Sox would be in last place of those very same divisions?

As far as the unexpected in the Central divisions, the Pittsburgh Pirates of the National League and the Cleavland Indians of the American League are making some noise and keeping pressure on the the first place teams just ahead of them. Both of those divisions look like three team races because the hapless Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros inhabit the NL Central while the Kansas City Royals and the Minnesota Twins look like the consistent cellar dwellers of the AL Central.

No big surprises so far with the West. The Los Angeles Dodgers are at the top with the San Francisco Giants right behind them in the NL West. The Texas Rangers have mostly dominated the Al West but the Los Angeles Angels are starting to put some pressure on them.

It is still early June so nothing is set in stone. I expect some of these current standings will remain relatively similar but more than likely there will be some major shifts in power by the time the All-Star Break hits almost a month from now. Sorry to reference the mid point of the season on my first post in a while but not to worry there is still plenty baseball to be played and many mundane observations for me to make.

The Prince and the Paupers / The Giants and the Freak

Prince of a swing

WOWZER! The Prince has $214 million new reasons to enjoy his kingdom while the paupers and peasants are left to wonder  what it will take to bring royalty to their region.

Prince Fielder will be making roughly $23 million over the next 9 years in a Detroit Tigers uniform. While completely unexpected, the signing of Fielder by the Tigers should do wonders for an already good team. Now the bat of injured Victor Martinez will not be missed and if /when he returns to the lineup in 2013 the AL Central will have even more reason to worry about catching the Tigers tail.

I’m curious what happened behind the scenes with Fielder, his agent Scott Boras, and the other suitors that were interested in the services of a Prince? Texas seemed like the most likely choice, even Washington started to seem a more likely candidate.  I’m glad he is not going to the NL East and Texas is already stacked so I’m happy the owner of the Tigers was able to entice Fielder to the Motor City.

Almost simultaneously on the west coast, another deal formulated. The San Francisco Giants locked up their Freak…briefly.

Tim Lincecum reportedly turned down a 5 year offer for $100 million but did come to terms on at 2 year $40.5 million deal. I guess the thinking is that after the 2 years are done he can move on an make even more money? What if he gets hurt or isn’t performing as well as expected, then he will have walked away from a lot of money only to test a market that may or may not be there for him. Oh well, he’s still hot…in a freaky sort of way.

That was it! Those were the last big pieces of the puzzle that everyone was looking for. Granted there are still deals to be made but probably not significant to the general populace of baseball fandom as   what has already taken place. I expect a few interesting things will go down leading into Spring Training but until then…

Let the games begin

I will not be talking about the end of the baseball season and the historic collapse of the Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves or the subsequent rise of the St.Louis Cardinals to World Series Champions.

I will not be talking about the awards and accolades bestowed upon the elite players of the 2011 baseball season, although the NL Rookie of the year was well deserved by the Braves closer Craig Kimbrel.

I will be talking about the off season trades and acquisitions that have already happened or will be taking place from the start of the MLB Winter Meetings in Dallas today.

Basically I wanted to touch base because I haven’t posted since a very depressing night I experienced on September 28th of this year when hope and joy turned into frustration and despair….but I will not go there.

The biggest movers and shakers since the conclusion of the World Series has been the newly named Miami Marlins. Besides the new name and look, the Marlins are on their way to changing the landscape of the NL East. They have a new and legitimate closer in Heath Bell and appear to have agreed to terms with former Met’s shortstop Jose Reyes. Now, if they can pull off the signing of Albert Pujols then the Marlins will have stolen all of the thunder before the off season really even starts.

How will the Phillies and Yankees respond to crashing in the post season while boasting the highest payrolls in the game? Can the Braves and Red Sox recover from their fore mentioned collapses? Where will  Prince, Albert, and Jimmy end up? All of these are questions I will be closely monitoring over the next few months.

You gotta hit to run, you gotta to run to score….hit, run, score!

I’m back!  I’ve been watching every inning when possible but blogging has been low on the priority list. With less than two month to go I’m ready to update…let’s start with Atlanta.

The Braves finally got the speed that has been lacking from their offense with the acquisition of Michael Bourn from the Houston Astros. As an added bonus, just before the arrival of Bourn the Braves called up Minor Leaguer  Jose Constanza who is a burner on the base paths. Constanza or”Georgie” as his teammates call him (after George Costanza from Seinfeld) has been taking advantage of his opportunity by getting a hit almost every time he goes to bat.

"Who's legs you want me to break boss?" Joey thinks Uggla looks like a Dick Tracy thug...haha!

Dan Uggla and Freddie Freeman have been the hottest hitters on the planet and have been carrying the team on their backs for the past 3 weeks. The absence of Brian McCann (injury/ on DL) and Chipper Jones (nagging injuries/ not playing regularly) have hurt because even with the addition of speed and the great work of Uggla and Freeman, the Braves are struggling to score runs.

I posted several times last season about the horrible numbers the Braves had with runners in scoring position and they are doing the same thing this season. I have chose not to post about it this season so far because it is so damn frustrating and I have been hoping they can break out of the pattern. They haven’t !?!

The Philadelphia Phillies are not losing so the Braves are not able to make up any ground on them for the NL East lead. Unless the Phils go on a prolonged slump or catch the injury bug like the Braves, then Atlanta is going to have to set their sights on the Wild Card if they want to get into the post season.

First things first, get those runners in from second and third !!!

Let’s Go Streakin’

There is nothing like a good winning streak to help you forget any recent woes your team has been going through.

Who cares that the Boston Red Sox started the season 0-9 now that they have won 9 in a row and find themselves sitting at the top of the AL East. I wish I could say that the Minnesota Twins have worked their way out of  the cellar of the Al Central with a lengthy winning streak but I can’t. Maybe the 2 gamer the Twins are on now will be the beginning of a turn around for them? Probably not.

The Atlanta Braves have a nice 6 game win streak going on and have been fortunate that the Phillies have not taken off on a winning streak of their own, otherwise the Braves would be more than two games behind the NL East leaders. Neither team had much of a challenge this weekend as they both played the NL Central bottom feeders. They Phils beat up on the Cubs and the Braves dominated the Astros but that is exactly what good teams are supposed to do…beat the teams you are supposed to beat.

Actually, no one is on a real bad losing streak right now. The Astros, Blue Jays, and Indians have the worst at 4 games.  Really bad losing streaks can really put a damper on your season especially like the 10 game plummet the Oakland Athletics recently went through or the 8 game slide the Florida Marlins just suffered. Both of those teams were looking like contenders until those streaks but now they have to dig out of the holes they created.

The saving grace of a losing streak in early June is that it is that there is still plenty of baseball to be played and if you have a good team you can erase those bad spells and start a streak in the other direction. However, once June passes a serious losing streak is hard to overcome.