KC 10, Atlanta 4


The Braves’ season isn’t dead yet, but it’s not at all well. For the third straight time, they lost the last two games of an interleague series after winning the first, dropping in the process to three games below .500. In the stages of grief, I today reached anger and may soon move on to bargaining.

Primary culprits included the newly dubbed Ski Brothers, Grybo and Nitkow. Gryboski relieved Thomson with two out in the seventh with two already in for a 5-1 Royals lead. (Thomson should not have started the inning; he’d struggled in the sixth, allowing a run on two hits, after a half hour rain delay.) The Royals piled on for another run charged to Thomson and two of Gryboski’s very own. Then, after the Braves rallied to make it 8-4, Nitkowski extinguished all hope by allowing a two-run homer.

Andruw Haters Club Update: he was 2-4 with a double, but hit into a double play in a key situation.

BĂȘte Noire Update: Mike Hessman got the start at first base and hit a homer, thereby guaranteeing six more weeks of strikeouts.

Chipper Haplessness Update: 0-4, dropping to .206 on the season. He did make a nice play at third, apparently.

Juan Cruz Helplessness Update: Pitched the ninth, since the game was securely lost. One batter reached on an error, and he had a strikeout.

The Indians are next. You know, this looked like an easy interleague schedule starting out.

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KC 10, Atlanta 4


Once again, I am thoroughly disgusted. Once again, the Braves lost the second game of an interleague series after taking game one. Once again, the game was marred by rainfall and by umpires who refuse to stop these stupid interleague games until there are actually large pools of standing water on the field, if then.

The game was 3-1 entering the eighth. The Braves had pitched in and out of trouble all night, and the Royals’ only run had come on a double play. Runners all over the place (the Royals had 20 hits on the night) but most had been stranded. Then the game fell completely apart. Reitsma allowed two hits leading off the inning, then a three-run homer to Angel “.629 OPS” Berroa. Then another run to give the Royals insurance.

The Braves rallied for one run on a groundout in the bottom of the inning, but rather than bring in Smoltz to keep the game close, Bobby brought in Armando Almanza. Almanza allowed the first two batters to reach, then Travis Smith came in. For once, Smith did not allow a homer. Instead he allowed three singles (two of the infield variety) and a double, and the game was basically over.

Furcal hit a homer to lead off the Braves’ batting, and wound up with three RBI for the game. Nick Green had two hits. Jaret Wright was okay, but didn’t have the electric stuff of his last outing, and needed 103 pitches to get only 5 1/3 innings. Gryboski got out of the sixth with only two pitches.

Can we at least get a series win this time? Is that too much to ask? Former Braves farmhand Darrell May goes for the Royals tomorrow. He has a 6.26 ERA.

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  1. Mark Grogan

    I am one of the oldtimers, old enough to have driven down for Lifebuoy night (get in free with a Lifebuoy soap wrapper, for you youngins.) This is the most uncompelling team I can remember. No old stars to pull for (Franco not being a star), unrootable guys in their prime (Chipper, JD and Andruw), young guys who have already reached their peak (Raffy) and rookies without a clue (everybody else.) I’d still go down for the sake of the game, but a beer and a dog sets me back $15.00. I hope they make a trade or two just to generate interest. I don’t mind the losing, but this team bores the pooh out of me.

  2. Steffen

    Boy, this team is looking lifeless right now. The ”passion and enthusiasm” that many saw in this ”young, hungry team” certainly isn’t showing right now.

    At what point is it officially time to start panicing?

  3. Mac Thomason

    We need Marcus. Badly.

  4. bwarrend

    What is need is a rainout boys! I think we got ourselves a natural disaster!

  5. chanimal

    OK, what I want to know is why Schuerholz wasn’t talking to McLayne if all it took to get Hidalgo was David Weathers & Jeremy Griffiths. It’s not that I’m such a Hidalgo fan, but it drives me nuts to think that Schuerholz has turned into friggin Stand Pat and Hidalgo’s a guy we could use.

  6. snellville jones

    Newsflash: Baseball players cost money and Hidalgo will be owed 6+ million dollars. There are very few teams that can add that kind of payroll at a whim, and we ain’t one of them. Better get used to it.

  7. Johnny

    Maybe I should be glad that stinkin TBS aint showing the games. Gawd! The Royals! Now is a freakin bad time for the pitching to go south.

    Guys please someone answer me this? Are we done?

  8. drewdat

    The Stros are paying a large chunk of that 6 million, and Weathers gets 2.5 million this year, so the Mets didn’t add a lot of salary. It’s conceivable that with a better offer, the Braves could have gotten the Astros to pay for more or maybe even all of Hidalgo’s contract.

  9. snellville jones

    No, Hidalgo was owed 12 million this season and including the Astros 4 million, he is owed 6.62 million from the Mets. Also, he has a 15 million dollar option for next year that will cost the Mets another 2 million to buy out.

  10. drewdat

    Since it’s already past 1/3 of the season, wouldn’t that 12 million now be 8 million remaining? Then with the Astros 4 million, the Mets would have 4 million left (a little over 2 million more than Weathers would cost), with the 2 million buyout next year. However, I don’t know a lot about contracts, so I could definitely be wrong. I thought I read somewhere that the deal worked out closer to even than that. I’ll look on the boards and see if I can find it.

  11. drewdat

    Here we go. NY Daily News says that “The Astros will send $4 million to the Mets to rid themselves of Hidalgo ? meaning the Mets are responsible for a roughly $1 million increase in payroll this year, to $82 million, plus the buyout.”

    Not sure how they got that figure, but that’s where I saw it…


  12. drewdat

    Jeez, I’m just full of facts, mostly incorrect…

    Actually, Weathers had a 3.6 million dollar salary, so he has 2 million remaining. (could have sworn I heard 2.5 million total somewhere…)

    Hidalgo is still owed 6.62 million, but I think the Astros are paying 4 million of that. Maybe.

    That would be a difference of .62 million more for the Mets, plus the 2 million dollar buyout next year. Not sure if we could have made that deal work (no overpaid reliever in the Weathers salary range), but I think we could have added the small amount of payroll that the Mets did.

    I think any even moderate-sized moves we make will have to include such clever accounting to work, but we don’t have much excess salary spent on unnecessary players (other than Hampton, but who would take him?). I guess we’ll see what happens…

  13. snellville jones

    Yeah, from what I read, Rob Neyer is saying that the Mets will only pay 3.5 million this year, plus the 2 million buy out, minus the 2 million for Weathers. I misread the ESPN report initially. Still too much for three and a half months of questionable production.

  14. drewdat

    He’s definitely a gamble… I think maybe we’ve had enough “gambles” the past couple years. As long as Marrero hits like he did in his career year, we should be ok at LF for a while. Who’s to say Marerro won’t be better than Hidalgo?

  15. MWS

    Why the anti-Chipper, anti-JD sentiment? Andruw I understand–he has been an underachiever his whole career. Chipper has been the heart of the team and, while he is obviously not the player he was, I don’t understand why people have turned on him just because he doesn’t do the phoney-baloney Pete Rose rah-rah routine. As for JD, he is probably the best player on the team, although he is struggling now.

    Part of the Braves problem is that they are now a middle-market team with a big-market payroll structure. If you are going to win with a relatively lower payroll, you can’t have too much committed to a few players. A large chunk of the Braves payroll is committed to Chipper, Andruw, Smoltz and, eventually, Hampton. Chipper and Smoltz earned theirs. Andruw is overpaid for what he does and Hampton is a middle of the rotation pitcher whose is untradeable because of his contract. I think the Braves expected to be better than this, but I also think they are trying to transition to a different payroll structure.

    By the way, if the Braves keep losing, wouldn’t Smoltz be quite attractive for a lot of teams, eg, Cubs, A’s, that need closers?

  16. Colin

    I think part of Chipper’s problem is that he’s usually not too hesitant to share a critical quote with the media. Moreover, early this season he was implicitly critical of Drew for taking himself out of the lineup, while Chipper has now sucked probably because of rushing back himself.

    If you are going to win with a relatively lower payroll, you can’t have too much committed to a few players

    I completely disagree. You need to spend the big money to get the good players that propel any team to a championship. The Braves’ problem is that some of the big money is locked up in a wasted resource – Smoltz – and other chunks of it are locked up in mediocrities doing very little.

    And of course, overall, the Braves’ problem is injuries. We wouldn’t likely be having this discussion if the hurt guys had stayed healthy and the team was over .500.

  17. Mac Thomason

    I second the point about injuries. What you really can’t afford (unless you’re the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, or Dodgers — everyone else is a “mid-market” team except for the Mets, who are just the Mets) is to have lots of injuries. In particular, you can’t have your best player go on the shelf for two months, and your highest-paid player to play hurt and go into a severe funk.

  18. MWS

    I agree that you need to spend money on your key players. But you can’t just pay the stars. You have to be able to address the other areas of the team–ie, bullpen, third base, first base. With AOL decreeing that the budget is $80 million, they don’t really have any leeway to make moves.

    The teams that have won with relatively low payrolls, it seems to me, (Angels, Marlins) were able to do so because they were reasonably strong throughout the lineup even though they didn’t necessarily have big stars. The Braves are structured in such a way that they have some big stars (most of whom are struggling) and not much else.

  19. sansho1

    The injury excuse doesn’t hold water anymore. It’s not reasonable to expect everyone to be healthy at once–someone is going to be hurt. Right now we have everyone except our second baseman and our fourth starter (I know, Horacio has been our best, but he was fourth on the depth chart at the beginning of the season), and Giles’ replacement has been fine. We’re just playing lousy baseball. Only two players have been consistently good this season; unfortunately, their names are Estrada and Wright.

  20. snellville jones

    You’re not taking into account the fact that injuries are still hampering Chipper. Andruw also has injuries that he’s playing through.

    I think the point of the injuries comment is that they have put us where we are now, regardless of how many people are on the D.L. today.


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