2000. And let me just say, that while we don’t know how the HOF’s new voting system will work on managers yet, if Bobby really needed 2000 wins to “lock up his place in Cooperstown”, as the AP story claims, the players are even dumber than their color commentary would suggest. Bobby was a Hall of Famer eight years ago; everything since is gravy.
For his part, Russ Ortiz may have locked up his spot in the starting rotation for postseason, though again that wasn’t much in doubt. Ortiz went seven, allowing two first inning runs and nothing after. I would say that he was lucky; he allowed six hits and three walks and only struck out two. But it was probably enough to hold off the wolves for a week. After all, he got a win, and Byrd lost his game, even though Byrd didn’t pitch any worse. Alfonseca gave up a run in the eighth, and Smoltz pitched a perfect ninth to close it down, getting a strikeout.
The Braves, trailing as I indicated 2-0 after the first half-inning, got one run back on an Estrada single in the first. LaRoche tied it with a homer in the fourth. In the sixth, they took control, scoring four, the big blow a two-run triple by Marcus that made it 6-2. Chipper didn’t start but pinch-hit and stayed in the game at third (for Betemit). The Mets walked him his second time up; they seem determined if nothing else to not give up RBIs to Chipper, because even if their season is long over they’re petty that way. The Braves had ten hits, with Marcus alone in getting two.
A day off, then three games in Chicago, where the Cubs are in the thick of the wildcard hunt. Wouldn’t it be great to ruin their season? Maddux, by the way, will probably pitch Sunday. If the wildcard is still in doubt, and probably even if it isn’t, that would be something to see. The Friday game is on TBS. ESPN lists both Saturday and Sunday as being on Turner South, but I’m pretty sure that Fox has picked up the Saturday game, and Sunday’s will probably be on one of the ESPN channels, and definitely on WGN.
Bobby’s had some great seasons managing the Braves, but this season definitely has to be his best one yet. Given the cast of characters he was forced to use earlier in the season (Hessman, Garcia, Wise, among others), Bobby has worked nothing short of a miracle the rest of the way.
I had my doubts about this team in May, and nearly wrote the Braves off. I guess it just goes to show as long as the triumvirate of Bobby/Leo/John Schuerholz is intact, at no time should the Braves be counted out.
Any World Series title is special, but considering the type of season the Braves had in 2004 would make it even more special.
Sorry for the long rant…I’m out like Art Howe in NY. Go Braves!!
Wouldn’t it be great to ruin their season? Maddux, by the way, will probably pitch Sunday.
It sure would. It a shame that Javy’s not still around to do it. A Javy three run homer off Maddux on Sunday to knock the Cubs out of the playoffs would have been sweet. As it is, the Cubs are doing a pretty good job of ruining their own season.
Think Eddie Perez will be in the lineup?
Is it just me, or has Adam LaRoche really come into his own in the last couple of months? I recall that his adjustment to AA & AAA also took him a few months, and if this stretch is for real 1B isn’t much of a problem for the next few years.
It not just you. LaRoche’s post allstar numbers:
.297/.360/.538 15 2b 7 HR. 15 bb 44 so. Pretty good. As I was one of the ones suggesting that the Braves find another 1b I humbly eat crow. Patience, and having a good right handed platoon partner are virtues. If those numbers can be sustained over a full season then this kid who is so smooth around the bag and with Chipper playing a terrific 3b makes one wonder if Andy Marte is going to get some outfield time next year at Richmond. Nice problem to have.
Put me down for some crow eating as well. I was skeptical about LaRoche coming in and had completely written him off by the All-Star break. But there is no denying that he has looked great in the last few months and now has to be considered the legitimate firstbaseman of the future. I don’t know if the credit goes to TP for helping him adjust to the Majors or to Bobby for sticking with him or to Adam for working through his struggles. I guess I’ll go with high fives all around. Indeed, Marte like Miguel Cabrera may have to learn the outfield to get regular playing time.
I think they’ll find a place for Marte. I would expect there will be some experiments in winter ball.
In retrospect, LaRoche’s surge should not have been surprising. He’s had adjustment issues throughout his minor league career, and there shouldn’t have been any surprise that it happened on the way to the majors as well. I knew this before I ever saw LaRoche in an Atlanta uniform.
In his first exposure to Myrtle Beach, 471 ABs, he hit .251/.305/.361. So they sent him back, and in 250 AB he hit .336/.406/.512. In Myrtle Beach, mind you.
So they promoted him during the season to Greenville, where in 173 AB he hit .289/.363/.410. They had him repeat the circuit, and in 219 AB he hit .283/.381/.511. So they promoted him to Richmond, where he hit .295/.360/.466, which isn’t too bad.
Very true, but I knew that and still wrote him off because:
1) He seemed to have a fairly good sized hole in his swing (Conviently ignoring the fact that guys like Reggie Sanders have had holes in their swing their entire careers and done ok)
2) He seemed to be getting overpowered by good fastballs which is a real problem at this level.
But he has indeed managed to adjust to compensate for these things and now looks like a potential John Olerud type. Maybe John Olerud lite.
Back to Marte… I don’t really think that the Braves would do this, but they could shift him to shortstop. He probably has the tools for the position, even though he doesn’t “seem” like a shortstop. Furcal is due another hefty raise and is probably overvalued on the trade market relative to his actual value. Just something to keep in mind.
Funny you should mention shortstop. I don’t think the Braves are going to play Marte there. I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t get some playing time in LF next season. The Braves are smart enough to realize that as nice a story Chrarles Thomas is, he is at best a 4th out fielder. I also think that they know that Marrero had a career year. As far as shortstop is concerned I was thinking more about Mark DeRosa. His injury is going to make the arbitration negotiations with Furcal interesting. If the Braves decided to trade him while he has value or just non-tender him a healthy DeRosa at least gave them a replacement level shortstop. I will be surprised if DeRo is ready by the start of next season. Hopefully the Braves will come to some kind of agreement with Furcal but DeRosa’s ACL tear has some long term implications
What did Frucal do to all you guys? Why do you guys just don’t like him? Yes, his DUIs stuff is annoying, but he IS a very good SS and a good leadoff hitter. Letting him go will have a significant effect on the whole lineup. Besides, can we just put the DeRosa case to rest? He is not a everyday player, and he proves it himself that he is a good backup infielder. Since we have Nick Green, why do we need a more expensive backup infielder? Green and Betimit would do just fine I think.
In respect of Furcal, what is his trade value when there are so many SS free agents out there? I am not too sure. I would much prefer Furcal to stay as we really don?t have a sensible replacement.
I am not sure about you guys? opinion on Marte, but I would really really hope he will play next year in AAA. Remember the last two prospects we rushed to the major? Andruw and Furcal. How?s their plate discipline? Furcal is actually pretty good now, but we definitely can?t say the same thing for Andruw. If I remember right, Chipper, Javy, Klesko, Marcus, LaRoche and more had all spent some time in Richmond before joining Atlanta, and they all have decent plate discipline. I would hope Marte would do the same thing, and he can join Atlanta perhaps in next August or September. I just don?t want them to rush any prospect anymore.
I don’t have anything against Furcal. And Like you I think the Braves will play Marte in Richmond next year. At least for the start of the season. But as Mac pointed out Furcal is due for a big payday this year in arbitration and next year will be a free agent. He is a dynamic player, a good player, a freakin frustrating player because of his defensive inconsistency at a crucial position. My point was that the Braves with other signing needs, Wright, Drew, Ortiz?, might have taken a harder line if they had a major league ready shortstop on the roster. DeRosa may not hit enough to be a 3b but in the past he has hit enough to be a league average ss. While he may not be as spectacular a defender as Raffy, he has in the past been a steady competent fielder.
Hey Johnny, I just want to ask, then who will be our leadoff hitter? I sure don’t want to live in the Lonnie Smith/Reggie Sanders era again. Remember why we traded for Lofton? Because everybody is so frustrated about us not having enough speed at the top of the order. Now, we finally have a speedster at the top, and we are talking about trading him. What’s wrong?
Yes, we do have signing needs. I think we may have room to squeeze Furcal, Wright and Drew into next year’s payroll because Ortiz and Byrd are leaving. I don’t know about you, but I don’t see any reason why we need Ortiz back.
If we keep Chipper at third, I don’t see any way that DeRosa, even if healthy, can be our starting shortstop. Much has been made of Chipper’s good defense this season, but he still looks like a statue to me. There’s no way in the world that DeRosa can make a play in the hole (and with Chipper, it’s a mighty big hole) the way that Furcal can. I would beg those who want to ditch Furcal to watch each grounder to the left side of the infield, and say to themselves, “Could DeRosa have made that play?” At least four or five times a week the answer would be no. I can live with an extra dozen or so errors per year for someone who’s going to make 75-100 extra plays, and I truly don’t think that’s an exaggeration.
KC, sansho1 I don’t want the Braves to trade or non tender Furcal. I and I think Mac were just saying that it might come to that.
sansho1, Furcal can make plays. He can also make errors at crucial times. If the guy ever fully harnesses his tremendous talent then we would have the best ss in the NL. Gosh sounds like I’m talking about Andruw doesn’t it?
As for leadoff, OBP is more important than speed. Surely you aren’t going to put Estrada or LaRoche leading off but what about Thomas or Giles? Both run reasonably well and at least Giles has some plate discipline.
Don’t be so sure the Braves won’t make a good attempt at re-signing Ortiz. When he is good he is good and well the other thing too.
As for DeRosa, I’ll be surprised if he is a Brave next year. My only point was that had he not gotten hurt they would have had a replacement level ss ready had they decided to part ways with Furcal.
I don’t think that the Braves would nontender Furcal. I thought that when they looked like they were going to fall out of the race, they might have traded him then. As it stands right now, I expect they’ll settle before the arbitration hearing, for a substantial raise. And that after 2005, Furcal will walk. I don’t say that I want the Braves to get rid of Furcal, only that they’re going to have to face the choice, and that with Kelly Johnson in the outfield, Wilson Betemit’s continued inability to live up to expectations, and the fact that Tony Pena Jr. can’t hit his way out of wet paper bag, there aren’t any internal options worth discussing — unless Marte shifts, which as I said I don’t think will happen.
Furcal is a very good player. The problem is that some of the things he does, especially steal bases, are overvalued in the market and in arbitration, while the things he does poorly aren’t taken into account. It’s hard to say what kind of free agent contract he would get, since we seem to be in the midst of a market correction, but it would probably take him well into his thirties. He’ll be 27 next year, the time when players normally peak.
At any event, I keep thinking that the Braves will wind up keeping either Furcal or Giles — just like once, they decided between Justice or Gant. (Even before Gant broke his leg, they’d given Justice a long-term deal while going to arbitration with Ron.) I don’t think it would surprise anyone that given the choice I wouldn’t hesitate in picking Giles, who is better, cheaper, and (it turns out) a half year younger.
DeRosa probably will never play baseball for the Braves again, and it’s not guaranteed he will play for anyone. He’s a marginal player, already 30 years old, with a major knee injury. It’s a long rehab process; he probably won’t be ready for spring training. Betemit is out of options and will probably be the utility infielder next season.
As for Ortiz, I have already penciled Wright, Hampton, Thomson, Rameriz and Cruz into next year’s rotation. Why do we need Ortiz back? And Capellan can stay at Richmond to develop his changeup and curve.
As for Furcal, I agree with Marc’s comment definitely. We will stick with Furcal for 2005 and let him walk after that. The only problem is that we don’t have a reasonable replacement at moment.
Hey Johnny, Furcal is actually not a bad leadoff man. I can live with his OBS. Marcus is a perfect #2 hitter. Good average, good power, good contact hitter, good speed…heck, he and Drew and Chipper just make a perfect 2-3-4 hitters combo. Furcal is perfect at the top of the order to distract pitchers when he gets on base. He doesn’t run a lot, but his success rate is very good.