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Don’t look now, but the Atlanta Braves are on a roll. The team has won nine out of 10, and currently sit 5.5 games out of the wild card.

This is the same team that went 3-20 leading up to the all-star break.

Chipper Jones, of course, is leading the charge. He’s had at least one extra base hit in 14 straight games, which ties an obscure major league record set by Pittsburgh’s Paul Waner in 1927.

So here’s my question: if the Braves find themselves within a game or so of the wild card by the end of the month, do they suddenly become buyers instead of sellers? And if the Braves are buying, and their most obvious need is pitching, does Schuerholz trade for Greg Maddox? Does he even have a choice?

5 Responses to “The Braves are back (of course)”

  1. Nick Kapur says:

    I’m just going to go ahead and say it: the Atlanta Braves are dead. As in dead in the water. With zero chance of going to the playoffs, despite their recent mini-run.

    To suggest that a team with a 43-49 record this late in the season can make it to the dance is, quite frankly, insane. You point out that the Braves are 5.5 games back of the wild card. But I would like to point out that there are also seven teams ahead of the Braves in the hunt for the wild card.

    Or to put it another way, there are only 4 teams in the whole National League who are not ahead of the Braves in the hunt for the wild card.

    The Braves began their record run of 14 straight trips to the postseason in 1991. It is no coincidence at all that 1991 was the year that Leo Mazzone took over as full-time pitching coach. It was demonstrated in an ESPN article last year that on average, pitchers lowered their ERAs by .50 the year they joined the Braves over the course of Leo’s run. Sure enough, the Braves ERA this year stands at 4.62, far higher than the Braves ERA ever was under Leo (worst year was 4.10 in 2003, average over 15 seasons was 3.53).

    Leo did his best work with the bullpen. Every year, John Schuerholz would completely neglect the bullpen, letting the best pitchers go and signing guys for the minimum off the scrap heap. Every year Leo would turn some has-been or never-was into the new closer – guys like Greg McMichael and Kerry Ligtenberg, who the Braves literally traded a bucket of balls for. None of these guys were ever good again after they left Atlanta, and even aces like Glavine and Maddux, while still good, had immediate and marked declines as soon as they left Leo’s tuteledge.

    This year, Schuerholz did his usual thing, signing absolutely nobody for the Braves bullpen. Nobody at all. But without Leo around, the bullpen imploded. Sure the Braves are scoring a lot of runs, as usual, but who is going to protect those leads down the stretch?

  2. Coley Ward says:

    Yeah, but they’re the Braves. They always win. It’s what they do. And they’re hot. They beat the snot out of the Cardinals last night. Jorge Sosa got the win!

  3. I know I shouldn’t say this. I’ve picked the Braves to win the NL East for at least four years running now (including this year), not for any logical reasoning such as their talent level, but for simply being the Atlanta Braves. They had proven me wrong for far too long. But I will say this – at best, they’re a serious longshot to make the playoffs this year. Yes, they are only five games back, but they have seven teams ahead of them that they still have to overcome, and these odds are not good.

    Moreover, it’s true that they’re playing very well, but calling them “hot” also implies that they’re playing above their talent levels and that they are, by definition, expected to “cool”. So if this is the best baseball that they’re going to play all year and they’re still in this situation of five games out and in 8th place for the Wild Card, then it’s not exactly a positive. It’s true that they’ve played better than most would have figured a month ago, but their chances are minimal at best.

  4. The most dominant hitter who ever lived only won a single MVP.

  5. That’s right Jeb.

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