The Braves lost 1-0 last night to the Milwaukee Brewers. With the loss, the Braves fell to 6-18 on the road, compared to 22-7 at home. Moreover, they are now 2-14 in one-run games his season, including 0-11 on the road.
This is not a case of Atlanta’s patchwork bullpen blowing leads late in games. Crazily, Atlanta’s strength this season has been it’s pitching. And that’s pretty inexplicable, considering the team’s best starter (John Smoltz) and two best relievers (Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano) have spent most of the season on the DL and the guy who was penciled in as the fourth starter, Mike Hampton, continues to find new ways to get hurt.
The Braves problem is, quite simply, a total and complete lack of clutchness.
So what do the Braves need?
Two words: Derek. Jeter. After all, who is more clutch than the Captain? Nooooooobody.
Of course, it’s unlikely that Jeter will bring his unique brand of situational hitting and machismo to Hotlanta, since he’s under contract through 2010 and he’s got a full no-trade clause. So, Atlanta will probably need a plan B.
That backup plan could take the form of a deadline deal for a power hitting left fielder like Adam Dunn or Jason Bay, either of whom could replace Atlanta’s Matt Diaz/Gregor Blanco platoon, bumping Diaz and Blanco to the bench and making Atlanta a deeper team. But I think a trade for either Dunn or Bay is unlikely. Atlanta traded for Mark Teixeira at the deadline last year and that cost them several top prospects. Another late season trade would further depleat the team’s system and I don’t think GM Frank Wren wants to go there.
There has been talk that Atlanta will trade for Greg Maddux, allowing the future Hall of Famer to reunite with Smoltz and Tom Glavine. Stranger things have happened. I don’t think Maddux would agree to go anywhere other than Atlanta and I don’t think the Padres would ask for much in return, since they wouldn’t have any leverage. This seems like a possibly low risk/high reward move and I think the Braves might just make it happen.