The Braves lead the NL in ERA (2.94). Not far behind are the Phillies with a 3.03 ERA.
The Braves have scored 4.2 runs per game thus far. The Phillies… 4.6 per game.
The Braves run differential is +38 (third-best in baseball). The Phillies differential… +41 (second-best)
But the similarities don’t stop there. In his latest “Fried Baseball” audio blog, Kent Covington points out the similarities in the way these two teams have played vs quality teams, the way each team has beaten up on cellar dwellers… and the role schedule strength has played in the early season standings. Give us your thoughts in the comments section below.
Tags: 2011, Atlanta Braves, Audio, Fried Baseball, NL East Blogs, Performance, Philadelphia Phillies
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A week or so ago, we were provided with the opportunity to participate in Blog Wars, an idea come up with by Phillies blog 7th and Pattison and hosted by the guys over at Upon Official Review. It was done in the style of Around the Horn and everyone had some good-natured fun discussing (and trash-talking) the NL East.
The participating blogs were:
Check all of these guys out for news around the NL East.
Tags: Audio, Blog Wars, NL East Blogs, Podcast
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In his latest “Fried Baseball” audio blog, Kent explains how the Braves could still edge the Phillies to win the NL East… and laments the frequent presence of Melky Cabrera in the Braves’ starting lineup. Throw in your two cents below!
Tags: Audio, Fried Baseball, Melky Cabrera, NL East Blogs, playoffs
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The Braves are in FIRST place! The Phillies are in SECOND place! In his latest “Fried Baseball” audio commentary, Kent Covington takes a few minutes out of a long and busy season to appreciate the SWEEP of the Phillies at the hands of the FIRST place Atlanta Braves. Throw in your 2 cents and leave a message with your questions or comments for a future commentary at 888-669-5368 (ext.701.)
Tags: Braves in First, Commentary, Fried Baseball, NL East Blogs
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OK, maybe “sleeping” isn’t the right term. To be more accurate, they’re a giant hobbled with left-eye irritation, a pulled calf, a strained quad, and a bruised thumb. But a giant nonetheless.Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com recently conjectured that the NL East will be a dogfight to the very end. He could be right. I can easily see that being the case. Why? Because the Mets, Phillies, and Marlins are all severely flawed in the pitching department. The Braves, on the other hand, have excellent pitching and no glaring weaknesses.
“Are you kidding me? No glaring weaknesses? What about the offense?!”
Scoring runs has been a challenge for this Atlanta team. No doubt about it. But is that an indication of a roster with no punch, or is there another explanation? The Braves were hobbled with injuries to the starting lineup throughout the month of April. Chipper Jones missed time with a bruised thumb (that has also affected him when in the lineup). But the periodic nagging Chipper ailment is fully expected. It’s been the infirmities of other Braves run producers that have kept this offense on the ropes.
Brian McCann is currently disabled with irritation and poor vision in his left eye. After several unsuccessful attempts to fit the Braves All-Star catcher with contact lenses to correct the problem, he is now giving glasses a try for the first time on a baseball field. If eyewear doesn’t do the trick, Lasik surgery will be the likely remedy, though it could cause him to miss an additional two weeks in recovery.
McCann, whose bat has been sorely missed in Atlanta, has expressed guarded optimism that glasses will be the solution to the problem. He is eligible to return from the disabled list May 8th, when the Braves open a series 3-game series in Philadelphia.
But Atlanta was deprived of his talents weeks before he was officially disabled. Prior to being placed on the disabled list, McCann was in the midst of a slide (undoubtedly caused by his vision problems) that saw the Silver Slugger Award Winner’s batting average plunge to an unsightly .195. McCann has not been comfortable at the plate since the first series of the season.
In effect, the Braves have been without their best hitter – not named Chipper Jones – nearly the entire season to date. And McCann is not alone. Atlanta’s new Left-fielder, Garrett Anderson, has also missed most of the young season – due to calf and quadricep strains. Anderson hit .293 with 15 homeruns and 90 RBI last season for the L.A. Angels. He also excelled in the clutch, hitting .338 with runners in scoring position. His absence has been felt, especially given McCann’s inability to contribute thus far. And the fact that Matt Diaz is hitting .218 while assuming most of the Left Field playing time in Anderson’s absence doesn’t help either.
To make matters worse, with two key run producers out action, opposing hurlers are pitching around Chipper Jones with regularity. With no considerable threat in the lineup behind him, there’s simply no reason to let Chipper beat you. Therefore, not only have the Braves been without McCann and Anderson, but Chipper’s bat has been – in turn-largely neutralized.
And then there is the ripple effect. With the middle of the order rendered impotent, other portions of the Braves’ lineup are pitched to more carefully and are seeing fewer “hitter’s pitches”. It is also common under these circumstances for other hitters in the lineup to begin pressing too hard in an effort to compensate for the missing pieces. These things have a way of snowballing.
The struggles of Kelly Johnson and Matt Diaz have also contributed to the Braves’ offensive woes. But both have proven they are capable of far better production, and will likely come around.
It is foolish to assume, based on April results, that the Braves don’t have enough offense to take command in the East. When they get a healthy Brian McCann and Garrett Anderson, and have the middle of their order fully intact, then and only then will we be able to gauge the quality of this Atlanta lineup.
If this team is reasonably healthy, and each member of the starting lineup is performing up to realistic expectations, it is a realistic goal for this team to finish near or at the top of the league in team batting average, doubles, and hitting with runners in scoring position.
Oh, and Braves’ pitching, which is already quite good, only figures to get better. The sole problem in the starting rotation thus far, the rotation slot held by Kenshin Kawakami, will be substantially upgraded. Either Kawakami will begin pitching much better very soon, or he will be replaced by someone who will (namely Tommy Hanson, or maybe even Tom Glavine). Either way, the problem will be fixed. Also, Tim Hudson is expected to return, either to the rotation or (temporarily) the bullpen, in August or September.
In short, there’s plenty of offense here to support the excellent pitching the Braves now enjoy. They need only get a couple of sticks (McCann’s in particular) back in the lineup. The rest will likely fall into place.
The Mets’, Phillies’, and Marlins’ problems run much deeper. While each of these teams have plenty of talent, and figure to be winning teams in 2009, each appears to lack the pitching depth needed to convincingly trump the rest of the division.
That’s my 2 cents. What do you think of the Braves chances once we get through some injury issues?
Tags: NL East Blogs
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We’re going to dig into this year’s preseason and hand out some of our own awards and make predictions as to the end of season awards.
Preseason Team Awards
Best AL Team: Detroit Tigers
Best NL Team: New York Mets (I said it, but I’m not happy about it.)
Most Hyped Team: New York Mets
Worst AL Team: Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Worst NL Team: Florida Marlins (this was a no-brainer. The state of Florida is apparently cursed.)
Best AL Division: The AL East beats out the Central for this title with the Blue Jays being the determining factor.
Best NL Division: The East is strong (and beats out the West) with the Mets, Phillies, and Braves all looking for the division title. We should see some great baseball out of this division all season long.
Worst AL Division: The West is going to be ugly with Oakland, Seattle, and Texas. Texas should be on the rise, but Oakland completely disassembled whatever they had last year in their fire sale.
Worst NL Division: The NL Central has a couple teams that are decent (Chicago and Milwaukee), but Cincinnati, Houston, and Pittsburgh bring the division down to the worst in the NL.
This year is going to be fun to watch in several divisions – the AL East and Central promise to be intriguing, as do the NL East and West. The Tigers and Indians are going to create some great story lines, and we’re all familiar with the NL East and the competition we’ll see there this year.
Preseason Individual Awards
AL MVP: Alex Rodriguez
NL MVP: Matt Holliday
AL Cy Young: C.C. Sabathia
NL Cy Young: Jake Peavy
AL Batting Title: Ichiro Suzuki
NL Batting Title: Matt Holliday
AL HR Title: Alex Rodriguez
NL HR Title: Ryan Howard
There we go – our projections for the individual awards in 2008. No, we don’t think Johan Santana will win the NL Cy Young award this year – he’s a great pitcher, but I think Peavy will pull it out this year. The others don’t have many surprises – Matt Holliday is a very solid hitter that is only helped by the fact that he plays in Colorado.
Tags: AL East, Alex Rodriguez, C.C. Sabathia, Detroit Tigers, Florida Marlins, Ichiro Suzuki, Jake Peavy, Matt Holliday, New York Mets, NL East Blogs, Ryan Howard, Tampa Bay Devil Rays
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