With April now behind us, and a better understanding of what sort of team the Braves have put together for 2009 in front of us, I thought a review of April is in order.
The National League East is shaping up like this:
TEAM W L % GB
Florida 13 8 .619 —
Philadelphia 11 9 .550 1.5
Atlanta 10 11 .476 3.0
New York 9 12 .429 4.0
Washington 5 15 .250 7.5
Streaks: L1; Last 10: 5-5; Home: 4-5; Road: 6-6; Runs Allowed: 90; Runs Scored: 85.
The two stats that jump out at me the most are the home record of 4-5 and the runs scored is 5 less than what they’ve allowed. The theory is simple: score more than you allow.
Even with the addition of Derek Lowe and Javier Vasquez, the Braves are in serious need of another quality starter and at least one more bat to anchor the offense. Let’s face it, with McCann and Garret Anderson both on the DL, and Chipper ailing from a sore thumb, the offense cannot be carried by the likes of Jeff Francoeur, Casey Kotchman and Yunel Escobar.
To compete, Frank Wren will have to sign another thunder stick, like an Adam Dunn, to help the Braves compete in the division.
As far as the rotation is concerned, Javier Vasquez (2-2, 3.38 ERA, 42K) has been the victim of a terminal offense, so we can’t accurately judge his performace and have only his years with the White Sox to go by. So, no fault to him.
Derek Lowe (2-1, 3.10 ERA, 25K) has been a breath of fresh air for the Braves and I am genuinely excited to see him toe the rubber. In fact, I hope to make it to the Ted to see him pitch this year. I just hope it’s a game where the Braves’ offense shows up.
Admitedly, both Jair Jurrjens (2-2, 1.72 ERA, 16K) and Jose Reyes (0-1, 4.26 ERA, 11K) have surprised. (Reyes has been the victim, even more so than Vasquez, of the “show up or don’t” offense).
Frankly, the Braves can’t wait for Tim Hudson to return to the rotation to replace Kenshin Kawakami (1-3, 7.06 ERA, 18K). If the Braves are going to compete against the surprising Marlins, they have to get Kawakami back to form and pitching to his billing.
Tom Glavine is a non-factor at this point, being on the DL, and honestly, we can’t count on more than, say, 8-10 wins from him, depending on when he returns to the team. All subject to the offense, of course.
Another puzzling thing: why is Omar Infante sitting when he’s batting .350 to Kelly Johnson’s .203? A real head scratcher there. Sure, Johnson has more power, but Infante makes better contact, and with a team like the Braves, contact and speed should be primary concerns, in my view. Infante also has better OBP and Slugging.
In terms of the bench, Grag Norton, quickly became one of my favorite Braves last year, is off to a horrific start (.222, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 3BB, 4K in 15 AB). This is another area where the Braves have to pick up someone to help out. Another good contact hitter and someone, like a Dave Roberts, who can steal a base late to put pressure on the defense.
I can sit here all day and analyze this team to death. In the end, however, whether they suceed or fail on the field is ultimately up to them. It is my hope that the Braves pull themselves out of this hole and put on a good old fashoned surge to retake the division.