It hasn’t been a fun few weeks for the Atlanta Braves, nor their fans, but Sunday’s victory over the Cardinals is the perfect set up for a turning of the table, with just less than half the month left to play. This is especially true against some good teams over the next couple of weeks in the first place Brewers, offensive juggernaut Rockies and defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox.
First thing’s first, however, it is time to talk about what we have learned over the last week of Braves baseball. Oh boy, this will be something.
Dan Uggla, Gerald Laird and Jordan Schafer no longer have a purpose. Okay, this isn’t entirely true. Uggla can still generate some great pop, Schafer has speed and Laird is a veteran presence who has been a part of World Series teams. But, these guys also have proven to be hazardous at times, and yesterday it really caught up and nearly cost the Braves a sweep to the hands of the… excuse my French… Cardinals.
Uggla, as rumor has it, is officially on the trading block and good riddance. The move to get him was huge at the time, but his time here has passed and will always be remembered as a bust. Schafer was cut by the Houston Astros let’s not forget, but I really like him. However, I can see why people want him to wear a different hat, and I can respect it. And, truly, I can’t defend why Laird does/doesn’t belong – I just don’t like him. I didn’t really care for him last year, especially after his “this isn’t what I signed up for,” comments, and he has done nothing this year to make me change my mind on the matter. You have to think at some point, Braves higher-ups would see a change is necessary and make it, although I understand all of the logistical problems associated with getting rid of a player (probably none more important than who are you going to bring back in). A change is needed, yes, but we are still probably a month or so away from actually seeing one.
Where has the power gone? I was going to include this before Freddie Freeman and Justin Upton went yard yesterday, but for real – where have the four baggers gone? All last year the Braves, even during their struggles, were knocking them out of the park, and picked up right where they left off this year. Yes, it was annoying when the only source of runs for the Braves were off the long ball, but it’s better than the Braves getting shut out every other game (seemingly). Freddie and JUp took matters into their own hands yesterday, and hopefully that can become contagious as the Bravos come home.
The comebacks need to come back. Again, was going to write on this point before yesterday, but sheesh. What was the 2010 team remembered for? Comebacks (especially in the 9th inning). And, while each subsequent year hasn’t had the same comeback flash, they’ve been a consistent characteristic of this team – until this year (so far). The saying used to be that, if you’re going to play the Braves, you better have a lead after 6, or they’re gonna shut the door on you from the 7th on. Well, unfortunately, for the most part, that has been reversed – just once here in 2014 have the Braves come back to win a ball game after being down from the 7th inning on. This team needs to find the 2010 never quit gene and start using it more often.
The Braves come home, and hopefully yesterday’s win (still not sure how they pulled it off) can steam roll into more and more wins. Yes, it’s still a long season, but a team this good playing this poorly is frustrating no matter the point in the year.