The Season is Half Empty (a futile attempt at optimism)

With the first month of the 2010 season in the books, Braves fans have to be scratching their collective heads at a vastly underwhelming start. The Jason Heyward honeymoon is over, though he remains one of the lone bright spots in the Braves dugout thus far. Heyward blasted his first career homer in his first career at bat on opening day to help Atlanta drop 16 runs on the Cubs. The fans were ecstatic at the prospect of a playoff run after one game.

24 games later, the Braves have only scored 102 runs. If you omit the opening day extravaganza, the Braves only average 3.6 runs per game. The team batting average stands at a whopping .238. Offensively, the only bright spot is the fact that the Braves rank second in all of baseball in walks. But is it patience or hesitance? It makes me think about those dumb ass comments that T-ball dads tell their kids like “can’t hit if ya don’t swing, son.” I think in this case it’s, “I can’t hit so I won’t swing.” Unfortunately, there are no “participant” trophies in Major League Baseball.

Before the season started most Braves fans were hoping for solid production from the offense. Martin Prado and Jason Heyward excluded, Braves batters have flat out failed. Jones, Glaus, McCann, McLouth, and Escobar were all supposed to be run producers. So far, they’ve only been groan producers. McCann leads the quintet with a paltry .242 average, and their combined homer total is… Drum roll, please… EIGHT! That’s only one more than Jason Heyward has by himself. That’s one less than Kelly Johnson has, and every Braves fan is well aware of just how hot that guy is right now.

I was talking to a co-worker who is a Braves fan the other day about the success Johnson and LaRoche are having in Arizona, and he was quick to point out “how well that worked out for us.” Like myself, my co-worker realized (at about loss number six of the Braves nine game losing streak) that the Braves will probably miss the postseason in Bobby Cox’s finale.

There are signs of hope, however: the Braves followed up a nine game slide with a three game sweep of the Astros. Glaus, McLouth, and McCann showed signs of life during the win streak, and Omar Infante has been a catalyst while filling in for the injured Escobar. It’s also still early enough in the year for the Braves to turn things around and contend. I just don’t think it’s going to happen.

The Phillies are going to win the NL East, the Cards will take the central, and two teams from the West will take the last two NL playoff spots.

So what should Braves fans look forward to? Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing the new Iron Man movie, which my wife says is sure to empty out all the trailer parks the night of its release. I countered with, “Pffftt, Mickey Rourke is the fucking man. I’m goin’ to see that movie.”

Where was I? Oh yeah, Braves fans can look forward to Kris Medlen. A player asked me earlier this year about Medlen, and I told him that I saw him as “raw.” This was a pretty inaccurate evaluation. I think the word should be “promising.”

Medlen is a controlled pitcher who has proven his worth in middle relief this year. The 24 year old righty throws four seam and two seam fastballs, a changeup, and a curve. He mixes his pitches well and works the whole strike zone. I’m no baseball scout, but I love his delivery out of the windup. I think he loses some deception out of the stretch, and this could lead to problems for a guy who uses his changeup 20+% of the time.

Medlen is next in line for starts should the rotation incur an injury. He gives up a good number of fly balls, but he’s only allowed one home run so far this season. This year, in 16.2 IP of relief, he sports a 15/3 K/BB ratio. I am a sucker for the K/BB ratio, and I’ve already added Medlen to my roster – partly because I’m retarded, but also because I know that he’s going to get some starts here soon.

Anyway, I’m gonna listen to this and keep the beat by banging my hands on inanimate objects in my way…


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