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Reconnaissance: Q&A with Atlanta Braves Blog Talking Chop

Once again we have exchanged questions with a rival blogger for the upcoming series -- this time, it's Martin Gandy from SBNation's Atlanta Braves blog Talking Chop.  His questions and my answers are here.  His answers to my questions are below.


1.  It looks like the Phillies get Lowe, Jurrjens, and Vazquez this week.  Do you support bumping Kawakami from the rotation for this series?  Why do you think they chose to do that?

Kawakami got hit in the neck with a Joba Chamberlain come-backer
during his last start, so the team just pushed every starter back a
day to give them, and him, some extra rest. Before Joba hit him and
forced him to exit the game, Kawakami had sat down the first 8 Yankees
in order. He's one of our best pitchers of late, so not facing him is
probably a good thing for you guys.

2.  The Braves' offense has been struggling of late, including Chipper Jones, who is having a down year (by his standards).  Do you expect the Braves to make another trade to bolster their lineup before the end of July?

I can only hope they'll make another trade, but our offense could take
a positive turn if some of the guys already on the team start hitting
a little better. Chipper has struggled lately, but that was on the
heels of a stretch where no one could get him out for about a week.
He'll come back around.

As for trades, it's going to be tough since the Braves don't have much
payroll room to work with. Anyone they trade for will have to be
affordable, or would have to involve some of our salary going back the
other way.

3.  Has management given up on The Good Phight favorite Jeff Francoeur?  Have the fans?

At this point, the fans expect Francoeur to fail, we even nicknamed
him "Failcoeur," and made shirts to that end. I've been saying all
season that Francoeur will not be wearing an Atlanta uniform next
year, one way or another.

4.  Any prospects (besides Tommy Hanson, of course) who might make an impact for the Braves down the stretch?

Jordan Schafer could come back and have an impact. Both he and
outfielder Brandon Jones are typically second half players and could
see some PT in case of injury. Barbaro Canizares did well in his short
stint filling in at first base, and he could return at first or off
the bench.

The biggest impact for the Braves down the stretch will be Tim Hudson
returning from TJ surgery -- whether he goes into the rotation or the
bullpen. He may also allow us to trade one of our other starters for
some more offense.

5.  In light of your expectations for the team coming into this season, how would you grade (A through F) the Braves so far in 2009?

I'd give them a C. Their starting pitching has been a solid A, and
their bullpen has been kind of a B-, with the two closers, Rafael
Soriano and Mike Gonzalez getting an A between them. The problem has
been the offense, which I think warrants a D-. Yes, there are some
bright spots like Brian McCann, and Chipper Jones and Yunel Escobar at
times, but the rest of it has been kind of crummy, and that pulls the
whole team down.