1. The Braves have been playing some good baseball recently. What are the reasons for this hot streak?
Everything is finally coming together. We started off with really good
starting pitching, then that slipped just a bit, but our offense
started getting hot, then back to only pitching. Since just before the
All-Star break we've been hitting and pitching well, and we've been
finishing games like we should. You can't underestimate the
elimination of Jeff Francoeur from the lineup, and the added power
we're getting with the newly acquired Adam LaRoche.
2. Jeff Francoeur, so long. Final thoughts?
I knew it would happen at some point, and I'm glad it's finally over.
It was going to be like ripping a band-aid off whenever we did it. The
Braves fans who are knowledgeable know this is a good thing, the ones
who aren't are just confused. Francoeur has done well in New York, but
look past the homers and the RBIs and Ryan Church has a higher OPS. No
3. Atlanta's main strength this season has been starting pitching, and a rotation that has been solid to terrific all season long. Derek Lowe, despite leading the team in wins, might be the fourth best starter on the team right now. What can the Phillies expect from the projected starters for this series -- Vazquez, Jurrjens, and Kawakami?
You'll get a well pitched game from Vazquez just about every time out.
When he's on he's as good as anyone. Jurrjens has been inconsistent of
late, but before that he was showing ace-like stuff. If he's being
economical with his pitches, then watch out. Kawakami is a guy who
pitches his best when he's facing the best. He can also be pretty
pedestrian at times.
4. The John Smoltz drama has been played out in Boston recently, and the veteran righty is still out there looking for a home. Thoughts on bringing him in for a "last hurrah"? Or keep looking forward? Do you think the Braves handled the situation well this past offseason? Did Smoltz?
I recently wrote a post in which I say Smoltz would be good in one and
two inning stints, but beyond that he just doesn't have enough left. I
think he might be a good bullpen option, but there's no guarantee that
you could use him on back to back days. That said, I would like to see
the Braves and Smoltz put their bad blood behind them, and allow
Smoltz to finish his career in the correct uniform.
At the time when we didn't re-sign him, I was a little stunned, but I
began to believe that it was the correct move, especially seeing that
we got Vazquez, Lowe, and Kawakami as younger options in his place.
His work in Boston certainly vindicated the Braves decision.
5. The Phillies always seem to be killed by one of the Braves' bottom-of-the-roster players in any given series. Last time is was Martin Prado. Any nominees for this weekend?
Adam LaRoche. He's been en fuego lately -- he's always been a second
half player -- and he's been hitting seventh in the lineup, and
hitting for power. Watch out!