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05 Sep

Atlanta 4, New York 2

ESPN.com – MLB – Box Score – Mets at Braves

I like beating the Mets, and Steve Trachsel really annoys me so I really like beating him. Beating him when Willie Randolph left him in after 100 pitches in his second game back is great.

The Mets took a lead in the top of the first when Thomson allowed a single followed by a double to Beltran — that man again. But Giles and Chipper hit back-to-back doubles in the bottom of the inning to tie it up. It stayed that way for awhile. Thomson was able to hold the Mets to singles, and not enough of them, in the second and third, and got the last eight men he faced.

Leading off the fourth, Andruw hit his 45th homer (just two behind the franchise record) to give the Braves a lead. They couldn’t build on it (another LaRoche GIDP didn’t help). Kyle Davies relieved Thomson after five and… well, he wasn’t great, but he kept them off the board, thanks to Francoeur. He allowed a two-out double in the sixth but got out of it. He loaded the bases and went 3-1 on Beltran with one out in the seventh, but Beltran flew out to shallow right and the kid easily threw him out at the plate.

Blaine Boyer finally pitched in the eighth, but finally cracked a little. He got the leadoff man, but then walked Wright (understandable) and Minky hit a weak little grounder through the hole, first and third. The next hitter hit a fly to center, and this time Andruw couldn’t quite get the runner.

Chipper picked the Braves up. One out, home run, 4-2. Farnsworth allowed a leadoff single, but got two popups and a strikeout of Beltran to end it.

The Natspos beat the Marlins. The teams are respectively 6 1/2 and 7 back now. The Mets fall to 8 1/2. The Phillies play tonight. Tomorrow night, Smoltz-Pedro.

59 Responses to “Atlanta 4, New York 2”

  1. 1
    Another Alex R. Says:

    Alex, I’m glad to see you back. I admire and respect your passion.
    It’s hard to feel sorry for LaRoche because he’ll always be able to find somewhere to play, as a “left-handed defensive specialist” at first base. J.T. Snow, Doug Mientkiewicz and Sean Casey have all been locked up to multiyear contracts. To LaRoche’s credit, he’s not as ugly as Don Mossi.
    But Dan Kolb may be facing a more uphill battle. As a crappy right-handed relief pitcher, his life is tougher than the rest of ours. People like him (and Jim Brower) have to drive in the middle of the highway, while dinosaurs like Jesse Orosco get to use the HOV lane, just on account of being left-handed.

    As Marvin Gaye once sang, “Makes me wanna holler, the way they do my life.” It sure ain’t easy being right-handed and crappy. Rafael Belliard, how did you ever manage?

  2. 2
    Another Alex R. Says:

    P.S. Interesting fact (from ESPN game recap):
    “Atlanta 1B Adam LaRoche is 4-for-82 (.049) since Aug. 19″

  3. 3
    Mike A Says:

    The 4-for-82 is actually not a fact, ESPN got it wrong according to my calculations. LaRoche is 4-for-46, not exactly good, but had 4 hits on August 19th which kind of negates the 4-for-82 ESPN claimed. No big deal, but 4-46 sounds a little better than 4-82. Right?

  4. 4
    drew Says:

    TBS showed a great moment after Chipper hit his homer: he got the usual congratulations and headslaps, then walked straight over to Boyer (who was fuming in the corner) and took the kid’s head in his hands and talked with him for 15 seconds or so. By the end of it, Boyer cracked a smile. Really nice to see that kind of mentorship, making sure that Boyer’s focus is on the pennant race, not one hard-luck inning.

    Also, great to see Farnsworth blow away Beltran to end the game.

  5. 5
    Mac Thomason Says:

    Yes, that’s much better. It’s almost .100!

  6. 6
    Lacrosse_cat Says:

    Damn. I didn’t get to see the game, but you just made my day w/ the Chipper & Boyer comment. I absolutely love Chipper as a player and couldn’t be any happier to hear what you just said about him as a team leader.

    You go Chipper.

  7. 7
    Lacrosse_cat Says:

    Oh and BTW, that 4-82 line was in the AP recap as well. It is quite possible that is where ESPN got it and didn’t bother to double check facts.

    Can’t let facts get in the way of a story.

  8. 8
    drew Says:

    Astros are shelling Myers in the first in Philly’s sad little ballpark: 4-0 without an out recorded. Pettitte’s going for Houston, so that game may be over already.

  9. 9
    Mac Thomason Says:

    4-82 may not be literally true, but on a deeper level, it is true. Artistically true. I mean, doesn’t it feel like LaRoche is at least 4-82, if not 4-182?

  10. 10
    Dave Says:

    I think the bravos should trade Hampton (contract is huge next season) and try signing A.J Burnett in the offseason. Smoltz is going to retire in the next 2 years and he could be great in Atlanta.

  11. 11
    Mac Thomason Says:

    Who would take Hampton?

  12. 12
    ramon Says:

    the world series the sox won wasnt because of the moneyball approach. That approach takes more time and Theo Epstein was just beginning with the Red Sox.
    Having a $100 million plus payroll and having Ortiz, Ramirez, Damon, Schilling among others was probably a bigger reason for the ring.

  13. 13
    dave Says:

    I hope a big market team would, especially if we package a good prospect in there. If we don’t package any prospects than just pick up some of his salary. If he pitches this season like it seems he will, and he is good in the playoffs someone will want him. Most likely we will have to give up a good prospect or three average ones along with picking up 3 or 4 million a year on his salary. I don’t think that would be a bad deal. We have a surplus of prospects. Payroll is going to be getting even harder next few years. Now is the time to trim the fat. With Smoltz, Jones, Jones, Hudson, and Hampton thats like 60 million right there. We are in serious trouble.

  14. 14
    Parish Says:

    Interesting notes about payroll:

    Smoltz makes $2M less next year than he does this year.

    Hudson makes $2.75M less next year than he does this year.

    Hampton’s contract is supposed to be accounted for evenly, meaning, from the Braves’ perspective, it was $8M this year and it will be $8M next year, and the year after that.

  15. 15
    Mac Thomason Says:

    Pettitte has a two-hit shutout going to the sixth…

  16. 16
    latnam Says:

    Ramon: I don’t think you really understand what (I at least) mean when I use “Moneyball” to describe a ‘way to build a team.’ Ortiz, Ramirez, & Damon are all ‘Moneyball-type’ playes.
    The team itself followed the moneyball “way.” Few sac bunts(12), few steals(68)(Caught:30 (ick)), lotta HRs(222), High OBP (.360) High SLG(.472), Lotta Runs Scored: 949.

    For comparison the Angels from last year, a non-moneyball team. sac bunts: 56, steals: 143, Caught: (46) , HRs: 162, OBP: .341, SLG: .429, Runs: 836.

    Now both these teams were good, and both made the playoffs. But I think you can see that the Red Sox obviously didn’t bunt or try to steal as much as the Angels. And when they did they to steal they were less sucessful.

    All I’m trying to show is that the Red Sox fit into what I believe to be the “Moneyball” mold.

    I don’t wanna start a fight about whether or not Moneyball works, or whatever. So, erm, yeah.

    We all love Smoltz right? Lets focus on that for a while. Common ground and all.

  17. 17
    Mac Thomason Says:

    Phillies lose.

    If the Braves go .500 the rest of the way, they’d be 91-71. The Phillies would have to go 18-6, .750, to catch them.

  18. 18
    Kirk Says:

    Phils just lost, but made it close. With the tying and winning runs on 2nd and 3rd in the bottom of the 9th, the Phils pinch hit for Billy Wagner with … Endy Chavez !!! We often vent against things that we find frustrating, but at least this year we don’t have to try to win an important game with someone like Endy freaking Chavez at the plate.

  19. 19
    Kirk Says:

    Mac, taking your exercise down the line, Marlins would have to go 19-6, gNats 19-5, Mets 21-4.

  20. 20
    Malone Says:

    I thought the whole point to the Hampton contract was that the BIG money kicks in next year.

    I’d trade Hampton and a young prospect to dump his contract. He’s been great but let’s face it: he’s inconsistent and unreliable.

  21. 21
    Mac Thomason Says:

    Part of the reason they had to use Chavez was that earlier in the inning they’d used Lofton (who doubled) to hit for Lieberthal, and in the seventh used Tucker to hit for Michaels. Note that Chavez struck out with Abreu on deck.

    The story is that the Braves put money in escrow to pay Hampton, spreading out what they owe to $8 million a year. I suspect, however, that TW will turn around and count the charge in full against next year’s payroll, just because that’s the sort of thing they’d do. And even if they don’t, if you unload Hampton’s contract and you have the money you banked to pay him as well.

  22. 22
    Kirk Says:

    Hoping to get rid of Hampton is kind of like hoping to win the lottery. It’s a pleasant fantasy, but ultimately not much of a plan for dealing with what the future likely holds.

  23. 23
    Kirk Says:

    Re: Chavez, I wasn’t saying they had better options, but: a) if that’s your best option then you are screwed; and b) it shouldn’t be your best option after roster expansion.

  24. 24
    fjensen Says:

    Magic number now 19 with 24 games to go. I bet the Braves could find a taker for Hampton if he is healthy and the Braves kick in a good prospect.
    Keeping Farnsworth and Furcal would be worth it.
    Minor league season is over would like to see them bring up some more minors to give them a taste of the pennant race.

  25. 25
    Kyle S Says:

    I don’t think anyone is taking Hampton off our hands for anything less than either Marte or Saltalamacchia. I could be wrong.

  26. 26
    Dave Says:

    Hampton is not a top of the rotation guy. His salary is like 14 million next year, and Im pretty we have to pick up most if not all of it. Unfortunately AOL Time Warner doesn’t make enough money to satisfy its shareholders, and is squeezing every dollar the Braves spend. The Braves are going to either sign all there young players to long term contracts for less money now, while risking that they do not develop like they hope (Adam LaRoche), or have to let them go when they reach their peak. Chipper, Andrew, Smoltz, Hudson, and Hampton will make up close to 70 percent of the payroll. Hopefully Chipper will restructure his contract. I don’t believe
    Andrew will. This team has been fighting its budget constraints the last few years. Millwood, Sheffield, Glavine, Lopez, Drew, were just too expensive for us. While Gm John S. has done a great job building teams together and getting the most out them, realistically we never had a shot at the world series. Ortiz, Wright, and Hampton are not going to cut it in the postseason. One way or another each year, we have glaring needs that aren’t able to be properly met because of payroll. This year rookies are going to be getting the primary starts in the playoffs at : RF,LF,C. Foster,Mcbride, Davies, and Boyer in the pen. This is not encouraging. While Boyer, Foster have a good shot at continuing their season long sucess I fear K.J and Davies will not fare so well. Frenchy is toast unless he suddenly developes patience. I love this kid, but all the homeruns I have seen him hit have been meatballs inner half of the plate. I always hope that they throw him strikes, when they don’t he strikeouts out hits the ball meakly. In essence though the braves the flexability to fill holes with quality veterens in Free Agent, and the trading deadlines. Who rememers Rey Sanchez, Jose Hernandez, Andy Asby.

  27. 27
    snellville jones Says:

    I don’t think Hampton is unmovable. I think it wouild involve a severely lopsided exchange of talent, but I believe with the depth of our system we should seriously consider doing something creative to resign Furcal and give us added financial flexibility.

  28. 28
    snellville jones Says:

    And I’m not advocating trading Marte ar Salty — more along the lines of giving a quantity of talent to a team that desperately needs it. Much like the Brewers in the Sexson deal, but instead of Sexson we get financial flexibility that allows us to keep Furcal and probably sign someone else.

  29. 29
    joshq Says:

    I too would not put anything beyond JS. He could trade Hampton if we needed him to. I would bet the idea will be explored, but I don’t think it will be done at the expense of our best prospects. I think we’ll cut payroll in the starting pitching staff(whether it is hampton or thompson) and fill the hole with young talent. This would give us a better chance to fill other holes (ss -furcal and/or closer -farnsworth).

  30. 30
    kc Says:

    I think we would have a better chance trading Thomson upon picking up his option than trading Hampton. Trading Thomson will save us few millions as well.

  31. 31
    dave Says:

    Im going to go out on a limb here but how bout trading both hampton and thompson(after option picked up) Then signing burnett and putting Davies as the 5th starter behind ramirez.

  32. 32
    JoeyT Says:

    Behind?

  33. 33
    kc Says:

    If there are takers of these two injury risks, I am sure the Braves will explore the possibility…

  34. 34
    JPMouton Says:

    Why do we want to sign A.J. Burnett? He is already 28(next year will be his age 29 season), is a solid but massively overrated pitcher, and is likely to get paid close to twice what his true value is. In short, it is the owrst possible time to sign Burnett to a deal(just ending his peak phase, coming off an unrealistically low ERA, has the requisite stuff to push his price up even further). When Burnett gets his 4 year 40 million contract, I think I’ll stay as far away as possible. Thomson is basically just as good, and will be cheaper than Burnett, and signed to a shorter length deal. If we want to move Hampton(though I don’t see how it would be worth it. The money is sunk in Hamptonm we took on the contract assuming we could get him back to his former Aceness, which ignoring his obvious peak season we have. If we move him and a prospect (let’s say Chuck James, because I have no idea what it would take) then not only have we lost a ton of depth in the organization, we now have a hole in the rotation. For all of the flack that Hampton gets, he is quietly a pretty solid pitcher(His DERA this season is lower than Burnetts for instance). The money is sunk on Hampton, it’s over and done with(something teams in MLB need to comprehend sooner ratehr than later) so we might as well ride him for some innings. If we could make a move straight up, Hampton for an equally bad contract, that isn’t worth it. If we could make a move, straight up, Hampton for nothing that isn’t worth it. To make a move the talent would have to be at leat close to a wash for us, and that just isn’t happening unless we eat the contract, in which case, whats the point?

  35. 35
    dave Says:

    Why do we want to sign A.J. Burnett? He is already 28(next year will be his age 29 season)

    How old do you think Tim Hudson is? The reason we would want him is not because he is the best pitcher in the majors, but because he will the best free agent pitcher out there. Not to mention his stuff is excellent. If he ever listened to Mazzone and gave up a few Mph on his fastball for more control this guy would dominate consistently. (if he wouldn’t listen to mazzone then I wouldnt sign him we need team players)

    (solid but massively overrated pitcher, and is likely to get paid close to twice what his true value is) just ending his peak phase, coming off an unrealistically low ERA

    What is his true value? I don’t think he is massively overrated either. Unrealistically low Era huh. Are you looking at the same pitcher. He has a 3.69 career Era. His career batting average against is even lower than this year: .231 compared to .240

    Thomson is basically just as good

    Basically Thompson isn’t. He is older and a finesse pitcher, against a younger power pitcher. Don’t you want the braves to win the world series.Look at the past few years (Johnson Schilling, Pedro and Schilling, Beckett game 7, Clemens Mussina. You think Thompson is as good as Burnett get real.
    The money is sunk in Hampton

    Not really next year will be the start of us paying the lion share of the contract. We have gotten a bargain for the last three years. The next three are like the last three years of Kevin Brown… Horriably overpaid. We still have time to trade him.

    For all of the flack that Hampton gets, he is quietly a pretty solid pitcher(His DERA this season is lower than Burnetts for instance).

    Hampton has made 12 starts four of witch were 4.1 or less. He is not a solid pitcher. THe ast three years he has 1.5 strikeout to walk ratio, a .275 BAA and a combined ERA of 4.00, which he is extremely lucky to considering those numbers. Hampton is getting older and has a bad knee, a bad back, and some elbow problems. Yet with all of this someone would take him. Look at Kevin Brown.

    If we could make a move, straight up, Hampton for nothing that isn’t worth it

    Actually it would be the best thing in the world.
    Hampton no. 4 starter making top 4 Major league pitcher money. Do you think all the pitchers out there suck or are dead. We have pitchers in double A who could fill his spot.

    If we move him and a prospect (let’s say Chuck James, because I have no idea what it would take) then not only have we lost a ton of depth in the organization, we now have a hole in the rotation

    I don’t think we would lose a ton of depth. We would not lose. Losing hampton and James (not saying trade james) would not make us lose tons of depth to the contrary very little. Hampton and Thompson need to go. Sign Burnett while we have a chance. We need a dominant pitcher to go along with smoltz while he is still around. Hudson is great but we need more. Rip Hampton youve given us your best but now its time to go into obscurity.

  36. 36
    Kirk Says:

    According to articles published at the time of the trade, Hampton is due $43M over the next three years ($13.5M, $14.5M, and $15M respectively). The Braves have only paid Hampton a TOTAL of around $5.5M for the past three years, with Florida and Colorado picking up the rest of the tab. Those payments end this year, and the Braves are on the hook for the entire amount of the remaining contract. Call me crazy, but I don’t think there will be much of a market for a pitcher who isn’t that great to begin with who also has health issues and is scheduled to make $43M over the next three years.

  37. 37
    Johnny Says:

    Any scenario for trading Hampton is moot. He is an unmoveable object. Kirk summarizes the situation very succinctly. The Braves, whether they escrowed the money or not are on the hook for an at best 3rd starter for superstar money. No one will touch Hampton with a 100 foot pole. (see the Kevin Brown experience) The best scenario for the Braves might depend on if they have contract insurance. A herniated disk is a serious malady. No one has said career threatening in any of the news but one could hope. Hampton isn’t really all that bad but he aint 15 million per year good either. The hell of it is that the team has proven that they can live without him this season.

  38. 38
    Johnny Says:

    Dave, its interesting that you use the Kevin Brown experience as a reason why someone would take Hampton and I do the opposite. Hmmmmm when you watch the Yankees touch the hot iron and they get burned do you do the same thing?

  39. 39
    JPMouton Says:

    At the time of the trade it was said by the Braves that the money recieved would be spread throughout the contract. See Mac’s comment above for clarification.

    Losing Hampton and James subtracts two major league caliber SP. That is a ton of depth. Neither is going to win the Cy Young next year, but both are capable of eating innings at a league average rate, and that does has value. If we lose Thomson as well, that is 3 major league average caliber pitchers, and at least 2 above average ones. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t move them, but we should at least get something back if we do(which isn’t happening if we move either Hampton or Thomson). For better or worse, they shoudl be are 3 and 4 starters next season, and if they are I think that is a good thing.

    Burnett will be the “best” FA pitcher on the market, and for that reason alone will get 10 million a year. And he just isn’t worth it. Burnett walks a ton of batters, and that isn’t good. His DERA(from b-pro) has been under 4.00 twice, once since surgery. But it hasn’t ever been below 3.80. He isn’t an elite pitcher. He just isn’t. He is a good pitcher. An above average pitcher. The kind of pitcher you pay 4-5 million while you can, and then let walk when he makes more than that. He is a better pitcher than Thomson, and if we could have him for 3/15 or something I’d love to do it. In short, he is about to be what Mike Hampton is(except Mike Hampton was once a great pitcher, which Burnett never has and never will be). Just because we overpay Hampton doesn’t mean we should overpay Burnett. If you want an elite pitcher then let’s trade Andy Marte for Jeff Francis or something. If you want Mike Hampton(with the added benefit that we have to pay to get rid of the real Hampton!) then let’s go ahead and sign Burnett.

    Also, don’t just assume Mazzone can make every player take a huge leap. If Mazzone could turn every above average pitcher into a Cy Young canidate…well, we would know about it by now. Leo has done great stuff for this organization, but he isn’t going to turn Burnett into a great pitcher just because.

  40. 40
    JPMouton Says:

    Also, Burnett isn’t exactly the picture of health.

  41. 41
    Kirk Says:

    Let’s assume that TW is carrying Hampton on the budget at $8M/year as they said they would. Now, suppose Hampton was a free agent and was seeking a three year contract? How much do you think he could get on the open market? My guess is that you would have to send someone around $30M in cash and/or prospects to get someone to take him. That’s $6M more than his amortized cost over the three year period. So, it’s unlikely to help the Braves’ financial situation to trade him.

  42. 42
    JoeyT Says:

    Hampton is a good pitcher with a strong non-Rockies track record. One of the rich teams would quickly pick up his contract if the Braves were giving him away.

    The NBA way of business, where you have to give up good players to get rid of bad contracts, doesn’t really apply when you have teams like the Yanks, Sox, Dodgers, Angels, etc. willing to take on salary for a pitcher like Hampton. If I were the Yanks, I’d jump on an offer of Hampton for low-level prospect like nobody’s business. It’s like signing a free agent without having to give up draft picks.

    Money doesn’t mean much to the Yanks. Prospects do. If the Braves don’t ask for anything, the Yanks would definately pick up a starting-caliber lefty for any price.

  43. 43
    creynolds Says:

    Suprise, surpise… I agree with JoeyT :) IF Hampton can prove he’s healthy down the stretch (a huge “if”), it certainly seems feasible. Assuming the money is like it was supposed to be, it would be like another team signing him for 3 years/$24 mil. That’s not a bad deal for a team who could use a ground-ball lefty. It’s his health, not his talent (or even his money) that would be the issue.

  44. 44
    Johnny Says:

    JoeyT and creynolds. Guys even the Yankess have some common sense. The health AND the money are a big issue. The money is 43 million over 3 years for a pitcher with a bad back. The thought that one of the ‘rich’ teams takes him just because we don’t want a player in return is a pipe dream. If you were a GM would you trade for Hampton???????

  45. 45
    creynolds Says:

    If I thought he was healthy, and it was 3/24 instead of 3/43 and if I felt I could use a lefty groundball pitcher, then I might. Heck, if that’s truly the Braves commitment I don’t even feel so bad about it. IF he can be healthy. And that’s the part I don’t think anybody can have any confidence in.

  46. 46
    Nate Says:

    As long as the Yankees don’t win the World Series, there is always a chance to get rid of Hampton!

  47. 47
    Kyle S Says:

    I don’t think Joey or creynolds expect the Yankees would take Hampton at full salary. It’s pretty obvious that we’d have to send a chunk of money along with him no matter what prospect we included in the deal.

    I have a request for someone with a BPro subscription: look up Hampton’s PECOTA WARP projections for 2006 – 2008. We can use them, multiply by 2.5 million (the yanks would be thrilled to pay 2.5m per marginal win – that’s “only” 150$m for 100 wins!) per, discount, and figure out the NPV of the revenue stream of Hampton’s remaining salary. Then we compare that to the NPV of the cash payments due him and figure out how much cash value has to be included to make it even out, either in actual dollars or prospects. If we were really ambitious, we could project Marte/Salty out three years, multiply by 2.5 mill per marginal win, subtract the league minimum salary, discount, compute his NPV, and figure out how much including one of those guys would knock off the cash requirement.

    Still, I don’t see Hampton being traded, but as always I could be wrong :)

  48. 48
    Smitty Says:

    In 153 games vs. the Mets Chipper has like 53 HRs 129 RBI and is hitting .335. Those aren’t the exact neumber, but they are close. In fact he named his son Shea, in honor of kicking the Mets ass.

  49. 49
    Kyle S Says:

    Try 33 homers, Smitty.

  50. 50
    Clark Says:

    After yesterday’s bomb, it’s 34.

  51. 51
    Kirk Says:

    Besides the economic/health factors, which are both substantial, there are some other issues that argue against a trade being likely. One, I saw an article a few weeks ago where Hampton says he has a no trade clause. Two, if you were in JS’s shoes, would you feel comfortable with approaching your bosses and saying “Look, I made a mistake signing this guy for $48M/6 years, we should pay someone else to take him.” True, JS is pretty secure in his job, but that would still be a hard pill to swallow.

  52. 52
    Smitty Says:

    This maybe early, but I think the Magic Number is like 20

  53. 53
    Kirk Says:

    The magic number is 19, and no, it’s not early. I was living in Chicago in the 80’s, and when the Cubs won the division in ’84 I started counting the number on my blackboard at work when it reached the 30’s.

  54. 54
    Smitty Says:

    19, ok I knew I was in the ballpark.

  55. 55
    creynolds Says:

    It’s definitely not too early. 19 is actually a winnable number of games from here on out. It’s highly unlikely that it would be happen, but since it’s within the realm of reasonable possibility, it is most certainly not too early.

  56. 56
    Kirk Says:

    Now here’s a dilemna. I think just about everyone here would rather see an eastern team reach the playoffs rather than Houston. But we also want to make sure the Braves win the division. Besides the two games left with Philly, the Astros have 4 games remaining with the Marlins. Who do we root for in those 6 games? Besides those games, the Astros have 7 with the Cubs, 6 with the Brewers, 4 with the Bucs, and 2 with the Cards.

  57. 57
    csg Says:

    I wouldnt want to meet the Marlins in the playoffs. I would rather see the Phils or Astros for the division title, but that’s just me!

  58. 58
    drew Says:

    The trouble with rooting for or against teams for the Wild Card is that you never know who’s going to get hot at the end of the season. You can be up against a pretty terrible team, and suddenly one of your starters has an off game, and one of their players becomes a world-beater.

    I suspect we’d rather face the Padres, even with the 1-5 season series (small sample size, and slumping both times): they’re less formidable than facing Clemens-Oswalt-Pettitte(-Clemens-Oswalt), no matter how anemic the Astros offense is at the time. Especially because the Cards would steamroll the Padres, and we’d really want a wild card that can take them to 5 so that Carpenter will have to start twice.

    The Marlins terrify me in the postseason because of what they’ve done before. Everyone still remembers that awful called third strike to end the NLCS in ’97, right? To my mind, that leaves the Phillies as the palatable option: capable of bloodying the Cards, but likely not of winning an NLCS. I just don’t know if the Phils are capable of getting to 88-89 wins, which is likely what they’ll need to beat out Houston.

    If they do, the Phillies would be a fearsome, “surging” team, but at least they wouldn’t be playing us in a 5-game series.

    I like that the Braves have a comfortable lead, but also that there’s still a lot of competition for the playoff roster–hopefully that will stave off the complacency that’s plagued the Braves in the playoffs the last few seasons.

  59. 59
    Smitty Says:

    Watch out for San Fran. Bonds could be back tonight and they are only five out. Plus the Giants have won 8 of their last 10.

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