— Why does Bobby Cox bat Dewayne Wise second in the line-up? I will grant that this guy has played much better than I thought he would. There is no doubt that Wise is a fantastically talented individual, but hitting is not his strength. His OBP is equal to his BA, which is not a good sign when you hit .233. Why do you want to give this guy the at-bats of the two slot? I know the explanation is that Cox only does this against righties, but just because the guy is left-handed does not make him lexicographically better than all right-handed hitters against right-handed pitchers. The platoon effect just means opposite handedness improves the chance of success of an at-bat relative to each hitter’s ability. Cox’s strategy is akin to Monty Burns’s benching of Darryl Strawberry for Homer Simpson, except this isn’t funny. I would rather see a right-handed Mark DeRosa get an at-bat against righties than Wise.
— The Braves need to add another bat to their bench. Whether that means dropping a pitcher or putting someone on the DL, we cannot have Jesse Garcia pinch-hit like he did Wednesday night against the Reds. That is not why Jesse made the team. Or at least use Mike Hampton to pinch hit more often. I understand we don’t want to put Chipper on the DL when he might get healthy soon, but maybe Marerro’s tendonitis is flaring up. At least bring up Hessman who is tearing up AAA right now. Langerhans and Branyan are also options.
— I know a lot of people are soft on Mark DeRosa at third, but I think he is a very good option for the Braves right now. DeRo makes $725K, which is $25K less than the average third-baseman made in 2003. His OPS is about league average, and his 2003 ZR was about average for third-basemen. This means acquiring a better third-baseman from another club is going to require giving up more than $725K in salary or forgone prospects. For comparison, ex-Brave Wes Helms is making $2.25 million for the Brewers this year for about 20 OPS points and .05 ZR points above DeRo. I suspect if Schuerholz wanted to go that way he would have already done it. It’s not like DeRo is playing far below expectations. And what about the minors? In AA Marte looks like he is going to be good, but his day probably will not come soon unless he goes on a tear. In AAA former can’t miss prospect Betemit more likely to be demoted than promoted, which is sad. Of the problems the Braves have to deal with this season, I would say changing out the corner is far down on the list. As a fan I have to say I am pretty content with DeRo at third, and I’ll be rooting extra hard for him.
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— So, I was worried about DeWayne Wise for the Braves? I don’t think Cox has yet used him as a defensive replacement for Chipper, as I hypothesized, and he has played pretty well so far (.944 OPS, but I expect some mean reversion). I think I now see what Schuerholz and Cox like in this guy, despite his poor hitting in the past, speed. Did you see this guy truck around the bases on Saturday night for a triple off a right-center gapper? If Jimy Williams were coaching third he would have waved him in…and he might have made it. I am still not sure if it was a good roster move, but I now understand why this guy is still hanging around the majors. BTW, check out the comments on the original Wise post to see some interesting analysis by Tangotiger.
— Reasons for concern about the Braves. Smoltz has already given up 3 HRs. JD Drew is already “day-to-day.” Ortiz and Hampton are hitting better than they are pitching (although Ortiz looked good last night). I hope Furcal is OK. Nitkowski and Cunnane have been dreadful.
— Reasons for optimism about the Braves. Marcus Giles is the man! Chipper has 3 HRs. Julio Franco’s at-bat against the Cubs last week (13 pitches, I think). John Thomson has looked good. Alfonseca has not been himself.
— I happened to catch the latter innings of the past two Cubs/Reds games and they have been worth it. Both involved dramatic 9th inning comebacks by both teams. It was also funny to see Kerry Wood to show up the umpire 3-times before getting tossed. I am curious how that will affect his close calls all season. Cubs fans don’t worry, Dusty says Prior will play in 2004. Uh oh! If you have to announce that someone will play this year that is not good news.
— How bad is the NBA? Yesterday, I chose to watch MLS soccer over the NBA playoffs. This is from a guy who used to know every NBA roster 5 years ago. Maybe it’s just me, but I just don’t care.
Update: Oh no! Chipper’s down! Hopefully, it is not as bad as it looked. The Braves have to put either Chipper or Drew on the DL. Who are they going to bring up? Hessman has played in the outfield before, but I hope they go another way. Langerhans and Hollins would appear to be the next options. Unfortunately, they are hitting .217 and .120 in Richmond, but Langerhans is putting up a respectable .367 OBP. I don’t know much about Russell Branyan but he has walked 12 times in 33 PAs with a big fat .529 OBP, so I guess he is also a likely candidate. I think there is a decent chance that Schuerholz might make a deal. I had a feeling that he had one more deal in the works when he picked the roster, so now would be a good time to pull the trigger.
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