The Braves sure picked a strange time to start making a run. After the mediocre first 11 games dropped the Braves well out of any reasonable playoff scenarios, they've pulled it together and won 4 of 5. Including a one run win and an extra inning win (both situations where we faltered all season long). Meanwhile the Mets are flailing about, allowing the Braves to pull within 6 with 11 to play.
I'm betting we'll continue this hot streak through the end of the season and finish 4 games shy of the playoffs. Wouldn't that be appropriate for this years team? Almost good enough, but not quite when it counted.
On the positive side, Chipper is leading the league in hitting with Renteria close behind (and if Young Renteria, I mean Escobar, had enough ABs he'd be in the top 10 as well). And JoJo Reyes looked much better (albeit against a Marlins team that doesn't seem too interested in playing right now).
On the negative side, Andruw looks like he is starting to heat up (to be fair, anything above .230 with 1K/game is "hot" for him). I guess he finally listened to *someone about his hitting (that someone likely being Boras, I imagine. Gas for those 20 cars Andruw owns is expensive, you know). Rumor is the Braves plan is to offer him arbitration and PRAY that someone signs him. (This would ensure the Braves get 2 supplemental picks in the draft). If no one signs him, he'll get somewhere around $15 mil for 2008. At least there's grumbling about increased payroll in 2008 (to $100 million). It was weird being the only team that hadn't increased their spending at all since 1997. I miss Ted Turner.
Speaking of 1997, I would like to address one lingering concern that's haunted me since then. What happened to our ability to develop pitchers? The last pitcher that we developed that did anything with us was Milwood. And it seemed he developed in spite of our coaching (he notoriously hated Mazzone). Every big time prospect we've brought up has been the same pitcher: 88-91 mph fastball, decent change, developing curve/slider, and terrible control. Davies, Marquis, James, Horacio, Reyes, Bruce Chen, Odalis Perez, Damian Moss. And that's only the SP. When you think about it, really, aren't all these guys the same pitcher? I understand that 95 mph flamethrowers don't grow on trees and neither do control pitchers. But to not have ANY of EITHER over the past decade seems a bit strange. Part of the problem, I think, is that the Braves scouts have had incredible success at drafting/developing position players (at everywhere other than 1B). There isn't going to be turnover in the scouting department while they are successfully so incredibly in the positional department. I'm not asking for another Smoltz, Glavine, even Millwood. But maybe a Paul Byrd. Is that too much to ask?