After a surprising 6-4 west coast road trip, the Crew returns home to face Jason Heyward and the Atlanta Braves.
2009 vs. Braves: 3-3; 24 runs scored, 27 runs allowed.
Braves Probable Starters (in order):
Tommy Hanson (2009 vs. Brewers: 2 GS, 0-1, 5.54 ERA, 6 SO, 3 BB, 3 HR allowed)
Tim Hudson (2008 vs. Brewers: 1 GS, 0-0, 2.25 ERA, 6 SO, 1 BB, 0 HR allowed)
Derek Lowe (2009 vs. Brewers: 1 GS, 1.0, 3.00 ERA, 3 SO, 0 BB, 1 HR allowed)
Brewers Probable Starters (in order):
Doug Davis (2009 vs. Braves: 2 GS, 0-0, 2.77 ERA, 9 SO, 2 BB, 1 HR allowed)
Dave Bush (2008 vs. Braves: 2 GS, 1-0, 1,93 ERA, 8 SO, 2 BB, 2 HR allowed)
Yovani Gallardo (2009 vs. Braves: 2 GS, 2-0, 0.00 ERA, 12 SO, 8 BB, 0 HR allowed)
Follow the jump for my questions with Talking Chop's mvhsbball and go here to read my answers to their questions
BCB: Jason Heyward - worth the hype? Tell us something we don't know about him from the over-hyped first three weeks. Does he has staying power? Is the worry over strikeouts legitimate? Also, reports vary on the groin injury. What's really going on?
In a word: yes. At the beginning of the year most Braves fans would tell you that they expected Heyward to be good, but not this good at such an early stage in his career. He's currently on pace to hit 40HRs, drive in 130 runners and have an OPS of 1.000 or so. Those numbers are Braun and Pujols like in terms of rookie seasons. And to think he's only 20; the dude won't hit his prime for at least 5 more years. What happens when he grows into his "grown man" strength and adjusts to the grind of a 162-game season? That's why Braves fans are so high on this kid.
The strikeouts had me worried, but he's cut them down drastically in the past 10 games or so. It's pretty obvious the Braves offense isn't doing too well and I think Heyward got into a mindset of "I have to win the game by myself", which messed with his approach at the plate. Phillip Wellman, the manager of the Mississippi Braves (double-A), said it best last year, "you see so many young guys with the mindset of 'attack, attack, attack' when they're at the plate. That's not Heyward. He doesn't do that. His mindset is 'wait, bait and bash'. And that's why he's such a special young hitter." When Heyward struggled with the strike zone earlier in the year, it's because he was in the "attack, attack, attack" mindset. Since then, he's adjusted and his numbers show it.
As for Heyward's groin, he injured it in his first AB of Wednesday's game and hasn't been 100% since. From what I've heard he could return to the starting lineup by Tuesday, but who knows at this point. The only thing I can tell you that our lineup is borderline laughable when J-Hey isn't in it.
BCB: What's going on with Derek Lowe? I read he revamped his delivery and is still not seeing results. Do you see him staying in the rotation? How is this affecting your season?
Ugh. Where to begin with out $60M "ace"? Derek Lowe is a mess. He's never had great stuff, but the sinking action on his pitches always made him successful. Ever since last summer, his ball has stopped sinking and hitters are taking advantage of it. His record would probably be 1-5 or 2-4 this year if it wasn't for our inconsistent offense bailing him out multiple times. I see him staying the rotation, but only because Bobby Cox is so loyal to his veterans. I'd much rather have Kris Medlen as our 5th starter though.
BCB: Despite losing Javier Vasquez and Rafael Soriano, you were supposed to have the best pitching staff in the NL. Add Heyward and you had to have high expectations, and yet you're five games below .500 as I type this. Slow start or just the beginning of a disappointing season?
This Braves team has flashes of brilliance, but they also have stretches of play when you start to wonder, "is this team even going to win 75 games this year?". Injuries have hampered the Braves a bit this year with Yunel Escobar (groin) and Jair Jurrjens (hamstring) on the DL along with Heyward's nagging injuries, but once these guys come back the Braves should see improvement. The Braves played a crazy schedule in April (Cubs, Giants, Padres, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Cardinals) and lead the NL in road games played (19) so they should benefit from an easier schedule in the upcoming month or two. I'd like to think of this just being a mixture of tough opponents and a slow start, but this Braves team is so inconsistent it's hard for me to predict what the season has in store for them.
BCB: Bobby Cox has been publicly critical of Heyward's impatience at the plate. It seems as thought that's the final straw for some fans, who are now calling not only for his firing, but for the hiring of former Brewers manager Ned Yost. What's the story here?
First of all, it's my belief that if anyone says Bobby Cox should be fired in his final season after all he's done for the organization, they should never be allowed to post on a baseball blog again. The man is a legend and if you think he's the problem then you're completely insane. If anyone is going to get the boot on the Braves' staff, it'll be Terry Pendleton, our hitting coach. To be honest, I'd say more than half of the posters over on Talking Chop think that Pendleton should've been fired yesterday. And I'm one of those people.
I'm not too sure why Bobby called out Heyward the way he did, but it certainly helped. Heyward had the next day off and hasn't looked back since.
As for Ned Yost possibly becoming our new manager I think he has as good as a chance as anybody. I would personally love Fredi Gonzalez (who was once our 3B coach) to become our new manager, but I'd (probably) be happy with Yost as well. He has ties to the organization and shares many of Bobby's philosophies as well. You never know with our GM Frank Wren though. He could throw a total curveball next off-season when he picks the new manager.
BCB: Chipper Jones led the majors in BA in 2008 at .364 and then hit .264 last season. He's sitting at .222 with 2010s small sample size. Are we seeing the decline/end of Chipper Jones?
Great question here. Is Chipper's production declining from his once MVP-form? You bet. He's constantly being bothered by nagging injuries and he can't get around on fastballs like he once could. His power numbers are also way down; since June of 2010, Chipper's slugging percentage is .376. Compare that to his career slugging percentage of .541 and it's pretty apparent he shouldn't be hitting 3rd anymore. Combine that with his sub-par defense and it's sadly becoming obvious that the end of Larry Wayne Jones is slowly coming upon us.
What Chipper still does as well, if not better, than 95% of the league is control the strike zone. I would absolutely love for him to hit 2nd in the lineup. His high OBP would be perfect in the 2-hole and he would be a fantastic guy to have in front of Heyward, Troy Glaus and Brian McCann. This won't happen in the near future, but we can all dream can't we?