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Five Questions for Martin Gandy of Talking Chop

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In anticipation of this weekend's Brewers/Braves series, Martin Gandy of Talking Chop and I traded five questions regarding our respective teams. You can find my answers to his questions here. Here are his answers regarding the Braves.

BCB: What will it take for you to leave Javier Vazquez in Milwaukee with the Brewers?

TC: Mat Gamel AND Alcides Escobar ... both of them. But really I would say one of them would be a good starting point. I don't know your system that well, but if it were to be prospects we would probably prefer Escobar, as we could then possibly swing our current shortstopped Escobar (Yunel) for other needs.

Another option, for which I may be out of my mind here to suggest, but I had the thought a while back about a Vazquez for Ryan Braun swap. That probably made most Brewers fans sit back and say something to the effect of "heck no," but Vazquez is an elite pitcher and Braun is an elite hitter -- it seems mostly equitable to me.

BCB: How does Brian McCann, a.305/.377/.504 hitting catcher, somehow avoid being listed among baseball's best players?

TC: I'm pretty sure he doesn't play in New York, Boston, or Chicago, and he doesn't have a catchy name like Manny. Joe Mauer's in the same boat -- playing mostly in obscurity in Minnesota. McCann (like Mauer) is also a soft spoken guy, so good or bad he's not making headlines outside of the lines.

BCB: Aside from beating the Brewers this weekend, what does this Braves team need to do to keep the Phillies from running away with the NL East?

TC: We have 9 games left head-to-head with the Phils, and we've handled them pretty well so far this year, so if we can continue to beat them in our head-to-head matchups we'll close the gap some there. The Phillies are also playing lights-out right now, but will probably regress towards their mean sometime soon -- their starting pitching is
not that good and at some point it should be re-exposed like it was at the beginning of the season.

BCB: After going 36-40 in April, May and June, the Braves are 13-6 in July. What's different this month, and can we reschedule this series for a time when they're not as hot?

TC: Heck no. We always play you guys when you're hot, so maybe now we can return the favor. The Braves have finally started to hit and score runs. There are several reasons for that. We got rid of some dead weight in the lineup (see Jeff Francoeur), Martin Prado took over for Kelly Johnson and has been the hottest hitter in baseball the past month, Garret Anderson is getting lucky with some hits, Yunel Escobar is in a better position (Francoeur's old position) in the lineup to drive in runs (and he's driving them in), and our pitching broke out of a mini-funk they were in. We've been clicking on all cylinders lately -- it's nice to see. I think I've been waiting 3 years or more to say that.

BCB: As a follower of the NL East, which is more surprising: The Marlins success (49-47 as of this writing) or the Mets collapse (44-50)?

TC: I thought the Mets would collapse, but I didn't think it would be this bad. I said repeatedly before the season that they were an injury or two away from being terrible. Little did I know they would suffer 3 or 4 major injuries. Also, Omar Minaya does not know how to build a baseball team. I also said before the season that the Marlins would be good. I'm not surprised they are where they are. They have good pitching and a lot of hitting spread throughout their order.