Wednesday, June 08, 2005

And Bobby shall lead them

Brian Jordan really must have felt old last night, given that the average age of the people in the lineup arround him seemed about two decades younger than him. The news of Chipper looks bad headed for worse. I'm still not sure when Estrada will be back. Thompson is out forever.

So why not just turn it over to the kids? Marte was doing fairly well at Richmond, and of all the young guys he and Davies are probably the most deserving of the label of "the future" (not that the rest of them don't deserve it). Early returns weren't bad. Marte had a sac fly and took one for a ride later in the game, just missing what would have been his first major league home run. He showed some nice glovework - an area he has clearly put a lot of time into.

Being in the thick of a divisional race, with a bunch of hobbling or struggling veterans and thus needing to make major contributions, is not ideal for one young guy. Let alone 5+. You couldn't ask for a better staff to do it with, though. Bobby is Bobby and I have a feeling the Braves, no matter how the injuries play out, will be in the thick of it come August. I haven't given up hope of a playoff spot either. The sad thing is, we could play as is (make a couple of moves, sure) the rest of the way out, get the wild card or win the division, and Bobby Cox probably still wouldn't be manager of the year.

He has shortcommings - some of the Braves historical October malaise can be lain at his feet. He has been too by the book in the post season, ignoring hot hitters at times for matchups. And over-relying on the same releiver he has used all year, leading to guys getting tired and then flopping. I think that you have to change your philosophy in the post season, and be a little less business-like (which works fantastic during the marathon regular season), and a little more urgent (for the Spring that is October). Still, it's only part of it, and the bottom line was the hitters generally didn't hit and the pitchers sometimes didn't pitch well.

He's had several years where he should have won and did not. My Gut says that if the East produces another playoff team, that team will probably have the manager of the year (save, perhaps, the Marlins). I think Frank Robinson is the front runner right now. People will point to the payroll disparity, to the lack of bona fide stars on a team like the Nationals, and probably be influenced by the fact that the Braves have been in the hunt for forever and a day. That Cox has 2 wins since his recent tenture with the Braves started in 1991 is impressive. But he should have more; (that Jack Mckeon won it in 1999 with the reds over Cox was criminal). Dusty Baker has 3 over that same span - but I don't think he's deserving of more than Cox.

The Braves have had resources over the past decade and a half, and that's why they've won 13 straight divisional titles. But many teams have had resources during that span and not even played .500 ball at times. Cox is part of the reason for that.


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