October 2009

Can you still Believe?

Postseason hope might not be officially dead in Atlanta.  But I think it’s pretty safe to say it’s currently floating down the E. Coli-infested Chattahoochee River with Chad Paronto on its back.

There’s no doubt that the Braves are capable of sweeping their four-game series against the Nationals this weekend.  But you have to think the Rockies will likely clinch the Wild Card spot by winning at least one of their last four games against the Brewers and the Dodgers, who have lost four straight and five of six during a stretch against the Pirates and Padres.

When Matt Diaz hit his game-tying, three-run homer against the Marlins on Tuesday night, it was still easy to Believe that the Braves were going to find a way to get into the playoffs.

Two losses later, it’s hard to Believe how that one last gasp to keep legit hope alive was destroyed.

While getting picked off third base to end Wednesday night’s game, Diaz went from being the unsung catalyst to the goat in the matter of minutes. 

That same aggressive, shoes-on-fire approach that led Diaz to stray too far off third base was arguably what had allowed the Braves to load the bases in the ninth. 

Had Diaz not busted down the line after producing his two-out grounder, Marlins third baseman Wes Helms might not have rushed his throw that resulted in the inning-extending error.

In the end, there is no excuse for getting picked off in that situation.  Diaz knows that and he’ll continue to be bothered by this event for many days to come.

But as the Rockies continue to roll and the Dodgers continue to slide, Sunday may conclude with the realization that even with a perfect finish the Braves might have found themselves forced to face the fact that the hole they had dug was too deep to escape.

With the playoff picture now fading out of focus, there will still be a few things to follow over the next couple of days.

Perez Watch:  The Indians will likely call the Braves to ask permission to interview bullpen coach Eddie Perez for their vacant managerial role.   While playing in Cleveland in 2002, Perez developed a strong bond with Indians general manager Mark Shapiro. 

While Perez might not yet be deemed ready for a managerial role, it will be interesting to see what he would do if the Indians were to offer him the greater responsibility that he’d experience as their bench coach.

Perez’s ultimate goal is to serve as Bobby Cox’s successor and remain in Atlanta.  But he could also be tempted to leave for a role that would allow him to better prepare himself to serve as a manager in the Majors.

Garret eyeing 2500:  Garret Anderson is just one hit shy of becoming the 90th player in Major League history to record 2500 in his career.  Dating back to the start of 1995, Anderson’s first full season in the big leagues, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez are the only players to have compiled more hits.

Chipper needs two more: Chipper Jones remains two homers shy of becoming the first Major Leaguer to ever begin his career with 15 consecutive 20-homer seasons.  I think it’s pretty safe to assume we’ll see the veteran third baseman coming out of his shoes with a couple of swings during this final weekend.

 

  

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