Resilent Braves attempt to march on without Prado

While limping their way toward the finish line over the course of the past month, the Braves have proven to be a maddening bunch.  But if they are preparing for a postseason series at this time next week, they’ll be heralded as the “resilient bunch that gave Bobby Cox one more chance to experience the thrill of the playoffs.”

The Braves gained a half-game lead over the Padres in the National League Wild Card standings last night and lost their most valuable player in the process.  Nobody ever guaranteed that Cox’s final days on the bench were going to be a walk in the park. 

When Chipper Jones was lost for the season in August, the Braves sat atop the NL East standings and had the comfort of knowing that Martin Prado was more than capable to serve as a reliable third baseman. 

Now with Prado sidelined for an undetermined amount of time with the left hip pointer he suffered last night, the Braves have no room for error and only reason to hope that Brooks Conrad continues to serve as their Mr. Clutch. 

While serving as Prado’s replacement at third base, Conrad should have little problem serving as a capable defender.  At the plate, he might not be able to provide the same kind of consistency. 

But given the situation, this might be the prime opportunity for Conrad to shine. 

During the first six innings of games this year, Conrad has batted just .190 (11-for-58).  In the seventh inning or later, he has compiled a .275 batting average (22-for-80).    

In close and late situations, Conrad has compiled a team-best .298 (14-for-47) batting average and tallied 16 RBIs.  Jason Heyward has notched a team-best 17 RBIs in these situations with 33 more at-bats than Conrad.    

Well the Padres are close and it’s certainly getting late, so maybe this is the prime time for Conrad to soften the blow incurred last night, when Prado limped off the field with the painful injury. 

With Prado sidelined, it seemed like Cox might finally heed the wishes of others within the Braves organization by putting Heyward in the third spot of the lineup. But Brian McCann will sit in the three hole tonight.  

Heyward has struggled recently, recording just five hits (all singles) in his past 34 at-bats. But while hitting .418 with a 1.216 OPS in the 26 games that preceded this mini-slump, Heyward certainly looked more than capable of producing in that three hole.

TONIGHT’S LINEUP

Infante 4
Heyward 9
McCann 2
Lee 3
Cabrera 7
Gonzalez 6
Conrad 5
Ankiel 8
Hudson 1

9 Comments

WHY IS MELKY CABRERA BATTING FIFTH!!!!???!!!. He is terrible. As much of a defensive liability as it would be have troy glaus play third and bat fifth. Or maybe even play Eric Hinkse in left in place of Melky who can’t hit or play defense.

Hi Mark – is it players, coaches or front office folks who have told you they also want to see Heyward in the 3 spot?

Yes, exactly why isn’t Eric Hinske in the line-up — ever? He’s one of the reasons they even had a chance to be where they are….and now he sits. Is it an “incentives” issue like with Troy? And do you think he’ll be back to shore up our bench in 2011?

Don’t anyone think that I am thrilled to see Brooks in the lineup at the expense of Prado. That just isn’t how I would have written this script. I thought Prado should have been allowed to take longer to come back from his broken finger and it was obvious that his wheels(or hip) were killing him lately. Quite simply he needed a break, now we are really screwed. Any lineup with Leche batting 5th is ridiculous. Bobby has such an obsession with giving veterans the continued ability to resurrect their careers long past reason sometimes just looks stupid.

Mark, as I have pointed out before, I think the 1-6 and 7-9 stats for Brooks Conrad are a ridiculously small sample size and really mean nothing. 1) He has never had that kind of disparity in a 10 year professional career, 2) The early inning stats are are from occasional start usually followed by weeks of not being in the lineup, an almost impossible situation to get a good feel for the plate 3) This type of statistical comparison would destroy some parties who have started virtually the entire season ( McLouth bats .185 in innings 1-6, Hinske hits .227 in 1 thru 6 and .304 in 7-9 and Melky and Ankiel just s*ck all the time).

The bottom line is that Brooks is the kind of player that may provide a spark to this listless ballclub. He hustles every ball out as opposed to our SS who dogs everything. He can hit the long fly, which god knows we need and he is a very capable defender(despite spiteful comments from the Snipe Club).

Melky batting 5th, really? Forget playing match-ups, Melky has played horribly for an extended time. McLouth, Hinske, or Diaz would be preferable. There is no clear answer to our outfield problems, but at least those other guys have potential pop in their bats for our power-starved lineup. Hope the Melkman proves me wrong tonight. This week we get to see if healthy Conrad> gimpy Prado.

What an ugly lineup. Cox has worn out the bullpen and worn out Infante and Prado. Why wasn’t Conrad spelling them regularly? I’m sure Cox will go down as one of the great players’ coaches. But he will not go down as one of the great fans’ coaches in my book. I will be happy for a fresh perspective with a new manager next year. Bobby is far too predictable, lacks creativity, not aggressive enough, waits on players too long to perform, is too stubborn, doesn’t handle the bullpen well, and has some crazy ideas about constructing lineups.

I can not understand why Melky Cabrera even plays. He is horrible defensively with below average range & a below average arm. He can’t swing the bat at all. I would rather have Tim Hudson at the plate than Melky. And he also has absolutely no speed. He is just tying up payroll. I think either Hinske should be playing left or at the very least we could play Glaus at 3rd, Conrad at 2nd, & Infante in left. Anything is better than Melky!!

At what point can we just execute Melky and put him out of our misery? I would have rather paid him his $3+ million this season to not play at all. He has already cost the Braves a run with his glove in this game… I wonder how many he’ll cost them with his bat, granted they have any opportunities to score.

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