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Braves Fans: Don't Panic

Eight in a row is bad, really bad, and it's depressing seeing your team go through such a bad stretch, but let's not get bent out of shape over it. At the beginning of this eight game losing streak the Braves were in first place, now they're in last place. That shows how tight the division is, but it also reveals how early in the season it is, when one bad week (or one good week) can send you from first to worst or vice versa.

The easy thing to do during these losing streaks (the lazy thing to do) is to look for someone to blame. I've been guilty of it in the past, and I have to fight against all the fiber in my hardcore fandom not to do it now. My prescription is to take three deep breaths, close my eyes, and remember that this is actually a good team when fully healthy.

Slumps happen throughout every baseball season. Unfortunately for this Braves team they seem to be prone to collective slumping -- they did it last September, the first few games of this year, and the past week. Collective slumping is not something one can really measure, it's more of a you-know-it-when-you-see-it kind of thing.

The cause of the losing streak starts with the injuries. Losing Chipper Jones, Brian McCann, and Freddie Freeman, three of your top run producers, is huge. It would be hard for any team to make up for that kind of loss. Add in injuries to David Ross and Matt Diaz and we're left with a team that is depleted in the starting lineup and depleted on the bench.

When injuries this major occur, the guys who fill in and the rest of the guys in the lineup need to be able to execute in key situations and maximize their contribution to the lineup. Unfortunately, that has not happened. Aside from Martin Prado (and maybe Juan Francisco), the rest of the hitters in the lineup have picked now to go into slumps. Only two regulars have higher than a .250 batting average the past week -- that ain't gonna cut it.

And when a lineup is so decimated by injuries and slumps, it is incumbent upon the pitching staff to pick up the slack ... that hasn't happened. The pitching staff is in a slump just like the offense.

The Braves are in the midst of a perfect storm of bad baseball, fueled by injuries, ineffectiveness, and the inevitable lows of every season. This trifecta has limited the options for Fredi Gonzalez. He's made good decisions for the most part, just like did before this week when the Braves were in first place. But he can't make the players execute, that's up to each guy on the field.

There's no magic bullet to cure this losing streak, or solve these slumps. It's going to take each player working through them with the coaches, and eventually good hitting and good pitching will be the thing that's contagious once again. There's no one in the minors who can help. There's no need to panic and make a trade. The Braves ... and we the fans ... just need to ride this thing out.

Please note that I'm getting a little sore in the saddle, so the sooner the Braves can get back to winning, the better.

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