It's been a strange week on the field for our Braves. When they've lost, they've gotten absolutely dumptrucked. However, when they've won, it's been absolutely amazing to watch, and that was the case on Thursday night when they won a wild contest against the Marlins. The Braves actually had an 8-5 lead going into the top of the eighth inning, but the Marlins pushed over three runs in the top half to tie it (which was their second three-run comeback of the night). Fortunately, Eury Perez was able to knock in Atlanta's ninth run of the night during the bottom half of the inning, which allowed Arodys Vizcaino to close the door in the top of the ninth.
The Braves, as currently constructed and due to injuries, are still a pretty bad baseball team at the moment. With that being said, we've definitely seen a few guys step their game up in an effort to pick up the slack and potentially get noticed and held on to for the future.
...There was still reason to pause at the conclusion of Thursday night's 9-8 win over the Marlins and realize how it was to watch a Major League game during which Daniel Castro, Matt Marksberry, Adonis Garcia and Eury Perez shared the spotlight.
"It's the land of opportunity," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We came out of Spring Training and we had a nice baseball team. We had to do some stuff for the future of our organization. We've gotten some pieces and we've battled."
Again, the Braves aren't exactly playing good baseball over long stretches of time right now. That much is obvious. However, have the Braves hit rock bottom? Or will things get even darker before the promising sun of the future eventually rises? One thing is clear: Things are pretty dark right now.
This year's struggles have been part of a major rebuilding plan, as Atlanta has been restocking its farm system with young pitching via trades and other machinations since the end of the 2014 season. That has come at the expense of immediate on-field success, and there's no other way to say it than the Braves have been playing an ugly brand of baseball for much of this year.
Atlanta flirted with .500 in the first third of the 2015 season, going 26-28 in its first 54 games. The Braves collapsed to 22-32 in the second third, including losses in 18 of their last 24 games.
It was the third straight losing 54-game period for the Braves, following up the 21-33 stretch run in 2014. In its last 162 games, Atlanta is 69-93, a .425 winning percentage that would be its worst over a full season since the aforementioned 1990 squad.
Now, we begin the Hector Olivera minute of this post. First, we got some unfortunate news as far as Olivera's hamstring is concerned. Apparently, the infielder suffered a setback in his recovery, and as a result, he won't be playing rehab games for another 10-12 days. The wait to see the Braves' prized Cuban acquisition will have to last a little bit longer.
There's a reason why they call him "Ivan the Great." I'll let him explain to you all what The Oliverator is:
The Oliverator is a simple spreadsheet tool that attempts to capture the surplus value generated by the moving pieces in the Alex Wood-Jose Peraza-bullpen pieces-Hector Olivera-other stuff trade.
It's my hope that using this, we can discuss the Olivera trade with our priors hanging out. Think it was a good trade? Explain why by posting screenshots of your relevant inputs and outputs. Think it was the worst trade ever? You have the power to change the parameters you want to argue your case. By being transparent about what we're assuming when we make judgments on the quality of a given move, we can move the conversation towards, "This is bad and if you like it you should feel bad," to "I think this is bad because I assume the set of [x/y/z] will be true going forward." That way, criticisms can shift from attacks of wholesale opinions to questioning of assumptions, which might help folks either move towards consensus or crystallize exactly why their opinions differ from those of others.
The spreadsheet tool that he's talking about has to be seen (and played with) to be believed, so if you haven't checked it out yet, go ahead and do so. Spend some time with it when you get a chance. You won't regret it!
The Padres shocked the baseball world when they decided that they'd rather stand pat than try to make a move at the trade deadline. However, they recently placed pitcher James Shields and outfielder Matt Kemp on revocable waivers, which could signal that Padres GM A.J. Preller might be open to making some sort of trade happen, after all. The Padres are currently eight games back in the NL West, and are closer to our Braves than they are the second and final NL Wild Card spot, so it might be in their best interest to try and move some assets.
Meanwhile, two legitimate contenders to make the Postseason squared off on the Northside of Chicago last night, as the Giants and Cubs kicked off a series in exciting fashion. After the Cubs beat the Giants in an exciting 5-4 affair last night, the win put Chicago in the second Wild Card spot. Meanwhile, the Giants are just a half-game back. If there's one series that you should keep an eye on this weekend, it's this one.
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It's August and the Houston Astros are still solidly in the race for the Postseason. They're two-and-a-half games on top of the AL West, and they kept that lead thanks to some late-game heroics. The Astros eventually beat the Athletics 5-4, but they were able to forge ahead in the eighth inning of the game thanks to a home run from Carlos Correa. It was the rookie's 14th homer of the season over 51 games, and he's been killing it since he was called up. He's been hitting .291/.345/.567 with 151 wRC+ and 2.7 fWAR, and has been one of the driving forces behind everyone's favorite blue-and-orange team from Texas.
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