Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Goodbye 2010, Goodbye Bobby

Well that stung. The Braves dropped games 3 and 4 at Turner Field after their 11th inning win in game 2 to end their NLDS run, their 2010 season and Bobby Cox’s career. The countless injuries made it clear that the Braves team that battled in the playoffs was just a shell of the team that got them there. Even still, the team was this close to advancing past the San Francisco Giants. Yes, they dropped the series 3 games to 1, but each loss was by just 1 run and the team really had the pitching to win the World Series trophy.

Taking a look at the numbers, Atlanta pitchers posted a lethal 1.95 ERA and allowed the Giants to put up just 2.75 runs per game. Unfortunately, the offense managed an uninspiring .175 batting average while the defense committed a fatal 7 total errors. (As an aside, those stats are remarkably similar to the Phillies’ sweep of the Braves in PHI..2.33 ERA, 3 runs per game allowed, .178 batting average). In the 3 losses, Atlanta pitchers had miniscule 1.38 ERA. It’s really amazing that the team managed to drop those match-ups with a number like that, but that’s what so many errors will do to you. The series was exactly as advertised. Both teams had stellar pitching and both teams had little to no offense, but the Giants’ defense was much more reliable than the Braves’.

Much can said about the poor umpiring (blown Posey steal call, Huff’s foot coming off first base in Game 2, Infante’s foot not coming off second base in Game 4) and Bobby likely made some critical errors in the 9th inning by pulling Kimbrel and not replacing Brooks Conrad with Diory Hernandez, but devastating injuries meant the Braves were really playing with too many bench players/minor leaguers. The pitchers just didn’t have enough room for error. Too bad.

It’s disappointing that the 2010 season is finished, but it’s even tougher to see Bobby’s career end in a series like that. Injuries left the famed manager with very little choices to make. After Conrad’s 3 errors in Game 3, Cox could go to a hobbled Troy Glaus at 3B who hasn’t looked serviceable at the plate since early June, a player who had 9 AB and played all of 1 inning at 2B this season in Diory Hernandez or keep a clearly distraught Conrad in the line-up. Bobby decided to go with the veteran but aging Glaus, whose extremely limited range helped lead to Alex Gonzalez’s 2 errors in Game 4. Bobby had 3 bad options and had to choose one.

I’ve been a Braves fan for the 20+ years that I’ve been watching baseball. I’ve never watched the Atlanta Braves play without Bobby Cox cheering on his players from the dugout. It will be a weird feeling to see someone else leading this team next year. Reports are that the new person will be Fredi Gonzalez. I wonder how much consideration Ned Yost was given, but I look forward to what Fredi Gonzalez can do in Atlanta!

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