Let me introduce myself. My name is Andy Lipman and I am one of the biggest Braves fans you will ever find. My love for the Braves started in 1982 when the team broke the record for most wins to start a season (13). I fell in love with the team and my role model became Dale Murphy.
In Murphy's illustrious career, he won 2 MVP's, many gold gloves and won several awards for his kindness and generosity off the field. Sadly, Murphy never won a playoff game.
In the 90's, Braves mania became huge in Atlanta and all around the country thanks to TBS and a young group of players who played with heart and tenacity. Sadly, the Braves only won one title in those years. I got to go to the game where they won it all in 1995 against the Cleveland Indians.
In the 2000's, the team won for a few more years before slowing falling into mediocrity as the Philadelphia Phillies took over the NL East. The Braves were bought by a big corporation called Liberty Media from AOL/Time Warner and went from one of the highest payrolls in baseball to one stuck in the middle.
The team can't spend the money it once could and has the 4th lowest payroll in its own division. The Mets would be ahead of them too had it not been for a man by the name of Bernie Madoff.
The Braves have not won a playoff series since they beat the Houston Astros in the division series in 2001. They have lost 6 playoff series in a row and almost always seem to lose the final game at home.
Last year the Braves did something even worse. They blew a 9 game lead in the final month of the season to the Cardinals in one of the worst collapses in baseball history. Of course, the Cardinals went on to win the World Series.
This year's team has been very streaky. They may win 6 in a row and then lose 5 in a row. I would rank them the 4th best team in the NL behind the Nationals, Reds and Giants.
This year, once again, the team is struggling to find their identity. The best players on the team have been Kimbrel, Beachy (who is out now sadly), Medlen, Simmons, Heyward and Freeman. The big disappointments have been Uggla, McCann and Hanson.
So what does this team need to do to be successful and not squander another lead?
I believe there are 5 main things:
1. Make productive outs. In other words, move runners over, score runs when there is a runner at third with less than 2 outs. Make contact.
2. Go to the following 5 man rotation. 1) Medlen, 2) Hudson, 3) Minor, 4) Maholm and 5) Sheets/Hanson.
3. Play Uggla and get his confidence back. Dan Uggla has been horrible this year but in order to win in the postseason we will need a solid Dan Uggla rather than a boring Paul Janish. Simmons will be our SS. If Uggla continues to struggle, I think they should have Prado at 2B and put Reed Johnson in LF.
4. Stop moving Heyward down in the lineup. I think there needs to be one lineup against lefties and one against righties but I believe Heyward is good enough that you keep him at the 3 spot regardless.
5. Get a hyperbaric chamber for Chipper. He needs to be healthy for us to win. This team feeds off of him and the guy is pretty clutch.
Now that it's September I will update this blog regularly about my feelings concerning the Braves.
Will this team make the playoffs?
Will they win a series?
Will they win THE series?
We'll know in a few months.