Here Come The Braves!
[June 28th] - Don't look now, but objects in your rear view mirror are closer than they appear. After a week of having a comfortable lead in the National League Eastern division, Washington has found themselves sliding from 5 games up on the Phillies to 2.5 games ahead of the surging Atlanta Braves. Now, don't get me wrong; it's not the Nationals' fault. They have won three of their last four series, going 7-5 during that span. Rather, It's the Braves, who it looks like they are beginning their annual "30-10" spurt that usually ends with them 6 games in the lead. That the Braves are doing it is not unusual. That the Braves are doing it with players most baseball fans have never head of is.
Ranger Langerhans. Kelly Johnson. Pete Orr. Wilson Benemit. Jorge Sosa. Kyle Davies. Who are these guys? Using a rag-tag team consisting of minor leaguers and major league retreads, the Braves are beating everybody right now, and beating them soundly at that. Langerhans, if given 500 at bats, would end the year at .250-23-86. Kelly Johnson would come close to those numbers as well. Wilson Benemit is hitting .327 filling in for Chipper Jones. And the scary part is that all of those veteran Braves players will start coming off the disabled list very soon. The Braves will then have two starters at several positions and a whole slew of quality starting pitchers to throw at their opponents.
So, is there any good news coming from Atlanta? Yes. Braves GM John Scherholtz has made it clear that there is not a single dollar to spend on acquiring new players, while the Nationals can likely add $5-7 million in payroll for the right player or players.
This is will be interesting to watch. Can the Nationals youthful demeanor withstand the charging Braves? Will the Braves have enough in them to catch, and then pass the Nationals? As the way the Nats team stands today, I'd have to say that the Braves could very well push pass them at some point. But remember, we start getting our disabled list entourage back very soon. And if Bowden trades for pitching, one great pitcher, two good pitchers, then the Nats will be in the hunt until the final week.
Pennant race in Washington. Amazing.