News - Snake-eyes
It's a crapshoot
Baseball's postseason, that is. That's what Braves manager Bobby Cox has been saying every year for the last 10 years. This year, it was less a crapshoot than it was plain old crap. Against the Cardinals, the Braves were outhit, outpitched, outplayed and outmanaged. In the clubhouse Saturday afternoon, the Braves' transition from winners to losers was surprisingly easy. They knew better than anyone how poorly they had played, principally because they couldn't get over having blown the final game of the regular season.
But let's not think about that now.
Let's think about which of the Braves' free agents will be on this team next season. For instance:
Should the Braves pick up the option on John Smoltz's contract? Don't be ridiculous. You can never have too much pitching. Especially starting pitching. Never.
Should the Braves go after the Mets' Mike Hampton, who'll be a free agent? What makes you think he'd rather be here? Remember, being a Brave doesn't automatically mean a trip to the World Series anymore. And if they bring him in, what do they do with Kevin Millwood? His future is brighter. And there's more of it. For less money.
Speaking of a brighter future for less money: Jason Marquis. The Braves used him out of the bullpen, but he should be a starter; he's got the stuff and the guts.
Should the Braves re-sign Terry Mulholland? He can pitch in every situation. Might as well bring him to camp until the Braves' young relievers prove they can get the job done without him. That should happen about the All-Star break.
John Burkett? Ditto.
Who's on first? Should the Braves re-sign Andres Galarraga? Wally Joyner? This is a tricky one. Galarraga is an asset with the young Latin players, and that's worth something. And he hits for power early in the season. Joyner is a better all-around hitter, though.
What's up up the middle? Quilvio Veras is the one free agent the Braves absolutely must sign. Let Walt Weiss retire and give Mark DeRosa a shot as a back-up infielder; Keith Lockhart's most productive days are behind him.
Reggie Sanders? No. Ten-to-one he never has another season as bad as this one, and he was unfailingly pleasant while he was flailing away at the plate. But it's time to play George Lombard and determine once and for all whether he's a major-leaguer.
Bobby Bonilla? Clutch off the bench — most of the time — and he'll play for the minimum.
Oh, and for those Braves executives and players who say they can't be expected to feel the same intensity for their ninth postseason appearance that they felt for their first, two words:
FIDO — Shorthand for the Falcons' motto this season: Forget It, Drive On. Good choice, since they're playing like dogs.
13.09 — Earned run average of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Kevin Millwood versus St. Louis in the Division Series.
This week's abuser — It didn't get much attention because the Devil Rays are so bad, but pitcher Brian Rekar was arrested for punching out his wife, Jamie, in a Chicago hotel room.
The men in cream — Umpires have debuted new uniforms they designed themselves, in conjunction with Major League baseball: black jackets and caps, sage gray slacks, cream shirts.
20-24 — The postseason pitching record of Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine.
Fantasy league — Who would you rather have on your team: Andruw Jones or Jim Edmonds?