Stick with what you do best

Have you ever eaten at Po Folks Restaurant? Probably not, know why? The food sucks! Whispering Bill Anderson, Native Georgian and Grand Ole' Opry star and a huge Braves fan, should have stuck with singing and stayed out of the restaurant business.

Ever seen one of Cindy Crawford's movies? If you did you know the only good thing in the scenes is when she is sweaty. She's much better off staying on the runway at a Victoria Secret fashion show.

What do Bill Anderson and Cindy Crawford have in common with John Schuerholz? Glad you asked! They both got away from their core, and they tried something new when they were already successful. That's what our genius (and I do think John is a real genius - not using the sarcastic use of the word) has done.

Schuerholz's specialty is listening to his scouts and getting pitchers off of the junk heap and making them cogs in his 14-year-old pitching machine (or maybe the ghost of Leo Durocher comes to him in his sleep or something…whatever). But this year he went out and got two pitchers that their former teams actually wanted…God Forbid! What was he thinking!

No doubt everybody wanted Tim Hudson, and if he had any run support at all he would be somewhere around 8-2 now. But he also got Danny Kolb, who was good on a bad team. That's a lot different from being good on a very good team as we are finding out. JS tried to drink from a new well and it just didn't work out.

Ok, so some of you are saying he is batting .500 on his big acquisitions this year, but when you are picking starters and closers .500 is not going to get it, especially when your other finds were Brian Jordan and Raul Mondesi.

Dan Kolb is a big ol' boy for those of you who haven't seen him. And, I like great big pitchers, always have. I guess it is a Terry Forster complex or something. Big pitchers have big arms that usually don't have a problem lifting heavy forks or throwing tiny balls. Think about it, Nolan Ryan big, Roger Clemens big, John Smoltz big, Mark Wohlers and John Rocker…ok so maybe my theory has a couple of flaws. But they still could sling it hard. Dan Kolb…big, but he can't throw a baseball through the paper wall of a Japanese cathouse! JS should have known this.

Let's take a trip back in my time machine to last year. We had a kid named Ryan Ewin. He was tall! About 6'9", very rangy, not huge, but he threw junk. I thought he threw pretty good junk, but I was in the minority. He got sent home and is probably wishing he had lifted more forks. Kyle Bakker, anyone remember him? The Braves got him out of Georgia Tech last year and this kid was HUGE! Hands like tractor seats and fingers like kielbasa, but he threw a baseball like Shirley Temple (assuming Ms Temple has a curve ball that doesn't break). Now, I hear he is very successful in the world of business where the only thing we will ever throw is a little money to the Georgia Tech Athletic Department every now and then.

So, the question is, knowing that big pitchers throwing like Community College Freshmen do not work for this organization, why would he trade a big pitcher like Jose Capellan who did throw flames for Dan Kolb? Who knows? You know he was trying to do what was best, so of course I don't question his motives, but he should have looked at our history. I say cut our losses. Maybe Dan could fake an injury or something, have him and Brian Jordan star in a pay-per-view, the loser leaves town wrestling match and spend the money he makes on another bat.

After this road trip it should be obvious that we need at least one.

Ok, let's say John Schuerholz tells Dan Kolb to go room with Raul Mondesi, then what? Do we go the trade route again and get someone that other teams might actually want? Maybe. Billy Wagner is out there and available, but other teams like him so beware. The Braves could get him, but they would over pay, so guess what? They have the prospects to overpay. I just think it is too soon to pull the prospect trigger. Danny Graves would be cheaper, but he is coming off a rough time. So he might just be our guy (history people history!).

But I just don't think we need to trade for anyone…yet. First let's give the kids on the farm a chance. What will it hurt? Our bullpen is bad now; can the kids be any worse? I don't think so, and they might just be a huge improvement. Want a list? Ok, here it goes…in AAA Kevin Berry, Buddy Hernandez, Zach Miner, and Macay McBride (ok….not big, but he still has the hard throwing part down) every one of these kids looked great in the spring and struggled when they got to AAA. Why? Could it be they saw that no matter how good they did they would be in AAA until at least next year?

Competition is great; it breeds the kind of player that the Braves love, one with the makeup (Ok…I threw Shanks a bone so sue me) to be a big leaguer. But competition with no jobs at the top also breeds FRUSTRATION! And, that is what you are seeing in the organization now. Atlanta is at the point where they need to play the kids that have proven themselves or risk reducing value their value. No one wants to go out and bust their hump everyday knowing that the dream of playing in Atlanta is no closer in Richmond than in Rome. Give these kids some hope, because they are still kids.

They know what it's like in other organizations. They have to, they were in camp with John Foster, and now they have Trey Hodges to listen to. The thought of not being a Brave is getting to them. So give them their shot; if they give up three or four runs, send them back to the farm and bring up another one. At least we (yes I said we, so sue me again) would be losing with players who are homegrown. And I don't think we would lose.

The Braves raised these kids. They know what is expected of them better than anyone from the outside and they will rise to the occasion. They come from the pressure of the best pitching ever assembled in the minor leagues (go ahead, prove me wrong) and they are prepared. If that group of four doesn't work, then keep dipping. Double-A is ripe as well with Blaine Boyer (remember when we talked about big? 6'3" and a hard- thrower), Anthony Lerew, and Chuck James. Throw them in the fire and see what happens, and don't forget Matt Wright is another big ol' hard-thrower who will be around soon.

What's the worst that can happen, they get a taste of the bigs, see what its like, learn what it really takes and want to go back again? Or, one of them will step up and make it. This is what they were raised for, "The Big Time" in "The Show". This was the genius's plan - make your minor league pitching the best. He has done it. Now, he just needs to let the system he built work. Just about everything you have touched since you came to town has turned to gold John, so why would the pitchers your system grew be any different?

They won't. And that will allow us to say goodbye to Mr. Kolb.


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