* Tim Hudson looked incredible Monday night against the Cubs. That's the ace-type pitcher we were looking for when we made the trade with the A's last December. With Smoltz being Smoltz and Hudson showing that he's getting in gear, the main thing we have to worry about is Mike Hampton and John Thomson. If those two can get it going, this team could be very dangerous in the playoffs.
* Ok, I admit it. I cringed when I saw Johnny Estrada in the lineup Monday. I like Johnny; I really do. But the bottom line is someone brought up from the minors has just turned out to be better than him. Brian McCann is the best catcher on the Braves roster, but yet he'll probably become a backup now that Estrada is back. Would Bobby Cox put them more into a platoon situation, allowing McCann to hit against most righties and Estrada, a switch hitter, to hit against lefties? We can only hope.
* Hmm. So Kyle Farnsworth was going to come in if Hudson got in trouble. Now that is interesting. Perhaps Cox will give Farns a chance to close, putting Reitsma back in his normal role as the setup guy. Look, this is why they brought up Devine: to see if they can shake out the bullpen over the next five weeks. That might involve seeing if Farns is better suited to be the closer. Why not? I think he might just be terrific. If he could become the closer and Reitsma and Devine were the main setup guys, that could be a dangerous bullpen. All three can throw in the mid-upper 90s and all three have a devastating breaking ball.
* Brian Jordan made the trip to Chicago. Anybody know why exactly? I guess he'll get some AB's in September, but if Bobby Cox gives the vet playing time over the three rookie outfielders, count me as being really ticked. It's time for Brian to retire.
* The fans are really getting on Adam LaRoche, who is now 0-for-his-last-13. But how much better would Rochy be doing if he were playing everyday? I think he'd be a lot better. He'd have more than 20 homers and would have over 80 RBIs. But how can you complain about Julio, who turns 47 (we think) today. If you combine Rochy and Julio's numbers, you've got a MVP candidate: .273, 24 home runs, 105 RBI.
* Kyle Davies, just waiting in the wings in Richmond, won his fifth AAA game Monday night. Davies now has some pretty impressive numbers between Richmond and Atlanta: 11-5, 3.98, 139 hits allowed in 140.1 innings, 62 earned runs allowed, 72 walks, and 112 strikeouts. Are the numbers as dominant as his were last season? No. But this kid is still an awesome pitcher - one who will be in Atlanta's rotation for many years to come - eventually.
* Andy Marte hit his 18th home run Monday night. Don't forget about him. But no, I don't know how it's going to shake out.
* There goes James Jurries again. He hit his 21st home run Monday night. He also has 70 RBI and is doing ok in right field. If I were an American League GM, I'd be salivating at the chance to take him in the Rule V this December. The kid can hit.
* Scott Thorman has his AAA average up to .282. His overall numbers, between AA and AAA: .296, 21 home runs, and 88 RBI in 497 at bats. And no, I don't know how it's going to shake out with him either.
* For those of you worried about our bullpen in the future, don't. Look at how the draft picks from June have done so far in the minor leagues:
- Joey Devine (1st round - 1-1, 2.16 ERA, 22 games, 6 saves, 19 h - 25 ip, 6 er, 15 bb, 35 k)
- Will Startup (5th round - 2-1, 1.48 ERA, 21 games, 4 saves, 23 h - 30.1 ip, 5 er, 5 bb, 24 k)
- Tyler Bullock (6th round - 1-0, 3.31 ERA, 14 games, 2 saves, 12 h - 16.1 ip, 6 er, 10 bb, 14 k)
- Michael Nix (11th round - 2-2, 1.59 ERA, 19 games, 4 saves, 15 h - 22.2 ip, 9 er, 12 bb, 28 k)
- Rudy Quinonez (12th round - 1-0, 2.13 ERA, 22 games, 9 saves, 14 h - 25.1 ip, 6 er, 7 bb, 35 k)
- David Williams (37th round - 0-1, 0.86, 14 games, 7 saves, 9 h - 21 ip, 2 er, 4 bb, 27 k)
- TOTAL STATS (7 wins - 5 losses, 2.18 ERA, 111 games, 32 saves, 92 h - 140.2 ip, 34 er, 53 bb, 163 k)
Damn. Now that's pretty awesome. Guess we don't need any relievers - long-term or short-term.
* Charlie Morton did not figure in Rome's decision Monday night, but he continued his good work in August. As he did last season, the tall righty is finishing the season on a solid note. In his last four games, Morton is 2-1 with a 2.05 ERA, 14 hits allowed in 22 innings, 5 earned runs, 9 walks, and 15 strikeouts. Let's hope Charlie can carry it over to next season.
* The two solid arms that had to have Tommy John surgery last season are bouncing back nicely. Steve Russell has an ERA of 3.56 in his 12 games, with 29 hits allowed in 30.1 innings pitched, only 12 walks, and 33 strikeouts. And lefty Jo Jo Reyes, who was considered a top prospect before having the major surgery, is doing even better. Reyes is 2-1 in his 11 games (9 starts) with a 3.53 ERA, 39 hits in 43.1 innings, 17 earned runs, only 7 walks, and 31 strikeouts. If these two continue to come back strongly, they could be a part of the Myrtle Beach rotation in 2006.
* Seth Bobbitt, signed out of a tryout camp a few months ago, had a nice debut Monday in AA. He pitched two scoreless innings. The Braves may have found a diamond in the rough with this guy. This just smells like a success story waiting to happen.
* Anyone want to call Eric Campbell the MVP of the Appy League? I'll do it. He is 5th in the league in hitting (.321) and first in both home runs (17) and RBI (62). So much for thinking Campbell wasn't developing well in our system.
* Good grief we're loaded!
Bill Shanks will stop by with a blog a few times a week to share his thoughts on the Braves and their organization. He's busy promoting his new book, "Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team." You can purchase it online at amazon.com. Bill can be reached at email@example.com.
Shanks's Braves Blog
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