Welcome to another edition of Chatter Up! This time around we will be discussing two teams right in the middle of things in the NL East, The Atlanta Braves Vs. The Florida Marlins.
Answering our Questions about the Braves we have Conor Tapp from “The Braves Baseball Blog”
Q: Are the Braves beginning to worry at all about the lack of production they are getting out of their long time All Star Chipper Jones?
A: With Chipperâ€™s, umâ€¦ advancing age, this kind of continued decline in health and productivity should be expected. In the off-season, I was an advocate of moving Chipper to first to see if that would keep him healthy and signing a defense-first third baseman to go with the Bravesâ€™ groundball-heavy pitching staff, but thatâ€™s not the path Frank Wren chose to take. Still, with a wOBA of .334, Chipper hasnâ€™t been terribleÂ when heâ€™s able to play. I wouldnâ€™t sweat the .226 BA. That will be up in the .280s by the end of the season.
Q: Do you envision Jason Heyward continuing his early success to help carry the load offensively for the Braves?
A: Yes, but Iâ€™d expect a near-term decline or at least leveling of his performance. Is that answer a cop-out? Yes. Does it also happen to be true? Also yes.
Q: Although Tim Hudson seems to have returned to ace form, are the braves worried about the early struggles of Jair Jurrjens and how he will Perform once he returns from the DL?
A: Allow me to use this opportunity to declare that Tim Hudson has not returned to ace form. He has issued 23 unintentional walks to 26 strikeouts in 60 innings. That 65% groundball rate is covering up those warts, but I wouldnâ€™t expect Hudson to be so fortunate all season long barring some sort of improvement. As far as Jurrjens goes, Iâ€™m worried about the heavy workload he has been asked to bear over the past couple of seasons and the effect that might have on his health and performance. Kris Medlen offers a nice short-term (and possibly long-term) solution and might even be better than Jurrjens. As for the long view, with Julio Teheran and Arodys Vizcaino shredding minor league batters, Jurrjens is probably going to be a #4 starter for this club 2-3 years down the road. So while Jurrjensâ€™ issues are troublesome as far as Jair is concerned, the Braves as a whole will survive with or without him.
Q: Do you believe this weekâ€™s Matchup between the Braves and Marlins will give us some good insight as to who the stronger team is in this Divisional Race?
A: I think it will give us a clear picture of who might win a three game series if these two teams played in May.
Q: Are the players feeling any added pressure to win this season knowing this is Bobby Coxâ€™s final year as Manager?
A: I have no idea. I guess some of the veterans might sweat over it when theyâ€™re lying awake in bed at night, but I doubt it enters their thought process when theyâ€™re on the field.
Answering our questions concerning the Florida Marlins we have Chris Tower of “FishGuts Blog”
Q: With the Marlins playing the Braves and their young super star Jason Hewyard, How long will it be till the Marlins bring up their own future star in Mike Stanton?
A: From what I understand, the Marlins are likely waiting until the Super Two arbitration deadline passes, much in the same way the Nats are with Strasburg. Strasburg’s ETA is 6/4 or something around then, but with Stanton it’s a little more complicated.
The Marlins have Chris Coghlan, last year’s rookie of the year, and Cameron Maybin, a big part of the Miguel Cabrera both struggling in the outfield right now, so they have to figure out which one will be replaced when Stanton comes up. That’s the biggest question, so I think they’ll wait until the interleague series at Tampa Bay in June to call him up, that way they get a couple of DH series to get all three in the lineup and see which two stick. My guess is he’ll but up no later than a week after Strasburg.
Q: What is going to be the Marlins Key to keep in this Division race as the season goes on?
A: Starting pitching. The starters have, for the most part, been phenomenal this year, especially over the last 5 weeks, where they have something like a sub 3.5 ERA collectively. If that keeps up, the offense will figure itself out and they’ll go grab a left handed relief pitcher to shore up the bullpen.
Q:Â How has both Hanley and the team handled the situation since his benching and team apology?
A: Hanley’s relationship with the team doesn’t seem any more stressed than it had been before. Hanley has had these situations before, he’s just immature, and you have to learn to live with it. He’s living proof that someone who is great at the sport doesn’t necessarily have to be a great role model or a great face for the franchise. He just wants to play the game, and that’s fine for me. Not everyone is Derek Jeter.
Q:Â Do you see any difference in this Marlins team compared to the last few seasons where they can make a real push for a playoff spot?
A: Go back to question 2. The starting pitching goes 4 deep with quality that are pitching very well, and Nate Robertson is kind of a perfect upper tier NL #5 pitcher. they are going deep into games, and so it’s letting the bullpen pitch in spots, rather than out of need, and it’s helping a lot. The bullpen has battened down since a rocky start. That being said, I’m still not sure it’s a playoff team. Stanton’s going to go a long way in making me think they are. If he goes Jason Heyward on the league, the Marlins can be very scary.
5)Â Does Fredi Gonzalez have full support from the Marlins organization for the way he handled the Hanley situation?
A: 100%, from the beginning. They were very public in supporting Fredi’s choice, no matter what. Pretty much every fan and writer supported him too. He handled it perfectly.
Special Thanks to both Conor Tapp and Chris Tower for their help this week.
To read more about these teams check out their blogs
Braves Baseball Blog
Fish Guts Blog