Welcome to baseball’s postseason …
… in other cities.
The Braves’ season officially ended Sunday. It unofficially ended months ago, or more likely last winter when team executives John Hart and John Coppolella took a sledgehammer to the roster and then tried to make it look all pretty. (Quoting my handyman: “Spackle and paint, where the inspector ain’t.”)
I’ll have a column posted later on my view of the team’s future after day-after conversations with Hart, Coppolella and manager Fredi Gonzalez. UPDATE: Here’s a link to the column.
Until then, as a sort-of public service to doubled-over local baseball fans, I decided to pick through the postseason rosters and give you something to maybe cheer about in baseball’s playoffs.
Because, yes, it seems some former Braves are doing quite well.
• A.L. wild card (tonight): Houston at N.Y. Yankees: While the Braves went through the season watching Christian Bethancourt struggle and a 38-year-old intended backup, A.J. Pierzynski, starting 105 games, this series will feature Atlanta’s popular links to the past: Brian McCann vs. Evan Gattis. McCann led the Yankees with 94 RBI, was third in home runs and fifth in OPS (on-base percentage and slugging percentage), Gattis (a.k.a. El Oso Blanco), primarily a designated hitter now, led the Astros in both home runs (27) and RBI (88), which isn’t bad for a guy making only $526,500, which again makes you wonder why Hart and Coppolella felt a need to get rid of him. But that’s another story. Former Braves and Georgia Tech first baseman Mark Teixeira is out of the playoffs for the Yankees with a fractured shin.
• N.L. wild card (Wednesday): Chicago Cubs at Pittsburgh: This doesn’t quite have the ex-Braves’ marquee value of the other game. The Cubs have backup catcher David Ross and utility infielder Tommy La Stella, who was traded to Chicago for pitcher Arodys Vizcaino (and three international signing bonus slots). Vizcaino was sent to Gwinnett and then was suspended 80 games for failing a test for performance-enhancing drugs. So, yeah. (UPDATE: To be fair, Vizcaino was impressive when he got out of baseball time-out: 3-1, 1.60 ERA.) Pitcher Charlie Morton (9-9, 4.81), a former maligned young Brave, has been in Pittsburgh for a while now but struggled down the stretch of the season.
• A.L. Divisional Series (Thursday): Texas at Toronto. The Rangers still have the final major remnant of the Teixeira trade, shortstop Elvis Andrus, who led the team in stolen bases (25) and games (160) and ranked third in hits (154) and fifth in RBI (62). Toronto, which won the American League East, is Brave-less.
• A.L. Divisional Series (Thursday): Wild card at Kansas City: Former Braves’ utility man (and All-Star) Omar Infante has been struggling most of the season with a bone spur in his elbow, though he recently received a cortisone injection and is expected to play. On the bench: Jonny Gomes, who provided the Braves’ season highlight when entered a relief pitcher. On the mound: The popular Kris Medlen, who was not re-signed after his second Tommy John surgery but is 6-2 with a 4.01 ERA in 15 appearances (eight starts).
• N.L. Divisional Series (Friday): N.Y. Mets at L.A. Dodgers. The Mets were on the other side of one of the most illogical trades the Braves made this season, getting utility players Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson for two after-thought minor leaguers. Uribe hasn’t been nearly as effective a hitter in New York (.219) as he was in Atlanta (.285). Johnson provided an early spark (hitting a home run in his Mets debut) but wound up hitting .250 (five homers, 13 RBIs) in 49 games. New York also has outfielder Eric Young Jr., who was a Brave for five minutes, and acquired reliever Eric O’Flaherty (from Oakland) in August. The Braves’ oft-debated Hector Olivera trade with the Dodgers meant parting with starting pitcher Alex Wood and reliever Luis Avilan. Wood, solid in Atlanta, has struggled in L.A. (5-6, 4.35). But he was strong in his final start of the regular season (two runs, five hits, seven innings). Avilan (0-1, 5.17 in 23 appearances) has been awful
• N.L. Divisional Series (Friday): Wild card at St. Louis. Things are working out nicely in St. Louis for Jason Heyward, whom Hart traded for pitcher Shelby Miller. He’s not hitting a ton of home runs but he is doing everything else, hitting a career-high .293 with 23 stolen bases, 33 doubles, 13 homers, 60 RBIs and obviously playing great defense.
The Braves have company on the sideline. The San Diego Padres, with former Braves closer Craig Kimbrel and outfielders Justin Upton and Melvin/B.J. Upton, had a disaster of a season. So there won’t be any postseason hauntings from them.
•Recent ramblings • Overeaction Monday: Now is not time to make decision on Richt • Falcons 4-0, Freeman 7 TDs — who didn’t see that coming? • Short takes: An easy Falcons win, and this is a team to take seriously • Richt and Georgia fall off stage again when it matters most • Short takes: Georgia’s reality check — there’s a problem at quarterback • Georgia needs win over Alabama to alter perceptions • Weekend Predictions: Nothing sinister here – Dogs over Bama • Georgia hired Jeremy Pruitt for games like this • Nationals are a more attractive mess than the Braves • Overreaction Monday: Georgia may be 4-0 but season starts now • Georgia now can prepare for opponent that matters most: Alabama • Short takes on Georgia’s win over Southern • Weekend Predictions: Lilly takes the lead and likes Falcons • Falcons’ fourth-quarter fizzles absent so far under Dan Quinn • Braves have been more adept at building off field than on it • Overreaction Monday: Are things as they seem with Falcons, Dogs, Jackets? • Georgia chases away Spurrier demons with dominating performance • Short takes: Lambert says, ‘I just had to go through a rough patch’ • Georgia can’t blow game, Tech can’t blow chance • Tech over Irish, Georgia over South Carolina (but not by 17) • Tech has something Georgia would like — comfort at quarterback position • An impressive opening by Dan Quinn’s new Falcons • Short takes: Gruden praises Falcons’ defense after win • Georgia looks like a shaky 2-0 with its passing game • Short takes: Another Georgia win but QB issues continue • Weekend Predictions: I can’t block this Falcons’ upset from my brain • Poll: I say 9 wins for Falcons, national media mixed, what say you? • Falcons’ late roster scramble not a good sign • Fredi Gonzalez needs to make more of his losing hand • Lambert good but didn’t do enough to cement starting job • Lambert, lightning and the joy of Keith Marshall • Kennesaw State’s little startup off to a dazzling start • Weekend Predictions: Dogs, Jackets roll, Spurrier escapes, Petrino goes down • Falcons won Julio Jones trade but would like to forget 2012 draft