Paging Frank Wren

It’s not all your fault. Unlike the flabbergasted Bill Bavasi in Seattle, you actually built a pretty good team this offseason. Many pieces were in place, but you had to know that while strong, the team was built on a shaky, 40 year old foundation. Surely you have a backup plan in place, right? If so, I think now’s the time to enact said plan.

Something has to be done. The team is playing pitifully. Do you know how many runs the average team scores with the bases loaded and no one out? 2.15 runs. That’s average. That means some teams have scored 4 or even 5 runs in innings like that, probably balancing out the hapless Braves. Now, am I saying this team is incapable of scoring those 2.15 runs that the average team could score in that situation? Not at all. Am I saying they wouldn’t score them tomorrow if the same situation came up? Not at all. I’m simply saying they didn’t score them today, and it seems in line with everything else that’s been happening with this team lately. To Atlanta, tied means losing. When tied entering the 7th, Atlanta is 2-6. When tied entering the 8th, we’re 4-7. When tied entering the 9th, we’re 2-6. In extra innings, we’re now 1-7. This can’t stand.

I’m a pretty analytical guy. You won’t see me writing about how a team needs more heart, more fire, or more grittiness. I don’t believe anyone can will their team to victory and I don’t think team chemistry is real important. But right now, it seems that this team is suffering from more psychological issues than any other team in the game. They just don’t have any confidence, and while I don’t think confidence alone wins games, I do think it’s a requisite for being able to properly execute the things that do win games. Bobby Cox can pep talk them all day and night, but Bobby Cox’ pep talks won’t help ease the stress of making up for John Smoltz’ shoulder, Tom Glavine’s elbow, or Jair Jurrjens’ ankle. Things are falling apart pretty quickly, and this team needs help right now, not on July 31.

It takes a big man to admit he’s wrong, which probably explains why most general managers either blame the players or manager (see: Bavasi) or simply proclaim they’re astounded when things don’t go the way they planned. That’s why most are too stubborn to make the necessary changes until the trade deadline, at zero hour. For Atlanta’s season, zero hour is nearing. Not only is the wild card easily in sight, this division is still very winnable. Now isn’t the time to sit idly by while things slip from our grasp.

They need some help, and by help, I don’t mean another call-up from Richmond, I don’t mean a waiver pick-up from Seattle. This team needs something important, a move to rally around that will lift a little of the load off their shoulders. This team needs a veteran starting pitcher and a veteran bat. There are two teams equipped with both, have no shot of competing this year, and should be looking to deal.

Seattle is 24-42, already a ridiculous 16 ½ games out of first. They’re already looking to 2009. However, there are some gems to be found. Raul Ibanez is a relatively cheap veteran hitter who could really boost the plate discipline and performance of the offense. If we’re willing to take on Jarrod Washburn’s contract for next year, I bet a pair of mid-level prospects could get the deal done. We could retain our top prospects and land some players who could really help the team and soon. Washburn has a scary 6.00 ERA, but that ERA is misleading as he’s mismatched in Seattle and could flourish in Atlanta. Here’s a guy who really isn’t pitching any fundamentally different than he did last year, but he’s suffering due to Seattle’s horrendous defense. Atlanta, conversely, has one of the best defenses in the majors. Washburn isn’t an ace, but he still has his command, can let the defense make plays, and could thrive with a change of scenery.

San Diego is 29-38, in 4th place, and falling out of the race. While Greg Maddux is a tempting reunion, complete with all the warm fuzzies that come along with having the big three on the same roster, the Padres should be willing to unload Randy Wolf, and right now he’s a better pitcher. He’s cheaper and is a free agent at year’s end. Brian Giles is the sort of impact veteran bat that could really save this team. He’s as patient and smart a hitter as Chipper or Tex. He isn’t going to hit many home runs, but he will help the offense by constantly being on base. Make the other pitcher throw more pitches, get to the middle relievers. That’s how this team can get its confidence back. Start winning 1 run games rather than losing them.

Whether it’s Washburn, Wolf, Maddux, Giles, Ibanez, or someone else, this team needs an influx of not only talent but confidence. This teams needs something, and it isn’t a pep talk from Bobby Cox. My only hope is that we don’t have to wait until July 31 to get the help we need. You give a man medicine when he’s sick, not when he’s dead.

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