Full disclosure: I planned on scribbling a post out concerning the Braves’ National League East chances before Tommy Bennett’s beard stole my thought and wrote its own piece on the matter. Since Bennett is smarter and more poignant, I switched my style up and will instead focus on the Braves’ reliance on medical tape.
The two feelings Bobby Cox is most familiar with are those of a crimson-flushed face and the sweetness of a baseball victory. Cox is the all-time leader in managerial ejections and fourth in managerial victories. Some would suggest Cox’s face should blush at the reality of the Braves’ run of excellence that included 14 straight division titles, 5 National League pennants, and a World Series victory. One hit in fourteen tries? Bobby Cox has benched players for less.
Such a streak is one we may never see again. Something else we may never see again after this season is Cox managing a baseball team. Joe Torre’s biggest nemesis during the 1990s has announced his intentions to retire from managing following the season. From which, Cox will ostensibly move into a comfy consulting job with the Braves. The retirement party might not take place until late October if the Braves live up to their potential, or perhaps more appropriately, stay healthy.
Perception suggests that Atlanta is dependent on injured players to the level of which T-Pain is tied to his autotuner. But maybe that’s off. After all, Billy Wagner missed most of 2009 and Takashi Saito’s elbow is a science fair project gone mundane, but the two relievers they are replacing (Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez) combined to miss most of three seasons over the last two years. Other key players like Troy Glaus, Tim Hudson and Chipper Jones are guys awfully familiar with their health insurance plans too.
The Braves have roughly $34M tied into those five, so serious time on the disabled list would be an issue beyond simply losing their best players. They are no strangers to this phenomenon however. Beyond the Boxscore compiled the seasons with the most salary lost by time spent on the DL and Atlanta’s 2008 season ranked third while their 2006 season ranked nineteenth.
CHONE still has the Braves edging the competition in the N.L. East and doing so despite modest playing time projections. Chipper is projected at 531 plate appearances (his previous three-year low is 534); Glaus at 462 (32, 637, and 456 since 2007); Wagner at 37 innings; Saito at 51; and Tim Hudson at 114. Hard to claim those are unreasonable, if anything they might be too conservative.
When it does come for Cox to walk away, there’s a chance the wheelchair in the clubhouse isn’t for him. There’s also a chance the division title crown is.
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