After letting the most recent 5-0 loss to the Dodgers soak in, along with the end of a seven-consecutive-series win streak, I feel as if I’m calm enough to write about the Braves. I mean, the fact the Braves couldn’t catch a fly ball, and Braves radio kept mentioning the sun, played a factor. It just makes me wonder why the Braves couldn’t capitalize on the same advantage the Dodgers had just an inning ago. Anyway, I’m done ranting about that. Let’s get down to some good stuff.
Brian McCann goes 0-for-3 to drop his season line to .227/.304/.419. Ouch.
McCann needs to rest, in fact, maybe a DL stint would help. His hitting is atrocious lately and apparently it’s an injury that’s causing the struggle. He told reporters he’s fine to play but did acknowledge the injury to his shoulder, apparently bad enough that decisions will be made after the season on whether or not to have surgery. He even became upset about not playing and vented those frustrations to reporters. Dude, it’s two games. Relax. But we know it’s hard to relax when you’re in a 4-for-36 funk and making $11.5MM this year. Yeah, he has four hits in August. That’s it. In fact, he’s due for a big September. The worse his previous month was, the better his next is. Here, take a look:
April: .229/.295/.386 with three homers and nine RBIs.
May: .263/.349/.447 with four homers and 19 RBIs.
June : .193/.245/.330 with two homers and seven RBIs. Wow.
July : .296/.354/.704 with nine homers and 21 RBIs.
August: .111/.289/.111 (yes, that’s a correct slugging percentage!) with zero homers and only one freakin’ RBI. One!
It’s obvious he’s hurt. Braves staff have said the injury causes pain to his swing and he’s now altering or having a glitch in his swing to curb the pain. It’s not what the Braves staff want, which is why they want to give him a few days here and there to keep the pain to a minimum. Less pain, better swing. Why doesn’t Brian understand that? Does he not understand playing through pain that alters your play only hurts the team? See, last year the Braves suffered when Jason Heyward played through plain. His numbers weren’t good and he struggled. It hurt the team, but the team had no alternatives that actually made sense. The Braves do with McCann. David Ross is a great fill-in and can split the roles with McCann until he’s feeling better and getting his swing back. McCann is already batting in the seventh position, he needs to rest. Not doing us any good down there in the order. I would be all for him getting some rest and then coming back strong for the September push. He was a big reason the Braves lost it last year, batting .200 in the second half and a horrible September. The Braves need his bat and ever so much next year, but for the Braves to head to the postseason and make it past round one, they need either him or Dan Uggla to step up.
Will the Braves buyout McCann after the season?
Perhaps McCann is struggling and angry about not playing because he fears his 2013 option won’t be picked up and he’ll loose money on the open market if he can’t prove he’s healthy. The Braves hold a $12MM option on McCann with a $500K buyout if they chose to do so. They also have two very good prospects in Christian Bethancourt and Evan Gattis. Bethancourt doesn’t have much power but does provide great defense with a solid average. Gattis had a huge 2011 (22 HR, .322 AVG) and a very impressive spring training. He was doing very well this year (check out this article comparing him to Josh Hamilton) up until he was hurt, but he’s back now and trying to find his stroke, as well, batting around .240 since he returned.
Point is, the Braves have a decision to make. They need to keep Michael Bourn. They need him to stay more than anything to stay. They don’t have much in the pipeline as far as leadoff or CF talent, so it makes sense he should be a priority. They will have some money coming off the books with Chipper, Derek Lowe, and Jair Jurrjens but with raises to some arbitration eligibles, it would still be tight to sign Bourn and take care of other needs (either LF or 3B). Perhaps letting McCann go would make the most sense as Gattis could equal the production at a significant discount.