|Photo by USA Today
By Steve Roney
All around baseball, buyers are looking for parts to add and finding few willing trade partners; the second wild card, still a new facet of the game, has widened not only the playoff field but also deepened the pool of teams who believe they have a shot. That likely doesn't apply to most of the NL East, however, as a recent tumble has made Philadelphia realize that it has no business making a run, and also-rans New York and Miami have been out for months already.
Atlanta Braves (61-45)
It's over-simplifying, a bit, to call Atlanta the division's only good team; it's also a pretty fair assumption to make after 100 games have been played. The Braves boast not only the East's only winning record, still, but now lead Washington by nine games. The fat lady isn't warming up her vocal chords just yet, but she's at least going over the sheet music. Atlanta added Scott Downs from the Angels, nabbing that left-handed relief that everyone is looking for at this point in the season and that they sorely needed with Venters and O'Flaherty sidelined. Do they need more help to make the playoffs? No. They should still contemplate a bat, because too many regulars are hitting around .200 for the Braves to truly feel like a championship-caliber club.
One player who is not swinging the cowhide-averse bats apparently favored by the Uptons and Dan Uggla is Chris Johnson, who has manned third base more than admirably for most of the season now. A throw-in at the time, he has been the most productive player acquired from Arizona over the winter, hitting a crisp .338. He offers almost no power for a third baseman, but a .377 OBP forgives a good deal of that.
Player of the Week: Johnson, 3B: 5 R, 0 HR, 1 RBI, .476 AVG
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