Five Questions With "Talking Chop": Cubs/Braves Series Preview

I haven't done this in a while, but Martin Gandy ("gondeee") from our SBN Braves site Talking Chop asked me to share five questions about our respective teams. Below are his responses to my questions. Here are my answers to his.

Q: The Braves made 14 straight postseasons... and now it's been three years without. What's that like as a fan? Do you have less interest now? Do you have realistic hope for a postseason return this year?

A: Three straight years without has made many fans, including me, realize how special and rare the 14 straight division wins was. It also made us realize just how many things had to go right year after year, as for the past three years, one thing and then something else has gone wrong.

In 2006 it was the bullpen that collapsed, so we responded by getting Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano. In 2007, it was the offense that couldn't produce, so we responded by trading the farm for Mark Teixeira. In 2008, it was the starting pitching that fell apart due to injuries, so we responded by getting Javier Vazquez, Derek Lowe, and Kenshin Kawakami. I guess I'm just waiting to see what it will be this year. At least the Braves are a team whose management tries to correct the team's problems (I think the Cubs are that kind of team as well).

Q: Tom Glavine. I mean, seriously, Tom Glavine? He's got all his milestones. Why isn't he enjoying his retirement?

A: Why did Rickey Henderson play so long? Or Julio Franco? Why are Jamie Moyer and Randy Johnson still pitching in their mid-40's? Some guys just don't want to stop playing baseball. I think Glavine wants to end his career on his own terms, and he's just not ready to do that yet.

Q: What's the biggest positive surprise for the Braves this year? What's the biggest negative surprise?

A: To be honest, it's kind of hard to find a positive "surprise" on the Braves this year. Maybe it's just that I have such high expectations for all of these guys (maybe it's that there really hasn't been one). If I had to pick one it would be Jair Jurrjens. When he came over from Detroit for Edgar Renteria, not many people thought he was more than a mid-to-lower end of the rotation starter. He proved them wrong last year by having an excellent rookie campaign. This off-season a lot of people didn't think he could repeat that good year, but so far he's exceeded his production from last year and has essentially been the Braves' ace.

The biggest negative "surprise?" Again, a lot of the negatives have been expected, even Jeff Francoeur's demise was generally accepted. I was surprised that the Braves did not get a big bat to round out their off-season acquisitions. This is not really a seasonal surprise, but here we are two months in and I guess I'm still surprised that of our three starting outfielders, none of them have an OPS over .652, and the team hasn't done anything about that. It's pretty infuriating to watch these guys struggle and know that they are dragging the entire offense down.

Q: Is Jair Jurrjens really this good?

A: Yes. When you listen to the announcers talk about him and the way he approaches pitching and thinks about pitching, and then you see the way he can execute that on the mound, you realize that he is a special pitcher. One that is as gifted as he is hard working and smart. I think it might take a year or two for people to call him an ace, but he's an ace in the Tom Glavine mold -- not too much overpowering stuff, but an overpowering command of the game.

Q: What Cubs player would you like to have on the Braves?

A: Fukudome's on fire right now, so I'd probably take the hot bat, but I've always liked Reed Johnson (and kind of wish the Braves had made a play for him last year). Obviously, Aramis when he's healthy is a middle of the order force. I must say that the Cubs don't have anyone I really covet, but I'd take your third best hitting outfielder in a heartbeat.
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