The Dawg House
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  Last night the Atlanta Braves ended a 9 game losing streak by beating the Houston Astros 4-2. Atlanta relied on their rising stars heavily to end the losing streak, as Tommy Hanson pitched 8 strong innings and rookie Jason Heyward hit a tie-breaking 2-run HR in the 3rd inning. The win last night broke the longest losing streak for the Braves since dropping 10 straight in 2006. While there have been a few games during the streak where pitching was the problem, the majority of the issues for the Braves this year have been hitting. 

   Numerous Braves starters have struggled this season, including Troy Glaus and Melky Cabrera, two players the Braves added during the offseason. Hitting has been the Braves biggest issue since 2006, the first season since 1990 that the team didn't win their division. It seems no matter who goes out to pitch, the Braves' hitters cannot manufacture enough runs to help them get the W. Last year's star pitcher Javier Vazquez, now with the Yankees, went 15-10 with a 2.87 ERA and 238 strikeouts. However, Vazquez could have easily won 20 games if Atlanta could have produced any runs. No matter who the Braves sign, from Raul Mondesi to Garrett Anderson to now Troy Glaus, no answer can be found for consistent hitting. Heyward looks to be a long-term answer, but something needs to happen now. This season will affect the future of most of the Atlanta Braves, seeing as Bobby Cox is retiring after the year. The man with the most to lose by the way the Braves play this season isn't a pitcher or an outfielder; it's hitting coach Terry Pendleton, a candidate to replace Cox as manager.

  Pendleton, now in his 10th season as Braves hitting coach, has been rumored to be a candidate for managerial positions elsewhere. In 2006 it was reported that Pendleton was a candidate to replace Frank Robinson as Washington's manager, a position that later went to Manny Acta. A couple of years ago Pendleton's name came up again, this time in St. Louis. Rumor had gotten around that Tony La Russa was going to retire, opening the door for Pendleton, a former Cardinals' star. However, La Russa decided to stay, and Pendleton remained with the Braves. It looks pretty clear that Pendleton is staying in Atlanta to have a shot at the managerial position. In my eyes, Atlanta needs to get a lot better on the hitting side of the game for his hiring to be a no-brainer.

  So, what moves should Atlanta make to improve hitting? Honestly, there isn't much you can do except bench guys who are consistently struggling. That's right, I'm talking to you, Troy Glaus. It's way too early to be looking at trades, but it's never a bad idea to listen around the league for disgruntle stars with big bats that want out of their current situation. Bobby Cox has worked his butt off to take the Atlanta Braves from a last-place team every year to playoff contenders. Therefore, let's try to make his last season as Braves' manager a memorable one.    

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