Posted: 10:44 pm Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

3 thoughts on the good-pitch, bad-hit Braves 

By Mark Bradley

Three (im)pertinent thoughts from the Atlanta Braves’ home opener —  a 4-0 loss to the last-place Mets.

1. The starting pitcher remains stellar, somehow. The journeyman Aaron Harang (career record: 111-117) yielded  two hits and one run in six innings after yielding two hits and no runs in 6 2/3 last week in Milwaukee. Those are quality starts, people, and they’re coming at a needed time, what with the Braves scrambling to fill out a rotation. Harang was maybe more impressive in this one than in his win over the Brewers, in which he carried a no-hitter into the seventh. He struck out nine Mets, and the only run he yielded was the result of a walk, a sacrifice and a wild pitch.

2. The hitting remains tepid. The Braves have lost three games. In those, they’ve scored a total of one run. On Tuesday they were shut out over seven innings by the aging heavyweight George Foreman … er, Bartolo Colon. He yielded six hits, five of them singles. The Braves pushed a runner to second base only twice against Colon, who’s 40 and is listed at 285 pounds. And even after the combustible Jose Valverde did his best to aid and abet the Braves in the ninth, yielding two hits and making a throwing error on what should have been a game-ending double play, the Braves couldn’t avail themselves. Gerald Laird popped out with the bases loaded, and then Jason Heyward flied out to deep center field to end it. Heyward went 0-for-5 and is batting .107.

3. Speaking of tepid, there’s B.J. Upton. He went 1-for-4 — yay, a two-out single! — and raised (that’s correct) his batting average to a lusty .139. He also raised his strikeout total to a team-leading 13. But what’s that you’re saying? That he’s in there for his glove? Not so fast, my friend. The Mets’ second and third runs came in a seventh inning that began with Travis d’Arnaud, who’d been 0-for-15 entering the game, lifting a ball into left-center. Justin Upton, who plays left field, wound up being the only Upton to give determined chase. B.J. Upton was content to back up the play, even though he appeared to have the better chance to make a play. It fell for a double.

From myajc.com, our premium site: Forty years later, Hank Aaron remains the greatest Brave.

B.J. Upton after striking out in the first inning. (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

B.J. Upton after striking out in the first inning. (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

106 comments
TideDawg
TideDawg

They really gave Schafer a chance last night. Bat him 8th in front of the pitcher  where he is sure to get good pitches. Don't put him in a game until the 8th game. That sucks. Now expect him to hit. That is really giving him a chance. Now sit him for another 7 games. Face it! The fans are stuck with BJ, no matter what he does.


The Braves put Schafer in the game to give BJ a rest........a rest from what, he hasn't done anything.


It appears that every move the Braves make is made to make it easier or to create more opportunities for BJ. That makes things worse than the money they are paying him.

ronaldtallon
ronaldtallon

BJ will start to hit in the last 2 months of his contract.


ronaldtallon
ronaldtallon

I say you gotta keep adjusting until you find people who can hit now, instead of later.   Also, Fredi needs to be a lot tighter on his relief pitching.   He about let last nights game get away by going too long with Walden.  Why ask your bellcow to come in with the bases loaded and bail Walden out?   I would have jerked him after he walked the leadoff man.   Every game is critical.  You might miss the playoffs by one game.   If you have a 4-0 lead with only 3 outs to go, you have to win that game.

gfw
gfw

FG left BJ in one game too many.  Getting Schafer in there is a no-brainer. 

Nashville Jeff
Nashville Jeff

Is he out of the lineup tonight or did he just get moved down in the order?

Nashville Jeff
Nashville Jeff

Just saw a blurb flash by on the MLB telecast that Simmons has been moved to the 2 hole for the Braves.  Maybe this will help get Freeman some rbi chances.  Heyward can't stay cold forever, especially w/ a better bat behind him.

Nashville Jeff
Nashville Jeff

Would somebody please tell the moron who calls himself FrediStupid that there aren't point spreads when betting on baseball.  Vegas lays odds as betting prices,i.e., $1.50 for the favorite,etc.  In case you don't understand(as you don't seem to understand anything reasonably said to you), this means if you pick the underdog you win $1.50 for every one dollar that you wager.  Pick the favorite(and they lose) you lose $1.50 for every dollar bet.  By the way, you should pick others besides Rick C. to argue with on your little blog travels.  That guy knows more about baseball than you could ever imagine.  He backs his opinions with accurate statistical information as well as reasonable analysis, as opposed to your brainless rants.  You should replace the "Fredi" in your blog name with your own.  Oh, and have a nice day.

LADawg
LADawg

If there is a bigger mess in all of baseball than BJ, I'd like to know who it is. I mean from the majors to the Satsuma, AL tee ball teams. A successful AB for BJ is making any kind of contact foul tip or otherwise. If he happens to get a hit it's a case of the blind monkey finding a peanut.

Personally, I believe Wren invested in a crackhead that needs to be in rehab for the help he needs. He has proven that all the swing gurus in the world cannot fix what is broken with BJ!

BravoDawg
BravoDawg

My 3 thoughts:

1. Why is BJ not sitting on the far end of the bench?

2. Why is Chris Johnson batting cleanup?

3. We have 1 Upton striking out enough, dont need 2


Would like to see Pena play, maybe Heyward in CF & Justin in right & put Schafer/Gatiis in LF sometimes, dont know how Fredi comes up with the batting order but its not working & doesnt make sense, the offense is looking SAD!!!

Baghead
Baghead

Uggla had a lobotomy years ago, so he is excused.

ChessMaster
ChessMaster

I didn't see the game last night (working) but if BJ isn't hustling on defense, I expect Fredi to do something. Even more, I expect a veteran like Uggla to take him aside and give him an earful. No excuse. Uggla has struggled but he always plays hard.


Last year Fredi showed a lot of patience. I expect it to be shorter this year.

Dooner46
Dooner46

Regret attending the game that Aaron hit #715, after his comments today. How sad!

ATLBrown
ATLBrown

Fredi should have benched BJ for Schafer after he didn't charge for that ball in left-Center field.  He should be riding pine tonight for sure.  I try not to hate on BJ and Uggla too much, because I actually would like them to do well.  But BJ lost me last night - if you're having struggles at the plate, that can truly  be a hard thing to snap out of, but you have to show us you care at least.



FarTrain
FarTrain

Schafer would have caught that ball hit to left center last night that BJ lollygagged on with no problem. Not a doubt in my mind.  That was a big play so he is now a liability on both offense and defense. FG is the most inept manager in all of baseball and was just "lucky' last year to end up in first place.  Saw what happened after that didn't you?  BAM! Dead in the water, first playoff series!

ColdSplash
ColdSplash

I told you last year , the year before and the year before. The hole in this team isn't BJ, nor Ugla, not even the worthless unneeded third Catcher non factor journeyman Gerald "Fredi G. Jr" Laird. It is the over hyped over promised , over used , cannot and will not ever be an above average ML player, our " savior" the next "Hank Aaron"...one Jason Heyward. Kid ain't got it. Nice kid. But Time to move on.

keendaddy
keendaddy

Just my 2 cents. Don't bench BJ, send him down and let him play everyday at AAA. When he finally gets it, bring him back. If he doesn't improve, admit we made another FA blunder, and move on. Really no reason to be wasting the good pitching, we are enjoying. Schafer, is better in EVERY ASPECT of the game. So far, the Upton brothers are a drag on Atlanta Braves baseball. Can they really not be replaced by a young Brave? Kudos to Uggla, for the hard work he's put in. Very encouraging, as far as he goes...

BradleyBreeze
BradleyBreeze

That picture of BJ Upton says a thousand words...............he's thinking how lucky he is not to be playing for the Falcons where he would be cut immediately..................I guess you can say he is crying for joy at the 75mil$ that is guaranteed!!!!!!!!!!!!!He is lucky that baseball contracts aren't like that of contracts given in the NFL or he wouldn't make it another season!!!!!!!!!!

Ficklefan
Ficklefan

Last year with the strong start, 12 game winning streak, strong pitching, strong power hitting, and a bench that seemed to always rise to the occasion, Wren and Gonzalez were able to go most of the year with only six hitters line line up and win the division. And many more winnable games were frittered away in the late innings by allowing BJ and Uggla to come up to the plate and strike out for the 3rd or 4th time in the game when a pinch hitter might have made all the difference. 


At this early juncture, and it is very early, it does not look like Wren is going to get yet another free year with a 6 or 7 hitter line up (Uggla may be snapping out of it) to see if he can recoup his poor investment in BJ.  The offense is not hitting yet with power (or really much at all) and it is very streaky. Gattis and Heyward are now a concern along with BJ, and Justin isn't doing so well either. And in the outfield, BJ and Justin have not been stellar, especially Justin. If this continues, the Braves won't have the luxury of a 6 batter line up this year, and something will have to be done. In other businesses it is called "writing off bad investments." 


Hopefully, the pitching will sustain the Braves until the bats wake up.  



FrediStupid
FrediStupid

F#@%&ingGonz, I have never seen a manager who intentionally gives his team no chance to win. I would make the lineup exactly the way F#@%&ingGonz does if I were the opposing team manager. I am beginning to think he is betting on baseball, covering point spread.  When I see BJ's name in the lineup especially hitting in the 2nd hole, I cringe.  They say hitting is contagious.  Not hitting is contagious too.  Pitchers must see Bj's name in the lineup and go, yeah an automatic out in the middle of the lineup in front of Freeman no less.  The dumbest manager in baseball.  

BradleyBreeze
BradleyBreeze

BJ Upton should be benched in favor of Schafer......Schafer can lead off thus moving Heyward to the #2 spot................Schafer can't hit any worse than BJ and is a much better fielder...............my question is WHO in the Brave's Organization wanted BJ Upton and why didn't they do any research on this guy!Who ever recommended this guy be signed ought to be fired!In another 3 to 4 years fans will be saying that BJ UPTON PULLED OFF THE BIGGEST HEIST IN ATLANTA HISTORY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!I hate to say it but he is a FRAUD A TOTAL FRAUD!

4DaBirds
4DaBirds

Why does Freddie stick with BJ Upton in the everyday lineup? He is obviously not the best choice. Send BJ to the bench and start Schaefer. Do we have to keep enduring watching BJ strike out and hit weak fly balls for outs? Is his defense going to be suspect now? I'd love for BJ to be successful here, but there is not a coach on the team that can help him. Send BJ to the bench, sit him long enough to forget the swing and approach that he is using now. Freddie you are going to lose your job if you keep playing this guy.


We need offense, and people like BJ and Uggla are destroying all hope for it.

journalist jimmy smith
journalist jimmy smith


jimmy smith has often said that the braves do not set their sights high enough.  they seem content to "win" the division. last night hey hung a little sign in the outfield representing their 2013 "championship season". the television announcer even referred to the little sign as a "pennant".  as long as the fans let them get away with this we will get it again and again. this journalist likes the braves very much but they haven't won anything in a very long time and certainly they didn't win anything last year.  can you say st. louis?

HoosierAaron
HoosierAaron

Why did Laird pinch hit against a RH pitcher with LH pinch hitters available and we'd already used our other backup catcher to pinch hit earlier?

We_Will_Get_Fooled_Again
We_Will_Get_Fooled_Again

Like most sports, baseball is a fairly simple game. As a hitter, your number one imperative is to avoid making outs. Three of the Braves' eight everyday players posted an on-base percentage below .300 last year. Uggla was barely above that mark, at .309. Throw in the pitcher's spot, and you have five spots in the lineup prolifically making outs and killing rallies.

Now, last year is last year, but it helps explain a lot of what we've seen so far in the first week. Once again this team is going to live and die by the long ball, because stringing together hits and walks is a clear weakness.

The pitchers are going to have to carry the team again this year. Thus far, they've given every indication that they might be able to do it. But it makes you wonder how good we would be if we could actually hit a little bit, too.

journalist jimmy smith
journalist jimmy smith

it is clear to this journalist that the pitching cannot be an excuse any longer.  these pitchers are fine.  what is wrong is the manager does not play the right position players at the right times.  fat boy pitcher last night - should have thrown a speed lineup at him and run him to death. when jimmy smith played ball jimmy smith would run the bases like a hartebeest and cause havoc for the other team. 

58Supersports
58Supersports

With all the Hate for BJ and I got eyes and see how bad he plays but.....What is Wren to do with him and the big  65 Million left on his contract ?  Who would take him?   Would he be another player like KK, Lowes ,etc  where Braves pay for players to not play or trade and still pay their salary for another team. Braves have a big problem.....They couldn't trade Uggla  over winter because no one wanted him? J-Hey is hot and cold and you never know what to expect.... Gattis throwing out runners is a question?  J-Hey is not a lead off hitter, BJ is not a #2  more a # 8 till ?  Fredi is a joke!          All  my opinion and it don't count.

Go Santana tonight....

Wren is the blame?  Bucks stops with him!

Rick_C
Rick_C

@gfw  Maybe Heyward should be sitting for Schafer?  BJ's had 4 hits since Heyward had his last.

Rick_C
Rick_C

@Nashville Jeff  Guessing it's just a day off for BJ, so it'll be interesting to see if he goes back to the 2 spot tomorrow or not.

Rick_C
Rick_C

@Nashville Jeff Thanks Jeff, I appreciate that.  I guess people just don't like me pointing out the logic and reasoning behind BJ's signing and why the Braves are going to continue to play him, so they take it out on me.

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

@ChessMaster

Wait wait wait! Uggla cant say anything....... he is on the struggla boat also! Lets temper that!

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

@ColdSplash

Guess he had nothing to do with them winning the division last year?  Not for him they get to 92 wins.........correct?  Putting a 6'5 265 LBS, regular 3 or 5 hole hitter in the first hole is the Managers fault.......and shows signs of being desperate becasue the Manager is to afraid to play a young man who is a natural one hole hitter ( Schaffer) instead of playing a $15 mill guy who you are afraid to bench because of orders from up top! Place blame where needed! Not on a young man who turned the team around last year ( with the help of Freeman, Simmons and pitching, etc..) to help win the division.  IMHO............

Birdhair
Birdhair

Bj has five year rights and can't be demoted without his consent. Don't worry, he will soon be sitting on a corner of the bench in the home dugout of turner field and he will have splinters in his a**

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

@keendaddy

Cant send him down he has to volunteer to go.............Uggla/hardwork..........you here all week? I will be sure to tip the waiter......great stand up routine!

iamlistening
iamlistening

@58Supersports  I agree with you on BJ's contract all but guaranteeing him playing time. And I think the players understand its a business; therefore, they understand why BJ is still playing. But I am confident they are questioning Gonzalez managing the batting order (not aloud but to themselves). This is when you need a veteran like Chipper. Someone with the respect and the guts to tell Fredi to end the BJ experiment because it's killing the entire lineup. 

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

@Rick_C @Nashville Jeff

NO! You cant go back to the 2 spot! YOu can bat 8th! But not 2! Absolutely too much pressure in that spot for him to produce. Fredi is not helping him putting him in that spot thinking he is going to bounce out of it.  Put him in the 8th spot and he has to be more disciplined to swing at good pitches ( even though the fast ball is getting thrown right by him now) because the pitcher will get garbarge to hit.  IMHO.

Nashville Jeff
Nashville Jeff

@Rick_C @Nashville Jeff I'm no fan of his,but those who make that sad argument about sending him down, releasing him, etc. should take a reality pill.  The guy and that contract are going to be given every opportunity to get himself right.

Nashville Jeff
Nashville Jeff

@Rick_C @Nashville Jeff Yeah I've notice that a different opinion can provoke some pretty lame attacks on these blogs.  Too bad.  Using your approach in these discussions is not only far more reasonable, but is polite as well.  Not a lot of that on here.

BradleyBreeze
BradleyBreeze

@SaltGrass  ....................It's ironic that Hank said last night before the game that he left every bit of his passion and energy on the field while playing baseball and that he gave his all but recommends a guy like BJ UPTON who is just plain lazy!!!!..............Ironic Indeed!

DamonH
DamonH

@Rick_C

It's early in the season for Heyward, we know he can hit. It's never to early to sit BJ

Rick_C
Rick_C

@oldcrackerfan Ha, I honestly did not mean that as a serious suggestion.   I'm really not in favor of sitting any starters this early in the season just due to poor performance.  Was trying to just point out that (before tonight at least) Heyward was arguably struggling the worst of our outfielders.  

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

@Rick_C @AnsweredTHIS

NO NO NO Rick!!!! Dont say that! He needs two days! Let him clear his mind and give him an early chance to watch the game the first week of the season from the bench! He has 150 more he can still play! Same for Uggla! Give them both a blow, let them see some passion on the field ( maybe not so much for Uggla he trys but whew that is not looking good right now either!). BJ needs a view next to the hitting coach for the next two days.

Rick_C
Rick_C

@AnsweredTHIS BJ will be starting again tomorrow.  Fredi said before the series he was intending to get Schafer and Pena a start during the home stand.