Posted: 6:02 am Monday, June 9th, 2014

Here’s my Braves’ lineup. Couldn’t hurt, could it? 

By Mark Bradley

Snake-bitten: Freddie Freeman strikes out to end Sunday's game. (Matt York/AP)

Snake-bitten: Freddie Freeman strikes out to end Sunday’s game. (Matt York/AP)

As threatened, I submitted my Atlanta Braves’ lineup card in Sunday’s AJC. Full details of my thinking, such at it was, can be found on myajc.com, but for readers of this site I’ll offer the names and numerical slots. Given that I solicited your help in this space last week, it would unsporting if I didn’t. So here goes:

1. Jason Heyward, RF

2. Tommy La Stella, 2B

3. Justin Upton, LF

4. Evan Gattis, C

5. Freddie Freeman, 1B

6. Chris Johnson, 3B

7. Andrelton Simmons, SS

8. (Pitcher)

9. B.J. Upton, CF

I can’t tell you I’m crazy about this batting order, either. I don’t like dropping Freeman to the No. 5 spot, but I really wanted Heyward and La Stella — the Braves’ other two lefty swingers — at Nos. 1 and 2, which meant that Freeman had to move for the sake of some lefty/righty balance in what remains an imbalanced lineup.

I actually have B.J. Upton batting ninth for semi-legitimate (at least to me) reasons. First, he’s a terrible hitter. Second, if he does happen to reach base, that yields an RBI opportunity for Heyward, who has seen too few. (He drove in five runs over the weekend to lift his season total to 22.) Third, Upton would be wasted at No. 8, where nobody would ever throw him a strike, which isn’t to say he wouldn’t still swing and miss.

Even in the unlikely event that Fredi Gonzalez would adopt my batting order as his, I wouldn’t go so far as to suggest it would actually work much if at all. But I do think the Braves have to try something. They’re no longer in first place by themselves, having seen both Washington and Miami draw even as the Braves were losing a series to the last-place Diamondbacks.

To be fair, the Braves actually scored more runs than usual over the weekend — they mustered 13 in 29 innings — but some of that must surely be laid at the feet of Arizona’s awful pitchers, who as of Sunday morning had compiled the second-highest ERA in baseball, ahead only of the Colorado Rockies, who play 81 games at Coors Field. Which just happens to be where the Braves are bound.

The next four games could prove fascinating — the resistible force against the movable object. As we wait to watch those titanic struggles, I’ll leave you with this appraisal from Russell Carleton, the Baseball Prospectus writer who lives in Atlanta: “The Braves’ problem isn’t lineup construction — it’s lousy hitters.”

95 comments
Cobb County Braves
Cobb County Braves

the lineup in which fredi should use: 



1. Tommy La Stella 2B
2. Justin Upton RF
3. Freddie Freeman 1B
4. Evan Gattis LF
5. Jason Heyward CF
6. Chris Johnson 3B
7. Andrelton Simmons SS
8. Christian Bethancourt 
9. Julio Teheran 


Evan Gattis: Catches 2 times a week, LF 2 times a week 
Christian Bethancourt: Catches 4-5 games a week
BJ Upton: Late-inning defensive replacement, 1-2 starts per week  (from LF,CF & RF)



lineup on Gattis day off:


1. Tommy La Stella 2B
2. Andrelton Simmons SS
3. Freddie Freeman 1B
4. Justin Upton RF
5. Jason Heyward CF
6. Chris Johnson 3B
7. Christian Bethancourt C
8. BJ Upton LF
9. Julio Teheran P


Pitching Rotation
1. Julio Teheran 
2. Alex Wood
3. Aaron Harang
4. Mike Minor
5. Ervin Santana


David Hale: Next in line for SP job 

Ellong0
Ellong0

1 heyward 2 simmons 3 freddie 4 upton 5 gattis 6 cjohnson 7 bj 8 stella

Classof98
Classof98

Thin mountain air that helps the ball fly a long way doesn't help one bit when you swing and miss.

CynthiaTuckerrhymeswith
CynthiaTuckerrhymeswith

Range Rover has a better idea.  One that leaves Blow-the-Job Upton on the bench playing Gin with Uggla.

Any 'hitter' whose best spot in the lineup is behind the P should not be starting.

Let Shafer play full time and see if all that promise can be developed.  BJ is just another BIG mistake by Wren&Co.  Cut your loses and barter off both BJ & Uggla for that bat-boy in KC - at least he made a play!

JAS0N
JAS0N

This braves team has developed a real force in modern baseball.  Up and down the order, I see talent, talent, talent and production, production, production.  Upton is having an all star season, as is Uggla, and I think those two will anchor this squad in pursuit of a second world cup.

RangeRover
RangeRover

Against RHP:

Schafer 

La Stella

Freeman 

Gatttis

Heyward

Upton

Johnson

Simmons


Against LHP:

Schafer

Simmons

Freeman

Gattis

Upton

Heyward

Johnson

La Stella




Joemac48
Joemac48

Mark, 13 runs is enough to win some games. Cardinals also scored 13 runs over the weekend, and won 2 of 3 from the high flying Toronto Blue Jays. The pitching let them down also. Should have won 2 of the 3

Jazzpman
Jazzpman

Lousy hitting is the right answer here.  Poor situational hitting, and without a home run, what are the Brave's chances of winning ?  Listening to talk radio the other day, they mentioned BJ perhaps being the worse contract ever given out by the Braves.

When is Wren going to be held accountable for the miserable showing during his tenure ?

Waredawg
Waredawg

I don't think anyone really believes Schaeffer is the "answer" in CF or at leadoff. After watching, suffering, cringing at BJ for nearly 1 & 1/2 years, a lot of us would like to give someone else a "chance"

and see if there is any improvement . Schaeffer has shown occasional flashes that might warrant giving him a "longer look". Most of us BJ bashers believe he could hardly be any worse. I'm sure he's a better fielder, better runner, and has created the occasional run. Surely, he could hit at least .200, with less strikeouts and better "situational hitting". If that doesn't work, and there are no trade options, give Terd a shot or even Costanza (I think he's still ours). I can't watch another 3-4 gumpopping strikeout game.


I think his negativity and situational results have a magnifier effect. If you know BJ is following you in the order, do you press harder, be unwilling to take a walk, etc. especially if there two outs. If I was a teammate, I'd have zero faith in his ability to deliver. Same with Uggla, but less of a problem now. Those two have weighed down the lineup and made everyone else's  flaws even worse. If we know those two are auto outs, don't teammates and opponents know likewise. Time to let somebody, anybody else have a shot. Doubt it could be worse. GO BRAVES!

BruceMac
BruceMac

Mark, any lineup that includes BJ cannot be considered seriously.  And please don't tell me there are no prospects better than him for this lineup.  He has proven in 1 and 1/3 years that he cannot hit and if you think he will all of a sudden come around I need to know why you think that.  That stupid loopy swing is ridiculously bad form.  If hitting is contagious then surely you can see that the reverse is true now. 

ColdSplash
ColdSplash

And the only true lead off hitter Jordan Schafer sits and waistes away while fredi the joke Gonzalez continues to be the drag on this team. All you have to know is this about f. The joke Gonzales: Three catchers and bj upton in the lineup . That alone disqualifies him as a legitimate ML manager.

Waredawg
Waredawg

There are two major flaws with Bradley's lineup; 1) that BJ is included; and 2) Heyward is leading off.


Forget about the money, BJ gets paid whether he sits or plays and putting him in the lineup in any spot weakens the team. The Medoza line is punchline for a reason. <.210 batting average puts you on the bench for any other team in the ML, much less a contender. When I was growing up, any outfielder that hit less than .250 was in danger of losing his job. And it's not like he's making up for it with stellar defense or power. BJ projects to less than 15 hrs. and 45 rbi's. When you factor in the the attitude, the ridiculous amount of KO's and the even worse avg. with risp, how does this guy rate even an occasional start. And I don't care what any METRICS guy claims, he's HURTING the team when he plays.


As for Heyward, he's no leadoff hitter. He's 20-30 hr. guy that should be hitting 3-6th, period. His power is largely wasted hitting 1st, particularly if BJ is playing and batting 7 or 8th. J-Hey seldom bats in rbi situations because of the weak bottom of the lineup. 


At this moment, I'd bat La Strella 1st, with either J-up or Simmons 2nd. Schaeffer would be my regular CF and bat 7th or 8th. (better fielder and runner than BJ, can bunt a little, and when he gets on can occasionally manufacture a run. If he hits .220 or a little better, much more productive than BJ).


Agree that Braves main problem is everyday lineup is filled with flawed or bad hitters. Need to make a few moves badly. Need 2+ contact hitters, even at the expense of power. J-up or Heyward might be trade bait. Also, start Wood or trade him for an everyday CF. If we wait around til we are 5 games out, trade will be much more costly. 


And lastly, Freddi must go. If Chipper doesn't want it, give TP his shot. Loafing and eye rolling will be a thing of the past. GO BRAVES!

BRAVES2143
BRAVES2143

I still believe the best thing that could happen to the Braves right now is for the Washington Nationals to go on a run like the Dodgers did last year and win something like 15 out of 18 - 25 out of 30 and take a commanding lead in the division.   If that happened the Braves would then be sellers instead of buyers at the trade deadline and  they might have some leverage to maybe force someone to take BJ.  They would have to include someone that they overwise might not want to trade like Minor or Gattis but in the long run it would be worth it.   Also, if the Braves were sellers they could unload Justin's contract along with Santana, Floyd, Carpenter and Walden and get some youth to beef up the depleated minor league system.  

The Hammer
The Hammer

Love the idea of C.F. hitting 9th. Hate that it could include B.J. LaStella needs to leadoff, no reason why Heyward can't hit a bit lower. Moving Freddie down a bit right now could be a good move too. C.J. should hit 7th. in any lineup right now.

georgiajeepn2013
georgiajeepn2013

Breaking news from Major League Baseball. It has been confirmed that the Atlanta Braves have changed their name to the Atlanta Swings and Misses.

M_H
M_H

I'd give something like this a try.


1. LaStella

2. Johnson

3. Freeman

4. J. Upton

5. Heyward

6. Gattis

7. B. Upton

8. Simmons

9. Pitcher


georgiajeepn2013
georgiajeepn2013

Here is my ideal lineup.

1 Bourn(we were smart enough to resign him)

2 Prado(we were smart enough not to trade him)

3 Freeman

4 Gattis

5 Heyward

6 Simmons

7 LaStella

8 Schafer

By not acquiring either of the Uptons we were able to sign Zack Grienke and have the number one starter we needed for the playoffs. Oh by the way this lineup would have had a 10 game lead in this sorry division by now.

rwjohns
rwjohns

Play Jordan Schaffer

southgabrave
southgabrave

Fredi, needs a rest, he plays every inning (blowout or not, either way) of every game. When he is on and he seldom goes into pro-long slumps, he is the best hitter the Braves have.

Justin, below average defense, and a streaky hitter. When he is hot he is smoking, but when he is cold he is cold.

The same can be said about Heyward. When he is hot......he usually get hurt soon after. Excellent defensive player!

CJ...wow what a difference in attitude at the plate this yr vs ly. He needs to remember he is a gap hitter and he goes to right the best. He swing has gotten a loop in it this year. Average defense.

Gattis and Laird are go compliment. Only thing I can say is Gattis needs a cpl days off in a row every once in a while, but not when he is hot!!! His defense has gotten better, but sometimes he gets lazy back there. Laird is the better play caller and his defense is better. His bat is adequate for a back-up.

Pena is a pretty defense player off the bench with some hits in his bat. Other than Pena the bench sucks! Yet Doumit is the first to pinch hit and he and Uggla run neck and neck for the worst average on the team. They need bench help badly.

southgabrave
southgabrave

BJ, wow were do you start? He could hit the ocean sitting in the middle of the Pacific in a row boat. He defense is probably the worse in the majors! I get so tired of seeing other teams with rookies coming in that play better than the 75 million dollar man!!! The Braves have pretty much tied their hands here. He will be on the team, because no other team in baseball would take him for nothing. That being said, if I made out the line-up, I would absoluely play Schafer against righties. He hits righties FAIRLY well (lefties kill him). His defense is 100 times better than 75 mil$ man! Since you know 75mil$ man is going to play I guess he could be in against lefties (though I prefer he never see the light from the club house tunnel).

southgabrave
southgabrave

You can't really hit LaStella second as he has no speed at all. He would clog up the bases for the next 3 hitters. He could never score from 1st on a double. I do agree he at this time is the best contact hitter on the team. If Simmons would try to drop the ball in the gaps much like Tommy, he could hit 300, because he too makes contact. Unfortunately he has gotten in the habit of swing as hard as you can encase you make contact.

MY LINE-UP

vs RH vs    LH( unfortunately BJ is on the team)

Schafer       Heyward

LaStella       LaStella

Freeman      Freeman

Gattis         Gattis

Heyward     Justin

Justin         CJ

CJ              Simmons

Simmons     pitcher (I agree BJ will never see a strike hitting 8th)

Pitcher         BJ (if he hits the ball, good speed)

DirtyDawg
DirtyDawg

Just wait, the 'Reverse Curse' will take the Braves down before the Dog Days are done. Why? Because the $20-plus billion owner, Liberty Media, wanted another 3 or 4 hundred million more before they sold the team and didn't care what they had to do to get it...you see the Denver-based corp not only doesn't give a rip about baseball, they damn sure don't give one about the City of Atlanta or what the Cobb taxpayers are willing to go along with just to rub Atlanta's (and those people) noses in it. So just watch, come 2017 when the new owners have fired all the current management (assuming they aren't, in fact, the new owners too) because they'd finished behind every other team in the NLEast between now and then, and you wonder what happened, remember the thing about the return of the curse that used to reside at Atlanta/Fulton County but found its way across the river.

BRAVES2143
BRAVES2143

The two black holes in this line-up are BJ and Chris Johnson.  


BJ at his best is not that much better than what we have seen in his year and a half here so to expect him to all of the sudden become Willie Mays at the plate is unrealistic.  At his best he would be a 250 hitter with maybe 16 HR's and 60 RBI's. That's it and people need to accept him for what he is, a Frank Wren screw up that the team is stuck with for another 3 years.  BJ had some decent Home Run numbers but he played not only in a HR Friendly stadium but  he also played in a division where every stadium was HR Friendly.   There is too much money involved to release him or trade him so he's here and he's going to play.  We have to get over it and move on, it is what it is. 

Chris Johnson is different because he is young and his contract is not terrible enough that he couldn’t be traded in the right deal.  Because he is a 3rd baseman there are always a few teams  in need of one.  Johnson was pretty much an unknown last year and had a career year but now teams have a lot of film on him so they are able to expose his weaknesses so it’s up to him to change his approach at the plate.  He and Andrelton Simmons are just alike in that they hit just enough Home Runs to make them  think they are power hitters when in fact they should just concentrate on making contact and trying to be 300 hitters and get on base and give RBI chances to the swing for the fences guys.  If either of these guy would just try and hit singles during every at bat they then would be ideal lead off hitters and  Jason Heyward could be moved back to the 2 spot.  

Barves_Loss_Agian
Barves_Loss_Agian

Get rid of Haywood amd I mite culd live with it. Of coarse U must fire the loosing managar fist 4 N E of this 2 wrok

Joe4ATL
Joe4ATL

    RHP                                        LHP

1. La Stella                              1.  La Stella

2. J-Up                                     2.  J-Up

 3. Heyward                              3. Freddie

 4. Freddie                                4. Gattis  

 5. Gattis                                   5. Heyward

 6. Andrelton                            6.   Andrelton

 7. Schafer                                7. Johnson

 8. Johnson                              8. BJ (Doumit)

uphillbothways
uphillbothways

It doesn't make much sense to me how Uggla was benched over a month ago, and yet BJ still gets essentially all starts in CF. Schafer played well in the game he started last week. Not sure what has to happen for him to get more time in CF. You could also put Doumit in RF and move Heyward to CF. There are multiple options, all better than what is currently being put out every night. Schafer isn't an all-star by any means, but he is much more help in the lineup than BJ is.

CowbellHell
CowbellHell

@ColdSplash  Jordan Schafer stats this year - .200, OBP .263 career - .226, OBP .310 maybe you need a cold splash of water in the face dude if you think he's the answer at lead off

Joemac48
Joemac48

@BRAVES2143  I understand what you are saying. Braves in their current state have no wiggle room. 1st, a 2nd baseman, ss, 3rd, and a cf and lf are all signed long term. There is no room for a hired gun to help the offensive offense.The only reason Gattis is in the lineup is because of his bat, and that is not helping very much. Heyward should be the starting CF because of his fielding and is not a leadoff hitter.

As far as the Nationals go, they are the best overall team in the division, and a win tonite coupled with a Braves loss, and they are on top while Braves drop to 3rd. Last year at this time Braves leading by 8 games. They had the division won. Now, they are struggling and dropping. Remember they are in first place ONLY because they are in the weak East. In any other division in MLB, they would be looking up at one or more teams, and several games from first. They need a fire sale, but will have a hard time because of all those long term deals. They need someone to step up and become a leader. And yes, Fredi needs to go. So does Frank Wren, the architect of this mediocre team.

Joemac48
Joemac48

@southgabrave  there is a reason that CJ could not make it with the D'backs and before that the woeful Houston Astros. Braves are now finding why.

The Hammer
The Hammer

@southgabrave The plethora of K's are clogging up the basepaths alot more than LaStella ever would.

BRAVES2143
BRAVES2143

@uphillbothways Too much money.  Uggla has 1 year left so he can ride the pine for the rest of this year and then be released or traded with the Braves paying 90% (IE Derek Lowe) and it's not that much of a lost.  BJ has too many years left and too much money owed for this to be an option now.   This my friend is how Corporation Baseball is ran.   


As far as Jordon Schafer goes he is not that much better, if any, then BJ.   Schafer was cheap and his only purpose right now is designated pinch runner and that is really all he will ever be.   I always liked Schafer and I felt he  had a ton of potental  years ago but at this point you have to think most of that was PED induced while in the minors.  

Joemac48
Joemac48

@CowbellHell @ColdSplash  Braves do not have a qualified leadoff man. Best option is Simmons, and he is not the answer. Schafer is not talented enough to be a regular. Braves have dug themselves a hole with a lot of big contracts that has tied their hands, thanks to the idiot GM, Frank Wren. Surely this team has some talent down on the farm that can become a quality leadoff man. If you notice, the best players (Freeman, Simmons, Heyward, Kimbrel, Teheran, and maybe LaStella) are all from the Braves minor league system. The anchors weighing down the team are Wren's follies... the 3 "U" boys, and CJ.

FYI, you have to go back to the 2009 season to find a worse record at this point in the season, and that team did not make the playoffs. Braves are in big trouble.

CowbellHell
CowbellHell

@Joemac48 @BRAVES2143  Gattis currently has 3rd best throw out % in the NL, I for one think he should sit maybe a game a month with the way he's swinging the bat.  He's a far better defensive catcher than advertised

georgiajeepn2013
georgiajeepn2013

@The Hammer @georgiajeepn2013 Not really. If you look at the lifetime batting averages and amounts of strikeouts anyone should have known B J and Uggla had already had career years and Justin Upton was a strikeout king also. Can't have three of them on one team. The Rays probably laughed and said you are welcome to him Braves.

TomGaff
TomGaff

@The Hammer @rwjohns I wish we could send him down but I do not think we can without his authorizing it. If he was a team guy(which I believe he is not), he would go down voluntarily to work on some things. He probably thinks if he said ok to the minor league thing, we would not bring him back up? Which is a distinct possibility?

southgabrave
southgabrave

BJ unfortunately WILL play! He can not be sent down as a 5yr Major Leaguer! They will NOT just cut him loose and he cant be traded. No one will take him

southgabrave
southgabrave

meant he should hit 2nd just too slowto hit leadoff

uphillbothways
uphillbothways

@BRAVES2143 I understand your point, but I believe the whole "owed too much money not to play him"  theory is not the driving factor. I think it's more so a clinging to the idea that he'll "turn it around", since he will have the occasional 2-3 game stretch of acceptable performance.

patriotdog
patriotdog

Shafer is, so far, no better hitter than BJ.

He is, however, a much better fielder, covers more ground in CF due to more speed and has a better arm. Also has shown no tendency to loaf, as BJ often does. Whose to say that given the job and regular at-bats, he might hit more than BJ?

Joemac48
Joemac48

@CowbellHell @Joemac48 @BRAVES2143  not from where I sit. According to MLB stats, Gattis has thrown out 7 of 29 steal attempts, has had 1 pass ball, and is listed  as having allowed 23 wild pitches. He has committed 5 errors, and his E per total chances rating is .986, good for 65th in MLB. As a comparison, McCann is .998 and Lucroy is at .995. These stats came from MLB stats .As I said earlier, his offensive potential is the only reason he is starting. He is doing the pitching staff no favors. He is too clumsy to be a regular catcher, but would be a good fit as a DH and spot starter in the AL.

BRAVES2143
BRAVES2143

@CowbellHell @Joemac48 @BRAVES2143 Hey I like Evan Gattis but my suggestion is based that to get rid of a bad contract you have to offer someone up to entice the other team to suck up the bad contract.  Gattis contract status is very team friendly so he would be the ideal candidate for a big trade.  Minor fits the bill too but he only has one more year.  Plus catcher is one of the few positions the Braves have depth in at the minor league level.  


The Braves used to have the best minor league system in baseball and on the pitching side it still is good.  Tthe  have brought up some winners that most teams would love to have (Freeman, Heyward, Simmons, Gattis)  but it used to be stacked and if you look at the records of the Braves farm teams it not real good right now.    

UncleTom
UncleTom

@uphillbothways @BRAVES2143 I don't know what the term is in business, for when you've thrown away a ton of money on something and it doesn't work, but that's what's happened to us with the Big Joke.  Schafer did something the BJ never did-----hit close to .300 for an extended time while playing regularly.

BRAVES2143
BRAVES2143

@patriotdog There is about 60 million reasons why BJ is going to be the Braves Center Fielder.   I know Schafer is still a fan favorite, I was once one of them, but in reality he's not that much better than BJ.   That's the problem too many people wishing and hoping for a perfect situation when in reality the Braves are what they are.  I'm not defending BJ Upton but I've accepted the fact that he's going to play and he's going to strike out.   Jordan Schafer on the other hand  never panned out and he's not the first or the last top prospect to be a bust.   Maybe he could hit 250 but he's not a lead off hitter and he's not a power hitter so he becomes a #8 hitter who get's on base every now and then, just like BJ Upton.   It stinks but this team is stuck with another bad contract that they will have to somehow try and overcome it.   

uphillbothways
uphillbothways

@patriotdog In terms of overall BA the two are equivalent, but I'd bet money that if given consistent starts Schafer's BA would climb toward the .280 range, much like last year before he got hurt.

Joemac48
Joemac48

@CowbellHell @BRAVES2143  as a further update, Gattis ranks 24th out of 27 catchers who have caught enough this season to be listed as a "qualifier". A marginal catcher.

khd713
khd713

@BRAVES2143 @CowbellHell @Joemac48 He's also arguably the most popular Brave right now. Trade him and Braves Nation would go berserk. Your argument, while possibly sound, overlooks the fact that no GM in his right mind would trade the team's most popular player.

BRAVES2143
BRAVES2143

@UncleTom @uphillbothways @BRAVES2143 You're right Schafer did have a good run early last year when Jason was out but once again he got hurt again and then his average bottomed out below 250.   He also got a lot starts late in the year in CF where he was better than BJ but not by much.   The same thing in Houston in 2012 where he started out good but from July on he was terrible and ended the season around 210. 


I would love for the Braves to find someone to take BJ's contract but if they did they would still need someone to play Center.  

Techsters2005
Techsters2005

@Joemac48 @CowbellHell @BRAVES2143  Oh my gosh.  On a team that cannot hit you are ripping one of the best producing players.  As far as handling the pitchers they seem to be doing pretty good.  This teams is losing because of lack of hitting and not because of catching.  I mean McCann was never know for his defense and right now he is hitting .225 with 7 HR's despite having a short RF fence to hit against.  Total bad logic.