Posted: 6:34 am Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Now the Braves can’t even dominate the Nats 

By Mark Bradley

Chris Johnson is shocked at striking out. Like he never strikes out. (Nick Wass/AP)

Chris Johnson is shocked at striking out. Like he never strikes out. (Nick Wass/AP)

Over four games in D.C., we saw the essence of the 2014 Atlanta Braves, the team that doesn’t score many runs but doesn’t yield many, the team that has come to own the Washington Nationals. We saw, in sum, what we’ve been seeing all along.

As of Friday night, the Braves had run their season record against the Nats to 7-1 and had reclaimed the lead in the National League East. With Jordan Zimmermann already beaten and Stephen Strasburg lucky not to have been stuck with a loss, the Braves were positioned to leave D.C. with a 3-1 series win if not a split. Instead they lost the next two games, scoring a grand total of one run.

The Braves’ offense, or more precisely the lack thereof, has become the great equalizer in the NL East race. The Braves can outpitch anybody, the Nationals included. The Braves’ starters worked four quality starts in the series; the Nats’ starters worked three. The teams split the four games.

The Braves lead the majors with 52 quality starts (at least six innings with three or fewer earned runs). Alas, the team has won but 38 games. The Braves missed a chance to distance themselves from the hurting/struggling Nats, and now it’s the Braves — without Gavin Floyd, the third starting pitcher this calendar year to be lost to a bum elbow — who are hurting.

The Braves’ pitching is good enough to keep them in almost every game. The Braves’ hitting is so bad (still next-to-last in the majors in runs, and boy has that stat gotten old) to lose enough winnable games that this team is nine games under .500 since April 27. Having won only one of their past nine series, they’re fortunate to be within 1 1/2 games of first place.

Oh, and one thing more: The Floyd injury surely prevents the Braves from thinking about trading him for a bat, and it probably means Alex Wood just became untouchable, too.

178 comments
Wilbo
Wilbo

Ooops, I missed all 3 of those didn't I? Braves gonna win. Marlins and Nats gonna lose. The Braves won't drop down to 3rd in the NL East, yet. Loser team is gonna tease our fans a few more weeks, I guess.

odelljones
odelljones

The Braves strike out 8.65 times per game (average). That is ridiculous. Its not the coaches, its the players to refusal to do anything different.

I'm sure they are laughing all the way to the bank.

Wilbo
Wilbo

And if Houston can just win at home and Miami can manage to win at Philly, that would drop the sorry Braves down into 3rd place, and hopefully begin to sweep this moribund organization off the front page of our collective consciousness. 

Wilbo
Wilbo

Atlanta tolerates losers and fools, and so has EXACTLY the baseball team, ownership, manager and GM it deserves. 


Atlanta tolerates boobs and nitwits, and has EXACTLY the duo of sportswriter clowns it deserves.


With every mention I hear or see of the Atlanta Braves, I despise this loser organization just a little bit more.

BaseballBuff
BaseballBuff

Dan Struggla and the elder but lesser Upton are killing this team, not just with their overall uselessness, but with the amount of payroll they are tying up as well. Neither has played at an MLB level in 2013 or '14. Frank Wren ultimately has to answer for these two huge mistakes.

rgpat
rgpat

BJ should be hitting near the bottom of the lineup and not the 2 spot. If Schafer could hit I would play him in place of BJ but he hasn't proved that. BJ loves to whine about his called third strikes. I am sure the umpire laughs when he knows BJ is batting close to .200.

litterbug
litterbug

something has happened to the personality of this team.It seems that the team is  following the lead of  B.J.-whine about the strike zone and after you strike out, walk as slow as you can back to the dugout and have the look on your face like you could care less.. oh yeah, Someone needs to get Chris Johnson some anger management classes    

DavidArmour
DavidArmour

Why is BJ Upton still batting second. Teams used to not play players batting .200 much let them bat second.. I heard he cried when he was moved to lower in the order and was moved back up. He is a JOKE!!!

Jack_Republican
Jack_Republican

When Santana got 1st on a walk, is he supposed to walk slowly back to 1st after a pitch? Can't he just sorta trot a little bit? Instead of acting like he's bored to death?

Ersatz
Ersatz

This garbage team still has fans?

Stinger2
Stinger2

If Sonny Clusters was still on the AJC blogs, he might actually be saying its time to bring back Chipper!!

Mark Bradley and anyone who has been around before last year will know that I mean

JSW73
JSW73

Rick_C, DavidinVirginia,

Enjoyed the baseball talk this morning. I learned a few things, and didn't even get called a name for not agreeing 100% of what someone was saying. In short ATL needs to sign some college hitters like Minor so they can plug and play right away so the athletes can season in the minor leagues and the fundemntals of the game.


ATL needs to balance the draft. First 10 rounds should be as balanced as they can be between HS/college, and Pitchers/Position.

odelljones
odelljones

Get rid of Uggla and BJ. This offense is one of the worst I've ever seen, and I grew up in Chicago. This team makes Rick Monday, Jerry Morales and Jose Cardenal look like a murder's row.....

I get so bored watching this team play i almost didn't buy tickets to bring my son this summer. I relented and we are coming ONCE.

BooBooBear
BooBooBear

The saddest thing about the Braves situation is: 


A. They have a fan base that makes the other Atlanta sports fan bases minuscule in comparison, so there will always be enough apologists to put 18,000 butts in seats (at least on paper) every game; 


B. They have Network TV and Cable revenues that means each team could spend like the Yankees and still make money, so the teams that don't spend their money on players just make a few rich men much, much, much richer; 


C. They have collective ownership where no one is responsible for any one thing (like winning).  That makes a one guy owner, someone who has a Used Car Empire as his sole livelihood, has become a thing of the past, which will never happen again.  So, forget any high level moves to sacrifice winning over profits; 


and D. They have media coverage that keeps losing baseball popular.  


All that means the days of having to win or find a new owner (such as when Ted Turner salvaged them), one who will keep the club in town, are over.  Baseball is no longer about winning. It is only about fleecing, milking, and bleeding the little guy who has become dependent on a sports drug. 


The Florida Marlins have more World Series Championship titles than the Atlanta Braves over the past 20 years because they embrace losing baseball.  They fired Freddi Gonzales, rather than bench a player.  Their plan has them selling off everyone making big bucks so they can lose big for 5 years, draft and trade for young (low $$$) talent, then unleash tomorrow's stars today.  What fan really cares what happened the last 5 years, when the promise of getting to buy a World Series Champion t-shirt and cap twice a decade makes all the losing worthwhile? 

ChopChamps95
ChopChamps95

Wren and FG deserve every bit of criticism they are receiving.  However, the problem lies with the higher ups in this organization.  John Schuerholz may be team president now, but he is still more involved with the everyday happening than I'm sure we see.  And he's probably still dictating to Wren how this organization will be run.  We can scream for the heads of Wren and Fredi and for Liberty to sell until we pass out, but IMO until someone forces Schuerholz into retirement , the Braves will still play with the same tired, outdated philosophy and identity they've had for 25 years while going nowhere outside of a playoff one and done like they have for the last decade plus.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

?  You think any of the coaches have ever reminded BJ that when you have two strikes on you, you are supposed to "protect the plate".  I have never seen in my long life anyone take so many 3rd strikes, that are almost right down the middle.  Coaching, Buehler?


I would just fine him about 5,000 bucks every time he strikes out looking.  Good way to get some of that unearned moola back! 

ChopThis
ChopThis

Aaron Harang and Ervin Santana can outpitch anyone in the Nats rotation? Seems like Goober's been dipping in the moonshine again.

Mr. Negative
Mr. Negative

LEMME FAN THOSE FLAMES OF NEGATIVITY HERE AN GET THIS GRILL REALLY HOT! YESSUH!! OOOOHWHEEE.....YOU FEEL THAT FREDO??

drewK
drewK

As a HUGE fan of Martin Prado all I can say is Chris Johnson is a sad, sad, sad, representative of a MLB player. Should have kept Prado - he hits, fields and doesn't act like an idiot.

BooBooBear
BooBooBear

I remember when the Cleveland Indians were so bad the owner wanted them to lose so she could claim them as a tax write-off.  She had her GM sign all these bad players and dump them on the manager.  Well, the manager brought the team together and they won.  Of course they had to make Charlie Sheen wear glasses before he came in to save games; but it was the manager that made that call!


"Juuuuust a little outside."

mark513
mark513

It's a shame that management will never change for this team, because until that happens it will always be operated on the same tired philosophy of the previous regime. I have been an Atlanta Braves fan my entire life growing up in this town, I was there when no one went to games and no one cared. The 90s where great but  they produced one championship. We have been built to be competitive but that is not enough, I want to win now not 10 years in a row, now. Signing over priced under performing players and not picking up some hitting  in the draft has created the team now.  A good team with a chance to win every night but is NEVER going to win the World Series. For years we would hear about the crap shot called the playoffs but multiple teams won multiple championships and not all big market. Giants, Marlins, St. Louis, and yes Boston and New York.  This would lead one to conclude that the talent is there but the coaching and management is not, and I would dare anyone to say otherwise. This is not about firing this guy or that guy, this is about replacing a philosophy that yes when brought in back in 1991 changed things for the better, but has run its course and is not going anywhere but down. The only thing keeping it from sinking sooner is the ability to pick up talent in the draft, but even that is starting to run dry. Out with the old in with the new, it might not work but it could not be worse, yes that's right the late 70s and 80s where terrible, but at the end of the day there is still only on championship since the team moved here in 1966.

DrPhill
DrPhill

I agree that Fredi is something of a scapegoat, and he might be a decent manager if he had some control over the team.  However, he could stop some of this childish behavior of the entitled problem children he is stuck with.  It's unprofessional and embarrassing.  Apparently BJ and Johnson don't realize it's counterproductive.  In most cases, the umps are right.  If they blow a call, then the manager should be the one arguing, like Bobby always did.  Word certainly gets around, and BJ, Justin, and Chris will not get the close calls that they might get if the behaved themselves. 

Joemac48
Joemac48

I have said this many times since before the season started..... The Braves are have some talent, but they are the most overpaid, underachieving, bunch of cry babies (I am talking about you Chris Johnson and both of the Upton brothers), in MLB. There is no on field leadership, and they are managed by one of the worst managers in MLB, and this team was built by probably the worst GM in baseball, Frank Wren, who signed all these underachievers to long term contracts. There needs to be a housecleaning, and unfortunately the only players that can be traded are Gattis, LaStella, and Heyward, or some pitching. Unbelievable!!

6758
6758

Sack time at the Ted!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


WhiskeyBreath
WhiskeyBreath

The formula Cox had and Freddie has adopted, doesn't work if you have no offense. 

WhiskeyBreath
WhiskeyBreath

Oh you're right Brad, but the most lost one is Freddie and Wren.

How the hell do you forget to get some guys that can swing a bat? 

Birdhair
Birdhair

The number of posts taking shots at Fredi is mind boggling. Who put this roster together? Fredi has nothing to work with. He has no hitters. What do you want him to do ? Sit B.J.? Wren won't allow for that. Fredi sat Uggla and B.J. as much as he could last season, but now Clown has clamped down on it. He wont let FG sit B.J. this year. No way. Too much $ tied up in B.J. for Clown to allow it. B.J. whines about battting anywhere other than 2nd and Wren complies.

Anyone blaming our manager for this mess is delusional and way off base. The real clown is the white haired clown upstairs.

6758
6758

sad day to be a braves fan.


BooBooBear
BooBooBear

From someone who said the best chance of the Braves have of being in the playoffs was "They dominate the Eastern Division," you seem to have finally smelled the truth about this team.  Not only can they not dominate the Nationals, they can't win more than they lose against the Marlins, Mets, or Phillies.  I blame it on the manager mostly, despite the fact that the balls and strikes need to be electronically called (now that technology is upon us).  Freddi Gonzales is like adding antifreeze to a glass of iced tea on a hot summer afternoon in Atlanta.  It goes down easy, but it is fatal for the system.  Liberty Media is the only reason Gonzales is still around, because they do not care a lick if the team loses.  Imagine the St. Louis Cardinals floundering around like the Braves, if they had the same player talent.  Their manager would be gone in a heartbeat. The Braves have better talent than they show.   A baseball team's success is all about chemistry, once you know all the elements that have been placed in the team's  lab.  Freddi Gonzales only knows the recipe for stink bombs, and he thinks it is funny.  He provides no leadership whatsoever.  If he did, players would be disciplined for constantly swinging wildly at balls they do not see. They do not see balls because they are envisioning grand slams (with the bases empty), rather than the embarrassment of 4 strike-out performances. They cannot see the ball when it is time to bunt, to hit the ball to the right side, to make sure you get a fly ball with a runner on third with less than 2 outs.  They do not have a clue how to master basic baseball fundamentals; and that has to be the fault of the manager.  Otherwise, just let the players run the club.

6758
6758

Where did my post go????

6758
6758

yes, FG and FW are editing the post.


ComaToes
ComaToes

Sorry but posts keep disappearing when I try to edit them.  Screw it !  Anybody else having that problem?  This system is as bad as the Braves!

ComaToes
ComaToes

Sorry, but my post just disappeared when I tried to edit it.  Nothing there now but my avatar.  Weird !

ComaToes
ComaToes

Having been a Braves fan for over 50 yrs. I have never seen a group (including all the really bad ones) with so little chemistry, and one that is less fun to watch.  Even all the "bad ones" from the 70s and 80s had "heart' and were usually fun to watch. Now this bunch, and it starts with Fredi G, are just total "duds" and are just dang lucky to be even near the top. They can thank the division they are in for that.  Any manager with a smidgen of baseball acumen would have at least moved BJ out of the #2 slot, and most would have him on the bench for an extended period.  Then again, we found out last year that FG doesn't think these games before the AS break count as much as those in the last 2 months.  

Wilbo
Wilbo

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ShovelPlease
ShovelPlease

@odelljones Why single out Uggla and BJ?  Their nonhitting is a given.  The fact is no Brave can hit.  Time to move our attention to Johnson and Freeman's ineptitude.

Rick_C
Rick_C

@BooBooBear What fan really cares what happened the last 5 years, when the promise of getting to buy a World Series Champion t-shirt and cap twice a decade makes all the losing worthwhile?

I visited Marlins Park to ask some fans this question, but there were none there to ask.

Rick_C
Rick_C

@RafeHollister This is just an assumption on my part, but I have a feeling he's trying to be more selective because he knows he's had so much trouble catching up to fastballs the last year and a half.  He'd rather take the close pitching hoping for a walk, then swing at it and likely miss.

Columbus68
Columbus68

@mark513 I will say otherwise.  Based on your own words the talent is not there because the Braves do not draft enough hitters.  Also the Braves have made signings and have had lineups that would score plenty enough runs BUT there were either injuries and/or slumps when speaking of the last 10 years.  Bad signings happen to every team and I disagree with your statement that philosophy needs to change.  They just need less injuries and better hitting and a little more money to spend.  I do agree with one thing you said and that was the Braves do need to draft some more hitters because they cannot sign the top free agent hitters due to lack of cash and get 2nd and 3rd tier free agents.  The WORST signing I have seen the last 10 years was BJ Upton and that is because of his massive amounts of strikeouts.  Uggla seemed like a really good signing, he just lost it.  If he was still hitting like he had been and coud be, he would be an allstar every year, hitting 30 or more homers and a 260 plus avg and we would all be happy and the Braves would be scoring more runs.  Combine him and Upton and things have been rough, then throw in McCanns injuries and slumps, Mccloth and Melky Cabrera, Lee before Freeman, lack of RH power before Uggla and Upton and Gattis, many factors invovled.  I think the GM's have done GREAT with the exception of the Upton signing but hey even then they did not have the CASH to get better...Braves NEEDED a CF, leadoff and speed....Bj just strikes out too much and in hindsight it would have been better to skip signing him period...the Braves hitting HAS been the issue and they have underachieved hitting...that is not philosophy problem it is a hitting problem and/or injury problem...everyone is hitting OK now except BJ and the Uggla problem seems to have been remedied with Lastrella so that leaves ONLY BJ and lack of timely hitting.  Odds are they will pickup at the plate.  Odds ALSO are that the Braves will pick up an RBI guy.  What else you want?  Here is an idea....why dont you give Wren 25 million to spend so we can trade that for the best hitter available?  cant do it? Well looks like we have to trade some players and to get the best hitters you have to have cash or trade good young talent you do not really want to trade....


Braves need a strong hitting outfielder...maybe move Gattis to the outfield, bring up Betancourt and move Heyward to Center and Justin to right? 

Born2Buzz
Born2Buzz

@Birdhair Freddi keeps running BJ out there in the #2 slot.  At least move him down to #8 for a bit.  He's an anchor on the lineup.

odelljones
odelljones

@ShovelPlease @odelljones Freeman is hitting .289, scored 50 runs and has an OPS of .877. He leads the team in all those catagories. He is so not the problem. THE PROBLEM is that the team strikes out 8.65 times per game. That is a dreadful contact rate.

Insanity to doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

BooBooBear
BooBooBear

@Rick_C Shirley you jest.  The fans have paid not to be there.  Go to the beach bars where the cool breeze is next time.

UncleTom
UncleTom

@Rick_C @RafeHollister I think the Big Joke's problem is that he can only hit the ball if it's located down and in.  If it's not there, he usually doesn't swing.  (Check his red and blue spots from ESPN)


Rick_C
Rick_C

@BooBooBear Obviously I was joking, but the point is no one there cares about their two world series victories.  They still have no fan base.  And a couple years ago when they opened the new stadium and brought in those high priced players to try and bring in fans, the team wasn't playing well so they traded everyone away and attendance quickly returned to normal.  Their "plan" as you call it was quite underhanded.  They used a lot of public money to build the stadium with the promise to field a competitive team, and didn't follow through on it.

Rick_C
Rick_C

@UncleTom Yes, I have seen that before.  What's odd though is he went from one of the best fastball hitters in MLB in 2012, to one of the worst in 2013-14.  I'm not sure what changed.

BooBooBear
BooBooBear

@Rick_C @BooBooBear This is the day of virtual reality sports.  It doesn't matter if anyone shows up to watch the losers lose, as long as the stadium is new and debt is owed by the state, city, fed.  They will pay to send in the clowns, using TV extras to act as fans if need be.  Like it is on TV wrasslin, it is all bogus. The Braves used to sell out every 4th of July, even though the Dodgers or Reds would trounce the team in 100 degree heat (night game), on a gravel infield, simply because there was a fireworks show later. Now, there is no need to sell any tickets, but some people go to keep the vendors in business.  If it were about being real, BJ Upton would be hanging on the back of a trash truck Monday thru Saturday, with K.(K for Strike Out) Johnson working at the Circle K and apologizing for short-changing people who pay for gas.  There would be some skinny kid playing short-stop, who was known for "good glove, no hit," who at least could bunt and choke up to make contact.