Posted: 8:51 am Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Silver lining: Nats aren’t exactly seizing the moment 

By Mark Bradley

Out at home: The Nats' Jayson Werth is thwarted. (Nick Wass/AP)

Out at home: The Nats’ Jayson Werth is thwarted. (Nick Wass/AP)

The Atlanta Braves have lost seven in a row, the latest coming on a night when they actually scored off Felix Hernandez, albeit on a broken-bat single, but were undone when Tommy La Stella dropped a pop-up. (At least he didn’t lose a grounder in the lights, as Chipper Jones managed to do against the Marlins in the Epic Collapse of 2011.)

The Braves remain three games behind Washington in the National League East. That’s not great, but it could and probably should be much worse. The Nats have lost eight of their past 13 games and six of the past nine. Last week they lost a series to the sub-.500 Marlins and split with the sub-.500 Phillies. Last night they were beaten by the sub-.500 Mets and Zack Wheeler. We can’t really crown the Nationals the Carpe Diem Kings, can we?

This becomes important because the Nats will play three games at Turner Field this weekend, and they stink against the Braves. Washington was 6-13 against Atlanta last season and is 3-7 this time, and the Nationals had to win the two most recent meetings just to manage that. If they come here and get swept — they did just that in April — they’ll be given further cause to wonder about themselves.

The Nationals should be better than they’ve been. (Yes, they’ve had injuries, but every major contributor is back apart from Ryan Zimmerman, who cannot stay healthy and may be lost for the duration.) If the Braves missed a chance to distance themselves from the Nats in April, the Nats are missing that same chance now.

Question is, are the Braves capable of doing anything about it? When a second-place team loses seven straight this deep into a season and the first-place team has been playing lesser opposition, the second-place team has to feel lucky to find itself only three games back. For that alone, the Braves can consider themselves blessed.

78 comments
BaseballBuff
BaseballBuff

I am much less upset about this team than I was about the multiple post-season collapses with three Hall of Fame pitchers on the staff. These Braves are simply  not very good. The horses are not there. Period. The questionable big-money signings of Uggla and B.J. are now coming home to roost. Too much money is tied up in both of them to go out and get a big-name free agent.  If the Braves drop out of sight in the division race, then I still believe Frank Wren's job is in danger. However, he may make Freddy Gonzalez his scapegoat and fire him in an attempt to save himself.

MikeS777
MikeS777

The Braves right now I think are feeling the injuries to the pitching staff.  The bats again are dead. No Dan Uggla getting cut wasn't going to magically solve it.  He hadn't been playing for two months anyway.  The Braves are #28 in runs scored, #21 in hits, #21 in home runs, #22 in batting average still at .245, #28 in RBIs, and #22 in OBP.  With hitting stats like that, you need a lights out pitching staff.

Again, Gonzalez's Braves teams have consistently hit much worse that Cox's teams ever did.  Even Cox's last year, the Braves hit .258, were in the top half of the league in all those categories but Home runs, and #4 in OBP.  This team has guys that can hit.  Even the ones struggling are better than this.  The whole hitting philosophy needs to be thrown out the window because its not working.  How many more players are they going to call up from AAA before they swallow their pride on this?

BRAVES2143
BRAVES2143

Both teams stink but the Nats have more starting pitching  and a lot more potential.  Does anyone think this team made up as it is can really be a championship team?   Currently 2 games over .500 and 4 games back with next 10 games against the Nats, Dodgers & A's.    I think it's time for the Braves to start puting players through waivers so that maybe they can get rid of Justin Upton,  Santana, Harang, & Carpenter plus maybe Heyward & Johnson.

Wilbo
Wilbo

Bradley! I'm so proud of you, buddy! I had no idea whatsoever, you had the intestinal fortitude to actually admit in print, THE Sacred Cow, Chipper the Dipper Jones boobooed in the field and that set off one of the Braves many patented collapses. My hat is off to you. Now maybe you might someday get around to noting how he and his careless nonchalant errors blew the 2000 NLDS against the Cards. (of course, if he hadn't sloppily thrown a ball into the stands in the 9th inning of the final game of the regular season, we would've been playing at home instead of in St Louis) Oh, don't forget ol' Chipper kicking the ball around in left field like a drunk soccer player. That little bit of fielding clumsiness, gave Barry Bonds an at-bat he wouldn't have gotten otherwise. He finally responded and the Bravos got quickly sent home. Braves style, baby! Somebody will always step up to blow the big games.

Chuck_UGA
Chuck_UGA

Freddy G needs to go, but not before Frank Wren. Horrendously poor job of creating this so-called club. Then the underachievement falls own Freddy. It is time to cut the ties to Bobby Cox. Get rid of Freddy.

FSUNole
FSUNole

braves choke.....where's bill murray ground hogs day when you need him?

Calel
Calel

I'm NOT saying this Braves team is any good, because they don't look to be. BUT...the 2006 Cardinals only won 83 games in a very, VERY bad division, and they had a pretty good Post Season run. All I'm saying is just make it there, if you can. And like Bobby Cox said, it's a crap shoot after that, because God knows, not only did the Cardinals have absolutely NO business in that Post Season, no one gave them a shot against that Tigers team. 

BooBooBear
BooBooBear

Yeah baby!  Oh for West Coast.  Who's for driving out to the airport to greet out returning heroes?

GeorgeJetsen
GeorgeJetsen

Who cares? Even if the Nats gift wrap the division, the Braves will embarrass themselves for the umpteenth time in the playoffs. Time to shake this team up from the top to the bottom. I'd start by firing all 'status quo' personnel in Scheurputz, Wren, and Freddie. They are the nucleus of mediocrity and pitiful playoff performances. Once that culture change is uprooted good things can start happening again.

Cousingeorgestone
Cousingeorgestone

Curious as to why anybody would believe the Braves are capable of simply turning a switch and changing the paradigm from what they've been all season, but for the mirage of the early season success?!!



A deeply flawed roster assembled by nitwit Wren, one of the worst offenses in the league, strikeout leaders aplenty, poor situational hitters, bullpen in disarray, a failure to admit blunders e.g. Uggla and BeeJerk until the season is lost, no team speed, flawed fundamentals, J Upton is a major bonehead and poor defense but for Freeman, Heyward and Simmons.  Need any further explanations?!

drewK
drewK

I'm actually pulling for the Nationals now.  I like their team. Anything is better than watching the Braves.

GloryBetweenTheHedges
GloryBetweenTheHedges

The Braves can be 0-100 and DOB will make you think they are a good team. Hey you can always read a lyric to one of his songs he post too! LOL.. It's a complete joke.

THEBITTERTRUTH
THEBITTERTRUTH

MB is reasonable in his reporting of the Braves - he usually tells it like it is. It is DOB who is a pathetic Braves apologist. His head is so far up the Braves a$$ that he can't see first base. I do not believe a thing he writes.


UWGTrainer
UWGTrainer

Hope we can figure it out. Just think all the veterans we have lost over the last few years such as Jones, Hudson, McCann, etc. is finally coming back to haunt us. Doesn't seem to be any leadership in the clubhouse. I will however always say  "GO BRAVES!!!" until the day I no longer walk the earth.

BooBooBear
BooBooBear

Just wait till the sub .500 Braves get hold of them!  I am glad the Washington Senators ... I mean Nationals ... now have a Bradley post to pin up on the bulletin board ... "Braves always beat the Nats!"  I bet that totally destroys their ego and they tremble like chihuahuas.

DawginLex
DawginLex

This Braves team is done

Fire Fredi now!!!!

Birdhair
Birdhair

Reading Bradley is like listening to John Kerry during his presidential bid. He flips back and forth more than a gymnast at a meet. There's absolutely nothing credible about a writer like Bradley. He has no clue. His analysis about the playoffs is that it's a crapshoot. In fact, his analysis(if you can even call it that) is about as inconsistent and behind the 8 ball as Justin is month to month. Bradley's opinion about the playoff crapshoot theory might be the laziest analysis in the history of sports articles.

Mark Bradley is the same writer who wrote just a few weeks ago that the Braves could make a world series push. And now, Bradley writes that the Braves may not even earn a wild card berth. Bradley is the same writer who says that Clown (Wren) is one of the best GM's in the game.

Dear Bradley, it's past time to hang up the keyboard. We're so tired of the pathetic analysis. The sports fans of Atlanta want winners and the writers in the Atlanta only applaud mediocrity and failure. You support a win total and don't demand a legit playoff contender. Do all of us a favor and ride off into the sunset with Carroll.

LostGoat
LostGoat

the division is weak---the nats aren't that good either.  atl can win the division---hopefully they can upset some team in round 1

Barack_Bi-Curious
Barack_Bi-Curious

Do you think maybe BJ Upton has been struggling so much at the plate..... and in the outfield..... and on the bases... due to his latest paternity suit allegations distracting him and having him worried about being a good & devoted FATHER to his new/upcoming children???

Barack_Bi-Curious
Barack_Bi-Curious

Should Braves fans take heart that Fredi only has 2 years left on his 5-year contract?

Or that BJ Upton has only 3 on his?

Barack_Bi-Curious
Barack_Bi-Curious

Mark,

How do our inept hitting coaches manage to keep their jobs with year-to-year contracts?

How do the Braves bats manage this level of incompetence with TWO (2) hitting coaches?!?!?

The Royals fired their hitting coach earlier this year, and they had a higher team batting average than us.

Do these Braves coaches have compromising photos of Frank "Wrong Again" Wren?

highfive
highfive

The Braves are done and even if they aren't, they will be way over matched should they make the playoffs. The question is, are they willing to start making serious changes in the team makeup, from management through roster construction before the off season. 

Wilbo
Wilbo

@BaseballBuff I can hear Greg Maddux now, in that barely awake sleepy voice of his, blabbering on about how  he wasn't ever gonna get too up or too down about a game. And I will never forget Glavine saying he wasn't going to lose any sleep over his pitiful effort Game 6 1998 NLCS against the Padres that knocked the Braves out of the postseason.


Those teams had all the potential in the world to be a dynasty, but they had a terrible lack of spirit and character and always fell apart at the first opportunity. The incredible and embarrassing lack of emotional strength to be champions despite all that potential, I think is the worst example of gutlessness in sport in our lifetimes.


That deep set Braves tradition of wilting in the face of important challenges sickly continues today, and I'm really not quite sure why people even pay attention to this current group of boobs wearing Braves unis, 

Wilbo
Wilbo

And you are certainly right about the Nats. Can't help but wonder if they have much more oomph than the sickly Bravos. 


It's like they don't even want to shove the Bravos down toward the bottom of the NL East.


Hey, did you notice after tonight the Braves are now closer to 4th in the NL East than they are to 1st?

slydawg
slydawg

Just remember one thing: You are comparing a championship caliber franchise with a mediocre one. That "just get there" mentality only works for them, not mediocre, inconsistent franchises.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@Calel

Even a crap shoot would be better than the level of ATL playoff success over the past 48 years.

ComaToes
ComaToes

@GeorgeJetsen If they keep this bunch as they basically are now, including front office, owners, and management, it will be like moving all your old beat up furniture into a brand new sparkling house tw yrs. from now.

slydawg
slydawg

Not step up but step out...lol. I think the Braves front office and many fans "thought" Freeman was the second coming of Chipper. They should have let him continue to collect arbitration checks, and pay that money to proven, premier talent. Yes, I'm talking about David Price again. And Jeff Samardzija. This is proof that Shuerholtz is still in control of most of the decision making, not Wren. They would rather be smart baseball nerds, and stock all the corn in the farm, than cash out and become rich..I.e. champions, like the Yankees. Wake up folks.... Glavine, Smoltz, Avery, Justice, and Gant are not on this team, in the farm, or walking through that door.

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

@JordanHill14


Nice article Jordan.  Especially the part where it points our that Freddie Freeman has STUNK since his "hug buddy" was put on waivers! 

DawgNole
DawgNole

@Cousingeorgestone

From what they've been all season???!!! Say what?!

How about from what they've been 47 of the 48 seasons they've played in ATL?!

Baghead
Baghead

@THEBITTERTRUTH DOB is a joke.  I don't know how he goes home every night and tells his wife he has a real job.  Oh wait, she divorced him.  Keep on reporting about cigars and motorcycles while you glamorize Frank Wren Mr O'Brien.  Admit that he is failed GM DOB, and you will be vindicated.  Bradley should be on the curb selling King of Pops.  This guy contradicts himself every other article.  He has zero ethics, or should I say zero juevos.


NathanChapman
NathanChapman

@Birdhair that's a bit over the top and really just rude and in poor taste. First of all, you don't really know Mark Bradley, he could be a great guy, he could really be an idiot, but you don't really know that. Second, I've seen his articles be critical where it was called for. He was plenty critical of the prolonged Uggla debacle. Third, when an organization such as the Braves dictate a standard of behavior that is to be met at all times, and a sports writer or anyone else for that matter, does not meet those standards, he/she finds themselves standing on the other side of a closed door. How well can a sports reporter report the inner goings on of a franchise if said writer is no longer allowed access to said franchise?

ComaToes
ComaToes

@Birdhair It's not just MB, it's DOB also.  They are both clueless.  The only one who seems to have a grasp on things is Jeff Schulz.  He doesn't mince words and tells it like it is.  BUT the worst of all are the Braves "homer" announcers.  Sad, sad, sad!  Then you have the "dreamer club" fans who are just hopeless and would be satisfied once again for a trip to the wild card play-in game, knowing that's as far as they go. They are in love with mediocrity.

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

@Barack_Bi-Curious


On your post below I was going to like it until I saw this stupid fudging garbage you posted.  I know where you trying to go with this and your race baiting gets old!


BJ sucks because he cant hit. Period! 


What does being a good and devoted Father have to do with the man not being able to hit?! Stop your foolishness and your nonsense and stick to bashing him because he cant hit! 


You only know the man from being a suck A$$ no hitting  baseball player and not from being a father or someone who raises his children. Stop your stupid nonsense! 

BaseballBuff
BaseballBuff

@Wilbo After yet another post-season collapse in the 90s where the Braves clearly had the most talented team, Tony LaRussa said that the Braves clubhouse must not have any mirrors in it, because nobody in there ever seems to look in one.

Calel
Calel

And this "championship-caliber" franchise only became that much after 2006. Remember, two years prior to that, they were swept out of the World Series by Boston. They also had their share of Post Season collapses, think 1996.

Wilbo
Wilbo

@DawgNole @Calel Ain't that the truth? In crap shoots, you at least have a chance of winning some of the time.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@NathanChapman @Birdhair

You're nuts. Teams don't dictate what the city's primary newspaper can say about them. Our toady announcers, yes, because they're paid by the team. But you would still hope they'd have the integrity to be truthful when the level of play deteriorates. Ours, unfortunately, don't have that integrity.

Baghead
Baghead

@NathanChapman @Birdhair That's just the nature of being a reporter.  You're better off reporting from the outside most of the time anyway.  This works fine in sports.  It's not hard to see that Wren put together a pathetic offense all the while thinking that homeruns alone would draw in fans.  Braves ownerership and management are not invested in winning in the postseason.   This is all about posturing this team for a sale in a couple of years.  Frank Wren should lose his job for these kinds of idiotic contracts.  He would have been fired already in the private sector.

Birdhair
Birdhair

@ComaToes Completely 100% agree with you. Where has the "homer" soft approach gotten us last 12 years? These writers, annoucers, et al refuse to blame Braves management (the clown wren is the problem) when blame is due. Why do you think we're sports losersville? Our writers support and applaud mediocrity. When they do criticize it's either far too late or they  criticize the wrong people.