Posted: 8:19 am Monday, August 11th, 2014

The Braves beat the Nats, but what about B.J.? 

By Mark Bradley

B.J. Upton after whiffing. (John Bazemore/AP)

B.J. Upton after whiffing Sunday morning. (John Bazemore/AP)

A strange series — with the Atlanta Braves and the Washington Nationals, there can be no other kind — ended with both sides feeling they’d done what they needed to do. The Braves won two of three to slow the slide that began on the West Coast and draw a game closer to first place. (Though 3 1/2 games back isn’t all that close.) The Nats didn’t get swept by the team they lead in the standings but rarely beat on the field.

The Braves again trumped the two Nationals pitchers they’ve come to own. Stephen Strasburg yielded four home runs in five innings Friday — his previous high in any game had been two — and Gio Gonzalez neglected to cover first base on a play that yielded the winning run Sunday. The Braves are 6-2 in the past eight games started by Strasburg and 8-0 in those started by Gonzalez, and if you’re still wondering why the Nats can’t seem to beat the Braves … well, there’s why.

Now for the really weird part: As big as the Nats’ series was, it was actually the easiest assignment of this 10-game homestand. The next seven games will come against the Dodgers and the A’s, two teams demonstrably better than Washington. There’s still much heavy lifting to be done if the Braves are to put themselves back into real playoff contention.

And yet again, the Braves are surely asking: What to do about B.J. Upton? He didn’t play in the final game of the West Coast swing, giving way to the deadline acquisition Emilio Bonifacio. He started Game 1 against the Nats and homered off a Strasburg curve. (Seasoned observers couldn’t believe Strasburg did Upton the favor of throwing him a curve.) He was 0-for-5 with three strikeouts and a ninth-inning groundout with a runner in scoring position in the 11-inning loss that ended at 2:29 a.m. Sunday. He didn’t play in Sunday night’s victory.

We made a (somewhat) big deal over the (very) modest success Upton had when moved into the leadoff spot — a move that coincided with the Braves embarking on their month-plus of games against sub-.500 teams — but let’s get real: It was a success only by B.J. Upton standards. In the No. 1 spot, he’s hitting .220 with an on-base percentage of .282 and 19 more strikeouts than hits.

The only semi-legitimate reasons to bat Upton leadoff involved other hitters. Having a right-handed hitter bat No. 1 enabled Fredi Gonzalez to put lefty Tommy La Stella in the No. 2 spot, where he belongs, ahead of Freddie Freeman, another lefty. (Gonzalez wanted to avoid having Jason Heyward lead off ahead of La Stella and Freeman, thereby clustering his three lefty swingers.) But the two-month rental of Bonfacio gives Fredi G. another option, and he’s starting to exercise it.

Trouble is, the Braves still have three more seasons at $46 million invested in B.J. Upton. If you give up on him for the second time in two years, can you really bring him to spring training in 2015? But if you keep Running Him Out There to no good effect, are you being fair to the other guys on your team? Apparently there was an effort made to trade B.J. before the deadline, but there were no takers. (Fancy that.) And given how long it took the Braves to buy out Dan Uggla, how long might they need to pull the plug and write the check on Bossman Jr.?

Ah, well. That’s the intriguing thing about these Braves. Even when they win a significant series, there’s always something.

130 comments
Matt_Talbert
Matt_Talbert

John Hart knows his baseball - so I think our farm system will head in the right direction.  Mainly our hitting that's been a big problem.  I think the hitting coaches along with BJ should be shown the door.  Some of you call Gonzo a Cox clone.  Well, Gonzo only shows any kind of fire in the training room (its sad really...)  Cox at least cheered his players on, would come out and argue and try to fire the team up instead of just sit there as my grandpa put it "with his finger in his nose."   We all want BJ gone, but its gonig to take a Christmas miracle for that to happen.  (lol) Get it?  Perhaps a deal can be reached in the offseason, but we'd probably have to take on a bad contract as well.   The problem with BJ is not only his inability but also his attitude is bad.  Its like a cancer.

ChrisLacona
ChrisLacona

This is a terrible move from the day he signed. Never sign a player that has been benched dozens of times for lack of effort. This is his free ticket to MONEY, he has no desire to make this team better, he has $46 million to drag this team down, with his careless attitude. He's more worried about his ocassional post game REGULAR season celebration, than how he can help the team.  He didn't even take his cap off to recognize veterans during a Dback game.  He's disrespectful to veterans and the game of baseball.  It's the Braves fault for taking on this dead carcass to begin with, now put him out of his misery and release him. EAT his contract, because you know he won't retire.. than he wouldn't get his WELFARE check. 

Pathetic excuse for a MLB player. I am sick of these terrible multi year contracts.  Sign someone for 2 years at most, and if they are a lifetime .240 hitter... offer $2million, or let them sign elsewhere. Braves front office needs to be completely overhauled. There thinking and approach to players, shows that they have never played or don't understand the trends that work in baseball. I assume, they have never validated the movie MOENYBALL either. This team is a dying breed of dangerously old fashioned morons running things. WE had a $14million pinch hitter on our roster for crying out loud.. OF course only Atlanta was dumb enough to sign Melvin... Sick of postseason early exits.... period. 

Columbus68
Columbus68

There is still hope people.  Lot of teams in the hunt in both leagues and this trade deadline was on paper only.  One more to go. Aug 31st.  Let us hope Upton is gone.   I will take Bonafacio and a AA backup the rest of the year. 


Maybe that deal Ken Rosenthal reported Wren backed out of can be put back on the front burner.  Give up Minor and Upton for NOBODY Wren!  Who CARES who you get in return?!!  Just get rid of Upton for 2 sorry non-promising players with no contracts and release them!   GET RID IF UPTON SOMEHOW SOMEWAY!  You backed out of the deal because you did not like the players you were getting in return?!  I will not pin Uggla on you Wren buy BJ is ALL ON YOU!  


Wood has got Minor's slack and Medlin and Beachy, one of them at least will be starting next year.  Minor has lost his groove this year anyway and is unreliable.  PULL THE TRIGGER WREN! And NEVER sign another long term free agent contract!  

Columbus68
Columbus68

I do not blame Wren for Uggla.  That was an unreal meltdown by Uggla.  But BJ is ALL on him.  it was an obvious risk to take and it failed.  And it failed quick.  As far as busts go, it is a grade A top notch classic prime example major league bust.  So to sign him for that many years was a huge risk and Wren lost.  Yeah we got Justin because of signing BJ but BJ sucks so horrendously its not close to offsetting the contract.  So I say Wren's pay is docked every pay period as long as BJ is on the team or his contract is being paid and it is significantly hurting the lineup.  And for the future, NO MORE LONG TERM RISKS OR CONTRACTS FOR FREE AGENTS!  I agree with signing Freeman, Kimbrel, Simmons and Tehran to long terms and heyward to a short term. Cuz Heyward has nto earned one. But I would be so much happier paying Heyward what BJ is making than paying it to BJ!  BJ the strikeout king got all those millions for all those years.  If he hit 250 and had an OBP of 350 and stole 40 bases we could survive it.  I know we needed a RH bat, speed and a leadoff man and he filled all those but he is the leadoff man but swings like he is Babe Ruth hitting cleanup!    

Cousingeorgestone
Cousingeorgestone

Let's be clear about this.  Any team serious about winning doesn't run a bum like BJ Upton out there night after night after hopeless night.  The sample size is now plenty large enought to see who this poseur is-  The fact that Wren orders Fredi to run him out there every night tells you everything you need to know about these losers.  FIRE BOTH THEIR ARSE'S NOW and give every Braves fan a break- for all the support they've given these clowns the last few years, they deserve a better effort from the front office. 

BooBooBear
BooBooBear

Smart move by Mattingly not to challenge that bunt by BJ.  His hit would have been overturned, but with another 0-fer for BJ, Fredi might have decided to sit him Tuesday.  Better to let BJ get credit for a hit tonight, let him maintain that .211 average, and then get to see him strike out 9 more times in the next three games.  It is refreshing to see a manager of a major league baseball team that uses his brain.

Jazzpman
Jazzpman

FIRE WREN !  Please he is doing to Atlanta what he did in Baltimore.  What clown hired him ?

Jazzpman
Jazzpman

If running BJ out there is not good for the other guys out there....what about the fans who pay for it ?

Wilbo
Wilbo

Still tickles me that the Nats just can't beat the Braves. Looks like Marcus Bratley was right (infrequent) that the Nationals aren't much better than the Braves seizing opportunities.

tmc
tmc

who cares about BJ... he's had more than enough time to prove and improve himself.

The Braves have to pay him cause NO ONE is going to take him... so you must play your best players, which is Bonofacio in CF and put BJ on the bench. NO QUESTION.

GwinnettDad
GwinnettDad

BJ and Uggla combined have to be the worst free agent acquisitions in the history of baseball.

josephina
josephina

I think we all agree on the facts that Wren has over spent on players who did not pan out. The Braves (Wren) needs to stop throwing money away trying to get players from other teams.  Let's concentrate on developing our own replacements through our own farm system.  We need some player development for pitching and a new (or could be old) way to work with the young pitchers.  The pitchers are blowing out their arms and we need pitcher development to teach the young arms to be smart pitchers instead of hard/fast throwers.

UncleTom
UncleTom

And just in case you didn't see it, Jordan Schaefer is hitting .313 for the Twins.

reckingball
reckingball

"how long it took the Braves to buy out  Dan Uggla"???.........Didn't they already have Uggla bought?

Shouldn't you say, he was paid-off to leave?

Isn't that what actually happened?

Phillipdj
Phillipdj

If you take emotion completely out of it and look at "tradeable value" - Braves need to trade Evan Gattis. I love him. We all love him. He's Chuck Norris meets Paul Bunyan in a uniform. But Gattis would thrive as a DH/Spot Starter at Catcher in the American League. His stock is very high and the Braves' best minor leaguer just so happens to be Christian Bethencourt - a Catcher. Plus - Atlanta signed the best Cuban Catcher out there in Yanier Bello. Both those guys are relatively Cheap.

Trade Gattis for a top young arm and an OF with a high obp - with the caveat being they have to take BJ too. Put the new OF in Right and put Heywards Gold Glove in Center.

This team as constructed is never going to win the Pennant, much less the World Series. Get a young ace to put with Tehran and Wood and let the C and OF replacements of Gattis and BJ be high % on base guys. Still got power options on the team.

gfw
gfw

It's a fool's game to look back.  The money Wren wasted doesn't matter.  All that matters, as always, is winning future games.  We almost certainly improve the team with Bonifacio taking CF, and sitting or releasing BJ.  Releasing him would improve the team more than sitting him, as we have many guys in the minors who could help the team more as bench players than BJ would.  Those are the facts.  Only the owners can call this one.  Wren isn't going to do it to himself and (after Uggla) put another huge financial loss into concrete.

dhal22
dhal22

What a pleasant surprise to see BJ NOT in the lineup last night.  I realized I might actually enjoy a game for the 1st time in awhile.  We settled in and did the unthinkable, enjoyed a Braves game.   How much common sense does it take, the fans are tired of BJ.  

redleg24
redleg24

Might want to consider taking some of this cost out of Wrenn's paycheck.  He was the one that could not wait to sign a 240 hitter.  Every team has two or three batters hitting with a higher average than BJ at a lot less money.

stmarysdoll
stmarysdoll

If there is a positive to this time of year, it has to be that college football is just around the corner. We need to enjoy it as much as possible until the money crazed higher ups ruin the one true enjoyable sport left.

UncleTom
UncleTom

I and many others have it very bad.  We're both Braves and Dawg fans.  Trouble is, the highlight reels of the good old days are now looking blurred and grainy from age.  At the least the Dawgs have good personnel if they can keep them healthy and on the field.  The Braves are much worse.  They're fairly healthy yet the centerpiece of our lineup continues to be the Big Joke in center.   Wren is responsible.  They both need to go. 

Chuck_UGA
Chuck_UGA

Fire Frank Wren. If necessary, ask John Schuerholz to resign if he is involved. It is time to turn the page on this franchise and cut the invisible cord to the 1990's. That period is long ago gone forever. This organization is trying so hard to hold onto the glory days. The fans aren't buying it, either.

TheOldMan
TheOldMan

I've given up on the Braves.  Liberty Media doesn't have the budget to compete, and Wren is a complete moron with the money that he is given.  They had a window, actually a near dynasty, to bring some hardware home but had a manager compelled to prove he was the biggest idiot in the history of the game.  Only by Justice placing the entire organization on his back did they win the one title that they did.  Actually, I've given up on the whole sport.  Family entertainment was supplanted by a corporate expense account extravaganza.  The steroid era was the final nail.  My kids' generation has no interest whatsoever in the sport.

KeepinItSimple
KeepinItSimple

Wow .. maybe I am a bit behind, but I just saw this from Ken Rosenthal on another site:


This afternoon Ken Rosenthal reported that the Braves were close to a surprise and big, in terms of names involved, deal at the deadline.  According to the reliable Rosenthal, the Braves were prepared to deal B.J. Upton plus a starting pitcher thought to be either Mike Minor or Ervin Santana. The deal failed because the Braves didn’t see enough value in the players offered. That begs the question to whom and for what?



ARE YOU KIDDING ME.

 - To be able to get rid of this contract and only lose a rental or questionable young arm would be a steal no matter what we got in return.


I have backed Frank Wren more than most, but at this point I am done.  A bucket of balls to get rid of this contract would have been worth it.

extremus
extremus

Hey, I just figured out BJ's problem by looking at the photo; he's holding the bat by the wrong end.

HardikMultani
HardikMultani

How about trading both the Uptons and $5-10M for anything in return? 

This way we can move Gattis to the outfield and try to get another outfield bat that can hit for average. Bonifacio can be extended on a cheaper deal ($5M per year with incentives) since he is a very valuable backup. If the Braves need to get anywhere close to the postseason for the next 3 years, Bossman has gotto go.

KeepinItSimple
KeepinItSimple

Let's face it folks, the Braves will have to keep running BJ out there next year as well.  If they want to lessen the cost of someone taking them off their hands, they have to hope he rebounds at least a little.


I think we will see less of him the rest of this year because he simply cannot be moved.  The Braves were hoping he would show some life and possibly make him a candidate to be traded, but it just didn't happen.  Now, it's time to try to fight into the playoffs and BJ is not the answer.  He will ride the pine similar to Uggla at the end of last season.  He will probably lose at least a start or two a week the rest of the way if not more.


Then, next year, we start with a fresh slate and hope he plays better.  Chances are that he won't and we will experience an Uggla repeat where we have to keep playing him through mid-season.  The sad part is that we don't have much in the minors at OF to replace him.  Pastornicky might be our best option next year if we need a mid-year boost, but he can't stay healthy (and remember he was actually rated ahead of Simmons for a while in the minors).  Cunningham might be alright, but he is barely out-hitting BJ's numbers at AAA.  Unless we consider Peraza moving to CF I don't see much hope for next year outside of Pastonicky.  Peraza's hands and glove work would make CF a waste of talent though, but he might be moved there simply because he is the one thing we need .. a proto-typical lead-off hitter.  The FA market is in bad shape for OF's so don't expect much help there.


Oh, to all the haters out there .. have you noticed that Schafer is now outperforming BJ across the board.  It's a small sample, but ArchAngel and a few other haters should take note. At the very least we should have been platooning him with Upton, but I suppose the first paragraph explains why the Braves felt they couldn't.  So now, the better player is somewhere else .. we likely won't make the playoffs .. and we are screwed for the next couple of seasons.  So sad.

Wilbo
Wilbo

For those keeping count, after the loss to the Dodgers tonight, Braves are closer to 4th in the NL East than 1st...


Supporting this team is so counterproductive. Nothing is going to change for the better until there is a serious housecleaning. First the idiot manager HAS to go. Wrenn has to go. Bad Joke has to go. The #1 person who needs to be dumped out on his booty probably won't be and that's The Little General John Schurholtz. 


None of that is going to happen as long as this team muddles along at its accustomed level of mediocrity. The fans of the team and the numb-numbs who write about the Braves have become so sadly used to pitifulness they do backflips to make it all seem palatable and even worse, they try to get you to believe the Sad Sack Bravos are actually destined for some grand improvement next year. No, the next year. No, the next next year, etc etc etc etc.


You wanna see improved play? Some actual spirit on the field? Intelligent drafting and team composition. Competent field management? Then you need to hope for a total collapse, because w/o a sure enough painful crash, these boneheads are going to stay the course.

tmc
tmc

and BTW, i heard Buster Olney say that the 2nd best offer to BJ was for $44 million... he didn't say how many years it was for, but how much better off would we be if our offer was $30 million less.


Good job Wren! no wonder you were the laughing stock of the league when you signed this bum.

58Supersports
58Supersports

@UncleTom  Schafer as a Twin...= 23ab--2r-6h-1rbi- 3bb-6 so- 4 sb = 261ba-  not 313... for year 169 ba.....go figure

Columbus68
Columbus68

@Phillipdj As much as we all love the future all-star Gattis and how MUCH he helps the lineup, I agree with you.  IF they take Upton and ONLY if they do.  Gattis is going to heat up soon and will carry the team to some wins and is likely the only chance the Braves have of winning the division when he does. By the same token BJ can sit the rest of this year with Bonafacio on the team.  I will like the team much more when Simmons gets back at short and in the lineup.  Then the Gattis tear starts, we catch the Nats and it goes down to the wire.  I hate to throw the season away because I do not think the Braves can make the playoffs without Gattis but I would do it if someone took BJ's contract in the deal. We need a RH outfielder and I do not know who would trade for Gattis.  BTW Schultz, 3.5 games is plenty CLOSE.  We play the Nats 6 more times and OWN them.  Take 4 of 6 thats 1.5 games back.  The 1/2 game can easily fall the Braves way making it 1 game....its not even mid august and 3.5 games with NO teams between Braves and first...would 3 games back be close or what is your ridiculous criteria for "close"?  IGMO. 

Dairyman
Dairyman

I love Gattis...his story is very compelling. However I must agree with you in your assessment of his trade value.

Calel
Calel

@Phillipdj


And just what top young arm and OF with a high obp do you suggest we can get for, uh, Evan Gattis? Teams don't give up top young arms for spot starters and DHs. 

Columbus68
Columbus68

@gfw No way BJ gets released with that contract. Some kind of trade would have to happen for Wren to save face.  Even if its only for show and Braves get nobody in the trade and pay most all owed on the contract.  BJ is going to have to hit and shorten his swing AND STOP trying to be the power hitter he is not!  Toothpick thinking he is a slugger....here is best advice in the world for you BJ.  Imitate La Stella.  And hit to center and right field only the rest of the season you lost foolish sorry hitter you. 

ChristoperWish
ChristoperWish

@Chuck_UGA I remember the 80's so I'm not ready to move away from the group that made the success of the 90s and 2000s a reality....

RangeRover
RangeRover

@Chuck_UGA

And at the end of the day it was always Glavine, Maddux, Smoltz, Avery and a couple of other pitchers that masked other incompetencies, thus the one title in 15 attempts by Cox and zero for his offspring Fredi.  

Agreed...move on and get some fresh, new blood in there...

Calel
Calel

@TheOldMan


Justice put the entire organization on his back? What was his batting average during that World Series? The Braves won that Series because Tom Glavine held Cleveland in check for Game 6. For ONCE it was a combination of our great pitching and the OTHER team's bats going silent. If not for that pitching performance, the lack of offense--a CONSTANT for this organization minus '02 and '03--would have been exposed, and Cleveland PROBABLY would have come back to win that thing. 

RangeRover
RangeRover

@TheOldMan

Stop blaming the corporate owner for everything...you're sounding most the liberal!

Liberty has given this team everything it needs, not everything it wants and more...what "local owner" would have stood by quietly while Wren blew 1/4 Billion on the horrible free agents and trades Wren has made?  Where it my money I'd have fired him by now!

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@KeepinItSimple Always skeptical of stories about trades where only one team and it's players are identified. Which team and what was their offer would make the trade story more believable.

KeepinItSimple
KeepinItSimple

@extremus Extremus .. you are only part way correct.  


He was holding by the wrong end, but as you can see he has made dramatic progress the last couple of months since being moved to leadoff.  He is now holding it three inches from the wrong end instead of right at the end.

RangeRover
RangeRover

@KeepinItSimple

They're too dumb to understand Schafer's career was destroyed here by one Fredi Gonzalez.  He's not perfect, but I'd take him every day over BJ Upton.

Phillipdj
Phillipdj

Teams give up young arms every season. Every single season. Especially when it's a team that needs a 30+ homer guy who can catch.

KeepinItSimple
KeepinItSimple

@RangeRover @TheOldMan I was about to say the same thing.  


Liberty has the Braves payroll in the top half of the league, right about where the attendance is, and that's despite a HORRIBLE TV contract.  People continuing to blame Liberty just don't understand that the Braves have been given money to spend and make them more competitive, we just keep going after .250 hitters with huge contracts and expecting them to excel.  Horrible.