Posted: 10:35 am Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

The Braves have arisen, mostly due to J-Up 

By Mark Bradley

Rounding third and heading for home. (Keith Srakocic/AP)

Rounding third and heading for home. (Keith Srakocic/AP)

When the Atlanta Braves lost three of four to the Dodgers last week, I was very close to saying, “That’s all, folks.” (And I’m normally pretty cautious about such proclamations, having been wrong so often.) The Braves had gone 0-8 on the West Coast and had come home to lose four of seven. They’d gone 3-12 at a time when you don’t need to be going 3-12.

They were one game above .500. They were six games behind Washington in the National League East. They’d fallen to fourth in the wild-card pecking order. They had nothing going for them, and they were about to face the Oakland A’s, holders of the best record in baseball. But look now.

They swept the A’s. They’ve twice steamrolled the Pirates, who entered the week tied with the Braves in the wild-card standings, winning by the aggregate score of 18-6. (As we know, whole weeks have passed without this team scoring 18 runs.) They’ve drawn even with the Giants for the second wild-card spot.

The team that was all but done has roused itself. Some will point to Freddie Freeman’s pregame message — “We’ve got to go; the time is now” — before Game 1 against Oakland. Some will point to his three-run homer later that night. Some will point to Phil Gosselin’s insertion into the starting lineup. Some will point to Jason Heyward batting leadoff again. Some, rightly, will point to the nature of the sport itself: Just because a baseball team loses eight in a row doesn’t mean it will lose the next eight or the next 80.

Me, I’d point to Justin Upton. He’s 8-for-19 with three home runs and eight RBI’s over these five games. The first home came in the first inning of Game 1 against Oakland and set the tone. The next put the Braves ahead to stay against Jon Lester in Game 3. The next, a three-run shot, broke open Tuesday’s game.

Not to put to fine a point on it, but this is why the Braves traded for Justin Upton. He’s a major talent. He’s capable of carrying a team. He did it in April 2013, a month that essentially won the NL East for the Braves. He’s doing it now. When he gets going, he’s really something.

36 comments
Jazzpman
Jazzpman

Folks in general it is not BJ Upton that is hated, but Frank Wren for constructing this mess, and the fact we still do NOT have a lead off hitter.

BJ Upton could hit .300 the rest of the way and the Braves will not play into October.

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

I can't believe those 2 Uptons came from the same parents! The Mom or Dad must have been drinking heavily the night they had that DOOSH BAGG BJ!

Wilbo
Wilbo

Hey, Brat Lee, aka Homer Goofball: Did you see the end of that game tonight, buddy boy?


Your fella J-Up didn't look so good in the bottom of the 9th, did he? Don't most major leaguers catch routine fly balls? Of course, your hero, Chipper Jones couldn't catch a bad cold in LF - even Klesko was better - but most major leaguers catch easy flies.


Nats won in the 9th. Bravos are now 8 games back in the loss column. Tell us again how this has been a complete turn-around, Braves in the play-offs, only a couple players away now, next year could be really special etc etc etc your usual absolute mind-numbed ridiculousness.

Wilbo
Wilbo

Brat Lee, your optimism may be a little premature and/or misplaced, li'l buddy.


Washington let the Diamondbacks come back on them, but it's still tied in the 9th. Nats win, the Silly Bravos will be a full 8 gms back in the loss column, this little spurt of wins notwithstanding.

GTRay
GTRay

 Am I the only one that cringes whenever a ball is hit to either of the Uptons?  And I'm not just talking about whether or not the ball's going to be caught.  Or do they just suffer by comparison playing in the same outfield with Heyward?

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

Me I'd point to BJ Upton, he has been killing that down and inside pitch.  The rest of the team sees that and thinks if that dude can get a hit, my sister can hit that pitcher.  If BJ continues his assault on these pitchers there is no stopping these guys.  World Series is in the future if BJ can hit .220 the rest of the season.  Confidence is the most important factor to a ML hitter.

KOREY
KOREY

Where's all the BJ haters?

slydawg
slydawg

This is the reason the Braves have handled BJ's troubles with kid gloves. J Up is their most talented player. Plus his contract comes up next year. (Oh, I hear the Yankees or Angels footsteps)...lol. I believe they will deal BJ sometime next season. May as well get the most out of J UP while you can.

Calel
Calel

I'm not sure the Braves have "arisen" as much as this streaky team has hit another streak--a winning one. 

Pocaroba
Pocaroba

What they need to do now is bench BJ. Put Gattis in left and rotate Bonafacio in on a regular basis. Get Bethancourt in and rotate Laird in a little more often. BJ sits, this team can win. 

Wilbo
Wilbo

I think it's a sad shame this crappy team flopping around in its death throes is being interpreted by goofy 1/2 wit homers as some asstounding/miraculous resurgence.


Know what this means, dear fans? It means you will get fooled again. Better that this gutless team descends to its true level and languishes there until the appropriate changes are made.


Brat Lee should be charged in Fan Court w conspiring to foist un-ending spirit robbing mediocrity on the fans of the Atlanta Braves.

Waredawg
Waredawg

The Braves are probably the most maddening team in baseball. Like Bradley, I declared them "done" a week ago, but now sense they will likely make the playoffs as a wildcard, and maybe even win the division. Wouldn't put it past them to go 5-1 against the Nats , but with this team 0-6 might be just as likely. The questions that everyone should be asking is why is this team so inconsistent or how good is this team (actually) or how good could they really be?


Let play what if:

1) The Braves played their best 8 every night and sat BJ permanently? Any lineup combo that included

Bonafacio, La Stella, Gosselin, or Johnson at OF, 2nd, and 3rd (one would have to sit) would be far superior to Melvin in CF. (Last night's game makes you want to cry, BJ has some moderate success, so 

he anchors the lineup, figuratively and literally, for the foreseeable future. How many games have we given away this season by stubbornly playing him 5, 10, more? Is there a player in ML who's been less successful the last two years (Uggla aside) who is regularly starting? Mind boggling!


2) We have a manager who understood basic baseball strategy, could manage a bullpen (don't care what the "book" calls for, James Russell should not be our situational lefty) , construct a lineup (see point 1) or shake the team out of it's slump (the 8 game road trip should have cost FG his job). And why is Doumit considered a viable PH option?


3) We had a GM who knew when and how to make a move to improve the club. Would love to know the details of the rumored BJ deal - "not sufficient value", does BJ truly have any value?


4) Terehan pitches like he's shown glimpses of 90% of the time, not every other start.


5) Minor is close to last year's form for the rest of the year. 


6) Heyward and J-up play close to their true potential (last 5 games).


But, even assuming most of the above occurs, where does that leave us? Probably headed for another "one and done" playoff disappointment. This is still a deeply flawed team, with subpar management in the front office and on the field. You could argue that if you want to ever see  a WS

in Atlanta (Cobb) in the near term, the worst thing that could happen is that we make the playoffs and then win one round. Our fantasy of ever replacing Freddi and Frank would be placed on indefinite hold. Sigh!


Well, it could be worse, it least we aren't the Cubs or Astros, but we could be so much more than we are now with just a little tweaking. Why can't we ever figure out how to do the tweaking? Football

anyone or let's save the Falcons for another day. Another sigh! GO BRAVES!

mdet
mdet

It's Zombie night. The Braves are undefeated since then.


Back from the dead, baby!

Tide Braves Falcons fan
Tide Braves Falcons fan

Don't Dismiss Freddie in this.  He is providing leadership on and Off the field.

He has hit over .400 in last 15 games

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

I think it's J-up and the streaker. I was at Saturday nights game with my kids who thought the streaker was hilarious.

I think Freddie Freeman should tell the boys every night, we're going streaking ala Will Ferrell.

Sidslid
Sidslid

Moving Heyward to leadoff puts Upton in consistent 5 slot.


Giants will beat us out because they get punching bags Arizona, San Diego, and Colorado the rest of the year, and we have to play resurgent Marlins and a Mets team that is doing better than expected.


Trade Heyward for a prototypical leadoff hitter.  That is what we need next year.  Lorenzo Cain, maybe?

Wilbo
Wilbo

Game lost last night because Jason Upton had to attempt to actually catch a ball that was hit not to the exact spot where he was standing...

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@GTRay definitely a tightening in the lower regions occurs, in a close game, when the ball heads to center or left.  


But apparently Fredi doesn't think Gosselin would be as good in the outfield as these two.  Shows what a lack of confidence he has in Gosselin's outfield play.  Me, I haven't seen him play outfield, but based on his infield play, think he would be a significant upgrade defensively for either.

GTRay
GTRay

@RafeHollister

Did you borrow your handle from the character on the Andy Griffith show?  Just curious.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

@RafeHollister  Let me get this straight, you're rooting for the $75 million center fielder to hit .220 for a month and a half, and somehow that is going to put the Braves over the top? At this point the collective performance of the guys off the bench figures to have more to do with the Braves success or lack thereof than BJ. Yeah, I'd like to see him get hot and make a real contribution more than once a week. Until I see it I'm not believing he has it in him.

Jetiredo
Jetiredo

@KOREY Oh I'm here and yea BJ still sucks....he hasnt earned the chance for anyone to ask the where all the BJ haters? comment just yet, lets get that Batting average over .250 then you can ask that

Calel
Calel

@slydawg


DEAL BJ? Are you SERIOUS? The POPE won't even take that dude in! Look, we are STUCK with BJ for a few years--get used to him. The ONLY way he goes is if we can package a player teams actually want (Kimbrel), and ship him off!! Other than that, BJ will be with this team probably longer than Wren and Freddie G. And when the time has come for him to go, his freakin' GHOST will haunt CF for LIFE....IN COBB!!! 

slydawg
slydawg

How many runs has he driven in? How often has he scored? Did he set the tone in any of these games or did he just get some hits? He's a very good player but Freddie can't carry a team right now.

RodneyHo
RodneyHo

@JeffreyEav Maybe it was zombie night last Friday! Somehow, the Braves are now the un-dead... :)

JackClemens
JackClemens

Maybe they need to put ol' Jack in the lineup. Braves would be in first.

GTQBdefender
GTQBdefender

@GTRay In a Monday game recently vs the Padres before the 0-8, JUP threw out a base-runner at 2nd. It was a very good play and throw. He is my favorite Brave and I am pulling for his brother because otherwise we are stuck. I realize most have given up on him.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@GTRay @RafeHollister Yes, and the post was sarcastic DawgDad, sorry you didn't get it.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

@KOREY Knowing I'm appealing to deaf ears, it's much more proper and correct to refer to it as "trashing" or "bashing" or even "deniers". "Hate" just isn't the right word; I don't hate BJ, I root for him, and so do most of the bashers.

slydawg
slydawg

I should have said "deal with BJ" rather than deal him. There has to be a less painful approach.

GTRay
GTRay

@GTQBdefender 

Please don't misunderstand me - I know that both of the Uptons are capable of making good plays, I've seen them make plays like you're describing.  And I'm not a BJ or Justin Upton hater.  I wish BJ were hitting even 250, and here's hoping that what we saw from him last night can continue and he becomes a spark for the Braves' offense.

I'd just like to see an overall more consistent effort and quality of play defensively - more like Heyward (and, yes, I realize that it's probably not fair to compare them to Heyward, ergo my original question, but it's hard not to do so when they're in the same outfield).