Posted: 7:57 am Monday, August 25th, 2014

Good news: The toughest part is behind the Braves 

By Mark Bradley

B.J. Upton can't believe he struck out. Because he never strikes out. (Al Behrman/AP)

B.J. Upton can’t believe he struck out. Because he never strikes out. (Al Behrman/AP)

The worst of the schedule is behind them, and the Atlanta Braves are a game behind San Francisco for the second wild card. That’s the good news. Less cheery is the realization that, having fallen eight games behind Washington with 31 remaining, they could sweep the final six games against the Nats and still not nose ahead.

Bottom line: The sequence of 25 games that began July 29 and saw the Braves play 18 times against plus-.500 opposition — and Cincinnati, against which the run ended, only recently fell below .500 — didn’t break them. They lost the first eight of those games and 12 of the first 15, but they finished the four weeks 11-15. Not great, no. But, all things considered, not out-and-out terrible.

Of the final 31 games, nine will come against teams that hold a winning record. (The Miami Marlins keep rising above .500 and falling back.) The Giants have 12 games remaining against plus-.500 teams; the Cardinals and Pirates each have 13, including six against each other. That’s a small difference, but it is a difference.

Baseball Prospectus gives the Braves a 44.4 percent shot of making the playoffs, up from 20.9 percent 12 days ago. BP also projects the Braves to finish 85-77, which probably won’t be good enough. Even while going 4-3 in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, they let two winnable games slip and had a chance against Jonathan Broxton, in to close because Aroldis Chapman was unavailable, at the end Sunday. After 131 games, that pretty much describes these Braves: They’re not bad enough to discount altogether, but they’re not quite good enough to inspire complete confidence in anyone, from Frank Wren on down.

A week before Labor Day, the Braves are all but out of contention in the National League East but very much in the playoff chase. That’s not as good as they’d have have hoped, but it’s not nearly as bad as we’d feared.

82 comments
alpha001
alpha001

The bad news is that if the Braves manage to get a wildcard spot, it will be a one and done series AGAIN.  They can't win against good teams so why would anyone expect them to do anything other than barely show up in the playoffs? 

dawg4u
dawg4u

It is still hard to believe that it's been 2001 since the team won a playoff series. It is not very evident that they will win or even get into the playoff series this season. Will a managerial and/or GM change help this team. My personal feeling is that it probably could but I don't have a lot of confidence in this seemingly absentee ownership group in Liberty. What can we get and what can we spend and does this ownership group hold anyone in management accountable? Maybe but I really don't know but I'll tell you one thing - this team definitely needs a shake-up because this team does not appear to have much leadership from management or a definite team leader or leaders among the players. We need a make-over IMHO!


GeorgeJetsen
GeorgeJetsen

Braves prove yet again that they are the master of nothing. Can't hit, pitch, or field consistently in pressure situations. The teams of the past few years have been difficult to even watch. Now is the time to dismantle the Wren/Gonzalez stronghold and disrupt this pattern of mediocrity and poor decisions.

satchel
satchel

the fact is this: we have options to solidify our streaky offense.  any manager with any sense could see those options.  here's one option:  play bonifacio against LHP (he hits .380 against LHP).  against RHP, start heyward in CF, justin in RF, and gosselin in LF.   (yes, gosselin has played LF before so it's not like sticking gattis out there.)   if you do this, you stabilize the offense--there will be fewer strike-outs, more ability to play small ball and manufacture runs, etc.   ie, exactly what this offense needs.  POINT BEING:  this aint rocket science.  and i'm 100 percent sure that if i can see it, fredi can see it.  he just wont do it for some reason.  incompetence or orders from above?

Mr. Negative
Mr. Negative

As the Bums of Summer wind up their carnival and look forward to a post season spending their pirates booty, Mr Negative will have his grill red-hot and turn his attention to the Fowl smell on Marietta St where the "quick-strike, made-for-TV, Hard Knocks offense" with no hint of a running game will lead to a burnt-to-a-crisp defense. Should be quite delicious

satchel
satchel

and what's up with the DOB blog?  you can't post a comment about fredi, wren, and their fiasco with bj upton without it being flagged and deleted.   some confederacy of dunces has appointed themselves to police the blog and they're doing so at this point by invoking abject censorship.  

satchel
satchel

fredi's decided to platoon la stella & gosselin at 2b.  meanwhile, he's going to continue to start bj upton and his .200 batting average.  is fredi this stupid or is the front office insisting he plays bj?   either way, whoever's calling the shots has prioritized BJ over the team.   why would atlanta pay for a new stadium for this bunch?  if they dont care about winning (which they dont, and which is apparent at this point), why should we care about where they play?

Realisticfan
Realisticfan

Mark, you are joking aren't you?  You aren't that dumb, I think?

PGH
PGH

The problem with getting excited about the Braves playing losing teams is the Braves find ways to lose against losing teams.

southgabrave
southgabrave

For all you that wanted Schafer gone, he is playing everyday in Minn. He is hitting 302 with the chance to play, yet couldnt play because of the strikeout king and Fredi G

grh0317
grh0317

Sorry Bradley, the Braves will finish mid pack in NL east.

You don't even need to know baseball to recognize an

hitless mess. The Dogs of UGA will also finish

mid pack in the SEC east as you have failed to grasp.

Williethepimp
Williethepimp

The tough part is indeed almost over. That being,COMPETING for the PS. Post Labor Day, this ship of fools will sink fast. 

Sidslid
Sidslid

I notice in McGuirk's interview, Stan Kasten left in 2003.  So we squeezed into the playoffs for a couple years on essentially Kasten's legacy management team and farm system, and have been middling ever since.  I know Kasten had Ted's money to play with, but if you look at the track record of the Hawks when they were under his wing, the Braves, and now the Dodgers, Mr. Kasten is going to go down as a legendary sports executive.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

It's remarkable where the Braves are considering the starting pitching the team lost early and the total face plants by their two most veteran starters, the two players management counted on and paid to be the leaders of this team. That said, this team as currently constituted should be playing better. The kids have a lot of room for improvement.

BaseballBuff
BaseballBuff

Hang in there, B.J., the season is almost over. Then it will be boats, babes, nice cars, and jetting to exotic places, all without having done anything to earn it.


NotAWrenFan
NotAWrenFan

Until baseball owners try to adopt a similar salary structure as the NFL, signings such as Upton’s will continue. Have a partial amount guaranteed and if the player fails to produce then he’s released. MLB has gotten way out of hand with these ridiculous contracts, which are littered throughout the league. Sure it’s the stupidity of management to hand out such contracts but with the pressure to succeed so high GM’s are willing to roll the dice. Only problem is only the mega teams can afford a player receiving such rewards falling in the toilet, ie the Yankees and Dodgers. Management has a responsibility to build a winning team and is held responsible if they fail. A player should have the same responsibility to perform, and if they don’t they should lose their job just like a GM, manager, or coach, without the luxury of receiving the entire amount of their contract.

BooBooBear
BooBooBear

The worst part of the season will be over in 31 games.  The hard part will be to keep on pretending you give a beepity-beep about baseball during September.  But, what Mr. Bradley is trying to say is the Atlanta Losers will be playing other teams that are just trying not to pull or hurt anything the last 30 days, "Since there is nothing meaningful to play hard for."  Hopefully that means all the pitchers (including ours) will grove slow balls down the middle and stop trying to break the sound barrier with artificially enhanced arms that only have a 100 inning warranty.  When does the wrasslin season start?

ShovelPlease
ShovelPlease

Mr. Bradley, one of these days you ought to combine your writing skill and institutional historic knowledge and compare the coaching tenures of Eddie Haas, Chuck Tanner, Russ Nixon, and Fredi Gonzalez.  I look forward to what should be an interesting read.

highfive
highfive

The best thing for the Braves is not to make the playoffs. There should be no false sense of hope. This team needs a complete overall and the only way to get this accomplished is to force the issue,

dawgfacedboy
dawgfacedboy

Denial ain't just a river in Aftica.


Time to realize what some of us knew in May. This is not a playoff team.

Mflowers80
Mflowers80

They Don't Deserve To Be In Play-Offs, Owners To Cheap And Players Are To Weak To Contend With The Big Boys, The Dodgers & Etc.

We Need To Boycott Games Next Year And Hope To Fine A Owner That Want To Win, And Do What Ever It Takes To Win A Championship.

I Hope They Don't Make The Play-Offs.

BTC
BTC

I thought the Mendoza line had already been renamed the Uggla line!

Jmonty
Jmonty

The Braves do not have any steady hitting.  BJ is the MOST overpaid person in all of baseball.  He can't hit, can't catch and can't play.  There are so many holes in this team, if they were a ship, it would be sunk.  Wren should be fired.  Key word. SHOULD..  But, doubt he will.  Fredi should be fired... but won't.  BJ should be sitting on the bench, but doesn't.  This team is filled with losers.  No wonder McCann didn't stick around.  Will the team owers be smart enough to unload?  Doubt it.  They don't want to lose money.  Guess they haven't looked at the attendance lately.  Nobody wants to go watch losers get paid to suck. 

DrPhill
DrPhill

BJ is within reach of having the Mendoza line renamed the Upton line. Certainly the empty stands and declining gate receipts have gotten notice with the bean counters at Liberty Media. If management changes are made in the off season, that will be the only reason. I hope that Atlanta fans are spared another humiliation in October. One thing for sure, I won't be there this time.

HarMul
HarMul

This team has this hot and cold thing going on again. Last year they got cold right when the entered the playoffs. The best I see this year is to some way make it through the wildcard game. 

I would definitely take Edwin Jackson every fifth day over BJ in the outfield every day.

Stinger2
Stinger2

@GeorgeJetsen Why have you watched the team if is so difficult to do so.? What wrecking crew are you calling to dismantle the team?

Stinger2
Stinger2

@satchel yes,Gosselin has played about 30 games total in LF. By the way, how many ML games have you managed and what is your WL record? Just curious..

Jetiredo
Jetiredo

@satchel Well you better say that over here because youll get your comment deleted y DOB for talking about his BFF Fredi Gonzalez

Ficklefan
Ficklefan

@southgabrave


I also liked Schafer a lot. He did a great job last year when he got some solid playing time before he got hurt, and then it all came  to an end. And I felt bad for him that he was held back this year simply because of BJ's totally ridiculous salary -- and Fredi's obstinate and unfounded belief that BJ will one day walk up to the plate and deliver in a clutch situation. 


Amazingly, BJ still gets sent up to the plate (as he was all last year) in the ninth inning with the Braves only one or  two runs behind. Not a possible pinch hitter in sight, I guess. There is a nice photo of him in the AJC having a nice conversation with the umpire after yet another late inning strike out in the loss to the Reds. 


I am sure that Schafer is very happy with his new situation, and he will definitely help is team. Schafer actually was not a good fit because he had too much ability, energy, hustle, and enthusiasm to to be a Brave, and he clearly loved to play the game. Boy could the Braves use his speed and bat right now, and he is ten times the outfielder BJ will ever be. Typing that just caused me to recall another amusing photo in the AJC this week of BJ dropping a fly ball which led to the Pirates salvaging a win in that series . . . . because BJ and J-UP have never learned the basic fundamentals of outfielder priority and calling the ball. 

58Supersports
58Supersports

@southgabrave  That's for ten games=330ba, but for year =218ba, and life time 228ba... Glad he is gone but I wish him well.

DavidinVirginia
DavidinVirginia

@southgabrave I'm glad he's doing well. I wasn't a Shafer-hater; I just didn't think he was all that good and still don't, but I just figured he couldn't be any worse BJ. That is a very, very low bar to cross though. But, for Shafer's sake, if you really like the guy, then be glad he got released. Fredi would never have played him enough in Atlanta for him to get into any sort of a groove. Heck, Fredi supposedly likes Bonifacio, and he still refuses to play him in CF over BJ.

DavidinVirginia
DavidinVirginia

@highfive I agree in spirit, but I don't believe they'd have enough sense to clean house even if they do miss the playoffs. I guess missing the playoffs might make it slightly more likely though. (shrug)

Archer13
Archer13

@highfive Agreed.  They need to replace McGuirk, Wren and Fredi G to start.  That trio will continue to build decoys and unbalanced teams with no design center.  It has been their hallmark.  


Until that happens the bipolar Braves will be the new normal and that is too bad.

Archer13
Archer13

@Jmonty Agree to a point.  I think McGuirk gives Wren a firm warning when they miss the playoffs (as in I may can you in 2015) and Wren then fires Fredi putting the blame of terrible FA contracts on an easy albeit "in over his head" target.


The next manager will either save Wren's job or get him canned.


Personally all three of these guys needs to go - McGuirk, Wren and FG.  It is long over due.

satchel
satchel

@Stinger2 @satchel thanks for confirming my earlier posts concerning the confederacy of dunces on DOB's blog.  why dont you just go ahead and flag & delete my posts like you all did last night?  

satchel
satchel

@Jetiredo @satchel i dont think it's david o'brien doing the deleting at all.  DOB is a sensible person, and i'm pretty sure he's not in favor of censorship.  

southgabrave
southgabrave

You hit it right on.

BJ shouldnt even be on the team. As bad as Edwin Jackdon is, wish Wren would have made that trade. Then you have a lower salary for 2 yrs and once every 5 days or long man in the bullpen.

southgabrave
southgabrave

I agree but if he coukd have had a chance and hit 260, he was,with his speed our leadoff we are missing. I am glad he is getting a shot under a real manager. Best thing to happen to him

satchel
satchel

@southgabrave exactly, south.  and it continues--wren acquired bonifacio, who'd be an upgrade over BJ as well…and fredi wont start him. meanwhile fredi's got heyward hitting lead-off.   something stinks in atlanta.

satchel
satchel

@Jetiredo @satchel he'll delete racist comments, yes, and good for him for that, but i doubt seriously he's interested in random censorship like i've seen lately.  

satchel
satchel

@southgabrave oh…and if you post a pro-schafer comment on DOB's blog, you'll be attacked by the idiots and your comment deleted.  they've thrown in for BJ just like they supported the decision to play uggla til he was finally cut loose.  it's like they think they're working for wren or something similarly delusional.

Jetiredo
Jetiredo

@satchel @Jetiredo Well i wouldnt put it past him but its his fault anyways for giving adminstrative powers to these idiots

satchel
satchel

@Jetiredo @satchel  as much as i respect the work DOB does, and his views on things in general, i would agree that it's a real mistake to allow people to delete comments like this.  there's a big difference in deleting racist posts vs deleting reasonable questions concerning team philosophy.