Mark Bradley blog 

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Braves’ Walker: A good coach got bad results

  • 7:15 pm Tuesday, September 30th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
The former hitting coach meets with the former GM. (Jason Getz/AJC photo)

Nobody can say Greg Walker doesn’t know hitting. He does. Nor can anyone say he doesn’t know how to coach hitters. He has. But his resignation as the Atlanta Braves’ hitting coach — announced at 6:48 p.m. Tuesday — was confirmation of what we’d known for a while.

A good coach got bad results. Ergo, the coach had to go.

We’ll never know for sure if the Braves would have fired Walker had he not resigned, but it’s hard to imagine them retaining the chief hitting coach — Scott Fletcher is the deputy — of a team that scored fewer runs than [More]

Yahoo: Braves offer Hart full-time GM job, sort of

  • 10:27 am Wednesday, September 24th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
That's John Hart on the left. Don't recognize the other two. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reports that the Atlanta Braves have offered to make John Hart their permanent general manager – he’s already the interim GM — but Passan also speculates that such permanence might have a short shelf-life. Writes Passan:

Were Hart to accept the job, it’s likely he would groom assistant GM John Coppolella … It’s conceivable Coppolella could be elevated to the job now, too, though Atlanta could widen its search were Hart to turn it down. Hart had a similar situation in Texas, where he left the job in the hands of then-28-year-old Jon Daniels.

I’d have [More]

In the end, even this Wren defender has no objection

  • 10:59 am Monday, September 22nd, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Frank Wren: Gone as GM. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

It wasn’t so long ago — on Monday, July 7, to be precise — that these fingers offered up a few hundred words in defense of Frank Wren. My reasoning, such as it was: Since 2010, the Atlanta Braves had won more regular-season games than any team in baseball, and I believed that Wren’s offseason push to re-up four key pieces of the team’s young core would secure the future of the franchise. (I should also note that, at that moment, the Braves led the National League East.)

Today the Braves fired Frank Wren, and this former [More]

Have the Braves quit on Fredi G. and themselves?

  • 8:04 am Monday, September 22nd, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Heads not held high: The story of the 2014 Braves. (David Goldman/AP photo)

One week ago, the Atlanta Braves opened a 10-game homestand against Washington and Stephen Strasburg, a team and a pitcher they’d come to own. They weren’t in great shape, playoff-wise, but they had a chance: They trailed Pittsburgh by four games for the second wild card. Take two of three from the Nats and maybe sweep the Mets and the Braves would face four games against the Pirates at Turner Field. (Never mind that Milwaukee was also ahead of the Braves.)

Today the Braves and Pirates will begin that four-game series, and the former has been eliminated. The Pirates went 4-2 [More]

Who’s at fault for this September’s Braves flop?

  • 10:20 am Wednesday, September 17th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Somebody got to celebrate at Turner Field. (David Tulis/AP)

I’m on record as saying I believe Fredi Gonzalez to be a good manager. He passes the test every successful manager must pass: His men play hard. (That’s the weird part about what’s happening now; the Atlanta Braves still, at least to these eyes, appear to be playing hard. Just not well, at least when it comes to hitting the ball.) If you ask me today if I’d be comfortable with Gonzalez managing this team the next five years, I’d say yes almost without hesitation.

Here, however, is where the “almost” arises: For the second time in four years, the Braves [More]

The .500 Braves are facing change. But how much?

  • 9:24 am Tuesday, September 16th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
"I find this ejection unacceptable." (Curtis Compton/AJC)

On the night of Sept. 15, the Atlanta Braves completed their downward journey to break-even. After 150 games, they’re where they were on April Fools’ Day. Then they were 1-1. They’re now 75-75. They’re no longer a winning team.

It was altogether fitting and proper that this inglorious moment came against the Washington Nationals, the one opponent they’d been able to handle, and Stephen Strasburg, the pitcher they’d come to own. Alas, these Braves have fallen so far that even those Old Reliables have been rendered moot. Strasburg pitched seven shutout innings. The Nats won 4-2 to pare their magic number [More]

Meanwhile, back at the Braves: Is all hope gone?

  • 8:19 am Wednesday, September 10th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Kind of says it all, doesn't it? (Alex Brandon/AP)

Can’t you just see it? Fifteen days from now, the Atlanta Braves will have swept four games from Pittsburgh to clinch the second wild card and the champagne will be flowing in the home clubhouse at Turner Field — yes, teams celebrate being the runner-up of runners-up — and the soggy Braves will turn to the cameras and proclaim,” Nobody believed in us! Everybody counted us out! Everybody said this wasn’t possible!”

And that last part will be true. Look around today. Nobody believes in the Braves. Everybody has counted them out. Everybody is saying even a second wild card isn’t [More]

The plucky Braves try again to score an actual run

  • 12:00 pm Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Turner Field, 13 minutes before gametime. Pennant fever! (M. Bradley)

The Atlanta Braves had three hits Tuesday, one night after they’d managed none. They actually had 11 on Sunday, which enabled them to score one run. That run — a second-inning homer by Evan Gattis — remains the Braves’ only one in 37 innings.

They’ve been shut out three times in four games. Over that span, they’re 1-for-23 with runners in scoring position. (And the one hit — a Jason Heyward infield single Saturday night — didn’t result in a run.) Over those four games, the Braves are hitting .044 with RISP. Fun fact: The Braves were actually 0-for-6 with RISP [More]

In this season of no hitting, the Braves are no-hit

  • 6:02 pm Monday, September 1st, 2014 by Mark Bradley
The Braves managed the same number of hits against each of these four. (John Bazemore/AP)

Labor Day brought a logical culmination to the five months that had come before. The Atlanta Braves were no-hit by four Phillies pitchers, the first of whom — Cole Hamels, who can be great — wasn’t terribly great by his standards. He walked five and hit a batter in six innings, after which he retired, having thrown 108 pitches.

The Braves did nothing — not against Hamels, not against the three relievers who followed him. A season spent doing little on offense reached a nadir in its 138th game. No runs, no hits, no chance.

Ready for the really weird part? Until [More]

Labor Day dawns, and the Braves are buoyant

  • 11:28 am Monday, September 1st, 2014 by Mark Bradley
"I think we're better than Milwaukee. What about you?" (David Goldman/AP)

Four weeks ago, these flying fingers suggested that the arrival of baseball’s third holiday checkpoint would reveal the Atlanta Braves’ playoff chances as a forlorn hope. This grim forecast was based on two observations: First, the Braves’ schedule was about to toughen; second, that the Braves had been, not to sugarcoat things, stinking out Ye Olde Joint.

Which only goes to show: Baseball seasons are rarely quite what they seem. After an 0-8 West Coast swing, the Braves have gone 14-9. (That still puts them three games under .500 over the past 31, but never mind.) Our friends at Baseball [More]