Mark Bradley blog 

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

If John Hart won’t be the Braves’ GM, who will?

  • 8:31 am Wednesday, October 15th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Apparently his Hart wasn't in it. (David Tulis/AP photo)

Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reports that John Hart has declined the Atlanta Braves’ offer to remain their permanent-if-only-for-a-while general manager. (Hart is already the interim GM.) If this is indeed true — team president John Schuerholz told esteemed colleague David O’Brien the report is “not accurate” — it would be a mild surprise but no shock. Hart is 66, and it has been unclear whether he wants to return to baseball on a full-time basis.

Assuming Passan’s report is accurate, we need to ask how it affects the Braves’ search. Not much, I’d suggest. Passan identifies the two leading [More]

What do Giants and Cards have that the Braves lack?

  • 9:07 am Wednesday, October 8th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
These guys do this all the time, don't they? (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP photo)

Not to belabor a point, but over the past five seasons the Atlanta Braves have won 449 regular-season games. The San Francisco Giants have won 436; the St. Louis Cardinals have won 451. (From Opening Day 2010 through Sept. 18 of this year, the Braves and Cards had won the same number of games.)

Over that span, the Braves have won no playoff series — we count the wild card play-in as a series — and are 2-7 in postseason games. The Giants have won eight consecutive series and are 26-10 in postseason; the Cardinals have won eight of 10 series [More]

The Braves as a nostalgia act? Not necessarily

  • 10:53 am Tuesday, October 7th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
John, John and Bobby announce their Reunion Tour. (Curtis Compton/AJC photo)

It might seem as if the Atlanta Braves are, as has been suggested, interested more in getting the band back together and playing the old hits than in moving forward. I think it’s more accurate to say the Braves are determined to go back to The Braves’ Way of doing things, which we now know to mean the way the Braves did things before Frank Wren took over and ticked everybody off. We call the roll:

John Schuerholz: Off the golf course, back in the game.

Bobby Cox: No longer a man of leisure, again a man with a plan.

Fredi Gonzalez: Still [More]

The Braves keep Fredi G., but it’s not a mandate

  • 12:04 pm Friday, October 3rd, 2014 by Mark Bradley
"Better drive straight next season, Fredi." (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

The Atlanta Braves just announced that Fredi Gonzalez will return as manager in 2015, which should shock no one, and that co-hitting coach Scott Fletcher will not, which shouldn’t, either. The only mild surprise regarding the Braves’ staff is that third base coach Doug Dascenzo, imported after Brian Snitker was demoted to managing in the minors, is out after one year. (Guess Dascenzo was the real reason the team couldn’t get anybody past third base.)

Fletcher — like chief hitting coach Greg Walker, who resigned Tuesday — had to go. You can’t bring back the men who were charged [More]

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]