Mark Bradley blog 

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

The Braves do the right thing and cut Dan Uggla

  • 4:09 pm Friday, July 18th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Hat's all, folks. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

The question posed in this space Sunday — “Can the Braves please just cut Dan Uggla already?” — has received its answer. They could and they did. For Braves fans, this will seem an answered prayer. But this was, in the end, less about Uggla than about the other 24 Braves and their manager.

Uggla had ceased to be a big-league player but was taking up space on a big-league roster. Ergo, he was hurting that big-league team. Fredi Gonzalez had one fewer option because — let’s be blunt — he couldn’t count on Uggla to do anything good. [More]

Can the Braves please just cut Dan Uggla already?

  • 12:56 pm Sunday, July 13th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
That classic Uggla swing. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Dan Uggla didn’t set out to become the worst player in the major leagues. It just happened. But now that it has happened, the one thing the worst player in the majors can’t be, provided he wants to keep his place in the majors, is a distraction. Poor Dan just flunked that test, too.

On the day before the All-Star break, a day the Atlanta Braves will try to win a game and ensure that they hold at least a share of first place in the National League East, they first had to deal with the 25th man on a 25-man [More]

The Braves really need La Stella to keep hitting

  • 9:34 am Thursday, May 29th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
It's important that La Stella doesn't drop the ball, as it were. (Elise Amendola/AP)

July 1985: Milt Thompson was summoned from the minor leagues and started the second game of a doubleheader and again the next day. He had five hits in those two games. After the latter, Atlanta Braves manager Eddie Haas was asked, in a jocular way, if it would be hard to keep a guy hitting .417 out of the everyday lineup.

Haas, who had no ear for humor or nuance and who wouldn’t manage the Braves much longer, gave this question serious thought before finally saying: “He’s probably not going to hit .417 all year.”

Tommy La Stella isn’t going to hit [More]

Are the Braves a playoff team? (Yes, I think)

  • 10:02 am Wednesday, May 28th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
That's life: Flyin' high in April, shot down in May. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Even after they lost Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy to elbow surgery, I’ve operated under the belief that the Atlanta Braves would be a playoff team. I thought the absence of two starting pitchers would relegate them to wild-card status, but so far they’ve fooled me. (Not for the first time, and surely not for the last.) And now we’re on the far side of Memorial Day, which serves as the season’s first checkpoint, and we find them leading the National League East by 1 1/2 games.

Given the in-flux nature of their rotation and the out-of-it state of their [More]

Big Papi pops the Braves’ holiday balloon

  • 9:19 pm Monday, May 26th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Ervin Santana contemplates the slider that didn't slide. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Fredi Gonzalez tried to get Ervin Santana through five innings with a lead, which would have qualified the pitcher for a win. Trouble is, Santana’s team lost. Sometimes a manager, in trying to do a nice thing, winds up getting it wrong. This was such a time.

The Braves led 6-1 with two outs in the top of the fifth on Memorial Day. They hadn’t lost this season when scoring as many as six runs, not that they’ve scored six runs often. Santana wasn’t dominant but he was sharp enough to have yielded only one run, that spawned by a triple [More]

For the Braves, a good night at a needed time

  • 8:58 am Tuesday, May 20th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Lyle Overbay, shutdown reliever. (John Bazemore/AP)

On the other hand, a night like Monday can go a ways toward making a frustrated team feel better about itself. The Atlanta Braves opened a four-game series at Turner Field against an opponent much like themselves — the first-place Milwaukee Brewers have pitched very well but hit less well — and the home team didn’t suffer from the side-by-side comparison. The Braves mustered 15 hits and nine runs and reduced the Brewers to deputizing Lyle Overbay, a 37-year-old first baseman, for his major-league pitching debut.

Further indignity: Overbay was Milwaukee’s most impressive pitcher of the night.

This isn’t to say [More]

How can the Braves spike this punchless offense?

  • 8:18 am Monday, May 19th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Here's one guy you can't fault. (Jeff Roberson/AP)

The good news was that the Atlanta Braves scored six runs against the Cardinals on Sunday and fashioned a winning rally off one of the best young closers in the business. Never mind that the rally constituted a single, a double, two walks (one intentional) and a wild pitch. This punchless team will gladly take runs wherever and whenever it can find them, and it hasn’t found many.

We’re within sight of Memorial Day, the first checkpoint of the six-month season, and these are the unhappy totals: The Braves are last in baseball in runs, next-to-last in on-base percentage and next-to-next-to-last [More]

Why the Braves should dump Dan Uggla

  • 7:01 am Tuesday, May 13th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Fredi Gonzalez and Dan Uggla on a happier day. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Today’s AJC includes a column from yours truly advising the Atlanta Braves to release Dan Uggla. (It’s also available on myajc.com.) I realize such a move is easier said than done. I also believe such a move needs to happen.

Paying him $22.1 million to go away is a major financial reversal, but paying him that much money to sit in the dugout — counting last night’s loss in San Fran, Uggla has started one of the past seven games — is even more damaging. He has gone from being an All-Star to the 25th man on the Braves’ roster, [More]

The Braves: From near no-hitters to no hitting

  • 8:09 am Monday, May 5th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Chris Johnson displays the proper method of bat disposal. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Not so long ago, all the buzz was about the Atlanta Braves’ pitching. Their starting rotation was flirting with no-hitters once a week while compiling an outrageous ERA of 1.50 through 21 games. But then Alex Wood and Aaron Harang got hit hard on consecutive nights in Miami, which led to getting swept by the Marlins, and then the Braves got outpitched by San Francisco, which spawned another sweep, and now we’re back to where we’ve been for a while now.

The Braves can pitch, but — apart from the more-than-occasional home run — they can’t hit.

They still have the lowest [More]

A month in, Braves’ rotation finally has a clunker

  • 11:28 am Wednesday, April 30th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Alex Wood after Giancarlo Stanton's home run. (AP photo)

Well, we knew it wouldn’t last forever. Over the season’s first 21 games, no Atlanta Braves starter yielded more than three earned runs in a game and only one had yielded even three. In Game No. 22, Ervin Santana was touched for four. (Banish him to the bullpen!) In Game No. 25, Alex Wood surrendered seven. (Send him to Gwinnett!) And now the rotation, which posted an ERA of 1.50 through 21 games, has seen that number rise to 1.90. Which is still, we emphasize, the best in the majors by half a run a game.

David Schoenfield of ESPN’s SweetSpot [More]