Mark Bradley blog 

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

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]

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]

Why B.J. Upton still would seem untradeable

  • 8:59 am Tuesday, August 26th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Say this for B.J.: He does have nice glasses. (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

Bob Nightengale of USA Today has provided details regarding the Atlanta Braves’ attempt to trade B.J. Upton in July, an attempt first reported by Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports. Nightengale reports that the Braves were willing to take pitcher Edwin Jackson off the Cubs’ hands in “a straight swap of dead weight contracts.”

In other words: Not exactly a bonanza.

Jackson is owed $22 million over the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Upton is owed $46 million over the next three seasons. So: Big savings to the Braves, right? Per Nightengale, the Braves “would have had to throw in a ton of cash.” [More]

Good news: The toughest part is behind the Braves

  • 7:57 am Monday, August 25th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
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 [More]

The Braves have arisen, mostly due to J-Up

  • 10:35 am Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
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 [More]