77 thoughts on “The Worst Team in Baseball Just Swept Us”

  1. David O’Brien @DOBrienAJC · 5m
    And now, the Nats can clinch the division if they win 2 of 3 over the #Braves at Turner Field.

  2. And some are thinking Bethancourt is our catcher of the future. Ugh… blow it up this offseason. The entire operation.

  3. Shouldn’t the title be: Worst team in baseball swept by the team with the worst record in baseball. Good God. As I have stated earlier I don’t want a total rebuild. If it is done correctly, though we should see 50% turnover this off season.

    WTF? Weren’t we in first place at one point?

  4. Excluding Freeman (though he has his moments as well), this is the most excruciating team to watch hit I’ve ever seen. Just painful to see how poor the at bats are day in and out.

  5. @ 4

    Agree 100%. Freddie, Julio and Wood are the only three I think should be locked in to the roster for next year. Add Heyward to that list if he moves to CF and signs long-term for at least a marginal discount. Add Simmons to that list if the roster is contstructed in such a way that he is obviously the worst hitter of the regular starting 8.

  6. I’m hoping the Braves go something like 1-12 to finish the year to put a big old exclamation point on the fact that this team needs to be completely and totally rebuilt.

  7. I don’t know about the discount for Heyward. Given how they’ve played and how much closer to the market he is, I’d imagine he’d get at least as much as Freeman.

    They need to hit better, obviously. But much of the disappointment has come from young players not taking the step forward. Hey, Free, and Simmons combined for 54 dingers last year and they have 36 this year. It’s especially worrisome with Freeman who needs to have an elite bat. If he goes from a great hitter to a very good hitter, that’s going to be a big problem.

  8. @ 9

    I’m not hopeful either. Just spitballing, but if the Braves can’t sign him this offseason to a contract the team feels is at least a slight “win” for them, I wouldn’t blame them at all if they traded him. He deserves what the market will pay him after 2015, but unless Liberty is totally cool with eating all this bad contract $ without offsetting the sunk cost on current/future payroll.

  9. I think the Simba Cam and the 1914 throwback game were cool enough that this season was a winning one for the Braves regardless of the final record or play on the field. You see what this team has reduced my expectations to.

    My final hopes for this season are the Nationals don’t clinch at Turner Field on Wednesday and that the Braves are not mathematically eliminated on a Wednesday, either, so that I don’t have to recap those games and can just ignore them. Unfortunately, it’s looking like both of those occurrences are likely. Thanks, Braves.

    As much as I love baseball and do not like the offseason, I may have to forgo watching the playoffs this year and start the offseason early. I just don’t like any of the teams currently holding a playoff berth, and am feeling completely uninspired about watching any of them.

  10. @ 10

    Forgot to finish my sentence; in short, I think Heyward is probably gone unless Liberty gives the F.O. a mulligan on the funds we still owe Uggla and will inevitably owe BJ

  11. Short memory, yous guys. Fredi and Wren both recently signed extensions. I’d bet on Walker/Fletcher not being retained, but it’s gonna take more to have Fredi and Wren given the boot. I could be wrong, but I’d be surprised. Wren and Fredi are Schuerholz’s guys. If they go, it’s gonna be part of a much larger shaking up of the front office.

  12. @17 and 18 You both have listed the precise reasons why I think the whole gang will be back next season. Wishful thinking that there will be some major changes this offseason. I think they will give this group one more year before major changes will be made because Heyward’s, Justin’s, and more importantly Uggla’s contract will be off the book after 2015. This offseason is more about rebuilding the rotation because Santana and Harang will not be with us next year, and we can’t rely on the returns of Medlen and Beachy.

  13. Considering Santana’s likely gone (Qualifying Offer that you hope to God he doesn’t take?), I could see Harang coming back. That’s assuming we don’t get outbid, which is a distinct possibility.

    For all their flaws, I think a deeper pen and bench would be a huge help. Unless this year is an anomaly, CJ can be an extremely productive platoon partner with Gosselin.

    For a team with limited resources, they’ve remained very competitive. A lot went wrong this year for them to be average.

  14. Guys we have the worst offense I’ve ever seen. *And* we have to rebuild parts of the rotation. We’re not one or two pieces away.

  15. The Braves aren’t going to “blow the team up”, that’s never been their style. They’re going to try and compete in 2015.

  16. Wren has done a good job of producing what appears at the beginning of each season to be a competitive roster. The penchant of our pitchers to get hurt more often than those of other teams is not on him, and depending on how much you believe early call-ups retard development (I don’t put much stock in it), the disappointing performance of some of our young hitters can also be laid mostly at others’ feet. His glaring errors are the length of commitments to Uggla and BJ, and constructing a bench this season that anyone could see was going to be weak. He deserves another year, but it will be a year of limited maneuverability. That Gattis trade better work fast….

  17. @23

    Yeah, I hope the scouts weren’t waiting for the white bear in Washington or Texas.

    On a fun note, we’ve hit a round number! Set the no-more-BJ-contract clock at t-minus 500 games!

  18. On paper, this was not such an average team at the beginning of the season.
    The pitching has held up even better than one could imagine once three fifth of the rotation went down. Wren did a good job getting Harang (and Santana).

    There was no reason to think that the offense would be as bad as it turned out to be. We can’t even blame injuries. Pretty much every regular player outside Freeman, Gattis (when he played) and JUpton regressed. Uggla, BJ and Andrelton are among three of the worst everyday offensive players in baseball. CJ forgot how to hit RHP and the bench just sucked. At the beginning of the season, this was a young team coming off a 93 win-season a year older and supposedly better.

    The hitting coaches will be gone and rightfully so. They can’t be the only problem but I just don’t really understand what went wrong. I don’t get it. They should not have played this bad offensively.

    Three weeks ago, I planned my October US business trip in order to be able to watch the wildcard game. I guess I’ll have to make other plans for the evening of Oct 1st.

  19. When the best sporting result you’ve got to hang your hat on from a weekend is a triple-OT home victory over Kentucky (at football), you’ve had it rough.

    Oh well. Beats the hell out of a triple-OT home loss to Kentucky.

  20. Mavery, I meant to tell you last week that you’d be ashamed of me, a handler without a high-release forehand.

    Why is it you don’t play anymore? I couldn’t get by without it.

  21. It’s one thing if the best option is to rebuild somewhat next season. But if Wren resigns Harang as part of an effort to field a competitive team in 2015, I’m not sure if the right response is a boycott or a protest.

    You can’t look at Uggla, BJ, CJ, Andrelton and tell me that going into this season, we couldn’t have predicted the offense might just be completely putrid. You just can’t. And we did next to nothing to secure platoon partners for some of these guys whose defense doesn’t help offset their offensive ineptitude.

    I have to tell myself signing Santana must’ve really pushed us past our limit because doing almost nothing is absolutely insane.

  22. @27- Mostly laziness on my part. Well, that and like a job. (It’s a lot easier to find the time in grad school than when you have a job that involves a lot of travel.) And I’m older/fatter/slower. :-)

    But I joined the Fall league up here! Had to miss Week 1 last weekend, but I’m really looking forward to this weekend. I still have tons of fun playing, just can’t run like I used to.

  23. All I know is, with the combination of poor play and poor lineup construction, they aren’t doing anything to excite the fan base or gain new fans. We all knew that, even with 96 wins, they weren’t going far in the playoffs last year. I know it seems silly, but I want that 90’s/first half of 00’s feeling that the team is good enough to win the World Series.

  24. Can we please drop the “poor lineup construction” gambit? There is no “good lineup construction” with the currently available players.

  25. Sam, not for argument but for edification, were you Liberty/JS, what would you do this offseason, given budget restrictions and existing contracts?

    Barring miraculous medical and/or on-field recoveries, I see little hope for 2015.

  26. I think we need to bring in Ozzie Guillen to replace Chip Caray. And we’ll probably need to keep a solid bleeper button guy on salary up in the booth.

  27. @28 – The only totally lost cause was Uggla. You could reasonably expect BJ, Simmons and Johnson to be decent. BJ’s 2013 was an outlier. Simmons’ was his second full season and while Johnson had a career year in 2013 and you expected regression, you would be a total pessimist if you thought he’d regress to this putrid level. I mean this is his career slash line .282/.319/.419/.738.

    Hindsight is 20/20.

    Going forward the Braves have to come to grips with what is looking like yet another failed acquisition and let BJ go. If they didn’t learn anything from the Uggla situation last year then shame on them. If I am Wren I go contritely to the money folks and let them know we need to pay BJ NOT to play for the Braves.

    The team is in a quandary. Do you try to build around the good guys …… again? It worked in 2013. Or do you blow it up and start over? I don’t think they will blow it up. I think that Teheran, Wood, Minor are a good enough starting 3 to build around. Wren has been brilliant at acquiring has beens and cast offs and populating the bottom of the rotation. Kimbrell Walden Carpenter are a good relief corp to build around.
    Of the positions, you have to move Heyward to CF and go out and find a dammed RF that can hit. Sort of repeating myself here but you compete 2B with Gosselin and LaStella or platoon them. Then you have compete 3b too even though you just signed Johnson long term. Gosselin, should be in the mix there too. For better or worse we are looking at the Christian Bethancourt era at catcher.

    So our trade chip will be Gattis. We aren’t going to get a huge haul for him but maybe a journeyman OFer that can hit a little would be nice.

    I think that the Braves have to make a decision on Simmons (trigger WAR worshipers). At .182/.220/.horrible he is a net drag on the team. An off season program is really needed for him. He was a decent minor league hitter. I think he can be an offensive contributor. Even if we get another hitter to play RF I don’t think the offense can carry both Bethancourt and the current Simmons.

    If the Braves decide to sort of blow it up, then Minor, Kimbrell and Gattis should be on the trading block. If they decide to blow it up all the way then add Heyward and JUpton to that list.

  28. In my opinion, blowing up the entire operation would be to find a GM and a Manager that can work with mid-market teams. While the A’s are face-planting pretty hard right now, they’re the mid-market team that the Braves should model themselves after. The A’s have only 1 player with more than 500 ABs this year and that is Donaldson. The Braves have 5, with BJ receiving an inexcusable 488 ABs. The Braves seemingly have a team of individuals with very few that seem to be “team-goal oriented”. There are everyday players on this team that need rest, Andrelton and Freddie to name 2, yet both guys have been vocal about being in the lineup everyday.

    Diving deeper into splits, there are holes that are too easily exposed with a team in which no matter the pitching matchup, essentially sends the same lineup out everyday with Chris Johnson, who can’t hit RHP, Jason Heyward, who can’t hit LHP, and Simmons/BJ who can’t hit any pitching while leaving guys on the bench that could easily compliment the “everyday players” weaknesses (Bonifacio, La Stella, Gosselin). At this point in the season, it’s too late but having a forward-thinking manager and general manager that understands the players strengths, as well as weaknesses, would be ideal. It shouldn’t take a manager seeing 443 abyssmal ABs to recognize that Chris Johnson can’t hit RHP this year, nor should Heyward have seen 138 ABs against LHP, or Andrelton played in so many consecutive games despite diving deeper and deeper into an offensive slumber.

    This is my main reason why I’d like to see the 2015 Braves restructured with numerous interchangeable parts to give players equal rest throughout the year, no matter the length or size of the contract. However, I think it starts with trading both CJ and BJ. Both players handicap both offense and defense too much. A team of Gosselin, La Stella, and Peraza with someone like Bonifacio re-signing would provide a ton of flexibility all around the diamond.

    If the As can do it, then why not us?

  29. While the A’s are face-planting pretty hard right now, they’re the mid-market team that the Braves should model themselves after.

    Why should the Braves “model themselves after” the A’s?

  30. Edward, @35: I have an 11 meeting with web presentation that I’m driving. I’ll come back to your question later today.

  31. @40, Forget about the As as a messaging point.

    On defense, teams are going with more specialized pitching and specialized fielding. The teams that don’t adapt and specialize their offenses will be 29th in the league in hitting.

  32. Sam, @41:

    Knock’em dead at your meeting. Coop asked the question, but I think it would be great of you to dovetail my broadcasting suggestion into your answer.

  33. By the way, billjamesonline is broken again:

    The hottest teams in baseball at this moment are:
    Los Angeles Angels 111°
    Baltimore Orioles 103°
    San Francisco Giants 101°
    Cleveland Indians 100°
    Atlanta Braves 86°

  34. @40
    Well, I stated that @40 but I’ll rephrase…The A’s have a team of selfless players, whether it be forced by administration/management, or those are the players that are sought out. The team’s offensive balance is crazy with only one person receiving 500 or more ABs this year. The organization recognizes players strengths and weakness and matches them up accordingly. For a mid-market team that cannot keep many high-priced players, playing the card of playing players’ strength to create a stronger offense is smart biz.

    Example 1: The As would have never let Heyward reach 138 at-bats against LHP. Rather they would have scheduled his off days on 40-50% of those days.

    Example 2: Chris Johnson would have never seen 400+ ABs against RHP. Rather they would have spaced his off days accordingly to keep his exposure down to RHP.

    Example 3: Andrelton Simmons would have been given many more off days during his stretch of poor offensive numbers to aid in getting his head straight.

  35. 30: You can’t actually agree to that by the terms of the CBA. Are you saying there was an undisclosed agreement? What’s your source?

  36. When everyone in the lineup sucks then there’s not much you can do. Will the plan for 2015 be to hope for some positive regression?

  37. Anyone got a Gattis update? I think this WTF situation deserves its own post.

    Also, I would consider shutting down both Teheran and Wood at this point. Go get’em next season guys.

  38. @49

    Let’s be specific. We have 4 good hitters. One of them is excellent. Three of them are everyday players. One of them is probably off working as a ski bum before the winter rush, which takes away from his plate appearances. It’s rare that they’re all in the line-up, and rarer still that they all have a good day on the same day.

    When I lay it out for myself like that it seems surmountable. Trade the ski bum or figure out a way to get him 550 plate appearances. Fill in at least 3 other spots in the line-up with players who are more likely than not to be terrible on any given day. Treat the bench (with the exception of the back-up catcher) as a flexible group until you find the best fivesome you’ve got. No bench player given a contract should be assured of a year-long role on the team. Don’t forget to remember not to forget that defense is very important.

    See? Guiding principles.

  39. @51

    Wood needs to pitch the rest of the way. I want his body used to the whole major league season. He’s already spent a month in the pen.

  40. @52, I know you love him but Heyward doesn’t hit well enough to carry this team. He’s very average and should probably not even play against LHP. I don’t think Freeman is good enough either. We need guys that can slug it. Not just homers. Doubles matter a lot too. If we’ve just got oppo-field singles hitters as two of our top 3 hitters then we’re doomed. Doomed I say.

    I don’t know where the power went. It’s down across the league, but with us it’s down a lot more than can be explained. I hope we consider a PED regimen in the offseason.

  41. Well, I stated that @40 but I’ll rephrase…The A’s have a team of selfless players

    Fuzzy headed psychological projection. The A’s are no more “selfless” than the Braves. Up until a few weeks ago, they were having better results.

    Example 1: The As would have never let Heyward reach 138 at-bats against LHP. Rather they would have scheduled his off days on 40-50% of those days.
    Example 2: Chris Johnson would have never seen 400+ ABs against RHP. Rather they would have spaced his off days accordingly to keep his exposure down to RHP.
    Example 3: Andrelton Simmons would have been given many more off days during his stretch of poor offensive numbers to aid in getting his head straight.

    Ex 1: who plays for Heyward instead? BJ Upton? Todd Cunningham? Super Magic Secret Platoon Partner That Doesn’t Actually Exist On The Roster? Ryan Doumit?

    Ex 2: who plays for Johnson. (Gosselin, maybe? That seems reasonable at this point. Not sure it seemed reasonable in April.)

    Ex 3: who plays for Andrelton? (Gosselin again? He can’t play 3B and SS at the same time.)

  42. I’m pretty sure I read it as part of an understood agreement. We’ll see how it plays out, but I don’t expect them to FO Santana.

  43. @ #54

    Isn’t Freeman among the league leaders in doubles? I attribute his struggles to his trying to carry the team and to his attempts to adjust to the various shifts teams have played against him. He’ll work it out.

  44. @54

    We don’t need Heyward to carry this team. We need him to be a good offensive player in a line-up with 5-6 other good offensive players.

    As far as power goes, Freddie is 8th in baseball in extra base hits. Justin is 12th. Gattis is slugging .507 (albeit in limited playing time).

    Sure, Heyward would be a better hitter if he hit more home runs and doubles. But he’s got a .354 on-base percentage and 19 stolen bases. If 7 of 9 players in the line-up played offense that well you’d league the lead in scoring. Yeah, I want him to carry the offense again, too. But that isn’t what the team needs in order to score more runs. The team needs fewer outs from the other 4 or 5 spots in the line-up.

  45. Yesterday, Heyward singled, stole second as The Future struck out, made it to third on the errant throw, and watched as the next to batters popped out on the infield and grounded out.

    Yes, he’d have scored if he hit a home run to lead off the inning. And yes, if he hit for all the power it seemed he was capable of we’d have scored more runs this year. But his not having hit a home run is not what we need to fix about this offense. I’d wager the offense would still be broken if Heyward were putting up a line like Freeman’s.

    Because there are simply too many outs in it. There are not enough potential extra bases in one player’s bat to off-set the abundance of outs in other parts of our line-up.

  46. @58, the team as-constructed needs Heyward to be a star hitter. If it doesn’t come from him then where else is it going to come from? There’s legit talk of him getting north of 200 million dollars. You just can’t spend that on a guy that doesn’t hit like a super star.

    “We don’t need Heyward to be a super star with the bat, he does so many other things well”…ok I’ll buy that to an extent…but we need super stars with the bat in the lineup *somewhere*. If we lock up Heyward and Justin both (assuming we find a money tree), we’re still looking at a terrible offense. We have them all on the same team right now! They aren’t good enough to carry it all.

    So then you turn the focus to the other real dreck in the lineup and try to fix that (rather than worry about how much of a superstar your top players are). Can we fix CF? I don’t see how. Can we fix 3B? I don’t see how. Do we want to fix SS? I don’t see them doing anything there. Is Peraza the answer at 2B? I don’t see how he’d be much better than La Stella, but maybe worth a try. Can we fix C? Other than somehow keeping Gattis healthy, we look primed to take a large step backwards offensively there next year.

  47. There is only one currently active player in the NL with a higher OBP this season than Freddie Freeman, and only one with more doubles.

  48. @55
    I’ll leave it as a disagreement then. I’ve realized recently that I don’t have to defend every statement I make to the nth degree. It’s been quite a revelation!

  49. @47 – At the start of the season the bench was Doumit, Schafer, Pena, Pastornicky and Laird. To Sam’s point, who are the platoon partners for Heyward and Johnson there? The significant change in the bench has been the deletion of Schafer and the addition of Gosselin and Bonafacio. Again no platoon partner for Heyward.

    In a chicken and an egg sort of way I’m still not sure if Fredi mismanaged Doumit. Did he suck because he didn’t get playing time or did he not get playing time because he sucked? He has only gotten 153 PAs this year after averaging over 500 for his career. It was probably a mistake thinking that Doumit could transition from playing a lot to primarily a bench player. However, when it became evident that BJ was going to be awful I would have taken the hit on defense and played Doumit some in LF. I mean, look at the great results we got leaving our best defensive outfield out there.

  50. Year Tm W L Playoffs Tm W L Playoffs
    2014 Oakland Athletics 83 66 DNP Atlanta Braves 75 74 DNP
    2013 Oakland Athletics 96 66 Lost LDS (3-2) Atlanta Braves 96 66 Lost LDS (3-1)
    2012 Oakland Athletics 94 68 Lost LDS (3-2) Atlanta Braves 94 68 Lost NLWC (1-0)
    2011 Oakland Athletics 74 88 DNP Atlanta Braves 89 73 DNP
    2010 Oakland Athletics 81 81 DNP Atlanta Braves 91 71 Lost LDS (3-1)
    2009 Oakland Athletics 75 87 DNP Atlanta Braves 86 76 DNP
    2008 Oakland Athletics 75 86 DNP Atlanta Braves 72 90 DNP
    2007 Oakland Athletics 76 86 DNP Atlanta Braves 84 78 DNP
    2006 Oakland Athletics 93 69 Lost ALCS (4-0) Atlanta Braves 79 83 DNP
    2005 Oakland Athletics 88 74 DNP Atlanta Braves 90 72 Lost LDS (3-1)
    2004 Oakland Athletics 91 71 DNP Atlanta Braves 96 66 Lost LDS (3-2)
    2003 Oakland Athletics 96 66 Lost LDS (3-2) Atlanta Braves 101 61 Lost LDS (3-2)
    2002 Oakland Athletics 103 59 Lost LDS (3-2) Atlanta Braves 101 59 Lost LDS (3-2)
    2001 Oakland Athletics 102 60 Lost LDS (3-2) Atlanta Braves 88 74 Lost NLCS (4-1)
    2000 Oakland Athletics 91 70 Lost LDS (3-2) Atlanta Braves 95 67 Lost LDS (3-0)

  51. I’ll concede that Freeman and Justin are both plenty good enough – but the power outage (especially in the later part of this season) isn’t helping us.

    The rest of the team is so freaking horrible that we end up in a bad place.

  52. I could more understand if people thought we should model our organization on the Cardinals or Giants. But the A’s have literally done NOTHING more than the Braves have.

  53. The A’s have done about the same, with less, so they look smarter. I think that’s about the gist of it. Kind of ironic that the year they really “go for it” looks like it might implode on them. Their big trades have pretty much all been busts.

  54. I think people crush on the A’s because they’re cheap and they’re the super-popular “geek-chic” brand. I personally don’t understand what “they’ve gotten the same results that we cry and bitch about every year, but they were super cheap about failing to win anything of merit in the playoffs just like us” buys me. It makes no difference to me that Beane’s A’s fail cheaply. They fail more or less IDENTICALLY to the Braves. The point isn’t to fail with style. The point is to not fail.

  55. @60

    I was only talking about Heyward’s offense. This season is his floor offensively, and he’s still a player any team in baseball would love to have in the line-up.

    Fangraphs has a stat called “Off” that is on the main dashboard. I’m not going to pretend like I understand how it works, or how it plays into WAR or anything. For example, I don’t know if it includes baserunning or if that’s separate. But it’s a shorthand way of comparing different players’ offensive contributions.

    Anyway, of 151 qualified hitters, Heyward’s “Off” count of 10.8 is 59th. A player in the top half of regular players is a player you want in your offense.

    It’s not star-level performance. But we aren’t paying Heyward like a star. We’re paying him ~$7 million. That would be a bargain for a player with his batting line if he played DH. No one (except me, in my daydreams) is paying Heyward like a star player. Not this year. Not next year.

    On a side note, so the A’s trading away Cespedes for an ace pitcher has been a bust? Do you know who’s not as good in 2014 at hitting as Jason Heyward? Yoenis Cespedes.

  56. Their fans are going apeshit about losing Cespedes, because since the trade their offense has been downright Barvian. #firstworldproblems

  57. Or let’s look at it this way. The Washington Nationals have a pretty good offense. The Atlanta Braves have a bad offense. Right? Right.

    (All stats below are min. 50 PA’s so as to filter out unnecessary Terdoslaviches.)

    Washington’s best two hitters, Rendon and Werth, have Off. ratings of 29.7 and 26.3. Atlanta’s best, Freeman and Upton, have ratings of 29.8 and 26.0. Very, very, very slim advantage to Washington.

    Washington’s next two, Span and Laroche, have tallied 15.9 and 14.3. Atlanta’s next two, Gattis and Heyward, are at 11.5 and 10.8. Okay, so we’re down by a much more significant amount there. Heyward needs to hit for more extra bases and Gattis needs to step up to the plate more if those numbers are going to pull even.

    But–and this is why we are a terrible offense and why the Nationals are a pretty good one–the Nationals’ next four best hitters (Desmond, Zimmerman, Harper, Cabrera) total 18.2 Off (whatever that is). They all have positive numbers. The Braves next four best hitters total -11.6 Off. That’s terrible! Want to guess who those players are? Gosselin, Bonifacio, Bethancourt and Schafer. The only reason they’re even THAT close to the Nationals 5th through 8th best hitters is because none of them have 100 PA’s for the braves this year, which means none of them can have too big an impact.

    The Nationals worst offensive player has been Danny Espinosa. He has 326 plate appearances and totals -8.4 Off (whatever Off means). The Braves have 5 players (LaStella, Uggla, Johnson, BJ, and Simmons) with lower offensive totals than Danny Espinosa, and four of them have seen more plate appearances!

    So would more offense from Heyward be welcome? Yeah, it would. But if you think Heyward has been the problem with this offense, you’re not seeing the issue clearly.

  58. @74,

    As another note, Espinosa rarely plays anymore since they got Cabrera. His at bats came almost entirely before the trade.

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