Braves Eliminated

Same Box Score, Different Day

Remember the miserable Braves loss index we had, where the Braves would find creative ways to lose all the time and you could never guess which type of game it would be until toward the end of the game? I kind of miss those days. We’ve seen essentially the same game of baseball every day for the past three weeks, with very little variance to keep things interesting. We don’t have to wonder how this team will lose—we can correctly guess before the first pitch is thrown. Considering this team was above .500 until last week, it’s rather amazing that they could—and truly might—end up 10+ games under. Talk about a free fall.

Today, the Mets completed their first sweep of the Braves at Turner Field since 2007, proving that these are dark days indeed. Couple that feat with a Pirates victory, and your 2014 Atlanta Braves have officially been eliminated from postseason contention.

Elimination has been a foregone conclusion for awhile now, but what is incredible is that this Braves team, which spent a good portion of the season in the top spot of the NL East, may very well spend the last series of the year against the Phillies fighting for (or against) last place in the division. Wouldn’t that be something if the Braves ended up behind the Mets, Marlins, AND Phillies in the standings?

Really not much to report about the game itself. You’ve heard it all before. Ervin Santana got the start, and gave up single runs in the 1st and 2nd and three in the 4th. Juan Jaime relieved him in the 6th and had to be bailed out by Luis Avilan, who got out of the inning with only one run allowed. Pickles Schlosser finished the game, giving up runs in the 8th and 9th. The Mets made up for the lack of variety that has characterized Braves baseball in September, scoring their runs on base hits, a sac fly, a passed ball, a home run, a sac bunt and catcher error combo, an errant pickoff throw…you just could not tell what would happen next.

The Braves offense, meanwhile, scored 2 runs or less for the 60th time this season, which is just brutal. The first four Braves struck out swinging today, and Jacob deGrom had seven strikeouts his first time through the Braves lineup. Justin Upton broke up deGrom’s perfect game with a leadoff double in the 5th, and the Braves actually plated two runs that inning on two runs, two walks, and an error.

The most interesting thing to happen today occurred in the second inning, when Mark Bowman released an article speculating Fredi will be given one more year to right the ship, but that Frank Wren may be fired as early as the next day or two. I think the writing on the wall for Wren has grown quite visible indeed. Further speculation in that article was the possibility of Dayton Moore replacing Wren, which would mean the last several years I’ve spent being thankful that the Braves let Moore walk and kept Wren will all ultimately come to naught. Maybe the Royals will win the World Series this year and Kansas City will throw all sorts of money at Moore and spare us all that worry.

This season will mercifully end a week from today. What remains to be seen is what the team will look like when they next play the Mets on Opening Day 2015. We shall see.

73 thoughts on “Braves Eliminated”

  1. Another somber note: The Braves would have to win five out of their last eight games to match the total number of wins this month that they had in September 2011 during their epic collapse. And I thought that month was brutal.

  2. Lest we forget Schuerholz cleaned the cupboards before handing the job to Wren.

    Oh, come on. Wren has been General Manager for six years now. You can’t blame today’s Braves on Schuerholz.

    Besides, last I read, the Texas Ranger fans despise Elivis Andrus, and the $15,000,000 he’s going to get in 2015. Saltalamacchia was never anything special, and had no place with McCann anyway, and both Matt Harrison and Neftali Feliz have pitched about thirty innings in the past two years. The final prospect in that deal, Beau Jones, never even made the majors.

  3. I had to go today to burn up the last of my tickets. The only thing worse than the game was the certainty that McGuirk/Liberty is going to make it much worse very soon.

  4. Uh huh, tell Wren that in 2008 he could have had Neftali Feliz and Matt Harrison instead of Buddy Carlyle and Jorge Campillo.

  5. Well, I was wrong. Wren will be fired. I guess BJ + Uggla + Lowe > All the good shit he has done. After 2 months of Dayton Moore y’all will be crying for Frank Wren. Fredi gets the old look at what I had to manage defense, i guess. Depressing. Dayton Moore???? WTH?

    Well for us old guys its back to the future, the 80’s redux.

  6. I am not for firing Wren either. People here were singing his praises at the start of the year.

    I’d fire Gonzalez, and really all the coaches except the pitching coach.

  7. @8 Totally agreed. Wren is Branch Rickey compared to Dayton Moore. The man salvaged a pretty good pitching staff out of a complete health meltdown in the spring. The offense is almost entirely composed of the same guys that made up the 3rd best offense in the league in 2013 and who are all on the positive side of the aging curve. He pulled the team out of the mess that Schuerholz left it in and has had the team either in the playoffs or close to it every year since 2009 prior to this year.

    If you want to get rid of Wren because there’s a clear upgrade available, then go for it, but if the goal is to make room for Dayton effing Moore, he of the never ending Process that has gotten Kansas City all of one year of September relevance in his entire tenure, then the person whose goal that is should be fired immediately instead, and it sure sounds like that’s Schuerholz’ goal.

  8. Dayton Moore doesn’t make a damn bit of sense. Thats why we’ll do something fucking stupid like trade Alex Wood for him. Wren has made some mistakes, but IMHO he has been a net good GM. What we dont know except for the snippets of stuff we are getting from the mouth pieces is what his relationship is with the staff and upper mgmt. Im sure that like all organizations when stuff is going good everyone is happy. The true test of a front office is when the shit hits the fan. A panic move to can a competent GM says a lot.

  9. Looking at the performance of the team in September in the past seasons, Fredi really has to go. He has no clue how to right the ship when it is going wrong. I am not sure giving him one more year would do anything rather than creating more uncertainties.

    I have been a huge Wren supporter since he traded frenchy away, and he did great in trading for Walden, Bourn and Justin, but going so wrong on Lowe, Uggla, and BJ signings aren’t helping. These contracts keep setting back the franchise and this is precisely the kind of mistakes we can’t afford.

    We have two in house GM veterans in JS and Hart. I don’t think we need to get Dayton from KC. We can just go the cheap route and promote from within.

  10. Dayton Moore is probably just a bargaining position against Copolella. I bet we’ll go the route of having JS/Hart helping Coppolella next year. At least I hope so.

    Wren’s FA signings shook my confidence in him, and everything we’re hearing now about the FO dysfunction destroyed what confidence was left. Hart better not have been behind the CJ extension.

  11. Fredi has been at the wheel for two of the most spectacular collapses (both after strong starts) in franchise history. He has not won a playoff series Either managers don’t matter, so why keep him, or they do, so why keep him.

  12. I truly don’t care if Fredi gets fired. It doesn’t matter who the manager is. I am alarmed at the Dayton Moore talk. It probably won’t happen but the fact its being speculated is disturbing.

    Fredi deserves blame, but given the hand that was dealt him you could justify his survival.

  13. If they hire Dayton Moore I will put my fanship for the duration of his tenure. Find the best up and coming assistant GM with an analytical background.

  14. Jon Heyman, whatever his insight is worth, is writing that there are no current thoughts of replacing Gonzalez, but that Wren’s role appears in jeopardy. If so, that is absurd.

  15. Promote TP or Eddie Perez, I honestly feel like either could do a better job. Here is something that I respect. First honest thing from one of our players.

    @DOBrienAJC: #Braves Santana on pitchers: “We have our confidence up, but at the same time you have to, like, throw a complete-game shutout to get a win”

    @DOBrienAJC: #Braves Santana: “I don’t know what to tell you. From pitching standpoint, we do our job. I mean, we don’t score any runs. I don’t know.”

  16. @DOBrienAJC: #Braves Santana on his 1,500th strikeout: “You enjoy it for a second, and then we’re back to reality and we lose again. It’s not worth it.”

  17. Sounds like Santana’s amenable to a discount!

    Generally speaking, I’ve been pleased with Wren. I think he assembled a good young team. There have been a few deals that thankfully fell through and the FA record and extensions are damning. If there’s internal strife too, then I don’t imagine he’ll be around long. It’s too bad, in my opinion.

  18. I know the GM should get the blame for the FA signings, but it should also be noted that Cox was also involved in that deal taking place. However, more of the blame should lie on Fredi and this second collapse in 4 years. He’s the one making out the lineup and making the pitching changes. Don’t see how one can be blamed without the other.

    It seems there really is no leadership on the ball club. That starts with Fredi and works it’s way down.

  19. @21 – I heard the interview with Santana and was not impressed. It sounded like he’s not a very good teammate. I heard it as him blaming the offense for his poor pitching. I understand that you feel like you can’t give up any runs if you want to win and know that’s frustrating. However, if you allow 5 runs in 5 innings, you have no one to blame but yourself.

  20. @25 when the team can’t score it makes it very difficult to pitch. You know you have to be perfect in order to win. That increases stress. Giving up a run or 2 means a loss. That is rough.

    Side note, I went to the Marlins v Nationals game on Friday night. Marlins Park is pretty damn nice.

  21. I know how Frank Wren feels. I have my entire fantasy team stacked with homerun hitters, and for the most important week of the season (which is the playoff), the lineup gave me ONE homerun for the week. Just fantastic.

  22. I don’t understand the argument that the collapses are Fredi’s fault because he “couldn’t right the ship” or because he makes out the lineup card. Who was he supposed to put on that lineup card? Moreover this was not really a collapse. The team had played poorly most of the year. If Fredi is responsible for September is he also responsible for April or for the 9 game winning streak? And why is he responsible for this year but apparently had nothing to do with the 96 win season in 2013. Just what is he supposed to do, say win one for the Gipper? This is a lousy team. I’m sure Fredi could have done some things better but it’s the height of absurdity to say that this is his fault.

  23. Blaming Fredi for the lineup is laughable. 3 guys in the bottom of the league in offensive value,sometimes 4. You can only hide so many turds in a punchbowl. Leadership? By all descriptions Kirk Gibson is a hell of a leader of men.

  24. You know how people say, “I could care less” when they really mean, “I couldn’t care less”? The Braves right now couldn’t care less. I’ve never seen a team try less hard than the Braves are (not?) trying right now.

  25. So Fredi isn’t responsible for writing down BJ Upton’s name in the leadoff spot for the majority of the season? Or his love affair with Avilan and David Hale in crucial spots? I guess we also shouldn’t blame him for letting a pitcher hit for himself only to come back and pull him in the next half inning.

  26. If it’s Dayton Moore, I might take an extended leave of absence. The entire point of an overhaul would be to get rid of the same good-ol-boy network that’s past its sell-by date here, not just put a recycled (but less successful) face on it.

    Also, the idea that Wren is on a hotter seat than Fredi seems like office politics over results. I can tell you some things Wren has done well. I can’t point to anything that gives Fredi any more than neutral “manager WAR” even in the most generous case.

  27. @26 – I agree with what you said. If you’re pitching well through 5 or 6 and the Braves don’t score any runs and you give up a few runs because you’re trying to make the perfect pitch I can understand that. I don’t doubt that happened at times with Santana. If you give up individual runs in the 1st and 2nd and 3 in the 4th, this isn’t on the offense, it’s on you. Maybe it just hit me wrong, but I think he was making excuses for his own ineptness.

    Santana is 14-10 with a 3.88 ERA. Wood is 11-10 with a 2.78 ERA, Teheran is 13-13 with a 2.88. Even Harang is 11-11 with a 3.68 ERA. Of all our pitchers Santana has the least to complain about when it comes to run support.

  28. @32

    It’s entirely possible that Fredi is, in fact, not responsible for B.J. Upton being in the lineup. And once his inclusion in the lineup is mandatory, it doesn’t make a damned bit of difference where he is. Fredi was just throwing stuff at the wall and seeing if anything would stick. B.J. obviously didn’t stick at leadoff, but he did slide slowly down the wall rather than bouncing off.

  29. As for Fredi, I will be okay either way. Only management really knows and can properly evaluate how he will do going forward. I thought he lost control of the team last year a little and I wouldn’t have been surprised to see him let go. I don’t know what I think about this year except sometimes a collapse can be related to how the manager manages. If this is the case a change of direction for the Braves may be in order. If he stays I would give Fredi about a 20% chance to make it past next year.

  30. I think the need to sign Santana already puts Wren on a hot seat as it completely destroyed the budget. From that perspective, I can understand why Wren is more accountable than Fredi for this season. The management went over budget to win this season, and there is no manager in baseball which can make an 8-game difference.

    Wren simply bet on the wrong players.

  31. @38 – ‘Wren simply bet on the wrong players.’ Somewhat true. He looks good for Harang Santana, and to some extent Floyd. How about Shae Simmons?
    Here are the guys that came up craps
    .283/.320/.418/.738 – Johnson career
    .244/.324/.400/.724 – Upton career
    I would have bet that Johnson and Upton would have hit their career slash lines. They didn’t. Not even close. Combine that with Simmon’s ineptitude with the bat and you have the reason we are discussing firing everyone.

    I know that I am vocal in my opinion that the manager doesn’t count when it comes to wins and losses but I think the way the bench was handled was poorly done. Schafer and Doumit needed some PAs to be effective. I am convinced Doumit would have been contributing more had he played more. I mean what the hell? When it became evident that BJ was going to suck the life out of the lineup, giving either guy more reps certainly couldn’t have hurt any more than trotting BJ out there.

  32. Actually Wren’s signings at the first of the year were effective. He had to replace 40 percent of his starting pitching in preseason and 20 percent more not far into the year. Pitching was definitely above average overall.

    The signing of BJ, Uggla, and Johnson are Wren’s downfall. If we would have struggled with starting pitching this year I would have confidence that our farm system would develop good pitchers eventually. I don’t have a lot of confidence that we have huge impact players in the minors who can turn our hitting around. Gosselin and LaStella have been upgrades from Uggla, but not huge impact players.

  33. There’s gotta be some website that aggregates the actual, quantifiable value of GMs’ various trades and signings. It’s so useless to sit here and speculate as to whether X of Wren’s signings canceled out Y trade. I’d be shocked if there wasn’t a GM WAR website.

  34. Although he’s old, worn-out and a retread, I’ve liked Davey Johnson dating back to his pre-Braves days. I wonder if he’d be interested in moving south into a mentoring-type position with my sorry-ass Braves.

  35. Fredi made a lot of mistakes-like most of the managers in MLB, including several whose teams are in the playoffs. I’m fine with the notion that the captain has to go down with the ship, but it’s sheer fantasy to believe that Fredi’s moves or non-moves had any significant factor on the season. Yes, he could have moved BJ out of leadoff sooner; would that have turned the season around? He could have handled the bench-whatever bench he had better. But it all amounts to moving the deck chairs on the Titanic. Maybe Buck Showalter would have handled things better, but I doubt he could have gotten this team to the playoffs because the major problem is not the manager but the players.

  36. I don’t think the love child of Miller Huggins and Joe Maddon could’ve done anything with this year’s team.

  37. Bobby Cox was asked the secret to his success in Atlanta. (paraphrasing) Well we’ve had a lot of good players come through here.

    Give Fredi Chipper, Andruw, Smoltz, Glavine, Maddux, McGriff etc etc and he would look positively brilliant. I simply don’t care one way or the other, but you could make a case for him to survive.

    The real leadership change we as fans should be concerned about is if they decide to fire Wren. Just like with all the pining around here for new ownership, be careful what you ask for. Wren > Dayton Moore for sure. and John Hart? Has he ever won anything except a year or two in Cleveland? I dunno and I’m too lazy to look it up.

    In the end if a GM change is made it will be the inexplicable fall through the bottom of the floor at a hundred miles per hour of Dan Uggla and BJ Upton that will be his undoing. Add regression from Johnson and Simmons and you have the total package of misery. If Johnson and BUpton just sniff their career numbers we are all here speculating on how we will lose in the Wild Card games.

  38. Fun with arbitrary endpoints:

    BJ Upton leads the team in homers in September. He has 2.

    Freeman, Justin, Doumit, and Gattis each have 1.

    Nobody else has any.

  39. Didn’t Wren get fired in Baltimore for leaving Cal Ripken behind on the tarmac? I thought he was pretty good, but he doesn’t seem to be the easiest guy to get along with when things aren’t going well.

    I’d like to see them fire every coach except McDowell, Perez, and Pendleton.

  40. Hart will act as interim GM. Presumably we’ll be promoting Coppollela sometime after the season ends, and he’ll decide how to fill out the manager and coaching staff.

  41. Roster construction is far more important than lineup construction. Wren obviously bears more blame than Fredi.

  42. Gammons saying changes coming to player development and international scouting as well.

    Sounds like the house cleaning will probably be pretty extensive. Except for the good ol boys at the top. I’d like them to go to. And all the players. And the announcers.

  43. They want the fans to see them making the move. If they don’t do it now they have to wait until after the World Series (they are a good org who won’t step on Buds carnival with distracting news.) and they don’t want fans to not know they are making the move. They’re very concerned with the optics here. They need to reverse the massive tune out the fan base just gave them down the stretch.

  44. Is there a reason we’re calling Bobby Cox and John Scheurholz good ol’ boys other than the fact that they’ve been with the organization a long time and we’ve had a bad season?

  45. The optics of having a shitty baseball team when they move into the Cobb Family Baseballery And Goodtime Emporium are going to be hard to miss. I’m not sure how they can avoid that at this point, barring some miraculously lucky trade or enough payroll to either keep Justin/Jason or sign a similar FA, which ain’t happening under Liberty.

  46. Count me in on the ones who want Fredi gone. If only for his post-game interviews. Can’t stand them anymore. Also, it is obvbious that he has “lost” the team indeed. Those soft factors are crucial for a successful manager.

  47. @60, they are indeed old, are they not? Give someone else a chance.

    @62, unfortunately I think you are right. But the guys that made us shitty should not still be here, so I think going into the new Dark Ages with different captains at the helm is the right thing to do.

    @63, I can’t take another season of “keep the line moving”. Enough already. Bringing him back is a giant FU to the fanbase.

  48. @59, This. Plus, if the team is actually going to do a real GM search (which is doubtful), better to do it now in case we have to compete with more teams within the same talent pool.

  49. I don’t understand the “new dark ages” talk. Yeah, if Dayton Effing Moore is the next GM I could see it, but this is one of the youngest teams in baseball coming off of a 96 win season that could’ve turned into a championship just as easily as anyone else’s. This is not the Phillies – there are 1.5 bad bad contracts on the book. Chris Johnson’s is bad just because he’s a replacement level player getting payed like an average one – it’s not actually that much money. Yes there appears to be a lack of sufficient starting pitching for 2015, but most teams don’t go into the next year with locked down rotations. Bullpen building has, prior to this year, been a strength of the organization in recent years. Everyone needs to not have career-worst offensive years next year and the RISP crapshoot needs to bounce luckily in our favor for once, but those things can all happen. This is still a good young core.

  50. Count me in with the folks who don’t understand the complaints about the “good ol’ boys” of Bobby Cox and John Schuerholz. I mean, those guys recently put together a somewhat successful franchise. Bobby Cox knows more about player and organization development than every spreadsheet you’ve ever opened. I’m all for giving Coppalella a shot at the helm. I have no interest in Dayton Moore, any more than you do. But let’s reel in the stupid shots at the guys who are the most recent architects of success in Atlanta, just because they don’t wear your favorite Billy Beane suits.

  51. @66, they have no offense in the pipeline, and are going to almost certainly lose two oftheir best hitters. Gattis and Freeman are all we’ve got under control for 16. I can’t see any probable way to alter that if the payroll stays the same, and even if it goes up, there’s a non trivial chance an fa signing goes all BJ Upton.

  52. Since 2011 the Braves have paid 210 million dollars for: Ken Kawakami, Derek Lowe, Dan Uggla and BJ Upton. For that money, they have received 3.2 WAR to date. That number will decrease as Upton plays and produces negative WAR.

    For comparison, in 2012, the Angels paid $240 million for Albert Pujols.

  53. The AJC article mentioned once again Wren’s personality as part of the problem. I guess you can be an asshole as long as you win. http://markbradley.blog.ajc.com/2014/09/22/in-the-end-even-this-wren-defender-has-no-objection/

    Its too bad. I still think Wren was a net positive as our GM. I think he has improved the team a lot since the beginning of his tenure in 2007. In the end the combination of his interpersonal skills (lack thereof) and the bad contracts were too much for the Braves upper level management to bear. I can see the Braves point of view.

    What Sam said @67. Totally agree. I hope that the name Dayton Moore is never uttered by Schuerholz, Cox and Hart.

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