Rays 9, Braves… Oh, Never Mind

Brace yourself, everyone, I have some shocking news for you. If you are standing up, you may want to consider sitting down before you read on. Okay, fine, stay standing, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. Here it goes: the Atlanta Braves lost a game on the road. I know, I know, I know, it is such an infrequent occurrence it is hard to believe. But believe it you must, if you want to be the least bit grounded in reality.

How did such an unthinkable thing come to be? The Braves jumped out to an early lead, scoring three runs in the top of the second, and led the game 6-3 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning. Matt Wisler held the Rays to two runs over five innings and left his team in a good position to win, even though he gave up seven hits and two walks and seemed to be in trouble every inning.

Then the bottom of the seventh happened. It was so hideous that it isn’t even worth recapping, so long story short the Rays batted through their lineup and put six runs on the board to take a commanding lead. The icing on the proverbial cake was when the go-ahead run scored after Matt Marksberry couldn’t step on first base for the third out and then proceeded to glare at the umpire while totally oblivious to the runner streaking around third. Fun times in St. Pete. My sympathies go out to Rob and anyone else who witnessed this game in person. The last two innings were played as a formality, but they really needn’t have bothered.

The real tragedy of this game was that the Braves feast-or-famine offense, which is either shut out or scores a gazillion runs on any given evening, showed up in feast-mode on a day the Braves bullpen forgot the object of the game is to stop the other team from scoring and Fredi Gonzalez forgot he is allowed, under the rules, to remove a pitcher in the middle of an inning. Marksberry pitched 2/3 of an inning and allowed 5 runs (only three of which were “earned”, thanks to his own error). Of course, it’s not like the Braves bullpen is teeming with great options, but when a guy really doesn’t have it one night, it might not be a bad idea to stick someone else out there to see if he does.

The bottom of the Braves lineup contained the offensive heroes of the evening, as Joey Terdoslavich went 2-for-3 with two doubles, a walk, an RBI, and two runs scored, and Pedro Ciriaco went 2-for-3 with a run scored and four RBIs. Cameron Maybin also picked up a couple of hits, including a double of his own.

During the broadcast Chip related a story about Melvin Upton back in his B.J./Rays days. Allegedly, Joe Maddon repeatedly asked B.J. to play further back, but B.J. refused to do so and continued to play shallow. So one day while the Rays were on the road, the grounds crew at Tropicana Field tore up the turf and moved the star in centerfield back 20 feet. When the Rays got home again, B.J. jogged out to his position, positioned himself on the star as he normally did, and Maddon was happy. I don’t have a clue if that story is true or not, but if it is, it’s pretty funny. I would think that a major league player would be able to gauge where he is playing on his home field based on more than just the turf design, but clearly I would be wrong.

The Braves have now dropped 15 out of their last 19 games on the road since the start of July, which really makes me want to stay up late and watch them play in San Diego next week. Can you feel the excitement and anticipation? Speaking of the Braves schedule, they get another off day tomorrow, since nothing makes a two-game series better than being sandwiched between off days. Then they play one series at home, two on the road, and another at home before they get another off day, which randomly comes in the middle of a nine-day home stand. They then repeat that—a road trip sandwiched between home stands without an off day—with their next off day coming in the middle of a ten-game home stand. It’s odd to see a team go six weeks without having an off day on a travel day, but that’s what the Braves are heading into.

The only thing worse than a day with Braves baseball this season is a day without a Braves baseball. Since we get another one of those on Thursday, in addition to anything else you feel compelled to post, I would like to open the floor for a discussion on who the worst five players in Braves franchise history are. While there are no strict parameters for this exercise, I am talking about those who have made a negative impact on the team rather than simply those who put up bad numbers (so, if someone went 0-for-10 in his Braves career, he would be tied for worst batting average but his overall impact would be negligible). If you are so inclined, post your reasonings behind your nominations so inquiring minds can see how you came to your conclusions. And if you want to declare who you consider to be the worst player to ever don a Braves uniform, I would be very curious to see who you come up with.

80 thoughts on “Rays 9, Braves… Oh, Never Mind”

  1. Worst players… My #1 is Danny Kolb from 2005. Had approx. a -4 WPA as the Braves “closer”. Fortunately, they won the division despite his efforts. Combined awful performance with extreme unlike-ability. A rare jewel he was! Will continue to ponder spots 2-5…

  2. Just an addendum to that for those who weren’t watching: When Marksberry stopped to glare at the umpire instead of paying attention to the go-ahead run scoring, it was with full knowledge that the runner at first was indeed safe, unless Marksberry is a complete idiot. He didn’t come within a foot of the bag.

    In the worst Brave ever conversation, I nominate Greg Norton. Remember that year when Norton had one of the worst pinch-hitting seasons of all time and Bobby insisted on bringing him up in seemingly every single clutch situation the team was presented, even if it sometimes meant taking out a position player who was a whole hell of a lot more likely to come through in that situation than Greg Norton was? Fun times.

  3. Based on WAR, Belliard should probably be on the list, but I can’t do it.

    #1 Smelky – If you just suck, I can almost forgive you, but Melky had talent and was just a lazy PoS
    #2 – Corky Miller
    #3 – Louth
    #4 – KolBB
    #5 – Kyle Davies/JoJo Reyes

  4. Part of the exercise of “worst Brave” includes either (a) pitiful work by FO in getting talent or (b) unwise quantities of playing time from a manager (sometimes, both).

    Also, I think if a player has multiple seasons, you should “average.” No matter how bad one year was, if other years were mediocre or a little better, then that is not what we should be talking about.

  5. I can excuse bad performance. What I could never abide is those who, by word or on-field behavior, either didn’t want to be a Brave or seemingly didn’t want to play baseball at all. The worst are the ones who make you feel like a sucker for your fandom (I’ll call this the Melky Cabrera Memorial list, just to get a sixth name in there):

    Andres Thomas
    Kenny Lofton
    Blue Moon Odom
    Garrett Anderson
    B.J. Surhoff

  6. All Day Atlanta thinks we should go after James Shields. I have stopped reading All Day Atlanta.

    Five Suckiest* Atlanta Braves since 1991:

    1 Dan KolBB
    2 BJ Upton
    3 Andy Ashby
    4 Bob Wickman
    5 Keith Lockhart

    *Takes in account contract, playing time and my personal opinion.

  7. I rarely follow the rules: Tony La Russa: OPS 86 with the Braves, though most of his damage to my psyche came later.

  8. MELKY MELKY MELKY MELKY MELKY

    and then:

    1.) Quilvio Veras
    2.) Ken Caminiti
    3.) Vinny Castilla
    4.) Mudge
    5.) Raul Mondesi

    Not good Braves.

  9. 1.) BJ Upton
    2.) Dan Kolb
    3.) Dan Uggla
    4.) Nate McLouth
    5.) Garrett Anderson

    Honorable Mention: Greg Norton; Bob Wickman; Scott Thorman; Kenny Lofton; Chris Reitsma

  10. ‘Rissa, you can turn a phrase.

    I’ll play like last night was “a learning experience” for Marksberry; and Fredi, in his wisdom, allowed the kid an opportunity to fix his mess. I can extend this to the Johns allowing Fredi to fix his mess, but I’m still not convinced Fredi’s mess is fixable.

    My five least favorite Atlanta Braves: Melvin, Melky, He Whose Name Shall Not Be Spoken, Andres Thomas and a second helping of Bossman Junior.

    Edit: I cannot believe I left Dorn off my list. I abhor Chris Johnson.

  11. Blue Jay fans in the office have gone into insufferable mode. Not sure how much of this I can take. How can a team trade away virtually every pitching prospect they have, swap old ss’s and hope to compete long term? alas, competing now sounds good though.

  12. @7

    exactly…

    on that basis worst Brave for me would be Dusty Baker…

    a classic sulker in right field ’74/75 and, happily, the crowd there let him hear it.

    and he would turn and face them, angrily, on occasion…never seen that before or since.

    ‘Rissa, thanks for the clarification..late night conclusion jumping on my part.

  13. Wow, this is tough.

    There were a lot of stinkers who mercifully stunk for only one season or less before they were released, traded, sent to minors, etc. Wickman, Kolb, etc. Jonny Gomes, I hope.

    Other guys combined decent years with stinkage later (Lockhart, for one, Castilla for another. Even Andres Thomas had a couple of okay years).

    There are tons of backup catchers that had no business being in the bigs. Many of them logged 4-6 years with the Braves.

    For significant long term and high leverage stinkage (again, we’re talking 2-3 years at the most, even in the lean years) I think Brad Komminsk, Uggla, BJ, Marty Perez, have to be in the mix. Terry Blocker?

    I think Uggla and BJ are going to be hard to beat.

  14. @16

    Interesting. That was the very beginning of my fandom and I don’t remember Dusty that way (not saying he wasn’t, just that I don’t remember it). I just liked his name, and that he was one of our star players.

  15. Melky
    Garrett Anderson
    Chris Johnson
    Jose Constanza (personal grudge)
    Chris Woodward

    That list is heavy on the personal preference, but I don’t care. Screw all those guys.

    Dishonorable mentions:
    Corky Miller
    Bob Wickman
    Chris Rheitsma
    Jordan Schafer
    Livan Hernandez (this was Wren’s actual firable offense, IMO)
    AJP
    Nick Effing Swisher (took me less than a week to hate having him on the team)

  16. @18

    I remember it because it was just about the first game of baseball i ever saw, at any level…freshly arrived immigrants bewildered and dazzled from the first exposure to the game, no idea of the rules.

    In that context two memories remain -Dusty not hustling and the crowd getting on him was one…but preceded by Willie Stargell hitting colossal BP smashes into our section…

    America, i thought, what a country…democracy at work on the playing field, the violent beauty and height of Stargell’s blows…and the profligacy – no one ever came and asked for the balls back!

  17. Mudge is [b]M[/b]elvin [b]U[/b]pton [b]J[/b]r.

    @21, Mudge always detested this profligacy that dazzled you so–he always did his best to keep baseballs in the catcher’s mitt, his pet crusade.

    Edit: Y’all can just pretend those letters are in bold. For the life of me I don’t know why they aren’t.

  18. In no particular order,

    reggie sanders, nate mclouse, corky miller, bj upton and melky cabrera.

    but man,there sure are a lot of other candidates…

  19. I like the memory of Reggie Sanders and would like to add Brett Boone.

    Both of them played much better everywhere else. They came to Atlanta, stunk it up, then returned to form elsewhere. Although in Brett’s case, he may have had an elixir about then.

    But Melky is the worst because he could actually play o.k. and did not put out the effort to be conditioned or seem to do anything of exertion when playing.

  20. I’ve never heard that about Dusty Baker either. But even if it’s true, the man participated in the world’s first high five so I give him a pass.

    Melkie is my least favorite one-time Brave ever, if only for the way he taunted Heyward and the Turner Field fans when he returned as a be-roided Giant.

  21. To me, the actual performance is much less of an issue than the performance relative to expectation. So, sure Corky Miller sucked, but there wasn’t anybody in the universe who expected him to succeed. So relative to expectations, there are three classes: phenoms, free agents, and people we gave up good talent for.

    Phenoms: Scott Thorman, Brad Komminsk
    Free Agents: Just About Everybody but Maddux, but if we’re naming names: Bruce Sutter, Andy Messersmith (the first year was OK, but OMG! 3 years for $1 million!!! Makes me feel like Dr. Evil), Melky
    Not Good Enough Here To Justify the Trade: Royster et. a.l, JD Drew et. al., Mark Teixera

  22. @13, Mudge is appropriately credited to Edward, who first noted in Marchish that the initials MUJ in someone else’s post could be pronounced Mudge.

    Mudge is definitely the worst Brave ever because of his historically bad play and historically large contract. His scowling at umpires for calling “questionable” strikes right down the middle was icing on the cake.

    Andres Thomas was a horrible all around player, and it is astounding he got as much playing time as he did. He was worse than Mudge for longer, but his contract didn’t cripple us.

    Dan Uggla actually had a decent year or two.

    It’s tempting to put Chris Johnson on the list, bc I can’t stand him, but he had one good season and should’ve won a batting title if it hadn’t gone to a Coors-inflated avg.

    Reggie Sanders was bad, but only medium-bad for one season, and I have to rank him behind other single season duds:

    Melqtoast
    Dan Kolb
    Scott Thorman
    Rico Brogna
    Wally Joyner
    and Jim Presley was really awful for his one season here (1990), and he played damn near every night.

    I’ll go:

    Mudge
    Andres Thomas
    Melky Cabrera
    Dan Kolb
    Jim Pressley (over Brogna and Thorman)

  23. Good call on Presley. I’d forgotten John Rocker, but thought someone would bring him up soon. Since nobody has, John Rocker.

    (Technically, the worst Brave of all time is the worst player of all time, measuring by WAR per game played…Pat Rockett.)

  24. I went to a game when I was maybe 8 or 9 and it was bat night (back when they gave away *real* bats). I have a Dusty Baker “autographed” bat from that game. And even though I used it for several years of little league ball and it is a bit beat up from that use, I still have it on the wall in my man-cave. Then many years later (the first year for the D-backs in the NL) I went to a spring training game in Arizona and met Dusty (he was managing the Giants who were playing the new D-backs). I told him about the bat and he said it was too bad I didn’t have it with me because he would have put a real autograph on it for me. The final thing for me about Dusty is he is the answer to the trivia question: who was on deck when Hank hit the record breaking HR? So for all of that I just can’t dislike Dusty.
    I’m having a hard time nailing down a particularly bad player so instead I will offer up what had to be my mom’s most hated player: Paul Assenmacher. I don’t know why she hated him but every time he came into a game she would scream at the TV “not A**F**ker!!”.

  25. Is it possible to collect the names that clearly belong on this list, and turn this into a tournament? Maybe we vote through polls? This is so appropriate based on the season we’re having.

  26. Can’t believe nobody has said Francoeur and the life he sucked out of the 08-09 Braves.

    2. JoJo
    3. Lockhart circa 2002
    4. Dan Kolb
    5. Smelky.

  27. Yeah, but we’d have to establish what the criteria were. A lot of these names are just personal hate, not necessarily the worst (or even bad)players.

  28. Francoeur had spurts where he was good. When he first came up, he was a monster. He looked like the next Dale Murphy.

  29. Atlanta Braves SuckStars
    OF- Reggie Sanders
    OF- BJ
    OF- Garret Anderson
    3B- Jim Presley
    SS- Tyler Pastornicky
    2B- Quilvio Veras
    1B- Ken Caminetti (Nick Esasky gets a pass)
    C- Corky Miller
    SP- Andy Ashby
    SP- Albie Lopez
    SP- HoRam
    SP- Jo-Jo Reyes
    SP- KK
    RP-Danni KolBB
    RP-Bob Wickman
    RP- Jeff Reardon
    Bench- Keith Lockhart

  30. From the video replay, I don’t see Marksberry “glaring” at the ump. Maybe another angle shows that. I see him overrun the bag, pray he gets the call on the foot flip, transfer the ball out of his glove as he stops his forward momentum. Look briefly at blue, realize he didn’t get the call, and by that time the runner has already scored. No glaring to be seen.

  31. Greetings from Atlantic City, NJ (home of funnel cakes & those who consume them while riding mobility scooters)…

    I know it may be unfair to pick a bad player on those bad ’70s clubs, but this guy gets extra points because the Braves acquired him twice (kinda defining why those Braves were so bad for so long): Craig Robinson.

    He was a SS/2B who was a regular on the 88-win 1974 club. Decent defender, but could barely hit his weight.

    Career OPS: 519
    Career OPS+: 43 (which kinda means he was more than twice as bad as the average guy)

    Braves got him (and the immortal Barry Lersch) from the Phils for pitcher Ron Scheuler. Traded him to the Giants for pinch-hitter Ed Goodson, then re-acquired him from the Giants (with Willie Montanez) for Marty Perez & Darrell Evans.

    Montanez had 2 good seasons for the Braves before he traded all over the National League. Evans continued his underrated career, hitting nearly 300 homers for the Giants & Tigers, helping Detroit win a title in 1984.

    Craig Robinson was released the next year. Not a good trade by any measure — but the Braves were really good at that back then.

  32. @33 I threw this discussion out there to see what the response would be, with the idea that it would make a good tournament if enough people seemed interested. You see discussions on franchises’ greatest players all the time, but worst players, not so much. The challenge, of course, is being able to objectively compare distant past players with more recent players, when the emotion about recent players is still around.

    Since this has been a great discussion with so many different players mentioned, I was planning on bookmarking the thread and seeing if I can come up with some more specific guidelines and then pitch the idea this be a tournament. I wouldn’t be able to run it until the offseason, but if anyone else likes the idea and wants to run with it (now or later), have at it!

  33. Sam, fair enough observation. Perhaps the glaring came from me, glaring at my computer screen knowing I was going to have to recap that monstrosity of an inning. I know there was glaring involved somewhere.

    Marksberry’s expression may have been better described as frustration at having not made the play, but in the age of replay, hoping the ump calls it anyway is an exercise in futility. As soon as he missed the bag, he should have been thinking about the runner that had been on second. Hopefully this was a good learning experience for him.

  34. I don’t disagree with any of that. But as a pitcher who occasionally has to make that play, I’ll point out that sometimes you’re not sure if you’ve clipped the bag or not (he probably thought he got it with the heel on the step over, but clearly did not) and that stopping the forward momentum to turn home is actually not that easy to do.

    Plus, he’s a 12 year old on his first trip to the bigs, so he’s probably out of his mind on adrenaline there too.

  35. I still say not nearly enough attention is being paid to Greg Norton, for what it’s worth. I know everyone here hated Lockhart and I have to say that I do think he obviously sucked. However, through the haze of my negative memories of him, I can think of a couple of big hits he came up with, the biggest of which being his home run to bury Game 3 of the 2002 NLDS against the Giants. Now admittedly we didn’t do much with that, but I can think of no such begrudgingly positive moments with Norton. Certianly not to that level (I’m sure he accidentally got a big hit in some regular season game. Given all the chances he had, mathematical probability would dictate that as a near certainty.)

    Having said that, I do like a lot of Smitty’s list. Veras over Uggla is a good call, KK on there is a good call despite all the wailing that he was mistreated. You might throw Raul Mondesi in there. That didn’t go particularly well at all.

  36. Ozzie Virgil and Steve Bedrosian were both pretty horrible, made worse by the fact that we traded them for each other just in time for Bedrosian to become a stud closer and Virgil to poop and then fall back in it.

  37. Ububba has a good catch: Craig Robinson. A real contender for the prize, and they certainly ran him out there a lot. He’s a poor man’s Marty Perez.

    Steve Bedrosian? You are high. He was a stud closer —- for us. Same with John Rocker. You may hate him , but man was he good.

  38. Smitty’s list is missing Melky; aside from that, it’s pretty good.

    Just wanted to add that my hate for corky miller includes the fact that thanks to him, Javy Lopez’s comeback that spring training was cut short…at least Javy didn’t suffer through that years terrible team.

  39. Cmon Smitty — Corky as worst catcher? Even if he had ever played, which he didn’t — What about the immortal Bob Tillman? Bob Didier? Paul Casanova? Rick Cerone? Vic Correll? Heck, Jody Davis.

    Bob Uecker for crying out loud. 180 PA in 67.

  40. What made Andy Ashby so bad? I remember trading Bruce Chen for him, which seemed like a lot to give up at the time, but Ashby seemed perfectly mediocre for us.

    One thing this exercise did is remind me that Ken Caminiti once played for us. Somehow, my brain had mercifully allowed me to forget that, but there it is again.

    Greg Norton…it’s tough because he was just a reserve. He was an awful reserve, but so was Dwight Smith. Smith inexplicably got 172 plate appearances in 1996 with an OPS+ of 51.

  41. For me, it’s Dave Gallagher. Don’t remember his stats, though I’m pretty sure they were horrible, but his presence on the roster let Bobby play him over Klesko against LH starters, which I will maintain until I die ended up stunting Klesko’s development resulting in only a pretty good player and not one of baseball’s best sluggers.

  42. In 2001, Rico Brogna had a .636 OPS, which meant a 62 OPS+ in that era and retirement. Today, he would have a better OPS than Eric Young Jr, Todd Cunningham, Chris Johnson, Christian Bethancourt, Daniel Castro, and Joey Terds, all of whom seem to be convinced that they’re major leaguers.

  43. Nolan Ryan hit 2 home runs his entire career. I saw both of them live on TV. One was a Saturday game of the week, Astros vs. Dodgers, and the other was against the Braves in the dire ’80’s.

    Charlie Puleo was pitching, and Ryan had a good hack at a pitch. Puleo was so bad and so predictable that I actually had a vision of the location of the next pitch and of Ryan hitting it for a home run. Which I announced to the entire bar, and which proceeded to happen. (And which made me about 1 for 1000 in the vision department, but yeah.)

    Anyway, if you are so bad that your next pitch can only be envisioned as being turned into a home run by Nolan Ryan, then I hope that you are the worst Brave of all time.

  44. @57, that would be good for a 75 or so OPS+ today – doesn’t really a negate your point, but it’s a non trivial indication of the lower offense era we are in now.

  45. Right. Was kinda two points there: the offensive environment has changed, and we have some really terrible hitters.

  46. I think this year’s team is now officially worse offensively than last year’s. But, we’re sucking the right way, so we got that going for us, which is nice.

  47. re Rocker: While, yes, personal animus informed my mention of him, I think he qualifies under ‘Rissa’s “negative impact on the team” requirement (incidentally, the SI article serves to bisect his Braves career into the well-nigh-dominant first half and the not-so-great second half. His ERA didn’t suffer much, but he wasn’t the same pitcher).

  48. Francoeur. A terrible player who got A LOT of playing time.

    Jerry Royster deserves a place on the list.

  49. Len Barker. 10-year-old me cried mightily when one of his favorite players, Brett Butler, was traded for Mr. Barker in 1983. But we were in a pennant race, and ol’ Len had pitched a perfect game, so he had to be good, right? Well, Lenny went 1-3 in his 6 starts for us, and we missed the playoffs, but that didn’t stop the Braves from signing Barker in the offseason to a 5 year contract–one of the largest contracts ever given to a pitcher. Lenny stunk up the joint for the next two years, winning a grand total of 9 games. We released him in spring training ’86 and ate the final 3 years of the deal. I’m still mad about it.

  50. For all his mediocrity, Royster delivered in ’82. He hit .326 over the last two months of the season, and we would not have won the only division title of my childhood without him.

    But speaking of two-tour Braves, Earl Williams was a bitter pill his second time around, and this thread shouldn’t expire without mentioning him.

  51. Rico Brogna was, in his prime, a truly great defensive 1B. Couldn’t hit for shit, but he could pick it like nobody. He retired more due to chronic arthritis than anything else.

  52. I grew up with Rico. For what it’s worth, he was/is a truly nice person. Like Dale Murphy nice. Most high school heroes are conceited assholes. Not him.

    I recall him saying how exciting it was to play for a team as good as the Braves. Too bad he was cooked as a player by that point.

  53. I was tossing in bed and then it came to me–Casey Kotchman.

    Kotchman wasn’t our worst first baseman statistically. But he was a daily reminder of how badly we were fleeced in the Tex deal.

    Of course, for about 8 years, John Schuerholz traded our very top prospects like his hair was on fire.

  54. If I’m an American League team I’m offering the Cubs everything I’ve got for Kyle Schwarber. That guy is spectacular. Better than Bryant, for sure.

  55. Freeman and Olivera went 0-fer in rookie ball yesterday. Freeman will be back soon. Olivera looks to be a September call up.

  56. Avilan gave up 3 runs in 0.2 innings for the Dodgers last night. JJ pitched a scoreless inning, lowering his ERA to 23.14.

    The tally:

    Wood – 11.1 IP, 7 ER, 0-1 W-L, 5.56 era
    Avilan – 4.2 IP, 4 ER, 7.71 ERA
    Johnson – 4.2 IP, 12 ER, 23.14 ERA, 0-2 W-L

    Total: 20.2 IP, 23 ER, 10.02 ERA, 0-3 W-L

  57. I watched Johnson on Sunday night against Pittsburgh. He was absolutely awful and Don Mattingly just sat there and let him give up hits to the entire Pirates lineup, basically. It was very odd.

  58. Casey Kotchman, absolutely. The concurrent one-two punch of really crappy former Angels in Kotchman and Garrett Anderson was almost too much to take.

    How about Kyle Davies? 14 starts in 2006: 8.38 ERA. That’s unfathomably bad.

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