Today’s entry focuses on players who were left out of the All-2010’s team but were memorable nonetheless, mainly because of our mockery: the Atlanta Braves Knaves and Fools.
The Beginning of the Braves Journal Whipping Boy
If memory serves me, Mac coined the term “Whipping Boy” to describe a player doing his best to bring down the efforts of the remainder of the team. According to my memory, the first time I saw Mac use the term was for outfielder Dwight Smith, probably during the 1996 season when we were still on USENET. Favorite whipping boys since then have included Keith (the pictures) Lockhart, Roberto (boom boom) Hernandez, Pete (Stinkypete) Orr, Tyler (Kali) Yates, Jeff (too many to list here) Francoeur, Mike Hampton, Derek (Llama) Lowe, BJ-call-me-Melvin Upton and Chris (Dorn) Johnson. Speaking of which, how did we not get a nickname for Hampton in the glossary?
Anyhow, these players are seared into memory not by their great exploits on the field but rather for the amount of ink and vitriol spilled on them here at Braves Journal. Enjoy!
Atlanta Braves Knaves and Fools: Twin Bills
Never has a pedestrian 89-mph fastball generated so many comments. The reason, of course, was his parent’s unfortunate choice of monniker, namely, Williams. Yes, you are correct, there appear to be two of him! Thus was Twin Bills born for Williams Perez.
Shockingly, he became a mainstay of the 2015 rotation where he was decidedly below average replacement level putting up -0.9 WAR in his 2 seasons with the team. Unaccountably the team never managed to have him start both games of a doubleheader which I suspect was reason enough to fire Fredi Gonzalez (who, along with Brian Snitker, are the only non-players to ascend to whipping boy status). By the way, I don’t see this nickname in the glossary. Like many smoke-and-mirrors guys he got off to a fast start.
Atlanta Braves Knaves and Fools: Pickles
J.J.Schiller gets the credit for this name. Gus Schlosser was a right-handed side-armer with no “stuff” whatsoever who helped undermine the team during the early going of the 2014 season. A 2011 17th round draft selection with an unorthodox delivery, he dominated the lower minors but allowed an ungodly 30% line drive rate in the show. It was a wonder he ever got a lefty out.
Still there was much rending of clothing and gnashing of teeth when he was demoted to AAA in June and we no longer could cheer him on — and cheer we did: “We called him Pickles,” was as fine an epitaph as any player has ever received on this blog. Gus was never the whipping boy because all of us could see how hard he was trying and how out of his league the club had thrown him. I still occasionally pine for our Pickles, especially when we got to the bullpen early last season and in game 1 of the playoffs…
Here he is bringing the brine…
Atlanta Braves Knaves and Fools: Aybad
The worst thing about the Andrelton Simmons trade was that the team didn’t even save money on the deal as Erick Aybar’s $8.086M contract was larger than Simmons’ was — or would ever be — on that contract! Here at the blog, we actually gave him about a week’s grace period into the season before anointing him the new whipping boy. He worked hard to live up to the title by being below replacement level at hitting, fielding, baserunning and dog petting during Bark in the Park. He was eventually traded in August so that the Hair to the Throne could take over at short (yes, Dansby Swanson). This was the best thing Aybar could possibly do to help the team. Oh, in this story he didn’t throw the chicken out either.
Atlanta Braves Knaves and Fools: Jose Constanza
There was actually a month in 2011 that this man was the starting right fielder ahead of a healthy Jason Hayward. Now, it isn’t like the Jose was useless as a player: he was an excellent defender and very fast. Unfortunately, he had a hot stretch as a fill-in in center where he got a bunch of seeing eye hits and bloop singles and Freddi Gonzalez decided he must be better than his budding star. The decision was roundly panned here on the blog although it somehow never resulted in a nickname for the glossary. I’m guessing he just wasn’t important or incompetent enough to warrent one. Constanza also made appearances during the 2012, 2013 and 2014 seasons accumulating a whopping 0.9 WAR for the team in the process.
Here he is demolishing the Mets. I know: IWOTM…
Atlanta Braves Knaves and Fools: Betty
The team’s top prospect early in the decade was a catcher with a golden arm (the Padres would try to convert him to pitching), a looong swing with good power, and the work ethic of a crack addled water buffalo. Christian Bethancourt was to be our savior behind the dish and was regularly rated as the best defensive prospect in all baseball. Yeah, about that…who can forget moments like this:
or perhaps this classic:
It says something when all the team’s starting pitchers request someone else to be their “personal catcher” but that is exactly what happened in June of 2015 as Betty began the process of playing his way out of the league. Rusty had as good a summary as any back in the day.
Thanks for reading about the Atlanta Braves Knaves and Fools. If you enjoyed this piece and want to get caught up on the roster, and offseason spending, check the latest payroll update here.