Free-falling Braves: Closer to fourth place than first

Missed it by that much. (John Bazemore/AP)

Missed it by that much. (John Bazemore/AP)

Missed it by that much. (John Bazemore/AP)

Folks, this isn’t getting better. The Atlanta Braves are 2-3 on this difficult homestand, having fallen five games behind first-place Washington. They haven’t lost an acre of ground in the wild-card chase because most of the other aspirants have likewise been losing, but they’re still 2 1/2 games out of the second WC spot.

Having already depressed the heck out of everyone, we might as well go the full Monty and note: The Miami Marlins, who lost their best pitcher to Tommy John surgery in May, are one game behind the Braves. And the Mets, who haven’t had their best pitcher since August 2013, are only 2 1/2 games in arrears of the flyin’ Fish.

I learned in the early ’90s, when the Braves made fools of those who predicted their doom by fashioning three consecutive come-from-behind division championships at a time when you had to win your division, never to say “It’s over” before it actually is. (I relearned this the hard way during the Epic Collapse of 2011.) But I’d be lying if I said I see any cause for optimism. The Braves are 60-59. They’re nine games under .500 since April 27. They’re on pace to finish 82-80.

In three weeks, Baseball Prospectus has shrunk its playoff odds on this team from 51.5 percent to 20.9. The Reds, who were under .500 on July 30, now have shorter odds. It’s possible that the Braves can tread water until the schedule eases after next week and then make a run; it’s also possible they’ll wind up behind the Marlins. (Though surely not the Mets.)

I wish I had better news for y’all, but I don’t. I just don’t.

Reader Comments 0

50 comments
Wilbo
Wilbo

Bradley, Bradley, you just aren't going to give me credit for pioneering the alert that the Bravos are closer to 4th than first, are you? Plagiarist.


I know it's super hard for a homer domer like yourself to admit it's a good thing for this lousy organization to drop down through the standings. If they can manage to hold their level of middlin mediocrity, they'll get dawdle heads like you to tell our gullible fans, the Braves are just a couple players away from a championship, and nothing will ever change. They collapse, fall dead flat on their faces there will be at least some chance the BIG changes will be made to give the team a creditable shot at improvement.


BTW, Bradley, do you really wanna see another embarrassing October flop? 

JAS0N
JAS0N

"Free-falling Braves: Closer to fourth place than first."


Its so funny to hear peoples' surprise when the same thing happens every single year.

dawg4u
dawg4u

I have been watching this tea m every year since 1966. This team is about as painful to watch as those terrible teams of the mid-70's and late 80's. I can never remember a Braves team that has as much trouble scoring runs as this bunch. They put a .190 hitter in the lead-off spot and when he got his average all the way up to .215 it was considered a success. The starters realize that they must limit the opposition to 2 runs or less or it will probably be a lost cause and they start pressing. I really believe we have to get some hitters in this line-up or we could be bad for a long time. I bet Frank Wren has nightmares about B.J. Upton, Dan Uggla and Kenshin Kawakami. Well at least we won't have to watch this team get embarrassed again in the playoffs this year unless some miracle happens. It's amazing that the last time the Braves won a playoff series - they were still removing debris and rubble from the World Trade Center after the 9-11 terrorist attacks - almost 13 years ago!

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

Let's not get down on our Braves (yet). They are our only pro sports team with a winning record so far in the past year. That's like saying let's take the skinniest of 3 fat girls in the room and call her a pig!

rtb2425
rtb2425

I have never understood all the Liberty Media bashing.   The problem with this team isn't tight purse strings....it's abysmal judging of talent.   I mean look at all the HUGE contracts that have been wasted.   I never saw Liberty saying "don't pay Uggla or don't pay BJ"....This team has a more than sufficient payroll.   Don't believe it?  Ask Oakland or Kansas City.

Bogey
Bogey

OK, now on to Job 1 this off-season: moving BJ. Don't know if Rosenthal's rumor about the trade involving BJ was true or just something Wren "leaked" to generate interest?  I can't imagine ANY return for ridding BJ, his lousy play, diva attitude, and suffocating salary was insufficient!!  I'd think a fungoe bat and a used resin bag ought to do.


IF Wren's replacement can actually get another GM to be willing to take Upton without us eating most of the salary, that will be amazing, but also will mean the Braves have to attach major talent to the deal to make irrefusable. 


So, who on the roster now will likely not be on the roster by 2016?  Heyward?  J Upton?  And who else may we have to part with to get it done?  Kimbrel?  Simmons?  Minor?  One or more of the great young arm coming up?


Yeah, no way I would part with Simmons, but that might also entice the other GM to part with what we really need.....an Ace.  Last winter the Chisox make Chris Sale available for the right package but found no takers.  If I had to give up Simmons and a young arm (or Minor) to get Sale AND dump BJ, I'd do it.  Remember, Parazzo is coming  and while his defense won't be up to Simmons' level, his offense will be better.


Just thinkin' out loud.

Bogey
Bogey

When the Braves' great run ended (not with a thud, but quietly), JS traded away lots of young talent for Texeira, and although Tex played well, it wasn't the answer.  Part of that was the complete lack of pitching that was here.  He turned over the keys to a broken bus to Wren.


The Braves never actually tore it down and rebuilt...they just retooled on a budget.  And the result was a team just good enough to make the playoffs occasionally.


I've always supported Frank for the most part, and I think he's "won" most of his trades (although most were for gap-filler players because of tight budget) especially the J Up deal.


But, the BJ deal was horrible and everyone knew it (question:  where was Schuerholz when Frankie made that deal??  no input at all?).


Time for Wren to go this off-season.  Is John Hart interested in becoming full-time GM?

RangeRover
RangeRover

I'm glad BJ is playing for the Braves, otherwise Wren would be trying to trade for him.

redleg24
redleg24

Frank Wren is a poor judge of talent as is the scouting department no doubt.  Fredi does not know how to handle a pitching staff and does have the guts to handle his players.  If you make a lot of money you will play no matter how you perform.  Don't you get tired of hearing how great BJ performed in the lead off position.  No reason to ever throw this guy anything but fast balls waist high or higher and slides on the off the plate.  Can a player be this bad and get paid so much.

redleg24
redleg24

No hit-No win. End of story.  Hitting is awful and pitching is weak.  Can't fool everyone with BS all the time.

Boeingdawg
Boeingdawg

BJ for Boni facing a lefty and Boni a switch hitter. Dodgers lefty has more success against righties than lefties, similar to our own Russell. Fredi apparently doesn't know this. Fredi, then, has to go, along with Wren, who built this train wreck roster.

Baghead
Baghead

It's a crapshoot Bradley!  If this team actually won the division, they could potentially win the WS.  It's a crapshoot even though they're incapable of winning against good teams.  I'm so tired of you and your ridiculous columns.  When are you retiring? Is that a crapshoot too?  It could this year?  Or 2025?  Why don't you write sometime that actually explains to people why this team is terrible? Instead of sulking with 'I just don't' have better news...waaah...waaah, why don't you write an article that blasts Frank Wren for the players that he invested in and how THIS REALLY ISN'T A SURPRISE!!!!!!??!

Birdhair
Birdhair

The Braves' collapse is only a surprise to some of us. lol and Mark Bradley thought this team could be world series contenders only a few weeks ago. Been saying the same thing for the past 5 years. As long as Clown is in charge this team is going nowhere.

ATLBrown
ATLBrown

This is the first year of the Cobb Curse.  


Looking forward to watching Hard Knocks on OnDemand tonight, after missed it last night because I was at The Ted watching my team give away another baseball game they should have won.  At least I got a free concert.  


Time for Wren to wheel and deal our underachievers for new prospects.  This current roster is getting us nowhere.

Brave_Hokie
Brave_Hokie

Late season collapsing garbage -> THE most underachieving franchise in sports... 

Mr. Negative
Mr. Negative

i'm sure Liberty is considering a firesale. Maybe they can close Turner for the rest of the season and play the remaining games in Gwinnett to save a few more bucks. They can also save on gas money with the roster changes. Anything to save a buck for poor Liberty Media

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

Jason Heyward is likely leaving via free agency after the 2015 season, and he has mentioned more than once that he'd love to play for his boyhood team, the NY Yankees.

Justin Upton is also a free agent after 2015. 


BJ Upton is under contract through 2017, and unlikely can be moved via a trade. His current value is minimal, if anything.


Frank Wren should start fielding offers for Jason & Justin while they are still under contract, and get something of value in return, Neither will have as much value as they currently do.

58Supersports
58Supersports

nothing bad  about my blog, who deleted it and why?

BooBooBear
BooBooBear

Grasshopper, a rock thrown into the pond is always closer to the bottom, regardless of how near to the top it appears.


Let's get serious for a moment:


Genocide in Iraq.

War in Syria.

Missiles in and to Gaza.

Ukraine struggles.

A crazy dictator in North Korea.

Iran building nukes.

Who will win America's Got Talent.

Will the Bachelorette's marriage last?

Are their aliens on Mars.

Soccer.

Paint drying.

Braves' baseball.


Many things are more important than what happens with the Braves.

FarTrain
FarTrain

The Marlins actually have 8 of their last 11 games vs the Nats.  There's a one game makeup which created a DH during that last week.  It could get interesting, but probably only for those 2 teams as the Braves are basically "has-beens" now.  Head to head they are about evenly split so far with the Marlins winning 5 and the Nats 6 to this point.  Braves could easily get leap-frogged by the Mets and end up in 4th place.  With this manager, this talent, this ownership, and this front office, and no chemistry or leadership,  I totally expected it since day one. 

Calel
Calel

I wonder if the Braves would consider pulling the trigger on a deal that included Kimbrel and BJ Upton? Just a thought. The way things stand now, the same team is coming back next season. There's not much of anything on this team of trade value, except the dude from Huntsville, AL. The biggest financial problem is in CF, and he's not going anywhere alone. Jason Heyward is probably going to sign somewhere else after next season. Because of that and low numbers, he's not really trade bait. 

BaseballBuff
BaseballBuff

On pace to finish 82-80, eh? I would call that an optimistic projection.

Calel
Calel

Last night I heard Joe Simpson (I think) mention that the Marlins play the Nats, the best team in one-run games in the NL, 7 of their last 10 games. He then said that that could be crucial and beneficial to the Braves. I don't think so. Those games MIGHT just be what the Marlins need to win the division! LOL 

Ersatz
Ersatz

And fourth place in Atlanta too, right behind the Dream. Nice work, barves!

Sidslid
Sidslid

At least we're not the Tigers.  Their ultra-expensive pitching staff just fell a game behind Kansas City.  In one of those trades which kill both teams, the Kinsler for Fielder deal is looking legendary.  Cabrera is always dinged up, but would put up triple crown numbers on one leg with Fielder hitting behind him.


As to last night, Freeman hitting into a double play right after you pinch run for LaStella pretty much sums up the last month.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@JAS0N

Now you're REALLY exaggerating. The same thing has happened only 47 times in 48 years. 

DavidinVirginia
DavidinVirginia

@dawg4u More painful to watch now, I think, than they were back then. At least those really horrid teams from the '70s and '80s put out max effort with what little talent they had. And were a nicer bunch of guys (in general) who made it easier to root for them, too, even though you knew it was pretty hopeless as far as winning was concerned. It also helped a lot to have guys announcing the games who were worth listening to even though the teams were bad.

RogerHenslee
RogerHenslee

@rtb2425  Yes but who allows Fran Wren to keep making the decisions? If its John S,ok who is his boss?

BRAVES2143
BRAVES2143

@Bogey I don't know if the Rosenthal rumor was true or not but the team willing to take BJ supposedly was the Cubs and also supposedly Minor was involved.   First off  I find that hard to believe but if true then you have to believe there had to be 2 or 3 other young Braves involved.        

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

@Bogey 

I'm skeptical of the Ken Rosenthal story. What GM in their right mind would take on BJ's remaining contract ($45 million) ? And Wren was supposedly dangling a starting pitcher (Minor or Santana, the latter a free agent) & Wren didn't feel he was getting enough "value" in return? Huh ? Just unloading BJ's contract would enable incredible flexibility to go out and acquire other needed pieces.


Story was bogus all around !

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

@Bogey 

Lowe.Kawakami. McLouth. Uggla. BJ. - all expensive BUSTS on Frank Wren's watch as GM. He got NOTHING in return for Teixeira and Soriano, not even top prospects.

Wren would have been fired anywhere else. He's either cursed or a moron. 

DavidinVirginia
DavidinVirginia

@Boeingdawg It was doubly stupid...Bonifacio is killing lefty pitching this year; BJ has been even more horrid against lefties than against righties this year. The Genius Manager [tm] made the exact opposite move that should have been made (that is, leaving Bonifacio in to hit).

58Supersports
58Supersports

@ATLBrown  There is no Cobb Cure it's Wren's follies.... Who would trust F Wren to deal anything? Fans have lost all respect for Wren, Fredi and management. Time to fire FW  & FG and make  Hart GM then let him hire a new  manager.  Let Hart clean up Wren's mess.

BooBooBear
BooBooBear

@ATLBrown Can't beat watching the ole Wheezers and then listening to the old Weezers.

Calel
Calel

@SaveAmericaFromItself


You're not going to get much in the way of "value" for Jason Heyward. I love the guy, but he's tremendously underachieved so far. He was supposed to be Fred McGriff-like in size and power. As of now, he's sorry against lefties, and he has no pop. Maybe he brings it together in another organization, but if I'm a GM talking to Wren, why would I even consider giving up value for a risk that isn't necessary? If I want Heyward, I can probably talk to him as a FA after '15.


As for Justin, yeah, there's SOME value there, but to whom? What GM is thinking about adding a mediocre-fielding OF'er with some pop in his bat? Those players come a dime a dozen--just not in Atlanta. I'd keep Upton. 


Right now, I hate to say this, but I'd consider trades for Craig Kimbrel. Damn it would pain me to see him go, but he has to. He's got to go with another player. 

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

@Calel


And it begins....depending on someone else to do the lifting for you...


ahhhh the Braves as we know them now!

BradleyBreeze
BradleyBreeze

@Ersatz

4th place isn't so bad it's right in front of Philly!......................lol to all you Philly fans!

DavidinVirginia
DavidinVirginia

@BRAVES2143 @Bogey Apparently, the guy coming back from the Cubs (or whatever team it was) also had a big, ugly contract attached to him, too, just not as big or as ugly as BJ's is. So, it was basically 1 Cub with a bad contract for BJ and his horrid contract + 1 additional Braves pitcher. I guess it makes a little more sense if those were really the terms, but it looks a lot like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic as far as the Braves' end of the deal is concerned.

BRAVES2143
BRAVES2143

@SaveAmericaFromItself @Bogey 


I don't think he's cursed or a moron but I think somewhere along the lines the Braves have lost whoever was in charge of evaluating talent.   Hindsight is always 20/20 but other then BJ all of these really made sense at the time.   Yes none of them turn out great but in just about every case the Braves had a big hole and Wren went out and tried to fix it.


Derek Lowe was a good signing except for the 4th year and that was something the Braves didn't wont to do but after every pticher turned them down they didn't have a choice.


Kawakami was a waste but the Braves are not the first team to get brunt by a Japanese pitcher and at the time just about every team wanted him and the Braves were praised for the signing.


Mclouth is a strange one because he was an all star and exactly what the Braves needed.  Most baseball people at the time called this a steal for the Braves but he never got it going and now you have to look at his 2008 season and wonder.


Uggla put up big numbers in multiple years at Miami and the Braves needed a power hitter so Wren went out and got him but once again he turned out to be a bust.  Like McLouth you got to wonder what was going on down in Miami.   


BJ was just a stupid signing, no other way to put it.  No team was really that interested in him so Wren goes out and pays too much for too long a deal and now the Braves are stuck with him.   The trade not only cost too much but made no sense because not only did they need a center fielder but more then anything they needed a lead off hitter and BJ could not feel that need.  


I think the bigger question to ask is why is Frank Wren always having to go out and trying to find a bandaid for the team?  Why is the Braves Minor League system not able to provide the players needed?   All we hear about is all this great pitching and yet his year the Braves were forced to go out and over pay for Santana and bring in Harrang.   Maybe the change the Braves need to make is getting some new scouts and Minor League instructors.

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

@Calel @SaveAmericaFromItself 

If Justin Upton is shooting for the sky after 2015, and there is no reason to think he won't be at his age, the Braves will not re-sign him.


With Uggla, Heyward & J. Upton off the books after 2015, perhaps Frank Wren or his replacement will have money to work with to add bats & speed to this predictable, lame offense.

Calel
Calel

And if things work out the way they usually do, next year, a contract year, we'll see Heyward in the running for MVP! LOL 

BooBooBear
BooBooBear

@DavidinVirginia @BooBooBear As long as you are able to grasp how the sphere of interest goes from bigger to smaller, from global to pinhead.  The ones who are upset about the Braves are pinheads in the grand scheme of things.  Now ... I really can't see the Bachelorette's marriage lasting more than a few months.  (shrug)

DavidinVirginia
DavidinVirginia

@BooBooBear I'm not saying the other stuff isn't more important; I'm saying that people who want to talk about that stuff have plenty of places other than baseball comment sections to do it in. If the people complaining about the Braves on here are wasting their time what can you say about people who spend their time on here complaining about Braves fans complaining about their team? You know, like you. (shrug)