Have the Braves quit on Fredi G. and themselves?

Heads not held high: The story of the 2014 Braves. (David Goldman/AP photo)

Heads not held high: The story of the 2014 Braves. (David Goldman/AP photo)

Heads not held high: The story of the 2014 Braves. (David Goldman/AP photo)

One week ago, the Atlanta Braves opened a 10-game homestand against Washington and Stephen Strasburg, a team and a pitcher they’d come to own. They weren’t in great shape, playoff-wise, but they had a chance: They trailed Pittsburgh by four games for the second wild card. Take two of three from the Nats and maybe sweep the Mets and the Braves would face four games against the Pirates at Turner Field. (Never mind that Milwaukee was also ahead of the Braves.)

Today the Braves and Pirates will begin that four-game series, and the former has been eliminated. The Pirates went 4-2 on their week; the Braves went 1-5. The team that had a slight chance threw it away.

I’m never comfortable with suggesting a team has “quit,” simply because I’m not a mind-reader. Sometimes you’re outplayed. Sometimes you’re unlucky. Sometimes the other team is just better than you. That said …

For argument’s sake, let’s say a team had quit: Would it look much different from the Braves’ past six games? They led in only one, that on a night when the Nationals, who’d clinched the National League East the day before, rolled out their B-team. And even then the Braves didn’t score until Washington pulled its starting pitcher.

The Braves were outscored 27-9 over the six games. They were shut out twice. They scored — even for the Braves, this defies belief — in four of the week’s 53 innings. They managed three earned runs off six starting pitchers. We shouldn’t have been surprised, given that these Braves had spent the previous 5 1/2 months not scoring, but still: This was shameful stuff.

After Sunday’s game, Ervin Santana — who’d lost the first and the last games of the week — told reporters it was hard to be confident when, as a pitcher, you knew “you had to pitch a complete-game shutout or something.” Santana won’t be a Brave beyond this week — he’s due to become a free agent at season’s end, and there’s no way the Braves will again meet his hefty price — and those words sounded like exit lines. They also spoke the gospel truth.

The Braves have gotten enough good pitching to have won 95 games. They lead the majors with 107 quality starts. They’ve won 76 times. They haven’t hit at all — last week manager Fredi Gonzalez recalled the nine-game winning streak of midsummer as the only time they’d looked potent — and the batting order wasn’t the area wracked by injury. Only one of the Braves’ everyday eight (once the everyday eight no longer included Dan Uggla) has gone on the disabled list. There was no reason for this lineup to have failed so utterly.

A month ago, even two weeks ago, I’d have mounted a defense against overreaction. One down year of five, I’d have argued, shouldn’t override the previous four. (This same principle is why Thomas Dimitroff and Mike Smith still work in Flowery Branch, where the Falcons are 2-1 after 4-12.) After the week just past, I can’t offer the same objections with any enthusiasm.

Frank Wren built a lineup that will have to be rebuilt over the winter. Gonzalez made out the lineup card — no easy task given the available names, I’ll grant you — and his team has wilted for the second time in four Septembers. During the 9-18 Epic Collapse of 2011, the Braves had the excuse of being without two starting pitchers. These Braves lost Evan Gattis to illness, but they’ve had all the other big names available this September. Those big names have enabled this team to go 4-14, which is worse than 9-18.

A month ago, even two weeks ago, I’d have said Wren and Gonzalez deserved another year. Today I don’t know. A poorly constructed lineup is offering only token resistance, and that doesn’t augur well for anyone in charge.

Reader Comments 2

102 comments
MichaelGrammer
MichaelGrammer

QUITTERS LETS CLEAN HOUSE START WITH FREDDIE AND GET RID OF THE QUITTERS AND LITTLE LEAGUE HITTERS WITH HOLES IN THERE SWINGS I HAD SOME FRIENDS WHO LOVE THE BRAVES LIKE ME WHO WANTED TO GO TO SOME GAMES THIS WEEK BUT SAID HECK WITH IT THEY AS WE ALL OU

R SICK IN THE 80S I KNEW WE HAD PROBLEMS WITH LITTLE TALENT THIS TEAM HAS BROUGHT ME BACK TO THAT TIME ALTHOUGH I THINK THOSE GUYS TRIED HARDER I WATCH THE PIRATES THEY SHOULD BE PROUD THEY HAVE GIVEN PITTSBURGH A TEAM TO BE PROUD OF I WANT THAT PRIDE BACK IN ATLANTA LETS CLEAN HOUSE LET US BEGIN AGAIN

Wilbo
Wilbo

Little Markie Bradley, Fulltime Braves Apologist, quoth: "A month ago, even two weeks ago, I’d have mounted a defense against overreaction. One down year of five, I’d have argued, shouldn’t override the previous four."


Every October has been a down "year" since 1996, and will continue to be so until the trash is dumped in this heartless, gutless organization. From Fruitcake Fredi right up to Little Napolean Shurholtz, they all need to go or we'll be stuck with the same level of tease the fans mediocrity we've suffered w for 2 decades, but you seem to revel in nice dull mediocrity so I guess that's fine by you.


I despise the current spirit and attitude and make-up of the Atlanta Braves and I despise the dullards who write about them.

QuentinHardin
QuentinHardin

Now that we have started firing from the high ups.  It's going to take time for the braves to get there head above water.  Because of all the long term contracts.  If we get rid of the players that was hired by these leaders of the Atlanta Braves. We will loose millions, like Dan Uggla.  What we need is a serious hitting coach, that person would be Chipper Jones.  He was a switch hitter, and could help the poor batting avg. that Atlanta has. It is, I'm afraid, going to take years to repair the damage, that has been made.  So now we can look forward into a rebuilding program.  This is going to take time, Atlanta can not just let millions go and hire new players at a risk.

Wilbo
Wilbo

There is only one meaningful or significant sentence in this insipid article:


"The team that had a slight chance threw it away."


That is the perfect recap of the Atlanta Braves last 18 years.


And now AGAIN the Braves are going to throw away their big chance to move beyond their legacy of waste and collapse, by keeping the boob Fredi Gonzalez and the arrogant little general Schurholtz in place.


Failure begets failure begets failure begets failure ad infinitum. This has becomes the Atlanta Braves vicious cycle.

slydawg
slydawg

Truer words have never been spoken

GregoryHawes
GregoryHawes

The collapse to me happened when Frediot pulled Justin Upton to pinch hit Cantstandya with a no-hitter on the line.  The Braves were a credible team before that.  After that, the life drained out of them.


I can understand Wren's imperious style rubbing people the wrong way, but Frediot is just as responsible for the offensive misery.  Melvin Upton at leadoff?  Simmons batting second?  Johnson batting ahead of Gattis?


Idiocy.

Bravos Outta Here
Bravos Outta Here

Blow up the OF.  Trade J.Up for cash, release B.Up and eat his contract, using J.Ups cash, trade J.Hey for an OF.  Trade Gattis for an OF.  Obtain players that will hit for avg and not strike out 150 times.  Also trade or release C. Johnson.  Wren gave him a good contract for having one good year. 

Beau1500
Beau1500

Even better Tom Hart has been promoted from  on field reporter to interim GM.!!!!!!! LOL


Beau1500
Beau1500

SWEET!!!!!!!!!!! HE'S GONE.

Jazzpman
Jazzpman

The Braves didn't quit...... Frank Wren signed some marginal talent at Big numbers.  The Braves will have to get a lead off batter, a center fielder, a left fielder, and a 3rd baseman to be competitive !

Rhetoric
Rhetoric

AJC just indicated Wren has been fired on home page as Breaking News.

RangeRover
RangeRover

Mark,

Stop beating around the bush and show some journalistic courage!

DawginLex
DawginLex

fire them all

The team quit

Even when UGA loses, the players never quit with Richt as coach

highfive
highfive

The Braves have no excuses for not making significant changes to this roster. Any player is tradeable and should be for the right package. Heyward is gone if he doesn't want to sign an extension. Justin is definitely gone. Both are in the last year of their contracts, and should bring a decent return.  BJ will be traded or released. He want be back. CJohnson is gone for the right piece. Simmons will bring a haul and should be traded for pieces that can produce. The Braves have several ss in the minors that can fill his spot. Gattis should bring a good package from an AL team  In other words, the Braves have no reason for standing put.

etherdome
etherdome

@highfive I would hate to see Simmons go.  Of all the positions on the field, I enjoy watching great SS play.  

copilevitz
copilevitz

In business when you come to the conclusion you've made a bad investment, you cut your losses and move on...


Baseball is a business, and it ttook far too long for the Braves to cut Uggla and they still refuse tp aknowledge publicly the bad decision they made with the Bad Upton.


If he's sttill playing with players with far better averages on the bench (Bonafacio, Constanza and even Gattis in left) because the front office is requiring it - then Wren must go, as if all his bad investments didn't already make that obvious.


If Fredi has been playing BJ of his own accord, then Frank needs tto save  seats in the cab for Gonzalez as well as the hitting coaches - if for no other reason than to send a message.


TP has been conspicuous by his absence in the first base coaches' box...  what's up with that?  And wouldn't the guy who once helped take us fromn worst to first make a great chjoice for Manager?

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

I agree with what you said about suggesting a team "quit".  However, this team needed to go see the wizard right before the All-Star Break when they lost the lead to the Nats ( that or around that time).  Hate to say it but his team QUIT when they cut ties with Uggla.  The guy who quit first was Freddie Freeman and as the "leader" of the team the rest of the guys followed.  They quit when the manager kept running BJUpton out there on a nightly basis not fielding the best team possible ( and please don't tell me that this was the best team possible, because it was not).  They are a bunch of quitters plain and simple and they all deserve to be bashed until Spring Training! 

etherdome
etherdome

It is time to part ways with Frank Wren.  He has made poor decisions for too long.  The team does not have the sort of budget that can support such reckless spending.  I consider the Upton brothers as a bundled and bungled decision.  I believe that the two of them cost in excess of $30 million per year.  Are they coming close to earning those contracts?   The answer is NO and the responsibility falls on Wren.


Frank Wren, clean out your desk.    


Freddie is good enough to retain, but I would leave that decision to the new GM.

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

@etherdome


I have to disagree with you on grouping the brothers in a package.  JUpton has performed up to his contract since he has been here.  BJ has not keep them separate in my opinion. 

highfive
highfive

You can sense the Braves are just showing up, bidding time until the season's end. Their posture on the field gives off the "who cares?" vibe. The rebuilding of this team can't happen soon enough and it should start with hiring a GM and manager from outside the organization. They both should have strong winning attitudes and put a premium on assembling a team of players that are hungry to win.

Delbert_D
Delbert_D

I don't see the logic supporting the Braves have quit, MB. You think the hitters have quit, but the pitchers haven't? Any indication that the defense has quit? The first and third base coaches haven't had much to do, but have they quit? 

ShootinTheHooch
ShootinTheHooch

Trade Justin to the Yankees for a bag of BP balls. Use the $17+ mil to eat next years $17+ million for BJ's contract. Release BJ. (The final two years of his contract are going to be eaten anyway.) A saving of $35 million to bring in some players who have a pulse.

etherdome
etherdome

@LADawg Why would the Yankees want to part with a perfectly good bag of BP balls?

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

"Have the Braves quit on Fredi G. and themselves?"


I was wondering whether the op-ed writers had quit on us. Most of us answered this question weeks ago.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

A: Yes, but management quit on them, too.


The Braves are loaded with young talent but the position players are all regressing to one degree or another, not improving. This is why Wren and Fredi HAVE TO GO; they are proving themselves incapable of developing regular position players and maintaining a healthy clubhouse (is this a surprise with Fredi?). STRIKEOUTS DO MATTER. Hello, this is BASEBALL. It's hard to get to first base and drive in runs if you don't hit the ball. Watching Simmons corkscrew himself into the ground is a something that should happen once in a blue moon - followed by a day or two viewing the game from the bench. Justin Upton's head is somewhere on a far away planet, and Chris Johnson is not far behind.


But management made epic mistakes this year. The veteran leadership on this team was SUPPOSED to come from Uggla and BJ. Ha! Look where that lead!  And the bench was downright atrocious, putting far too much pressure on the kids in the regular lineup. Two HUGE mistakes were made: (1) not dumping BJ on the street, and (2) not trading a pitcher or two for some bench help.


ShootinTheHooch
ShootinTheHooch

Since every position in the starting eight is tied in through next year and beyond except for second and catcher, what can a new GM do? Which of those six players (really it's four because Simmons and Freddie aren't going anywhere) could bring value. 


Strapped with virtually the same lineup, what can a new manager do? 


I agree that something needs to be done, but who would want to take over this mess as GM or manager? The Braves will have to promote from within because nobody in their right mind will leave their current job unless they are being run off much like Wren and Fredi.

ChiefKnockAHoma
ChiefKnockAHoma

I like Fredi, and I was glad when they brought him in after BC - thought it was the right choice and made sense...


But, I've got to say, I've come to the conclusion that Fredi is the ultimate issue with the team...


This team has too many good players for it to be Wren's fault...  he's actually constructed a good team, save the reach on the exorbitant contacts of a couple of player to remain nameless...


The inconsistent lineups, the loss of morale, the quitting - all begins, and ends, with the manager...


Of course, they have had some bad luck along the way, but what ream doesn't...  It's how you overcome it that matters, and again that points to the manager...


Mark - who would the Braves look at bringing in to replace Fredi in your opinion??

ShootinTheHooch
ShootinTheHooch

@ChiefKnockAHoma Constructed a pretty good lineup? Where? Not trying to call you out but I'd like to see what you see.


I see a platoon third baseman at best that couldn't hit his mother if she throws rightie. A left fielder that is good for about one week per month. A center fielder that...never mind. A right fielder that is built like Stanton but hits like LaStella. A shortstop that is magic on defense but got the position only because Pastornicky failed. The second baseman is home continuing to collect millions. The bench is beyond hapless.


The only positions that Wren has been successful is short, first, and possibly catcher.

seminoleking
seminoleking

maybe the braves need more diversity with the kiss cam and cheerleaders ??????? lol.............couldnt resist that shot at the hawks..........lol

WilliamHosey
WilliamHosey

Atlanta is where bats go to die. One doesn't have to look any further than Tommy LaStella. He was a hitting machine when he joined the Braves. Just a few weeks of "special instruction" he started to slump. BJ wasn't a great hitter, but when he came to ATL he shaved 50 points off of his BA. The downturn started when the Braves began to bleed scouts and minor league personnel to other teams. They pay their scouts some of the lowest salaries in MLB. There is a pall hanging over this franchise that reeks of a "grand divide" between players and management. Handing out extensions to young players takes away their motivation, whether they will admit it or not.The game has changed since the steroid era ended. The prevalence of small ball is clear, yet the Braves continue to swing for the fences,not working the count and refuse to hit the ball to the opposite field. This will get much worse before it gets better if the overall concept of what a franchise is doesn't improve. Resting on ones laurels is a recipe for disaster.

58Supersports
58Supersports

Fredi is Wren's and BC's hand pick manager...who has lot respect of players (they quit on him) and fans. Failed with his stupid moves and crazy line ups. Why saddle a new GM with someone else's manager. Let new GM hire his own Manager and coaches.

Fire Wren, Fredi and Coaches.

iBalling
iBalling

ATL sports is about Sales & Marketing. You market to get the fans excited about the possibility of winning. Sales is when we show up to the games because of their marketing strategy. The teams lose, the players get paid, the fans get the excitement of the game and we move on to another year. That's ATL sports! At this point I think we the fans have caught on to this marketing pitch. The Braves can not come back another year with this strategy. Wren and Gonzalez need to go along with some players. Bottom line!

Stinger2
Stinger2

@iBalling No iBalling. You left out something about who needs to go.  That being some or most of

the "fans" on the AJC blogs.  

Baghead
Baghead

@Stinger2 Why?  Because we have the audacity to question authority?  To demand a better team?  You're a joke.  It's people like you that accept mediocrity and do nothing but fuel the label of Atlanta being "Loserville".  Bottom line you moron:  7 Years - No playoff wins, and over $300million wasted on terrible big contract signings.  Wren should have been fired years ago.  Baltimore knew it after 365 days.  They chased him out of town like a rat.  It's taking us 7 years because of losers like you and the AJC writers.

Mr. Negative
Mr. Negative

@Baghead @Stinger2 Yessir, the truth hurts. It's the milquetoast attitude of some that keeps this mediocrity around. I finally think this city has had enough, and that's a good thing.

iBalling
iBalling

ATL sports is about Sales & Marketing. You market to get the fans excited about the possibility of winning. Sales is when we show up to the games because of their marketing strategy. The teams lose, the players get paid, the fans get the excitement of the game and we move on to another year. That's ATL sports! See ya next year!

Mr. Negative
Mr. Negative

Yessir...a delicious finale for the hapless Boobs. The Boobtrain has run off the tracks into Losers Gulch.  Swept by the sorry Muts with the coup de grace being totally shellacked yesterday. We will now find out if the powers that be at Liberty even give a crap. The next two weeks will speak volumes about that. I don't see how Fredo keeps his job and Frankie....well, if I was him, I wouldn't take any fishing trips with Liberty brass.

inoto20
inoto20

They didn't even try. They gave up weeks ago. How many shut outs this month? That has to be a record. They need to overhaul everything

joedavis
joedavis

While you're firing people, who was the advance scout who green-lighted the BJ Upton deal?  The guy who evidently watched him play several games for the Rays, and when asked by the Braves front office, apparently said, "BJ?  Pay him more than anyone in the history of the franchise!"  Whoever that guy is....needs to be gone.

Trackbacks

  1. […] The three guys who probably write the most about the Braves are Dave O’Brien and Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Mark Bowman of MLB.com. All three of them seem to be saying the same thing today: Fredi Gonzalez and/or Frank Wren are out in Atlanta. First Bradley: […]

  2. […] September collapse, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports.  Along those same lines, Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC subscription required) thinks the Braves’ woeful performance over the last week has the […]