These Braves weren’t built to win. Good thing, seeing that they’re 0-5

Atlanta Braves center fielder Drew Stubbs, slides as shortstop Erick Aybar, right, reaches for the center field fly ball of St. Louis Cardinals' Matt Holliday who singles during the eighth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, April 10, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)

How many Braves does it take to catch a pop fly? (AP Photo/John Amis)

Let’s look on the bright side. Six National League teams figured to be terrible this season, and the Atlanta Braves have already surged ahead of — or fallen behind, depending on your perspective — the five others in the race for the No. 1 draft pick in 2018. There’s still the matter of the Minnesota Twins, who are 0-6 to the Braves’ 0-5. But Rome wasn’t rebuilt in a day.

Not to say I told you so, but I kind of did. Forget any false chatter emanating from spring training. (And there wasn’t much of that. The Braves were 6-26 in exhibition games, the worst mark in either the Grapefruit or Cactus Leagues.) They were always going to be awful, and their front-loaded schedule — 15 of their first 22 games against teams that finished 2015 above .500 — stood to make the early going doubly dire. Ergo, 0-5.

Here we note that the Braves started last season 5-0 and still lost 95 games. This 0-fer opening week would seem to give them a flying start on 100 losses, which is harder to do than it sounds: No team has lost 100 games since the Marlins and Astros of 2013, and the latter club serves as one of the Braves’ role models. The franchise that lost 324 games from 2011 through 2013 is now seen as a World Series favorite.

Baseball Prospectus and FanGraphs both projected the 2016 Braves to finish 68-94, or one game better than last season. I got wildly optimistic and picked them to go 71-91. My thinking, such as it was: The team would be wretched early — as opposed to last season, when it was wretched late — but would improve once the first real wave of prospects hit. Having already re-calibrated, FanGraphs now tabs the Braves to go 66-96, or one game worse than last year. BP lists the Braves’ playoff odds at 1.5 percent, the lowest among the 30 big-league teams.

We can list all the reasons the Braves are 0-5 — A.J. Pierzynski, a catcher by trade, cannot catch the ball; Freddie Freeman, the only real hitter, is hitting .125; the “E” in Erick Aybar’s first name can also stand for E-6; the retooled bullpen has blown three saves and has the second-worst ERA in the majors — but the chilling part is this: The rotation hasn’t taken a full turn.

Last season began with Julio Teheran, Shelby Miller and Alex Wood taking regular turns, the retreads Eric Stults and Trevor Cahill being Nos. 4 and 5 (though not for long). With Miller and Wood gone, this year’s No. 2 starter is Bud Norris, himself a retread. No. 3 is Matt Wisler, who’s still learning. No. 4 is Williams Perez, who might be the 15th-most-promising pitcher in the organization. No. 5 is Jhoulys Chacin, who was released by Colorado and signed a minor-league contract with the Braves.

The bullpen has started badly, but the rotation figures to be worse. The Braves, who finished last in baseball in runs last season, aren’t apt to outhit anybody. (They’re second-worst in batting average, third-worst in slugging percentage. Cardinals pinch-hitters hoisted as many home runs in three innings Friday as the Braves as a team have this season.) The five-plus months remaining won’t be pretty.

To bash these Braves for being lousy, however, misses the point. We won’t be seeing this team for long, and hooray for that. Aybar and Pierzynski (again) and the Johnsons (Kelly and Jim, both again) could be traded for more pieces by Aug. 1. So could Ender Inciarte and Jason Grilli. This is yet another disposable roster, a place-holder for one filled with younger and presumably better Braves.

That roster, alas, is still a ways away, and 157 games remain. I wish I had something more to say than “Trust the process,” but I don’t. This, see, is the hardest part about tanking-to-rebuild. In the effort to please its fans down the road, a team risks losing those fans forever. Winning is supposed to cure all ills, but right now the Braves don’t seem capable of winning much of anything. Even one lousy game.

Reader Comments 0

90 comments
Steph113
Steph113

 its a disgrace, putting  a team like that on the field , fans in April with No hope is just plain wrong    And they still charge full price for tickets !  

Lane Tomme
Lane Tomme

The Season literally just started. Calm yourself so called braves fans. This is the year we get to see the prospects come out! Get excited!

davidv14
davidv14

The 2016 Atlanta Braves the best AAA team playing in the majors; that how I see it When your owner does not give a darn resigning core players, and poor management making poor one side trades along the way this is what you get.  I do not think they will go 0-162; but it could be really a ugly record moving into the new ballpark next year.

Kyler Post
Kyler Post

Mark Bradley's favorite phrase is "I told you so." That's why he continuously writes articles that predict the painfully obvious. "The Braves will be bad." "Water is wet."

Kennyd_va
Kennyd_va

The Atlanta Braves organization made the worst moves in baseball. It's going to take years and I do mean years before the Atlanta Braves are mention making the post seasons.  The Braves will finish last for the next 3 years.  Our Atlanta Braves are the worst in the MLB

TrueFan1
TrueFan1

What incentive is there to go see this Double AA ball club? (Triple A would be giving them too much credit. )

TOJacket
TOJacket

They were shooting solo cups in their room with a BB gun?..........good lord how did they make bail?.........what a stupid thing to do to these kids, a felony?....PC Bullshat!

TOJacket
TOJacket

Well I see that the Kirby Smart culture at UGA is in full swing.........the new motto is "Attack the Day"?....with BB guns?......boys will be boys, ask Jameis Winston.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TOJacket

Actually, the Kirby Smart culture's about championships, thanks to his Bama background. So it's hardly "in full swing" at UGA--yet anyway.

Wayne Goswick
Wayne Goswick

Very sad to see what has happened to this once excellent franchise.

UnbiasedObserver
UnbiasedObserver

So why did they start to gut the team a few years back?


Dont tell me they dont have the resources to put a better team on the field.  The franchise has doubled in value since Liberty purchased it.  


Whats really going on here?

DawgWhistle
DawgWhistle

Tripled in value...and Liberty Media is a $20 billion corporation. By the way, they'll be selling the Braves as soon as they think the value has 'maxed out'.

Cook Kurtis
Cook Kurtis

I think the Gwinnett Braves are a better team.

Mike MacLellan
Mike MacLellan

Mark Bradley, tell you "I told you" so better than anyone in the business.

CallMeStupid
CallMeStupid

The article about the Braves being a topic of discussion at the shareholders meeting spells it out clearly. This is no longer about a baseball team. It is about a real estate development with the Braves as a sideshow.  The decisions are made by a group of people that are 1400 miles away from Atlanta. 

This will not end until we have local ownership.

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

@CallMeStupid  Unfortunately they are not going away soon.  I wish they would but they are using the baseball team as a big time corporate real estate venture and I do not intent to support it

reconguy
reconguy

Go ahead and tell it like it is. I appreciate. reading a article with no homer, hooray for the braves, propaganda put out by the braves, when they knew that it had the potential to be brutal this year.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@reconguy

Better not listen to the Hawks broadcasters then. They're the ultimate bootlicking toadies.

patriotdog
patriotdog

I've tired of the 'time to panic , we'll never win again' articles and fans, Watched my first Braves game as a youngster in then brand new Atlanta Stadium. The 70s were wretched, the mid-late 80s were no better. Turner took over and was clueless until he hired Schuerholz. It got better then, it'll get better again.

Glavine and gang were hideous in '88, not much better in '89. It wasn't until mid 1991 that things turned around. Patience is hard. Not many have it these days, but with this putrid bunch it'll come in handy.

Relax.....it's a game.

Charles Woodruff
Charles Woodruff

IMHO the Braves worst problem is relief pitching. They score runs early in most games, but the other team whittles away against poor pitching for the most part. Exactly why I was so mad when the traded the best reliever in baseball- Craig Kimbrell. Remember he saved over 25 games for them in 2014. See what I mean?

Lester Norton
Lester Norton

They don't have anybody that can catch, throw or hit.  But what irks me most is they trot to pick up balls and take their sweet time to crow hop and throw it in.  They may not win a game this year but if they hustled, or gave 100% at all times, at least I would still watch.

Regina Gina Ice
Regina Gina Ice

Yes ! They should have a banner that reads for "Entertainment Purposes Only". But I still love them!!! Ever since the days of TBS Superstation!! Channel 17!!

Andy Kogerma
Andy Kogerma

sadly, you are correct., this ownership has destroyed the Braves franchise

bgeorge12
bgeorge12

Sunday was a great day to miss the Braves and watch JSpieth win his 3rd major at the age of 22!  After 9 holes and him up by 5 shots, I switched over to see a Braves pitcher shatter his elbow, the bullpen give up about 10 runs, and said to myself, well now let's have a feel good moment and watch Jordan win that green jacket!


How'd that work out for a Sunday sports junkie?  Hide the knives!

Jimmie Brown
Jimmie Brown

Don't give up on the Braves season just started?

John Gilbert
John Gilbert

I prefer to remember the 9-0 start and 35-5 after 40 of the 1984 Detroit Tigers :-). Bryan Garner, do you agree?

John Gilbert
John Gilbert

Bryan Garner The original was filmed in Milwaukee, WI ⚾️

Rick Lingerfelt
Rick Lingerfelt

Sadly, they're a minor league team trying to play in the "bigs"

Therut
Therut

My goal is to not watch one pitch this year

Therut
Therut

My goal is to not watch one pitch this year.




Ted Brackney
Ted Brackney

Do get too full of yourself Mr. B Madley: this team busting is more predictable than English weather.

Tony Kirby
Tony Kirby

Just think. The Braves and Twins are winless so far . I see another worst to first World Series brewing

David Chitwood
David Chitwood

come on braves! dont make me wanna have to move. you can do it!

Chamelio Salamander
Chamelio Salamander

Bad news braves are back! Maybe they will go from worst to first again in the new stadium... Can't wait to see the IPO...

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

Give me different ownership similar to the Hawks Tony Ressler's group and I will trust the process more

Saldiven
Saldiven

Hrm. Looks like my prediction from the off season is being proven accurate.


Regardless of how effective the moves by the front office end up being for the long term, there is nothing about the 2016 Braves that warrants me spending any of my entertainment dollars on their product.


Just a week past opening day, and it's already, "Wait til next year...."

khd713
khd713

@Saldiven Wow, you predicted the Braves would be bad this year? Holy cow, that's incredible. Go buy a lottery ticket. You're a genius.

Calel
Calel

Management needs to drop the prices on tickets drastically. I can't justify to my household's boss (my wife) spending almost $250 for our family to travel to Atlanta to see this "baseball team" when for a much cheaper rate, we can eliminate the traffic, drunk beggars, parking swindlers, and hustlers and travel 15 minutes to Cool Ray. To pay Major League prices to see what amounts to a Minor League team is senseless.

Calel
Calel

I wouldn't worry about losing fans right now. This city leads the league in bandwagon fans. All it will take is a 95- or 100-win season, oh, 3, 4, 5 years from now, and we'll start to see the tomahawks chopping again on the rear windshield wiper blades. Trust me. Or maybe by then our politically correct society will have us using fairy godmother wands as tomahawks....

Treespeed
Treespeed

Pierzynski was not traded last year.