How the Braves’ rebuild became painful to watch

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Julio Teheran had been solid at home until Sunday, when the Yankees completed a resounding sweep of the Braves with a 20-6 win and Teheran gave up three homers and failed to make it out of the fifth inning. (Curtis Compton/AJC photo)

I fully understand the long-term nature of the rebuild – or revamp, remodel, whatever one prefers to call it — that John Hart, John Coppolella and the Braves have undertaken since the front-office regime change last fall. And I think it was the right approach, necessary for the long-term success of the franchise, if they are to contend for World Series titles again instead of wild-card berths.

I just think they might have gone a bit too far with the last couple of deals.

Julio Teheran had been solid at home until Sunday, when the Yankees completed a resounding sweep of the Braves with a 20-6 win and Teheran gave up three homers and failed to make it out of the fifth inning. (Curtis Compton/AJC photo)

Julio Teheran had been solid at home until Sunday, when the Yankees completed a resounding sweep of the Braves with a 20-6 win and Teheran gave up three homers and failed to make it out of the fifth inning. (Curtis Compton/AJC photo)

I say might only because you, me or they don’t really know who “won” the three-team trade that sent Alex Wood, Jose Peraza, Jim Johnson and Luis Avilan to the Dodgers and brought 30-year-old Hector Olivera to the Braves. Because honestly, until we see what kind of player Olivera is and how long he can play at a high level, and until we see if Wood becomes a consistent, long-term major league starter and/or Peraza develops into the player the Braves and others once projected him to become, then we simply can’t rate that trade with any authority.

And I say might also because none of us can really rate the big-picture results of the July 24 trade that sent Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe to the Mets for minor league pitchers John Gant, 23, and Robert Whalen, 21, until we see how Gant and Whalen develop. If either of them becomes a big-league starter or even a quality reliever, then the Braves did well in trading two veterans on one-year contracts.

Whalen has a 3.35 ERA and 1.252 WHIP in 18 games (17 starts) in high-A this season, with 68 strikeouts and 38 walks in 96 2/3 innings. Meh.

Gant has some pretty good numbers, 10-5 with a 3.31 ERA and 1.218 WHIP in 23 starts in high-A and Double-A this season, with 130 strikeouts and 44 walks in 134 2/3 innings.

Who knows if either  will amount to anything at the big-league level? I certainly don’t.

What I do know is that the Braves came into this season insisting that they were “walking two paths” in that they were trying to build for the future, particularly for 2017 and beyond in the new ballpark, while also remaining competitive this season. When they traded Wood, Johnson and Avilan to the Dodgers, then traded KJ and Uribe to the Mets, they ended any semblance of remaining competitive or even respectable this season.

Now we’re told that Olivera probably won’t be the player this season that he’ll be in the future because of the rust or whatever from missing so much time for the hamstring injury. So when Braves fans get all excited about seeing Olivera when he’s recalled (expected to be this week, probably Tuesday), and he doesn’t look like a big-impact guy right away, they’re supposed to understand that he’ll be better  in the future.

Only I know why fans don’t want to hear that and will be skeptical until he proves otherwise. Because, frankly, they’ve heard things that haven’t quite come to pass. Such as trying to remain competitive this season. The Braves surprised everyone in the first half, playing a scrappy, solid brand of baseball to overachieve in the view of many and post a .500 record through 84 games.

But once Jason Grilli went down during the four-game Colorado sweep just before the All-Star break, it’s like the Braves said, OK, we did what we said and put together a competitive squad that people could get behind, but  now there’s no chance with Grilli down, so let’s start looking to really shake things up, regardless of what it means for the present.

And that’s fine, as long as you don’t think losing so much might turn off a whole lot of fans and that some of them might not be so ready to jump right back on board in the spring when everyone’s talking about how much better the team should be and how the future looks bright, etc. (I do think the future looks bright, but it’s hard to say that with a straight face and expect people to believe it after the Braves get their butts handed to them the way they just did in being swept and outscored 38-11 by the  Yankees this past weekend.)

My thing all along was – and Braves officials agreed – this isn’t Houston. This isn’t a market that is likely to accept 100-loss seasons with an eye toward the future. Not after the past quarter-century of mostly excellent baseball in Atlanta, including the 14 consecutive division titles. And the kind of baseball the Braves were playing in the first half, or even if they were 10 games under .500 now, is one thing. Fans will accept the Braves losing, as long as they’re in most games and competitive and never embarrass themselves.

This weekend was embarrassing for the Braves. This second half has become embarrassing for the Braves. Since the 42-42 start, they are 12-34 with a 5.42 ERA and 144 runs in 46 games (3.13 runs per game).

Things got a lot worse after a team with a mediocre-at-best offense traded away two of  its most productive hitters and two of its most positive-minded veterans, including the engaging personality of Uribe (who was quickly becoming a fan favorite) and the versatility of Johnson, who lives in  Atlanta and probably would (and still might) re-sign with the Braves if they want him backin 2016. For this season, he was giving them a lot.

And trading Wood? Hmm. We’ll see, but trading a middle-rotation starter, a young left-hander with years of contractual control … well, let’s just say that’s a gamble. The Braves brass is better situated to judge Wood’s future and whether they think he’ll stay healthy and continue to develop, etc., but it’s a risky move, particularly to get a 30-year-old with no MLB experience. And not to mention the fact they threw in  Peraza, who just seven months ago everyone in the organization was raving about.

Peraza, even if he doesn’t draw walks or have any power, has great speed, solid defensive skills and hits for a high average. Would’ve been a nice backup plan in case anything happens to Andrelton Simmons or Jace Peterson and the Braves needed a bridge until Ozzie Albies  is ready in perhaps 2-3 years.

And even if Jim Johnson and Avilan frustrated fans at times with inconsistency, the fact is they were two of the only remaining proven relievers left on the roster, and the bullpen has become an absolute travesty since they were dealt. Jason Frasor pitched  well briefly after the Braves signed  him, but hurt a shoulder and now he’s gone.

And Edwin Jackson? Sorry, but I don’t buy that as a big addition to help the Braves remain competitive this season. Despite his decent numbers this season as a reliever for the Cubs, the fact that they dumped him with that many millions left on a contract that runs through next season said plenty, and his performance since joining the Braves has backed up the skepticism over the signing.

• Some simple numbers to wrap this up:

The Braves are 1-12 with a 7.61 ERA and 39 runs scored in their past 13 games, and they were outscored 38-11 in three games by the Yankees – all the Yankee runs earned. That’s the most runs the Braves have given up in a three-game series since the team moved to Atlanta in 1966 – which includes some really bad teams in the ‘70s and ‘80s — and the 20 runs they gave up Sunday were the most allowed by the Braves in 12 years.

The Braves had three consecutive months with ERAs under 4.00 before blowing up to majors-worst 6.19 so far in August with a trade- and injury-depleted bullpen and the youngest and least-experience rotation in the majors.

  Braves are 8-19 with a 6.19 ERA  in August, more than a half-run higher than the next-worst in the majors (Rockies, 9-18 with 5.64 ERA). Reds are a majors-worst 7-21 in August, but have a 4.21 ERA. Those are the only major league teams without double-digit wins in August.

Another scrap-heap signee, Ross Detwiler, has a 6.46 ERA and .344 opponents’ average in 22 appearances since July 4, with more walks (13) than strikeouts (12) in 15 1/3 innings. In past six appearances, he has a 13.50 ERA and .389 opponents’ average, with seven hits, six earned runs and seven walks allowed in four innings (and that’s not counting at least a couple more inherited runs that scored).

August ERAs: Foltynewicz 7.27 in five starts, Wisler 7.85 in six starts, McKirahan 8.10 in 11 appearances, Perez 8.44 in five starts, Detwiler 8.64 in 14 appearances, Kelly 9.82 in four appearances, Aardsma 10.13 in 13 appearances, and Brigham 15.88 in five appearances.

Since trading K.J. and Uribe, the Braves are 9-25 with 109 runs in 34 games (3.2 per game). In his last 30 games before the trade, Johnson hit .289 with three homers, 15 RBIs in 90 at-bats. In his last 43 games before the trade, Uribe hit .294 with seven homers, 17 RBIs, a .361 OBP and .483 slugging percentage (the Braves were 21-22 in those games).

30-year-old rookie Adonis Garcia has seven homers since the All-Star break, and no other Brave has more than three. Nick Markakis has 20 RBIs since the break, and Peterson is next among Braves with 13.

Here’s a great tune from Faith No More off its terrific album Angel Dust.

“A SMALL VICTORY” by Faith No More

Faith No More

Faith No More

A hierarchy
Spread out on the nightstand
The spirit of team
Salvation is another chance
A sore loser
Yelling with my mouth shut
A cracking portrait
The fondling of the trophies
The null of losing
Can you afford that luxury?
A sore winner
But I’ll just keep my mouth shut
It shouldn’t bother me
But it does
The small victories
The cankers and medallions
They keep me thinking that someday
I might beat you
But I’ll just keep my mouth shut
The little nothings
It shouldn’t bother me
But it does
If I spean at one constant volume at one constant pitch
At one constant rhythm right into your ear, you still won’t hear
You still won’t hear
You still won’t hear
You still won’t hear
You still won’t hear
You still won’t hear
You still won’t hear


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