Atlanta Braves blog 

Atlanta Braves blog by David O'Brien, baseball writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Braves’ starting-rotation plans could hinge on Santana

  • 4:10 pm Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 by David O'Brien
The Braves have until Monday to decide whether to make a $15.3 million qualifying offer to free agent Ervin Santana, and he would then have a week to decide whether to accept or decline it.

The Braves went from 96 wins and a division title in 2013 to 79 wins and out of the playoffs in 2014, but it was through no fault of their starting pitchers.

Despite losing Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy to season-ending elbow injuries during spring training and Gavin Floyd to another elbow injury after only nine games, Braves starters finished the season ranked fifth in the majors in ERA (3.42), second in innings (1,014 1/3) and fourth in strikeouts (868).

All-Star Julio Teheran and ascendant left-hander Alex Wood will return along with lefty Mike Minor, barring any unexpected developments. That would leave [More]

Braves’ infielders had big part in offensive collapse

  • 2:25 pm Friday, October 24th, 2014 by David O'Brien
He's the best defensive shortstop in baseball, but Andrelton Simmons is a work-in-progress offensively.

Any examination of the Braves’ offensive collapse in 2014 should probably start with the infield. (Not with B.J. Upton, because he was even worse in 2013 than he was in ’14.)

Freddie Freeman’s RBI total slipped from a career-best 109 in 2013 to 78 in ‘14. Chris Johnson’s batting average and OPS plummeted from a career-best .321 and .816 in ’13 to .263/.653 in ’14. Andrelton Simmons’ extra-base hits and home runs fell from 50 and 17 in 2013 to 29 and 7 in ’14. And Dan Uggla was so bad that he was released in July and rookies or utility players [More]

Braves catcher in ’15: Bethancourt, Gattis, or both?

  • 4:42 pm Tuesday, October 21st, 2014 by David O'Brien
Veteran Gerald Laird (left) believes it's only a matter of time before rookie Christian Bethancourt is good hitter, comparing him to a young Yadier Molina.

The Braves have a slugger of a catcher, Evan Gattis, whose unusual background, splendid nickname – El Oso Blanco — and circuitous path to the majors made him a budding folk hero to many fans before he played his first major league game. A catcher whose 43 homers in 723 at-bats over his first two seasons further strengthened the Paul Bunyan-esque legend.

And the Braves have a highly regarded, strong-armed rookie catcher, Christian Bethancourt, who only turned 23 last month but has already spent most of seven seasons in the minor leagues and showed promise in 30 starts in the majors. [More]

Braves outfield: Who stays among Uptons, Heyward?

  • 4:21 pm Monday, October 20th, 2014 by David O'Brien
Things haven't gone the way the Braves expected with the outfield of Justin Upton, B.J. Upton and Jason Heyward in their first two seasons together. Now it remains to be seen if one or more of them is traded before next season.

The Braves outfield that many expected to be one of baseball’s best has been far from it in two seasons that Jason Heyward and the Upton brothers have manned it, and now the question is whether the trio has already played its last game together.

With Justin Upton and Heyward eligible for free agency after the 2015 season, and B.J. Upton two years into a five-year, $75.25 million contract the Braves are desperate to shed, there’s a chance that at least one or two of them could be moved this offseason.

Once a new general manager is in place, one of the [More]

Braves brass moving forward quickly, decisively

  • 6:52 pm Tuesday, October 7th, 2014 by David O'Brien
We should know soon whether John Schuerholz (right) gets his wish and sees John Hart (left) accept the Braves GM job.

They don’t have a hitting coach and, oh yeah, they don’t have a GM, at least not officially.

But the Braves are undoubtedly moving forward and shaking things up, having realigned their front office so rapidly and extensively that it’s clear the old-guard trio assigned to guide this overhaul was ready to turn the page. To leave behind the team’s recent past and rid itself of some inner-organizational stagnation or rot, depending upon whom you ask.

After general manager Frank Wren and assistant general manager Bruce Manno were fired on Sept. 22, the Braves had a news conference that day to discuss [More]

Wood, along with Teheran, shows he’s top-of-rotation starter

  • 2:24 pm Friday, September 26th, 2014 by David O'Brien
It's not a stretch to say Julio Teheran might have 20 wins this season if he'd received good run support.

 PHILADELPHIA – While a figurative building has collapsed around them, Braves pitchers have been the room left standing, producing more quality starts than any other major league team despite getting run support that’s been almost historically awful.

And to think, it was the pitching – particularly the starting pitching – that had everyone concerned coming out of spring training, after the Braves lost Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy to season-ending elbow injuries in consecutive Grapefruit League games and then lost Gavin Floyd to another elbow injury in his ninth start, just when he was looking like he might be ready to [More]

Braves’ pitchers have shone despite awful offense

  • 2:32 pm Wednesday, September 24th, 2014 by David O'Brien

Before we provide an update on the Braves’ pitiful offense and its performance during a debacle of a September that could end up being historically bad, this would be a good time to point out how impressively pitching coach Roger McDowell’s guys have held up during a trying season, not just pitching well under the circumstances – injuries and the aforementioned godawful offense – but pitching very well, period.

The Braves rank third in the NL with a 3.36 ERA. Their starters are fourth in the NL and fifth in the majors with a 3.41 ERA despite a losing record (56-59).

The [More]

In which we discuss Braves collapsing, firing, hiring, etc.

  • 2:14 pm Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014 by David O'Brien
Hart, Schuerholz and Cox will be in charge of finding and hiring the next Braves GM.

  Before we get into a few perhaps telling comments and leftovers from yesterday’s Frank Wren firing and the search for a new Braves GM, let’s quickly rehash the latest chapter in a September collapse, shall we? A meltdown in which the Braves have actually played — or rather, hit — far worse than they did during the one in September 2011 collapse.

(The big difference is, they actually led the wild-card race by 8 ½ games on the morning of Sept. 6, 2011. This year they were tied with Milwaukee for the second wild-card spot by that point, and were [More]

Braves lack offensive fundamentals & leadership

  • 2:36 pm Wednesday, September 17th, 2014 by David O'Brien
The Nationals celebrated winning the NL East title Tuesday night at Turner Field, the latest indignation for the skidding Braves.

Many have asked how the Braves could have gone so far off the rails this season, just one year after winning the NL East with a 96-66 record. They fell to 75-76 with Tuesday night’s loss to Washington, then saw the Nationals celebrate at Turner Field, as that game clinched the division title for Atlanta’s chief rivals.

It was not surprising that Washington clinched at Turner Field, where visiting teams have celebrated after winning postseason series, wild-card games or playoff berths on a regular basis since the joint opened for baseball 1997. That’s one bit of history the Braves will be [More]

Braves must take advantage against free-falling Rangers

  • 2:35 pm Friday, September 12th, 2014 by David O'Brien
B.J. Upton has a .333 career average with 16 extra-base hits (four homers) and a .579 slugging percentage in 31 games at Texas, all while he was with Tampa Bay.

  DALLAS – The Braves are back at Arlington, Texas, for the first time since 2008. Back when many Braves were still in high school and the Rangers had Josh Hamilton piling up 32 homers, 130 RBIs and a .901 OPS in his first full season in the majors. Oh, and veteran Gerald Laird mentoring and sharing time with second-year catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who had come over from Atlanta as part of the big Mark Teixeira trade the previous year (Andrus, Feliz, Harrison, etc.)

How time flies, huh?

Given the way these two teams have played lately, there might not be 15 [More]