Atlanta Braves blog 

Atlanta Braves blog by David O'Brien, baseball writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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After strong start, mostly mediocrity (or worse) from Braves

  • 2:19 pm Tuesday, August 12th, 2014 by David O'Brien
It was that kind of night. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez shows his frustration during an ugly eighth inning as the Dodgers build a 6-1 lead Monday.

If it feels like it’s been quite a tedious stretch of mediocrity from the Braves this season, well, there’s a reason. After their 17-7 start, when a patched-together pitching staff performed at an otherworldly level, the Braves have since gone 43-51 with a 3.77 ERA, .244 batting average and only 350 runs and 65 homers in their past 94 games, an average of 3.7 runs per game.

In their past 31 home games, the Braves are 15-16 with a 3.54 ERA. They’ve scored two or fewer runs in 10 of their past 24 home games.

Yep, that’s mediocrity. Or worse. In the [More]

Braves’ Heyward becoming player we expected

  • 2:36 pm Monday, August 11th, 2014 by David O'Brien
Jason Heyward is having one of the best extended hitting periods of his career, and says he's learned a lot and is beginning to figure out how to apply it all.  He just turned 25 on Saturday.

Jason Heyward turned 25 on Saturday, and lately the right fielder has been hitting like the player most of us expected him to be by this point in his career. Well, not with as much power as we anticipated, but otherwise, like that line-driving-hitting, aggressive-on-the-bases offensive force we envisioned but had seen only in spurts of a few weeks here and there since the spectacular first half of his rookie season in 2010.

Defensively, the strong-armed, speedy right fielder is as good or better than anyone in the game at his position. But offensively, Heyward is the first to admit he’s [More]

Since it’s Nats in lead, Braves have a shot

  • 2:19 pm Saturday, August 9th, 2014 by David O'Brien
Freddie Freeman homered Friday to continue his torrid hitting against the Nationals and make him 10-for-22 (.455) with three homers, nine RBIs, six walks and a .533 OBP and .909 slugging percentage against Stephen Strasburg.

If it had been any other team that moved 4 ½ games of the Braves after Atlanta’s dispiriting, abysmal 0-8 West Coast road trip, then maybe the situation would have been as dire as some observers indicated. After all, the Braves had given little reason for hope and shown mostly signs of a team headed in the wrong direction at the worst time, with August here and playoff races starting to heat up.

Ah, but it was the Nationals who had that 4 ½-game lead over the Braves. And as much as some Braves skeptics and Nationals loyalists might not believe [More]

Braves look to end skid, tough task vs. ‘King’

  • 5:22 pm Tuesday, August 5th, 2014 by David O'Brien
To the surprise of no one who watches baseball, Andrelton Simmons was rated the NL's best defensive shortstop in Baseball America's  survey.

  SEATTLE – The Braves have hit .230 and totaled 53 runs and seven homers over their past 16 games, including two or fewer runs in nine of those games. And now they bring a six-game losing skid and offensive ills with them to Safeco Field to face a Mariners team with a majors-best 3.05 ERA.

Oh, and tonight they face “King” Felix Hernandez, who is at least the American League’s best pitcher and the only MLB pitcher who’s on a current roll as impressive as the one that Clayton Kershaw brought into his matchup against the Braves last week in [More]

Sad day as Braves lose another iconic broadcaster

  • 2:14 pm Saturday, August 2nd, 2014 by David O'Brien
Pete "The Professor" Van Wieren

SAN DIEGO – Such a sad day. Pete Van Wieren, who died early this morning, was truly one of the good guys, in addition to being a damn fine broadcaster and perfect partner for the irreverent Skip Caray. Wonderful tandem, and before that a wonderful trio with Ernie Johnson.

Now they’re all gone.

They lived hard, they worked hard, they made days and nights a lot better for a long time for Braves fans, and for many of us baseball fans who didn’t live in major cities with baseball teams and only had [More]

So long and good luck, Jordan Schafer

  • 5:36 pm Friday, August 1st, 2014 by David O'Brien
Jordan Schafer homered in his first game as the Braves' opening-day center fielder in 2009. There were some ups and downs since then, to say the least.

SAN DIEGO – Part of me hated to see Jordan Schafer DFA’d, because I like him and still believe he’s a good player who can help a winning team. But for his sake and the sake of the Braves, today’s move was the best one, and now we’ll find out whether another team has seen enough of him to claim him off waivers and give him a shot at the playing time he wasn’t going to get here because of contracts and commitments to others.

He’s still young enough (27) and still has game-changing speed and strong defensive skills. Works hard, wants [More]

Facing Kershaw, Braves need Teheran at his best

  • 8:37 pm Thursday, July 31st, 2014 by David O'Brien
Clayton Kershaw was 9-0 with a 0.94 ERA and .151 opponents’ average and four complete games in his past 10 starts before facing the Braves on Thursday.

 LOS ANGELES – Julio Teheran faces Clayton Kershaw tonight in a matchup of aces in the Braves-Dodgers series finale. Needless to say the Braves need Teheran to pitch like the pitcher he’s been most games this season, not the pitcher he’s been in most games on the West Coast, including starts at San Francisco this season and Dodger Stadium in the playoffs last year.

First, let’s focus on Kershaw, who has won two of the past three NL Cy Young awards and is the hottest pitcher in baseball right now. The left-hander is – are you ready for this? — 9-0 [More]

Will Braves part with prospects to make a deal?

  • 4:37 pm Wednesday, July 30th, 2014 by David O'Brien
The Braves have scouted Andrew Miller frequently in recent weeks. It remains to be seen if they're willing to part with the young talent that Boston is asking for in a potential trade before Thursday's 4 p.m. non-waiver deadline.

  LOS ANGELES – As the non-waiver trade deadline approaches (4 p.m. Thursday), the Braves were still trying to add Boston’s Andrew Miller or another quality left-handed reliever without giving up too much in the way of quality prospects. But the Red Sox were asking for at least one top prospect in a deal for Miller, and it remained to be seen if there would be middle ground for a deal with the Braves.

They have the prospects to make it happen, but the Braves  don’t want to sacrifice talent they’re counting upon for the long term in exchange for 2-3 [More]

Some more words on Simmons’ jaw-dropping defense

  • 5:15 pm Tuesday, July 29th, 2014 by David O'Brien
The Braves' gifted shortstop, Andrelton Simmons, continues to fill up highlight reels with spectacular defensive plays.

LOS ANGELES – Andrelton Simmons made two spectacular plays Monday against San Diego that reminded everyone why the Braves shortstop is widely regarded as not only the best defensive shortstop in the National League, but arguably the best defender at any position in the majors.

He laid out to make a diving stop going to his left on the first play, but topped that with a sensational bare-handed grab-and-throw later in the game. The bouncing ball took a peculiar hop and was spinning away from him when he snatched it out of the air and threw to first base in [More]

Braves prospect Bethancourt impressed while in bigs

  • 2:08 pm Monday, July 21st, 2014 by David O'Brien
Christian Bethancourt has impressed while filling in for injured Evan Gattis over the past few weeks.

When Evan Gattis was activated from the DL this afternoon, Christian Bethancourt was optioned back to Triple-A as expected. The Braves have veteran backup Gerald Laird and emergency catcher Ryan Doumit, don’t have room for three full-time catchers on their 25-man roster, and besides, they want their top catching prospect Bethancourt to keep playing every day and developing, not spending most of his time on the bench.

So, Bethancourt will go back to Gwinnett after spending the past few weeks with the big club and making quite an impression with the strides he’s made since last year and even since this [More]

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