Posted: 11:22 pm Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

As Freeman powers Braves, Upton still searching for … anything 

By Jeff Schultz

Freddie Freeman (two homers, single, walk) and Jason Heyward (homer, single) provided Braves' offense Tuesday. But B.J. Upton continues to struggle.

Freddie Freeman (two homers, single, walk) and Jason Heyward (homer, single) provided Braves’ offense Tuesday. But B.J. Upton continues to struggle.

MILWAUKEE — Starting pitching so far: Not a problem.

One night after Julio Teheran allowed just two runs in six innings against Milwaukee, Alex Wood pitched seven solid innings, giving up just a run (a homer to Carlos Gomez, the Brewers’ first batter). So that’s three runs allowed in 13 innings for two starters. The only difference Tuesday was that Wood was supported by some offense: Freddie Freeman homered twice, Jason Heyward hit his first and the Braves evened the series with a 5-2 win over the Brewers.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez praised Wood for being “mentally tough,” particularly after allowing the early home run.

Freeman also credited Wood and said he and others in the lineup feel compelled to help out the wounded pitching staff this season: “When you lose two-fifths of the rotation in back-to-back days after what they did for us last year, we want to take it upon ourselves to give (the pitchers) some breathing room this year.”

So that was the good. But not everybody in the lineup took a step forward Tuesday.

I wrote an early column for print and MyAJC.com on B.J. Upton, who is coming off a disastrous first season (.184) in Atlanta. Upton believes he has worked out some of the problems that plagued him a year ago but the results don’t show it. In two games, he is 0-for-8 with four strikeouts. (Meanwhile, the Braves’ other pin cushion last year, Dan Uggla, has had solid at-bats in his two games and doubled twice Tuesday.)

The link to the full column on Upton can be found here on MyAJC.com.

I asked Upton about his struggles and his critics, particularly those in social media. Among his comments: “Oh yeah. They’re all over me already. Whatever. They don’t have to come out and play. … Everybody has something to say. But like I said: They don’t have to play and I don’t have to see them. I play for these 24 players and these coaches.”

There’s a lot more in the column.

I can only guess what’s coming but here goes: Do you have any confidence that Upton will get things going?

Some recent ramblings, on demand . . .
– MyAJC ($): B.J. Upton is under fire — and he knows it
– Blog: Tiger Woods out and Masters will take a hit
– MyAJC ($): Teheran does his part but Braves lose anyway
– Blog: Short take on Braves’ loss to Milwaukee
– Blog: LIVE: 5 questions going into Braves’ season
– MyAJC ($): Strong opener by Teheran would ease some Braves’ concerns
– MyAJC ($): Injuries means Braves have little margin for error
– MyAJC ($): NCAA needs to take the hint, start paying players
– Blog: Mike Mills’ song pushes Dale Murphy for Hall of Fame
– MyAJC ($): Did Dimitroff lose benefit of doubt after bad season?
– Blog: Dimitroff on Falcons, failure, his draft board and Umenyiora
– Blog: Mercer (Georgia’s shining light) stuns Duke
– MyAJC ($): SEC needs to go to nine-game schedule, eliminate cupcakes
– Blog: SEC needs to expand conference schedule (column preview)
– MyAJC ($): Richt has been tough, even if some haven’t noticed
– Blog: More arrests at UGA, and Herbstreit jumps Richt
– Blog: NFL must deal with Irsay (and Roddy White has his say)
– MyAJC ($):Georgia loses but Fox goes down swinging at NCAA
– MyAJC ($): Florida proving football school can win at hoops

 

177 comments
Reether
Reether

It's mind-numbing how bad a hitter BJ Upton is.  It's equally as mind-numbing that the thinking heads of the Braves see fit to stick him the #2 lot....  THE #2 SLOT!!!... normally reserved for great hitter.  BJ Upton is totally over-matched by MLB pitching.  He's NO BETTER than a mediocre minor league baseball player.

GT71
GT71

Simply put, BJ blows.  He can't find his swing but I'm betting he can find his way to the bank.

Come July, when both BJ and Uggla are hitting south of .200, perhaps Frank Wren will awake and freakin DO SOMETHING.

The bench is there waiting...as is Shafer.  And Ginett i relly the place for these rich can't-do-its to 'find themselves'.

Too bad to waste such good pitching and fielding on guys who can't hit a lick.

patriotdog
patriotdog

Batting a player #2 who's having trouble, with a strong hitter behind is sound strategy. The opposition doesn't want to put him on, giving the 3 a chance to move him around, so you pitch to him, make him put the ball in play. I like the strategy, it's used throughout baseball.....BUT, when #2

can't make contact, or watches called strikes, the strategy crumbles. This one is crumbling fast. It's EARLY, so he really could turn it around but I have my doubts. His hands just look s l o w.

rockinreel
rockinreel

Please please please put BJ behind the pitcher as 9th in the batting order.  Besides benching him, nothing else makes sense.  The pitchers can hit better than him, hands down.

MichBravesFan
MichBravesFan

If only this were the NFL without guaranteed contracts. BJ wouldn't be in a braves' uniform. It's hard to fathom 4 more years of him. 

BravoDawg
BravoDawg

BJ is horrible so far, looks like Uggla is back to his old self cause he's right on every pitch & looking good, give BJ April & if he still looks lost put Schafer in there, if he outplays BJ then he just wins the job, either way they should be hitting 8th not 2nd, put Johnson in the 2 hole, Uggla batting cleanup, Gattis 6th & Simmons 7th, wake up Fredi the lineup order you have now is ridiculous

4DaBirds
4DaBirds

Is BJ beyond being sent down to AAA to work on his game? Schaefer could come in and help keep the team relevant until the team deems BJ is ready to come back. BJ is an automatic out, and Schaefer looks to break out, so must we continue with the madness? 


I really would like to see BJ play well, but guys making his money shouldn't be slumping for this long, and that goes for Uggla too.

JackClemens
JackClemens

B.J. Upton's bat has become yippified like Steve Blass' arm. He might be a basket case at this point. 

Pml22
Pml22

Upton's stats were declining yearly when the Braves over-bid by about three or four times. Now, they have to live with him for four more years.

ToeMeetsLeather
ToeMeetsLeather

BJ is turning out to be THE worst free agent signing in the history of Atlanta pro sports history. Only Jon "Contract" with the Hawks and maybe Nick Esaskey(sp?) , who developed vertigo thirty minutes after signing with the Braves, come to mind as even being close.

Has BJ tried hitting without that big wad of gum in his mouth? I'd try anything if I were him. Just saying. 

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

Unlike Upton, I really do think Uggla wants to do well and will give it all he's got. No longer focusing on the size of his biceps, he's actually trying to play some good baseball now. One happy story for the Braves!.

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

On a different note I am actually very pleased to see Uggla starting to contribute to the team for the first time in a couple of years!

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

I have confidence in Upton's ability and willingness to spend a fortune of his new money in the strip clubs in the Area. Meanwhile, I saw that McCann just got his first hit as a Yankee. That's one more than Upton will probably have for the next two weeks! Last time I checked, I think those two guys cost about the same amount of money. I'm so glad we kept Upton in and his big salary and let the heart of the locker room McCann go!

TampGator1
TampGator1

Oh......by the way.......GO BRAVES!  2-1 baby.  Great way to start the season on the road. 

TampGator1
TampGator1

Heck....if the Braves win 2 out of every three games this year with Upton in the lineup.......they will win only 108 games this year.  That is about as good a reason to fire Gonzalez and Wren right now.  Yeah boy!

TampGator1
TampGator1

Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers went 0-4 today with two strikeouts and is hitting .143.  I think the Tigers, after two games, should send him to the minors until he starts hitting again.  No way he should be hitting fourth in the Tigers lineup.  What a pitiful player he is so far this year.   I am sure the Tigers would trade him to the Braves for a low tier minor leaguer or two.  Yeah boy!


Meanwhile.....the Atlanta Braves are 2-1 with Upton hitting second and Uggla and Justin Upton in the lineup.  What a sorry team they are.....especially that sorry manager, Fredi Gonzalez, and that sorry GM, Wren, who signed that sorry pitcher who pitched today for the Braves.  Obviously, those two have no glue about the game of baseball.  None whatsoever......and everyone on here would be clearly a better manager and GM that those two stupid clowns.  Yeah boy!

larry30
larry30

I don't believe Upton will ever be worth what the braves signed him for. There is nothing in his playing history to have warranted such a contract. I bet Francouer could hit better than .200 and play as good an outfield as Upton.

TomGaff
TomGaff

I'm not a fan of his with Schafer sitting over there waiting for his chance to play! But fair is fair, he got a hit and stole a base today, good for him. I still believe Schaf beats him out if they both go head to head with equal shots? But it will not happen, too much money tied up with BJ!

ZA in GA
ZA in GA

It's a new season.

I've really been rooting for B.J. Upton - and he handled himself well last year during frustrating time.  But "have to play" always bothers me.  He "gets to play" and that is more than semantics to me.  


You can go 0-44, I know to get to this level it's all drive.  I know the guy is busting his hump.  The second it becomes a public "me agains the fans/world etc" type thing, it will get ugly.  


Hope he turns it around.

TomGaff
TomGaff

WhopperDawg - We can not send him down to minors without his approval!!

WhopperDawg
WhopperDawg

Yes, start worrying. He did just single so he is 1 for 12  this year. I would at a minimum drop him to 8 and move Simmons to 2. If he doesn't improve there, I would start Shafer and consider sending him down to straighten it out.

Peachs
Peachs

Teams trade players for a reason. We have been much more successful growing our own than trading except for pitchers; we have traded for some great pitchers. We have traded for great shortstops too, skills you can analogize on the run. The other positions, not so good.I don’t think it bothers us to see a player slump as long as we have not paid an arm and leg for him. In these cases we did paid too much, and probably have someone sitting in triple A held back while we try to plumb blood out of a turnip.

Bravesfan54
Bravesfan54

I have zero confidence in either of the vastly overpaid Uptons.

SOB
SOB

I got a bit of news for my favorite manager. That would be "Fruitloop Freddi". I fully understand his intentions as an amateur psychologist of batting B. J. second in the order. Amateur being the key word there. News flash! It ain't going to work!

FrediStupid
FrediStupid

BJ seems determined to break his own record from last year as one of the worst seasons ever by a regular position player.

FrediStupid
FrediStupid

BJ batting second again today, first at bat, a strikeout.  So far in 2014, 0-9 with 5Ks

TomGaff
TomGaff

Rick - Thanks, that is what I thought might be guaranteed money. The Braves are not giving away that much?

BSNBC
BSNBC

The Braves could get more bat production from Wally and Beaver Cleaver than the Uptons!

TomGaff
TomGaff

josewales - I would so like to agree with you about BJ and the wasted season comment,but do you know how much money he would get if we release him? Perhaps one of our more learnered posters might know?

TomGaff
TomGaff

Another solution would be to bat him 9th behind the pitcher. He would probably be so pissed off that he might improve somewhat?

RangeRover
RangeRover

@GT71  

The sad thing is Schafer could be playing now and getting better.  But as usual, that imbecile  manager will lose a few games before inserting Schafer--if ever--and then Schafer will have to hit having sat on his rear for weeks or months.  That's a lot of pressure.

RangeRover
RangeRover

@patriotdog  

Agree with your first sentence, if the #2 hitter has demonstrated the ability to be a good, consistent hitter.  But you don't put a Dave Kingman, free-swinging type there...ever!

RangeRover
RangeRover

@rockinreel  

There's a better solution.  Put Schafer at leadoff and leave him there.  Then, if facing a RHSP, put Heyward at #2.  If a LHSP, go with the hotter of Johnson or Simmons at #2 and push Heyward to cleanup.

Put Blow Up on the bench.

JAFO_
JAFO_

@TampGator1  so you wanna compare melvin to cabrera??? have you ever been exposed to any baseball? by far the most idiotic post of the blog era

armchair
armchair

@larry30  agree. His numbers were even very impressive the year or two before atlanta signed him. Wasn't he basically a 240/250 hitters with avg. of 22 homers or so? Even if he were hitting a bit, the braves VASTLY overvalued him. 

TampGator1
TampGator1

@larry30


Good thing you are not Upton's psychologist.   For sure, not his manager.  He would be absolutely doomed.  

TampGator1
TampGator1

@larry30


I guess that is why KC released Francouer last year because he is so much better than either of the Uptons. 

ZA in GA
ZA in GA

@WhopperDawg  it's only the second game.  He'll get more pitches to hit in the two spot.  If you want/need to send him down or bench - it's a lot easier to do so if you give him every chance.  Harder to justify in the 8 hole. 

Rick_C
Rick_C

@TomGaff  No way that happens.  Can't imagine many, if any teams doing that, especially one with the Braves' payroll.  Probably would have dropped Uggla by now if that were a possibility.

Rick_C
Rick_C

@TomGaff  I'm not sure I understand the question.  If the Braves released him, they'd still be on the hook for the near $60MM that he's owed.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@ZA in GA @WhopperDawg So far BJ is getting more pitches to miss. Can't agree with your logic. It's like saying put the pitcher in the 2 hole so he will have more chances to get a hit.


BJ's got the contract and I don't think they can send him down without his permission. Bench him and use him as a situational player. You know...if they need someone to kill a rally let him pinch hit. He has a lot of experience in that area.

WhopperDawg
WhopperDawg

@ZA in GA @WhopperDawg

Nobody wants to hit 8, but someone has to. He already has gotten every chance last year and this year actually looks worse. He is 1 for 12 with 7 SOs.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@panamaralph @TomGaff What's an extra $300K when you are paying someone $13million to fill a spot in the lineup and contribute nothing?

Rick_C
Rick_C

@panamaralph Lipka needs another season or two before being called up.  Hasn't played above high A ball, and his minor league career OPS is below 700.