Posted: 12:13 pm Monday, June 16th, 2014

Possible Braves’ moves: Bethancourt up, B.J. to bench? 

By Jeff Schultz

If Gerald Laird (left) and Christian Bethancourt are Braves' top catchers, Evan Gattis would move to outfield. (Curtis Compton)

If Gerald Laird (left) and Christian Bethancourt are Braves’ top two catchers, Evan Gattis would move to the outfield. (Curtis Compton)

For most of this season, the Braves have had problems with their offense.

For most of this season, the problems at least partly trace back to Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton.

But is it possible that two players who combine for $26.45 million in salary this season both will be on the bench soon? Uggla already has lost his starting second base job to rookie Tommy La Stella and Upton may soon lose his as well.

Mark Bowman of MLB.com has an interesting blog in which he lays out a scenario the Braves are considering for a roster shake-up, and I wouldn’t be repeating it here except for the fact it makes sense on every level.

The dominoes fall like this:

Move 1: The Braves call up catcher Christian Bethancourt, long one of the organization’s top prospects, from Gwinnett (AAA) and make him the starting catcher. Background: Bethancourt is better defensively than Evan Gattis and is hitting .274 this season. I was among a group of media members in the dugout before Saturday’s Braves game when manager Fredi Gonzalez praised Bethancourt and remarked how the organization had taken notice of his possible major-league readiness.

Move 2: Gattis would move to left field to replace Justin Upton. Background: Gattis has become too valuable a player in the lineup. He leads the team in homers (15), ranks second in RBIs (36) and is hitting .297 with a .937 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage). He also could still be a backup catcher if needed.

 Move 3: Justin Upton moves to right field to replace Jason Heyward. Background: Upton often runs hot and cold offensively to extremes but he’s having a solid season with a team high 37 RBIs and a .280 average.

 Move 4: Heyward moves from right to center to replace B.J. Upton. Background: Heyward certainly has the skill set to be the regular center fielder and he remains the best leadoff hitter on the roster. Notwithstanding his rally sparking, three-run triple in the ninth inning Saturday night, B.J. Upton has been mostly awful offensively (.210 this season; .194 in 190 games as a Brave). The front office and the coaching also can’t be pleased that he already has five errors this season — he had four all of last year — and had two outfield gaffes in the weekend series against the Angels.

The only part of this equation that doesn’t make sense — or at the very least would be a significant leap — is that general manager Frank Wren would be willing to wave a white flag and concede his signing of Upton was a complete failure. Upton has three and a half years and about $53 million left on a $75 million contract.

And how would this picture play in the media: Upton ($13.45 million this season) and Uggla ($13 million) sitting side by side on the bench?

B.J. Upton likely would get more playing time than Uggla because as a fourth outfielder he could replace any of the three starters. The moves also could affect the statuses of current fourth outfielder Jordan Schafer and No. 3 catcher Ryan Doumit.

My thoughts? I’m all for it, for the reasons illustrated above. Bowman writes that these are merely moves the team is “toying” with and a decision “does not necessarily seem imminent.” But the dominoes make sense on a lot of levels.

On demand, just like Netflix: Recent blogs and columns (free links)
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233 comments
slidezz
slidezz

You can't have Uggs and BJ both on the bench,. This is how you patch the braves. Cut UGGS and do it now.

We currently have one of the weakest benches in MLB. Bench BJ- Justin yea its your bro but this is about winning time to show you are a team player. Move Gattis to left field, J-Up to right,J-Hey to center. This all hindges on fixing J-ups ear lets all hold our breath its not vertigo or somthing worse. Gattis is a monster hitter even if his skills were better behind the plate I want his bat in the lineup every game.Bring up Benacourt our pitching staff is better the 1st day he starts, Will he hit maybe, maybe not, Alll works out  in the end as he will save us many runs. Trade Laird he hates sitting., cut or trade Schafer, with BJ on the bench no need for 2 center fielder who can't hit. Trade it must be done and yes we will have to trade at least 2 top prospects. What do we get in return (1) starting pitcher  (2) pinch hitter's who can actully hit. 

Our bench is now BJ, Pena, Doumit, and 2 new players aquired via trade, please spare me with the triple AAA call ups we have tried last few years as bench players. we need real hitters on the bench.I To rap it up moving BJ to the bench is a bandaid but the braves are not going to cut Uggs and BJ and please stop with  the just trade them stuff, No one wants them. Bringing up Benacourt is the key to how this will all work hit him 8th and don't worry about his hitting what ever he gives us is a plus. If J- Up goes down with what ever is going on with him we need a new right/center fielder and that may be a death blow. Now thats alot I know we deal with Johnson sloppy D. at 3rd and LaStalla no range at 2nd and Gattis in left. You can't fix this team at mid-season because it was constucted so poorly. What say ye Bravo nation?


JoeyAlbert
JoeyAlbert

BJ's on pace for 210 strike outs this season. Tony Gwynn averaged 29 a season over a 20 year career. Move on!

CowbellHell
CowbellHell

I LOVE IT!!  Let's  get this embarrassment off the field now. I'll take the errors in the OF with those bats but I would still put La Stella at 2 and move CJ down

UnbiasedObserver
UnbiasedObserver

I like this move!


Bringing Bethancourt up, benching BJ, moving Gattis to LF.  At least trying it, in attempt to get more offense.

rfgh
rfgh

The players union has about ruined baseball but owner's allowed it to happen. If an employee isn't performing in general society, they aren't paid to sit and do nothing. The NFL is a much better managed league. Player gets their guarantee salary but if they don't perform, they are cut and lose the rest. Wren should be accountable.

KevinHall
KevinHall

this braves team is the worst offensively ive ever seen them and nobody is mentioning getting rid of the hitting coach all together in greg walker, greg walker is one reason why this offense is so bad!

tmc
tmc

hey Schultz, you see Grady Seizmore hitting .216 get's released by the Red Sox...

When do you think BJ Upton will be hitting .216? I say never!

This club is a joke continuing to trot him out in CF every night.

MikeTuck
MikeTuck

No thanks to C. Johnson on the 2 hole, swap him and La Stella or Simmons and then we have something cooking.

RONMERIDIAN
RONMERIDIAN

The Braves need a legimate leadoff hitter. I know he's hurt but trade for Emilio Bonafacio. Release Uggla, trade or release Schafer. Bench B.J. Upton. The lineup and bench as follows:

Bonafacio. CF

C. Johnson. 3rd

Freeman 1st

J. Upton LF

Heyward. RF

Gattis C

La Stella 2nd

Simmons. SS

Bench: Laird, Duomit, Pena, B.J., Pastornicky

Rotation: Teheran, Minor, Santana, Harang, Wood

Bullpen: Kimbrel, Walden, Varvaro, S.Simmons,Carpenter, Hale, New lefty??.

WaltBBall
WaltBBall

The Braves should part ways with B.J. and Uggla and suck it up.  The Braves own B.J. for the next 3 years and if he wants to play and another team wants him then some finances would have to be worked out.  The Uggla and B.J. signings are a catastrophic failure and getting them both out of the fans eyesight would be a good thing for the fans and players also, both players are depressing to watch and in certain game situations it has to be depressing for the players.

DirtyDawg
DirtyDawg

For those that don't believe Frank Wren should be held accountable for some horrendously bad deals, I ask you, just what has he done to make this a first place club - albeit first place (which I don't think the are this morning) in a Division full of sorry teams hare glad that the others are too? You argue that he 'finds bargains', I attribute that to better scouting - and my guess us they'll miss Jim Fregosi more than they'd miss Wren. Point being, if they're afraid of embarrassing Wren by sitting $30 million in bad ideas, then get rid of him too and then let Scheurholz (sp?) be embarrassed...he can afford it.

TideDawg
TideDawg

Asking a team to eat $63 million is like asking someone to eat their broccoli even if it kills them.

TideDawg
TideDawg

What other talent do they have in the minors that could bring a spark to the team like LaStella.?


The Braves have great defense and flounder on offense......I think I would try great offense and flounder on defense and see how that works.


Freeman had a triple, a double, and a single and drove in no runs. Nobody on in front of him.....where's LaStella batting? Seventh, of course. He's the player with the high on base percentage with Simmons and the pitcher to knock him in.

C-Kirk
C-Kirk

Eat , BJ's salary. Use him as backup off the bench. He should have never been signed to begin with . He had one good year , not great year but good and Wren gives him a contract that is exclusive for 300 hitters, 100 RBI's and drives in 100 runs type guy. 

As much as I hate to see him go , Gattis could be traded to an American League Team as a DH and we could get a top Outfielder for him with at least 5 year left on his contract. You may have to throw in one of our Starters but Atlanta has Starters lined up.

MichBravesFan
MichBravesFan

Gattis is just too bad in the OF, would cost the braves big time. There's a log-jam at catcher anyway, no need for 4 catchers on the roster. 

BradleyBreeze
BradleyBreeze

Atlanta could have had Michael Bourn,Angel Pagan or Shane Victorino as free agents.......Dexter Fowler,Denard Span or one of another guys in trade but they jumped the gun and signed BJ Upton because they were mad at Bourn's agent for not wanting to talk to the team about a contract extension before the 2012 season..........for crying out loud they wouldn't even talk to him after the qualifying 1 year offer was turned down by Bourn.........any one of these guys would have been a much better choice than Upton!..........WHOEVER SCOUTED BJ UPTON SHOULD BE FIRED IF NOT ALREADY and anybody that had anything to do with his coming to Atlanta should be fired...........this includes Schuerholtz and Wren!....................The one solution to not having Uggla on the bench next to BJ is to release Uggla and pay him now...........free up that roster spot that is greatly needed!If you are going to keep a guy to just pinch run it makes no sense!Then again alot of the Brave's trades under Scheurholtz(JD Drew,Texieria,Uggla and McClouth coming.......Wainwright,Andrus,Feliz,Salty,Harrison,Morton,Locke,Infante,Dunn going)didn't work out and the Upton for Prado deal might be a wash at best!.............Couple that with the Derrick Lowe,Kenshin Kawakami,BJ Upton signings and Dan Uggla resignings and these are too many screw-ups for upper level management to swallow...........or are they????................you decide!

TideDawg
TideDawg

You can't hide a bad hitter in the lineup. He will come up in a crucial situation time and time again. When opposing pitchers need a strikeout...they want BJ at bat.....when opposing pitchers need a double play....they want BJ at bat....anytime they need a rally killer.....you got it! They want BJ at bat. Pitchers will pitch around the hitters to get to the automatic outs.


The Braves reduced their strikeouts by 33% when they benched Uggla. That leaves 66% strikeout possibility in the lineup with BJ and the pitcher. Every team has the pitcher problem, but not every team has the BJ/Uggla combination strikeout duo.


Gattis is only average defensively, no matter where he plays. But, he is explosive as an offensive threat and makes up for poor defense with run scoring ability.

TideDawg
TideDawg

You've got to be kidding if you think BJ is going to the bench. This is a player that was hitting #2 in the order, got moved to 6th, said he didn't like it there because it hurt his hitting, and was moved back to the #2 slot. Who is in charge on that team? My guess is it's all about the Upton brothers. You don't want to hurt their feelings by demoting one brother. Justin would probably be upset by demoting BJ then he would become an automatic out.


Heyward leads off and makes an out.....BJ hitting second is an automatic out.....Freeman who had a triple, double, and single drives in no one. I don't even remember how they scored their one run.....must have been with mirrors. BJ pathetically argues with the umpire over an obvious called 3rd strike and continues to bring an umpire's wrath down on all Braves players.


One writer posed the possibility that Freeman's troubles  are because they benched his buddy Uggla. Evidently Freeman was not upset because Uggla wasn't contributing anything to the team.

Biff_Pocoroba
Biff_Pocoroba

1. Keep Uggla on the bench

2. Put B.J on the bench

3. Fire Wren

MelloJacket
MelloJacket

My problem is that while Gattis can play LF, he didn't seem very comfortable there last season in limited appearances...

KeepinItSimple
KeepinItSimple

I would rather they just give Schafer a two-week stint in CF like they decided to do for La Stella at second.  He has only started two games in a row ONE FREAKING TIME all year, and that was this week.  


Bethancourt does little to help our offense and actually weakens our defense because Gattis is just a bigger drop in the OF than Betty is a gain at C.  

Intruder
Intruder

And how would this picture play in the media: Upton ($13.45 million this season) and Uggla ($13 million) sitting side by side on the bench?


It would look better than having them on the field. Having them on the field makes Wren look twice as bad. At least having them on the bench would indicate that Wren has sense enough to cut his losses.

BobbyDawg
BobbyDawg

I like the idea of bringing Bethancourt up. We would have never known what La Stella could do in the big leagues if we hadn't brought him up. Mr. Shultz says in his column that Bethancourt is a better catcher defensively than Gattis. I'd respectfully like to know where he gets that.

58Supersports
58Supersports

Whatever works....Braves need a shake up, Top to Bottom.

Clint_Reno
Clint_Reno

When is Frank Wren going to be fired for all this money he wasted on horrible players?

ChefTimDix
ChefTimDix

Just saw lineup, Fredi officially on the Chef's clock.

DrPhill
DrPhill

Someone questioned the statement that BJ was hurting team chemistry.  When BJ the highest paid player in team history, and  bats .200, strikes out 85 times, and makes game losing errors, I think it is safe to say that he is hurting team chemistry.  Also you might want to ask Evan Langoria about BJ and team chemistry.

UGADawg16
UGADawg16

Gattis is the most consistent guy the Braves have.  I think moving him would be silly.  If Bethancourt is really ready it sounds like a trade is the way to go.  A catcher and BJ and/or Uggs for a high average bat.  I think BJ makes the most sense in that a .290 OF hitter can plug and play in the Braves lineup.  CF/RF is really the only place the Braves can really upgrade without a major loss in trade.

DirtyDawg
DirtyDawg

How 'bout Move 5 - Fire Frank Wren and you can send him to the same place Upton and Uggla will be going and not worry what he's willing to admit or what color flag he waves. Of course you then have to wonder if Schuerholz (sp?) will be willing to admit his failure in hiring the guy in the first place.

jeffreyd
jeffreyd

Running a picture of Bethancourt on the front page with the headline reading "Bethancourt up" might make people (like myself) think Bethancourt was called up.

DrPhill
DrPhill

The headline reads, "BJ to the bench."  It won't happen.  Please don't torment us with false statements.  BJ will be there swinging away and arguing calls on opening day in Cobb County.

reckingball
reckingball

This is one of the stupidest ideas that I have seen since,.......well,....... the signing of BJ.

I don't know what BJ's problem in the OF is, but his error in the 2nd LAA game, cost the Braves a win. I thought that signing him to a $15mil. a year deal was a really bad move.

Bettancourt will be traded before he comes up(baring an injury to someone now on the roster).

What makes you think that Bettancourt will hit any better than Upton?

 Gattis in the outfield? No thanks. 

Cutting Shafer or trading Goumit? I wouldn't do it.

BJ has put some good swings on a bunch of balls lately, that were either right at someone, or exceptional plays were made on them.

kls82883
kls82883

With his attitude, BJ will have a meltdown if benched. It won't be pretty.

pbond3
pbond3

Recall when our wonderful Homers at AJC once predicted Braves outfield of Upton, Upton and Heyward may be the best in baseball?  LOL  Justin is overrated as well, though not as much as BJ

patriotdog
patriotdog

The Braves defense is not great, by any stretch. Search 'MLB team defensive stats' and read.

Gattis could bring huge help via trade, and I hate saying that because he is my favorite Brave. Gotta love his story. But regardless, BJ and Uggs should be released, keep Shafer as he's a MUCH better defender than BJ, and Wren's ego be damned.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@C-Kirk  It wouldn't please the fans to get rid of one of the most popular Braves in recent history. Find another way! El Oso Blanco stays!!

DirtyDawg
DirtyDawg

Look, Gattis is no worse an outfielder than he is a catcher. The man hasn't thrown anybody out all season...he's weak at blocking balls in the dirt...he simply doesn't call a good game (either the pitcher does his own or they signal from the bench). Point is, he is as much a liability behind the plate as anywhere else, and he's involved in every pitch...plus, the wear and tear on a catcher takes a toll that later in the season will likely effect his hitting. I think this could be a good move - and after watching BJ strike out a jillion times, any move that gets him out of the game is good for me.

MikeTuck
MikeTuck

@TideDawg, BJ doesn't hit into double plays... that would be Simmons or that clown of a 3rd base we have in Chris Johnson.  Bring Prada back and get rid of that clown with no range in Chris Johnson.

MikeTuck
MikeTuck

@TideDawg, don't know what you have been watching, but do you realize there are 27 outs in baseball?  Heyward doesn't make nearly as the 27 outs as BJ, C. Johnson, or Simmons.  And Freeman hasn't been his usual self as lately, time to move him out of that 3 spot.

MikeTuck
MikeTuck

@KeepinItSimple , Schafer is not the answer, need to cut bait with him.  He is pretty much a wasted roster spot as well as Uggla.  

Biff_Pocoroba
Biff_Pocoroba

If this was an organization that cared more about championships and less about getting a new, unnecessary stadium, he would've already been fired.

khd713
khd713

@UGADawg16 We give somebody Uggla and B.J. and they give us a high average bat. That's a great idea! Why didn't anyone think of that before? We should make you the GM.

khd713
khd713

@DirtyDawg Yeah, let's fire the GM of a first-place team. Great idea. I'm sure that will happen real soon. Really well thought-out comments, based on solid empirical evidence and statistical analysis. I'm sure that when Wren signed both Uggla and B.J. you clowns were the first ones on here talking about what great moves they would be.

58Supersports
58Supersports

@DirtyDawg  Agree...Fire Wren! Media already talking about Wren's folly of signing  BJ ad Uggla to  ride the bench.

CowbellHell
CowbellHell

@patriotdog  Shafer??  dude is a CAREER .200 hitter... get rid of that bum along with BJ who BOTH don't hustle.

58Supersports
58Supersports

@khd713 @DirtyDawg  Wrong again dirtydawg...Yes, 1st in sorry East. Just happy to show then  one and done.  Your statistical analysis sucks.