Posted: 9:19 am Thursday, August 7th, 2014

Poll: Who’s most to blame for Braves’ fall? 

By Jeff Schultz

Atlanta Braves v Seattle Mariners

Offensive struggles have plagued the Braves for most of this season. (Getty Images)

The Braves are back home after an eight-game road trip. There will be no parade today.

They lost all eight games — swept in consecutive series in Los Angeles, San Diego and Seattle. It’s the first time something like that has happened since the 1949 Boston Braves went 0-8 on a trip. That’s so long ago that, as historian David O’Brien noted, Warren Spahn was in the starting rotation.

More miserable numbers: The Braves scored only 18 runs in the eight games (three of which went extra innings) for an average of 2.25 runs per game. They also are 6-13 since the All-Star break, 9-18 in the last 27 and 41-49 since beginning the season 17-7, when all in the world seemed right.

When they left town, closing a mediocre (6-5) homestand with a 2-0 win over the Padres, they were one-half game behind Washington in the National League East and percentage points ahead in a wild-card spot. Today, they are four games behind the first-place Nationals and three games behind San Francisco and St. Louis for one of the two wild card spots.

Welcome home? They open an 11-game homestand Friday night that will see them play three first-place teams: Washington, Los Angeles, Oakland.

Things are going the wrong way and the Braves have done nothing to lead you to believe they’re going to turn around. So here’s today’s question: Whom do you blame the most for this?

Hey! Don’t all shout at once!

Here are the choices: 1) Players; 2) manager Fredi Gonzalez; 3) General manager Frank Wren. In the poll, I actually have six voting options so you can rank the three to your liking (or disliking). I’m not including owner Liberty Media because, as unpopular as the company is, it allowed the Braves to exceed their self-imposed budget by signing free agent starting pitcher Ervin Santana to a $14.1 million contract.

Here are a few thoughts on the team’s three principles to consider before you vote.

• PLAYERS: They get paid. A lot. They’ve underperformed. Significantly. The team ranks 13th out of 15 in the National League in runs scored, ninth in batting average and on-base percentage, 12th in slugging percentage. They’re hitting .246 with runners in scoring position and .234 since the All-Star break. B.J. Upton: grease fire. Dan Uggla: gone. Jason Heyward: nowhere close to expectations. Almost everybody, save Evan Gattis, is underperforming.

• FREDI GONZALEZ: It’s his job to put players in the best position to succeed. It’s his job to make in-game moves to win games. It’s his job to cajole, kick butt and/or do anything to motivate when necessary, even though it shouldn’t be necessary for players who are paid millions. When the Braves have struggled offensively, is there more the manager could have done to play small ball? Are there starting lineup options or batting order options he hasn’t explored? Has he been too hands off in dealing with some of his star players?

• FRANK WREN: A general manager’s job isn’t mere talent acquisition. It’s roster building. There has to be a plan. Baseball teams play long seasons and players all but live with each other six months out of the year. Clubhouse chemistry is of the utmost importance. So is veteran leadership. The Braves clearly lack both. Some of that was expected with the losses of players like Tim Hudson, Brian McCann, Chipper Jones, David Ross and Martin Prado. But Wren did a poor job projecting how the 25 players on this roster would fit together and, with so many big contracts given out, it became difficult to make moves.

Here’s the poll

And now, the cyber floor is yours.

 Some recent ramblings (free links)
– Blog: Roddy White lost Twitter ‘bet’ and paid off in a big way
– MyAJC: Paul George’s injury shows risk of NBA players in tournaments
– MyAJC: Paul Johnson needs to impress his new boss at Georgia Tech
– Blog: Dan Uggla rejects demotion and is out of a job again
– MyAJC: Pruitt winning over Georgia in ways Grantham didn’t
– MyAJC: We’ll find out how right or wrong Frank Wren is
– Blog: It’s trade deadline day…and it’s quiet here
– MyAJC: Braves hamstrung by finances at trade deadline
– Blog: Urban Meyer gets it wrong on Tim Tebow
– MyAJC: Braves’ best postseason hope is starting pitching
– MyAJC: Steven Jackson: ‘I kind of believed my own hype’
– Blog: Poll: Falcons open camp, what’s your playoff pick?
– MyAJC: Falcons open with more questions than buzz
– MyAJC: Georgia still recruiting too many of wrong kids
307 comments
BradleyBreeze
BradleyBreeze

Hey Schultz....................the Brave's downfall is all your fault...............you shouldn't have posted that Poll last week!.............lol

RBrave
RBrave

Toy don't hear this stat for the brother Combo already have 269 strikeouts , not counting tonight

Indydawg
Indydawg

What? No Cobb County stadium jinx option?

TideDawg
TideDawg

You can't blame BJ for the contract he got from Wren.  You can't blame Wren for BJ being one of the worst players since Marv Throneberry of the Mets.


BJ is like a cancer spreading through the team. Wren exposed the team to that deadly disease....so take your pick on who to blame. Cut out the cancer and the patient survives. I really believe FG is forced to play BJ.


If there is something wrong with the team you either fix it or accept it. So far the latter prevailed.

mar1049
mar1049

Blame the President. He is blamed for everything else in Georgia. One more won't matter. 

BSNBC
BSNBC

If Jason Heyward was white then he would be gone!

HarvardBlue2014
HarvardBlue2014

 Ultimately its the people who sign and coach mediocre to poor players.  The Braves, just like the Falcons, and Hawks, NEVER sign or draft or seek big time players.  Instead, they try to falsely expand the actual ability of players and make them appear to be superstars.  There are several player in Braves history who were nothing more than average performers, yet the team, along with the local media, go out of their way to make them appear to be superstars (Brian McCann and Chipper Jones come to mind).  Outside of the pitchers, you have Gattis, Justin Upton, Heyward, Simmons, and Freeman.  No one else even comes close to being a player that could be a key to a championship team.  Even those players need someone to light a fire under their behinds every now and then.  Most of them, save Gattis and Simmons, play with ZERO fire.  Their emotions are the same whether they hit a homerun or strike out.  This is simply because they know that their starting position is theirs regardless of how they perform and they will be treated as superstars whether they hit .100 or .400.  Simply put, there is no accountability on the Braves or any other Atlanta sports franchise.  They need to get 2 or 3 big time performers to put some pressure on the supposedly lackadaisical superstars on this team.  Why can't the Braves EVER get a phenom like Harper, or Strausburg? Or maybe Trout?  I know why: They NEVER seek players like this.  Listen: Every now and then, a diamond in the rough shows up, but you have to accept the fact that mediocre players rarely blossom into game changers, but that is exactly what Braves management and Gonzalez bank on.  And that is why ATL never wins.

RogerHenslee
RogerHenslee

Who is to blame?

#1 Liberty Media. Corporate teams are usually never champions and they enable and support number 2.


#2 Frank Wren. Idiot


#2 Fredi, which is manager because of #2 of course.

sea8491
sea8491

I agree with the fellow who wrote the first column, blame all the brave fans, fans, stop supporting this non sense.


Everyone knows B J Upton does not belong playing in the major leagues, why is Fredi playing him? 0 - 5 last night when the Braves score one run?


I wonder what all the other players think about B J Upton?  They have to know and/or feel and believe their chances of winning each night diminish when the guy plays.  Correct the mistake, release him.



ThomasBrownUGA
ThomasBrownUGA

Your Poll does NOT list my choice : the Braves' fans who said I was wrong when I told them this line-up cannot hit and way too many games of just 0, 1, or 2 runs.


My answer : BRAVES ' FANS ARE TO BLAME !


Here we are, and what do we have ?


You whined to me that it was too early when I said this to you.


You have supported Liberty Media in their having no STARS for us to watch each night.


You have defended Liberty Media ridiculous line-ups provided to the current Braves' manager in his dugout to choose from.


We do not go out and get STARS like Ted Turner did for us.


The Braves are no fun to watch.


Three-Fourths of the season is now over, and what do we have ?


.284 Freddie Freeman is batting with only 64 RBI, maybe gets 89 RBI in season.

.281 Justin Upton is batting and is same RBI as Freddie

.274 Chris Johnson is batting with 20 % less RBI

.271 Jason Heyward is batting with only 43 RBI all season long.


That's all we got.


We can't hit the ball and do not score runs because we cannot hit the ball.


Boring.


Zzzz.


# 28 in Runs, Great Scott !


41 games scored 0, 1 or 2 runs


22 more games scored only 3 runs


63 games scored 3 runs or less


55 % of all 115 games scored 3 runs or less


Why are we 59-56 ?


Why have we LOST 56 games ?


Because in 63 games, we scored 3 runs or less.


3.41 Braves' Team ERA


Scored 3 runs or less 63 games


When you score fewer runs than your pitchers allow, you LOSE Great Scott !


Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward are the only 2 good fielders on the team.


We have no Stars.


This is a World Series team ?


Liberty Media

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014


Eight years, and Liberty Media refuses to go out and sign us STARS here.


So, we have 4 guys who can hit, but not great any of the 4 and no one else who can hit, either.

jjdawgs84
jjdawgs84

And now word comes out we had a trade in place to dump BJ Upton but Wren didn't like what we were getting in return???? Why on earth someone would actually take BJ is beyond me, but Wrentard should be fired for not using this opportunity!!!! BJ for a bag of baseballs would've been a good trade!!!

BooBooBear
BooBooBear

Take Gonzalez' name off the poll list.  That man is a genius!  Batting BJ Upton leadoff, against all the odds, and it was his HR that won the game.  Watch out league, Freddi "the Beast" Gonzalez is awake and taking names. Doh! Braves

ftputt
ftputt

Frank Wren got Ugla and B.J.  That's 20 million plus that can't hit.  Imagine what they could do with that money….


DawgNole
DawgNole

BravesFan1966 8 hours ago

 . . . As long as the current set up is in place, the Braves will NEVER WIN.  I am through with this team.  After all these long years, they have lost a fan.  I have now started my search for a new team to follow . . . .

________________________

Oh, knock it off with your silly threats--or else make good on them for once. You've moaned the same imbecile crap before (see below), and you NEVER follow through. Man up and beat it--like you keep saying you will.

BravesFan1966 at 4:14 p.m. Jun. 18, 2014

This team sucks. I am done with them . . . I REFUSE, REFUSE!!!! to watch this garbage the Braves put on as baseball anymore . . . .

BravesFan1966 at 8:54 a.m. Oct. 8, 2013

. . . Sick of it. Finished with it also. Good bye. So long. Fair well sorry losing crummy Braves. FOREVER. Signing out and off for GOOD!

Mattw108
Mattw108

Since I made a post yesterday... I have realized how different ways people see things...whether it's in depth or vague one liners....through the years something else has occurred to me...when JS was the GM a lot of fans complained that he was to conservative...FW is more inclined to make a big splash, if the funds are available...hence the numerous contracts handed out....(not a fan of the Chris Johnson extension!)...he has the right mind set of signing homegrown talent...the free agent signings have been horrible....if your going to spend on a free agent...get the best! Not the questionable....not a player who always performs better in a contract year either...BJ! UGGLA! Does anybody realize FW has basically thrown away 125 million bucks within/will be 8 yrs on two players who can't hit above 250! JS signed better free agents..so how about leaving the FA up to ole JS and FW keeping them and signing the home grown talent..

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

Most of the offensive underachievement is on Uggla and BJ. Primarily you have to blame the players who aren't performing (unless you blame injuries). Second is Wren. He made two epic mistakes that wiped out the veteran leadership among the position players (save for the backup catcher). I can give him a partial pass for Uggla (though I am on record as saying at the time of the trade Dan's tenure would not end well, wrong skill set for a 30-something second baseman who can't play third base), but the BJ debacle is all on Wren and BJ. Fredi shares blame, too. This team is not good fundamentally and they repeat the same mistakes over and over and over and . . .


I do believe a better GM would have folded his cards and dumped BJ by now and found a young center field prospect to play every day. There are only two ways to move forward and up at the same time, ether BJ steps up his production or someone else plays. The question is where is the end of patience - there are two months left to try to win a pennant, I would have acquired the best minor league center field prospect I could afford at the trade deadline and plugged him in. I think back to Whitey Herzog dredging up Willie McGee out of the depths of the Yankee farm system, for a retread relief pitcher.

OHaveMercy
OHaveMercy

I blame Frank Wren because of two (2) disastrous contracts.  B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla.  What a horrific waste of money.  I blame Fredi because he plays B.J. Upton for only one reason, i.e. his contract.  When there are better options and the players themselves know somebody is getting PT ahead of them because of a contract, it creates discord in the clubhouse.  Sad but true.

GloryBetweenTheHedges
GloryBetweenTheHedges

Very surprised to see in this poll that fredi is being blamed last. He is a terrible coach and his players are a lot better than they are showing. That falls on management.

KentKimes
KentKimes

The bullpen has been horrible - why won't anybody say anything about the bullpen?

MikeS777
MikeS777

Jeff, you left hitting coaching off the list of choices.  Whatever they are doing under Gonzalez, its borderline ruining careers at the plate.  For 4 years we have seen one bat disappear after another in this lineup, especially in clutch situations.

Now maybe you wrap that up in with the Gonzalez option.  If so, that get's my vote.  But clearly, it's not Dan Uggla's fault since he's been out of the starting lineup since May and off the team for a month.  Gonzalez's teams have consistently hit much worse than Cox's teams ever did even though he has inherited a lot of players from Cox.

It does no good to shuffle the lineup.  Players are flat getting into bad habits at the plate.  They aren't seeing the ball right.  They aren't making contact.  I suspect, as in the case of Dan Uggla, it's psychologically affecting them as well.  As in the case of Uggla, that makes the problem even worse.

klsfriend
klsfriend

First the responsibility falls on the General Manager who constructed the team. What is apparent is that the talent evaluation for a number of players was incorrect or, in some cases, ignored. As the prime example, BJ Upton's history showed he had one decent year and otherwise he was a .250 or below hitter. He was an adequate but not outstanding outfielder. Too much was made of the one good year instead of the numerous other years of his history. Players are what they are over time, not in one particular point in time. Chris Johnson is not a .330 hitter even if he did do that last year. The comment in the column is that Jason Heyward hasn't lived up to expectations. That simply means the expectations were faulty. He is an outstanding outfielder (most of the time), plays hard and most of the time plays smart. He is not going to be a .300 hitter, nor is he going to hit 35 home runs as a general rule.


The second responsibility falls on the manager and coaches. The column suggests the job of the manager is to put players in position to succeed, make in-game decisions and motivate. The one thing the column does not mention is it is the job of the managerial staff to teach and hold accountable players the right fundamentals. If the assumption is the players should already know those, this team proves time and again that is not the case. Prime example - if the outfielder and infielder are going for a ball, the outfielder ALWAYS has precedence as it is fundamental easier coming in on a ball than going back and catching over the head/shoulder. Situational hitting. Situational pitching. Situational base running. Those all fall on the manager and coaching staff.

reckingball
reckingball

They CAN'T hit, especially with RISP

THAT is the problem.

How many games could they have won this season, with just one hit with RISP? answer: A LOT.

4DaBirds
4DaBirds

It's Wren. Wren has done some great things, but he traded away good players too. He let Hudson walk, traded Prado and Infante. We have almost no starting pitching worth anything now, and several rally killing hitters that strike out a lot. Fredi G. is also to blame for not benching BJ more. BJ is not going to snap out of it, because he stinks against National league pitching. BJ and Uggla's contracts are handcuffing the Braves from getting quality pitching.

Jazzpman
Jazzpman

Who is to blame...Who signed BJ, who signed Uggla, who traded away a group before acquiring Uggla, when we had a big division lead ? Who thought to get rid of a team who could manufacture runs with hits and smart base running, and bring in strikeout artists with occasional long ball ?


Dumb baseball concepts.....How many home runs are hit in the post season ?  How many runs are manufactured in the post season ?


Dumb baseball logic !

BravesFan1966
BravesFan1966

I am simply sick and tired of watching the Braves lose.  I have been a Braves fan since the first day in 1966 when my Dad took me to see the SF Giants in a day-night double header.  I have watched all these long years.  This team is simply terrible.  The old losing teams just simply had bad and over the hill players.  The current lot have players that are simply OVERPAID and UNDER PERFORMING.  This team is currently playing so far below expectations.  The GM is totally responsible for this sorry lot.  He got rid of the team leadership, like McCann.  He would not pay McCann, but he paid sorry Uggla and double sorry BJ Upton millions for absolutely NO production.  The manager is responsible for terrible decisions all year long.  The entire mob needs to be fired.  But OWNERSHIP is responsible for this mess because they do not care about baseball.  It is business only.  The Braves need local ownership, run by one man, like the Falcons have.  As long as the current set up is in place, the Braves will NEVER WIN.  I am through with this team.  After all these long years, they have lost a fan.  I have now started my search for a new team to follow.  The Cardinals lead the parade right now.  The Braves I am finished with.

KatieR620
KatieR620

There are plenty of things from the 90's and Braves culture that are worth keeping,  but the style of baseball needs to go.

The Stop sign guy at 3rd base needs to go.  The lack of fundamentals of hitting needs to go,   If a guy doesn't change his approach with 2 strikes,  he shouldn't play.  If he can't bunt or run,  he shouldn't play.

The Braves style of play is horribly boring, which is another reason they can't draw fans.   No one cares to pay the money or time required to go down and see most of the players on the roster.

KatieR620
KatieR620

Uggla,  BJ Upton,  Kenshin Kawakami


This is like acquiring Kodak immediately after digital camera's are invented.


I hear Eastern Stock is still available.

KatieR620
KatieR620

This is pretty simple really. #1 is Frank Wren,  Yes it's  difficult job,  yes,  people talk all the time about how everyone has misses.   Frank's misses are the size of the Grand Canyon. 


Players Play,  managers manage, so I can't see how Freddie would get more blame than the players, because he's not the one striking out but it's probably time to change up the management as well.


This team has flamed out poorly the last several years,  about 90% of that is due to the weakness of the lineup, but hey,  Bruce Bochy has found a way to win with not much better.

scottarino
scottarino

It HAS to be on Frank Wren. You can't have the buck stop at Fredi and allow Wren to keep building the roster the way he has been so far, wasting the so-called "limited funds" put forth by the Gods at Liberty Media. Look at this this way....Frank Wren makes poor signings and wastes money....Fredi manages poorly...players do not respond to Fredi. What do you do? Make Fredi the scapegoat and allow Wren to maintain his wellspring of bad signings? You have to start at the top, and since you can't fire Liberty Media the buck stops with Wren. 

RoseUp
RoseUp

It's on Fredi. The Braves lack "clubhouse leadership." Isn't the manager supposed to be the "leader?" Frank Wren signed and traded for a lot of talent. Uggla and B.J. had great numbers before they came here. Wren has no crystal ball to see the future, nor is he a parapsychologist who can foretell how a team's "chemistry" will gel after he puts them together. 


I recall being infuriated several weeks ago during a game against the Mets. The score was tied 1-1 late. David Wright hit a single to left. Justin Upton casually scooped up the ball and took his sweet time throwing it in. Wright, being the hungry, scrappy pro he is, took advantage of Upton's laziness and took second easily. He ended up scoring what would be the winning run.


Say what you want about Bobby Cox, but he would have none of that. Fredi did nothing. His laissez-faire approach is a shadow of Bobby's style. Bobby only looked apathetic. Inside, he demanded effort, and the players knew that. Fredi looks apathetic because he actually is.


It's on Fredi.

BaseballBuff
BaseballBuff

Frank Wren. Because of the Uggla and BJ contracts primarily. If they were both on the roster and playing up to expectations, the Braves would not be having the offensive issues currently plaguing them. I agree with the other posters that BJ has a terrible attitude.  He sucks, and is weighing this team down like a boat anchor. I wish we could chunk him.

LakeDawg
LakeDawg

I blame Schuerholz and Cox.

JAS0N
JAS0N

A few things you can count on:

-No matter how good they start, braves will lose late in the season

-Braves can't score runs, every season

-Braves will choke in any big game, either by committing errors or not being able to hit

58Supersports
58Supersports

Fire Wren & Fredi and let new GM get his own manager and players. Go Braves!

displayname101
displayname101

Signing B. J. Upton was the worst decision in Braves history.  Nothing even close.  Bad player and a jerk.  With this ownership, he will be here another year and a half, will hit .210 and will turn Heyward into a loafing malcontent clone of himself.  And Fredi doesn't have the nerve to stop it.  But it's Wren who saddled the Braves with the jerk, and it's the non-involved owners who prevent the team from cutting its losses.  Where have you gone, Ted Turner?

Wilbo
Wilbo

Whoa, there, Mr. Schultzie! What is this, man? An actual attempt to honestly portray the multiple failing of this organization? This is what Atlanta has been missing for the past... let's say 18 years, and I think it's great. Thank you.


And hey, get this: Mark Bradley even admitted that Mr. Great Untouchable Chipper Jones had botched plays that set into motion at least one of the Braves' fizzles.


Think about it! If we had had somebody w the courage to say the Braves choke like dogs when it counts and we as a city and fans of an organization aren't going to stand for that, maybe heads would have rolled and we wouldn't have been saddled with 2 decades of the putrid embarrassment that is Atlanta Braves October. Certainly, at least we wouldn't be stuck with the 1/2 dummy Cox Clone roosting in the dugout now.

AlaskaBravesFan
AlaskaBravesFan

With regard to those who coach hitting:  Ever try to instruct someone who makes 15 times what you do each year?  In fact, have you ever tried to instruct a teenager?  What you put in isn't necessarily what comes out.


This team needs a kick in the pants, the kind that is uplifting, not the kind that deflates.  For that, we look to the manager.  The talent is present; only the determination is lacking.


The Braves have painted themselves into a corner.  Heavy hitting will not work well without the consistent get-on-base guys, and we have very few of them.  Also, we do not have the kind of overwhelming pitching of years gone by.  What is the team's identity?  Whatever it is, focus on that.  You can go miles and miles on pitching alone, if it's excellent.


Bottom line:  I'm just glad I don't have to figure this out and can just be a horrified observer.


ABF

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

@mar1049 I assume you're talking about Obozo?  You've got a lot of nerve associating the "P" word with that loser--you might claim him but Real Americans do not.  And have you seen him throw a baseball--he throws like a girl.

KatieR620
KatieR620

@KentKimes because they were so much better than they should have been for so long.


The team refuses to admit how poorly their overall approach to hitting is.  The entire idea of this team is snafu.  It's a lineup that works sporadically,  because that's what they built. We are basically lucky that the scouts and minor league programs are really good at finding and developing young pitchers.  


This is a program built entirely around pitching with the hopes that they will hit enough Home Runs to win 90 games only to fail miserably and repeatedly in the playoffs when the talent is better.   That's who they are at their corps.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@MikeS777: ". . . it's not Dan Uggla's fault since he's been out of the starting lineup since May and off the team for a month."

____________________

Uggla was released July 18. A month ago, you say? Must be that funny math.

But you're right about the current issues not being his fault.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@RoseUp: "Uggla and B.J. had great numbers before they came here."

__________________

Your memory's shot. BJ did NOT have "great numbers" before he came here.


OHaveMercy
OHaveMercy

@KatieR620 @KentKimes You nailed it.  Bobby Cox used to say he played for the "dinger".  I quote, "If you play for one run, that is all you will every get."  Now think about this.  Say you do play for one run each inning and you are successful only half the time.  I best you win 96 to 98 games a years if you average 3.5 to 4.0 runs per game.  I bet you.  This team is boring.  How can you watch 9 innings of Brave's baseball without being totally wasted?  How?