Jeff Schultz blog 

This AJC sports blogger takes things seriously when he has to, but he really would rather not

Giants take a chance on Dan Uggla

  • 2:32 pm Monday, July 21st, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Dan Uggla has landed on his feet with a pretty good team. (AP photo)

(Updated: 2:50 p.m.) Dan Uggla may have face-planted in Atlanta, but he was just picked up by one of the best teams in baseball. Is this bad foreshadowing for the Braves?

San Francisco, which has won two of the last four World Series and is tied for first place in the National League West, have signed Uggla to a minor-league contract, according to multiple reports. The news was first reported by Fox Sports. Uggla, who was in the fourth season of a five-year, $62 million contract that he never lived up to, cleared waivers, paving the way for any team to [More]

Braves’ tryouts at leadoff are dizzying

  • 12:36 pm Wednesday, June 25th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
So what's the chance B.J. Upton provides stability for Braves at leadoff? (AP photo)

When Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez tabbed B.J. Upton as the Braves’ next future ex-leadoff hitter — sorry, just an assumption — it continued an ugly trend that began in 2006.

The Braves have struggled to find a leadoff hitter since Rafael Furcal left for Los Angeles as a free agent following the 2005 season. Furcal hit .284 as a Brave with a .348 on base percentage, a career-high 48 stolen bases and a 100 runs scored in 2005. Then general manager John Schuerholz lost a bidding war with the Dodgers that winter. Oops.

Want to a venture a guess how many players [More]

It’s ‘Mark Emmert Appreciation Night!’ (sorta)

  • 9:51 am Monday, June 23rd, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Mr Emmert, "Skipper" would to have a word with you. (via Lake County Captains)

Congratulations, Mark Emmert: Now you have alienated minor league baseball.

Emmert, the NCAA president, has made a habit of saying the wrong things while defending the organization’s antiquated and disingenuous stance to not significantly increase the value of scholarships for student-athletes, even in the wake of mega-million revenue streams for this “amateur” enterprise. It happened again last week when Emmert testified in the Ed O’Bannon class-action anti-trust lawsuit: “To convert college sports into professional sports

would be tantamount to converting it into minor league sports. And we know that in the U.S. minor league sports aren’t very successful either for fan support [More]

Braves out of first — not they deserved to be there

  • 11:30 pm Tuesday, June 17th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Ervin Santana was dinged early with a first-inning homer by Philadelphia's Ryan Howard. (Curtis Compton)

You know that question some people have asked about the Braves: How is this team in first place? Well, there’s no reason to ask that question right now.

In losing to the last-place Philadelphia Phillies for the second straight game 5-2 Tuesday night, the Braves fell one-half game behind the Washington Nationals in the National League East.

The significance of a half-game deficit with 92 games to go? Bupkis.

The significance of scoring three runs in two games over 22 innings against a Phillies team that ranked third from the bottom in the National League in ERA (3.95), as well as committing two [More]

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

  • 12:13 pm Monday, June 16th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
If Gerald Laird (left) and Christian Bethancourt are Braves' top catchers, Evan Gattis would move to 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 [More]

Is it time to drop Freeman in batting order?

  • 1:09 am Sunday, June 15th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Freddie Freeman is hitting only .182 over his last 24 games. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

That a Braves’ hitter is in a tailspin is not unusual.

That it’s Freddie Freeman is like some nonsensical alternate universe.

Freeman has been one of the team’s best and certainly most consistent hitters since 2011. He was the team’s best player a year ago, hitting .319 with 23 homers, 109 RBIs and a team-leading OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) of .897. When he hit .397 in the first 18 games this season, all seemed well. Then came weirdness with a .227 average in 48 games and .188 in the last 23 before Saturday night’s game against the Los Angeles Angels.

Maybe Saturday [More]

Braves are golden…or doomed (you decide)

  • 9:13 am Monday, June 9th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
After losing a weekend series to last-place Arizona, the Braves have dropped into a three-way tie for first place.

Good morning.

The Braves have lost three of their last four series (eight of 12 games) to drop into a three-way tie for first place in the National League East with Washington and Miami, neither of which have been very good, either.

This usually is when everybody picks a side in the world of sports’ debate extremes. It’s either: “The Braves are doomed because they stink, and I said so!” Or, “The Braves are golden because they’ve managed to hang in there with slumping players and … well, you just wait!”

I’ve never made it a secret that the Braves’ roster construction and [More]

Braves’ move shouldn’t mean Uggla’s out — yet (updated)

  • 2:01 pm Wednesday, May 28th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Dan Uggla's time as a Brave could be nearing an end.

The Braves have recalled second baseman Tommy La Stella from Triple-A Gwinnett, and I know what you’re thinking: Did they slip release papers and a plane ticket under Dan Uggla’s hotel room door in Boston.

No. Nor should they just yet.

The team has yet to announce what roster move will be made to open a spot for La Stella, who was hitting .293 with a .384 on-base percentage in Gwinnett. But there’s a good chance Uggla, who has lost his starting job, will not be released for now. Options include putting shortstop Andrelton Simmons on the disabled list (if that’s deemed [More]

Holiday 6-pack: Will Nats close on Braves?

  • 12:01 pm Monday, May 26th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
The Braves' B.J. Upton is reaching base more and striking out less. Honest. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Good morning. This is the day to celebrate our true heroes. Memorial Day began as a day to honor the soldiers who died in the Civil War but now serves to recognize all Americans who died while in the military. This isn’t a day for politics. To borrow from Mark Twain: “Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.”

And now, on the backside of this barbecue weekend, a six-pack of thoughts on a six-pack of teams:

1. Braves: Keep an eye on Washington

The Braves are showing signs of coming out of their offensive rut, [More]

B.J. Upton has become a head case

  • 1:15 pm Monday, May 19th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
B.J. Upton argued with umpire after one of his strikeouts in San Francisco. (Bay Area News Group photo)

The biggest problem with B.J. Upton may no longer be that he can’t hit — it’s that he has lost all perspective.

Upton is hitting a sparkling .203 with a league-leading 56 strikeouts in 143 at-bats this season. Apparently in B.J.’s own private Idaho, that’s dramatic improvement from hitting .189 with 151 strikeouts in 391 at-bats a year ago.

If Upton was still in little league, the coach probably would move him up from eighth to seventh in the batting order and give him an extra juice box. Instead, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, whose team has had problems scoring runs, actually had [More]