Jeff Schultz blog 

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

With Braves six back, is ‘fat lady’ singing?

  • 8:39 am Friday, August 15th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
BravesfatLadyJeff

So is it over?

The Braves lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-4 Thursday. If you missed the almost-too-perfect inglorious ending, here’s a free link to my column on the game.

In brief, Justin Upton had to leave the game with a strained hamstring. His lesser brother B.J., who had been benched from the starting lineup because he’s hitting .209, was sent in as a pinch runner. He stayed in the game, and, of course, wound up being the key at-bat in the ninth inning. With runners on second and third base, B.J., batting in Justin’s spot, struck out.

The strikeout numbers [More]

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

  • 9:19 am Thursday, August 7th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Atlanta Braves v Seattle Mariners

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 [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]

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]

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]

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]

As Freeman powers Braves, Upton still searching for … anything

  • 11:22 pm Tuesday, April 1st, 2014 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.

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 [More]

Braves’ poll: Can Uggla, Upton rebound?

  • 7:21 pm Saturday, February 15th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Dan Uggla is confident he'll have a good season. Are you? Vote in poll.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — I had a lengthy and revealing conversation today with Dan Uggla, the Braves’ often-maligned second baseman. I hope you get a chance to read it online at MyAJC.com or in Sunday’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution (the thing made of paper).

A link to the full column can be found here on MyAJC (subscription).

I’m obviously not going to copy and paste all of Uggla’s comments but he was extremely open about his struggles and the accompanying criticism. A couple of excerpts:

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– On the 2013 season, when he hit a career low .179: “I was [More]