As constituted, these Braves aren’t going to win anything

Not to say this team has gone to the dogs, but ... (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Not to say this team has gone to the dogs, but ... you get the idea. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

It isn’t just that the Braves aren’t hitting. It’s that they don’t look as if they’re ever going to hit.

Troy Glaus isn’t what he was. Nate McLouth isn’t what he was. Melky Cabrera was never anything special. Yunel Escobar seems to have regressed. Chipper Jones is 38. You tell me: Is that batting order ever apt to strike fear into the hearts of enemy hurlers?

Shed a tear here for Frank Wren. Presumably on orders from above, he keeps trying to put a team together on the cheap. But there aren’t many GMs who can bring that off — remember, John Schuerholz’s run of excellence was forged when the Braves and Yankees were trying to outspend each other — and Wren has evinced no signs of being a Billy Beane-counter.

What Wren did this offseason hasn’t worked. (Other than bringing up Jason Heyward, which was a no-brainer.) Javier Vazquez hasn’t pitched well for the Yankees, but wouldn’t you rather see Vazquez in the Braves’ rotation, as opposed to Kenshin Kawakami? Cabrera isn’t a starting outfielder. Glaus isn’t a starting infielder. Billy Wagner has been pretty good, but what’s the point of having Billy Wagner if there’s never a case to close?

The Braves are last, by a considerable distance, in the National League in hitting. They’re 10th in pitching. The 1965 Dodgers could win games 1-0, but there’s no Koufax or Drysdale here — or a Glavine or a Maddux or a Smoltz — here. These Braves have to hit, if just a bit, to win. And they can’t.

It has, granted, been only 22 games, but they’ve been 22 sobering games. Ten days ago the Braves staged as outrageous a comeback as any team ever has — the three-homer astonishment against Philadelphia’s Ryan Madson and Jose Contreras — to tie for first place in the NL East. They haven’t won since. They’ve scored 17 runs in nine games.

They’re last in the NL East. (They’re three full games out of fourth place.) They’re tied with the Dodgers for last in the National League. In all of the majors, only Baltimore has been worse. Even with Heyward working his wonders, his team has collapsed around him.

This is baseball. A good team can overcome a bad start. The 2009 Colorado Rockies were 9-13 after 22 games (and 20-32 after 52) and made the playoffs. But they had to fire their manager to do it, and that’s not an option here. Besides, you could look at the Rox and say, “That team’s losing, but it still has some players.” You can’t say that about these Braves.

This, sad to say, isn’t a very good team. It has some pitchers but too few hitters. As constituted, these Braves aren’t going to win anything.

461 comments Add your comment

nickz

April 30th, 2010
10:57 am

Very sad start to the season…make move for A-Gon! The pitching is here…we just need a solid, consistant bat in the middle of the order and the others guys will feed (and hopefullly hit) off that.

DC Braves Fan

April 30th, 2010
10:57 am

nickz

April 30th, 2010
10:58 am

I suppose a “first!” is in order….

robert08

April 30th, 2010
10:58 am

It is painful to watch this team, and right now I’m wondering if they’ll even win 50 games this season.

DC Braves Fan

April 30th, 2010
10:59 am

You technically waived it, Nick.

nickz

April 30th, 2010
11:00 am

It doesn’t help that the Padres are actually playing well…probably more reluctant to make a trade of thier best player while in first place…I can’t imagine that going over well with the fans or the team. Hopefully they’ll tank this month and become sellers for our benefit!

Mark Bradley

April 30th, 2010
11:00 am

Kudos to nickz. You’re first even if you don’t claim the prize, according to AJC.com regulations. (Section 2b)

MissNancy

April 30th, 2010
11:01 am

Who is Frank Wren? (OK….only kidding)

Mark Bradley

April 30th, 2010
11:01 am

I keep asking myself: Why would the Padres trade Adrian Gonzalez here? Who, other than Jason Heyward and Tommy Hanson, would they want off this 25-man roster?

MR

April 30th, 2010
11:02 am

You can fire the hitting coach and put someone in that position that can coach. TP is a joke and always has been. Look at how the players we got rid of are hitting..

DC Braves Fan

April 30th, 2010
11:04 am

On the substance, spot on, Mark. Wren seems to think that if plays 4 hands with a 50-50 chance of working, that he’ll end up winning all the hands. He’s been a bit unlucky in that he appears to have lost every hand he’s played, but he wasn’t realistic in the first place: the odds that Cabrera would hit were spotty, the odds that Glaus would come back at his age given the injuries (and his new position) were fair at best; and Chipper’s age made the risk fairly obvious. You can’t assume that all the breaks will come your way, and it doesn’t appear that he has any real backup plan (last year, at least we had Prado when Kelly Johnson did his disappearing act).

The future is still bright, so I wouldn’t trade the farm to get anyone. But I would consider unloading some veterans at the middle of the season to help continue the restocking process. I might also shut Jurrens down or at least keep his innings way down so that he’ll be effective in 2011. 2010 is done. Hopefully Freeman can come up mid-season and start getting some major league ABs. This team cannot continue to use retreads at 1B and LF/CF when those are positions that cry for offensive production. Escobar will snap out of it eventually. The others just aren’t that good.

PMC

April 30th, 2010
11:04 am

It does make one wonder when this team has 0 money to spend and makes it obvious by picking up who they pickup regardless of the lies they tell the media…. why they would waste so much money on a mostly garbage aging Japanese pitcher just to bring the guy here and buy him out of a contract not even pay him the ridiculous contract they gave him.

Clearly even the evaluation process is lacking. They probably need to blow out the front office with Bobby at this point including Scherholtz and McGuirk. It’s not working. They can do better.

I get why they overpaid Lowe and got Vasquez because Huddy was hurt. I don’t get why they wasted so much money time and effort on Kawakami. They could have found cheaper better 5th pitchers on the cheap here and in latin america. No reason to waste money in Japan.

Willy

April 30th, 2010
11:04 am

The Braves couldn’t hit oil if they fell out of a boat.

MR

April 30th, 2010
11:05 am

By the way, Bobby will be really upset with your comments. He!!, he says the team is not playing tht bad and it is early. I wouldl fire him also. should have been done years ago.

Unknown Hinson

April 30th, 2010
11:05 am

To quote Metallica, this article is “Sad but True”.

disappointed already

April 30th, 2010
11:05 am

Cox needs to put the guys who aren’t automatic outs at the front of the lineup. Have Prado, Chipper, Heyward, McCann, and Infante in some sort of order up front so they can protect each other to a degree. The way Cox has McClouth or Cabrera or Diaz and Glous, and Yunel and a pitcher thrown in there every other player or so, the pitchers don’t have to throw strikes to the guys who can hit. They can pitch around Heyward and Prado and Chipper to get to the next guy in the lineup who’s an automatic out.

They could also fire Pendleton. This is the third straight year the Braves have had an anemic lineup. When is someone gonna be held accountable?

Mr. Pappagiorgio

April 30th, 2010
11:06 am

Remember when you could win games with Pitching and defense?

Mark Bradley

April 30th, 2010
11:06 am

Pretty good post, DC Braves fan. Especially the 4 hands bit.

Mr. Obvious

April 30th, 2010
11:06 am

You cannot wipe your BOTTOM….

…of the National League East…..

….without T. P.

Don Baylor > Terry Pendleton

nickz

April 30th, 2010
11:07 am

We have enough depth prospect wise to offer up a good enough package (not including Freddie Freeman, which might be a deal breaker)…I’d throw in Yunel if we had anything close to a major league SS in the minors, I can’t take much more of his bone head plays…

As of now, you’re probably right…but who could of known the Padres would be in 1st right now rather than stockpiling prospects for the future…

Bama Aaron

April 30th, 2010
11:07 am

To add to your point MB it’s not just that hard hit balls have found their way into opposing gloves. No, they can’t hit…way too many K’s, many of them looking. I have never seen a complete line-up this baffled at the plate.

disappointed already

April 30th, 2010
11:08 am

isn’t there some outfielder in Gwinnett or Mississippi who could at least hit .250? That’d be about 60 point upgrade.

Wren Hater

April 30th, 2010
11:09 am

Even before the start of LAST SEASON, I told you so.

MR

April 30th, 2010
11:09 am

FIRE TP…FIRE TP….FIRE TP

Hillbilly Deluxe

April 30th, 2010
11:11 am

A good team can overcome a bad start.

But this is a mediocre team at best, and most likely a bad team. If they do wind up firing Pendleton, it won’t make any difference. The Cubs hired Rudy Jaramillo and Derek Lee and Aramis Ramirez are both hitting under .200. The coach is not up there in the box swinging the bat; it’s on the hitter if he’s not producing.

MR

April 30th, 2010
11:11 am

How many coaching changes have we made in the last 8 years…0…I think? TP has got to go.

chin music

April 30th, 2010
11:12 am

frank wren’s made some pretty nice trades to build up the farm system again after the teixeira debacle (of which i was in favor at the time) — it’s the big-league braves that seem. but now that trade, having failed to result in a playoff berth for the braves, and with several of the prospects the braves yielded having developed into serviceable-to-good major leaguers, is widely regarded as a failure. why do people want to repeat the same mistake for adrian gonzalez. let alone the fact that the braves are in better position to sell than to buy, and the padres vice versa.

Wren Hater

April 30th, 2010
11:12 am

Troy Glaus = Failed Experiment

Chipper Jones = “Mailing It In”

Bobby Cox = “Digging for Gold”

Frank “Wrong Again” Wren = Mistake

MR

April 30th, 2010
11:12 am

Was at a Gwinnett Braves game a feww weeks back…they were playing Charlotte Knights….the manager of that team..Chris Chambliss…He is available….

nickz

April 30th, 2010
11:12 am

Anyone else dreaming that Wren opens up his wallet for Carl Crawford in the offseason…he’d look good in a Braves Uni in LF and hitting leadoff…

Oh wait…the Yankees payroll is only at $300 million this season…they’ll have at least another $100 mill or so to throw at Crawford

Keith Lockhart

April 30th, 2010
11:13 am

Just pick me up off of waivers along with greg norton!

nickz

April 30th, 2010
11:13 am

It’s too bad the Braves don’t have any pieces to sell…or at least pieces that any other team would want…

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

April 30th, 2010
11:13 am

they’ll win something- Most Pathetic Team Of 2010. This is what happens when you spend 75% on pitching & 25% on hitting. The 25% is mostly band-aids to fix our problems, but the band-aids keep falling off and the scabs are not healing.

Paddy O

April 30th, 2010
11:14 am

Glaus was a bad flyer, especially when LaRoche was available. That glut of starting pitching is not that way now, 22 games in. If you traded Vazquez, should have done so for $$$, because that is really what you needed. Hitters, unless natural 350 guys, who switch leagues, usually see about a 30 point drop in the batting average the first year. Melky’s drop is not very surprising. PLus, he stunk with the Yanks. McLouth, he is a 260 hitter on average. Wren traded for two losers, plus signed a loopy Glaus. If you trade for Gonzalez, YOU CAN NOT SIGN HIM. So, that is a dumb trade. Braves fans who were 12 or so in 1991 – get ready for the 70’s Braves.

Billy Wagner

April 30th, 2010
11:14 am

Hopefully we can unload some of the old-timers (like me) at the trade deadline for some prospects to replace the ones we gave away for Mark Texeira (sic?). Let’s face it, it’s time to rebuild.

Oh yeah…I’m bored.

Gman

April 30th, 2010
11:16 am

Pretty simple really. Last year’s Braves were a light hitting team with no power. The addressed none of their shortcomings in the offseason (despite trading their most effective starter).

The net result is that they do not pitch as well as last year and shockingly, they hit even worse.

There is no sport better than baseball played at its highest form. Subsequently, there is no sport worse than poorly played baseball.

The Braves are completely unwatchable. They are as compelling as the Braves teams of the 70s and mid-late 80s. Only 140 games and 5 months to go before this sad story is mercifully over.

Paddy O

April 30th, 2010
11:16 am

Braves fans need a dose of reality – your just a little better than Pittsburgh & KC with LIberty as owners. We need a letter writing campaign begging Ted Turner to re-buy the Braves. Also, Wren, Cox & Pendleton would NEED to be fired for the team to start performing. Your payroll will not go over 150 again, will it?

ltdbrave

April 30th, 2010
11:17 am

Well, the Braves definitely are not going anywhere. Take a look at last nights box score for the Diamondbacks. LaRoche and Johnson accounted for 7 hits, 8 rbis, 3 homeruns. Johnson is batting 320 and LaRoche 299. They have 30 rbis between them. Seems as if the Braves give on hitters a little too fast. Maybe management knows that Pendelton can not do a thing as far as correcting errors in hitters swing. I think it is time to bench chipper, put Glaus on 3rd and bring up Freeman for 1st base.

Angus

April 30th, 2010
11:17 am

So now that the entire team and organization has been fired, let’s talk about something important.

Mark, do you get ill when you drive home and find your neighborhood littered with the AJC Reach?

Mark Bradley

April 30th, 2010
11:17 am

I actually got ill yesterday, but I don’t think AJC Reach was a contributing factor.

Ben

April 30th, 2010
11:18 am

All those dumb people picking the braves to win the wild card. We are the second worst team in the NL. That is funny.

Mohawk

April 30th, 2010
11:18 am

I want Mark B to do one of those AJC my styles. LOL

Told you so

April 30th, 2010
11:19 am

Gee, you mean FRENCHY and KELLY JOHNSON were not so bad after all. To bad as both are what 26-28?

Sure wish we had SALTY at first and HARRISON in the rotation.

Hate to see CHIPPER AND BOBBY COX get booed this year but it’s inevitable with this team. Hate to see them go out like Glavine and Smoltz (one year too late)

NCDawg

April 30th, 2010
11:20 am

I think you hit the nail on the head, Mark. There are so many holes, I don’t know that there’s even a lot that they can do at this point to save this season (especially without, apparently, any money). I hate to say it, but they should begin the fire sale soon — trade Chipper for something (if they can), stockpile some young talent….it’s a long way back from where they are now….

Mark Bradley

April 30th, 2010
11:20 am

I’m Mr. Style, Mohawk.

EW

April 30th, 2010
11:20 am

It could be a long summer….why won’t our GM realize that the teams that are winning are spending the money to get there? This isn’t a business where you’re gonna outsmart the other teams’ front offices..Yeah you might get lucky with a Melky or a Troy Glaus, or a healthy Chipper…but do you wanna bet the season on it? Who’s going to be the leader of this team? Chipper’s happy quietly riding off into the sunset, Derek Lowe can’t lead bc you have to be able to back it up…Bobby’s on a a farewell tour…what other veteran leadership do we have? This team is suffering from the same thing the Hawks are…lack of accountibility.. and I just don’t see a cohesive unit ready to win ballgames..

Paddy O

April 30th, 2010
11:20 am

Solution to getting Wren fired: BOYCOTT THE TED! Only go to Free Friday Fireworks – we need to have an average attendance of UNDER 10,000 – that should get Wren fired! BOYCOTT THE BRAVES AT HOME!

F-105 Thunderchief

April 30th, 2010
11:20 am

We heard that McLouth was an All-Star. He was, because he was with the Pirates and somebody had to be picked. Again, the only thing the Braves got for trading Vazquez was a lottery ticket named Vizcaino, the other two are the human equivalent of used vinyl furniture. In spring training, Glaus looked like the answer. If we’re going to plug in cheap fixes, dump Glaus and plug in Jermaine Dye. If he flops, dump him and plug in Gary Sheffield, etc. Or, bring up the youngsters now, because a lineup with this many holes won’t win anyway, even with good pitching.

G-Lion

April 30th, 2010
11:23 am

Bobby Cox could only win it all once with, arguably, some of the best line-ups ever assembled. He sure isn’t going to win with this bunch.

When you can’t hit, you have to manufacture runs. Bobby has never done that; he sits around waiting for the 3-run dinger. And, you’re just not going to see that often with this bunch.

carlchamblee

April 30th, 2010
11:23 am

And it’s not just the hitting. The defense is atrocious. Tied for most errors in NL and they have the worst fielding pct. in the league. And that’s not even counting non-errors that were plays that should have been made, like the numerous pop flies landing because of miscommunication.

Wren doesn’t get a pass because of payroll. The Twins for the first time surpassed the Braves payroll by a few mil this tear (only because of the mega Mauer contract), but they manage to put a successful product out there. Payroll restrictions explain some things but I don’t see how you would expect a Troy Glaus to learn a new position and be a 4 or 5 hitter on a contending team. Add in leaving Chipper at third base and you have the worst defensive corner positions in the league. How does that help your pitching staff which supposedly this team was gonna build around? If you cannot buy the big bats and you blow your wad on pitching, then emphasize defense, speed and small-ball on your roster. That was the 1991 formula BEFORE the Braves and Schuerholz starting spending the big bucks. I’m not sure what the plan is now – aging veterans and retreads and a bunch of .250 low OBP guys?

Cox deserves blame too. If he gets so much credit for the divisional title run, he gets blame for the lack of regular season success the last 4+ seasons and no playoff series wins in 9 years. It was a mistake to give him a final ceremonial year. It’s time to rebuild this franchise w the cornerstones of Heyward and Hanson. i think most of us could suffer a losing season with the thrill and hope of what is to come, not watching the over the hill gang flail away at pitches and play lethargic uninspired baseball.