Tag: B.J. Upton

Gattis Getty

The Braves and Astros discussed an Evan Gattis trade . . . but there was a catch


Ken Rosenthal reports that, over the summer, the Braves and Astros discussed a trade involving Evan Gattis for a package that could include Dexter Fowler and either a pitcher or catcher Carlos Corporan. But, though the talks “had legs,” they didn’t result in anything because the Braves had one request to go along with it:

The Astros first began targeting Evan Gattis last summer. And when they asked about Gattis again early in the offseason, the Braves came back with an interesting response, according to major-league sources:

Maybe, if you take B.J. Upton, too.

And the $46.5 million he is owed. The Astros understandably balked, but Rosenthal says that they are still interested in Gattis, so perhaps everyone can revisit this again soon.

In other news, the Braves sent me an email with Cyber Monday offers for their team store yesterday. I was gonna get a sweet Freddie Freeman shirsey at 25% off, but they insisted I take a B.J. Upton one at full price too . . .

The Braves are rebuilding, apparently

evan gattis getty

Recent days have featured several Braves rumors. Some involving trading Jason Heyward and shopping any number of other players like Evan Gattis and/or Justin Upton. Last night Joel Sherman of the Post reported that the Braves intended to make Gattis their everyday left fielder which, gah, let me get my medication before I watch that 100 times next year. Less viscerally, that suggests a trade of at least one outfielder.

All of this taken together suggests to David O’Brien of the AJC that the Braves are punting the next year or two and doing a rebuild of sorts in anticipation of moving into their new ballpark in 2017. And new vice president of baseball operations John Hart seems to be leaning that way if the Braves can’t get some immediate help with their starting pitching:

“We obviously have all options open, and I think a lot of it’s going to be dictated by what we’re able to do in the starting-pitching market . . . What we’re able to do in the starting pitching market, that is going to, I think, fully engage us as to what we do in 2015, if we want to come back with a somewhat intact ballclub. And then obviously if we can’t do that, there’s other options that we’ll certainly examine.”

It seems off to me that a team one year removed from a 96-win season and with several young players under team control for an extended period of time would choose a wholesale rebuild right now. Which isn’t to say things are wonderful and changes shouldn’t be made. Injuries and uncertainty with starting pitching does mean that the Braves could use a starter or two. Trying to find some way to get rid of B.J. Upton or to at least work around him is important. There are issues here that need to be solved.

I guess I’d just say that, if you’re going to rebuild, freakin’ rebuild and do so in a way that maximizes return. That means just understanding that B.J. Upton is an utter lost cause and sunk cost and not trying to bundle him in some deal because doing so necessarily lessens the return. That means trading what may your most valuable asset — Craig Kimbrel — rather than hoping he’s still dominant three years from now. It also means making sure the parts you keep for 2017 are still likely to be good and useful in 2017. Which, in my mind, does not include Evan Gattis as a left fielder, even if he can wrestle the position to a draw for a year or two in the meantime.

Lots of uncertainty with this team. And, hopefully, some seriously open minds in the Braves front office, focused on maximizing the return and shooting for true contention, not some piecemeal deals that solve one problem only to create another.

B.J. Upton claims Braves’ single-season strikeouts record

B.J. Upton

B.J. Upton’s second-inning strikeout against Phillies starter Jerome Williams marked number 172 on the season, breaking a tie with Dan Uggla for the Braves’ single-season record. His brother Justin, who has not struck out tonight as of this writing, has 169 strikeouts on the season.

It’s a feat of ignominy for B.J., whose Braves tenure has been less than ideal after signing a five-year, $75.25 million contract in November 2012. In two seasons in Atlanta entering tonight’s game, Upton has compiled a .197/.277/.310 slash line with 20 home runs, 60 RBI, and 32 stolen bases in 44 attempts across 1,020 plate appearances.

Among players to have compiled at least 1,000 plate appearances over the last two seasons, Upton’s -0.6 WAR (FanGraphs) ranks as the third-worst behind only Adeiny Hechavarria and Dayan Viciedo. Typically, players who provide so little value eventually lose out on their playing time, but the Braves are committed to playing him everyday due to the amount of money and years they committed to him.

Frank Wren fired as Braves GM, John Hart to take over on an interim basis

Frank Wren

And there it is:

Hart, the former Indians and Rangers GM, was hired a year ago as a special advisor. He’s currently an analyst for MLB Network as well. He goes back a long way with Braves president John Schuerholz, so he has support in the organization, but it seems unlikely he’d keep the job for long.

A very likely candidate to take over full-time: assistant GM John Coppolella, who is well-regarded within the game and fits the Braves profile of promoting from within.

Wren was promoted to the GM chair in Atlanta following the 2007 season. He has been successful in maintaining a strong farm system and he has made multiple trades which have worked out OK for the Braves. But his judgment in giving out contract extensions and free agent deals to the likes of B.J. Upton, Dan Uggla and Derek Lowe has been poor, leaving a Braves team which is usually very budget conscious with limited payroll flexibility.

Ultimately, the Braves cratered this year and someone had to take the fall. That someone is Frank Wren.

UPDATE: Frank Wren likely to be fired by the Braves, Fredi Gonzalez likely to stay

Fredi Gonzalez

UPDATE: Dave O’Brien believes — and he tends to be right about such things — that the Braves will fire Frank Wren, possibly as soon as this morning. He expects Fredi Gonzalez to stay, but several coaches to be let go.

9:15 AM: The three guys who probably write the most about the Braves are Dave O’Brien and Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Mark Bowman of MLB.com. All three of them seem to be saying the same thing today: Fredi Gonzalez and/or Frank Wren are out in Atlanta. First Bradley:

I’m never comfortable with suggesting a team has “quit,” simply because I’m not a mind-reader. Sometimes you’re outplayed. Sometimes you’re unlucky. Sometimes the other team is just better than you. That said …

For argument’s sake, let’s say a team had quit: Would it look much different from the Braves’ past six games?

The disclaimer aside, yes, he is saying the Braves have quit on Fredi. And I am of the same mind he is: you can’t know what goes on in a ballplayer’s head unless they tell you and the idea of players “quitting” on a manager is just as often a creation of media types as it is reality, but jeez man, this has been the most uninspired and aimless month or two of baseball since the Russ Nixon era in Atlanta. Actually, strike that. Nixon had some good young players who just weren’t ready yet. They tried. This is more like the Chuck Tanner years.

In linking Bradley’s story on Twitter, O’Brien says:

Not to put too fine a point on it because O’Brien seems like a good guy, but he is not exactly the sort who tends to be overly critical of Braves brass. Some Braves fans derisively refer to him as the team’s stenographer. I think that’s unfair to O’Brien, but there is no escaping the fact that, if you’ve lost O’Brien, man, you’ve lost everyone.

On to Bradley who, despite working for MLB.com, may be the most consistently critical media voice when it comes to the Braves:

As the Braves have collapsed over the past few weeks, there has been growing reason to wonder about the futures of general manager Frank Wren and manager Fredi Gonzalez. The club has not dismissed a general manager or manager since 1990. But this could change within the next few days.

If the Braves opt to part ways with Wren, they will likely utilize assistant general manager John Coppolella as an interim general manager until hiring a permanent replacement.

That’s quite a chorus. I don’t think it would sing in unison in this particular way unless the signal was sent from someone telling them that stuff is about to go down.

My view: Wren has done OK with small signings and the Braves continue to produce some decent young players (though not as many as they used to). His big moves, though, have been pretty bad, from the B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla signings to giving Chris Johnson a contract extension that he is unlikely to ever live up to. The lineup was atrocious this year in large part to Uggla and Upton and, despite jettisoning Uggla during the season, Wren didn’t do anything close to enough to add firepower even though a playoff spot was the Braves’ for the taking.

As for Gonzalez: it’s easy to overstate the impact that a manager has on a team, but he has penciled Upton into the first or second slot in the lineup 102 times despite his .282 OBP and he has not once suggested in a post-game interview that he’s particularly distressed in why this team is playing so poorly. No matter what you think of the whole “they quit on their manager” thing, this is a team clearly playing out the string.

Does one go? Does the other? Do both? I have no idea, but it sure feels like a bloodbath is in the offing.