Tag: B.J. Upton

braves logo large

The Braves could shake things up in their baseball operations department


The Braves have wilted down the stretch and it appears that some changes could be in store for their front office following the season.

According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the team could consider hiring John Hart to run their baseball operations department. Meanwhile, Braves beat writer David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Consitution hears that Hart or John Schuerholz could have an expanded role regardless of whether the club decides to retain general manager Frank Wren. Peter Gammons first wrote about the possibility involving Hart earlier this week.

Hart, who has previously served as general manager of the Rangers and Indians, was hired as senior advisor of baseball operations by the Braves last November. Schuerholz currently serves as team president and was the general manager from 1990 to 2007 before Wren took over as his replacement.

The Braves began this season at 17-7 over their first 24 games, but they are just 59-70 since. They’ll begin play tonight at 76-77 on the year, which puts them in danger of finishing under .500 for the first time since 2008. The starting pitching has held up nicely despite significant injuries, but the offense has been one of the worst in the majors. Big contracts to Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton loom large over Wren’s tenure as GM.

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 6.50.57 AM

Angels 8, Mariners 1: The Angels become the first team to clinch a playoff spot. It took a couple of bumps and bruises to get there. Matt Shoemaker got the took a shutout into the eighth inning, but felt some discomfort in his left side after leaving the game. Albert Pujols left with a hamstring injury. Both injuries appear to be minor. David Freese and Brennan Boesch each went deep. Pujols had a three-run double. Seattle is now two back in the wild card.

Royals 4, White Sox 3: Last week Ned Yost took a lot of crap — from this corner of the Internet included — for trying to run his way into a rally by having pinch runner Jarrod Dyson steal third. Here it set off a much more happier sequence. In the bottom of the ninth inning with the White Sox up 3-2, Dyson stole third base and kept on running after a wild pitch to score the tying run. Nori Aoki then doubled and was replaced by pinch-runner Terrance Gore. Lorenzo Cain then drove Gore in with an infield chopper which allowed Gore to come all the way around from second base to score the winning run. So viva speed and viva Ned Yost. At least for last night.

Nationals 4, Braves 2: The Nats inch closer to their inevitable NL East title. Stephen Strasburg pitched seven scoreless innings. The Braves rallied a bit in the ninth but it ended when B.J. Upton — who was somehow allowed to bat while a rally was in progress — grounded out to end it. The Nats can clinch if they win tonight. If they do, they’ll dance on the Turner Field while the Braves watch. And then, this offseason (a) no Braves coaches will be fired because someone will say “hey, it wasn’t the coaches’ fault”; and (b) no wholesale personnel moves will be made either because “[insert comments about believing in these players].” Accountability for this uninspiring disaster of a season is pretty unlikely. Wheeee!

Orioles 5, Blue Jays 2: The O’s too are within one win of a division title. Wei-Yin Chen won his 16th. Ryan Flaherty homered and Adam Jones had three hits and an RBI as the Orioles won their eighth of nine.

Marlins 6, Mets 5: Jacob deGrom continues his fantastic rookie season, this time striking out 13 Marlins hitters in seven innings while allowing three runs. He struck out the first eight batters in the game, actually, before allowing a single to the opposing pitcher of all people. The win, however, eluded him thanks to the Marlins rallying for three against him and then three more against his compatriots in the bullpen. The Mets old friend Jordany Valdespin hit a two-run single. Adeiny Hechavarria hit a two-run single of his own.

Dodgers 11, Rockies 3: Those eight-run sixth innings will really hurt ya, ya know? L.A. got seven hits that innings, including a Justin Turner two-run double. Matt Kemp hit a homer. He also had words with Yasiel Puig in the dugout over something no one would talk about afterward. I presume it was about Puig asserting that Pitt the Elder was the superior prime minister while Barney argued for Lord Palmerston.

Diamondbacks 6, Giants 2: Mark Trumbo hit a grand slam off Ryan Vogelsong and the Giants couldn’t muster much against Wade Miley. That puts San Francisco four games back of L.A. in the West.

Tigers 8, Twins 6: The Tigers keep their one and a half game cushion over K.C. by winning their fourth straight. Tied in the ninth, Torii Hunter and Miguel Cabrera went back-to-back. The Tigers get six more games against the Twins after this one. That helps matters.

Astros 3, Indians 1: Jose Altuve went three for four with a triple and an RBI single, raising his average to .342. Altuve is one hit away from tying the Astros’ single-season hit mark, held by Craig Biggio. Four straight losses for Cleveland. They can start putting deposits on their October vacations as well.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $60,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Tuesday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $6,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on TuesdayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Cubs 1, Reds 0: Anthony Rizzo with the walkoff homer was the only offense here. It was his first game back after missing 18 games due to back problems. I could’ve shoe-horned a Berman-esque “back, back, back” there to add a few more “backs” but that would not be in keeping with the high quality craftsmanship to which you are accustomed in this feature. Back.

Padres 1, Phillies 0: Andrew Cashner tosses a two-hit shutout and helped plate the game’s only run by reaching on an E-5 thanks to which Rene Rivera scored. This one ended in a cool 2:09. Everyone involved in this one probably has a rockin’ October vacation planned and they’re doing what they can to hasten its arrival.

Rays 1, Yankees 0: The third 1-0 game of the night and the second which ended on a walkoff. This time a single by Ben Zobrist. This time in a game that lasted 3:28 because, god, who the heck knows. The Yankees were eliminated from contention for the division title.

Report: The Braves and Cubs discussed a B.J. Upton, Edwin Jackson swap

B.J. Upton

In today’s column for USA TODAY, Bob Nightengale writes that the Braves and Cubs nearly pulled the trigger on a swap of B.J. Upton and Edwin Jackson at the non-waiver trade deadline, but it never materialized. The Braves would have had to throw in a significant amount of cash to even out the trade, which was ostensibly what halted the deal.

Upton is in the second year of a five-year, $75.25 contract signed in November 12. In 952 plate appearances as a Brave, Upton has 18 home runs, 57 RBI, 30 stolen bases, and a .197/.276/.310 slash line.

Jackson, currently sidelined with a strained lat muscle in his right shoulder, is in the second year of a four-year, $52 million deal signed in December 2012. He led the league with 18 losses last season and is the current league leader with 14 this year. In 314 1/3 innings as a member of the Cubs, Jackson has a 5.47 ERA and a 258/120 K/BB ratio.

Settling the Score: Friday’s results

Tommy La Stella AP

It wasn’t easy, but the Braves snapped their eight-game losing streak last night with a 7-6 win over the first-place Nationals at Turner Park in Atlanta.

The Braves scored all seven runs against Stephen Strasburg, who was chased after just five innings and gave up four home runs. Freddie Freeman, Justin Upton, B.J. Upton, and Tommy La Stella all went deep for Atlanta. For La Stella, it was his first major league home run. Strasburg hadn’t given up more than two home runs in any of his previous 99 starts in the majors.

It wasn’t long before the lead became tenuous, as Ervin Santana gave up four runs in the sixth inning, including a three-run homer from Anthony Rendon. Then, after a rain delay of over an hour, the Nationals got closer in the seventh with a solo homer from Wilson Ramos and a sacrifice fly from Asdrubal Cabrera. However, Jordan Walden and Craig Kimbrel were able to combine to get the final seven outs to secure the one-run victory.

The Braves now sit at 59-56 on the year, 3 1/2 games behind the Nationals in the National League East. They’ll try to keep chipping away when they send Aaron Harang to the hill tonight against Tanner Roark.

Your Friday box scores:

Nationals 6, Braves 7

Rays 4, Cubs 3 (10 innings)

Indians 6, Yankees 10

Mets 5, Phillies 4

Tigers 5, Blue Jays 4

Padres 1, Pirates 2

Rangers 3, Astros 4

Marlins 2, Reds 1

Cardinals 2, Orioles 12

Giants 2, Royals 4

Red Sox 4, Angels 2

Twins 5, Athletics 6

Dodgers 3, Brewers 9

Rockies 3, Diamondbacks 5

White Sox 1, Mariners 4

2014 Trade Deadline Tracker

David Price

We’ll be covering all of the action here up through Thursday’s 4 p.m. EDT deadline.


Tigers acquired LHP David Price from the Rays, sending LHP Drew Smyly and SS Willy Adames to the Rays and OF Austin Jackson to the Mariners. Mariners send INF Nick Franklin to the Rays.

With names like Oscar Taveras and Joc Pederson getting tossed around — plus Addison Russell earlier — this looks like a light return for Price on the surface. Smyly, though, is an established lefty with a very good arm, still four years away from free agency. He’s striking out 7.8 batters per nine innings this year, and he makes next to nothing. That’s a really valuable piece for Tampa Bay. Also, Franklin-to-the-Rays long seemed destined and finally happened, though since it didn’t come in conjunction with a Ben Zobrist deal, there’s not an obvious role for Franklin right now. He’s the Rays’ new long-term second baseman, though. Adames is notable, too, as one of the top two position player talents left in the Detroit system. He was hitting .269/.346/.428 as an 18-year-old in the Midwest League.

The Mariners look like a clear winner here, getting the legitimate starting center fielder they’ve needed since Franklin Gutierrez’s body fell apart. Franklin will be a solid long-term regular, but he simply didn’t fit on a team with Robinson Cano. The Mariners offense looks much more legitimate with Jackson in center and leading off and Michael Saunders (once healthy) and Chris Denorfia platooning in right. Plus, they’ll get to keep Jackson next year.

Then there are the Tigers, who held serve with the A’s following the Jon Lester acquisition. A rotation of Max Scherzer, Price, Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez has to terrify potential postseason foes. They also get Price for 2015, giving them an ace in case Scherzer departs in free agency, which seems increasingly likely now. However, losing Jackson is a big blow. Rajai Davis, who doesn’t hit righties and who isn’t as good defensively as his speed suggests, simply isn’t an adequate replacement as a primary center fielder. Maybe the Tigers will be able to find an alternative next month.


Athletics acquired LHP Jon Lester, OF Jonny Gomes and cash from Red Sox for OF Yoenis Cespedes and competitive balance draft pick.

Feeling they were unlikely to re-sign Cespedes beyond 2015 anyway, the A’s decided to take their chances on a beast of a playoff rotation featuring Lester, Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir and Jeff Samardzija. They’ll hope to cover Cespedes’s production by asking even more of their three-headed catching monster of Derek Norris, Stephen Vogt and John Jaso, with Vogt often starting in the outfield against righties and Jaso being used as a DH.

The Red Sox couldn’t seem to pry away an elite prospect like Oscar Taveras or Kevin Gausman for Lester, so they settled for one year of a middle-of-the-order bat. Cespedes can pull off the spectacular, but has regressed as a player since his excellent rookie season in 2012. The Red Sox will hope the change of scenery helps; plus, Cespedes could certainly learn something by watching David Ortiz’s at-bats. That Cespedes is a free agent after 2015 probably led to the draft pick being included; that pick will come between the second and third rounds of next year’s draft.


Cardinals acquired RHP John Lackey and LHP Corey Littrell from the Red Sox for 1B/OF Allen Craig and RHP Joe Kelly.

The Red Sox again set their eyes on 2015 even as they sell. Craig should bounce back offensively, but he’s basically been a right-handed doppelganger for Daniel Nava the last two years and the Red Sox still have Shane Victorino, plus Mookie Betts threatening to break through to go along with Cespedes and likely Gold Glove center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. Also, Craig is owed $27.5 million through 2017 (with an option for 2018), though that’s not a bad thing if he does resume hitting. In Kelly, the Red Sox are getting a guy who has been a success despite mediocre peripherals, including a career strikeout rate of 5.5 batters per nine innings as a starter (the MLB average is now over 7.0 for starters). Kelly will join the rotation, but he’s probably going to be a reliever in the long haul.

Lackey gets plugged into a Cardinals rotation that also includes Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, the newly acquired Justin Masterson and Shelby Miller, with Michael Wacha hopefully back for the final month. A big key to his trade value was his odd $500,000 option for next year, the result of a clause in his contract with Boston that was invoked after he missed a season due to Tommy John surgery. Even though Lackey isn’t going to want to pitch for half a million dollars next year, that’s huge leverage in terms of getting a modest extension done with him. Littrell, a 2013 fifth-round pick, wasn’t viewed as one of Boston’s top 15 or 20 prospects.


Marlins acquire RHP Jarred Cosart, INF-OF Kike Hernandez and OF Austin Wates from Astros for OF Jake Marisnick, 3B Colin Moran, RHP Francis Martes and a competitive balance draft pick.

A fascinating deal, given all of the young talent involved. Cosart was going to be expensive to acquire, as he’s 24 with a huge arm, no current durability concerns and a decent major league record. It seems like the Astros looked at his peripherals and figured he wouldn’t break through, while the Marlins looked at his stuff and thought it could still happen. Though this isn’t just Cosart for the Marlins; Hernandez’s breakthrough year makes him look like a quality role player at least (he’s just turning 23 this month and he’s hitting .284/.348/.420 in the majors). Wates, 25, is an advanced outfield prospect and a potentially useful bench piece. He was hitting .299/.396/.381 with 31 steals in 74 games in Triple-A.

The Astros get back Marisnick, a key piece in the Jose Reyes-Josh Johnson-Mark Buehrle deal a year and a half ago, and Moran, the sixth overall pick in the 2013 draft. Marisnick has power, speed and a history of putting up good, but not great, minor league numbers. He’s certainly skilled enough to make it as a major league regular, though I’ve long been rather skeptical of his chances. Moran was considered the most advanced position prospect in last year’s draft, but he’s drawn largely poor reviews from scouts since debuting. I still think he’s going to be a major league third baseman, but he’s not going to move nearly as quickly as it looked like he would initially. Martes, 18, has a 5.18 ERA in 33 innings in the Rookie Gulf Coast League.


Yankees acquire INF-OF Martin Prado from Diamondbacks for 1B/OF Peter O’Brien.

Reports had the Diamondbacks preferring to move Aaron Hill’s slightly more expensive deal, but in the end, they were just happy to shed Prado’s contract. That four-year, $40 million contract was signed a year and a half ago, one week after Prado was acquired in the Justin Upton trade. Prado had held up his end of the bargain so far, but he wasn’t going to get any more valuable in the back half of the deal. O’Brien offers them power, but no position. He’s a poor man’s Mark Trumbo, and he doesn’t currently project as a major league regular.

The Yankees will make Prado their primary right fielder, and he should be an upgrade over Ichiro Suzuki there. Next year, he gives them an Alex Rodriguez alternative at third base, depending on what happens there. He’s still an option at second base, too, but probably not on a full-time basis. He lengthens the Yankees lineup, and it’s another case of the Yankees getting an incremental improvement without really sacrificing anything.


Nationals acquired SS Asdrubal Cabrera from the Indians for SS Zach Walters.

With Ryan Zimmerman sidelined into September, if he returns at all this year, the Nationals wanted a legitimate starting option in the infield and got one. Cabrera is a well below average shortstop, but he has experience at second and he should be just fine there once he gets used to it again. To get him without giving up a likely regular is a smart pickup, even if he is just a two-month rental.

Walters has long been a solid prospect with good pop for a middle infielder, but he’s not great defensively at shortstop and he’s always struck out a whole lot, limiting his ability to hit for average. He projects as a role player, rather than a starting shortstop, though as a stopgap, he wouldn’t be bad. Fortunately, the Indians can turn right to Francisco Lindor to replace Cabrera and likely be better off because of it. The top prospect will be a big improvement defensively on Cabrera, and while he’s not ready to excel offensively in the majors, he should hold his own.


Orioles acquired LHP Andrew Miller from the Red Sox for LHP Eduardo Rodriguez.

The Orioles paid quite a price for the best left-handed reliever available. Miller has been awfully good, and those his command still wavers at time, he can be a force against righties as well as lefties. He has an awesome 69/13 K/BB ratio in 42 1/3 innings this year. Miller is a free agent at season’s end.

The 21-year-old Rodriguez hasn’t gotten as much hype as Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman or Hunter Harvey yet, but he’s probably one of the 25 or so best pitching prospects in the minors, even with his 4.79 ERA in Double-A this year. Since the Red Sox have plenty of polished arms ahead of him, he shouldn’t be a factor in the majors until late 2015 at the easliest.


Brewers acquired OF Gerardo Parra from the Diamondbacks for OF Mitch Hanigar and LHP Anthony Banda.

Speculation had the Brewers in on starters and relievers, maybe even a first baseman. Instead, they went and got an outfielder to complement Khris Davis in left field. Davis has been a solid regular, but much of his damage comes against left-handed pitching: he’s at .232/.288/.435 against righties, plus he’s not nearly the defender that Parra is. Also, this gives the Brewers much better protection in case a starting outfielder goes down; they were really hurting when they lost Ryan Braun for a spell earlier this season. Parra is also under control for next, though he’ll make $6 million-$7 million in arbitration.

In Hanigar, the Diamondbacks get one of the best prospects in a weak farm system. The 23-year-old was hitting .255/.316/.416 with 10 homers in 243 at-bats in Double-A this year. He has the power potential to make it as a starting right-fielder if his contact skills improve. Banda, 20, was 6-6 with a 3.66 ERA and an 83/38 K/BB ratio in 83 2/3 innings in low-A ball. With Parra gone, the Diamondbacks will have room to play David Peralta regularly in right field for the rest of the year.


Braves acquire INF-OF Emilio Bonifacio, LHP James Russell and cash from the Cubs for C Victor Caratini.

On the surface, this may not seem like much. Bonifacio, though, gives the Braves a legitimate alternative in center field and at second base, both areas of need. No longer do the Braves have to force B.J. Upton into the leadoff spot (though that they had to in the first place was just another Fredi Gonzalez quirk). And Russell, while a frequent punching bag in the Cubs pen over the years, has dominated lefties this year when used correctly, limiting them to a .103/.243/.121 line in 58 at-bats. The Braves needed someone like him.

The price was significant. Caratini was a second-round pick last year, and he’s hit .283/.377/.415 in 523 at-bats since being drafted. He’s still raw behind the plate — he was mostly a third baseman in junior college — and how he develops there will have a drastic effect on his stock as a prospect. There’s a lot to like about his bat, though.


Yankees acquire SS Stephen Drew from the Red Sox for INF Kelly Johnson.

It’s the first deal between the two rivals since the Red Sox traded Mike Stanley to the Yankees for Tony Armas Jr. and Jim Mecir way back in 1997. The Red Sox needed to dump Drew to put Xander Bogaerts back at shortstop, especially now that there’s no longer any outfield room for Brock Holt. Johnson will be a bit player for the Red Sox. They’ll save a little money now and a little more if they can move Johnson in a waiver deal.

The Yankees figure to give Drew a crash course at second base in the hopes that he’ll be an upgrade over Brian Roberts, who has already been designated for assignment to open up a spot Both Drew and Johnson are free agents at season’s end, so there’s no risk for either team here.


Mariners acquired OF Chris Denorfia from the Padres for OF Abraham Almonte and RHP Stephen Kohlscheen.

The Mariners needed a righty outfield bat to go along with lefties Michael Saunders, Dustin Ackley, James Jones and Endy Chavez, and they got a nice one in Denorfia, even if he hasn’t done much so far this year (.242/.293/.319 in 248 at-bats). He’ll certainly start against southpaws, and if he gets hot, he can break into the lineup against righties as well. He is a free agent at season’s end.

Almonte was the Mariners’ Opening Day center fielder and leadoff hitter, though he wasn’t very well suited for the latter role. After hitting .198/.248/.292 in 106 major league at-bats, he’s come in at .267/.333/.390 in Triple-A, a far cry from last year’s .314/.403/.491 line for the same team. He’s still tallented enough to become at least a quality part-timer; he’s a switch-hitter and an excellent defensive corner outfielder, so he won’t need to hit all that well to be useful. Kohlscheen is a minor league reliever with limited upside.


Athletics acquired OF Sam Fuld from the Twins for LHP Tommy Milone.

The Twins got Fuld by claiming him off waivers from the A’s earlier this year, so they definitely turned a profit here. Still, Milone is an outlier pitcher with his lack of velocity and his big flyball rate. He goes to another good ballpark for his style of pitching, but he loses the excellent outfield defense that drove down his ERAs in Oakland. He’s probably a fifth starter for Minnesota.

In Fuld, the A’s reacquire a 32-year-old bench player having a fluke offensive year; he’s at .263/.356/.366 in 164 AB right now after entering 2014 with a career .234/.314/.330 line. He’ll see significant time for now with Coco Crisp hurting and Craig Gentry on the DL, but he should end the year as more of a bit player.