Bill Shanks talks about the B.J. Upton situation for the Braves.
Why is B.J. Upton still playing?
Oh, great. We get to look forward to a race where the two winners get to play a winner-take-all game and advance. We get to possibly have the heartache we had two years ago when the Cardinals won on the outfield fly rule game and the Braves were sent home.
If the Braves go to that wildcard do-or-die game and lose, and then put up a flag for that, we should all boycott Turner Field for all of 2015. Seriously. If they put a flag up for that…
This season has not been fun. Oh, the first 24 games were fun, when the team went 17-7. But since then the Braves are 51-56. That is unacceptable. We, the fans of this team, should have higher standards. We should expect more.
When Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy went down with arm injuries in March, it was cause for concern. Sure, this team may not be as good as we had hoped with two pitchers out. But then the Braves signed Ervin Santana and then Aaron Harang.
Problem solved. The pitching has not been the problem.
The problem is the makeup of this team. It just doesn’t fit. There are too many lapses on the field, too many mental mistakes. And the biggest mistake of all comes from the dugout.
Every time manager Fredi Gonzalez makes out his lineup card and writes down “B.J. Upton” we might as not watch. Why should we be forced to watch a player that doesn’t deserve to be in the big leagues?
Upton is an embarrassment to the uniform of which he wears. He’s currently hitting .205 for the season. That’s all the stats you need to know right there, correct? You don’t need any other acronym to prove this guy just can’t hit.
But we’ll do it anyway.
Upton is hitting .188 versus left-handed pitchers, which he was supposedly strongest against when he was in Tampa Bay. He’s hitting .173 in 32 games since the All-Star Break. He’s hitting .119 in August.
That’s .119 in August.
Upton has hit under .200 in six of the 11 months he’s played for the Braves. I looked it up to see if this compares to anyone that has worn the Atlanta uniform in the past.
In 19 years, Chipper Jones hit under .200 in two months (.184 in June 2004 and .188 in May 2001). David Justice got off to a terrible start in 1993, when he hit .157. His next worst month in seven years with the Braves was in July 1994 when he hit .209. And Fred McGriff’s worst month in his four-and-a-half years in Atlanta was a .213 batting average in June 1996.
From the start of his first full season in 1978, Dale Murphy played 12-and-a-half seasons in Atlanta. He hit below .200 in three months in his rookie season. Then he hit under .200 in one month in 1988, two months in 1989 and one month in 1990. His worst month was a .163 average in August of 1989. But in 76 months with the Braves, Murphy hit under .200 for a month seven times.
No one compares to Upton and his horrific numbers. Oh, wait. I forgot about one. Dan Uggla. Yeah, he had a worse run as a Brave. In Uggla’s 21 months in an Atlanta uniform, 12 were spent hitting under the .200 mark.
This kind of proves, doesn’t it, that Uggla and Upton are the two worst acquisitions in Atlanta history? It also proves Upton has zero business in the Atlanta starting lineup.
So if Gonzalez does it again, on Tuesday when the Braves start the series against the New York Mets, just don’t watch. If he’s stupid enough to do that, we shouldn’t be stupid enough to watch.
If Gonzalez continues writing B.J. Upton on his lineup card, his job is going to be in jeopardy. Some have wondered if general manager Frank Wren, who signed Upton to the gigantic five-year contract, is telling Gonzalez to play Upton.
Well, if Wren is doing that, and if Gonzalez is not strong enough to tell Wren that he's not playing Upton regardless of how bad that contract is, then we have a problem. There's a manager in place with little backbone to do the right thing.
And if Wren is telling Gonzalez to play Upton no matter what, then he should be fired on the spot. That's not the GM's job. It's the manager's job to fill out the lineup card, regardless of how the GM might want to safe face by praying his second bad contract signing will somehow turn things around.
We are getting to the point where the Upton situation is becoming an impeachable offense. It's almost criminal for Gonzalez to play Upton on a regular basis, and if he thinks sitting Upton every fourth day is an answer, he's wrong. And if the Braves do not make the playoffs, doesn't Wren have to be held accountable for two horrible contract signings (Uggla and Upton) that made this 2014 lineup inconsistent?
They both should be held accountable, and status quo shouldn't be accepted any longer. Perhaps a new GM (John Hart) and a new manager (Dusty Baker) could turn things around next season. Until then, we might be stuck with watching B.J. Upton in the lineup for a few more weeks.
Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http://www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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