The Atlanta Braves pretty much figured they’d be a bad team this season, but a 9-28 record so far in 2016 is a lot worse than Atlanta expected. That is why they decided to fire manager Fredi Gonzalez on Tuesday and name Triple-A Gwinnett manager Brian Snitker the interim manager for Atlanta. I think Snitker is a good temporary manager because he has been a manager in the minor leagues since 1982, so he’ll know how to get the best out of his players. Now I examine why the Braves have been so horrible this season.
Reason 1: The Braves have young talent, but not MLB-ready players
Analysis: Sure, the Braves have Freddie Freeman and Julio Teheran on the roster, but those guys can’t carry the Braves. The Braves have Nick Markakis as well and he has 21 RBI’s, yet he is only a decent starter that is better known for his defense. Atlanta either has really young players that aren’t ready for the MLB or they have old and washed up offensive players like Erick Aybar, Nick Markakis, and Jeff Francoeur. The young players like Mallex Smith, Jace Peterson, and Adonis Garcia all have potential, but they all strikeout too much. Those guys should be developing in the minor leagues rather than wasting their time playing on a Braves team that has no chance to even compete. Matt Wisler has been a good surprise pitching, but guys like Aaron Blair and Williams Perez aren’t ready to be consistent pitchers at the MLB level.
Reason 2: The Braves lack power-hitters
Analysis: Freddie Freeman got off to a slow start offensively, but he has been really good lately as he has hit 6 home runs to go with a .284 average this season. However, Freeman can’t carry the terrible Braves offense by himself. Atlanta has only hit 11 home runs this season which is by far the lowest in the MLB. Besides Freeman, nobody on the Braves roster has hit more than 1 home run this season. I realize that the Braves play their home games at Turner Field which is a pitcher-friendly ballpark. However, there is no excuse for the lack of home-run abilities that they have. Atlanta has a lot of the same type of players that prefer to play small ball and hit singles. Small ball doesn’t work very often though, so they need more of a power-hitting ability in addition to their small ball capabilities in order to score more runs.
Reason 3: The Bullpen has completely underperformed
Analysis: Arodys Vizcaino is turning out to be a tremendous late-inning option for Atlanta, but the rest of the bullpen is really basically awful. The veteran players especially have been awful as closer Jason Grilli has a 6.94 ERA and veteran Jim Johnson has a 7.90 ERA. Those guys are getting older and they are just washed out veterans. Vizcaino and Cervenka have bright futures, but guys like O’Flaherty, Grilli, and Johnson are just supposed to be temporary players that can handle the bullpen until some of the young guys take over. The Braves bullpen has been worse than expected and don’t expect it to get much better with these washed out veterans still in place.
It hasn’t been the season that the Braves desired, but they should keep their young players at Triple-A to continue to develop. Atlanta should just hope that the veteran players on their roster get better or it could continue to be a really bad season.