May 4, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves center fielder B.J. Upton (2) examines his bat before batting in the first inning against the San Francisco Giants at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Braves Monday Lineup – My Take

After their sixth straight loss and two swept series in a row, the Atlanta Braves may make a few changes going into Monday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Twitter world was ablaze Sunday afternoon about this team and the direction they’re heading.  And rightfully so, they/we should be.

May 4, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves left fielder Justin Upton (8) reacts to striking out in the sixth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta is a very good baseball team with many star players who should be performing at a higher level then they currently are.  For the past two years now, many are quick to jump to B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla as the frontrunners of the bashing.

Currently, the entire lineup seems to be in a slump.  The leadoff man, Jason Heyward, has a slash line of .220/.301/.322 and second in the order, B.J., currently has .213/.303/.324. Many have their reasons or thoughts on what can be changed but I think this is where you start.

Either I’m on the right path with this theory or not with the lineup, Manager Fredi Gonzalez spoke after Sunday’s game and it sounds like changes will happen Monday.

“You sit back and eat something to figure out what we are going to do tomorrow,” said Gonzalez.  “We’ll see what transpires with tomorrow’s lineup.  You can’t and I won’t finger point one guy because one thing you try to control as a manager is effort and work ethic and the way these guys prepare and they are doing that.  For me to sit here and point out that we lost the game because this guy or that guy, I would never do that because I would be the first one to point the finger at myself.”

Fans on Twitter can give themselves a high five because it sounds like Fredi is willing to take some of the blame for this.

You do have to remember that the Braves are currently 17-13 and still have a .5 game lead in the NL East over the Washington Nationals.

“We’ve played 30 games now and we’ve gone through a little streak, maybe tomorrow we will come up with something different, said Fredi.  “Nothing major because this is a club that won the division but sometimes we need a little break here and there.”

My Take On Monday’s Lineup

Mar 22, 2014; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves center fielder Jordan Schafer (17) bunts the ball during the game against the Boston Red Sox at Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

1. Jordan Schafer CF

2. Andrelton Simmons SS

3. Freddie Freeman 1B

4. Justin Upton LF

5. Evan Gattis C

6. Chris Johnson 3B

7. Jason Heyward RF

8. Ramiro Pena 2B

9. Pitcher

Obviously, this is a pretty drastic change in the lineup and it’s very possible Fredi doesn’t go this route.  With Shelby Miller throwing Monday night, I think you sit B.J. and Dan and put a couple more left handed hitters in the lineup.  Though Schafer hasn’t hit well to begin the season off the bench (.176 batting average), he does provide a spark that the Braves could use at the top of the order.

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  • Mushy Peas

    Oddly enough, BJ has been the most consistent guy in the line-up during this skid. I wouldn’t take him out now. I would consider moving BJ to lead-off and batting JHey second, but I also like Simmons in the two hole as well. I like the idea of Peña getting more at bats in place of Uggla. It seems almost everyone in the line-up has a case of “Ugglaitis”- All seem to be overly aggressive, constantly swinging for the fences instead of just trying to put the ball in play. Also, almost everyone seems to be swinging at bad pitches resulting in alot of Ks and pop-ups, or trying to pull everything and rolling over the ball producing consistent, weak rollers in the infield. I honestly felt like I was watching the Nats vs Braves, only the Braves were playing like the Nats do: lack of fundamentals and not being able to manufacture runs to support decent pitching. The Giants reminded me of how the Braves play against the Nats: they also have good pitching and rely on the homeruns to score what few runs they needed to get the job done. I realize I just sold the Braves short by referring to the pitching as ‘decent’. I really do feel bad for the starting pitchers. You really couldn’t ask for any more than they have given thus far and a huge credit is owed to them for continuing to go out there everday and do their jobs. Unfortunately, they keep ending up with the short end of the stick. That, in itself, is continually putting more pressure on a struggling offense to produce and you end up in this vicious cycle. Despite all this, I have to keep telling myself that it’s only the first week of May. This group of guys are talented enough to turn things around; however, I’ve also considered that their overall youth and success last year may be playing a part in their current inability to collectively stop, take a breath, and reevaluate the situation and their approach. Things will get better, it’s only a matter of time. Better for them to experience this now rather than later.

    • Jeff Schafer

      You’re correct on all levels, well said. Looking at the numbers more, BJ has gotten on base consistently during these stands. I’m worried of putting BJ in the leadoff spot tho. I think this is the position we all wanted him to be in when the Braves signed him. I think the Pena for Uggla move will be made on Monday

  • fireboss

    I’m glad to see BJ hitting but let’s not look at this in a vacuum. Over
    his last 14 games Jason is .305/.333/.390 with a BAbip of .367. Over his
    last 14 games (which starts one day before Jason’s as he had a day off
    that Jason didn’t) BJ is .220/.320/.340 with a BAbip of .303. BJ is
    getting a lot of the rocking chair affect of the two hole. He’s also hit
    quite a few pitches that missed their targets and came into his hot
    zone – the inner half and down. In Short Jason’s been hot and BJ lucky.
    Now I’d rather be lucky as not but his luck won’t hold. While we’ve
    seen Jason stay hot. I wouldn’t move him out of that leadoff spot yet.
    . Fredi is hamstrung by his
    toolbox and our shallow farm system. What
    I’d do is promote LaStella (sorry Rev) and slip him into the 2 spot, then drop
    BJ to the seven spot. I’d like to do more but we really don’t have the
    pieces needed. Doumit’s a bust so far, Pena duplicates Rev and LaStella
    but is needed to back up SS. Schafer is BJ’s back up and a 4th
    outfielder and Laird is just a catcher

    • Joseph Fain

      Bringing up La Stella seems like a total no brainer at this point. We desperately need some guys who can get on base and his .372 OBP and 7% K-rate would help to bring some balance to the lineup – especially because the person he would be replacing is one of the worst offensive offenders. Hopefully this horrific offensive stretch is enough of a wake up call for the front office to finally admit that they can’t keep limping along with Uggla, particularly since his on base skills seem to have finally gone which represented the last of his offensive value.