Julio Teheran C+ Julio took a big step back and a small step forward in 2015. He’s still only 24 and has averaged more than 200 innings in his three years with the Braves, so there’s plenty to like. Right now, he’s a solid #3 starter.
Shelby Miller B+ Expectations factor in our grades. Shelby was better than anticipated, Julio worse. But their seasons weren’t much different. Each struck out 172 and walked 73; Shelby pitched five more innings and allowed six fewer hits. The big difference: Julio gave up 27 HR, 14 more than Shelby, who had a 3.83 ERA in the second half.
Matt Wisler C+ In the five starts in which he pitched 7 innings or more, Wisler allowed only 6 ER and walked just 6 batters. His biggest problem: Left-handed batters, who hit .322 with a .921 OPS vs. Wisler.
Williams Perez C- He had some solid outings, but 130 hits and 51 walks allowed in 116.2/3 IP indicates he was often lucky. If he’s in the 2016 rotation we’re in trouble.
Folty C- Consecutive starts in late May had us thinking Folty was about to break through. No question he has the best stuff on the staff, and in those two outings (14-1/3 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 15 Ks) he showed it. There were rumors he chafed under Roger McDowell’s instruction, but if he can learn to pitch and not just throw he can be the ace we’ve been looking for or, perhaps, a dominant reliever. Right now, however, he’s not even guaranteed a spot on the 2016 staff.
Jason Grilli A- The bullpen wasn’t a dumpster fire all year. In fact, it was pretty damn good in the first half, thanks to Grilli’s stout work as closer. He’ll be back in 2016, hopefully by Opening Day.
Arodys B The grade would be higher if not for his suspension for PED’s. But he still emerged as one of the few bright spots this year and will be the closer going into Spring Training. Needs to improve his command (13 BB in 33-2/3 IP).
The rest F One day we’ll remember the likes of Ross Detweiler, Matt Marksberry, Trevor Cahill, Brandon Cunniff, Donnie Veal and Nick Masset and laugh. Hopefully.
A.J. Pierzynski A- We thought we were getting a washed-up asshole but Pierzynski may have been the team’s MVP. Not bad for a 38-year-old backstop.
Freddie Freeman B+ Considering the lack of line-up support and a bevy of injuries, Freddie’s season was pretty impressive.
Nick Markakis B I still don’t get the contract, but you can’t call a guy with a .370 OBP and 38 doubles a bust. If he regains his power John Hart will have the last laugh.
Andrelton C+ Seemed to benefit greatly from Kevin Seitzer’s tutelage, improving his OBP from .286 to .321. I still think he can be a productive big league hitter — bet on him hitting .280 with 10 or so HR next year.
Adnois Garcia C+ The Williams Perez of the offense. His 10 homers and .497 slugging percentage were a nice surprise, but 5 walks in 191 AB’s suggest it’s not sustainable.
Cameron Maybin C+ For awhile it looked like Maybin was finally reaching his potential, but his .600 OPS in the second half affirms his status as Mallex Smith’s placeholder.
Jace Peterson C- He’ll likely hold onto the job with no replacement on the horizon but seemed lost at the plate after the All-Star break.
Hector Olivera INC His long swing gives me pause, but when you consider how little he’s played (168 games since 2010) a .715 OPS ain’t bad.
Below average in LF while Maybin and Markakis were okay in center and right. Peterson is the best Braves defensive second baseman since the Lemmer, and Andrelton remains the best defensive player in the game. B
The new administration got rid of MelJu and Chris Johnson, which guarantees a passing grade. The Markakis contract and trade for Olivera leaves plenty of room for skepticism, however, as does the contract extension for Fredi. They get high marks for creativity and their first draft appears to be a solid one. But through all the wheeling and dealing they failed to acquire an impact bat and seemed more concerned with depth than difference-makers (though Max Fried could change that assessment). I go back to the Justin Upton trade, made within days of San Diego’s three-team trade that netted the Nats two of the Padres best prospects, including Trea Turner, who hit .322 with a .458 slugging percentage and 29 steals between Double-A and Triple-A. And all it cost them was Steven Souza, a 26-year-old prospect who hit .225 for the Rays. Turner sure would look good at second base. B, a grade subject to change, depending on how the likes of Folty and Fried develop.
If, as Ken Rosenthal reported, Fredi lost the clubhouse there’s absolutely no reason to keep him around. He showed little imagination, managing as if he had a bunch of power hitters in the line-up, rarely forcing the action. Then there were the usual strategic blunders, encapsulated in five late Spring games.
May 28. Top of the 8th, Giants 1, Braves 0. Shelby Miller, who had thrown just 86 pitches, due up second. After a lead-off single by Andrelton, Fredi calls for a pinch hitter Pedro Ciriaco. who grounds into a fielder’s choice. The Giants score 6 in the bottom of the 8th. Asked why he didn’t leave Miller in to bunt, the manager who once had Simmons bunt in the 4th inning of a playoff game with one out, runners on the corners (slow-footed Freddie at 3rd) and Kris Medlen on deck said he didn’t want to “give outs away.”
May 31. Top of the 7th, Braves 3, Giants 2. With 2 outs and a runner at 3rd, Fredi opts to let Julio Teheran bat. He flies out to RF. Matt Duffy leads off the next inning with a double. Fredi pulls Teheran and brings in Donnie Veal, who does what Donnie Veal does, allowing an RBI single, sacrifice and two-run homer. Giants lead 5-3.
June 5. Top of the 6th, Braves 4, Pirates 4. Brandon Cunniff relieves Williams Perez and gets two quick outs. With left-handed batter Gregory Polanco — hardly Barry Bonds — due up, Fredi decides to counter with his only southpaw reliever, Luis Avilan. In the 6th inning. Polanco works a walk, bringing Starling Marte (1.239 OPS vs lefties) to the plate. Marte homers. The pitcher’s spot was due third in the bottom half of the frame, so Fredi burns two of his relievers then brings in Trevor Cahill to pitch the 7th.
June 8. Bottom of the 7th, Braves 3, Padres 1. Shelby is tossing another gem, allowing 5 hits, 1 walk and 1 run. He had thrown 94 pitches so he realistically has another inning in his arm. Due up first, Fredi calls on pinch hitter Chris Johnson. The Braves don’t score in the inning, but the Pads add a run in the 8th off Jim Johnson and another in the 9th off Jason Grilli. Miraculously, Nick Masset retires the side in order in the 10th, so what does Fredi do? Brings in Cody Martin, struggling more than anyone in the ‘pen. San Diego scores 2 and holds on for a 5-3 win.
June 11. Top of the 8th, Braves 4, Padres 1. Some may question Fredi’s decision to leave Julio in after allowing hits by Amarista and Solarte. I don’t. My beef was with his choice of reliever after Julio walked Wil Myers to load the bases. It would make sense to bring in Dana Eveland to face fellow lefty Will Venable if the Padres didn’t have Justin Upton sitting on the bench. Maybe Fredi confused Justin with his brother. Regardless, the Padres got the match-up they wanted. (It could’ve been worse — Eveland walked J-Up,) Enter Nick Masset, who strikes out Matt Kemp looking. Fredi then brings in Avilan to face Yonder Alonso, overlooking his .429 BA against southpaws. Alonso walks, and Fredi brings in David Aardsma, who retires both hitters he faces. Having used four relievers in the 8th, you’d think he’d leave Aardsma in to pitch the 9th. Nope. Two more pitchers are burned, putting the onus on Alex Wood to go deep tomorrow night in New York.
There’s a much better option in the dugout with TP. As for Fredi, a well-deserved D.
The tone-deaf administration either doesn’t realize or doesn’t care that they’ve alienated a decent portion of the fan base with the move to Cobb. They’ve made no concessions to try and win them back and seem unconcerned with attracting anyone but suburban families who like new country music. They even censored organist Matthew Kaminisky, restricting him to tunes from the 1950s. It’s never good to be uncool, and the Braves are as square as you can get.
No one person exemplifies that better than Jim Powell, who goes out of his way to be milquetoast.
The product on the field didn’t help, of course. JS says he expects a bump in attendance next year for the Ted’s final season. Don’t count on it. F