The Braves have an $89 million payroll for 2013, which unlike their finish, was in the middle of the MLB pack. Thursday they opened the playoffs with 13% of it deactivated in the person of .179 non-hitting, often-fanning, second baseman Dan Uggla.
It’s the kind of decision that makes you wonder if all the Braves fans who avoid Turner Field have a reason to. Either the Braves erred in making Uggla their highest-paid player, or they erred in benching him for the playoffs, or they erred in replacing him with no one better than the worse-hitting Elliot Johnson, whose 2013 OPS was 133 points less than Uggla’s (.671-.538).
The Braves might have tired of Uggla’s strikeouts — 171 in 448 at-bats — but they replaced him with someone not much better at making contact — 67 Ks in 254 at-bats. At least on the Leap Year at-bats Uggla makes contact, he occasionally hits home runs.
Of course, if Johnson goes hitless for the NLDS, no one will be reminded that the Braves are overpaying him to do it.
The results Thursday were predictable, in the baseball version of not bringing a knife to a gunfight. The Braves brought a whiffle ball bat to hit Clayton Kershaw, the best pitcher in baseball, and Johnson went 0-for-4, fanning three times. He wasn’t alone. Fifteen Braves fanned, 7,000 Braves fans stayed home and Evan Gattis’ dazed play symbolized the team’s, getting doubled off first base on a fly ball and misplaying A.J. Ellis’ base hit.
Oh, and Gattis was playing in place of B.J. Upton, the Braves’ second-highest-paid player at $13 million per, meaning the Braves had $26 million in salaries watching Game 1. And you thought the Yankees were irresponsible in their spending? They seem downright frugal compared to the Braves.
All of this leaves the Braves with a foreboding forecast: If they don’t win the next three games, they’ll have to beat Kershaw in Game 5. It’s going to be a fun offseason if they don’t.
So Carlos Beltran now has as many postseason home runs as Babe Ruth? They each have 15 after Beltran’s latest started Thursday’s bludgeoning of the Pirates.
Both Ruth and Beltran have 129 postseason at-bats, though Ruth has more plate appearances.
Of course, none of Beltran’s have come in the World Series because he hasn’t been in one. And none of Ruth’s came in anything but, because there was no postseason in his day, but only the World Series.
Mets fans have only one question: If Beltran is such an accomplished October home run hitter, why then didn’t he swing at Adam Wainwright’s curveball in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS?