How long should Braves give Upton to show improvement?

B.J./Melvin Upton arrived in camp with a new name but will it be same player? (Curtis Compton, AJC)

B.J./Melvin Upton arrived in camp with a new name but will it be same player? (Curtis Compton, AJC)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — As you’ve probably heard by now, Melvin Emanuel (B.J.) Upton reported to camp Monday. By any name you want to use, he’s still a guy who has hit .198 over two seasons with the Braves but has three years and $46.35 million left on his contract, which means he’s not going anywhere.

Upton was professional, answering all questions the media threw at him. He said the decision to go by Melvin for the first time in his career was basically about honoring his father, not about some cleansing for the past two seasons.

“Really, it had nothing to do with starting a new chapter,” Upton said. “I just wanted to. Like I said, my father thought enough to give me his name, so why not?”

I’ll have more from Upton and others in a full column on MyAJC.com.

For now, here’s my question: How long should the Braves give him? They obviously tried to trade Upton all winter, looking for any team that would pay an acceptable portion of his contract (whatever “acceptable” is), just to get him out of Atlanta. Not surprisingly, they didn’t succeed.

It’s difficult to see a scenario in which Upton is so bad in the spring that it would prompt the Braves to reverse field and cut him loose before the season. Their hope is that a new season, new hitting coach Kevin Seitzer, new teammates and maybe even the absence of pressure from playing with his brother, Justin Upton, will help him elevate his production.

Do you agree with that philosophy?

John Hart, the Braves’ new president of baseball operations, inherited the Upton contract. He said he will leave it up to manager Fredi Gonzalez to put the best players on the field, regardless of salary level.

Here’s my guess about what happens: Upton begins the season as the starting center fielder. He will remain the starting center fielder for at least six weeks to two months. If his at-bats are solid and his confidence seems to be in a good place, Gonzalez will leave him there. If not, Gonzalez will put Upton on the bench and/or have him be part of a rotation (like probably so many other positions).

That’s probably the best approach. As much as most fans would like Upton to just go away, teams just don’t do that with so much money left on a contract.

But I’ll put the question to you: How long should the Braves give Upton to improve before putting him on the bench?

HERE’S A LINK TO THE FULL COLUMN.

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Reader Comments 0

91 comments
BigHittas
BigHittas

LOLOL!!!
That's all I could do when I saw the article title!
Big Joke changed his name, that is basically all you need to know.

Arkansas_Transplant
Arkansas_Transplant

Actually, stating that "fans just want him to go away", that statement needs to be clarified because true Braves fans would actually like to see him success and improve. There's absolutely nothing to gain by simply wishing him away.

DrPhill
DrPhill

I will never pay to see a game in which Melvin plays unless it is for the Rome Braves.

patriotdog
patriotdog

Of course, any Brave fan wants him to succeed. History shows he won't.

IF hes the best CF coming out of spring training, I'd give him maybe 30-40 games. That's 1/4 of the season, plenty of time to get a good read and have time left to salvage the season if by chance the team is contending.

If he's not clearly the best option at CF coming out of spring, he'd get no time. I'd have him on the bench or cut him loose. Some young, hungry kid in our minor league system or a minimum contract vet from the waiver wire would be more help.

Beau1500
Beau1500

If Tiger wins the Masters then I would say give him to the All Star break.  Otherwise just be done with him.  Not only is he a huge distraction.  It is incalculable how many fans he has completely alienated (including me).  By the way Schultzie - excellent column.

goblue86
goblue86

They should give him two years.  Oh, wait...

jaxspp
jaxspp

I think once you've lost it, you've lost it. What ever "it" was, it's gone.

Rhetoric
Rhetoric

BJ's numbers should be right in the middle of the pack for the starting lineup.

The Braves will be lucky to win 70 games.

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

I say you let him stay and start as long as he wants to be here (end of contract). We messed up, now let's live with it.

HotDawg
HotDawg

What does Mel in Atlanta have to say?

He might hit better than Melvin Upton.

"You bunch of carpetbaggers"!

VeryDisgusted
VeryDisgusted

Actually Melvin was somewhat better in 2014 than he was in 2013


Improved by around 25 percent in HRS and RBI with 20 more points on the batting average


Of course that is not saying a hell of a lot --- he was considerably worse in 2013

VeryDisgusted
VeryDisgusted

You take as long as it takes as far as this yr goes


You have to pay him anyway and no way do you eat 46 mil in salary


Forget about any other suitable replacement --- its not there Eury Perez and Dian Toscano have no XBH pop


Now, similar numbers as the last 2 yrs and you might have to eat the last 2 yrs though that gets you nowhere

BooBooBear
BooBooBear

I don't have a problem with his name change being to his birth certificate name.  That is very grown up of him.  However, like Dale Murphy and Andruw Jones before Mr. Upton, both of which played Centerfield longer and better, but both of which came to a point in their Braves careers when they could not hit a curve ball, could not stop swinging at curve balls, and could no longer hit for average and/or home runs, they went on the scrap heap after two years.  Mr. Upton has only had two years and has proved to be worthless as a hitter, and certainly not a stellar (dive and get grass stains dirty) fielder.  He should be gone now.  Tell the Braves top brass to forget about the $45 million, the fans will pay.  Just get rid of him and raise the ticket prices and everything else.  Atlanta fans will make a vacation out of seeing the woeful Braves, but at least give them new reasons to bemoan the sorry state they are in.  Don't keep parading Mr. Upton around as if anyone wants to see him play.

Wilbo
Wilbo

@BooBooBear  Ooooooooooo, please don't remind me of that ugly, ugly, UGLY swing Dale Murphy was whiffing at the down & away curveball late in his career.


I was thinking "Just dayam, dude, maybe you oughtta spend less time making ice cream commercials and more time in the batting cage!"


Some governor or other such Georgia political bigwig had a big bull named Fat Basturd. Woulda been a good moniker for Andruw Jones at the end of his time in Atlanta  

WhopperDawg
WhopperDawg

5 minutes. In spring training. Every question about this guy has been asked and answered over the past 2 years and asked and answered again. We know what we have, there are no mysteries here.

rockinreel
rockinreel

@WhopperDawg Exactly Right!  We've given him two miserable years to show us what he can do.  Everyone knows it's going to be more of the same again this year.

tmc
tmc

i would have given him to June 1, 2014... and then send him down to Gwinnett and then cut him after the season.

Cause they are going to have to pay him away, but as long as he's on the roster... he's going to be a cancer to the team and most definately to the fans.
But that just me.

As for those who cling to the mantra the Braves are spewing about Upton being owed to much money and they couldn't deal him... Everyone except Danny Ferry thought the same thing about not being able to trade Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams too. 
And in an article in the Houston Chronicle stating the proceeding in the Evan Gattis trade from the Astros perspective, John Hart asked the Astros GM to include #2 once and never brought it up again. That is hardly "doing everything they could to get teams to take #2 off our hands." 

58Supersports
58Supersports

I agree Jeff, 6 weeks to two months... I really hope and pulling for Melvin to hit and play well. 

On fredi putting his best players of the field... from past years FG don't know who his best players are... good luck with that.

seminoleking
seminoleking

the ONLY reason i wouldnt mind upton being gone is so that yall can blame someone else for the braves being who they are, a scrub team run by a scrub organization......

Wilbo
Wilbo

@58Supersports There's plenty of blame to go around for this cowardly, impotent bunch.


mdet
mdet

Oh man Melvin as a pinch hitter in late inning pressure situations...that will end badly for the Braves. Bring Julio Teheran to PH instead.


They should only give him 3 weeks but they'll give him 8 weeks.

Gene Smith
Gene Smith

3-6 weeks.  That's more than enough time to see if there is any improvement, or if it's just more of the same.  Even if he isn't getting on, if his approach is different, and it's apparent he's trying to make adjustments, then leave him in.  But if he's just repeating the same old things over and over again, then there's little point in sticking with him.

GWJ0525
GWJ0525

The Braves are stuck with this guy or they can cut him like they did Uggla. With the money invested they may as well give him a couple of months and see if anything has improved.

ToeMeetsLeather
ToeMeetsLeather

@GWJ0525  They need to "cut bait" and give those at-bats to young guys this season. The Braves are not winning anything this year, but It may make a difference a year or two down the road to give one of the youngsters (400) at bats this summer.


And as the Food Lion says, "just my two cents".

Until his 7 year, 72 million dollar contract is up.

TampGator1
TampGator1

I think the Braves will cut Upton loose if he does not have a spring that shows potential and improvement.  He has to come out with a different approach and become a "hit the ball where it is pitched" type of hitter.  If he continues to strike out a lot during the spring and has a low average....below .200......he goes bye, bye.  Then, if he struggles the first month or so at the start of the season, you cut him then.  If he is not starting every day and producing, he is not worth keeping on the team, no matter how much money the Braves will continue to have to pay him.

tmc
tmc

@TampGator1 ummm, you may not remember but he hit well last spring too.

you know what spring means? nada, nothin, zip, zero... so get ready for all those stories too how this spring is different blah, blah, blah. Doesn't mean a hill of beans until regular season.

LegalBeagle3
LegalBeagle3

Spring training is long enough.  If he cannot show that he is more worthy than Eric Young Jr. or the scrub we got from the Yankees, then that tells you all you need to know.  Put him on the bench as a pinch runner and late-inning defense.

BaseballBuff
BaseballBuff

When the brand sucks, change the name, and try to get good market recognition with the new name.  ValuJet to AirTran is a good example.  Except that that company improved a lot more than just its name. Maybe not having Justin around will indeed help, but my bet is that B.J. will continue to blow. Look for him to be on the bench by May 1.



GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

 As much as most fans would like Upton to just go away, teams just don’t do that with so much money left on a contract.


Teams that don't understand sunk costs do this.   If they think he's salvageable, that's one thing, but keeping him on the team - and occupying a valuable spot on the roster - simply because they gave him a huge contract is stupid.   If he's terrible, let him be terrible for someone else.  

Wilbo
Wilbo

Why can't anybody in this crappy organization just stand up and say, "Uh-oh, we screwed this up, and now we are going to take the hard but necessary steps to remedy...."?


Get this jackarse off this team!!! 


NOW!!!!!!!

TampGator1
TampGator1

@Wilbo 


If Upton shows improvement and plays well, exactly who will be the jackarse then?

Wilbo
Wilbo

@TampGator1  I don't know, Tampy, your mom, maybe?


I get it that you are the type of Braves fan (like the moron that wrote this piece) who believes in Fantasies of Redemption. Good for you! It's always fun to get all wrapped up in some giggly fairy tale, but sometimes just maybe every so often, it's kinda good to try & have some small connection to reality - even though that is horribly un-Braves like. 


The ownership of this team has sucked. The upper and field level management of this team has sucked. The players on this team have mostly sucked. The dolts who blog about this team have particularly sucked! 


What might make you think all that is gonna magically reverse itself because some ridiculously overpaid, completely unproductive player is suddenly  brotherless and has changed his name?


I mean really, if you take a fresh pile of cat poop and change its name to Lavender Blop is that gonna really make the O-deur all that different? 


Every offseason, the people who blog for this decrepit paper try to tell you it will, but it ain't happened, yet, so if you believe it will this time, you could probably change you own name to SUCKAH!

ldw99
ldw99

He is not any worse than the bunch of has beens the carpetbagger from Cleveland, John Hart, has saddled the team with. How long are we going to give that bunch of rejects?

PalmBeachFalcon
PalmBeachFalcon

@ldw99 Hart is from Florida.  Baseball people laud the job done by Hart to start reconfiguring this team.  Unless you've been hibernating, you would see the team we had last year wasn't going to win anything.

TampGator1
TampGator1

@SOB 


You do not know that at this point.  But I doubt there will be somewhere between 10 and 17 strikeouts a game by Braves hitters this year.....and that just might produce more runs than were produced last year by those who mostly walked to the plate, took 3 to 5 swings, and returned to the bench.  I think this will be much more of a scrappy team and will be more enjoyable to watch play the game.  I know the team was not much fun to watch last year.  

satchel
satchel

@TampGator1 @SOB agreed, tampa.  that team last year was the most frustrating bunch to watch.  we'll lose this year, but we were gonna lose anyway.  at least i look forward to watching this team.  

FrankC3
FrankC3

Give him no longer than spring training. If he can't hit spring pitching, he won't hit regular season. If there was ever any doubt about his intelligence being pat of the problem, this idiotic name change should remove all doubt.

TampGator1
TampGator1

@FrankC3 


There is nothing to question about Upton's intelligence.  He is a smart guy.  But I would challenge you to walk up to him outside of the stadium and personally question his intelligence to his face.  Now....that would be a show of a real lack of intelligence. 

seminoleking
seminoleking

@FrankC3 i think the  real IDIOT is the one who cant read and understand that melvin upton jr. was ALREADY his legal name.....lmao

TampGator1
TampGator1

@Wilbo 


I challenge you to do the same think I challenged FrankC3 to do.  There is more pure hate, lack of intelligence, and racist attitudes (related to lack of intelligence) on the AJC than should be allowed, I know that for sure.