On Miller’s struggles, Braves’ losing and Gonzalez’s feeling of support

Shelby Miller of the Braves sits in the dugout after allowing a four-run first inning against Washington Tuesday night. (Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

On May 17, Shelby Miller was 5-1 with a 1.33 ERA with the Braves, Jason Heyward was hitting .244 after a 0-for-4, two-strikeout night for the St. Louis Cardinals and Braves executive John Hart probably had his feet up on his desk, smoking a stogie.

But one of the Braves’ big trades of the winter doesn’t look like such a grand success today.

Miller is 44 days removed from his last win. Heyward, after a .217 April, went on to hit .284 in May and .329 in June (with a .892 OPS, a combination of on-base and slugging percentages).

Miller actually hadn’t been horrible of late, compiling a 2.70 ERA despite seven straight winless starts. But he was a train wreck early in Tuesday’s loss to Washington, allowing the Nationals a four-run first inning. These Braves aren’t built/duct-taped to climb out of holes like that. They lost to the Nationals 6-1 in the opener of a three-game series.

Miller left after five innings, having allowed five runs (four earned) and eight hits. He has gone eight consecutive starts (three losses, five no decisions) without a win.

Shelby Miller of the Braves sits in the dugout after allowing a four-run first inning against Washington Tuesday night. (Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Shelby Miller of the Braves sits in the dugout after allowing a four-run first inning against Washington Tuesday night. (Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

“It happens to everybody, you just have to put it behind you,” Miller said of the first inning, when he allowed a single and a double to the first to batters, then an RBI single and a two-run homer to Clint Robinson. “It was a bad inning to happen at that time. It’s a tough thing to come back from.”

This stretch won’t help Miller’s All-Star chances, nor does it give the Braves much hope for the rest of this series. Not that anybody really expects them to compete for the National League East title but they’re now seven games back. (Their elimination number is 79. I was bored. I did the math.)

I don’t want to bang on Miller much because the truth is he has exceeded expectations in Atlanta and nobody should have ever viewed him as the staff ace. That role belongs to Julio Teheran, even if Teheran (4.94 ERA) seems to have forgotten that.

The Braves are now 36-41, which projects to a 76-86 finish. That’s slightly above what most expected — their over/under win total in Las Vegas was 73½ — but they’re trending in the wrong direction with six losses in their last seven games.

Who should take the blame for this? Not manager Fredi Gonzalez.

I know Gonzalez is a wonderful target for a loud segment of the fanbase on social media. But there is only so much a manager can do with a team that went through 44 players, 56 defensive lineups and 69 batting orders in the first 76 games, and just called up two more relief pitchers, Nos. 20 and 21 of the season.

I spoke to Gonzalez before Tuesday’s game and he said he feels supported by management. Actually, he said he feels more supported by this regime (John Hart and John Coppolella) than he has at any time of his career. If you want to read between the lines on that about his relationship with former general manager Frank Wren, you’re welcome to.

For the full column on Gonzalez and the Braves, click here.

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Reader Comments 0

48 comments
LEWWHEEL
LEWWHEEL

Why are you even talking Heyward? I rarely comment but your repeated visits with this trade,  in my opinion is really weak and stupid. Heyward has been an average outfielder.  Was is a gigantic risk to trade the Uptons also? They might have good years ahead? Who knows... Trades are made everyday some work many don't, ask Fran Wren

CowbellHell
CowbellHell

You say you 'dont want to bang on Miller too much' and yet thats exactly what you do.  The guy is an all star pitcher on bad team PERIOD.  Jeez next thing you know yall will be bashing Freddie Freeman for being hurt.  I take Miller over Hey Hey ANY day.

reckingball
reckingball

The Heyward trade for Miller was a brilliant move by Hart, and if the Braves have an ace, it is Miller.

IF just 3 of the Braves losses to Washington were turned around to wins, they would then be tied with the Nats for 1st in their division. And  a lot of those 9 losses to the Nots were very close, competitive, and hard fought games.

patriotdog
patriotdog

Schultz, your articles are getting as thin as your, or my, hair. Heyward is Heyward. Miller has had one bad start.

I'll still take the trade every day. Our current right fielder is a hitting machine, that can't help but be beneficial to the young guys in the dugout. JHey is a .270 hitter, and water always find its level. Check his numbers in September.

iBalling
iBalling

Freda will not win anything in Atlanta. Mark my words....Done!

SeanLB
SeanLB

Who is to blame?  This is simple:  delusion.


Delusion within our fanbase that this team was even remotely close the last decade.  Delusion that we had "superstars" aside from Freeman and Simba (Craig, of course, but he's gone now).  Delusion that every single "call up" is going to be an MVP or Cy Young candidate.  This rebuild was necessary - we weren't close.


Want to blame someone, fans?  Blame yourselves for deluding yourself into thinking so many of these "superstars" would get us to the promised land.  

Jetiredo
Jetiredo

But you say the talent wasn't there but who brought in said talent

Wilbo
Wilbo

@SeanLB You must be a freakin' carpenter, baby, the way you nailed that one!!!!!

BLowE12
BLowE12

I guess we are NOT the Millers... :-(

AtlantaSportsVictory
AtlantaSportsVictory

Who to blame? Easy...Management. The lineup never had a chance, with journeymen at LF, 3rd, and Catcher. The Braves were willing to concede this season. What IS disappointing is that with just a couple moves, the Braves COULD contend. Now we're stuck with watching them get blow out 3 times a week. It's gonna be a long boring summer. 

tmc
tmc

btw, a question for the Braves front office in totality, When did the Atlanta Braves switch places with the Kansas City Royals?

Atl is a large market club self imposed as a mid market club who spends less than other mid market clubs for the last many years (2-3 decades?), while the product on the field declines for 3 out of every 4 years. (throw in one slightly above average year once every 4 years)


KC is a legit small/mid market club who spends wisely and their product is on the rise and competing for championships for what appears for the foreseable future.


Why is this? Teflon John, you first.

RichieKrauss
RichieKrauss

@tmc You are an idiot.  They only started spending less once Turner sold them which is maybe a decade plus.  That all changes once they are in the new stadium.  

Ersatz
Ersatz

What we all want to know is who's to blame for scarfing down all the free brewskis, tater skins, and babyback ribs at the 29-story Applebee's in barvesworld, all paid in full by cobb taxpayers.  The barves front office hogs and cobb political fat cats swear it wasn't them, but they have BBQ sauce and beer suds all over their fat faces, so they know more than they're letting on.  Luckily, the bartender just ordered a whole new truckload of appetizers and brewskis, and cobb taxpayers are more than willing to pay the invoice.  Let's just hope those orders are hot and on the table in time for another barves shutout loss.

gfw
gfw

No one's yet "at fault," because nothing bad has yet happened from management's point of view.  Hart was asked a million times whether we would be re-building this year, and of course he always denied it (an owner cares about filling seats & tv revenue, so it can't have the Braves' President of Baseball Operations talking publicly about "re-building").  But of course we all knew it WAS a re-building year.  And we knew that Hart's constant reference to our being competitive for a "mid-market" team was transparent code for "our owners are not going to be competitive with the wallet."  All this is obvious.  They've tried to build a team just good enough, at the lowest cost, to keep enough fans in the seats & watching on tv.  On that score, they've so far done ok.  If attendance & viewership start to really hemorhage, they will have failed.  The team not winning is not really relevant this year.

tmc
tmc

When the goal is rebuilding the farm system, your major league team suffers.

When the goal is to keep a manager because he is buddies w/ one of the decision makers and who is proven to be poor at game management, you lose several games because of poor moves by the manager. (facts: the team has collapsed 2 of last 3 years...and primed for another)

When the goal is to make the playoffs, you get to the playoffs and that's it. (but it allows you to celebrate 14 division titles like it is actually THE accomplishment you were striving for)


Why is anyone suprised at any of these results?



cspecial
cspecial

a baby can answer that with truth, fredi gonzalez and bobby cox for encouraging management to put up with him.he has done nothing but go backward since he became manager.lou gherig would have never made it in the major league if he had fredi gonzalez as a manager.its sad but management has given us over a thousand excuses why they keep him but the results keep ending up the same, losing.they have committed to losing with gonzalez.

RichieKrauss
RichieKrauss

@cspecial My biggest issue with Fredi isn't his decision making, but that he never goes out there and fights for his guys.  He is way too passive.  Like when the Pirates hit Freeman and Simmons and we didn't do anything.  Both Wood and Fredi laid down instead of defending their teamates.  

atlfanman
atlfanman

The Braves got rid of high priced players to rebuild the farm system and reduce the team salary. They exceeded expectations by winning early but no one should be surprised that this is a flawed team we see now. If they keep building on what they have by the time they move to Cobb they should be a much better team.

SomewherenSGa
SomewherenSGa

BOTTOM LINE: They were struggling before this year, this teams hasn't been together 6 months. So just like fixing anything you go through a check list and eliminate until it is fixed.

ToeMeetsLeather
ToeMeetsLeather

George Bush, isn't everything bad that has happened since 1950 his fault?


We knew this was a throw away two year period before the season started. Braves brass gearing up for strong start at the new ballpark. They could not care less how this season plays out. 


This year was a success the day they dumped BJ's contract. All gravy on top of that to the Braves brass, if there is any. 

hipdawg
hipdawg

Read between the lines and Fredi is staying and very comfortable.Well expect more of the same.This isn't his first season you know.If your goal is to win a world series ,well then we are as far away as you can get. Quit bringing up Heyward you can't grade that trade for 3 years and he has alot of bats around him on the best team.

58Supersports
58Supersports

Fredi is a joke to most Braves fans...BC's hand picked friend, enough said.

DrTruth
DrTruth

From Sunday's AJC:  "Heyward homered in 3 consecutive games and had 4 in a week.  He has 9 homers and 27 RBIs this season.  Heyward hit .440 in the past week, boosting his average to .278"


Not a bad week.....Good to see him coming around.  Would be nice to still see him in our RF.

UncleTom
UncleTom

On the bright side------------did you see that Melvin (The Big Joke) Upton is hitting .147 for the Padres?  Looks like we got his best years!




WindBlowing
WindBlowing

Can someone please tell Jim Powell and the other announcing shills that the "Braves Way" has not produced squat in 20 years. It is time to get rid of Teflon John and his regime and find another "Way".

Truth5678
Truth5678

@WindBlowing Jim Powell has to be the most sterile/boring lapdog of an announcer in all of MLB. 

Mr. Negative
Mr. Negative

I hope the only reason Fredo even has a job here is that no other candidate would even touch this pile of crap. 16 runs in the last 10 games...think I'll grill a steak for that.

Mr. Negative
Mr. Negative

Liberty Media and Frank Wren. Libertys plan: Stockpile good young players (not a bad thing) Put a young, talented and CHEAP team on the field, always trading stars before free agency. Raise all prices to Disney World level in Cobb. RAKE IN THE DOUGH FROM THE ATLANTA SUCKERS!

ChoppinThroughLife
ChoppinThroughLife

@Mr. Negative Haha, well at least you're living up to your name Mr. Negative. They may also want to refer to you as Mr. Wrong. "More than 19,000 seats -- nearly half of the ballpark -- will be priced under $20 per seat" that doesn't sound like Disney prices to me. Maybe you should research stuff before just spouting out pure stupid. 


Reference: http://atlanta.braves.mlb.com/atl/ballpark/suntrust-park/news/press-materials/braves-begin-selling-season-tickets-suntrust-park-052715/

GT71
GT71

The blame game?  Really? The AJC (worst to worster) and its 'journalists' calling out blame for culpable stupidity - my goodness, the pot's calling out the kettle.

OK, play the bum-dumb game:

Blame in order:

1. Liberty Media

2. Braves back-office for the last 10-12 years

3. Braves on-field management

4. Atlanta politicians


Note no real 'blame' goes to players - they try their best...well, perhaps a couple of suddenly rich free  agents can be blamed (not naming names,  Dan and BJ)... but when their 'best' isn't good, that's management's fault.

As for trades, let's wait a while yet.  But this particular Braves team and management better NOT be brought to Cobb County.

Gov-waste
Gov-waste

Just remember Freddie has one of the biggest lines of BS the baseball gods have ever heard. Obviously he has made some people believe what he says.


He blamed Wren last year for their epic collapse, whose fault this year, rebuilding? Freddie can't close a shoe box.

ImaNitwit
ImaNitwit

Judge a trade after a couple of years, not a couple of months.

ComaToes
ComaToes

Just as expected, them Braves sho nuff be bad! I'm just wondering when the fans are going to break out those T-shirts and start wearing them to home games.  Those that say, "HERE SITS A FOOL" !

Wilbo
Wilbo

How stupid can a blogger be?


The Braves get worse and worse. The feeble minded manager looks more and more stagnant, unenergetic, and lost, but our resident dimwit blogger makes the whole putrid situation out to be just rosy as hell.


Would I pay for tickets to go to a Braves game this year? You couldn't pay me to use a ticket and make this urinary tract infection of an organization think somebody, anybody supported who and what they are.


Forget the history of the Atlanta Braves if you want, but they have made chicken squat out of chicken salad for years and years and years, blown more opportunities for excellence  in the last 20-25 years  than any organization in sport.


Support this team in ANY way and you get what you deserve and your promote idiotic mediocrity. Urinate on the Atlanta Braves. Do not buy even one ticket to promote this crap!


Empty the stadium - whatever stadium - 2-3 years. Then we can expect meaningful top down change in this crappy organization.


Enough of Cox and Shurholtz! Their legacy of failure is absolutely extraordinary, and the fact they are allowed to lay slothfully atop this decrepit organization ought to very quickly clue in every Braves fan. They don't give a rat's butt about making themselves a top rung contender and YOU SHOULD NOT PROMOTE THIS CRAP BY BUYING TICKETS!!!!!

ChoppinThroughLife
ChoppinThroughLife

@Wilbo Dear God, get off your high horse. It's a phukkin game. The organization is in a transition mode, there are going to be hard times. The Braves won 88+ games 3 years in a row and that was just 2 years ago.

Also, I'm note sure if you know how this support for a team thing works: If you go to their games when they are bad, they can afford to get talent and become good. Also, the Braves farm system is getting better seemingly by the day. Maybe you should spend more time watching the game and less time posting on AJC, you sound like a bit*hy little girl. Go to a Braves game because baseball is enjoyable, not because you expect them to win every game. 

DrTruth
DrTruth

Fredi is Bobby Cox's boy (I'm pretty sure that's not to be taken literally).  As long as Bobby hangs around the front office, FG will be here.


If you're looking for blame: 


1/4  Schuerholz the Bumbling Fool for begging John Hart to take over all of baseball operations.


1/4  John Hart the Liar who, after all the noise, has given FG a bunch of prospects & washouts to manage that are less competitive than last year's '27 Yankees.


1/4  Fredi the Godawful who "managed" the absolute WORST Sept collapse in the entire history of Major League Baseball Managers.


1/4  Frank Wren the Unforgiven for not immediately firing FG for the above infamous achievement.

DrTruth
DrTruth

@Wilbo You're right.....Funny thing is we fans are usually the ones who get the blame from these pro players for "not showing up" or "not being loud enough" or fill in the blank.  Still remember being furious at Dave Justice for calling out the Braves fans in the 96 WS....Right up to the point when he sealed our first and only Championship.  All was quickly forgiven.

Wilbo
Wilbo

@DrTruth Cut each one of those down from 25% blame to 15% blame, then give 40% of the blame to the fans who put up w this crap and thereby support and prolong it, and you'd have it just about right.

ChoppinThroughLife
ChoppinThroughLife

@DrTruth @Wilbo What exactly are you a Dr. in, Dr. Truth... (Sorry Ghostbuster reference)

You probably should be Dr. Wrong. And here's why: 


1) John Hart took Atl from a bottom of the barrel Farm system to easily a top 10 farm system, pretty impressive in one off-season. 


2) These washouts and prospects are going to make us more competitive in the future instead of being a fair to middling team like last year. 


3)Assuming you are talking about The Sept 2011 collapse, that was not only not the worst collapse in MLB history, it wasn't even the worst THAT YEAR. The braves 9-18 (terrible) while the Red sox would go 7-20 that month (Worse). If you are talking about last year where they went 7-18, it still isn't worse than the Red Sox 7-20 in 2011.


4) It was the 1995 World Series, not 96. And Dave Justice was absolutely correct about Braves fans, they're whiny, fickle jerks. 


I'm not defending FG here, I understand that hes not the best manager in the league, but lets not forget that this team is in the middle of a rebuilding stretch and the Braves just came off back to back 90 win seasons just two years ago. Stop complaining about everyone and everything and go see your middle-of-the-pack Braves play some baseball. 

kevkat
kevkat

Nothing is ever Gonzalez s fault

Jetiredo
Jetiredo

The media here goes out of its way to protect him especially DOB

BravesFan79
BravesFan79

Who cares.  The Braves need to land a top 10 pick in the Draft alot more than they need to be a .500 club!
The Miller/ Jason trade was a good one, and Miller is no doubt the staff Ace over Julio.  
Im just excited that were trying to go after/ develop actual Aces again instead of a bunch of Charlie Lebrants. 

BooBooBear
BooBooBear

It is kind of refreshing to have no pitching to go along with no hitting.  Lose early, lose big and lose often is less stressful on players and fans, than is lose late, lose small and lose often.  Freddi needs a deal like that Sweat escapee.  Give him 99-to-life.  Heck.  Suff him after he dead and mount him on the dugout wall.  Still be the same Freddi.

slydawg
slydawg

Wren handed Gonzalez this job sometime in June of the year Cox retired. No one else was even interviewed, less we forget. That was not lack of support.

GeorgeJetsen
GeorgeJetsen

Kind of nice to have a down year without need to get fully invested in the outcome of each game. There is so much more to life than the Braves.

DrTruth
DrTruth

They suck....We knew they were going to suck...Thank you John Hart for saving me a small fortune in Braves tix this season.