10 For 10’s: The 2014 Atlanta Braves Season (and new 3 Flags Flying Podcast)

Note from Ryan: Brent and I recorded a pop-up podcast discussing the Josh Donaldson signing and where to go from there. Give it a listen, eh?

Coming off a 96-73 2013 season with a core, for the most part, in place for a few more years, the 2014 Atlanta Braves looked to be ready to build off of 2013’s success. Unfortunately for all of us, that didn’t come to pass.

2014 Atlanta Braves Notable Offseason Subtractions

Brian McCann– After spending 9 straight seasons with his hometown team, BMac said goodbye to Atlanta for the pinstripes of New York for 5 years/85 million.

Eric O’Flaherty– With injury risk being high, the Braves let go of the O in O’Ventbrel as he signed with the A’s for 2/7MM. It looks like the Braves made the right call as he only pitched in 50 total innings the next 2 years in unimpressive fashion.

Jonny Venters– While recovering from his 2nd TJ, Venters had an elbow setback and chose an alternative approach to another TJ, receiving a platelet rich plasma injection. Unfortunately, it didn’t work and Venters sat the entire 2014 season out and had a 3rd Tommy John after the 2104 season concluded. Brutal.

2014 Atlanta Braves Offseason Additions

Trouble Strikes in Spring

In what seemed like a story beyond nightmares, mere days between each other, both Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy went down with elbow injuries in spring training requiring a 2nd Tommy John surgery for both, and never pitched in a game in 2014 or beyond for the Braves. The aforementioned signings of Ervin Santana and Aaron Harang were the reactions of these 2 incidents. Medlen was the huge blow as he threw 197.2 innings of staff ace baseball in 2013.

2014 Atlanta Braves Opening Day Roster

PITCHERS: Luis Avilan, Ryan BuchterDavid Carpenter, David Hale, Aaron Harang, Craig Kimbrel, Gus Schlosser, Julio Teheran, Ian Thomas, Anthony Varvaro,Jordan Walden, Alex Wood

CATCHER: Ryan Doumit, Evan Gattis and Gerald Laird

INFIELDERS: Freddie Freeman, Chris Johnson, Tyler Pastornicky, Ramiro Pena, Andrelton Simmons, Dan Uggla

OUTFIELDERS: Jason Heyward, Jordan Schafer, B.J. Upton and Justin Upton

Best Wins of 2014

Gattis Walks it off!

Braves go Back-to-Back-to-Back and Uggla hits Grand Slam to win it!

Notable Deadline Trade

Chicago Cubs traded 2B Emilio Bonifacio, LHP James Russell and cash to Atlanta Braves for C Victor Caratini.

In-season Stories

Chris Johnson gets extended…for some reason: Batting Average on Balls In Play aka BABIP is a term that Frank Wren knows very well now. After a season in which Chris Johnson put up a 3.1 fWAR with average defense and a remarkably unsustainable BABIP of .394, Wren gave Johnson a 3/23.5 MM extension that he likely immediately regretted as Johnson was a well below average regular in 2014 turned below replacement level in 2015.

Uggla continues to Struggla and Wren goes for the Jugula: If Uggla’s first 3 years in a Braves uniform were disappointing, 2014 was a major embarrassment for the then 34 year old as he received 157 PAs with the Braves before they finally cut the cord and released him on July 18th, still owing him approximately 17MM for the rest of 2014 and all of 2015.

BJ so bad in 2014, he pulls a Prince in 2015: Not to be outdone by Uggla, BJ was laying his own egg. The upside to BJ was that he never heated up and stayed crappy the whole year with his OPS topping out at .649 and ending at .620. The cherry on the top was the cringe-worthy arguments with umps when he was caught looking at 88 MPH fastballs down the chute for strike 3. To help Braves forget how awful his contract (you could subtract an “r” from that word and it’d still ring true) had been since it’s inception, B.J. became Melvin, Jr. in 2015. We weren’t fooled.

The Emergence of Alex Wood: Alex Wood caught some eyes in 2013 with an impressive 77.2 innings as spot starter and reliever, but 2014 was the real attention grabbing season as Wood threw 177.1 innings of 2.78 ERA baseball. It grabbed so much attention that it made him trade-worthy!

Great Overall Pitching: In a wild turn of events that saw 2 of their best SP candidates go down in spring, the Braves had great seasons from last minute pickups Ervin Santana and Aaron Harang, as well as homegrown talents Alex Wood and Julio Teheran. Even Gavin Floyd put up 9 great starts to begin the season before breaking the olecranon bone in his elbow that was likely caused from “over-rehabilitation” of his new elbow ligament.. 

The Disappointments from 2014

The O in 2O14: There’s no positive way to spin this…the Braves offense SUCKED in 2014. Freddie Freeman, Justin Upton, and Evan Gattis carried OPS’s above .800, and that was it. The bench was BRUTAL: .487 OPS in 190 PAs.

Another Collapse: Braves were 72-65 entering the final month of the season and would need to go on a run to grab a Wild Card. The goal? 90 wins, so 18-7 for the month. Unfortunately, they must’ve been confused as they instead went 7-18,  losing 16 of their first 20 games in September… an utterly embarrassing collapse for a team with such talent.

The Front Office: The buck had to stop somewhere and apparently that somewhere was Frank Wren as he was canned at the end of September and replaced by interim GM John Hart (Here’s Alex’s post about the firing). At the time of the departure, it seemed the right move as Wren’s teams had held 1st place in ’13 and ’14 at the All Star break and both years, had epic collapses. Those might have been key arguments made to justify the move, but there were others:

  • The Derek Lowe signing
  • The Dan Uggla extension
  • The BJ Upton signing
  • The Chris Johnson extension
  • The poor drafts that focused on need rather than the best available
  • The staggering amount of injuries to Braves pitchers

Thanks for Reading about the 2014 Atlanta Braves ! If you enjoyed this, check out this piece from the vault on the greatness of Andrelton Simmons.

Long live Braves Journal!

Author: Ryan Cothran

Ryan is the site editor and manager of Braves Journal. Follow him on Twitter.

33 thoughts on “10 For 10’s: The 2014 Atlanta Braves Season (and new 3 Flags Flying Podcast)”

  1. McCann’s K-rate (K/AB*100) dropped from 23.1% in 2016 to 16.6% in 2017.

    His BA, OBP, and OPS were pretty much the same.

    I’m reluctant to call him a cheater without knowing more about individual involvement. But it’s hard to imagine he didn’t benefit from the scheme.

  2. There’s a fine line between keeping one’s mouth shut to not rat out your teammates, and openly accepting cheating and participating in it. While both feel unethical, I hope McCann falls into category 1.

  3. Some thoughts for Friday:
    If Braves were indeed in on Donaldson at an AAV between 23&25MM but were weary of going that 4th year, we as fans can assume that there’s $ left to spend. There are easy scenarios in which 23-25MM becomes 40MM if Ender and Greene are traded. If Braves are truly open to grabbing an OFer, I can’t see how Ender fits into the plan and I’d expect him traded. It would be tomfoolery to hang onto him in a part-time role with the looming 9MM salary in 2021, with the expectation being Pache takes over in ’21. The leads me into a crazy hypothetical trade with the #Rockies that puts $ back into the Braves pockets for the 2020 season:

    #Braves get Nolan Arenado and Jon Gray
    #Rockies get Shane Greene, Ender Inciarte, Drew Waters, Ian Anderson, and Tucker Davidson.

    Braves take on 26.4MM in 2020 salary. Rockies get a much needed CFer, a RP they can flip, a stud future OFer, and pitchers that could fit into their rotation come midseason 2020. Thoughts?

  4. @2, McCann’s K-rate in 2016 was basically a career high, so it could have been an outlier. In general he’s posted pretty good contact rates throughout his career. Then again, older guys swing and miss more, and his K-rate in 2017 was lower than his career average. So, as usual, the numbers don’t indict him and they don’t exonerate him.

  5. In my scenario, I really get what I want, which is a platoon with Camargo/Riley, just not in the place we thought we might get it. I think both of those guys have so much more to offer offensively and need the MLB ABs.

  6. @6 I like the proposal but I’m reluctant to include davidson if I’m already giving up waters and anderson. I think something like ender and anderson is fair for arenado, so adding gray to it I’m willing to add waters but that’s about as far as I’d stretch.

  7. @Matt P
    In a trade, players like Arenado go for more than their WAR value. Looking at past trades, a 5 WAR player is bringing back about 7.5 WAR in trade. So let’s break that down and assume, for the sake of the argument, Arenado agrees to waive his opt-out.

    Projecting 7 years of Arenado’s WAR:
    ’20-23: 5 WAR/year
    ’24-’26: 3 WAR/year
    Total: 29 WAR
    Multiplier (add 50%): 43.5 WAR
    Cost in trade value: $391.5 MM
    Actual cost: 295MM
    Trade value: $96.5 MM

    The above trade scenario factors in all of those costs and yes…it’s an overpay.

  8. You guys can delude yourself into thinking McCann was over in a corner not participating if you’d like, but it seems kind of pollyanna-ish. Even Ryan’s best-case scenario @3 doesn’t speak well of McCann IMO.

  9. @Nick,

    Where did anyone suggest anything like that McCann was sitting in a corner not participating? You might note that Ryan explicitly agrees with you on his best-case scenario.

  10. Listened to Ron Washington’s interview on Hot Stove this morning (which is being re-aired now). He really want to be a manager. He gone. Very sad.

    Also, today is January 17th, 2020. I am here to tell you that Nolan Arenado will not be traded to the Atlanta Braves. If he is, I will purchase a shirt of the Journal’s choosing and wear it. Who will it be? The Georgia Bulldogs? The Florida State Seminoles? The New York Mets? The St. Louis Cardinals.

  11. If the managerial firings/”mutual parting of ways” are any indication, it’s that MLB teams will want to distance themselves from anyone from the Astros who is looking for a leadership role. As a result, it’s hard for me to see Brian McCann ever getting a managerial job, should he want one. This is our era’s steroid scandal. I think McGwire proved the ceiling of the steroid users that they can be hitting coaches, but that would be about it.

  12. @14

    I nominate the Tennessee Volunteers.

    (Though for the record, I agree that we’re not going to trade for him.)

  13. Yeah, I think it pretty much has to be Tennessee, Rob.

    Either that, or a fate worse than death…

    Duke University. I think this Shavlik Randolph jersey would do nicely.

  14. Some kind of Bobby Bowden commemorative shirt would be good. Maybe a Jameis Winston college shirsey?

  15. @sdp
    From my source, Donaldson only got a 3 year offer with club option for 4th. That’d put them at least 20MM short.

  16. Rob: I’d suggest a Harvard jersey, but my taste in the embarrassing may be different than most.

  17. @15 I’m not convinced McCann wouldn’t be able to get a managing job down the road. Unlike Cora and Beltran, he wasn’t specifically named in the report.

  18. Johan Camargo has lost a lot of weight according to DOB. Need him to be like he was in 2018 or at least a 2 WAR player at minimum.

  19. 2 sources (one, I cannot confirm as a legit source but “stories” match) now saying we are talking about the wrong Rockies player as Braves are really interested in Story, not Arenado.

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