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!