The Braves keep slipping and there seems to be no end in sight

Published 9:22 pm Friday, September 19, 2014

The Atlanta Braves continue on their downward spiral, and as time goes on, with the Washington Nationals already clinching the National League Eastern Division championship, it seems more and more likely that they might not even be able to snag one of the National League two wild card playoff spots.

While the Braves have pretty good starting and relief pitching, hitting with runners in scoring position has been a problem for them all season. I think they have some really tough decisions to make in the off-season.

Obviously, they need some more offensive punch. First baseman Freddie Freeman, catcher Evan Gattis, left fielder Justin Upton and right fielder Jason Heyward are the only reliable hitters day in and day out.

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Obtaining another strong bat, either through free agency or trade, should be an off-season priority. Center fielder B.J. Upton who was a pretty good hitter with the Tampa Bay Rays before signing a big free agent contract with the Braves two years ago, has just not hit very much for the Braves. He also has a high strike out total.

If B.J. does not rebound from his hitting and strike out woes, the Braves may consider trading him.

The big problem is there is still a lot of money left on his big money contract the next three years and they would probably have to be willing to assume some of that money to get a deal done. I keep hoping he will eventually come out of his slump. The Braves should at least explore the possibility of trading their center fielder.

One player who has really impressed me during his brief time with the Braves is center fielder Christian Bethencourt. He is an outstanding defensive catcher who also hits well.

If the Braves are able to trade B.J. Upton, they could move Gattis to left field and put Bethencourt permanently behind the plate. They could then move Hayward from right field to center field and move Jason Upton from left field to right field where he was an All-Star with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

I also think things might get better if the Braves, who will be moving into a new stadium near Marietta in 2017, had home ownership. They are currently owned by Liberty Media Company in Colorado.