Get B.J. out of the starting lineup

Fredi Gonzalez keeps running B.J. Upton out there. But why?

Why exactly is B.J. Upton in the starting lineup night after night, game after game? He’s horrible. We could go present statistics to you, to see where he ranks against other players in baseball. But is that really necessary?

Upton was 0-2 on Thursday night but he did walk three times. That’s good. That’s nice. His batting average is .208. Some people still care about batting average. You don’t always have to look at WAR to know whether a player is doing well or not. Sometimes you can just watch him play – with your eyes.

Upton is awful at the plate. He can’t hit. He’s had more than two hits only one this season. He’s had more than one hit only once this month. Upton is worthless as an offensive player. He’s irrelevant.

How about his defense? Well, Wednesday night he showed how worthless he is in the field. The ball that was hit in the gap in left-center in the 9th inning was his ball. He’s the center fielder. He should be in charge. He should have called his brother, Justin, off so he could catch the ball.

Instead, after the game it was learned that neither B.J. or Justin called for the ball. Professional players making a lot of money can’t even call for the ball in the outfield?

Maybe the Braves’ third base coach, Doug Dascenzo, could get out there in the outfield and help teach the Uptons how to call for a fly ball. Dascenzo was brought in as an outfield instructor, and he would have his work cut out for him if B.J. ever received help.

Instead of perhaps giving B.J. a day off to let him think about doing a better job in the outfield, what did manager Fredi Gonzalez do? He put him right back in the lineup. Upton is stuck there. It’s like he’ll never leave.

Is Frank Wren, the general manager, forcing Gonzalez to play Upton? Well, if so, that is an indictment on Gonzalez to not stand up to Wren. You know Gonzalez doesn’t want B.J. in the lineup. I guess we know that. But if it’s simply Gonzalez trying to “get B.J. going,” then Gonzalez should probably have a mental health evaluation.

There is no way B.J. Upton should be in the Atlanta starting lineup. No reason could be given to warrant his daily appearance in the lineup. There is no logical explanation to defend putting him in as a starter.

He’s now played in 245 games with the Braves, and Upton is still below the Mendoza Line (.200) as he’s hitting only .197 in an Atlanta uniform. His defense, once thought to be a strength, is now an issue. There have been too many times when his teammates have looked at him like he was lollygagging, too many times when he’s made mistakes in the outfield, and too many odd things that have happened like what happened Wednesday.

The Braves should make B.J. Upton go to the Instructional League after the regular season is over. Dale Murphy went to the IL after he won the National League MVP award in 1982. Shouldn’t Upton do something, since the Braves are stuck with him?

The Braves have now won six of seven games. That’s great. But it doesn’t give Upton a pass to remain in the lineup. He’s been awful, and there’s no reason Gonzalez should keep running him out there. Emilio Bonifacio would be better. Moving Evan Gattis to left, then moving Justin Upton to right and Jason Heyward to center would be better. Anything, at this point, would be better.

But you can bet that’s exactly what Gonzalez will do again on Friday. After all, B.J. did have some good swings and did walk three times.

Yeah, right.

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at Follow Bill at and e-mail him at

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