The Atlanta Braves are making some major changes to their TV broadcast booth in 2019. Journeyman outfielder, Jeff Francoeur, who played for eight different teams in 12 Major League seasons (including two stints in Atlanta totaling four years), will move into the lead analyst role on Fox Sports South. Tom Glavine’s TV work will also increase for the team this year.
Former lead TV analyst Joe Simpson isn’t out entirely. He will spend the majority of his 28th season on the broadcast team working on radio. Braves CEO Derek Schiller told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Simpson will be part of one of two teams that will handle Braves play-by-play on the radio.
We’ll start the season with a preference of pairing Jim Powell with Joe Simpson and pairing Don Sutton with Ben Ingram, but there is going to be rotation.
Simpson will also work 20 to 30 games on TV next season. He says the number shocked him when it was first presented to him even though he did plan to reduce his TV schedule in 2019. “I was suggesting maybe cutting back to like 120 TV games, hoping to fill in the rest with some radio. But they’ve cut me back to 20 or 30 TV games with the rest being radio, so that came as a surprise.”
Simpson made headlines this summer when he ranted about the Dodgers disrespecting the sport and its fans by taking batting practice in shorts and t-shirts. Fans criticized Simpson, his TV partner Chip Carey, and Major League Baseball over the comments. Schiller and Fox Sports South General Manager each said that incident, and another where Simpson questioned the age of Nationals outfielder Juan Soto was not a factor in their decision.
“Absolutely not,” Genthner said when asked if the controversies contributed to the change. “To emphasize that point, we didn’t reprimand Joe, didn’t do anything to admonish him in any way (for the comments). … He’s a professional broadcaster, and he voiced his personal opinion about something, but not to the extent in any way, shape or form that it impacted his career in our point of view.”
Said Schiller: ”I think that’s just coincidence. … If we had any concerns about what he said, we wouldn’t be as comfortable as we are putting him on radio. Remember, he still is going to be a broadcaster for the Braves. If we had any reservations, any hesitations, about what Joe Simpson says into the microphone, he wouldn’t be doing the job we’ve asked him to do.”
Asked if he felt the incidents affected the decision, Simpson said: “I would sincerely hope not. … If that was not part of their decision-making process, then I am glad about that.