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what-can-uggla-do-for-you | November | 2010 Articles

2010 Archives

What Can Uggla Do For You?

Written by Joe Lucia on .

By now, the dust has partially settled. Every Braves fan knows of the deal that has brought Dan Uggla to Atlanta. A good majority (probably about 95% or so) are absolutely thrilled about it, as they should be. An All-Star, Silver Slugger winning second baseman on the team for the low cost of an All-Star (ahem) utility infielder with a worse eye than Jeff Francoeur and no power, and a hard throwing LOOGY who didn't have a guaranteed spot in the bullpen? Sign me up. Fans who are angry about this deal...I don't really know what to tell you. Dan Uggla isn't a jack of all trades like Infante, but the dude could hit better than Infante in his sleep, and don't give me any of that crap about "but Infante almost won a batting title!!!" Almost only counts in tiddly winks and nuclear war. He didn't win the batting title, and its a shame he didn't, because maybe the Braves could have given up someone lower on the totem pole than Dunn in that case. But it is what is. The deal is done, the Braves are a much better team, and that's the end of that. Thank god.

Now, the nitty gritty. Uggla is a Brave, but where does he fit into the lineup? Manager Fredi Gonzalez said during interviews yesterday that he'd probably be penciling Uggla into the 4th or 5th spot into the lineup, with Freddie Freeman hitting behind him. So that means that the Braves lineup would probably look something like this, as of right now...

Prado
Heyward
Jones
Uggla/McCann
Uggla/McCann
Freeman
Gonzalez
McLouth

That's a pretty solid lineup, especially if McLouth hits like he did in September. Keeping Heyward in the 2-hole would be a smart move thanks to his fantastic ability to get on base, setting the table for Jones, Uggla and McCann. I'm going into this offseason with the assumption that Chipper will be fine come February and that he'll be able to slot right back into that third spot in the order, and at the hot corner. His defense is probably going to be abysmal, but that's something we're going to need to learn to live with. Speaking of abysmal defense, Uggla is apparently going to be the new every day second baseman. He's pretty bad at second...in his 5 season career, he's had 3 seasons with negative UZR and Dewan numbers, one that was neutral with UZR, and one good...his other 2 Dewan seasons were around neutral. So defense isn't his strong suit. Martin Prado will apparently be the new every day left fielder. Prado doesn't have the pop you'd normally expect from an outfielder, but since the Braves will be getting that out of second base now, its a moot point.

Prado is a jack of all trades, and is probably going to be playing all over the place this season. Rumors are floating around that in addition to starting in left, he'd be spelling Chipper at third and Freeman at first. Talk about doing it all. He played 23 innings in left in 2008, and was fantastic defensively, but remember...that's a really, REALLY small sample size. Not even 3 full games. Can't draw a lot of conclusions from that. In winter league ball though, left field is Prado's primary position. So he's got some familiarity with it, at least. Is it the best move? Looking at the raw numbers...it's really a push. Despite people's insistence that Prado is a great defensive second baseman, his career UZR/150 is a terrible -8.4. He logged over 500 innings there the last 2 seasons, and was negative in UZR both years. Aside from last season, he posted negative Dewan numbers at second in each year of his career since his debut in 2006. Admittedly the earlier seasons don't have a ton of data, but its something to chew on. His mark was a +2 last year in over 800 innings, so that's something I guess. Defensive metrics rarely agree.

The Uggla trade gives a small glimmer of hope to Matt Diaz's Atlanta future. The lack of a BIG BAT EVERY DAY OUTFIELDER means that Diaz could perhaps stick around in a pinch hitter/spot starter role. With Prado possibly getting time at third or first during the season, Diaz could get more playing time against lefties. I'm pretty sure Freeman had a slight platoon split, so Diaz could get maybe a start a week, with Prado starting at first in order to get Freeman a little more acclimated to the majors. Trading Infante means the Braves really lack an option as a backup at shortstop aside from the two headed combo of offensive ineptitude that is Diory Hernandez and Brandon Hicks, so someone could be signed to fill the void. I don't think this trade bodes well for the possibility of Eric Hinske returning though, because he's just too limited of a player at this point in time. He would pretty much be only a pinch hitter, which is a shame, because he's still got some oomph in his bat. I guess the Braves would prefer to have Brooks Conrad in that PH role, despite his defensive shortcomings.

All I know for sure is that it's going to be an interesting couple of weeks before we get to the nontender deadline.


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