Sunday, June 8, 2014

Just Call It Already!

There is an old saying and please forgive my coarse language...but shit or get off the pot. Crude, I know, but I have found it to be an accurate idiom. Why mention this? Because last night, the Braves started Dan Uggla at second base. You could see the wheels in Fredi Gonzalez's head as he made this decision. Not only was a left-hand starter scheduled for the Arizona Diamondbacks, but it was Wade Miley. Uggla had faced Miley five times and had a pair of hits, a sacrifice fly, and a homerun off the Arizona southpaw. Surely, this would be the right matchup for Uggla, the Braves manager must have thought. This justifies keeping Uggla on the roster. Rest the hot Tommy La Stella and go with Papa Uggs.

But here is the problem. Giving a guy nine starts since April 27th isn't going to help a player such as Uggla who isn't seeing the ball well. Burying a guy on the bench is not going to help someone's timing. Forgetting about his existence isn't going to make him a better player.

I actually love Uggla. The power he brings (or brought) to the position. The hustle he provides. The sabermetric value when he was truly a representation of the Three True Outcomes. His body blocks. The parody account of him on twitter. And generally, he seems like a good guy who has never had bad things said about him from the clubhouse point-of-view. Despite riding the bench for the first time in his life, Uggla has seemed to take it in stride, accepting responsibility, and not complain. That's admirable.

If this was an American League team, maybe you keep Uggla around for pinch-hitting and the occasional DH at-bat. But this is a National League squad and surprisingly enough, this is a National League bench that Uggla sits on six days a week. He's a limited defender, both as a mediocre defensive second baseman, and a guy who hasn't played a different position than second base in about a decade. It's not like Uggla is getting time at first or left field. He's pretty much stuck to second base and it's difficult to say that the time off has hurt his defensive ability in the field, but it certainly hasn't helped anything.

So, Atlanta...Liberty Media...John Schuerholz...Terry McQuirk...Frank Wren...it's time to shit or get off the pot.

If La Stella is your starter at second base and, for the record, he should be, keeping Uggla around is ridiculous. Uggla provides next to nothing to your bench and is only getting worse. And the baseball Gods seem to hate him right now. His pair of errors last night came off strange plays that seemed to find Uggla. Regardless, the chances of Uggla suddenly becoming a productive member of the Atlanta Braves this season is very, VERY low. If the Braves aren't going to play him, they need to cut him. Why continue to prolong what is painfully obvious for everyone, including Uggla most likely?

Oh...yeah...that's right. The roughly $21M+ that he owed from now until the end of next season. But that money is already earmarked. The Braves are going to pay it regardless of whether Uggla is still on the roster or playing for the Wichita Wingnuts. Will Atlanta receive proper production for that salary? Hell no. Uggla has OPS'd .711 with the Braves. That ship has sailed. Uggla's failed to live up to his contract and nothing will fix that. So, move on. Let Uggla try to start over somewhere else. Bring up another player that can provide a skill that increases this team's ability to churn out wins. If Uggla's not your guy (and he's not), screw the money invested. It's time to move on.

I'll miss Papa Uggs.

But it's time to make a good baseball decision.

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