Wren takes a neccessary gamble on Uggla

Over the past few years I’ve heard some Braves players and coaches complain about the fact that the front office has not been able to make the likes of Gary Sheffield, J.D. Drew and Mark Teixeira anything more than short-term rentals. 

Sheffield, Drew and Teixeira each made an impact during their short stays in Atlanta.  But they weren’t given the opportunity that awaits Dan Uggla, courtesy of the five-year $62 million contract extension he and the Braves agreed to Tuesday night.

Uggla gained the fifth guaranteed year that Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria wondered would be granted by another club. 

When talking to the Marlins about a five-year deal, Uggla was believed to be asking for $71 million.   So for now, it could be said that the Braves gained somewhat of a bargain. 

But as we all know, deals of this magnitude will only prove to be a bargain if the expected production is maintained over the life of the five-year deal.  

Braves general manager Frank Wren has made an aggressive commitment by giving Uggla this five-year deal, which includes the highest annual average salary  ($12.4 million) ever given to a second baseman.

Consequently, Wren has opened himself up to the criticism that he and each of his peers are forced to take any time they do something out of the ordinary.

But I’m guessing that Wren will be sleeping much more
comfortably than Nationals GM Mike Rizzo might any time he attempts to
break down the seven-year, $126 million contract he provided Jayson
Werth, who just happens to be 10 months older than Uggla.

Here’s a look at the numbers produced by Werth and Uggla over the past three years: 

Uggla:  .264 BA, 96 HR, 95 doubles, 11 SB, 287 RBI, .855 OPS 

Werth: .279 BA, 87 HR, 88 doubles, 53 SB, 251 RBI, .889 OPS  

Werth would certainly be considered more valuable from a defensive perspective and he has already proven to be valuable for championship-caliber teams in the heat of the postseason. 

But can you justify him getting nearly two times the amount as Uggla spread over two additional years?  

Not within the realm of the business model utilized within this baseball world that simply forces fans to routinely debate things like the value Uggla might bring over the course of five seasons. 

Some have already questioned how productive Uggla will be when he’s 35 years-old and entering the final year of this contract.  Others have already grown concerned about the possibility that his defensive liabilities could trump his offensive contributions over the life of a five-year deal.

These are both legitimate concerns, especially now as improved drug policies have seemingly made players north of 35 to once again be classified as “aging”.  But in reality, none of us, Wren included, knows exactly what Uggla will end up doing over the length of this contract.

As Andruw Jones was preparing to enter the free-agent market following the 2007 season, I wrote a story that was essentially based around the “buyer beware” theory.  After watching him on a daily basis, I had gained a sense that playing on a daily basis for so long had taken a toll on his legs, which were supporting a frame that had added a few pounds over the previous few years.

The story infuriated his agent Scott Boras, who basically told me I was ignoring what many of the other great players had recently done in their 30s. But it certainly didn’t influence Dodgers GM Ned Colletti, who gave the veteran outfielder an ill-fated two-year, $36 million contract.

Colletti certainly didn’t know Jones would hit .158 and total three homers while lasting just one year in Los Angeles.  Nor did I envision that Andruw would hit just .204 with a .724 OPS over the course of these past three seasons.

After watching Jones on a daily basis over the previous six months, it was simply obvious that he was in decline.  It certainly didn’t take a genius to figure out that he simply didn’t look like himself while hitting .222 with a .724 OPS in 2007.

Considering that Jones’ demise with the Dodgers happened while he was 31 years-old might not be encouraging within the framework of a story about Uggla, who will hit this age in March. But there really isn’t any comparison here.

Jones played a much more grueling position on an everyday basis for 10 consecutive years before he began his rapid decline.  Entering just his sixth Major League season, Uggla enters 2011 with plenty of momentum. 

While .287 with 33 homers and an .877 OPS this past summer, Uggla solidified his place as one of the game’s best offensive second basemen.

Over the past three seasons, Uggla has hit .264 with 96 homers and 287 RBIs.  He’s totaled 16 more homers and 21 more RBIs than any other Major League second baseman during this period.

Uggla  has hit at least 30 homers in each of his past four seasons and the 154 homers he has compiled over the past five seasons are 20 more than the total amassed by any other Major League second baseman. 
 
Philadelphia’s Chase Utley and New York’s Robinson Cano are the only second baseman to produce an OPS greater than the .837 mark that Uggla has posted during his first five Major League seasons. 

Uggla’s .488 career slugging percentage ranks as the fifth-best mark among second basemen in Major League history and his .837 mark ranks 10th. 

Looking simply at these numbers, Uggla has a chance to be considered one of the best second basemen the game has seen.  But those who have watched him play on a daily basis have questioned whether he is best utilized as a second baseman.

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has said all the right things when asked about the defensive skills he’s watched Uggla display essentially on a daily basis over the past four years. Others who have routinely watched the Marlins have said they are among those who view him as a defensive liability.

In a perfect world void of emotions, the Braves could have kept Martin Prado at second base and moved Uggla to left field for this upcoming season. 

But in this world that is filled with both oxygen and pride,they had no choice but to grant Uggla his wish to remain at second base.  If they had approached him about the possibility of making the move to the outfield, he would have likely spent his one year in Atlanta and entered next year’s free-agent market looking for a club to provide both riches and a chance to play second base.

If Uggla’s glove proves to be too much of a liability over the next few seasons, the Braves could always approach him about the possibility of changing positions. But for now the plan is for him to spend the next five seasons as Atlanta’s second baseman.

Check back some time during the 2015 season to see how a 25-year-old Jason Heyward is faring and to further debate whether Wren was wise to give Uggla the five-year deal way back in the early days of 2011.     

 

 

23 Comments

I guess I like the deal, just wish that fifth year was an option instead of guaranteed.

The Uggla deal is a better deal for the Braves than the Chipper Jones 4 year extension was. If he doesn’t work out at 2B, he has 62 million reasons to consider a LF job.

If Werth got $126 million with Boras, what do you think Bryce the wonder kid is going to get? And that will be long before the Werth deal is over. Of course, they may be thinking they can trade Werth to the Yankmes as soon as Harper is ready in the bigs.

The Braves GM is doing a much better job than the shopaholic in DC.

I don’t really think the situation(s) with Teixeira & Drew are comparable to that of Uggla. First of all, the Braves gave up significant players to acquire both Tex & that ****** JD Drew, which was not the case with the Uggla trade. Second, Tex & Drew were/are Scott Boras clients, meaning they would almost certainly try out the free agent market & reject extensions. Both were just dumb trades. While the 5th year for Uggla leaves a sour taste in my mouth, his offense is unquestionably an upgrade & his defense should improve away from that pit that is the Marlins home field. He just needs to stay in shape.

I’m not necessarily sure Uggla’s defense will improve…However, I agree with rother that if his defense deteriorates, he should be open to a move to LF. Let’s be honest, we haven’t exactly valued defense of the past couple of years. Also, I like the kind of guy that we acquired in this trade. Uggla’s hard nosed approach to the game should be a good contribution to our club. He will provide more power and grit. Uggla will bolster our offense vs LHP (and RHP for that matter). I like the move and agree that the 5th year is a necessary risk in this case. I am actually shocked that the Marlins didn’t ask for more. I guess they figured Omar’s upside was worth the decline in power. I would have thought that the questionable first season of Mike Stanton would have caused the Marlins to hold onto Uggla for his power, but I guess not.

For all of you who gave me grief for complaining about “Golden Boy” you’ll be happy to to know that my suspicions were confirmed by none other than Frank Wren. I don’t often agree with the WHW, but if he’s saying it in the newspaper you might want to give me credit for knowing what was obvious to me. HUNTING TRIPS AREN”T PART OF ACL REHAB!!!!!

?I think he?s progressed very well,? Wren said. ?He had a setback earlier in the winter when he was away for a week ? I think he was actually on a hunting trip ? and he was not doing the [leg] lifts. But as soon as he got back on his weights, he was fine.

“How was winter camp for special kids?”

Now that’s some funny s*&t right there.

Anyone seen a date for pitchers and catchers to report?

BUt how good of a LF can Prado play?

Courtesy of MLBTradeRumors: “Rafael Soriano is prioritizing money over his 2011 role, Olney writes. Olney suggests that ‘if some club was willing to pay him to be its bullpen catcher for $45MM over the next three years, Soriano would consider it.’”

After all the b*tching about getting nothing (J Chavez) for Soriano after the arbitration fiasco of last year, I present to you Exhibit D to why the Braves didn’t want this bum. He pitches well in his contract year and kinda seems like a personality-less d!ck. The fact that he is still available in the second week of January is testament to this guy’s makeup; no GM in his right mind will give this guy around a 3 year deal.. or at least shouldn’t. So can everyone please scratch this guy off their list of why they think Frank Wren is a bad GM?

Also, Bill no one cares. Maybe bring it up as a side note if Chipper is really struggling in Spring Training. But jumping the gun on your “I told you so”s is getting pretty irritating. Much like prematurely talking trash in the Phillies blog, which led to an infestation of them here which probably will last through the upcoming season.

I also see that NC is finally back. How was winter camp for special kids?

Prado will be better in LF than Melky and Garret Anderson with a better arm than McLouth, that I can assure you. He played OF in winter ball the past few seasons.

Thing is I think it would have been cool to keep Soriano into a starting pitcher bc he came up as one in Seattle. I mean he has the stuff to do it why not use him as a 4-5 pithcer instead of trading him for a bum pitcher.

Yeah, viva, I didn’t get his post either. I think it’s pretty obvious to everyone but nc that hunting is not part of rehab, but the $14MM man is going to do as he pleases and we can’t do much but wait and see if he can perform. Him and McLouth. I would love to see McLouth hit decent enough to lead him off so we can drop Heyward so he will actually drive the ball again, instead of worrying about walking to get on base and not getting moved over. But hey, Fredi is a breath of fresh air. Maybe he’ll actually have his players steal a base, unlike Bobby.

It continues to amaze me that NC hasn’t been called to be a real GM. Not only can he rotate the players of the league as fast as I can shuffle baseball cards, but he ACTUALLY knows that ALL of the players in MLB are in being used in the wrong positions. If you start 8 games as a rookie for Seattle, then of course 9 years later that is what should be done. And of course, all players listed as 1B can and really should play OF, 3B, heck, maybe even SS or C.

Reading NC’s posts is very much like trying to figure out what a newborn baby actually sees when the mobile above the crib is spinning.

Well Viva, It’s good to see that you’ll show up for ST with your whine intact. Actually sounds like you have it in midseason form.

Haha, touché.

Brandon, I don’t think Jason was selective just because he was hitting second. I think he has always been a very patient hitter, from what I’ve heard. I agree, I would love to see him drive the ball again, and I think a good winter break for him will be just the trick. Hopefully he is healed up and ready to go, he will be very important this year.
As for McLouth, forget about leadoff with that guy. He has speed, but doesn’t use it. He appears to have a slight uppercut to his swing, not leadoff potential. I’m perfectly fine seeing him bat eighth. Hopefully he can learn to be more of a professional hitter who gets on base through walks and bunting. We just need him to help turn over the order. Prado can take the leadoff spot and be just fine.
Speaking of Prado, has anyone heard if his family was able to come back to the states? It seemed to really affect him when they had to go back home.

Speedy, Speedy. McLouth has a “slight uppercut”? That’s like saying Andruw has a slight weight problem, Venters ball has a little sink or Bobby had a little bow in his legs. I think I read that Prado’s mom has a guest visa in good standing, if not what are those worthless Georgia politicians doing for a living? Oh and poor Brandon, it really doesn’t surprise me that you didn’t understand my post. When have you ever understood a logical point? When have you have understood anything other than that fantasy photo of your number on some mythical soccer field. Happy New year all.

Haha, so true bill. Thanks for the laugh, it’s a new year and I’m trying to be positive. It just stinks that our “speed” guy thinks he’s Ryan klesko.

Bill project the stats for Brooks Conrad as an everyday player with the same number of at bats as Uggla and his fielding RF. Did we then pay to much for a second baseman?

I hope that was sarcasm.

Winboj, there may be no better reason to ignore stats than that. Gene Tenace murdered the ball in the World Series for the A’s back in the day, should he be compared to Johnny Bench as well? Or Lemke in the playoffs with maybe Rogers Hornsby?

Brooks Conrad is a great hustler and we love him in Atlanta. I really hope he makes the team this Spring. But seriously, if the Braves could sell ANYBODY on that comparison, he’d be traded that minute in the “Sell High” deal of the century.

Haha I almost had something to say to bill , then Winboj made me remember how Billy-Bob was crying over the blog a few months ago for Brooks. I bet secretly he wished we gave the 5 year/$62MM deal to Conrad. Man, that was some funny stuff. Back in reality, bill, I think if you stopped trying to think of the 4th grade insults you sling around here with every post and use that high school diploma you MIGHT have earned, you’d find that my post said I agreed with you. But that’s like saying I agree with you that the sky is blue and that the Orioles suck. But I guess as long as we have nc to throw outrageous trade proposals around, we’ll have good ole bill here to whine up the blog about stupid things he can’t change.

Geez Brandumb. For not having anything to say to me, you sure spent a whole post doing it. Are your undies all rolled up in a ball from sliding your soccer butt on the ice(ala Roger and Fredi)?

So getting back to baseball. Who’s closing? Is Kimbrell ready? Is Venters a better choice because of his consistency last year? Is it closer by committee?

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