Uggla looks to get going against former club
This picture would have looked quite odd if we had been given a sneak preview a year ago. Yeah, most of assumed the guy on the far right would be named Bobby Cox’s successor. But there was little reason to believe the Marlins were going to allow Braves to enter this season with this Uggla dude too.
Of course you all know the story about how this ended up proving true. Five months after being fired by the Marlins and one month after being hired by the Braves, Fredi Gonzalez received a text from Braves GM Frank Wren, who wanted his manager’s thoughts on acquiring Uggla in exchange for Omar Infante and left-handed reliever Mike Dunn.
The deal was quickly completed once it was confirmed Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest wasn’t seeking any more than the two guys (Infante and Dunn) on the napkin he exchanged during a morning meeting of the first day of the general manager meetings.
It’s easy to assume that the Marlins will regret not getting something more in return for Uggla. Yes, the power-hitting second baseman gave them every reason to believe they wouldn’t reach agreement on a contract extension. But shouldn’t they have at least waited a little longer to see if they could get a greater return for a second baseman who had hit the sixth-most homers in the National League over the previous five seasons?
This is something that could be debated throughout a significant portion of the five-year, $62 million contract extension the Braves gave Uggla in January.
But as Uggla and Gonzalez get ready to meet their old team for the first time tonight at Turner Field, they’re certainly not going to be consumed by thoughts about who got the better end of the deal. The Braves have lost five of their last six and scored two runs or fewer in six of their first 10 games.
“The beginning of every season is always tough,” said Uggla, who is hitting .158 (6-for-58). “You either get off to a really hot start or a slow start. This year, so far for us it’s been either really hot or really slow. That’s the way it goes in April and you just try to fight through it until everything levels off.”
Marlins pitchers have been happy with the defense Infante has provided at second base. The Braves would like to see Uggla provide something more than the solid defense that he has during the early portion of this season.
Of course without that fence scraper he hit off Takashi Saito last week in Milwaukee, the Braves might be entering this series with just three victories. Two of their four wins have been notched while scoring just two runs.
Still unless an ace and three-hole hitter has already been lost to injury, there is absolutely no reason to ever panic just 10 games into the season. We’ve completed just six percent of this season. Making conclusions now is as ridiculous as taking the belief that you are just a step slower than Usain Bolt because he’s just a step in front of you six meters into the 100-meter dash.
With this being said, we might be nearing a time when Gonzalez does need to tinker with his lineup. Still, I’m sticking with my belief that he has to keep McLouth in the second spot of the lineup. If McLouth struggles through the remainder of this homestand, then there might be a need to move him to the seventh or eighth spot.
Freddie Freeman’s slow start (6-for-32 w/ a double) has also influenced the Braves’ slow start. Still Freeman provided some reason for optimism when he singled in his first at-bats on Friday and Saturday against Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt, respectively.
Showing he’s not fazed by the Major League scene, Freeman recorded a hit in his first career plate appearances against Roy Halladay, Lee and Oswalt.
Before wrapping this entry and heading to The Ted to see Tommy Hanson oppose Chris Volstad, I’ll leave you with this comparison of Uggla and Infante that Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez gave <i>The South Florida Sun Sentinel </i>.
“(Infante) plays hard every single day, just like Uggla did,” fSanchez said. “Uggla was great. I loved Uggla, but I don’t feel like we lost anything going with Infante. A great two-hole guy with great contact. One of the better swings I’ve ever seen.
“Uggla didn’t take a pitch off or an inning off, and [neither] does Infante. You’re getting the same guy. Of course, they’re two different ballplayers. Dan Uggla is more of a power guy. Defensively, he was getting a lot better. You saw it in him. Infante I think is one of the better defensive second basemen in the game. Yeah, he might not hit 30 home runs, but he’s going to hit for average. He’s going to score runs, and that’s what we need.”