Tag: Dan Uggla

Dan Uggla Released by Braves: Latest Details and Reaction

After an especially painful season in the batter’s box for Dan Uggla, the Atlanta Braves have released the struggling second baseman.

The team’s official Twitter account confirmed the news:

The Braves were willing to make the move even though they will have to pay Uggla a hefty sum of money, per Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal:

In fact, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s David O’Brien notes that the Braves’ decision to eat the contract is unprecedented in team history:

The release comes just days after the Braves rather mysteriously suspended Uggla for one game just before the All-Star break.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez was loath to explain the team’s reasoning for the suspension.

“I’m not going to say anything other than that it’s an internal matter,” he said, via The Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com). “That’s the way I like to handle stuff, and the Atlanta Braves like to handle stuff. And that’s it. You can ask me 400 different ways and my way is that we’re going to handle it internally.”

Jayson Stark of ESPN noted how toxic things had become with the second baseman:

Uggla was a powerful force in his first season in Atlanta in 2011, collecting 36 home runs and 82 RBI despite hitting just .233 on the season. 

Never one to hit for average, Uggla’s value in the middle of the infield plummeted with his power numbers. He was batting just .162 in 2014 with two home runs and 10 RBI in 48 games before his release.

ESPN’s Mark Simon noted that Uggla had little in the way of sweet spots in the strike zone over the past two years:

Uggla could benefit from a change of scenery, and an enterprising franchise might be able to pick him up on the cheap with the Braves paying out the majority of his salary until the end of next season. Few could look at him as an everyday player, but he may still hold value as a pinch hitter due to his ability to hit the long ball and draw walks.

The Braves will now count on Tommy La Stella to hold down the fort at second base. The 25-year-old is hitting .292 with zero home runs and 17 RBI in 43 games this year. La Stella is a capable player, but the Braves may look to find the power they expected from Uggla before the July 31 trade deadline as they make a run at the NL East crown.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

10 MLB Players Heading into Make-or-Break Seasons

Not every MLB player is looking forward to 2014. For some, the new season represents a pivotal juncture in their respective careers.

This is of course called a “make-or-break season.” While some players like Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Ryan Howard appear to be albatrosses, their contractual security is paramount to their 2014 production.

By comparison, a player like Rickie Weeks desperately needs to find his stroke in 2014. After posting a .209 batting average with an 80 OPS+ in 2013, the once elite second baseman is already playing caddy to farmhand Scooter Gennett.

And if Weeks continues to hit below the league average, the 31-year-old will not find a starting job in 2015.

Read on to see the 10 MLB players heading into make-or-break seasons.


All statistics sourced from Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs.com.

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Atlanta Braves: How Long Is Dan Uggla’s Leash?

Dan Uggla‘s struggles are no secret for Atlanta Braves fans.

Hitting .227 with 55 home runs and 160 RBI in his two years with the Braves, Uggla hasn’t exactly lived up to his five-year, $62-million contract.

Which raises the question: How long of a leash does Uggla have this year?

With power throughout the Braves’ order, fans aren’t going to be patient if Uggla continues to struggle. And, let’s face it, can you blame them?


The Good

Before you think this is an article intended to bash Uggla, here are some of the good things he’s done for the Braves.

In 2012, Uggla batted .262 with runners in scoring position and .308 with runners in scoring position and two outs. So he can hit in the clutch. He brings power to the second base position, which is not seen much in MLB. Robinson Cano, Aaron Hill and Rickie Weeks come to mind. He also started and ended 2012 well, batting .271 in April and .280 in September.

Uggla has it in him to do well, but he seems unable to get things right in his head during the middle parts of the season.


The Bad

Uggla is equally as bad at the plate against righties and lefties, batting .220 against both. In his home park, he batted .187 with seven home runs and 42 RBI.

Then there’s the strikeouts.

He ranked fourth in the National League with 168 strikeouts, striking out 96 times with the bases empty.

Simply put, Uggla either just can’t get the job done anymore or his brain is getting in the way of him hitting. It’s hard to tell which it is.

And the spring hasn’t been kind to Uggla, either. He’s batting .213 in spring training, recording 10 hits in 47 at-bats.


What to do?

Including this year, Uggla still has three years and $39 million left on his contract. But can the Braves afford another three years of Uggla’s subpar performances?

While there is nobody in the farm system that is ready to take over at second should Uggla continue to struggle, there are other possibilities.

Should the opportunity present itself before the trade deadline, guys like Ben Zobrist and Omar Infante could be had for the right price. With both slated to be free agents after this year, the Braves could put a decent package together to get one of the two during the stretch run.

Or the Braves could send Evan Gattis down to the minors to learn how to play second base. While there would be a major adjustment period for Gattis, it could be beneficial for the Braves because he’s hitting .438 with two home runs and 10 RBI during spring training.

If Gattis could learn how to play second base, that would solve two problems: It would provide him with the opportunity to be in the lineup and it would solve the Uggla problem all in one.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Fantasy Baseball 2012: Top 30 Second Basemen

It would be misleading to characterize second base as a position of scarcity in 2012.

Yes, there are no certifiable facsimiles of Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler, Dustin Pedroia, Rickie Weeks, Chase Utley, Ben Zobrist, Brandon Phillips or Dan Uggla after the first 60 picks of a 12-team, mixed-league draft.

But the entire Top 30 list is also chock-full of 25-and-under potential dynamos (Dustin Ackley, Jemile Weeks, Jason Kipnis, Jose Altuve, Gordon Beckham) and veteran stalwarts (Aaron Hill, Neil Walker, Kelly Johnson, Marco Scutaro, Sean Rodriguez) who are still in their prime years—and could break out with just a little good fortune, here and there.

1. Robinson Cano, Yankees 
Skinny: A lead-pipe cinch for 25 HRs/100 runs/105 RBIs/.305 BA over the next five seasons.

2. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
Skinny: The reasonable choice for fantasy owners who value power, speed AND high batting average.

3. Ian Kinsler, Rangers
Skinny: My personal favorite for this position—and that was before he racked up 121 runs last season.

4. Dan Uggla, Braves
Skinny: Fantasy owners in Round 4 are praying for 30 homers…and anything above .260 in hitting. 

5. Rickie Weeks, Brewers
Skinny: Let’s assume his 2010 numbers (29 HRs/83 RBIs/11 steals) are a baseline measure of production.

6. Chase Utley, Phillies
Skinny: A reputation pick here, and one that might look ambitious with Ryan Howard sidelined for a while.

7. Ben Zobrist, Rays
Skinny: The quietest 20-HR/100-run/20-steal potential of all middle infielders…and Big Z has OF eligibility.

8. Brandon Phillips, Reds
Skinny: A top-7 candidate for all five categories. Just don’t expect career marks in HRs or RBIs.

9. Ryan Roberts, Diamondbacks
Skinny: Don’t be surprised if Roberts passes the 20-20 threshold at age 31. A great addition at Round 12.

10. Dustin Ackley, Mariners
Skinny: Ackley, who possesses the highest upside of anyone outside the top 8, has 15-40-.310 potential.

11. Howard Kendrick, Angels
Skinny: A slightly unfair ranking, given his solid 2011 campaign. Needs to crack 70 RBIs this season.

12. Jason Kipnis, Indians
Skinny: Kipnis is more Pedroia or Phillips than Uggla or Utley. Either way, he’s a long-term keeper.

13. Jemile Weeks, Athletics
Skinny: A dark-horse candidate for 85 runs/.310 average at age 25. Power numbers may never be there.

14. Marco Scutaro, Rockies
Skinny: Scutaro’s value will get a nice bounce around April 10, when he secures 2B/SS eligibility.

15. Neil Walker, Pirates
Skinny: The wild swings in batting average and run production can be frustrating. Don’t reach on Draft Day. 

16. Kelly Johnson, Blue Jays
Skinny: Two full seasons of middling batting average have diluted Johnson’s respectable power potential.

17. Gordon Beckham, White Sox
Skinny: Beckham has too many physical gifts to be this average in his prime. A solid late-round flier.

18. Aaron Hill, Diamondbacks
Skinny: Went on a hitting tear last year after being traded…but the odds of batting .300 for the season are long.

19. Danny Espinosa, Nationals
Skinny: Anything above a pedestrian batting average would boost him into the top 15—he’s that close.

20. Sean Rodriguez, Rays
Skinny: The 2B-SS-3B versatility opens doors for S-Rod. Can he be a steady 15-15 producer?

21. Jose Altuve, Astros
Skinny: A late-season find for the anemic Astros in 2011. Can he amass 30-35 steals in Year 2 of his development?

22. Ryan Raburn, Tigers
Skinny: Raburn needs a hot start to ward off slick fielders Brandon Inge and Ramon Santiago at the 4-spot.

23. Johnny Giavotella, Royals
Skinny: Could make a modest leap in this countdown with a productive spring. Intriguing prospect.

24. Daniel Murphy, Mets
Skinny: An under-the-radar talent who’ll bring modest value to all five categories—especially hitting.

25. Omar Infante, Marlins
Skinny: Expect a noticeable bump in runs…and then hope the versatile Infante flirts with .300 again.

26. Brian Roberts, Orioles
Skinny: In the realm of minor miracles, I’d be thrilled with 10 HRs, 75 runs and 20 steals.

27. Mark Ellis, Dodgers
Skinny: Ellis has 15-15 potential in the Senior Circuit, even at the ripened age of 34.

28. Orlando Hudson, Padres
Skinny: A nice deep-sleeper option for steals and runs—if the Padres get aggressive on the basepaths.

29. Mike Aviles, Red Sox
Skinny: The preferred fantasy placeholder over Nick Punto, while Jose Iglesias gets more seasoning in the minors.

30a. Darwin Barney, Cubs
Skinny: A last-round sleeper for the 2B/SS slot in NL-only and 14-team mixed leagues.

30b. Justin Turner, Mets
Skinny: Good minor-league numbers suggest a mini-breakout in the bigs. Could rise up the ranks during Grapefruit League play.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Atlanta Braves: Can Michael Bourn Lead Atlanta to the Playoffs?

As the 2011 Major League Baseball trade deadline approached, the Atlanta Braves front office watched as the rival Philadelphia Phillies dealt for outfielder Hunter Pence and chief wild card competitor, the San Francisco Giants, acquired veteran Carlos Beltran.  

General Manger Fran Wren patiently waited, knowing the best fit for his Braves wasn’t a corner outfielder.

Wren tells Sirius/XM sports radio he wanted a premium center fielder that was a true leadoff hitter at the plate.

Enter Michael Bourn.

Given a full season, Bourn will attempt to fuel what was at times an anemic offense during 2011. Atlanta finished in the bottom half of the National League in nearly every major category, including runs (10th), RBI (10th), AVG (13th), SB (14th) and Team WAR (13th).

Bourn’s top priority as a leadoff hitter is to get on base so he can provide run scoring opportunities for middle of the order hitters like Chipper Jones, Brian McCann, Dan Uggla and hopefully, Jason Heyward.

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Atlanta Braves: Winter Meetings Preview According to TPR

The Atlanta Braves were in control of their own destiny for 130 games or so. Then, things just fell apart. Of course, sometimes when you look back at things, you realize it just wasn’t meant to be. The Braves’ numbers indicate that they were not as good as we thought. They traded Derek Lowe in November, but otherwise have done little to nothing so far. That’s usually the best way to do things.

The Boston Red Sox, on the other hand, had a collective nervous breakdown and completely changed out their front office and dugout management. Of course, time will tell how it will play out, but something tells me the Braves are better off. Now, they can calmly go to work on filling some of those holes.


If we notice a theme throughout the infield (counting behind the plate), it is that the Braves are very good offensively at each position and very bad defensively at almost every position. Alex Gonzalez appears to be the exception, so he will likely not be re-signed. The club declined arbitration on him, which means either Brandon Hicks will take over or they will acquire a new shortstop.

Otherwise, the infield defense is a disaster. Eventually, the Braves will have to solve this problem, but it likely won’t be this year. Brian McCann and Dan Uggla are there for the long term, while Freddie Freeman looks like a nice young hitter. Chipper Jones will retire soon, so third base is a possible place to improve, but that won’t happen until 2013.

Player to Watch: Dan Uggla


There are rumors that the Braves are shopping Martin Prado. At least, the Rockies have expressed some interest in Prado to play third base or second base for them. Presumably, this would open the door for the Braves to acquire a more traditional corner outfielder. It is likely that they want someone that can produce some power numbers to help protect McCann in the order.

On the other hand, Michael Bourn was just what the doctor ordered for them. He gave them a legitimate leadoff hitter and a plus defensive center fielder at the same time. Jason Heyward is also a plus defender. If they can add a legit left fielder to the bunch, this could be the best outfield in the National League defensively.

Player to Watch: Jason Heyward

Starting Rotation

Do you want to talk about a bunch of changes? Everyone wants starting pitching, and the Braves and Rays have it in spades. So, look for a bunch of teams to knock on their doors during the winter meetings. Right now, Jair Jurrjens appears to be their top trading chip. Moving him will open up salary, but more importantly a spot for a truckload of top pitching prospects.

Without a deal, the Braves will have the deepest rotation in the National League. Freddie Gonzalez will need to lay off the young starters to avoid the September of discontent. Both Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens were misused. If Hanson can remain healthy he still looks like the best of them all.

Player to Watch: Tommy Hanson


The Braves’ bullpen has an interesting construction. It has three of the top 10 relievers in all of baseball, but falls to below average immediately afterwards. Like the Diamondbacks, they will be looking for bullpen depth. They rolled the dice on George Sherrill and Scott Linebrink. They may turn those roles over to some of their electric young arms. If they go that route it could get downright nasty for the hitters in the NL.

Like Kevin Towers, Frank Wren must choose between trusting young pitchers in the bullpen or trading some of those young pitchers for proven commodities. It’s also possible he could get a veteran arm from the Rockies for Prado. He might have to sweeten the pot though to get a reliever worth having.

Player to Watch: Jonny Venters

Winter Meetings Success

The Braves have more holes than you would think. They have a hole at shortstop that must be filled, and a potential hole in left field as well. After that, they could use another solid reliever, but that will have to wait after the shortstop and left field situations are resolved. Fortunately, they have plenty of trading chips to fill those holes.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB: How the Atlanta Braves Will Overtake the Philadelphia Phillies

The Atlanta Braves are currently in second place in the NL East, which I find very impressive, yet they remain five games behind the Philadelphia Phillies. 

I know the Braves are quite capable of overtaking their first-place rivals—they have only a few obstacles that are keeping them from doing so.

In this slideshow, I will explain what these obstacles are and how the Braves can possibly overcome them.

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Atlanta Braves: Dan Uggla’s Struggles Drawing Comparison to Nate McLouth’s 2010

Writer’s Note: This piece was written one day after the Braves’ 5-4 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday, May 13th, a game in which Dan Uggla struck out three times with runners in scoring position—twice with runners on third and once to end the game, leaving the potential game tying runner stranded on second base. Some baseball fans choose to not pay attention to WPA because they say it’s not an effective way to measure a player, but, for those who do, Uggla’s was -.392 that night.

Sounds a little like another former All-Star that was traded to the Braves and couldn’t hit a pitch to save his life, doesn’t it?

Is it too early for a Nate McLouth comparison? Maybe not. Uggla is painfully close to breaking McLouth’s horrid .190 batting average from last season, while McLouth is reaching base on a nightly basis.

That’s a good sign for Uggla’s 2012 season, but what about this one?

To start the season, Uggla told Braves fans that they shouldn’t expect much from him in the month of April, as he never performs well at the start of the season.

Okay, we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, he is a two-time All-Star and former Silver Slugger Award winner.

But last I checked, the calendar has changed to May and Uggla’s batting average is still going down. After starting in both games for the Braves’ old-fashioned doubleheader against the Brewers on May 4th, Uggla managed to pull his batting average up to .218.

True, .218 is nothing spectacular, but it doesn’t start with a one or a zero so Braves fans will take it.

But now, after their win against the Phillies on Saturday, May 14th, a game in which Uggla went 0-2, he is batting .196 and is almost a guaranteed out.

Unless he gets hit by a pitch (which is how he reached base in Saturday’s game). In fact, Uggla is swinging and missing at pitches that aren’t even close.

In striking out against pitcher Ryan Madson in the game on Friday the 13th, Uggla swung at a ball in the dirt and so far outside that it became painfully obvious to everyone watching that he is simply trying to swing at everything thrown his way in order to break out of his funk.

No one is saying the Braves should replace Uggla, especially not with his backup likely being Diory Hernandez, but he’d better find his swing quickly.

A subpar second basemen in the always tough NL East could be a death sentence for the Braves, a team many analysts picked to reach the postseason again this season.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Fantasy Baseball: 2011 Second Basemen Rankings

The biggest question at second base heading into the 2011 season is: What will fantasy owners get from Phillies second baseman Chase Utley?

When healthy and at his best, Utley is elite. He has posted career highs in the standard five rotisserie categories, as follows: .332-131-33-105-23.

The problem is the health, or lack thereof, of Utley’s knee, which will likely land him on the disabled list to start the season. From a fantasy perspective, the bigger worry is that improvement in his knee seems to be moving at a snail’s pace. How soon will he be back? Will the injury linger and affect his performance when he’s back on the field?

Here are our top 15 fantasy second basemen for 2011:

1. Robinson Cano, Yankees: With the exception of stolen bases, Cano puts up elite stats across the board at a relatively weak position. Cano, who set career highs in home runs (29) and runs batted in (109) in 2010, has the second-most hits in all of baseball over the past two seasons.

2. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox: In addition to hitting over .300 for his career, Pedroia gives fantasy owners the potential for a 15-20 season. Despite missing half of last year, Pedroia ranks 10th in the majors in runs scored (286) from 2008 to 2010.

3. Dan Uggla, Braves: At a position where power hitters are less common, Uggla has been a model of consistency when it comes to power. In each of the past four seasons, Uggla has hit 31-33 home runs and has driven in 90-plus runs including a career-high 105 last season. But will you get his career-low .243 (2009) or career-high .287 (2010) batting average? Although he’s a career .354 hitter in his new home ballpark (Turner Field), the answer likely falls somewhere in between that range.

4. Ian Kinsler, Rangers: The biggest knock on Kinsler is playing time (123.6 games per season over past five years). If healthy, Kinsler has the potential to put up elite numbers. For example, when he played a career-high 144 games (2009), Kinsler hit 31 homers and stole 31 bases.

5. Brandon Phillips, Reds: For the first time in four seasons, Phillips failed to have a 20-20 season. In 2010, he finished with 18 home runs and 16 stolen bases. The majority of Phillips’ at-bats in 2010 came at one of the top two spots of the lineup after mostly batting cleanup in 2009. The effect? His runs batted in dropped from 98 in 2009 to a five-year low of 59 in 2010.

6. Chase Utley, Phillies: Two seasons removed from a 30-20 season, Utley will most likely begin the 2011 season on the disabled list after missing a total of 47 games last year. If he were healthy, Utley would be second on this list.

7. Rickie Weeks, Brewers: Speaking of health, Weeks played an average of 95 games per season from 2005 through 2009 before playing a career-high 160 games last year. Naturally, he set career-highs in runs scored (112), hits (175), home runs (29) and runs batted in (83) in 2010. The only way he approaches those numbers again is if he can stay healthy for two seasons in a row. Before last year, he hadn’t done that for one season in a row.

8. Martin Prado, Braves: Prado, who played mostly second base and some third base last year, is moving to left field for the Braves and soon will be eligible at three fantasy positions. In a career-high 140 games last season, Prado hit .307 and 15 home runs with 100 runs scored.

9. Gordon Beckham, White Sox: After hitting 14 homers with 63 runs batted in over 103 games in his rookie season, Beckham seemed poised for a breakout season last year. The eighth overall pick in the 2008 draft got off to an incredibly slow start in 2010, but he picked up the pace as he hit .310 after the All-Star break. Beckham, who will bat second for the White Sox this season, is a guy I’ve targeted in most of my drafts this year.

10. Ben Zobrist, Rays: Like Prado, Zobrist has multi-position eligibility as a second baseman and outfielder (and first baseman in Yahoo! leagues). After a breakout season in 2009 (.297-91-27-91-17), Zobrist really struggled down the stretch last season. After the All-Star break, Zobrist hit only .177 and hit .200 or lower per month from July to October. On a positive note, Zobrist stole a career-high 24 bases in 2010 and will likely have even more base-stealing opportunities as the team’s leadoff hitter.

11. Aaron Hill, Blue Jays: Not only did Hill have the lowest BABIP (.196) of his career, it was the lowest in all of baseball. Even with the horrible BABIP and batting average (.205), Hill still managed to hit 26 home runs in 2010.

12. Kelly Johnson, Diamondbacks: In his first season with the Diamondbacks, Johnson set career highs in runs (93), hits (166), home runs (26), runs batted in (71) and stolen bases (13) in 2010. Johnson hit .311 with 16 of his 26 home runs at Chase Field last year.

13. Howie Kendrick, Angels: The direction of his batting averages over the past four seasons isn’t what you’d like to see: .322 (2007), .306 (2008), .291 (2009) and .279 (2010). That said, he set career highs in several counting statistics: runs scored (67), runs batted in (75), stolen bases (14) and tied his career high in home runs (ten).

14. Chone Figgins, Mariners: Since 2004, Figgins has stolen 30-plus bases every season. In five of the past six seasons, he has stolen 40-plus bases. Figgins is having a good spring (.349 average and four steals in 16 games).

15. Brian Roberts, Orioles: When healthy, Roberts has provided fantasy owners with lots of runs and stolen bases and a decent batting average. Before missing 100-plus games in 2010, Roberts stole 30-plus bases for four consecutive seasons although he went from 50 (2007) to 40 (2008) to 30 (2009).

Feel free to send fantasy baseball questions to me via Twitter at @EDSBaseball or post them in our fantasy baseball forum.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

2011 Atlanta Braves: Can Jason Heyward and Dan Uggla Lead Braves to Playoffs?

The Atlanta Braves finished the 2010 regular season with a 91-71 record, which was good enough to claim the National League Wild Card. They lost in the divisional round of the playoffs to the eventual World Series Champion San Francisco Giants in four games with every game being a one-run affair.

New manager Fredi Gonzalez replaces the legendary Bobby Cox and has a roster that should be in the playoff mix again.

Let’s take a look at player-by-player projections for the 2011 Braves based on the probable Opening Day lineup.

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