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Dan Uggla Rumors
Dan Uggla‘s role with the Braves is becoming increasingly smaller, as MLB.com’s Mark Bowman writes that Tyler Pastornicky will be given the opportunity to serve as Atlanta’s everyday second baseman. Pastornicky has just two hits in 17 at-bats this season but has a solid Triple-A track record. Should he falter, the Braves also have Tommy La Stella waiting in the wings at Triple-A, though his strong OBP (.379) has been accompanied by a notable power outage, as he’s slugging just .328 with a .039 ISO. More from the game’s Eastern divisions…
- Within that same notebook piece, Bowman notes that the Braves will utilize a six-man rotation at least through next week. Manager Fredi Gonzalez doesn’t like the idea, but the team feels it has little choice with six starting options that are throwing so well. The manager did concede that the six-man grouping might help later in the year by limiting the workload on Alex Wood and Gavin Floyd.
- The Star Ledger’s Jorge Castillo reports that CC Sabathia‘s visit to Dr. James Andrews confirmed that there’s no structural damage in his knee. The Yankees are hopeful that Sabathia will be able to return as soon as he is eligible to help an injury-plagued pitching staff.
- Bud Selig isn’t concerned over reports that partial Mets owner Saul Katz is looking to sell his shares of the team, writes Christian Red of the New York Daily News. “
- Jon Heyman of CBS Sports asked Red Sox chairman Tom Werner if the team is committed to using a Will Middlebrooks/Xander Bogaerts tandem on the left side of the infield and was told “for the moment” (Twitter link).
In his latest piece for FOX Sports, Rob Neyer examines the hot starts of both the Marlins and Rockies to see if either club can sustain its success and make a playoff run. While Miami’s trio of Jose Fernandez, Nate Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez is imposing, he also points out that the club’s hitters are playing over their heads. A year after finishing last in the Majors in scoring, Miami is second in the NL in runs after adding Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Garrett Jones and Casey McGehee but doing little else. As for Colorado, they’ve posted the NL’s lowest strikeout-to-walk ratio, and it’s tough to buy the starts of Charlie Blackmon and Brandon Barnes, Neyer believes.
More links pertaining to the Senior Circuit’s Eastern division…
- Though the perception is that Omar Minaya left a mess in New York for Mets GM Sandy Alderson, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes that the remnants of that mess are keeping the Mets afloat. He states that one could argue the team’s best players this season were acquired during Minaya’s tenure. Sherman calls Matt Harvey Minaya’s “parting gift” to the team, adding that the trades of Carlos Beltran and R.A. Dickey were made possible because Minaya’s regime brought them in to begin with. He notes that “this is not a final report card” as Alderson hasn’t been in charge long enough for a total transformation, but also points out that none of Alderson’s draftees have made the Majors yet.
- Baseball America’s Matt Eddy profiles Wilmer Flores for Mets fans as the team prepares to install him in its infield, noting that his bat is his ticket to the Major Leagues, but fans shouldn’t expect him to come close to replicating the .318/.357/.524 batting line he’s compiled in the PCL. He also has defensive flaws, as “his slow first step and well-below-average speed make him an imperfect fit at any spot but first base,” says Eddy.
- The Nationals have weathered injuries to Bryce Harper, Doug Fister and Wilson Ramos in large par due to a dominant bullpen, writes the Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore. Kilgore notes that offseason acquisition Jerry Blevins has been dominant to this point, and indeed, Blevins has a sub-3.00 ERA with the best strikeout rate (11.15 K/9) of his career in this season’s small sample.
- Despite his well-documented struggles, Dan Uggla isn’t likely to be released by the Braves, writes MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. The Braves don’t appear comfortable biting the bullet on his remaining $24MM, but they also aren’t comfortable with him as their starting second baseman. Atlanta is likely to evaluate its other options — Ramiro Pena and Tyler Pastornicky — in the coming weeks before turning to prospect Tommy La Stella for assistance, adds Bowman.
Here's the latest on the Braves from David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution…
- The Braves aren't pursuing Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick, O'Brien tweets. Kendrick was thought to be on the trade market earlier this offseason as the Angels were looking to acquire young pitching, though now that the Halos have added Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs by dealing Mark Trumbo, it seems unlikely that they'd unload another regular unless they were trying to create payroll space for another move.
- Of course, Atlanta already has a second baseman in Dan Uggla, though the veteran has struggled badly over the last two seasons and wasn't on the Braves' postseason roster in October. The Braves were known to be exploring an Uggla trade this offseason but O'Brien tweets that he hasn't heard of any teams interested in taking Uggla.
- Right-hander Luis Vasquez was signed to a minor league deal in November and has drawn the attention of several teams due to a standout performance in the Dominican League. At the Winter Meetings, Braves GM Frank Wren said that received several comments and queries about Vasquez from other scouts and executives. Vasquez will fight for a job in Atlanta's bullpen at Spring Training.
- The acquisition of minor league first baseman Mark Hamilton could make Ernesto Mejia more expendable, O'Brien opines. Mejia, 28, has hit 78 homers over his last three seasons and a career .279/.340/.493 slash line in 3492 minor league PA, but he has yet to reach the majors after nine pro seasons. Mejia is defensively limited at first base and records a lot of strikeouts, which is why O'Brien categorizes him as a "Quad-A" type of player.
Here's the latest on the Braves from David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution…
- The Braves could move Dan Uggla if they can find a team willing to pay roughly a quarter of the $26MM remaining owed to the second baseman over the next two seasons Tyler Pastornicky, Tommy La Stella and Ramiro Pena would all compete for the 2B job in Spring Training, though I'd guess the Braves would want to bring in a more established second baseman.
- The Braves offered Tim Hudson a one-year deal that, even with incentives, was worth less than the $9MM than he earned in each of the previous four seasons. They never considered making Hudson a qualifying offer since the $14.1MM price was too rich for a 38-year-old coming off a severely broken ankle. While the Braves want Hudson back, they're just one of at least nine teams interested in the veteran righty and the healthy market could net Hudson a two-year, $24MM deal.
- O'Brien would "be shocked" if Brian McCann received a $100MM contract and thinks the catcher will receive something akin to a five-year, $75MM deal. Given the big-market clubs interested in McCann's services, there have been rumors that he would indeed fetch such a nine-figure contract.
- The Braves' payroll is expected to rise from $90MM to around $100MM, which isn't enough for the club to obtain a top-tier ace in free agency. To add a veteran to their young staff, O'Brien wonders if Atlanta could take a chance on a former ace like Roy Halladay if Hudson leaves.
- The team has been hesitant to trade top prospects in recent years and O'Brien doesn't see that changing, so the likes of Christian Bethancourt or Lucas Sims wouldn't be moved in a potential deal for David Price or Max Scherzer.
- There isn't any talk in the Braves organization of exploring trades involving Evan Gattis.
The Mets were focused on position players in the 2012 draft, which is why they took shortstop Gavin Cecchini with the draft's 12th overall selection and didn't take Michael Wacha, the New York Post's Mike Puma writes. Paul DePodesta, the Mets' VP of player development and amateur scouting, tells Puma that "we really liked Wacha, and he was high up on our board," but the team felt it had enough minor league pitching depth already and needed help around the diamond. Wacha, of course, ended up going to the Cardinals with the 19th overall pick and has already emerged as a star during St. Louis' postseason run.
Here's some more from around the NL East…
- "The Braves certainly will entertain shopping" Dan Uggla, according to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro reports, and he looks at the chances of Uggla re-joining the Marlins as part of a reader mailbag. Frisaro suggests the Braves would move Uggla if a team agrees to pay $6MM of the $26MM owed to Uggla through the 2015 season, and if the trade partner pays more, Atlanta could add a prospect. I'd suggest that the Braves would have to sweeten the pot to move Uggla, who turns 34 in March, is a defensive liability at second base and has only hit .201/.330/.374 over the last two seasons. The Braves have been linked to a possible deal of Uggla and a prospect to the Reds for Brandon Phillips.
- The Braves have "been lucky of late" to remain competitive despite overspending on Uggla and B.J. Upton, Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. Bradley warns that the team can't afford any more of these overpriced deals, and suggests that re-signing Brian McCann would create another payroll albatross in a few years' time.
- The Phillies' chances of re-signing Carlos Ruiz, their limited payroll and a suggestion about a David Price trade are all addressed in a Phillies-centric reader mailbag from MLB.com's Todd Zolecki.
- That limited Phillies budget could make it hard to upgrade their rotation since there won't be many bargains to be found on the pitching market this winter, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News writes.
- Matt Williams "seems to be the best available choice" to be the Nationals' next manager, and though Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post notes some of the risks involved in the impending hiring, he feels it could be a bold move for the team.
Braves second baseman Dan Uggla went to arbitration with the Florida Marlins in 2009 after hitting 90 home runs and accumulating 270 RBI during his first three seasons in the big leagues. The Marlins filed at $4.4MM while Uggla requested $5.35MM. Uggla won his case, earning one of the biggest salary jumps ever for a player going through the arbitration process for the first time. Uggla, now a Gaylord Sports Management client, was a Beverly Hills Sports Council client at the time he won his arbitration hearing. He spent a few minutes reflecting on his case with B.J. Rains for MLB Trade Rumors:
“Obviously it’s a very long process. Negotiations are usually never quick. We negotiated all the way up until the time we had to give each other the numbers. My case was a little bit different because with the Marlins, once you submit your number, there’s no more negotiations. Usually in arbitration you can submit your numbers and still come to an agreement but with the Marlins, if you don’t come to an agreement before that then you're going into the room and going to the hearing, so mine was different.
“It made sense for me to go ahead and take that chance and go into the room because there was such a big difference and we were so far apart. I didn’t know it until they put their number in, but they put in $4.4MM and they were offering me $4.5MM or something like that, that was their highest offer, so it made sense for me to go into the room. Plus I believed that I was supposed to earn what I put in for.
“When I was as confident as I was in my case, it was worth every penny to go into the hearing. Say if I thought I was worth $5.35MM and they were coming in offering me $5.1MM, then you have to start weighing your options. If they are offering you $5.1MM and then they drop it down and put their number at $4.4MM, you have to weigh your options and say, ‘Hey, I don’t know if $200K is worth the chance of losing a million,’ but we were never close. We were never close. I had a chance to lose $100K from where they offered me because we never got within $800K or $900K.
“Inside the room, it’s not them truly trying to put you down. It’s a business thing. My side is business and their side is business. They are trying to get me for a certain price and I’m trying to get my salary to a certain price. It’s not necessarily them telling you how bad you are, they are just trying to present a case to where they believe you should earn X instead of Y. I knew that going in. It didn’t bother me at all. It’s just a process, the business side of it. A lot of people would say, ‘Man, I didn’t know I was that bad’ or ‘I can’t believe they would say that about me,’ but you better prepare yourself to hear it because they will say it. It’s not to demise your character or not to put you down in any way, it’s just for them to present a case to win their case, just like we’re presenting a case to say I’m a little better than I actually am.
“I talked to my agents and they’ve been in many cases before and they prepared me the best they could. They have booklets and stuff and I had a book real thick of comparisons and charts and stuff. My agents did a great job of going over everything. Anything and everything you could find it was documented.
“It’s a crapshoot. There’s no guarantee. You can present the best case you can and still get beat. I still have a great relationship with the front office of the Marlins to this day. You have to understand as a player, they aren’t trying to personally attack you. They are trying to get their payroll at a certain point and that’s one of the ways they are trying to do it. It’s the business side of baseball.”
Here are a couple items of note out of the NL East, where the Phillies sit atop the division with a five-game lead over the Braves entering Saturday's games:
- Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez is probably not in danger of losing his job, according to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com (via Twitter). Marlins brass relieved hitting coach John Mallee of his duties earlier this month in an effort to shake things up, leading to speculation that Rodriguez could be next if the Fish don't pick things up. Rodriguez was hired on a full-time basis in November; he finished 2010 as their interim skipper in the wake of Fredi Gonzalez's dismissal.
- Braves second baseman Dan Uggla is unlikely to be demoted despite his offensive struggles, writes David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Uggla, who signed a five-year, $62MM extension after being acquired by Atlanta in a trade this offseason, can refuse a minor league assignment since he has five years' service time, according to O'Brien.
- Nationals manager Jim Riggleman deserves to have his 2012 option picked up and an extension on top of that, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (via Twitter). The Nats sit at one game under .500 after Saturday's win over the O's, particularly impressive considering they've been without Stephen Strasburg and Ryan Zimmerman for much of the season, as Heyman notes.
Some items from the eastern divisions….
- "You will not see a major move this year," Phillies GM Ruben Amaro tells Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com about his team's trade deadline plans. Amaro feels the Phils are already good enough to compete and it's just a matter of the club finding its peak form. He also notes that the team has very little payroll flexibility, but "for $170 MM-plus, we should be good enough to be a World Series contender.”
- Blue Jays prospect Brett Lawrie will be out for two-to-four weeks with a non-displaced fracture in his left hand, tweets Rogers Sportsnet's Arash Madani. Lawrie was tentatively scheduled to make his Major League debut last week before being hit by a pitch in a Triple-A game.
- Jake Fox was put on waivers by the Orioles earlier today and he might get some attention from the Pirates. Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review notes that the Pirates had some interest in Fox during Spring Training, and the Bucs might have need for a catcher since Chris Snyder left today's game with a back injury. (Twitter link)
- The Dan Uggla trade hasn't panned out well for either the Braves or the Marlins thus far, writes Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.
The Royals announced that former pitcher and broadcaster Paul Splittorff died from complications from melanoma this morning at the age of 64. Splittorff is the all-time winningest pitcher in franchise history and we pass along our condolences to his friends and family. Here are links for Wednesday night…
- Red Sox lefty Rich Hill tells Alex Speier of WEEI.com that it’s especially thrilling to be succeeding in Boston, since he grew up in nearby Milton and cheered for the Red Sox growing up. Hill has yet to allow an earned run in 7 innings this year and he has a 10K/2BB ratio.
- Dan Uggla told Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he feels some pressure associated with his new multiyear extension. The 31-year-old has a .185/.256/.344 line with seven homers since signing a $62MM deal with the Braves this offseason.
- The Rockies are not looking to make trades right now, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post (on Twitter).
Links for Saturday evening..
- New to Arizona, J.J. Putz tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that he's a perfect fit for the Diamondbacks.
- Second baseman Josh Barfield is competing for a utility spot on the Phillies but isn't concerned with talk of Luis Castillo, writes Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com.
- Brian MacPherson and Tim Britton of The Providence Journal wonder how much longer Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek will continue to play. Varitek could be asked to backup Jarrod Saltalamacchia in 2011 but could still be given plenty of playing time in a platoon. McPherson set the over/under at 2.5 years but Britton takes the under, pointing out that the list of catchers who have played the most games is chock full of players who retired before reaching 40-years-old. The team captain will celebrate his 39th birthday in less than a month.
- Pirates left-hander Joe Beimel was scratched again due to elbow pain today, which seems to contradict what GM Neal Huntington said yesterday after picking up Garrett Olson off of waivers, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Huntington insisted yesterday that the addition of Olson was not motivated by concern about Beimel or Scott Olsen.
- Pittsburgh right-hander Kevin Hart was on the bubble for a roster spot with the club and out of options for 2011, but the club will now have more time to consider him after a shoulder injury sent him to the 60-day DL, writes Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com.
- Dave Cameron of Fangraphs rallies against the tyranny of the corner label.
- Red Sox veteran David Ortiz told Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com that the pressure isn't off, even with the new additions.
- ESPN's Buster Olney (Insider req'd) hears from a talent evaluator that the best way for Kevin Millwood to get back to the big leagues is by signing with a team and pitching in games. "That's no way to win a job — sitting at home," said the source. Millwood's fastball was clocked at 85 mph during a recent workout.
- The Rangers ackowledge that Chris Davis has opened some eyes with his strong Spring Training, writes MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. He's under consideration for a roster spot, though teams have inquired about his availability.
- Now without star second baseman Dan Uggla, the Marlins are once again in a transitional phase, writes Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com.
- While he really enjoyed his time in Houston, Lance Berkman is happy to be with the Cardinals, writes MLB.com's Brian McTaggart.