MIAMI – While waiting for Ryan Dempster to approve or veto a trade to the Braves — I think he would have approved it Monday if he’d not been so surprised and perhaps miffed that news of the deal got leaked – let’s go over a few other pertinent matters facing the Braves as they try to end a three-game skid and get as many wins as they can in five games before they have to play again on Monday.
Yes, 0-12 record on Mondays, and 18 total runs scored in those games for the Bravos. Remarkable. The latest loss was Monday, a 2-1 defeat that got interesting in the ninth inning.
But there isn’t much for me to add about that statistical oddity. Other than, it’s gone from odd to absurd. I mean, the Braves don’t have a losing record on any other day, and are 0-12 on Mondays. Next Monday game for the Braves is in six days against these same Marlins, who beat them 2-1 last night.
Moving on to other matters….
It’s gotten Uggly. The latest Uggla slump, that is. It’s lasted nearly six weeks now, and Braves fans are understandably restless and wondering when the team might get something closer to the performance Uggla had in his years with the Marlins.
The second baseman was traded to the Braves after the 2009 season for Omar Infante and lefty reliever Mike Dunn, and Uggla was given a five-year, $62 million contract extension before he’d played a game for Atlanta. With the notable exceptions of a 33-game hitting streak last season and an early season run this year that helped him win a fan-voted spot on the NL All-Star team, Uggla has struggled a lot in two seasons.
His .215 average is now third-worst in the NL, ahead of Rickie Weeks’ .193 (Weeks is also the only NL hitter with more strikeouts than Uggla, 114-112) and the Mets’ Ike Davis’ .208.
Uggla is 3-for-26 with four walks and 12 strikeouts in his past eight games, which includes his three-hit, four-run, two-walk game against Washington in the 11-inning miracle comeback win Friday. In the other seven of his past eight games, he’s 0-for-23 with two walks and 12 strikeouts.
But this slide began at the end of the first week of June. Specifically, it started the day after his two-homer, five-RBI game against his old Marlins team in Miami on June 5. He went 0-for-7 with four strikeouts in the last two games of that series, and hasn’t stopped reeling since.
In 39 games since that two-homer night in Miami, Uggla has hit .121 with an anemic .181 slugging percentage. Has just two doubles, two homers and 52 strikeouts in 127 at-bats in that stretch, with 27 walks and a .300 OBP.
A few other alarming stats:
– Uggla hit .265 with a .846 OPS (.362 OBP) in 317 games during his last two seasons with the Marlins in 2009-2010. In his first two seasons with the Braves, he’s hit .227 average with a .750 OPS (.326 OBP) in 255 games.
– After striking out once every 3.86 at-bats and homering once every 18 at-bats in his last two seasons with the Marlins, Uggla has struck out once ever 3.45 at-bats and homered every 19.3 at-bats with Braves. If those don’t seem like a lot, project them over 500-600 at-bats and you’ll see those are significant differences.
– Uggla vs. right-handers this season: .226 (46-for-223) with nine homers, 36 walks, 79 strikeouts, .327 OBP, .699 OPS
– When batting with two strikes, Uggla is 20-for-182 (.110) with 36 walks, 112 strikeouts.
He’s drawing more walks than ever this season, and that’s obviously a good thing. But Uggla and the Braves will tell you, they didn’t make him the highest-paid second baseman in baseball (at the time his $12.4 million average annual value was the highest for the position) to have him draw walks.
He was brought to Atlanta to hit 30-plus homers and drive in 90-100 runs a year, like he’d done for six seasons in Florida.
Uggla had 36 homers last season, but his RBIs dipped to 82 and his average and OBP fell to .233 and .311, down from his six-year average marks of .263 and .349 with the Marlins including .287/.369 in 2009.
The Braves thought that was the direction he was headed, that .287/.369/.508 season in his last year with the Marlins.
Instead, he went .233/.311/.453 in his first season with the Braves, and is at .215/.350/.371. After never having an OPS below .805 with the Marlins, Uggla had a .764 OPS in his first season with Atlanta and has a .721 OPS this season.
– After hitting .377 with a 1.200 OPS in his 33-game hitting streak through Aug. 13, 2011, Uggla has hit .222 with a .745 OPS in his past 136 games, with 164 strikeouts in 478 at-bats.
– Since the trade at the 2009 GM Meetings, Uggla has hit .227 with 86 extra-base hits (48 homers), a .750 OPS and 128 RBIs in 926 at-bats, while second baseman/utility infielder Infante has hit .280 with 72 extra-base hits (15 homers), a .718 OPS in 907 at-bats.
The already-out-of-the-race Marlins traded Infante and pitcher Anibal Sanchez to Detroit on Tuesday as they began another rebuilding project.
• Minor strides: Although his performance got overshadowed Monday by Josh Johnson’s six innings of one-hit, nine-strikeout dominance, young lefty Mike Minor had a solid outing of his own to continue his recent progress. Here’s what he and other Braves had to say about it.
Minor allowed two runs, six hits and no walks in seven innings, with four strikeouts. He’s 3-3 with a 3.64 ERA and .213 opponents’ average ein past eight starts, after going 2-4 with a 6.98 ERA and .288 opp average in his first 10 starts this season.
“It feels good to give these guys a chance to win every time,” Minor said of his teammates. “I feel like I’ve been a lot better the last couple of starts. I feel like I owe a lot to Roger [McDowell] and [Brian] McCann and just working together, helping me out to get through the struggles.”
• Marlins reboot, version whatever: Imagine if you’d bought season tickets for the Marlins and were all excited about seeing a revamped team with a greatly increased payroll finally playing in a new ballpark with a roof.
Now we’re a week from the trade deadline and once again they’re waving the figurative white flag and talking about “restructuring” (and offering no refunds that I’m aware of…)
Here’s the story from the Miami Herald.
• Braves will get a starter: I still think it’ll be Dempster, but whether it’s him or not, I’m almost certain the Braves will add a proven starting pitcher before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
I became even more convinced of this after two recent quotes from Chipper Jones.
This was this one after Sunday’s loss at Washington: “We’ve struggled with our consistency because we’ve struggled at the end of our rotation, and you saw it today. It’s a little demoralizing when you’re in a dogfight for the division and you’re constantly fighting from behind.”
Which followed this one nearly two weeks ago: “I’d like to see us get a pitcher,” Jones told AJC columnist Jeff Schultz. “You would be amazed how consistent you play when you’ve got five guys who expect to win every time they walk out there.”
Chipper usually has his thumb on the pulse of team’s plans and potential moves, and I don’t think he’d have said either of those things if he didn’t feel like the Braves were in position to make a move for a starting pitcher.
• Tonight’s matchup: It’s a good one featuring veterans Tim Hudson and Marlins lefty Mark Buehrle, both coming in on good runs.
Hudson is 5-2 with a 2.92 ERA in his past eight starts, and allowed two earned runs or fewer in five of those. The stretch began with his five-hit shutout against the Marlins in Miami on June 5, the game where Uggla hit two homers and drove in five runs in an 11-0 win. That was the third win in as many starts for Hudson against the Marlins.
He’s 12-4 with a 2.76 ERA in 23 career starts against the Marlins, including 3-0 with a 1.16 ERA in his past three. Marlins newcomer Carlos Lee, the former Astros 1B/LF, is 12-for-32 (.375) with a homer and 10 RBIs against Hudson; Austin Kearns is 11-for-33 with a homer against him, and Jose Reyes is 20-for-74 (.270) with two homers.
Buehrle had an 0.94 ERA in a four-start winning streak before he lost Thursday at Chicago, where he gave up four runs in five innings against the Cubs. The lefty is 6-3 with a 2.62 ERA in 10 home starts this season, and allowed two or fewer earned runs in each of his past six.
Buehrle is 3-1 with a 3.81 ERA in four starts against the Braves, and Martin Prado is 3-for-9 with a homer against him.
• Let’s close with a great tune from Elvis Costello off his terrific Imperial Bedroom album. You can hear the tune by clicking here.
“MAN OUT OF TIME” by Elvis Costello
The pretty things of Knightsbridge
Lying for a minister of state
Is a far cry from the nod and wink
Here at traitor’s gate
‘Cause the high heel he used to be has been ground down
And he listens for the footsteps that would follow him around
To murder my love is a crime
But will you still love
A man out of time
There`s a tuppeny hapenny millionaire
Looking for a fourpenny one
With a tight grip on the short hairs
Of the public imagination
But for his private wife and kids somehow
Real life becomes a rumor
Days of Dutch courage
Just three French letters and a German sense of humor
He`s got a mind like a sewer and a heart like a fridge
He stands to be insulted and he pays for the privilege
To murder my love is a crime
But will you still love
A man out of time
Love is always scarpering or cowering or fawning
You drink yourself insensitive and hate yourself in the morning