Braves slumping 2B Uggla now a part-time player

He stuck with him for three months, but manager Fredi Gonzalez decided he could not wait any longer for Dan Uggla to start hitting.

Gonzalez called the All-Star second baseman into his office Sunday and told him that until further notice, Uggla would not be in the lineup on a daily basis.

Uggla has gone from starting lineup in the July All-Star game to part-time player in September.

Uggla has gone from starting lineup in the July All-Star game to part-time player in September.

“This is new to me, so I’ll just take it step by step and handle it the best way I can handle it,” Uggla said this morning, when he was out of the lineup for the second consecutive game since his meeting with the manager. “He didn’t really explain anything to me. He just kind of said something like, ‘We’ve got to make a change, and I don’t know how much playing time you’re going to get in the next 29 games.’

“And that was about it.”

The reason was clear: Uggla, in the second season of a five-year, $62 million contract, has hit a National League-worst .208 with 17 homers, 150 strikeouts and a .373 slugging percentage that’s the fifth-lowest in the league.

“It’s not a doghouse situation,” Gonzalez said. “It’s a situation where you feel like you need to do something for the team and for the name on the front of the uniform. And it’s hard. It’s not easy, because of the relationship. If it was a guy that I met two months ago, you don’t even think about it.

The only aspect of Uggla’s offensive performance that’s not been significantly below average (or worse) is his walks – he’s drawn a league-high 80, for a decent .340 OBP.

But drawing walks alone – without hitting for average or big-time power – is not what the Braves had in mind when they traded for Uggla and signed him to a long-term extension that made him the highest-paid second baseman (average annual value of his deal is $12.4 million).

And even though his overall numbers slipped in his first season with the Braves in 2011 – career-worsts in average (.233), OBP (.311), slugging percentage (.453) and OPS (.764) — he also went on a tremendous 33-game hitting streak when he carried the offense, and he finished with a career-high 36 homers and 82 RBIs, his fifth consecutive season with more than 30 homers and sixth in a row with more than 80 RBIs.

This season Uggla’s on pace for 20 homers, 77 RBIs and 181 strikeouts, which would obliterate the franchise record of 156 whiffs he set last season.

The Braves could live with the strikeouts, which would not be a problem at all if Uggla was still producing at the level he did during his five seasons with the Marlins, when he averaged more than 30 homers and 93 RBIs while hitting .263 with a .349 OBP and .837 OPS. Gonzalez was his manager for 3-1/2 of those seasons in Florida.

To repeat, Uggla is hitting .208, and his .713 OPS is nearly 100 points lower than his career-worst OPS with the Marlins.

And it’s been worse for the past three months.

After having a two-homer, five-RBI game at Miami on June 5, he’s hit .152 (37-for-243) with nine doubles, seven homers, 27 RBIs and a .580 OPS in his past 74 games. A .580 OPS over a 74-game stretch seems nearly incomprehensible for a 32-year-old who’s had no injuries this season.

So Uggla will sit for now, probably more often than not the rest of the season, with Martin Prado moving to second base and Reed Johnson or someone else in left field. Gonzalez said if Prado isn’t at second base, he wouldn’t play newcomer Jeff Baker or Tyler Pastornicky over Uggla. If Prado isn’t at second base, Uggla will be.

But that’s about it as far as assurances from the manager for the player he’s always praised, and whom he stuck with longer than anyone I can imagine other than perhaps Gonzalez’s mentor, Bobby Cox.

There comes a time, folks, when loyalty has to be put aside. And .152 avereage with a .580 OPS over 74 games is that time, if not past time.

“Obviously it’s uncomfortable,” Gonzalez said. “It’s hard, especially with the relationship I have with him. Six years with him. You want your players to be upset when they’re not in there. And knowing him, going down to September he’s going to have a big at-bat pinch-hitting, or when we put him in a game he’s going to have a big game that’s going to get us to the postseason. That’s the way I feel about it.”

Uggla was upset, and told Gonzalez during their meeting. As Uggla put it, “He knows exactly how I feel.”

Gonzalez benched him against a left-hander, Cole Hamels, on Sunday. And against a righty, Tyler Chatwood on Monday. Uggla’s .203 average vs. righties is the second-lowest in the NL, and he was 8-for-55 with 18 strikeouts (and two homers) against Hamels.

“I know my numbers, Hamels has dominated me throughout the years,” Uggla said. “But I don’t look at that. If somebody struggles, late in the season I’m putting my guys out there. Putting them out there every day and I’m seeing what happens. We’re at this level, we make adjustments. We’ve been there before, we’ve done it. And you never know what’s going to happen.”

With Uggla out of the lineup Sunday, left fielder Reed Johnson had three hits and second baseman Martin Prado had a two-run, two-out hit in the ninth inning before Chipper Jones (above) hit a walk-off three-run homer to cap the Braves' thrilling 8-7 comeback win over the Phillies. (Curtis Compton photo/AJC)

With Uggla out of the lineup Sunday, left fielder Reed Johnson had three hits and second baseman Martin Prado had a two-run, two-out hit in the ninth inning before Chipper Jones (above) hit a walk-off three-run homer to cap the Braves' thrilling 8-7 comeback win over the Phillies. (Curtis Compton photo/AJC)

Uggla’s adjustments, whatever they’ve been, have not yielded results. Yes, he had a five-game hitting streak with two homers through Saturday, but with one hit in each of those games, and eight strikeouts (with one walk) in 16 at-bats over the last four of those games.

“It’s kind of funny, I had a go-ahead homer a couple of nights ago,” Uggla said. “We ended up not winning that game, but… I homered a couple of games before that, which turned out to be kind of a big one as well. A few hits here and there. Who knows. Whatever.”

Said Gonzalez: “Going into yesterday he had a four- or five-game hitting streak. But you’re looking at bigger sample size.”

And how about the bigger picture? As in, the future. Uggla’s contract included a $1 million signing bonus and salaries of $9 million in 2011, then $13 million each of the next four seasons from 2012 through 2015.

There hasn’t been any indication yet whether the Braves will try to trade him this winter, or whether they even could without eating a significant part of the contract. Gonzalez was asked Sunday about Uggla’s situation going forward.

“Next year is next year; I might not even be around next year, you know?” Gonzalez said. “I don’t even look that far ahead. We worry about next year next year.”

And what if Uggla helps the Braves get to the postseason and more?

“If we make it to the postseason and we get far and there’s a hoisting of a flag,” Gonzalez said, “there’s going to be some mending of fences and mending of relationships. But that’s what we’ve got to do.”

BRAVES LINEUP

  1. Bourn cf
  2. Constanza lf
  3. Heyward rf
  4. Freeman 1b
  5. Prado 2b
  6. Francisco 3b
  7. Ross c
  8. Janish ss
  9. Medlen

• OK, I’m out of time. Kris Medlen puts his streaks of 28-1/3 scoreless innings and 17 team wins in his starts on the line today against Colorado. Let’s close with one of my favorite cuts from Jamey Johnson’s The Guitar Song album from 2010. His last two albums have been two of the best 10 country albums of the past decade, maybe two of the best five. Seriously, he is that good. Real country. Hear it by clicking here.

images

“THAT’S HOW I DON’T LOVE YOU” by Jamey Johnson

I used to wake up early
Just so I could watch you as you sleep
That’s how I loved you

Forever was a promise
That wasn’t very hard for me to keep
That’s how I loved you

Four habits and a carnal sin
Has left me in a crooked state of mind
That’s how I loved you

Now I just pour the poison in
And act like it’s my new best friend at night
And I cry
And that’s how I don’t love you anymore

Ain’t no sense in yell’n
Ain’t no use in dwell’n on the past
That’s how I loved you

I’m sit’n here and miss’n you
Is a waste of time and life goes by too fast
That’s how I loved you

Four habits and a carnal sin
Has left me in a crooked state of mind
That’s how I loved you

Four habits and a carnal sin
Has left me in a crooked state of mind
That’s how I loved you

Now I just pour the poison in
And act like it’s my new best friend at night
And I cry
And that’s how I don’t love you

I used to wake up early
Just so I could watch you as you sleep
That’s how I loved you

– David O’Brien, Braves/MIB blog

1,389 comments Add your comment

bravesgrl4life

September 3rd, 2012
1:12 pm

Great song choice, DOB! I love Jamey Johnson’s stuff!

GO BRAVES!!!

Brava

September 3rd, 2012
1:13 pm

Thank you, DOB.

Go Braves!!!

BFChris27

September 3rd, 2012
1:13 pm

Thank you for new blog!!!!!!!!!!

Jerry

September 3rd, 2012
1:14 pm

Glad to see that Fredi finally grew “a pair”. Does this mean that I think Fredi shouldn’t be fired? Not at all. Unlike a lot of posters here, I don’t spend much time at all denigrating Fredi’s ability as manager. I think he sucks at his job, but I think it’s a waste of time beating that dead horse. I spend enough time beating a dead horse with my absolute dislike for Uggla. I would have given him his walking papers long ago and driven the bus to the bus station and asked Fredi to walk him to the gate and then driven off, leaving Fredi with that stupid look on his face. Anyway, what’s done is done. The Braves should be ecstatic that with as bad as they’ve played, the Cards, Pirates, and Dodgers haven’t exactly put their best foot forward yet. Still, even if the Braves win one of the wild cards, they will lose that game if Medlen is not the pitcher.

Tomahawk Mafia

September 3rd, 2012
1:15 pm

Francisco should have turned that into an out.

TheOnlyBravesFan

September 3rd, 2012
1:15 pm

Thank you very much DOB!

David from Athens, AL

September 3rd, 2012
1:16 pm

Wow. Thanks DOB

TheOnlyBravesFan

September 3rd, 2012
1:17 pm

Not going to argue about Georgie, but it’s hilarious seeing the ones who call everyone else haters ripping on him.

Ha! There’s actually a reason for this though…. he’s a AAAA player, a journeyman minor-leaguer. People that rip on Uggla, Mac, Heyward, etc (all proven Major Leaguers) are idiotic.

Brava

September 3rd, 2012
1:17 pm

rich brave

September 3rd, 2012
1:17 pm

CONSTANZA gets a start to shake off some cobwebs.

Sam

September 3rd, 2012
1:18 pm

It took him long enough, but I am proud of Fredi for taking a stand. Enough is enough

Brava

September 3rd, 2012
1:18 pm

WTG. Jason!!!

MIBravesFan

September 3rd, 2012
1:18 pm

Nice catch JHey!!!

The A Bomb

September 3rd, 2012
1:18 pm

Like I said last night, this is akin to Uggla finding out he’s adopted. Long overdue.

BFChris27

September 3rd, 2012
1:18 pm

JHey!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Birdhair

September 3rd, 2012
1:19 pm

Uggla=Another significant spending mistake by Wren

Kat

September 3rd, 2012
1:19 pm

Hoping everyone enjoys their Labor Day, and I can thank my union on this day. Back to baseball,.. Meds is gonna bring us another W today… I can feel it, and if I’m wrong clearly that was just a inch I was feeling haha.

Thanks for the new DOB blog David. Jamey Johnson lyrics are really nice, gonna have to listen song.

Harpie

September 3rd, 2012
1:19 pm

Fredi is the one who should be benched ( well, since the manager IS on the bench, maybe he should be “locker -roomed” ); he hasn’t a clue as to how to manage a major league ball team. Atlanta should package him with Larry Drew and send them far, far, away…

Tomahawk Mafia

September 3rd, 2012
1:19 pm

That was an awesome catch by Heyward. His outfield play has improved tremendously this season.

TheOnlyBravesFan

September 3rd, 2012
1:20 pm

Braves might try to trade Uggla, but I can’t see anyone that would take him esp. where it helps us (like where we only pay 1mil of his salary)

“Next year is next year; I might not even be around next year, you know?” Gonzalez said.

Don’t say that Fredi! We all want you back. ;)

And what if Uggla helps the Braves get to the postseason and more?

“If we make it to the postseason and we get far and there’s a hoisting of a flag,” Gonzalez said, “there’s going to be some mending of fences and mending of relationships. But that’s what we’ve got to do.”

Hope Uggla does get to contribute.

Brava

September 3rd, 2012
1:20 pm

Whatever makes you feel righteous, TOBF. I can see it for what it is. Look under H in the dictionary.

rich brave

September 3rd, 2012
1:20 pm

BRAVA

What was up last night? Why all the …. whatever it was? Not trying to stir the pot, just never got a handle on what brought on the contention.

Sopheee

September 3rd, 2012
1:22 pm

Thanks, DOB.

Wow on all the Uggla stuff. Gotta do what you gotta do though.

Jerry

September 3rd, 2012
1:22 pm

“Next year is next year; I might not even be around next year, you know?” Gonzalez said. “I don’t even look that far ahead. We worry about next year next year.”

We can only hope Fredi.

Brava

September 3rd, 2012
1:22 pm

rich, I had a bout of insomnia and

TheOnlyBravesFan

September 3rd, 2012
1:23 pm

Whatever Birdbrains…. we had just signed a guy coming off of 4 straight 30HR seasons, and just hit a career high .287. It was a great deal at the time, considering that we weren’t paying 20mil for that kind of power.

Tomahawk Mafia

September 3rd, 2012
1:23 pm

Michael Bourn has reached base five times in the past two games. That is a step in the right direction.

Hugo Z Hackenbush

September 3rd, 2012
1:23 pm

Is it time to bunt for a hit?

eddie57

September 3rd, 2012
1:23 pm

To be honest, I never thought Fredi the Freeloader had the guts to sit his baby boy Ugglier. I still think Fredi has to go as it is too late after 11 months as manager to start realizing that he can’t just sit in the dugout with a blank look on his face.

chipontheroad

September 3rd, 2012
1:23 pm

Thnx D O’B I’ll just enjoy Marteeeeeeeeeeeen and hope Uggs can pull it together somehow

rich brave

September 3rd, 2012
1:24 pm

Brava

September 3rd, 2012
1:24 pm

Was bored, so I humored a drunk BAS by conversating with him when I usually ignore him.

TheOnlyBravesFan

September 3rd, 2012
1:24 pm

Whatever makes you feel righteous, TOBF. I can see it for what it is. Look under H in the dictionary.

:lol: Hell? Why?

Brava

September 3rd, 2012
1:25 pm

WTG, Georgie!

chipontheroad

September 3rd, 2012
1:25 pm

FEAR

September 3rd, 2012
1:25 pm

Well at least we didn’t give up much for Uggla. He has been completely worthless

Birdhair

September 3rd, 2012
1:25 pm

Fantastic managing by FG lately. Playing Reed and Ross are the right moves. If Cox was managing this team we’d be far out of the race.

TheOnlyBravesFan

September 3rd, 2012
1:26 pm

I’m doing constructive criticism against Constanza a minor leaguer, not spewing vitriol and hate against Major Leaguers like some others…

Tomahawk Mafia

September 3rd, 2012
1:27 pm

Heyward moved the runner over, but a little more patience and swining at strikes would have been a better strategy.

The A Bomb

September 3rd, 2012
1:27 pm

Birdhair = Mrs. Gonzalez.

TheOnlyBravesFan

September 3rd, 2012
1:28 pm

WTG Georgie… you bunted. Wow. :roll:

Jerry

September 3rd, 2012
1:28 pm

After the trade that brought Uggla here, in retrospect it would have been nice to wait til the end of that season to decide whether or not to resign him. We could have saved tons of money doing it that way, but I also understand that it’s a crap shoot. Wren should try something new because his signings don’t work for the most part. Especially those that he shells out loads of cash to.

BFChris27

September 3rd, 2012
1:28 pm

Bourn!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jerry

September 3rd, 2012
1:28 pm

And the Rockies defense nets us an early run.

Brava

September 3rd, 2012
1:28 pm

Yay! Bourney!

TheOnlyBravesFan

September 3rd, 2012
1:29 pm

The A Bomb

September 3rd, 2012
1:29 pm

Can’t believe we bunted (LOL) in 3….2……1…….

rich brave

September 3rd, 2012
1:29 pm

TheOnlyBravesFan
September 3rd, 2012
1:23 pm

“…….Whatever Birdbrains…. we had just signed a guy coming off of 4 straight 30HR seasons, and just hit a career high .287. It was a great deal at the time, considering that we weren’t paying 20mil for that kind of power…….”

Yes, it was….at the time. No one could have divined the tail-spin he’s go into. At least, no one in the BRAVES organization.

chipontheroad

September 3rd, 2012
1:29 pm

mikeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey!!!

Birdhair

September 3rd, 2012
1:29 pm

The trade for uggla was a decent move, but the signing was horrendous. Get your value in the outfield. Plus struggla is on the wrong side of thirty. We could have gotten much more value for our buck than uggla. Beltran, Willingham, two easy examples.

Tomahawk Mafia

September 3rd, 2012
1:30 pm

Did the Braves score first? That is awesome.

MIBravesFan

September 3rd, 2012
1:30 pm

I love the way this game is starting!! Yes!

Brava

September 3rd, 2012
1:30 pm

Wow! The Rockies are really bad!

BFChris27

September 3rd, 2012
1:30 pm

That works!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hugo Z Hackenbush

September 3rd, 2012
1:30 pm

A lot of scoring for so little hitting…

StingerSplash

September 3rd, 2012
1:30 pm

I doubt seriously the Braves could find someone to take all of Uggla’s salary on in the offseason, especially given the numbers of the last two years (particularly average and Ks) and his age. But the Braves could take the savings from shipping Uggla out (maybe a package with Jurrjens?) and put that money toward another starting pitcher.
So I guess he goes from Struggla to Sittla?

The A Bomb

September 3rd, 2012
1:30 pm

Jerry — Spot on.

Trading for him was fine. His relationship with Gonzalez skewed the matter.

And get the oxygen for Freeman.

chipontheroad

September 3rd, 2012
1:31 pm

Freddieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Jerry

September 3rd, 2012
1:31 pm

Well at least we didn’t give up much for Uggla. He has been completely worthless…FEAR

Are you being serious? I don’t consider Infante as not much.

bravofan

September 3rd, 2012
1:31 pm

Sopheee

September 3rd, 2012
1:31 pm

Jerry

September 3rd, 2012
1:31 pm

Wow. The Rockie’s defense is deplorable.

Tomahawk Mafia

September 3rd, 2012
1:32 pm

Two early runs. That feels great.

FEAR

September 3rd, 2012
1:32 pm

Jerry – We didn’t have to give up any prospects. Infante was a free agent after last year and the Braves wouldn’t have resigned him.

rich brave

September 3rd, 2012
1:33 pm

BOURN-a-gen. Is that IRISH, or just the second time?

bravofan

September 3rd, 2012
1:33 pm

the ball was going to roll foul sure am glad he picked it up

TheOnlyBravesFan

September 3rd, 2012
1:33 pm

Rockies defense looking worse than the Astros…

TNScott

September 3rd, 2012
1:33 pm

Good thing that the Rockies weren’t thinking there. I would’ve hit Martin in the back with the ball. He wasn’t in the running lane. Easy way to get an out.

MIBravesFan

September 3rd, 2012
1:33 pm

Okay, so we should just call him “Fast Freddie” from now on! :)

rich brave

September 3rd, 2012
1:34 pm

Isn’t MIKE DUNN worth anything?

jed

September 3rd, 2012
1:34 pm

cant blame fredi for sitting him. wren should’ve sent uggla to gwinnett 3 weeks ago to try and salvage his season.

Jerry

September 3rd, 2012
1:35 pm

2 runs and no hits. Special.

bravofan

September 3rd, 2012
1:35 pm

Strasburg is projected to make his final two starts on Friday against Miami and on Sept. 12 in New York.

Tomahawk Mafia

September 3rd, 2012
1:36 pm

We have been waiting a long time for the Braves to get some of the breaks they got in the first inning today.

bravesgrl4life

September 3rd, 2012
1:37 pm

Good start to the game.

Astro Joe

September 3rd, 2012
1:37 pm

Gee, I wish I knew the name of the blogger that gave me grief when I suggested that before offering Uggla a long-term deal, the Braves needed to make sure that he wasn’t going to go “Dan Kolb” on us. Oh, how fun it would be to say “I told you so” now. Maybe we can trade him this winter for Omar Infante and a long reliever.

Grandpa gave away his Season Tickets

September 3rd, 2012
1:37 pm

Braves Win!!!!! Braves Win!!!!! NO Uggly in the line up……, Braves have a chance to Win!!!!!

TheOnlyBravesFan

September 3rd, 2012
1:38 pm

Isn’t MIKE DUNN worth anything?

Not much lately… a wild reliever. In fact, he is worth -0.4 WAR this year. Has a K/BB ratio under 2. Not good for a relief pitcher.

Birdhair

September 3rd, 2012
1:38 pm

Wren does not comprehend the concept of getting most value for your buck and how to manage a budget (especially a middle market team budget)

All of Wren’s big splash moves have been failures. It’s time for Wren to go.

David O'Brien

September 3rd, 2012
1:39 pm

13 of Medlen’s 1st 15 pitches were strikes

Jerry

September 3rd, 2012
1:39 pm

FEAR,

I wouldn’t say we couldn’t have resigned Infante. He wouldn’t have commanded a huge contract.

ChattTownBrian

September 3rd, 2012
1:40 pm

Medlen looks like he can be an ace here for a while. I never thought I’d say that. He looks legit.

MIBravesFan

September 3rd, 2012
1:40 pm

Great work, Kris!

Brava

September 3rd, 2012
1:40 pm

David O'Brien

September 3rd, 2012
1:41 pm

All of Wren’s big splash moves have been failures. It’s time for Wren to go. –Birdhair

On Aug. 1 plenty of people were saying he should be considered for executive of the year.

Hugo Z Hackenbush

September 3rd, 2012
1:41 pm

Let’s see…Infante currently has an OPS+ of 97, and Dunn is a middle reliever with an ERA of 3.89. How have the Braves managed without that!?

The A Bomb

September 3rd, 2012
1:41 pm

Be prepared — there will be some games when Medlen gets hit but for the most part, his movement and change of speed will make it really difficult for anyone to square him up.

When Beachy gets back in ‘14 (full speed) and Minor and Teheran/Delgado along with possibly Graham this is going to be something. I’m starting to see what is developing here.

Tomahawk Mafia

September 3rd, 2012
1:41 pm

What an outstanding inning. Medlen is incredible.

TheOnlyBravesFan

September 3rd, 2012
1:41 pm

Medlen just pounds the zone… much like Huddy and Greinke. Need to get Maholm and Hanson to do the same. Love watching this kid pitch.

Dum-Bass

September 3rd, 2012
1:41 pm

Anybody know what the name is of this manager that was called up to replace Fredi G? Looks a lot like FG but just couldn’t possibly be.

FEAR

September 3rd, 2012
1:42 pm

Hugo Z Hackenbush – My point exactly.

Tumbledown

September 3rd, 2012
1:43 pm

I know Uggla is a competitor and is upset by his demotion. I just hope that deep down he realizes that he was given more than enough opportunities to break out. He can still contribute so he needs to keep working and take advantage of every chance he gets to play.

ChattTownBrian

September 3rd, 2012
1:43 pm

He has a Maddux 2 seamer. I just don’t want to get ahead of myself though. I know a lot of people say his size won’t hold up through a whole season, but we’ll take what we’re getting now.

Tumbledown

September 3rd, 2012
1:43 pm

I know Uggla is a competitor and is upset by his demotion. I just hope that deep down he realizes that he was given more than enough opportunities to break out. He can still contribute so he needs to keep working and take advantage of every chance he gets to play.

Brian from SC

September 3rd, 2012
1:43 pm

Medlen is like some kind of robot right now.

cafleming

September 3rd, 2012
1:43 pm

Medlen is Maddux-esque!!

cafleming

September 3rd, 2012
1:43 pm

Medlen is Maddux-esque!!

Tumbledown

September 3rd, 2012
1:43 pm

Sorry about he double post

TheOnlyBravesFan

September 3rd, 2012
1:43 pm

Let’s see…Infante currently has an OPS+ of 97, and Dunn is a middle reliever with an ERA of 3.89. How have the Braves managed without that!?

Very well. And Dan’s OPS+ is 92… not far from Infante. And that’s with the horrible slump.

nolie

September 3rd, 2012
1:45 pm

I’m calling BALLGAME just on that lineup…… :?

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