Dan Uggla trade is latest example of Wren’s quick moves

Brian McCann probably is thrilled by the Dan Uggla acquisition. It means he won't be bowled over by him again. (AJC photo)

Brian McCann probably is thrilled by the Dan Uggla acquisition. It means he won't be bowled over by him again. (AJC photo)

A few days ago, the Braves removed Kenshin Kawakami from their 40-man roster. Short of general manager Frank Wren stepping into the way-back machine and telling John Schuerholz, “You know, I’ve got a really bad feeling about this Mark Teixeira trade,” there probably wasn’t a better way to begin the offseason.

Quantum leap No. 2 came Tuesday. Wren traded Omar Infante, a valuable utility player – emphasis on utility – for a starting second baseman, Dan Uggla, who has averaged 31 homers and 93 RBIs in the last five seasons.

The lineup just got better. That didn’t take long.

Say this for Wren. He doesn’t sit idle very long. We can debate whether all of his moves have worked or backfired – the Kawakami signing: boom! – but nobody can accuse of him not trying.

When various issues came up this past season, Wren demoted Kawakami, demoted Nate McLouth (after demoting Jordan Schafer twice), swapped Yunel Escobar for Alex Gonzalez, and acquired Derrek Lee, Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth.

Did each move grade out as A-plus? No. But the Braves held together despite significant injuries and lineup changes. Every acquired player contributed something during the team’s unlikely playoff run – right down to Ankiel’s 11th inning home run against San Francisco in the National League Division Series.

That’s a testament to Wren’s efforts.

Kawakami was given a three-year, $23 million contract. Results so far: 5-22 with a 4.32 ERA.

Kawakami was given a three-year, $23 million contract. The results so far: 8-22 record with a 4.32 ERA.

“We try to be proactive,” he said. “You’re always looking to improve your ballclub. That’s what a general manager’s role is. You see what your opportunities are. Over the course of last year, we tracked and watched our team and made changes. We’ve done that a lot over the last three years.”

That said, this could be the Braves’ only major move this offseason. A few thoughts about that:

♦ Uggla brings power. But the Braves had significant defensive problems last season and his acquisition doesn’t help. His 18 errors ranked second among major league second basemen last season. Wren, however, said that he isn’t concerned and that manager Fredi Gonzalez (who worked with Uggla in Florida) told him Uggla “has worked hard and gotten better.”

♦ Center field remains an issue. But Wren’s plan is to stick with Nate McLouth. He said he’s basing that on McLouth bouncing back after being called up in September (he hit .273). I believe he’s actually basing that on something else — money. The Braves likely will have to eat some of Kawakami’s $6.667 million (whether he ends up with another team or back in Japan). It’s not like there are a lot of takers for McLouth (who is due $6.5 million plus a $1.25 million buyout of his 2012 option). Liberty Media is being tight. Again. There’s a good chance this position will be a problem again.

♦ Martin Prado likely will play third base if Chipper Jones can’t return from a knee injury and left field if he can. That uncertainty isn’t comforting. The Braves just had a season of rotating bodies. But they’re at the mercy of Jones’ rehab right now, and he’s carrying a $13 million price tag of all. Once again, it’s a money decision. The worst-case scenario is the Braves get to spring training and discover Jones’ knee isn’t responding as hoped.

Then what? Wren probably makes another trade.

Earlier posts

Bill Curry goes back to Tuscaloosa as a changed man

So I can get Georgia State and 42½ vs. Alabama? Hmmm…

Heyward, Posey both deserving of top rookie honors

Liberty CEO ($87.1 million) made more than Braves’ roster

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

215 comments Add your comment

GermanBravesFan

November 17th, 2010
6:23 am

hmmm… First?

GermanBravesFan

November 17th, 2010
6:27 am

Wren, in my opinion, has done an excellent job over the past two seasons. He approached the rebuilding process with a master plan: pitching first, then the rest. I believe the Braves were ahead of schedule by reaching the post season in 2010; there was no certainty since the team’s performance was based on many “ifs”: Glaus, Heyward, McLouth, etc. For 2011, Braves fans should expect the team to make the playoffs – and more. Let’s hope Wren keeps making the right moves!

mwh6767

November 17th, 2010
6:27 am

At least seen is trying like you say jeff. I like the move and think it instantly upgrades the braves. You can never have too much power in your line up and another utility man can be found.

Chief Knockahoma

November 17th, 2010
6:28 am

The Braves are The Good, The Bad and The Uggla.

TommyP

November 17th, 2010
6:28 am

Phenomenal deal akin to the McGriff deal years ago. Highway robbery. You HAVE to give Wren is due here.

Conway

November 17th, 2010
6:41 am

Good trade! Chipper needs to go! He is hurting the team instead of helping! We could get more out of Frenchy than Chipper!

stan gan

November 17th, 2010
6:44 am

tHIS IS A GOOD DEAL ONLY IF THEY CAN RE SIGN

mwh6767

November 17th, 2010
6:50 am

Stan its a GREAT deal if uggla resigns. I really believe week doesn’t part with Infante unless he was certain to be able to resign.

DamYankee

November 17th, 2010
6:53 am

Not so fast – the Braves already had 3 guys who can play 2nd as well as Uggla and giving up O-Baby (get it? Infante=infant=baby) is not a good move IMO. And Noodle Arm Nate would have a hard time making many AAA teams. I’ll be surprised if he hits .250, and he’ll need 2 cut-off men to get the ball back to the infield. Does anyone think the Braves would have even sniffed the post-season without Infante? Not likely.

BobDawg

November 17th, 2010
6:57 am

….. this will play out when Chipper either comes back and plays or retires… also no mention of Uggla’s weak fielding skills… but the power/rbi’s are welcomed … Now we have to fix the outfield….

London Based Yellow Jacket

November 17th, 2010
7:01 am

I always though Uggla would be a great fit with the Braves (at least he won’t kill us anymore). Hate to see Omar go. He was a great guy to have but better to have 93 RBIs and those homers inthe lineup.

Plate Appearance

November 17th, 2010
7:15 am

MORE SHUFFLING

I too, hate to see Omar go.

That’s what I most dislike about Wren as a GM — the way he constantly shuffles players in and out of the Braves organization.

I wish Wren would offer the players a similar degree of continuity that he and JS offer the coaching staff.

It’s difficult to once again see players you root for and enjoyed watching shipped somewhere else, as in the case with Infante in this trade.

Thanks Omar for your great three years as a Brave!

Larry

November 17th, 2010
7:22 am

Ask Chipper to be a man of honor and settle with him on a buyout. Then, take this money and go get Jason Werth:

Lineup:

1. Prado
2. Uggla
3. Werth
4. McCann
5. Heyward
6. Gonzalez
7. Freeman
8. McLouth

gordonguy1969

November 17th, 2010
7:38 am

Sorry Larry, though the Braves lineup next season will be pretty good, it will be Werth-less.

Chop It Up All-Star

November 17th, 2010
7:39 am

It’s a good move, though like many here, I will miss Infante. He’s a solid ball player, plays hard and gives everything he’s got every time out. Florida got themselves a baseball player yesterday; and so did we in Uggla.

But, the Braves can’t be done. They are still a major piece away. Not only is McLouth a liability at the plate, he’s a liability in the field who hesitates on throws back to the in field. Wren said that the Braves will have to be creative in order to get better. This is a good start, but can only be the beginning.

DamYankee

November 17th, 2010
7:40 am

Werth is an overrated punk who would end up being a liability in the clubhouse, I don’t think he had many friends on the Phillies.

Asheville Dawg

November 17th, 2010
7:40 am

Give credit where credit is due, this trade addresses the power weakness. Uggla may not be the defensive player, but last year proved you have to score runs to win.

Wren now needs to find an outfield bat.

Daniel

November 17th, 2010
7:44 am

This is a great deal even if Uggla doesn’t resign. Infante is a free agent next season as well, so we would have been in the same boat. So even if he doesn’t resign we basically traded Dunn for the upgrade from Infante to Uggla. I’m ok with that.

Also, in response to Plate Appearance, apparently you are not remember the JS years accurately. Just look at the opening day lineups for the last 10 years of JS’s reign. Heck, just look at the closer and first base positions. You’ll see just as much shuffling, if not more, as Wren has done.

01HAWK

November 17th, 2010
7:44 am

What a terrible defensive infield with Chipper, Gonzo, Uggla, and McCann. I do not know about Freeman. Outfield is average at best also.

Defense will be a killer again. KC Royals were the only team that had a worse defense than BRAVES.

01HAWK

November 17th, 2010
7:46 am

And his name is “DAN UGGLA”

Mark

November 17th, 2010
7:47 am

Uggla’s defense hasn’t been his strong suit. You know what we need? We need someone that could coach him; we need someone that has played the position well that could help Dan improve, much like we had someone to help Marcus Giles improve from a terrible defensive player to a pretty good one. Who was it that did that for Marcus?

Wait. That was Glenn Hubbard, and we dumped him.

SimpleDawg

November 17th, 2010
7:49 am

The Braves need a CF who can hit lead-off. Prado needs to hit second.

Are there still any people out there who don’t think that the Braves trade for the skank from GIT was the worst trade in MLB history? We could have a few holes filled rather nicely without having made that trade.

curtis jones

November 17th, 2010
7:52 am

Let’s be realistic.
You’ve got one of the worst defensive catchers in MLB.
You’ve got an unproven 1st baseman.
You’ve got one of the worst 2b gloves in MLB.
You’ve got a pouting, streaky-fielding SS.
You’ve got a shadow of Chipper, now & then at 3rd base
You’ve got ??? in LF & CF, all are below average gloves
You’ve got Heyward in RF, strong, but inaccurate arm

Uggla will boost the offense, but there’s a long way to go. And truth be told, Infante was the MVP of the 2010 Braves, which could not have gotten into the playoffs without his dependability and versatility.

jfreak13713

November 17th, 2010
8:04 am

First, I think we should all tip our hats to Infante. Without him the Braves would not have made the playoffs and he is a damn good baseball player. With that said I believe this is a good trade for the Braves in the short-term. We Reallt need a right handed power bat in the lineup.

1.Prado
2.Heyward
3.Mcann
4.Uggla
5.Chipper
6.Gonzo
7.Freeman
8.McLouth

If Freeman and McLouth can hit (.250 / 15 / 65 ) the Braves will be very good. This also assume Chipper comes back and can produce some? And for those who assume the Braves can’t sign Uggla remember next year Chipper will NOT be on the payroll. There will be some money to play with??

The Living Legend

November 17th, 2010
8:07 am

I would like to see some speed added to the team. I know that Mclouth is supposedly fairly quick, but being fast and good on the base paths are two different things. Especially considering Mclouth was hardly on base. I would like to see someone like and Otis Nixon type player (will steal around 30 bases) and will go from first to third on some singles). We need some speed out there. Uggla will hit you 30 homeruns but will probbaly only hit around .260. I would like to see a leadoff in front of him that will make for some excitement on the basepaths.

jfreak13713

November 17th, 2010
8:10 am

Defense will be an issue for this team but lets see what the NEW manager can do and I don’t think the Braves are done just yet. There are some good defensive players out there the Braves can pick up for their bench who can be late inning subs. The Braves finally get a power bat and some where want to complain! Good Lord people!

John Galt

November 17th, 2010
8:17 am

Excellent move- my hat’s off to Wren- again.

What we lack is a speedy CF who is disruptive on the basepaths- a true leadoff man. We have our power pickup- power shows itself every 2nd or 3rd day, speed shows up everyday.

Let’s get some speed and see Fredi be more aggressive than Cox was. I look forward to next season.

PS- Dunn had talent, but we had surplus there. We got maximum value for Infante, at his peak, and Dunn was of little use to us. How do people continue to rag on Wren?

Jesse Stone

November 17th, 2010
8:19 am

Mark

November 17th, 2010
7:47 am
Uggla’s defense hasn’t been his strong suit. You know what we need? We need someone that could coach him; we need someone that has played the position well that could help Dan improve, much like we had someone to help Marcus Giles improve from a terrible defensive player to a pretty good one. Who was it that did that for Marcus?

Wait. That was Glenn Hubbard, and we dumped him
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
If you watched the Braves with Hubbard as infield coach last year, our defense was bad. Enough with he Hubbard man-crush.

chris

November 17th, 2010
8:20 am

I can’t say Wren doesn’t try but I am not sold on this trade. Defense is one of the reasons we lost the division series and this didn’t help. He may hit 30 HR’s but how many runs will he give up while in the field. Heyward is going to have Conrad flashbacks as he is fielding ground balls that Uggla just let go through his legs. I’ll give the move a chance but I am not sold on it. If Chipper can’t go, our outfield isn’t any better. We didn’t need a 2nd baseman, we needed and outfielder.

Jesse Stone

November 17th, 2010
8:22 am

Giles fielding percentage went up a whole .006 in 5 years. Yeah, Hubbard sure worked wonders with him

Braves in 2011

November 17th, 2010
8:22 am

Dan Uggla wore #6 as a Marlin. Will he take Bobby Cox’s #6. Braves should retire #6.

Jeff Schultz

November 17th, 2010
8:30 am

Chief Knockahoma — I’m sure we’ve got some award for first Uggla pun of the blog.

Jeff Schultz

November 17th, 2010
8:31 am

Conway — Stop with the Chipper bashing. He wasn’t hurting the team before he got hurt last year.

Ted M

November 17th, 2010
8:34 am

Good addition we needed it. We sold Infante on the high which is good. Uggla averaged 31 hrs with a high of 33 that’s about as consistent as you can possibly get – another plus.

But the Braves are going to stink defensively next year.

rainman

November 17th, 2010
8:34 am

They say Uggla will get around 10 mil. in arbitration. Infante was going to get around 2.5 and Wagner was around 6.5 — so these
salaries kinda balance out. I know there are other salary increases and arbitration issues to deal with, but so far they haven’t broken the bank and hopefully can get another impact player. Somebody like Upton for CF and speed at leadoff would be a nice fit. Is there any reason McLouth couldn’t play LF?

ALAFOLIFE

November 17th, 2010
8:37 am

Listen people, we just got a power bat in our lineup that was sorely needed, for a utility player, a rookie reliever who couldn’t hit the side of a barn! Infante was overrated like Javier Vasquez was overrated! We can work on Uggla’s defense, but quit acting like Infante was Ted Williams!

fieldofdreams

November 17th, 2010
8:41 am

I like this deal but Prado should be at second and Uggla at third, should Chipper not make it back. Prado is a fine 2b but awful 3b. Because Uggla’s fielding % is so low, why not try him at 3rd? Also, don’t count Nate McLouth out. He’s a fighter who’s going to give it everything he’s got to recover form. I think he’ll relax and find himself. Hebrews 11:1.

Ted M

November 17th, 2010
8:41 am

Jeff,

Uggla’s middle name is Cooley surely you can come up with some clever word play with that.

NCBravesFan

November 17th, 2010
8:47 am

The thing that’s fascinating about this trade is – with so little return on Uggla, you wonder why the Marlins traded within the division. Not meaning to disrespect Dunn & Infante, but it’s hard to believe the Fish couldn’t have gotten a similar return elsewhere – especially since they apparently were looking for ML ready players and not prospects.

Heisenberg

November 17th, 2010
8:48 am

I did suggest in yesterday’s blog that Infante’s trade value was high and if we did not have a full-time place for him, we should leverage that. Good for Omar – he deserves this opportunity. Good for us to get a guy with the pop we need.

Work is not done. Still big hole in CF. McOut will not be the answer. For those out there (including me) who think JJ is trade bait, he may still be. But may be not be moved until spring training when other teams get to see how he has recovered and we can see which young pitchers are ready to step in.

Joshua

November 17th, 2010
8:49 am

Granted, Uggla’s defense is worrisome. But let’s analyze this thing: Uggla represents at least a push with Infante or Prado defensively. So we substantially improved the line-up without getting any worse on defense. That’s an A plus acquisition in my book. Now what we need to do is get a great infield glove on the bench who can come into a game late when we have the lead, and we can mitigate some of our defensive worries. I definitely think the best way to address our defense is to get some gloves on the bench that we can use as needed, because our offense relies heavily on those questionable defensive players like Chipper (only due to limited range) and Uggla and Prado (should be mitigated by playing LF). So get a solid defensive back-up who can come in for Uggla when we are looking to hold a lead and we will be fine.

Peter

November 17th, 2010
8:50 am

So much for defense……. Can we make more than 126 errors this year ?

I don’t like renting a guy for one year, but with Chipper moving on after this year, perhaps they will take his money and sign Dan for long term ?

T-Bone

November 17th, 2010
8:50 am

What’s not to like about this trade. It’s hard to give up a fan-favorite like Infante, but you have to give up to get. Concerning Ug’s defense, I’m simply going to default to Fredi’s opinion. And you have to give Chipper the chance to rebound. He was doing great during the second half of the season.

Here’s what needs to happen next. Wren needs to sign Upton (or somebody like him), some outfielder that might could be gotten cheaper than others but has some upside. Then you hope that Nate can come to something closer to what we had hoped for when we signed him. And you make Gonzalez your Infante replacement, super-utlity kind of guy.

Schultz, what could be the price tag on Upton?

Joshua

November 17th, 2010
8:53 am

@Heisenberg

I don’t know about McLouth man. Yea I would love to see a Carl Crawford standing in CF. But McLouth has a lot of speed and can play good defense (his throwing arm leaves something to be desired of course). He has also shown substantial power in the past. Not only that, but down the stretch he appeared to be rounding into previous form and I still think he can turn his career around and be a solid everyday player. I want Crawford, but I still think the Braves can win the WS with McLouth out there. If McLouth flounders again this year, we could always make a mid-season trade to upgrade in CF if necessary.

Joshua

November 17th, 2010
8:55 am

People are dwelling on Uggla’s defense too much. Is he Ozzie Smith? No. But he is infinitely better at 2B than Brooks Conrad or Infante, or probably even Prado for that matter.

Tell It Like It Is

November 17th, 2010
8:55 am

Here we go again. We get another slow footed player and wait for the homer. This is boring.

Joshua

November 17th, 2010
8:55 am

Does Dan Uggla boot that grounder against the Giants in the 9th? I seriously doubt it.

jimmya

November 17th, 2010
8:57 am

best deal wren has made since hes been here now trade gonzo now

Tron5000

November 17th, 2010
8:57 am

Uggla is an everyday 2B (started over Prado in All-Star Game) who hits for power (4 years of 30+ HR), drives in runs, has a great OPS and last year had a respectable average (.287). With him at 2B & Chipper at 3B, Prado will get to play every day and back up Chipper at 3B when he needs a day off.

Without the trade, what would people here be happy with? Infante at 2B, Chipper at 3B and Prado in LF? Or Prado at 2B and Infante in LF? We know Chipper’s not moving out to the OF, based on the previous failed experiment. So they likely would’ve had another platoon in LF, and Infante probably wouldn’t be starting every day.

We got an All-Star 2B for a Utility Man and a rookie RP. That’s an awesome deal, and even more so that they were able to pull it off within the division. Good day for Braves fans, great deal for Wren. Sorry to see Infante go, but we didn’t have to give up any major prospects and I think that’s a coup for Frank & Co.

Joshua

November 17th, 2010
8:58 am

Uggla is a liability when ranging after a ball, but he can and will field balls hit directly to him, which is an upgrade over what we saw with Brooks and Omar last year.