Heat Check: The Braves are hot, and so is Dan Uggla (sort of)

Even the old codgers are excited by recent Braves' doings. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Even old codgers are excited by recent Braves' doings. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Our weekly Heat Check begins with the hottest team in town. Technically, it’s also the only team in town that’s actually playing games — the Dream is on Olympic hiatus — but never mind. We take our warmth where we find it.

BRAVES: They went 5-2 for the week and shaved a game off Washington’s lead. (Down to three games, as we speak.) They were 8-2 over the homestand that concluded Sunday, and we should probably prepare ourselves for similar surges the rest of the way.

Of the Braves’ remaining 54 games, only 16 will come against teams currently above .500. By way of contrast, Washington has 22 games left against plus-.500 teams. (Including three at Arizona and three at San Francisco over the next 10 days.) That’s not a major difference, but it is a difference. And with the new playoff format, there’s a major bonus to being division champ. It means you get to skip that terrifying play-in tilt against the other wild-card club. Heat Index: The Braves are 16-7 since the All-Star break. That’ll do.

DAN UGGLA: The good news is that he had eight RBI’s on the 10-game homestand. The less-good news is that he only had six hits (against 10 strikeouts). Heat Index: Hey, at least he’s making ‘em count. And if you’re hitting .209, you’d better.

GEORGIA: Well, here’s a switch. Rather than lose yet another defensive back to suspension,which was a repeating offseason riff,  the Bulldogs announced that Branden Smith will be eligible for the all-important opening game against … er, Buffalo. Heat Index: Oddsmakers immediately announced that Georgia, which had opened as a three-point home underdog,  is now a one-point favorite over the Bulls. (Yes, I’m lying. Georgia was and is favored by 37.)

GEORGIA TECH: Speaking of opening games, the Jackets are a 7 1/2-point underdog for their Labor Day lid-lifter in Blacksburg, Va. For the record, David Sims told me Saturday he thinks Georgia Tech will win. For the record, David Sims plays B-back for Georgia Tech. Heat Index: Confidence is always a sign of hotness!

FALCONS: They’re practicing against the Tennessee Titans tonight and will open their exhibition schedule against Baltimore on Thursday. The remainder of the preseason includes games against Cincinnati, Miami and Jacksonville. The first three regular-season games are against Kansas City, Denver and San Diego. Just wondering: Has any NFC entry ever gone through an entire preseason (plus a controlled scrimmage) and three weeks into a regular season without facing another NFC team? Heat Index: Trivia is fun, is it not?

By Mark Bradley

66 comments Add your comment

gt bs 04

August 6th, 2012
10:46 am

just to try and disrupt the race….I won’t say it…

juvenal

August 6th, 2012
10:46 am

how about some olympics?

juvenal

August 6th, 2012
10:52 am

several in-state folks are involved, after all…congrats to Mr. Hoffa, a very articulate dude…please pick vt…

Rick

August 6th, 2012
11:01 am

WHAT IS THAT SMELL!?!?!? Its Uggla he stinks right now!

Ken Stallings

August 6th, 2012
11:09 am

Mark,

Uggla does have those RBI’s, but the unsaid fact is his spot in the order has allowed him to get PA’s with lots of RBI opportunities, and he’s failed to advance runners in most of them. Also, by not getting on base, Uggla is shifting the burden to Janish and the pitcher since he’s now batting 7th most of the time.

Uggla is the highest paid second baseman in baseball because he was supposed to be hitting in the .250 area, with an OBP of .375 (or higher), hitting 25 HR and driving in 75-85 RBI. Instead, he is on pace to hit around .210 with an OBP of .342 with 16 HR and 65 RBI. His fielding percentage is deceptively high even though it is currently at one of his poorest levels in his career. Second base is one of the easiest positions to field as you don’t have to make the long throws from the hole such as at shortstop nor do you get the hot grounders at third or first since you can play further away from the plate.

Uggla’s production is woefully below the mark the Braves expected when they agreed to pay him a 5 year $62 million contract.

This is no personal attack as I am sure he’s a good person, but he’s being paid to produce at a vastly higher level than he is doing. That’s the truth.

sidslid

August 6th, 2012
11:23 am

Prado is hitting again. That makes a big difference. We are also getting great numbers from Francisco recently when Chipper is out.

Puttin’ 2 and 2 together, Chipper made a flippant comment about his “wives” this morning and is attending to “family matters” today. Hope he has a good pre-nup from the second wife.

Bill

August 6th, 2012
11:24 am

Uggla= 364 ab,76 hits, 54 rbi’s, 66 walks, 123 k’s = 209 ba….$13 millions this year. A JOKE THATS NOT FUNNY.

afan

August 6th, 2012
11:28 am

Hope Chipper and his 2nd wife get back together. Know how much he loves the boys and family.

Ted M

August 6th, 2012
11:30 am

Dan Uggla’s 0-for-4 game with two strikeouts Sunday dropped his home average to .185.

Holy Cow…everybody keeps saying that Uggla will always end the season with good numbers so you gotta keep running him out there.

I don’t know about that anymore. The only good reason now to keep running him out there is there is not a viable alternative.

WhoCares?

August 6th, 2012
11:35 am

Pretty good post-All Star record considering they lost Simmons and the pitching staff has been up and down a bit. Makes me feel pretty good, too. Now if Uggla can somehow find his stroke….

RM

August 6th, 2012
11:38 am

So far Str-Uggla has been a big dissappointment IMO.

WhoCares?

August 6th, 2012
11:40 am

So what do you do with Uggla? Got three more years on his contract, I think. Wait and hope he gets it together? Trade him and absorb the millions in the contract? Do the Braves have a good second baseman in the minors just waiting to come up (like Simmons at SSS?)

DIT

August 6th, 2012
12:00 pm

Not a tech fan here, but I say they upset VT at the dome by 10. Just a gut feeling!

iBALL

August 6th, 2012
12:01 pm

Uggla should be our go to guy when he is at bat with the money he is making. Unfortunately, he is a disappointment. Not going to be much help for us if we make the playoffs. We can’t ride Chipper too much longer.

DIT

August 6th, 2012
12:01 pm

I wish Uggla would turn it around, but I’m almost at the point to say trade him for a sick horse then shoot the horse. He just looks awful at the plate!

crose714

August 6th, 2012
12:15 pm

VT has had plenty of time to prepare for the triple option. GT loses by 13 at least.

P Rose

August 6th, 2012
12:30 pm

The Braves struggled offensively for years because they just needed that one big, right-handed bat. Uggla was supposed to fill that need, which is why they gave him that huge contract. He was such a slugger with the Marlins. What the hell? Just what is the problem with the Braves’ ability to acquire good right-handed batters?

Delbert D.

August 6th, 2012
12:33 pm

@DIT – The game is in Blacksburg, not the Dome.

GT Fan

August 6th, 2012
12:34 pm

GT has had plenty of time to prepare for Virginia Tech. I predict that basing a prediction on that is stupid given equal amounts of time to prepare.

Delbert D.

August 6th, 2012
12:40 pm

And Uggla continues to amaze with his OBP of .342. 1 point behind Bourn, 9 behind Freeman, 31 ahead of McCann. The guy is a veritable walk machine.

T-Bone

August 6th, 2012
12:41 pm

Uggla needs to double what he’s paying his agent.

fan

August 6th, 2012
12:45 pm

Ugli = MOOP – Most Overpaid Overated Player in baseball.

urban redneck

August 6th, 2012
12:52 pm

it’s not his fault. most men are easily distracted by porn stars. i have faith he will get his act together this year, but it may be a moot point by the time he figures it out. go bravos.

DIT

August 6th, 2012
1:09 pm

Crap Thanks Delbert D. – I don’t why I was thinking it was at the dome???
In that case I wish to change my prediction……….. GT by 3!
I still think the Offense has the up on a defense. The defense does not have their legs under them as much. And you need to have legs to keep up with that offense. Just my opinion!

P B Orr

August 6th, 2012
1:36 pm

Struggla’s basic problem is his artificial physique. You don’t gain anything in baseball from being muscle-bound – the strength is wasted because you lack bat control. You can’t reliably make the shortest throws. You can’t run as fast. If he wants to lift weights or play defensive end, fine, but if I were his manager I’d tell him to stay out of the gym or sit down.

Ricky bobby

August 6th, 2012
1:51 pm

We need to get Bourn back and smackin em. He’s been in a bit of a funk

Bibi Jones

August 6th, 2012
1:53 pm

Ken Stallings…..you are right, Uggla is a good person….VERY GOOD

Ricky bobby

August 6th, 2012
1:55 pm

Oh and regarding Dan uggly, while he isn’t hitting anything where he’s got a lot of RBI opportunities, and he’s striking out tons, in my opinion obp is the most important stat for a hitter (does it really matter if yOu get to first with a hit or walk? no) and uggly isn’t too bad there. Obviously you dont pay him the big bucks to have a decent obp – you want him to knock homers – but at least he’s not doIng quite as bad as his average indicates

heat check

August 6th, 2012
2:05 pm

Uh oh, Mark. I hope you okay’ed using the phrase “heat check” with Nique before posting this. You saw what he did to the suit guy, right?? Your days may be nimbered.

Stumps OReilly

August 6th, 2012
2:30 pm

Maybe Uggla can squash the beer cans with his biceps after the games in Philly. Guy has to contribute anyways he can :) He probably could crush my head like a grape,but hey its only baseball Uggs :)

TuffShhhtuff

August 6th, 2012
2:36 pm

One thing MB failed to point out, which, in my opinion will determine the season for the Braves. It’s a “make or break” 10 day stretch in August. From 17-26 AUG they play the Giants, Dodgers, and Gnats. I’m saying that 10 game period will determine where the Braves end up. AND, don’t forget the last 3 games of the year are against the Pirates, and they are playing “lights out” right now. Meantime the Gnats last 3 games are vs the Phils, who should be pushovers by that time. It does not bode well for the the Atlanta Braves. Sorry, facts is facts! No need to “sugar coat” it as MB did.

cupcakes

August 6th, 2012
2:46 pm

Much like the dawgs usual schedule -this year the falcons have a cupcake schedule -24th hardest in the league–they better go to the playoffs!

Luscious Lucius

August 6th, 2012
3:02 pm

Mark b real… Uggla is a waste of money. U cpuld get a .209 hitter for 1 million not 13 million….

blazerdawg

August 6th, 2012
3:02 pm

Thank you gt bs 04. Hopefully you have established a new tradition.

Luscious Lucius

August 6th, 2012
3:07 pm

What good is a high obp for a number 7 hitter? The worst hitter number 8 and automatic out pitcher follows. Obp only matters at top of lineup.

Gimme a Break

August 6th, 2012
3:10 pm

Uggla is frustrating, to say the least. Combined with the low average and strikeouts, his total LOB must be league leading also. Braves would probably be in first place if his numbers were only marginally better.

Skeezix

August 6th, 2012
3:13 pm

Uggla has been a monumental flop. Maybe he can get us a few key hits before season’s end (is that asking too much?) and then I hope he gets traded during the offseason. FW will have to eat more $$$ to move him of course.

Joey

August 6th, 2012
3:23 pm

Go Braves!

Come on Uggla!

phoenix

August 6th, 2012
3:27 pm

Uggla batting 6th again today. UGH. If the Braves had almost any other 2nd baseman in MLB they would be leading the Nats by 5 games, at least.

JHarber

August 6th, 2012
3:33 pm

I vote pastor for second base for a couple of games so uggs can rest clear his head for a while.

Stinger 2

August 6th, 2012
3:36 pm

Tuffs: Why be so negative? You sound like doomsday is upon us.
Not saying you should sugarcoat anything but, if you are a real Braves fan
it does not hurt to be a little upbeat in your comments. Its possible that the Braves will be playing well. A reminder…they have a great road record.

JEB

August 6th, 2012
3:45 pm

Is that Simmons’ hand there behind Chipper in that picture??

joshua

August 6th, 2012
4:18 pm

Ken Stallings,

Thank you for sharing that insightful wisdom of which nobody else was aware. I’m so glad you took the time out of your busy day for that.

So you are saying that Dan Uggla is playing at a -8 WAR? WHOA man he has been less than expected but that is just dumb.

swhite

August 6th, 2012
4:43 pm

I’ve been giving Uggla the benefit of the doubt for quite some time, but I have to admit that when he came up to bat Saturday late in the game with men on base and a chance to get ahead of the Astros my first thought was “why doesn’t Gonzalez pinch-hit Johnson for him?” At some point that’s going to have to happen, because the Braves have got to have someone in there who is at least half-way dependable. Maybe he needs glasses?

Ted

August 6th, 2012
4:56 pm

Uggla did not spend $62M signing Frank Wren for five years, so at least we know who is smarter than whom.

steve brown

August 6th, 2012
5:30 pm

I miss Kelly Johnson, less muscles!

jerry

August 6th, 2012
6:37 pm

Uggla doesn’t seem to have a clue as to his hitting problems. Is he stupid? Well, yeah, it looks that way.

bfred

August 6th, 2012
6:40 pm

The real question is, how is Uggla getting those walks? What pitcher would bother throwing him anything outside the zone?

Alaska Braves Fan

August 6th, 2012
6:44 pm

Patience surely is a virtue – you know there’s a “but” coming – but Dan Uggla has just about used it all up. How would this team look is Prado moved in to second base and Reed Johnson played regularly in left field. Right now, that would have to appear to be a big step up, despite Uggla’s talent for earning bases on balls.

How to figure his problems? He hit consistently well for Miami for how many years, but he has been equally consistently unable to sustain any offense for us. And, those folks who believe his swing looks bad – they are absolutely correct! Paul Janish is not a high average hitter by any analysis, but his swing looks lovely compared to Uggla’s.

It is really, really, really hard to sit someone who’s being paid what Uggla’s getting, and I do understand how potent a hitter he can be. Nonetheless, it does seem something has to be done relatively soon. I just hope he turns it completely around right now, sort of like he did last year so the team doesn’t have to go through some mess to repair the lineup.

ABF

ChipperisGod

August 6th, 2012
7:26 pm

I like Uggla, but man is he frustrating to watch. I remember every game I watched him play against us, I was terrified when came to the plate. Now when he comes to the plate, you just hope he walks or somehow gets on base because 9 times out of ten he gets out. That’s not what we are paying him 62 million to do.

He has been hitting the ball better this month, so I hope he can continue this little thing he’s got going and get super hot in September and be the beast he was destined to be.