The Atlanta Braves acquired blue-collar man, Dan Uggla, from the Florida Marlins yesterday in exchange for All Star super utility man Omar Infante and LHP Mike Dunn.
The Braves solidified their need for a legitimate staple in the middle of their order. Uggla provides the right handed power that Frank Wren was seeking and he didn’t have to give up a single prospect in the deal.
The Marlins have now traded away their starting centerfielder (Cameron Maybin has been a bust) for two relievers and their starting second baseman for another reliever and a utilityman. They are at least addressing their needs in the bullpen, but also clearly trying to rebuild once again. Mike Stanton, their #1 prospect coming into last season will be depended on heavily in 2011. He’s really going to have to step up after a solid rookie campaign. I’m sure the Marlins are hoping that he will tone down the outrageous strikeout rate (34.3% of the time) and he will over time, but he will always strike out a lot.
Omar Infante had a career year last season and earned his first All Star selection in the process. The Braves will certainly miss his bat and versatility. Mike Dunn showed an ability to get both left handed batters and righties out in a small sample size last season. He struggled with his command, though, issuing 18 free passes in 19 innings pitched. Dunn is only 25 and will help improve a Marlins bullpen that was very average in 2010.
Uggla is coming off a career year as well. He hit 33 homeruns with 105 runs batted in and a shiny .287 batting average. Uggla hit .287 despite drawing 14 fewer walks from his 2009 season where he hit .243. I feel pretty confident that Uggla won’t finish the season near the .280 mark in 2011, but I do expect it to fall in the .260-.265 range with his usual 30 homers. Uggla was a bit lucky last season to have such a high average. He ended the year with a .330 BABIP (Batting Average against Balls In Play, .290 is the league average). In 2009, his .273 BABIP suggests he was a bit unlucky and is probably why his average was a career low .243.
I won’t say that Uggla reaching an average above .270 is impossible, because he did hit .282 in his rookie campaign. His batting eye is at least progressing in the right direction ever so slightly. If his current numbers at Turner Field are an indication of things to come, then Uggla could make Frank Wren look like a genius. Uggla has been unconscious at Turner Field. In 45 games (181 ABs), Uggla is hitting .354 (.1.051 OPS) with 12 homeruns and 36 RBI. Gaudy. The Braves will be glad to see him doing that for them and not against them in 2011.
The Braves desperately needed a power threat in the lineup. Brian McCann has led the team in homeruns the past three seasons and they haven’t had anyone smack 30 homers since 2006 (Andruw Jones – 41, Adam LaRoche – 32). Atlanta finished 20th in the majors with 139 homeruns last season.
The plan is for Martin Prado to shift to left field and Uggla will take over at second base. Prado will help spell Chipper at 3rd base as well. Prado and Uggla are equally average in the field, but Prado is definitely the better fit for the outfield.
Atlanta will now pursue a versatile utilityman to replace Omar Infante. That’s a difficult task, but here’s a few options:
2010 Salary: $4,000,000
-He’s not as dangerous with his bat, but he plays excellent defense at multiple positions. Punto is a fan favorite and would probably be on the expensive side. He’s played outfield before, but mostly sticks to 2B, SS and 3B. He is scheduled to be a free agent this offseason, but he does have a club option. I feel certain the Twins will exercise his option and keep him in Minnesota.
2010 Salary : n/a — $500,000 (*2009)
–The Reds will try to resign Cairo, but teams will be ready to scoop the journeyman up if he falls into free agency. Cairo can play everywhere but catcher and centerfield and he’s pretty sharp with the glove. He can swing the bat pretty good (.267 career hitter) as well. Cairo would be an excellent fit for the Braves. He’s been in the playoffs five different times and boasts a .290 postseason average in 68 at bats. The price tag is very affordable for the 36-year old.
2010 Salary: $3,500,000
-Wigginton is likely to go elsewhere, but Baltimore will try and resign him. He mostly plays 1B, 2B and 3B, but he can play the corner outfield positions if needed. He has a powerful at bat and can be streaky, but he’s a guy you want in the lineup when he’s seeing the ball well. Wiggy will fetch a higher price than most and doesn’t provide some of the athletic ability that others will, but he’s a solid option.
Jerry Hairston, Jr.
2010 Salary: $2,125,000
-It’s likely the Padres will resign Hairston, Jr. but he is scheduled to be a free agent. I would be shocked if the Padres let him go somewhere else. Hairston is a “five tool utilityman”. He can play all positions of the outfield and pretty much anywhere in the infield except for catcher. He provides decent speed and a little pop and was also a member of the 2009 World Champion New York Yankees team.
2010 Salary: n/a — $1,700,000 (*2009)
–Bloomquist can play pretty much every position on the field except for catcher. He’s got some speed and a decent bat (.264 career hitter), but almost no power. He will probably come pretty cheap.
2010 Salary: $1,875,000
-Journeyman infield specialist who won’t hurt you with his bat or his glove. He’s a solid, cheap option but he has never played outfield in the majors.
2010 Salary: $1,250,000
–Kennedy is probably more of an everyday player still, but he would be an ideal choice for a utilityman. He’s got a World Series ring and sports a .308 postseason batting average in 78 at bats. He can play the corner outfield/infield positions and second base. Kennedy is a career .275 hitter and would be a cheap option.
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