Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton have both been benched in recent games by manager Fredi Gonzalez. In my opinion, rightfully so. I’ve expressed my hope that the Braves will not do a U-Turn on that decision, but will stick to their guns throughout the playoffs – especially if replacements Evan Gattis, Jordan Schafer and Elliot Johnson continue to perform they way they have been. I won’t bore you further with numbers. I know you’ve seen them all. Suffice it to say that both Uggla and B.J. have provided little the entire season to the Atlanta Braves in the way of production.
Dan Uggla has been benched for short stretches before, and has been vocal in the past on how he thought it was mistake. Dan is voicing his displeasure again.
Carrol Rogers of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported yesterday on Dan Uggla’s response to having to sit. He reportedly met with manager Fredi Gonzalez last Monday, and got little in the way of any specific plans from Fredi about when he’ll will be back in the lineup, if at all. According to Carrol Rogers, Dan Uggla had the following to say when asked about being benched:
It’s his ball club. I’ve got to respect the decision that he made. Do I agree with it? Once again and I’ve reiterated this a lot of times – no absolutely not. I don’t think we’re a better ball club with me on the bench. But he’s the manager. I’ve got to respect his decision.
Dan, the last I checked, it’s your ball club as well! I suppose you can be given a pass on that statement because it was likely made out of anger and frustration, but I think that saying, “It’s his ball club” speaks volumes about Dan Uggla, and further strengthens the decision not to have Uggla in the lineup. I get that Uggla is frustrated, and I don’t blame him for that, but he should realize his lack of performance all year is the ONLY reason he is on the bench. I think even the casual fan can see that the Atlanta Braves are in fact a better ball club without Uggla in the lineup, whether he agrees with the decision or not. B.J. Upton hasn’t, to my knowledge, voiced a similar complaint, but the decision to bench him seems a sound one as well.
Fredi Gonzalez was also asked about the decision to bench Uggla, and Carrol Rogers reported Fredi’s response…
We have 20 games left and counting, and we’re trying to put the best team on the field that we think is going to win that particular game.
I like that answer. It’s short, to the point, and seems to indicate at least the strong possibility that the Braves will stick to their guns and keep Uggla on the bench. I continue to push the logic that if you have players coming off the bench that are producing, there is no rational reason at all for benching those players again in lieu of having normal starters in the lineup who have shown ZERO proof they have anything to offer. Fans want the best team on the field as well with the Braves having a legitimate shot at a championship this year.
Dan went on to have a somewhat softer response to his benching. Further commenting on Fredi’s decision, he said…
I’m still just as (mad) this year as I was last year but I’ve also grown up a little bit from the experience last year and held my emotions probably a little better this year. I can put my emotions aside to win for this team. Is it embarrassing? Yeah it sucks. I’m not used to being this dude. But at the same time I’ve got to make an adjustment and produce. Besides the one-game playoff (in 2012), that’s the only experience I’ve gotten in the playoffs, so this is a huge deal for me. I’ve always dreamt about playing in the playoffs. I’ve never dreamed about sitting on the bench in the playoffs. But we’ll have to see how it plays out.
I won’t be surprised, for a couple of reasons, if we see either Dan Uggla or B.J. Upton back in the lineup, either during September or even during the playoffs. The first reason for that is because we’ve seen it before this year. When Elliot Johnson first got in the lineup this year after being claimed by the Braves, he came in for Uggla, performed very well, and then Fredi had Uggla back in the lineup the very next game. The second reason we could see Uggla again is based on the 2012 season. Uggla was benched last year three games during the first of September, but was put back in the lineup. Uggla produced with a .288 BA, 2 home runs, and 14 RBIs over the Braves final games of the season.
I’d like to think that if Uggla does return to the lineup, he’ll be able to produce that same way. My skepticism about that is based on the fact that while Dan has struggled some every year he’s been a Brave, this is the first year that he has been mired in a below-Mendoza-line slump from start to finish. Dan said, “I’ve got to make an adjustment and produce,” but I don’t see it Dan. I don’t see how you’ll make an adjustment when no other adjustment this year, including Lasik surgery, has worked. As you sort of said though, It’s Fredi’s ball club. As a die-hard fan, I always feel like the Braves are kind of my ball club too, but since I cannot fuss at Fredi first hand, I’ll settle for my Tomahawk Take soap box. Perhaps my thoughts will somehow filter down to Fredi by baseball osmosis.