Jeff Passan writes for Yahoo Sports. And I give him full credit for identifying the predominant problem in baseball this off-season.
It’s a lack of power.
Oddly enough, it’s the Braves that have expendable pieces of what others want.
The unfortunate part is that one of those ‘power pieces’ comes in the form of Brian McCann… who isn’t a member of the Braves’ any longer.
Passan’s basis in today’s piece is that there’s a bunch of teams looking for power hitting, with not nearly enough quality supply available:
- Mark Trumbo. No plate discipline… but he hits homers. The Angels said they wouldn’t trade him… but they may be starting to listen, given what they could get back in return. As Passan says, “The Angels are dangling Trumbo because they know back-to-back 30-homer seasons blinds suitors to a career OBP below .300.“
- Brian McCann. A homer-hitting catcher (when healthy). Also soon to be on the wrong side of 30. Did I mention that he’s a homer hitter? He could soon be a $100 million homer hitter.
- Nelson Cruz. 50 game suspension for PEDs and strikes out a lot. All that and a Qualifying Offer, too. But he hits homers.
- Raúl Ibañez hit 29 homers for Seattle and wants to play another year. He’ll be 42 next year. He’ll probably get a job. Of course if he doesn’t, then that’s just one more big bat unavailable for use.
- Mike Napoli has a bad hip. He can’t catch anymore. Doesn’t matter: he hit 23 homers in 2013.
- The Mariners just gave a Qualifying Offer to Kendrys Morales. 23 homers… okay, and a .277 avg and 80 RBI.
- Adam Dunn. Compared to Uggla, he hits for average. Then again, he’s averaged nearly 40 homers a year since 2004.
Curtis Granderson. The flower is off of his rose now. Why? Only 7 bombs in 2012 after back-to-back 40+ seasons made him a lot of money.
- The Chicago White Sox just threw $68 million (over 6 years) to Jose Abreu – a slugger who has never seen a professional pitch.
- Then there’s our friendly expressionless second baseman, Dan Uggla. Horrific year in 2013. The worst average among qualifiers in the majors. But he’s got five seasons in a row with 30+ dingers… never mind that this streak ended after 2011. In 2013, he hit 22 while being terrible!
General Managers Dig the Long Ball
The list of teams looking for power is fairly substantial:
- Tampa Bay Rays. First base.
- Boston. Little more complicated here; depends on what happens with their big-money free agents.
- Baltimore. Needs a DH… and a second baseman.
- Detroit. Needs a second baseman if Infante leaves.
- Minnesota. Needs first base power.
- Seattle. Maybe – depends on Morales’ decision.
- Texas. Still trying to replace that Josh Hamilton bat.
- Miami. Needs somebody to protect Giancarlo Stanton in that lineup. That’s assuming the Marlins don’t come to their senses and trade him for four or five top prospects, a couple of oil wells, and thirteen members of the Minnesota Vikings.
- NY Mets. Several questions – but they will have money to spend.
- Cincinnati. Passan says he’s heard that Brandon Phillips is “gone” – so they’ll need a second baseman… and Billy Hamilton‘s speed alone won’t make up for the loss of Shin-Soo Choo‘s bat. They do have Jay Bruce and Joey Votto, of course.
- Milwaukee. First base.
- Pittsburgh. First base, maybe right field
- Arizona. “Corner Power” was the phrase used by Kevin Towers. Oh, you mean like Justin Upton or Chris Johnson?
- Colorado. Either Right Field or First Base… Michael Cuddyer will play the other position.
- San Francisco. Left Field.
When you look at the list objectively, it would still seem that the best possible fits for Atlanta to find a partner may be these (in order):
- Baltimore. Brian Roberts and Nate McLouth could be gone. Having Uggla with Chris Davis, Adam Jones, Matt Weiters J.J. Hardy and Manny Machado in the same lineup actually stacks up fairly well in the AL East. That’s a bunch of homers. Having the DH available also means he doesn’t have to play defense so much.
- NY Mets. Uggla actually hit more homers in 2013 than any member of that team. No, I don’t know what would happen with Daniel Murphy if they took Uggla. But they could consider converting Dan to first base, where his defensive liabilities (mostly range) would be reduced.
- Cincinnati. Of course this requires taking Brandon Phillips – for 4 years – and likely losing Tommy La Stella in the process. It does make business sense, given that it makes better use of the money already committed (at least in theory). But this would also make the commitment just that much longer. If you do this, you’d better be certain that bringing Phillips “home” to Atlanta (he’s from Stone Mountain) will improve his clubhouse demeanor.
- Seattle. Maybe – depending on the situation with Morales and Ibañez. In their case, they could use Dan as second or DH – depending on the players available.
- Miami. This figures to be a longshot, given Jeffrey Loria’s um,… personality, let’s say.
- Detroit. Not terribly likely, given that their infield defense is already bad – and if Infante leaves… oh my. I also hear that they have a bit of power on that team already.
So it’s a bit odd, but this might be the best time for the Braves to move offload Dan. After all, he’s got “Da Powah”. I imagine that we’ll know within the next month if he stays … or goes.