Fredi Gonzalez is trying. You’ve gotta tip your cap to him for that.
Virtually everyone writing for TomahawkTake.com would like the Braves to make a change at second base. Opinions differ a bit on exactly what that change should be, but we’ve pretty much concluded that Dan Uggla isn’t getting any better at hitting.
Given observations of managerial moves last week, it would seem that Fredi Gonzalez has reached the same conclusion. So he’s “trying” things. Let’s see how that’s working out.
Results thus far…
- WED 5/7: Ramiro Pena (vs. Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals): 0-3, K.
- FRI 5/9: Pena (vs. Jason Hammel and the Cubs): 0-4, K.
- SAT 5/10: Tyler Pastornicky (vs. Jeff Samardzija and the Cubs): 0-2 with an RBI sacrifice.
- SUN 5/11: Tyler Pastornicky (vs. Edwin Jackson and the Cubs): 0-4 (though was robbed on 1 grounder).
So in total: 0-13, 2 K and an RBI sacrifice. Both were okay defensively. Yes, the “small sample size” disclaimer applies here. Yes, there were some tough pitchers involved here. Yes, these hitters (term used loosely) haven’t seen a lot of regular playing time, and thus their timing is probably off. However, this is inescapable:
Overall, Braves’ second basemen are 29th in baseball (thanks to Jedd Gyorko) in hitting. But at least now Fredi can go back to Frank Wren and say “yes, I honestly gave our internal options a chance“.
Meanwhile, at Gwinnett…
- A resurgent Joey Terdoslavich is now hitting .324 after a very slow start. He now leads the team in doubles (11) and has a triple plus 2 homers. He now has the highest OPS on the stat chart for anybody not actually playing in Japan.
- Tommy La Stella has seen his average dip just below .300 (.298), though he still leads the team in walks (17, vs. just 11 Ks) and has a .382 OBP (Joey T and Mark Hamilton are at .383). He’s also holding at just 2 errors for the year (34 games). In his last 5 games – the same days of ‘the experiment’ shown above – he’s 3-15 with 5 walks (though 3-8 over the weekend). A .200 average, but a .400 OBP.
So What Now?
- Release Dan Uggla.
- Purchase the contract of Tommy La Stella
- Option Tyler Pastornicky back to Gwinnett
- Recall Joey Terdoslavich
- (another possibility would be to recall Philip Gosselin, who is hitting .328/.359/.440/.799 and can play infield or outfield)
The result would be:
- A better bench bat (Terdoslavich/Gosselin)
- A better OBP presence in the regular lineup (La Stella)
- Pena resumes his regular role of utility guy/late defensive replacement
This weakens the infield backup situation slightly and means that Joey T is also a pinch running candidate (along with Schafer). But frankly, Pastornicky was getting almost no playing time (before this weekend) anyway, so the only scenario in which this combination is a downside would be the loss of two infielders in the same game (which is why the Gosselin move makes sense).
But keeping Uggla around as a bench bat makes no sense: he isn’t hitting as a regular starter; his chances of hitting as a bench player are worse. Then there’s the spectre of the 800-lb forearms still lurking about in the room making everything uncomfortable. No – if you’re gonna make a change, then you’ve gotta go all the way with it.
It is now an open secret that the Braves are trying to figure out what to do with this position as they head out Monday to begin a difficult road trip to San Francisco and St. Louis. Dan is already twisting in the wind. The Braves cannot continue to let this linger. They will soon have to either say “this is what we’re doing” or “we regret to announce that we are making a change in the organization.” But until then, it is pretty safe to say that since he evidently has no confidence in any of the possibilities available, Fredi will be playing a matchup game over the next few days.
At least until the front office can stomach the bitter pill of swallowing the rest of Uggla’s contract.