May 9, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves second baseman Tyler Pastornicky (1) starts a double play against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Progress on The Grand 2B Experiment


Fredi Gonzalez is trying.  You’ve gotta tip your cap to him for that.

Virtually everyone writing for 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…

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:


[ Jordan Schafer went 0-2 with a sacrifice on Sunday and Ryan Doumit was 2-4 with an RBI.  Schafer was also 0-1 after being pressed into service for Justin Upton on Saturday. ]


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?

Personal recommendation:

  • 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.


Coming Up

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.


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Tags: Atlanta Braves Second Base

  • Chris Headrick

    I am 100% in agreement with all of your recommendations! :) That said, FW probably wouldn’t be, so I won’t be surprised to see this continual, and abysmal mix of the three headed monster continue.

  • Mushy Peas

    Nice analysis, Alan. I’ve read several articles from various other sources over the past week or so and one thing I am consistently hearing over and over again that bothers me, is that any potential ‘in house’ replacement for Uggla is too lacking in the power department. The Braves don’t need anymore guys consistently swinging for the fences. The Braves, like last year, are entirely too dependent upon the HR. As of now, Dan’s power numbers are in the toilet and they won’t ever be what they were. The team is much more in need of a guy who can get on base, make contact in key spots, and drive in RISP- whoever that may be. Dan’s days are done and Fredi’s statement of how he’s going to put the best line-up out there on a daily basis is just another way of saying he’ll continue to give Dan the start based on his career numbers vs the opposing pitcher that day. Well, that’s a mistake. Fredi is using stats that no longer apply. Dan is a mere shadow of his former self and will continue to be a liability each and every time he is out there. Let him go! As desperate as the Jays may be for a 2nd baseman, I can’t see them or anyone else willing to take Uggla no matter what else is thrown into the deal; whether it be money, prospects, pitchers, or pizzas.

    • carpengui

      Yeah, I gave up on Toronto taking him after teams broke camp at the end of March. Or Baltimore, for that matter.

      I share your ‘bother’ over those other takes. In general, my concern for the rest of the lineup is that their approach does not change after 2 strikes: ‘putting the ball in play’ and getting on base is now a foreign concept to this club. If there’s a benefit, it’s the 6th fewest GIDP’s in baseball. But the cost is the strikeouts and lack of base runners at all. So yeah: Get Guys On Base. I don’t care how.

      If you want thumpers, you’ve got thumpers. No problem there. But you don’t need 8 ball-killers. And at 2nd base, it’s irrelevant, because literally EVERYBODY we’ve tried there doesn’t hit them anyway (4 combined).

      The Braves are now dead last in baseball in run scoring. 28th in OBP.
      How’s those homers workin’ for ya?

  • fireboss

    I’m not sure the outside talking heads are wrong. Does anyone think that LaStella can step into the leadoff spot that Jason is clearly not doing well at this year? I think that’s a lot to ask of a rookie and I see no one else among the Braves roster that fits well either. I’ve done a bit of poking around and of the teams likely to make a trade the Cubs come to the top of the list. (Full disclosure, Matt Talbot commented on Ryan’s thread this morning and got my rusty wheels turning. Thanks Matt) The Cubs are 8th in MLB vs the Braves 27th place in 2B OBP and they’ve been using Bonifacio in that spot. He’s certainly obtainable, possibly for Rev but certainly not an expensive guy in trade terms. Career he’s about .325 OBP walks about 8% and Ks about 20% inline with this year’s numbers. He’s been very BAbip good this year (.379) but is always about .340. He’s at least MLB average defensively and usually a bit better. We certainly don’t need power bats, the lineup is significantly unbalanced towards swing for the fences guys. It might make more sense to go grab a veteran who won’t be awed by the situation – we have no way of knowing how TLS will do and this isn’t an indictment in anyway – and who can play other position if needed.

    Releasing Uggla is a hard decision for people who stake their reputation on deciding who to sign. It requires making the case to ownership that if the cost of 1 WAR is 6.5M the cost of Uggla’s – 1.3 rWAR cost them $10M and he isn’t going to improve nor does he have any value to anyone else. Matt suggested the Cubs might take him as part of a deal and we could save at least the league minimum by including him so it’s worth a try

    • carpengui

      LaStella is a classic 2nd hole hitter: makes contact, gets on, can move runners. That’s what the Braves lost when Prado was allowed to depart. Definitely not a candidate for the lead-off role, though he could very capably support anyone in front of him.

      I’m not really a fan of Bonifacio myself, though I can see the point: speed. But I do think TLS can handle the job… did well in spring while getting the early inning ABs.

      • Mushy Peas

        I thought about Bonifacio as well. I think he would be another gamble. He has the benefit of being fleet footed with decent defense and the ability to play multiple positions-especially 2B and CF, but his ability to hit consistently throughout a season is a huge issue for a team looking for exactly that. It makes more sense to me to exhaust all in house options first by at least giving TLS an opportunity. Tommy is obviously working hard everyday to be consistent in putting up numbers good enough to keep his name in the loop. I’m sure he’s a bit bemused that he hasn’t received that phone call yet, given the circumstances. Then again, I think we are all bemused and bewildered by the minds working within the world of upper management.

        • fireboss

          Not sure what inconsistency through the season is. I looked at his career monthly splits and the low numbers were in months with low numbers of PA. I understand he isn’t the perfect answer but there really isn’t such a thing. if LaStella is as smart as he’s sounded in his interviews he isn’t bemused, he’s simply doing everything he can to be chosen. I think it’s a big jump for him then to stick him in the leadoff spot and say take us to the post season is an additional load. Fredi would likely hit him 9th but that really doesn’t get him enough PA to make a difference. . I hope I’m wrong and that he’s the next great thing ala Simba but with a bat. Still there’s so much pressure to bring him up and expectations are so high that anything but immediate success will create more pressure.

          • Mushy Peas

            So we need someone dependable, but expendable?
            I think Fredi would initially keep him low in the order-probably 9th. I agree the pressure and expectations will be high, but the longer this situation festers, the worse its going to get. I agree, it is a bit like being thrown into the deep end, but if he’s not ready to handle any of the pressures of the major leagues, then why bother working so hard to get there? I’m certain there are those who are, unfortunately, going to expect TLS to be the team’s saving grace, but they aren’t the realists whose opinions necessarily are going to make much of a difference. I think the majority of the fan base, right now, are mostly just looking for something definitive. I’ve not seen any interviews, but if he seems as intelligent as you say, he will understand this and be prepared to handle it. If he’s not prepared to play in the majors, under any circumstances, then his career will suffer regardless.

          • fireboss

            Not sure where expendable comes from… TLS is 25 so as my son would say a grown a** man, so I expect him to get through the rough parts in the end. Ideally – and this may be how it works out – he’d hit second behind Simba and ahead of Freeman Justin etc. It may be that we start with that reversed and it works out because Jason certainly isn’t. Fredi will start him in the 7 or 8 spot but eventually he needs to be where his OBP is put to best use and that’s at the top. I am not anti-Tommy and hitters like him – guys who put the bat on the ball and spray it all over the ballpark – will hit. For the most part what the fans feel isn’t that big a factor but never underestimate the pressure these guys impose on themselves. It forced Votto, Grienke and others off the field until they worked through it.
            I’d be seriously surprised if the Braves will make any kind of trade to replace Uggla. We will likely see TLS by the end of this month maybe as soon as the Brewer series if not then maybe the Mariners, I’d want him to start at home and that’s where i expect to see a change made when the time comes.

          • Mushy Peas

            By saying expendable, I was referring to the idea of the Braves spending extra money on someone outside the organization just to fill that temporary void just until TLS or a more permanent solution can be found (i.e. Bonifacio). I don’t really think its the smartest solution at present given that the Braves will most certainly have to pay out Dan’s remaining 24 mil. Though I could be wrong! Something may evolve that ends up working out very well. We’ll all just have wait and see. I think we’re all just tired of waiting! All of this discussion wouldn’t even be taking place if the Braves would just make the necessary, albeit difficult, decisions needed to remedy this situation. Actually…I’m sure we’d all find a way to continue the debate regardless of what happens! :)
            -Good stuff Fred. Good points made by all.

      • fireboss

        I’m confused. “. Definitely not a candidate for the lead-off role. . ” I do think TLS can handle the job…” Okay I’m not, you’re saying that’s not his best role but he’ll do. What he lack is speed and that’s one of the issues. The team needs to do what the best teams are doing, forget the PED laced station to station and wait for a three run homer model in favor of athleticism. He’s been a bit injury prone and is yet to play 100 games at any level. I’m not anti – Tommy I’m just being devil’s advocate. While he plays the position we’d most like to replace I’m not sure he’s ready to carry that load. I think that’s why he isn’t up already. I’d rather nlot ruin his career before it starts in order to find out. But, what do I know?

        • carpengui

          The 2-hole job, not leadoff.

          • fireboss

            Then we still have the who lead’s off question. Heyward is struggling, Simba is slumping BJ is… well BJ

  • Ryan Cothran

    Love this article and agree with most points. I think it’s safe to say that no matter what, the 2nd base production will be better from here on out.

  • Joseph Fain

    I’ll admit that I don’t know exactly how this works, but I wonder if the decision to keep Uggla around is not budgetary rather than monetary. Would the Braves have to pay the rest of his contact immediately upon his release or would they still be able to pay this year and next? If they have to pay immediately, then I can see why that presents a challenge since the team extended itself pretty far over budget to sign Santana. That is the only way the current dithering makes any sense at all.

    • carpengui

      I believe the answer is that the regular pay cycles continue on their usual schedule. I cannot find any mention to the contrary within the CBA.

    • fireboss

      Alan is correct, he gets his check exactly as if he were still on the team. If he signs with someone else the Braves send them the money for all but the major league minimum. His salary counts against their luxury tax limit but is reduced by the amount the Braves pay them As I understand it that money does not count against the Braves luxury tax limit however as he would not be on our 40 man roster and that is the basis for that calculation