May 1, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves second baseman Dan Uggla (26) warms up prior to a game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

A Dead Horse That Needs a Beating

Today is May 28th – marking three weeks since Dan Uggla lost his spot as the regular starting second baseman for the Atlanta Braves.  Since that point, he has been used… “sparingly” is the word I’ll choose on this occasion:  14 plate appearances, 11 of which occurred during 3 starts.  He has one hit over that stretch, though oddly enough, has scored 4 times.  That stat line includes 4 walks, 4 strikeouts (three in this 5/23 start vs. Colorado).  Dan’s last multi-hit game was on April 18, the date of his last extra-base hit as well.  He’s now hitting .177 and slugging .257 with a .254 OBP.

Moreover, his replacements haven’t exactly been lighting up the scoreboard, either.  The three-headed beast consisting of Uggla, Tyler Pastornicky, and Ramiro Pena have combined in May to go 14 for 98 (.142) with 12 walks and 26 strikeouts.  Pastornicky leads this trio – if you can call it “leading” – with a .505 OPS for the month.  He’s also the only one above the Mendosa line at .214.


Something’s Gotta Give

Ramiro Pena. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

We know why Pena is on the roster:  switch hitter, late-inning defensive replacement, and has a little speed.  So playing him regularly at second base actually hurts Atlanta, because it robs the roster of that role whenever needed.  But clearly, he’s not hitting at all like what we’ve seen before from him.  Pastornicky is present… well, pretty much because Dan still is.  He has speed, and that’s actually his best asset:  pinch running.  Oh, but we also have Jordan Schafer for that.

So in short, we have three roster spots currently occupied by ineffective players whose roles are limited in the best of circumstances, and whose utility to the club is enhanced only with offensive production – which is simply not happening.  In Dan’s case, we’ve blamed his eyes, we’ve assumed he’d eventually hit out of it, we’ve been happy seeing the occasional flashes of brilliance.  But no more:  his defense is poor (and suddenly has developed a case of throwing high to first base) and his hitting is simply not improving.


Here’s What the Braves MUST Do

  • Release Dan Uggla
  • Option Pastornicky to Gwinnett
  • Release Ramiro Pena

…and the corresponding moves…

I had considered suggesting a release of Jordan Schafer as well.  News recently came around that the Red Sox are looking for Center Field help – if they were interested, then I’m suggest a modest trade to drop him off there after Thursday’s game.  But he’s still the best option available to Atlanta to support any of the three OF positions in a pinch, so he still fulfills a necessary role.  And he’s fast.

In the meantime, Gosselin is hitting .335 (.356 OBP) at AAA while La Stella is now at .293 (.359 OBP, 25 walks vs. 14 K).  Bring them both up as platoon partners for a while, with La Stella taking over the full time role soon.  Gosselin can play all over the infield, so he can fulfill the role – along with offense – that Pena has been doing.  Joey T.’s bat has cooled considerably since a torrid mid-April to mid-May stretch, but he’d still be a decent option – and another switch-hitter off the bench.  If I were to make only two of those three moves, then leaving Terdoslavich at Gwinnett would be the odd one out.

If a deal could be made to move Schafer, then Todd Cunningham would be a viable replacement (.296/.341 with 8 steals).

Bold moves like these would remove three non-productive players and insert three productive ones:  that is what this team needs right now since they are easily the worst in the majors in having run-scoring oppotunities (lowest number of Runners in scoring position plate appearances).  I’m sure the Front Office would rather give La Stella a full season at Gwinnett, but (a) he’s already 25 years old – he’s not gonna ‘mature’ any more; and (b) the three 2nd sackers currently employed are not producing.  That hand is being forced.


There’s no longer a point to waiting any longer.




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Tags: Atlanta Braves Dan Uggla

  • aRunning_Maniac

    Couldn’t agree more with the notion that moves need to be made. I myself would likely release Schafer before Ramiro Pena. But honestly, both releases would be fine. Both Gosselin and Cunningham have provided quality production thus far at AAA, and would likely do a fine job filling in at the major league level when called upon.

    Releasing Uggla and calling up La Stella is a given, but the Braves/Wren continue to act as if Uggla is a potential asset for some bizarre reason. They have to realize at this point that Uggla’s contract is a sunk cost, and that the only thing they’re effectively accomplishing at this point is wasting a roster spot. Even so, they seem unwilling to part with him. It’s really strange.

    But again, the fact of the matter is, this club needs a loud wake up call. It’s unacceptable to have so have many under-performing players on the roster.

  • BJ

    I agree. But it’s strange to me as well why moves aren’t being made. Me personally I think wren has a couple of moves on the back end. Just waiting on other teams. Jordan and Pena seems like they should be ok to stay but Jordan plays rarely.

  • carpengui

    I have a correction that I’ll place in the comments here:

    The Red Sox are looking for CF help – most likely to platoon with Jackie Bradley… or… something. Since JBJr is a lefty hitter (that was my error), this would mean their interest in Schafer would be limited. Nonetheless, any team looking for a CFer doesn’t have a lot of serious options, but we’ll see how it plays out.

    So today it’s La Stella up and Pastornicky down. One step complete.

  • fireboss

    With TLS starting tonight it’s just a case of when FW goes to McGuirk and says we have to eat the $23M. That’s a pride thing that if he doesn’t face will end his career. I originally thought he’d do that by June 1 but now believe the ASG is the latest. I don;t understand the urgency folks have to move Schafer. When he’s played he’s been good defensively – better than BJ actually, that sun ball was not his fault. He runs the bases as well as everyone other than BJ and he can hit his weight with regular play which of course he won’t get. I do think he has a market – Giants, Reds, Twins and maybe the Rays who are disillusioned with Jennings come to mind.
    If I’m trading Pena I’m trying to build a package for Zobrist. It would have to include a really good pitcher but Zobrist is what Prado was but better. He plays everywhere above average and hits line drives all over the park. Why would they trade him? He’s 33 and they need to get younger. They might accept Peraza Pena and a B level arm for him but he’s like Boggs, his bat won’t get old any time soon.

    • carpengui

      Re: Schafer. It’s because his role now does not allow him enough playing time to succeed. He’s a streaky hitter anyway, but 2-4 AB per week isn’t sufficient to allow him to get into anything resembling a ‘groove.’ Yes – Atlanta actually needs what he can do in the OF for defense, plus pinch running. But the lack of playing time is not helping him at all and the result is nearly zero production whenever he does get an AB. A better situation might help him.

  • Lee Trocinski

    I’m a little late here, but I don’t understand releasing Pena. You say he should be a backup but isn’t cutting it as a starter. You don’t need to cut him, as bringing up La Stella has put him back in his preferred role of utility player. I’m definitely not releasing him to bring up a AAA hitter with a .400 BABIP, 100 points higher than his last 3 years, as his only offensive skill. He’s no better than Pena, likely worse in the field, so you don’t cut bait unless you think you’re getting a much better player. I would go with Joey T when Uggla gets released, though Gosselin would be understandable there.

    Jordan Schafer has no trade value to teams looking for CF help. He’s about a .275 wOBA hitter who should be a bit more of a platoon partner with BJ, but nowhere near good enough to start many games on a halfway-decent team. We need him more than any other team.