I have to admit that I’m pretty confused by this deal. Maybe I’m underating defensive acumen, but to me the NL East deal between the Marlins and Braves on Tuesday appears to be a slame dunk win for the perenial contending Braves.
Braves receive: 2B Dan Uggla
Marlins receive: INF Omar Infante and RP Mike Dunn.
First off, it’s very, very odd that the two divisional opponents would pull off a deal of this magnitude with one another..
Second, it should be pointed out that Uggla has one more year of arbitration eligibility before becoming a free agent after the 2011 season. Clearly, the Braves believe they will be able to sign him long-term (reportedly the Marlins offered 4-years and $48 million, to which Uggla asked for 5-years, and $71 million). The Braves are certainly putitng themselves in a slightly precarious position do to the uncertainty surrounding Uggla’s future, but they clearly anticipate their winning atmopshere, not to mention new manager Fredi Gonzalez, who worked with Uggla in Florida, to help them to sway Uggla into staying for a while in Atlanta.
Now to the players.
Omar Infante was an All-Star in 2010 as he had the best season of his career as he hit .321. However, he has little power, he hit only eight homers and 15 doubles in 471 at-bats, and he rarely walked leading to a solid but far from great .359 OBP considering how high is average was. He also has stolen all of nine bases the past three years, and his career slash line is league average at .274/.319/.395. He helps out all over the field (65 games at 2B, 29 at 3B, 19 at SS, 21 at OF), but he has little shot to repeat his effort from last season which would, idealy, leave him as a super sub on a good team, not an everyday starter as the Marlins are planning on him being.
Dunn has impressive stuff that includes a fastball that resides at 95 mph and a power 86 mph slider. He’s used those pitches to great effect with 32 Ks in 23 big league innings (he also posted 64 Ks in 47.1 innings at Triple-A in ’10). However, Dunn has also walked 22 batters in those 23 big league innings, and his BB/9 number at Triple-A was 4.75 per nine innings last year — and that was a 3-year best. Exactly. Tons of stuff but little consistency so far.
As for Uggla, all he has done is have the best 5-year run to start his career of any second basemen who has ever played the game. Moreover, it can be argued rather easily that he is working on the greatest 5-year power run in the annals of baseball for a second basemen. Uggla has produced 5-straight seasons of at least 27 homers, 88 RBI and 84 runs scored, and that is the longest such streak – ever (no other second basemen has done it more than twice in a row). Actually, Uggla is one of only four players at any position who is working on a 5-year streak of 27-88-84, and the others are Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard and Mark Teixieria. That’s right, Uggla is a consistnetly effective offensive weapon. I don’t really care that he is a K machine – at least 149 in each of the past four years – or if he owns a mere .263 career batting average, or if he really can’t play second base. The man can mash, and that is what the Braves will hang their hats on – a middle of the order threat who, at 31 years of age, seems a near lock for 25 homers, 90 RBI and 85 runs scored. Oh yeah, he has also missed a grand total of 34 games in five seasons.
This deal is a slam dunk win for the Braves if they can sign Uggla to a contract extension.
One other thing. Check your leagues games played requirements. I mention this because Martin Prado looks likely to move to the outfield. That means Prado could concievably qualify at second third and outfield in 2011. However, if he will only qualify at outfield if that is the only position he will actually play in 2011, make sure you realize that there isn’t much value to a .300-12-70 line from an outfielder if he only steals five bases.
For another view of the deal make sure to read Jason Collette’s Fishy Deals.
By Ray Flowers