Re: A Realistic View at 2014: Part I
posted at 11/12/2013 9:21 PM EST
If Napoli falls through, another “under the radar” solution for 1B is a guy whom I think is a likely bounce back candidate.
Dan Uggla has been struggling in Atlanta with the exception of a ridiculous one month stretch over the past 3 years. Since acquiring him 3 years ago, he has hit a fairly unimpressive .213 / .323 / .424. The extension he signed still guarantees him about $26mill over the next 2 seasons, and his image in Atlanta is so bad right now, he was left off the post-season roster in 2013. The Braves went with career utility man Elliot Johnson as their starting 2B, but they also have in-house options including Tyler Pastornicky and Tommy LaStella. They would like nothing more than to get rid of Uggla.
I ran Uggla through the Uncannily Accurate Projection Machine, or UAPM (pronounced “whap ‘em”) to see what kind of hitter he really is. His numbers came out to be .236 / .340 / .434 (.727) with 27 HRs. Tolerable, but not exactly exciting. While he certainly has been unlucky, it’s not like he should have been setting the world on fire.
However, it is worth noting that Uggla’s entire career to date has been in two of the unfriendliest pitcher parks in the NL (Miami and Atlanta). On the road, he has shown much more impressive power, with a HR/FB % of 25% on the road, as opposed to about 10% at home. As Uggla is a notorious flyball hitter, this could mark for a really big improvement. Also, as a RHH power bat, Fenway alone represents an ideal situation for him. The Green Monster does turn a lot of routine flyballs into wall scrapers. A change of parks to Fenway does drastically increase his projected output to a rather insane .274 / .373 / .503 with 43HRs. While that seems a little ridiculous, to be kind, the bottom line is that he would most definitely benefit from getting out of Atlanta. And the Braves are quite open in their desire to move him. (I might have to rename this the Overly Optimistic Projection Machine. The Oop 'Em.)
Uggla did struggle with vision issues last season, and had LASIK surgery in August. He was actually worse when he came back, but I have no idea if there was any adjustment to his newfound vision. It is actually impressive he was able to retain his plate disciple for the majority of the season with failing eyesight. I think, regardless of where he plays, Uggla’s improved vision will lead to a better 2013 for him, even in Atlanta. Granted, it might not improve to the level the Braves want, especially for the money he is owed. And his patient, pitch-working approach does fall right in line with the Red Sox offensive philosophy.
At the very least, this is the Sox best chance to upgrade while trading only Dempster . The Braves may or may not feel they need another SP, but at the very least stand a chance at not retaining Hudson. They have had interest in Dempster before, however Dempster himself invoked his NTC and killed that deal. While that is Dempster’s right as a player, it is impossible to tell if Atlanta would be interested again. They might overlook it if it gives them a chance to dump Uggla, whose list of suitors is not going to grow any time soon. Certainly, the Braves would make the deal for Peavy, but if that is the case, the Sox might want additional enticement to make up for the lost potential draft pick.
And yes, Ugglas has never played 1B. But it is the postion players get moved to when they cnnot handle their own. Uggla can certainly field grounders and catch a ball thrown to him. I would expect some defensive growing pains, but overall he is a career infielder and should adjust in a short amount of time.
And if Uggla does turn into a .850OPS hitter with anywhere near 35HRs for Boston, the deal becomes all the better…