Will Braves Replace Dan Uggla?

Dan Uggla Atlanta Braves Blog

Are Uggla’s days numbered?

The Atlanta Braves could have a new second baseman this season and his name is Tommy LaStella.  He probably won’t be in the Braves starting line-up on opening day, may not even be on the roster.  But he could be looking for Atlanta living accommodations early in the season, if incumbent Dan Uggla continues his struggles.

Many Braves fans have been frustrated with Dan Uggla’s play since he became an Atlanta player.  Despite his sketchy play, Uggla has kept his regular season job due to the force field around him known as a big money, long-term contract.  It appears that force field may have weakened, as being left off last season’s playoff roster gave a good sign that the Braves have lost patience with Uggla’s hitting problems.

Last season the Braves jumped off to a comfortable division lead over the Washington Nationals and were never really threatened.  That lead allowed manager Fredi Gonzalez to be patient with Uggla and his partner in struggles, center fielder B.J. Upton, through most of the regular season.

The Nationals main problem last season was multiple injuries to key players.  The Braves cannot count on that happening again in the 2014 season.  Washington made off-season deals that have strengthened their club, and will be hungry.  So in other words, Gonzalez could be forced this season to bench players who aren’t hitting early in the season, or risk falling too far between the Nationals.  Or perhaps even falling out of playoff contention.

Tommy LaStella possesses a skill that is sorely lacking in the Atlanta Braves line-up.  He is a contact hitter that knows how to get on base.  LaStella is a .327 minor league hitter with a .412 on-base-percentage.  He also has some power, 20 homers in three seasons, with a .908 slugging percentage.

Although not known for his speed, LaStella has stolen 23 bases in 29 attempts in his minor league career.  With his ability to get on base and make contact, could LaStella be a key addition to the top of the line-up?  Even though Jason Heyward did a very good job leading off last season, should a guy with his power be hitting in the middle of the order?

Even though LaStella has only been in the minors for three seasons, he is a mature 25 years old.  It appears he is ready to make the jump to “The Show.”  Are the Braves ready to ring out the old and ring in the new?

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About Jim Hart

Jim has covered the Atlanta Braves since 2008 for local and national broadcast news organizations. He also appears regularly talking Braves baseball on WCCP-FM in Clemson, South Carolina, and the ESPN Radio affiliate, 1420 Sports in St. Augustine, Florida.

Comments

  1. C.J. Smith says:

    I personally would not mind seeing La Stella play on opening day. I know MLB pitching will be a little different for him but he will adjust like most do. I’ve tried the “maybe next year” thing with Uggla for too many times now. Time for a change at 2nd base

  2. Wayne Canon says:

    Jim Hart has completely run out of things to write about.
    “Will Braves Replace Dan Uggla?”
    No, Dan Uggla is a cherished and vital part of the Braves lineup. Without Uggla, the Upton trade would have REALLY looked bad. The Uptons can now say: “Yeah, I sucked but I wasn’t as bad as Uggla.”
    Uggla couldn’t hit a bulls butt with a snow shovel, but he more than makes up for that with his below average fielding. And we got him for a song.

    • Why the anger, Wayne?

      • Wayne Canon says:

        It’s not anger…it’s just the shallowness of the question. When all is said and done, Uggla will be on the payroll for the remainder of his contract. A more interesting question would have been ‘If Uggla doesn’t show measurable improvement in spring training, should he be on the Opening Day roster?”
        My opinion on that would be ‘no’. We are going to have to pay him, but that doesn’t mean he has to occupy a spot on the roster.

        • Fair enough, Wayne. Although I don’t think that Uggla serving out his entire contract with the Braves is close to a certainty. We’ll see… The main point of the article though was not Uggla, but to discuss Tommy LaStella’s potential. He needs a place to play, though. I think if Washington starts out fast, Uggla could be sent to the bench quickly if he isn’t hitting again.

          • Wayne Canon says:

            Agreed. Washington underperformed big time last year. I don’t think the Braves can count on that again this year. It should be a good race.
            I do wonder why you would put Uggla on the bench if he stumbles early in the season. Certainly we wouldn’t use him as a pinch hitter or as a late inning defensive replacement.
            I would like nothing better than for Dan to rebound and earn a spot on the Opening Day roster. I like the guy personally very much. I can’t imagine the mental agony Dan has been going through these past few years.As fierce a competitor as he is and having to endure the struggles he has faced must have been a nightmare.
            The Braves lineup is so much more potent when the REAL Dan Uggla is in it.

          • Who is the REAL Dan Uggla?

          • Wayne Canon says:

            I would like to have the 2010 Uggla – .287 avg. 33 hr. 105 RBI and played in 159 games. That’s the Dan Uggla I thought we were getting in the trade.
            If he had maintained anything like his stats before he came to the Braves, that would have gone down as one of the best trades in Braves history.

          • What are the odds of that happening?

          • Wayne Canon says:

            honestly the odds of that are between slim and none…..and slim just left town.
            I was looking over his stats, and he does have a good On Base Percentage and home runs…but his strikeouts and less than brilliant defense is going to keep him sidelined.

            Looking over our projected roster, it seems we are a little shallow in infield replacements unless we count on the farm.

What Do You Think?