Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gee...That was Fast

It's amazing what just a few days can do.  Last week, the Marlins announced they'd cut off negotiations with All-Star second baseman Dan Uggla.  On Sunday, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports announced the Marlins were looking to deal Uggla quickly, preferably this week.  Today, the Marlins finalized a deal that would send Uggla to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for utility infielder Omar Infante and relief pitcher Mike Dunn.

This looks like a great deal for the Braves.  The only question is, where do they play Uggla?  Currently, Uggla's a second baseman, but he's widely considered to be below average defensively at the position.  The Braves already have Martin Prado at second.  Prado has experience playing first and third, so it's possible the Braves could move Prado to allow for Uggla to play second. 

Many scouts and analysts think a move to third base would be beneficial for Uggla, but Chipper Jones is entrenched there.  Jones is currently recovering from surgery to repair a torn ACL he injured late in 2010.  Reports show that he's progressing on schedule, and should be ready to return by Spring Training.  Still, ACL injuries can be tricky, especially for soon to be 39 year old infielders.  While Jones has been solid defensively at third over the past few years, his post-surgery mobility could be compromised.  As a result, a move to first base in the short term might be beneficial for both Jones and the Braves.  This is my favorite scenario for the Braves.  It puts Uggla in a position to contribute to the team defensively, while allowing Jones to not have to worry about playing such a physically demanding position.  Also, it gives the Braves a little more time to allow for first base prospect Freddie Freeman to develop at AAA.   

The Braves have a few months to figure out where they want Uggla is going to play.  The key is that they got another solid bat in their lineup, which they sorely needed.  All they had to give up was Infante (who is a prime candidate to see a regression to the mean), and Dunn (who racks up the strikeouts, but lacks control).  I'm not sure what the Marlins were thinking when they accepted the trade.  Normally, they come out looking the smartest guys in the negotiating room.  This time, not so much.  Maybe they know something I/we don't know?  I'm not sure.  To me, it looks like they forced this one through.

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