Thursday, November 18, 2010

Update: Uggla to Stay at Second, Prado Moves to Left

On Wednesday, I discussed a few of the myriad options facing the Braves now that they've acquired second baseman Dan Uggla from the Marlins.  Well, apparently they've made their decision.  David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Dan Uggla will remain at second base, while Martin Prado will move to left field.  That is, of course, unless Chipper Jones has a setback.  Then, Prado will play third. 

I have to admit that I'm not surprised.  Ok, maybe I am a little bit.  While Prado isn't a great defensive second baseman, he's definitely better than Uggla.  Looking at advanced metrics, Uggla has consistently been near the bottom of the league in UZR, Defensive Runs Saved, and Total Zone ratings in three out of the last four seasons.  So why did the Braves decide to keep Uggla at second base, despite all of the evidence? 

Well, for starters, Uggla has some star power.  He's a power hitting middle infielder who's going to be a free agent at the end of the season.  The Braves will likely be interested in bringing him back after 2011, so they're going to be as accommodating as possible in the interim. 

Second, a lot of Prado's value is tied up in his versatility.  Since 2006, Prado has started 31 games at first, 185 at second, 91 at third, 2 at shortstop, 3 in left, and 1 in right.  This versatility gives the Braves an incredible amount of roster flexibility when filling holes left by injured starting players.  Instead of filling a hole with a replacement level player, the Braves can fill it with Prado.  In actuality, having Prado serve as the super utility player probably puts the Braves in the best position to win--even if Uggla and his inferior defense are playing at second base.

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