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Friday, January 7, 2011

The honeymoon's already over

I don't know what it is about Atlanta sports fans, but we'll find a touch of grey inside any silver lining. Talking Chop is already hand wringing about giving Dan Uggla a five year deal, going as far as saying the Braves got jobbed on the deal. I thought this was a nice juxtaposition on my iGoogle page:

Ok, the Braves just gave a 31 year old a five year deal for 62 million. He ain't no Bill Mazeroski playing second. There's a long list of really good players who dropped off the face of the planet at around 33-34 years of age. We don't have the payroll to be able to absorb a large contract like this for a player who bombs. All are fine arguments for why this could be the biggest mistake of Frank Wren's life and will end up destroying the franchise.

Most of the worrying has been about adding that 5th year to the contract. To put it in perspective here's a few pros for the signing:

Locking down Uggla right now means there is absolutely no contract distraction for Dan in the 2011 season. If the Braves want to go back to the playoffs this year, they need a happy and productive Dan anchoring that cleanup spot.
We're still paying less than half the money that Boston and Washington paid for Crawford and Werth. Werth is older than Uggla by the way and got two more guaranteed years.
Adrian Beltre just got a 5 year 80 million dollar contract with the Rangers. Yep, Adrian's older too. 
Adam Dunn just got 4 years for 56 million from the White Sox. Same age, can hit better but can't defend a lick.
If you look at the deal as if the Braves paid him 10 million in arbitration and then gave him a 4 year extension for 52 million it looks like a pretty decent contract for a slugging defensively challenged middle of the order player in his early 30's. 
If Dan Uggla craps the bed in 2014 or 2015, we'll deal with it then. For Pete's sake, we just made the motherlovin' playoffs with a hurt Chipper, a completely useless McLouth and an exiled Kawakami chewing up a quarter of the payroll. And that's not even mentioning Derek Lowe. 

Here's a few more pros for the whole deal:
The Braves absolutely stole Uggla from the Marlins because Jeffrey Loria is a whiny bitch.
The Braves have been desperate for a right handed legitimate cleanup hitter since Andruw Jones' biological clock struck midnight and he turned into a pumpkin.
Dan Uggla is a legitimate 30 home run hitter, something which the Braves has not had since Tex left.
Dan's offensive stats would have led the team in just about every category in 2010.
Dan Uggla is an average second baseman whose stats may have been harmed by the dreadful conditions at the Florida stadium.
Dan has a great work ethic and has worked his ass off to become an All-Star second baseman since being picked up in the Rule V draft.
Brian McCann now has his first true bromance since Frenchy left.
The Braves may have already had an All-Star second baseman in Martin Prado, but while Dan is replacing Martin at second, Martin is replacing Melky in left. Talk about an upgrade.
Dan Uggla will no longer kick our asses up and down Hank Aaron drive as a member of the Marlins.

Is there stuff to worry about? Sure. Ownership/Payroll is still uncertain. Injury worries abound. No more steroids means no more aging gracefully in the majors. Dan could end up with an age 36 year like Jim Rice, or - God forbid - an age 31 year like Andruw Jones. Atlanta fans are amongst the most shell-shocked fan bases around, in the top 5 behind the likes of Cleveland and Buffalo fans, so there's lots to worry about and very often the worries come true.

So what? We just got Dan Uggla to anchor the lineup! Let's just enjoy the warm glow of a happy, locked up cleanup slugger for a little while and wait until some actual games are played before criticizing a real big-boy market move for this franchise. Frankly if the Braves hadn't made this deal, I'd be more worried that the uninterested ownership would squeeze the payroll again in 2012 to the point where we once again couldn't afford to offer arbitration to a Type A free agent resulting in Dan walking with no draft pick compensation. Probably to the Mets or Nationals, with our luck. Lock Dan up, let him loose and let's play ball.


dayf said...

And yes, I realize that by criticizing a critic for being critical, the ghost of Benjamin Disraeli is doing a facepalm at me right now.

smedcards said...

It's nice to be optimistic, but this deal isn't good at all. Payroll flexibility is a primary objective for any team not in NY or Boston. "Dealing with it then" may not be an option.

He'll be 31, and while players are lasting longer - it's still a crapshoot whether at 32 or 33 he'll be the level he was at 30. If he plays like he did at age 29 or 27 then he's nowhere near worth it.

And 'keeping a player happy' has not statistical relevance. I bet Nate McLouth was happy he wasn't in Pittsburgh this year.

Though it's probably safer to give Uggla this contract since he can easily move to another position when he defense slips (3B, LF, RF perhaps). My biggest complaint is giving extra years to 1B/DH types and any pitcher. You can find about half-a-dozen replacements for any 1B/DH biding their time in AAA - and pitchers are born to be injured.

Colbey (flywheels) said...

dayf, Charlotte fans aren't much better! It doesn't help though that all the Charlotte area professional teams suck right now! We are remember stupid contract the Hornets gave Larry Johnson, don't we?!

I'm on the fence about the deal...but if he performs like we saw him do against the Braves and can keep it up then I'll be happy.

No one has a crystal ball (that I know of) so time will be the ultimate judge here of whether or not this was a good deal or not.

Captain Canuck said...

I agree with everything you just said, save one. Prado is replacing Matty Diaz in left. We will not say Fat Bastard's name out loud ever again.

I'm just glad to see the Bravos going for it, as it were. I'm too used to the sell/give away mode of the past few years.

dayf said...

Ok if this is such a bad deal and we should have enjoyed Dan's production for one prime year and let him walk, then tell me one thing:

Who takes over for Dan and becomes the right handed slugger in the lineup when he walks.

Here's the list of 2012 free agents:

Show me the replacement we can get next offseason for 4-$52. Show me who will replace Dan and fit into the budget and I'll agree that this is a terrible deal.

You know what's worse than a market value deal that ends up overpaying a guy in the last couple of years of the contract? Having a giant gaping hole in the roster that ends up getting filled with panic moves that actually screw up the franchise. Moves like the Teixeira trade because we didn't have a slugger or signing Kawakami and Lowe for too much because the rotation had cratered.

Werth was a bad deal. This is a market value deal. Uggla will not be the same player in 2015 as he was in 2010, but that's how contracts work right now. I'd rather have them plug this hole right now then have to panic about it later.

randombaseballstuff.com said...

"Payroll flexibility" is the new buzzword created by teams that don't want to spend money to build a winner.

You do what you need to so you can try to win a championship. The Braves gave Uggla a market value contract. For now, enjoy having one of the best second basemen in the game. Hope that you get at least three good years from him, and decent ones on the back end of the contract.

night owl said...

Haven't you noticed? Nobody is allowed to be happy anymore. Ever. Everyone is so dissatisfied with everything.

Disraeli isn't the only ghost doing a facepalm.

smedcards said...

It's not that anyone shouldn't be happy, I just don't think 'market value' contract is truly what the market value is, especially for the 6th best 2B in terms of WAR from 2006-2010. And also if it means moving an offensive plus at a position to one where he'd be below average offensively (Prado to LF from 2B).

Payroll flexibility is looking for tomorrow as well as today. I think the Braves have other holes to fill than a 2B. It's also much easier to find an OF than a 2B, and Prado's not bad at all!

The Braves used to fleece teams into making idiotic trades. Why not take advantage of the morans that run other teams instead of overpaying a player for 3/5 of his potential contract?

I'm not saying no one can be happy, it's that Uggla's probably plateaued, and throwing Prado into LF means that the OF is now underpowered.

As a Twins fan, I thought the Mauer deal was a couple years too many, but he's a special case and moving him to a corner wouldn't be a detriment. What I didn't like was dealing a young catcher for a reliever they didn't need - since you could use Mauer as DH or 1B or even LF / RF on occasion.

Hot stove talk, good for the soul!

Derek said...

Love the deal! And everyone else will too after about a month with Dan is driving in runs left and right!!

Bam! Optimism! I'm glad that wren is out there doing some moving and shaking, he's working his ass off to put the best possible club on the field, in my opinion anyway