As expected the Braves have left second baseman Dan Uggla off their NLDS roster, meaning they’d rather face the Dodgers without their highest-paid player. Uggla hit .179 this season and was completely helpless since returning from eye surgery, going 8-for-60 (.133) with 25 strikeouts.
Along with Uggla the Braves also left off Paul Maholm, who started 26 games during the regular season, and Scott Downs, who was acquired from the Angels to provide a left-handed bullpen option in the late innings.
Instead of relying on Maholm for a potential Game 4 start the Braves will apparently turn to Freddy Garcia, who was bouncing around between Triple-A teams a month ago and then tossed 27 innings with a 1.65 ERA down the stretch. Garcia is also 36 years old with a 4.84 ERA in 188 total innings since the beginning of last season, but Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez is a big believer in recent performances being meaningful.
Which is why Downs likely missed the cut. He’s been one of the best left-handed relievers in baseball for almost a decade, posting a combined 2.33 ERA in 447 appearances since 2007, but Downs had a 3.86 ERA and 15/8 K/BB ratio in 14 innings for the Braves.
Padres starter Jered Weaver lasted just two-thirds of an inning in Wednesday afternoon’s Cactus League appearance against the Royals. He yielded four runs on three hits, throwing 31 pitches before getting pulled. His spring ERA now sits at an ugly 10.13.
Weaver said he’s been dealing with a “dead arm” since his last bullpen session, but added he’s dealt with the issue in previous springs, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
The Padres signed Weaver to a one-year, $3 million contract last month. The right-hander is coming off of the worst season of his 11-year career. His fastball averaged a career-low 83 MPH and he put up a 5.06 ERA with a 103/51 K/BB ratio in 178 innings.
Earlier, Craig wrote about Dan Duquette’s dogwhistle language in his criticism of Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista. We have some more dogwhistling, this time coming from Tigers (and Team U.S.) second baseman Ian Kinsler. Via Billy Witz of The New York Times:
I hope kids watching the W.B.C. can watch the way we play the game and appreciate the way we play the game as opposed to the way Puerto Rico plays or the Dominican plays. That’s not taking anything away from them. That just wasn’t the way we were raised. They were raised differently and to show emotion and passion when you play. We do show emotion; we do show passion. But we just do it in a different way.
The goal of the World Baseball Classic, created by Major League Baseball, is to promote baseball across the globe. It’s players like Puerto Rico’s Javier Baez who are doing the best job in that regard, not boring white guys from the U.S. Potential baseball fans are not swayed into liking the sport when a player hits a home run and solemnly puts his head down to stroll the bases. They get excited and energized when players show emotion, flip their bats, celebrate. Baez did more to make baseball appeal to new and lapsed audiences with his premature celebration tag than the entire U.S. team has done this tournament.
Furthermore, it is hypocritical to want to diversify the sport’s audience while squelching incoming cultures.
Jim Leyland also got in on the action:
Go Puerto Rico.