Braves second baseman Dan Uggla was not in the lineup for Friday night’s game against Cubs right-handed starter Jason Hammel. It was the fifth time in 10 games that manager Fredi Gonzalez had someone else’s name at second base instead of Uggla’s.
Uggla is coming off of an ugly 2013 campaign in which he hit .179 with a .671 OPS. Somehow, he’s been worse as we wrap up the first full week of May. Uggla is slashing an awful .184/.241/.272 with two home runs and 10 RBI. Gonzalez hasn’t spoken with Uggla yet, but plans to discuss his second baseman’s role on the team soon. Via Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal Constitution:
Gonzalez said he does plan to sit down with Uggla soon and address the way he’s using him.
“I’ve not spoken to him about it at all, but I think we’ll talk soon,” Gonzalez said. “That’s the way I am; I like to tell guys. But I have not sat down with him.”
As Rogers notes in her article, second base prospect Tommy La Stella is hitting very well at Triple-A Gwinnett, batting .300 with a .372 on-base percentage. If Uggla can’t turn things around, the Braves may hand the second base job over to La Stella, and the Braves would have a very expensive bench player. Uggla is owed $13 million each of the 2014 and ’15 seasons, and it’s increasingly unlikely a team would take on even a cent of his remaining salary to acquire him.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.
Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.
Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.