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.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.