Atlanta left Dan Uggla off the postseason roster in favor of light-hitting utility man Elliot Johnson and now it sounds like the Braves may be close to benching Uggla again.
He’s hit just .190 with 30 strikeouts in 27 games, ruining any notion that eye surgery could fix his rapid decline, and Mark Bowman of MLB.com speculates that prospect Tommy La Stella “might soon be promoted” from Triple-A to replace Uggla at second base.
Uggla is still owed more than $20 million, but that money is a sunk cost at this point and it doesn’t help the Braves to keep trotting him out there solely to avoid eating the rest of the contract. Bowman notes that Uggla has hit .186 with a .657 OPS in 265 games dating back to mid-2012.
La Stella is hardly considered an elite prospect and he’s got a measly .333 slugging percentage at Triple-A as a 25-year-old, but he also has a .372 on-base percentage with more walks than strikeouts and has gotten on base at a fantastic .408 clip for his career. La Stella and Uggla are about as different as two hitters can be in terms of their approach and skill set, and it’d be tough to blame for Braves for wanting to try the other extreme after watching Uggla flail away for the past few seasons.
The Indians announced a wave of roster moves this afternoon. In addition to designating utility man Elliot Johnson for assignment and placing catcher Yan Gomes on the paternity leave list, they have called up reliever Nick Hagadone and catcher George Kottaras from Triple-A Indianapolis.
Johnson made the Indians out of spring training, but he’s getting the boot after hitting just .105 (2-for-19) with two doubles and seven strikeouts in seven games. As for Gomes, he’s permitted to be away from the team for 24 to 72 hours.
Hagadone, 28, owns a 5.59 ERA over 72 relief appearances in the majors. Kottaras latched on with the Indians after being released by the Cubs at the end of spring training and could stick around even after Gomes returns.
Jason Kipnis is the latest player to suffer the dreaded strained oblique muscle and after initially holding out some slim hope that he could avoid the disabled list the Indians have placed the second baseman on the shelf.
Utility man Elliot Johnson subbed for Kipnis in the one game he’s missed so far, but the Indians would certainly rather keep his role very limited and they’ve called up prospect Jose Ramirez from the minors to take the All-Star’s roster spot.
Ramirez is only 21 years old, but he debuted with the Indians in September and actually cracked their playoff roster. His numbers at Double-A last season weren’t impressive, but Ramirez was hitting .319 with more walks than strikeouts and an .849 OPS at Triple-A this season despite being one of the youngest players in the entire International League.
Oblique injuries tend to linger, so Ramirez may get an extended look at second base for most of this month.