UPDATE: Marlins “not confident” about signing Dan Uggla, now talking trade

8 Comments

UPDATE: Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reports that the Marlins “are not confident” they will sign Dan Uggla and are now fielding trade offers for the second baseman.

According to Frisaro, in addition to the Tigers, the Marlins have received calls from at least two unidentified National League teams. The Marlins have been asking for relief pitching in return for Uggla, but also remain in the market for a catcher.

If Uggla is traded, the Marlins plan to move Chris Coghlan to second base and give top prospect Matt Dominguez a chance at the starting third base job during spring training. Stay tuned.

Friday, 10:01 PM: So much for optimism. Dan Uggla tells the Associated Press that the Marlins have broken off negotiations for a contract extension.

“It has been the Marlins’ choice to stop negotiations,” he said. “My team is still wanting to negotiate. My career has been in Florida, and I want to stay in Florida.”

On Monday, Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reported that Uggla turned down a four-year, $48 million extension. The slugging second baseman is reportedly holding out for five years, which, frankly, is a lot to give to someone who turns 31 next March and is already known as one of the worst defensive second basemen in the game.

Talks could still re-open at any time, but assuming they don’t, either Uggla will either head back into arbitration for a final time or the Marlins will once again explore a trade.

Should they choose to go the trade route, Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi mention tonight that the Tigers have contacted the Marlins to express their interest. According to the report, the Tigers “are looking everywhere for a power bat.” While they prefer someone who bats from the left side of the plate, Uggla is right-handed.

With Carlos Guillen a major question mark after undergoing microfracture surgery on his left knee in September, the Tigers’ current in-house options at second base consist of Will Rhymes and Scott Sizemore, who have a combined 373 plate appearances in the major leagues.

Mike Piazza presided over the destruction of a 100-year-old soccer team

Getty Images
10 Comments

Mike Piazza was elected to the Hall of Fame in January of 2016 and inducted in July of 2016. In between those dates he purchased an Italian soccer team, A.C. Reggiana 1919, a member of Italy’s third division. In June of that year he was greeted as a savior in Reggio Emilia, the small Italian town in which the team played. He was the big American sports star who was going to restore the venerable club to its past and rightful place of glory.

There were suggestions by last March that things weren’t going well, but know we know that in less than two years it all fell apart. Piazza and his wife Alicia presided over a hot mess of a business, losing millions of dollars and, this past June, they abruptly liquidated the club. It is now defunct — one year short of its centennial — and a semipro team is playing in its place, trying to acquire the naming rights from Piazza as it wends its way though bankruptcy.

Today at The Athletic, Robert Andrew Powell has a fascinating — no, make that outrageously entertaining — story of how that all went down from the perspective of the Piazzas. Mostly Alicia Piazza who ran the team in its second year when Mike realized he was in over his head. She is . . . something. Her quotes alone are worth the price of admission. For example:

Alicia, who refers to Mike’s ownership dream as “his midlife crisis,” offered up a counter argument.

“Who the f**k ever heard of Reggio Emilia?” she asked. “It’s not Venice. It’s not Rome. My girlfriend said, and you can quote this—and this really depressed me. She said, ‘Honey, you bought into Pittsburgh.’ Like, it wasn’t the New York Yankees. It wasn’t the Mets. It wasn’t the Dodgers. You bought Pittsburgh!”

In their Miami living room, Mike tried to interject but she stopped him.

“And imagine what that feels like, after spending 10 million euros. You bought Pittsburgh!”

At this point it may be worth remembering that Piazza is from Pennsylvania. Eastern Pennsylvania to be sure, but still.

Shockingly, it didn’t end all that well for the Piazzas in Reggio Emilia:

One week later, the Piazzas returned to Reggio Emilia, and were spotted at the team offices. More than a hundred ultras marched into the office parking lot, chanting and demanding answers. Carabinieri—national police aligned with the military—showed up for the Piazzas’ safety. The police advised the Americans to avoid the front door of the complex and exit through the back. Mike assured them it wouldn’t be necessary—he had always enjoyed a good relationship with the fans.

The carabinieri informed him that the relationship had changed. The Piazzas slipped out the back door, under police escort.

The must-read of the week. Maybe the month. Hell, maybe the year. The only thing I can imagine topping it is if someone can tell this story from the perspective of the people in Reggio Emilia. I’m guessing their take is a bit different than the Piazzas.