The Braves have recalled second baseman Tommy La Stella from Triple-A Gwinnett, and I know what you’re thinking: Did they slip release papers and a plane ticket under Dan Uggla’s hotel room door in Boston.
No. Nor should they just yet.
The team has yet to announce what roster move will be made to open a spot for La Stella, who was hitting .293 with a .384 on-base percentage in Gwinnett. But there’s a good chance Uggla, who has lost his starting job, will not be released for now. Options include putting shortstop Andrelton Simmons on the disabled list (if that’s deemed necessary after he left Tuesday’s game against Boston with an ankle injury) and or sending Tyler Pastornicky to the minors.
(I’ll update this when the team makes an announcement.)
UPDATE: The Braves have optioned Tyler Pastornicky to Gwinnett to make room for La Stella.
Back to Uggla. As David O’Brien summarized nicely, he’s on pace for the worst season of his career — for the third straight year. He’s batting .177 with two homers and 10 RBIs. He hit .179 with 22 homers in 2013.
I know some/many/most of you would like to see Uggla gone. But there’s a few things that need to be considered before such a move is made:
• Uggla is owed another $21 million-plus in his contract, which runs through next season. So regardless of what the Braves do, they will have to pay him. And no, again, once more with feeling: They’re not going to be able to trade him and get another team to pick up the deal — or even a reasonable part of the deal — because if they were able to do that, general manager Frank Wren would’ve dealt Uggla in the winter.
• In these circumstances, a veteran is released for one of two reasons: 1) He has become a distraction in the clubhouse and the team believes it would be better off if he wasn’t around; 2) Another player (or two) are deemed superior, making the fallen veteran’s roster spot problematic.
Neither is the case here, yet.
Uggla certainly isn’t a distraction. He is liked by teammates and has handled his demotion well, similar to when he was left off the playoff roster last season. As far as competition for the second base job, who exactly has left Uggla in the dust? While many might view Pastornicky and/or Ramiro Pena as better options at second base, neither is having a great season. Via O’Brien: Pastornicky is 5-for-27 (.185) as a second baseman and has been shaky defensively. Pena is 4-for-37 (.108) as a second baseman
For the season, Pastornicky is hitting .200, Pena .164.
If La Stella is effective with the Braves, that changes the equation. But until then, I don’t see any reason to make a move with Uggla just yet. Of course, you’re free to disagree, and I’m sure many of you do.
The cyber-floor is yours.