Braves 8 Mets 7
Since not everyone was paying attention to all the goings-on of the NL East this winter, this week we are going to do a quick recap of what each team did during the offseason, beginning with the Braves.
In: Dan Uggla, Scott Linebrink, George Sherrill, Rodrigo Lopez, Fredi Gonzalez
Out: Billy Wagner, Takashi Saito, Matt Diaz, Omar Infante, Troy Glaus, Derrek Lee, Rick Ankiel, Melky Cabrera, Bobby Cox
The biggest change in the Braves is
According to many sources, the Red Sox and Padres have agreed in principle to a deal sending Adrian Gonzalez to Boston.
The Red Sox have been given a window of time to negotiate a contract extension with Gonzalez, who also will be taking a physical. Both must be successful for the deal to go through.
Rumor has it that Boston will be sending no MLBers to San Diego in return for Gonzalez. They will be sending top prospects Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo, Reymond Fuentes, and a player to be named later.
WEEI has a quick rundown on these three minor leaguers.
Assuming the deal is successful, it should help spark considerable activity during the winter meetings next week. In past years, the meetings have been somewhat sluggish because teams were waiting on big-time free agents to sign and other players to move. This year, however, the free agent market has been busy, and impact bats such as Gonzalez and Dan Uggla have already changed teams. As Sir Isaac Newton once observed, a body in motion tends to stay in motion — so we can surmise that there will be a flurry of transactions in Orlando.
As you may already know, the Marlins have traded Dan Uggla to the Braves for Omar Infante and Mike Dunn.
I have to say I’m a little surprised at how little the Braves had to part with in order to obtain perhaps the best offensive second baseman in the National League. Sure, his glove leaves a lot to be desired, but Uggla’s bat fits right into the middle of any MLB lineup — and all the Braves had to give up was a utility man and a middle reliever?
As a result of the deal, the Braves immediately bolster an offense that was lackluster for most of 2010. Uggla steps in as the second baseman, and Infante’s clone Martin Prado moves from 2B to 3B to start in the 80 – 100 games Chipper Jones is likely to miss due to one ailment or another.
Meanwhile, with the addition of Dunn, the Fish add another young wild lefthander to the bullpen. Dunn impressed last year with a blazing fastball and 27 strikeouts in only 19 innings — though, he also walked 17. Prado had a career year, hitting .321 in 134 games and earning an All-Star appearance. He figures to step into the void at second base, though he’s unlikely to replace Uggla’s bat in the lineup.
I get that this trade was about economics, and that Uggla is potentially a one-year rental, but I still don’t get how the Marlins didn’t hold out for more in return from another club, why they sent Uggla to a division rival, and why they felt it necessary to pull the trigger so quickly.
On the one hand, the deal likely increases the separation between the Mets and Braves in 2011, while it may help the Mets stay even with, or finish ahead of, the Marlins next year. Though, the deal has also created space in Florida’s payroll, which has already resulted in the signing of slugging catcher John Buck to a 3-year, $18M deal, and may also lead them to lock up righthander Ricky Nolasco on a long-term deal. Buck and Infante together in 2011 may be as productive — overall — as Uggla and catcher Ronny Paulino were in 2010. If Infante proves last year wasn’t a fluke, the combination may be better — particularly when you factor in defense. Either way, the trade doesn’t do anything to help the Mets’ chances in 2011.
So far, it’s mostly Fish frying on the Hot Stove, as the Marlins have been the busiest team in terms of transactions. In the past week, Florida has made two deals, first sending 6’7″ Andrew Miller to the Red Sox for 6’6″ Dustin Richardson in a swap of lefty relievers, then trading centerfield enigma Cameron Maybin to the Padres for righthanded relievers Edward Mujica and Ryan Webb. Rumor has it, the Fish aren’t finished, and will continue to wheel and deal throughout the winter.
Top on the list of trade bait is slugging second baseman Dan Uggla, who turned down a contract extension and now being shopped. Considering the Mets’ second base situation and the Moneyball braintrust of Sandy Alderson, J.P. Ricciardi, and Paul DePodesta, it’s natural to wonder whether the Mets will get in on the bidding for Uggla.
While I’d love to see the hard-nosed second sacker in a Mets uniform,
Ugh … as in, “Ugh-la”.
Dan Uggla bounced a grounder through the middle of the artificial infield to bring home Jorge Cantu from second base to give the Fish a 7-6 victory in the bottom of the ninth in San Juan.
I guess you call that a “walkoff single”? Hmm … the ring of it is underwhelming, but the result is the same.
Hisanori Takahashi was pitching a perfect game until opposing pitcher Nate Robertson dribbled a grounder through the infield in the bottom of the third. Then, it was like a dam broke, as seven consecutive Marlins reached base in the inning. One of them reached home on one swing — Hanley Ramirez, who blasted a no-doubter grand slam to apply the damage of the inning.
By the time Takahashi left the game, he had hurled 5 2/3 innings, and allowed 6 runs on 9 hits and 2 walks.
The bullpen more or less held the fort until Feliciano gave up a double to Jorge Cantu and then the fateful single by Ugh-la.
Jerry Manuel made the mysterious move of bringing in Francisco Rodriguez in the 8th inning, down two runs, to face the bottom of the Marlins lineup. I can understand wanting to get K-Rod into the game to get work. But why not wait until the 9th?
Manuel also chose to pitch to Dan Uggla in the 9th with first base open. I understood the decision — the idea was that Pedro Feliciano would nibble outside the strike zone in the hopes that Uggla would chase something and either strike out or not get good wood on the ball — and if he didn’t take the bait, the worst that would happen would be a free pass. However, Feliciano got too much plate, Uggla had choked up on the bat looking to poke something through the infield, and the rest was history. Some may criticize Manuel for pitching to Uggla, but I don’t know that it was such a bad idea. However, the K-Rod decision was a bit puzzling.
David Wright hit 3 unproductive singles and was thrown out stealing in the first frame. The only other Met with more than one hit was Ruben Tejada, who stroked two singles, drove in a run, and scored one.
Chris Carter hit a key pinch-hit double to set up Josh Thole’s pinch-hit RBI single in the top of the ninth. Maybe one or both of them should’ve been in the game from the get-go … but, there was a lefty starter on the mound, and we all know that lefthanded hitters can’t hit lefthanded pitchers.
The Mets will try to salvage at least one game in San Juan on Wednesday night at 7:10 PM. Ace starter Mike Pelfrey takes the mound against Chris Volstad.
Except for that one matter of a dropped popup in the bottom of the ninth inning of a Yankees game, Luis Castillo played as well as anyone could have expected — and far beyond the expectations of most Mets fans.
Anyone who was reading MetsToday back in early April might remember my “Wild Mets Predictions“. Most of them were off, but one of them was:
When last we met, I was telling you that Albert Pujols was the best NL first baseman and you weren’t surprised. But you were probably surprised that I think two of the top 5 first basemen in the NL East aren’t even first basemen. Moving along…
Second Base Rankings – National League
Sleepers (Tie) – I like Felipe Lopez (.275-10-65) and Ian Stewart (.275-15-75). Lopez should be running more this season – possibly enough for 25 SB. Stewart has multi-position eligibility and he should see significant time between 1B, 2B and 3B with Colorado’s lineup struggling through nagging injuries already.
Second Base Rankings – NL East
Three of the top five second basemen in the NL are also in the NL East. It makes you wonder who is manning 2B out in the NL West. Is Robbie Thompson still playing?
Sleeper – Ronnie Belliard (.270-12-70) – He’s getting older and he’s never been much of an offensive threat, but he’s on the Nationals and playing behind Anderson Hernandez. I feel confident enough to say he will get at least 400 AB. Grab him cheap in NL-only leagues, if you can.