Monday, November 8, 2010

The Case Against Dan Uggla

As of now, Dan Uggla's name is not really being connected to the Giants. But the Giants have had rumored interest for a couple of years now and all of a sudden Uggla is in the news. It's being reported that Uggla turned down a 4 year/$48 million extension from the Marlins mostly because he wants a five year deal worth something around $58 million. Just a couple of months ago, when I was thinking of potential Giants' lineups in 2011, or rosterbating, as we baseball types like to call it, Uggla was one player I wanted. Now, the Giants have Cody Ross, who is best friends with Uggla, and a report from a couple of months ago said Ross was telling him how much he loved playing for the Giants and how Uggla should join him in San Francisco. That combined with the Giants' need for offense and a middle infielder has Giants fans wanting Uggla. But I've settled on the idea that trading for or signing him in free agency next year would NOT be a good idea for many reasons.

Uggla would be a lot more valuable if he was good defensively, but he's not. In his career he's only had two UZR scores above average: 5.5 in his rookie year, 2006, and 0.7, which is barely above average, in 2008. Otherwise he's always been a very bad defender, finishing with UZR scores of -9.9 and -7.6 in 2009 and 2010, respectively. The stats suggest he will not be able to stay at second base as he gets older, which is a problem. Uggla's value comes from being a great hitting 2nd baseman. In 2010, he had a career high .877 OPS and his OPS has never dipped below .800. Those are very good numbers for a second baseman. But if he's forced to move to first base or left field, he's a good hitter but not a GREAT hitter. So, if the Giants were to acquire Uggla, they'd have a terrible defensive 2nd baseman for the first couple of years and then just an okay-hitting 1B or LF for the next few years. And that's assuming his offensive production doesn't drop off drastically as he ages, which is a real possibility.

Uggla's contract demands coupled with his age would also have to be considered concerning. He is already 30 years old and will be 31 on Opening Day 2011. And he wants a 5 year deal worth about $12 million per year? I'm not necessarily saying Uggla doesn't deserve it. He's been one of the best offensive second basemen in the game for a few years now. But that just would not be a good long-term investment for the Giants. Not to mention the fact that the Giants probably don't even have the money to pay Uggla because they are already financially burdened by the terrible long-term investments in Barry Zito and Aaron Rowand.

If the Giants were to trade for Uggla now, they'd probably have to give up a good starting pitcher (Sanchez?) and a pretty good prospect. Then they'd have to give him the huge contract extension that he wants. Do not want. If they wait to sign him in free agency next year, they have a 32 year old second baseman who is still bad defensively, whose best offensive years are probably behind him, and he still wants that big contract. Do not want.

Dan Uggla is tempting. In the first couple of years of a deal, he'd be a huge help for the offense. And hey, if Cody Ross can convince him to sign next year for 4 years and $20 million, I'm all for it. But that won't happen. Ultimately, it would be a bad idea. Whether it's this year or next year, just say no to Dan Uggla.

As always your comments, opinions, and disagreements are always welcome in the comments section.


  1. No on Uggla. Post for Tsuyoshi Nishioka.

  2. What would Dan Uggla bring that the Giants don't already have? They already have a second baseman who hits pretty well, so you'd be doing what? Trading more home runs for quality defense? This team cannot afford holes in its D: The pitchers throw strikes that batters are going to hit, and often very hard. We need nine guys who can catch and throw, without question.

    You didn't mention Freddy Sanchez, but if we're talking about trading for Dan Uggla, then we have to. That would be a lousy trade-off, in addition to whatever we would have to give up to get Uggla. Sanchez is not just a known quantity; he's a quantity that is known to be stellar in the clutch, and if Brian Sabean would consider making a deal for Uggla that would affect Sanchez's playing time, I'd have to figure that all the emotion and cosmological heft of the World Series must have driven Sabean over the edge, and not in a good way. I was never sold on an Uggla trade in the first place, and that was before Sanchez was playing full time.

  3. Well, I'd say that supporters of an Uggla trade would either want to move him to SS, or trade him.

    Now, playing devil's advocate to my own argument, yes Sanchez is better defensively, but he's nowhere near the offensive player that Uggla is. Sanchez has the reputation as a great hitter because he won the batting title one year, but he's not a complete hitter. He really relies on a high average because he doesn't walk that much and he doesn't always have a way above-average average. Also, he's only had an OPS over .800 once; the year he won the batting title.

    We have to remember that there was a time this year when sanchez lost his job for a little while because he was struggling badly. We all have great memories of him now because he had 3 doubles off of cliff lee in the World Series, but I'm not sure he can be classified as clutch just because of that. Maybe there are other instances that you're referencing for him being clutch.

    Uggla supporters would most likely say that this team needs offense so badly that it can afford to sacrifice some defense. I still think the offensive upgrade wouldn't be worth it because of the reasons I stated in this post.

    All of that being said, I am in agreement with you. I've seen many Giants fans be tempted by Uggla, because his offense is tempting for an offensively starved team, but it would just not be smart.

  4. Do not trade! No need to get him.

    We don't need much of an offense to win going forward, and with Posey leading the way, plus hopefully Sandoval, we should be OK with complementary average players in the other positions (and I think Belt will be part of that soon, plus Brown will be a boon leading off eventually and Culberson is suddenly looking pretty good).

    The problem is not really Rowand and Zito's contracts ("only" 2 years and 3 years left) but rather that our starting pitchers will be getting huge raises at the rear end of this proposed Uggla contract, and he would make it that much harder to find the money to keep them together.

  5. Well the problem is the Zito and Rowand contracts in the sense that, if they were making what they should be making, the Giants would have about 20 million extra to spend. Some of that would go towards raises, but there would also be money to a very good player or spend more money in the draft.

  6. I think the Giants will be smart to be giving players contracts that are about 2 years and maybe tack on a club option for a third. Sabean has shown a knack lately, heck going back to guys like Benito Santiago and Ellis Burks, to find those mid-level guys that would love a 2 year deal and get them to produce. Hopefully that is the kind of contract that Uribe and Huff get. I seriously doubt there is going to be a huge market outside of SF for those guys. But back to Uggla, the proce would be waaay to steep for this guy unless they could get him as a waiver wire claim which I doubt. Also, he is not that great offensively other than hitting homeruns. his career average is .263 after a somewhat fluky .287 last season. I really don't know who would pay a 32 year old second baseman $58 million over 5 years. Except maybe the Yankees.

    I agree. No trade!