What the FUggla?

Yesterday the Florida Marlins did what they do best – they traded away a player in his prime just before he was due for a raise.

Sound familiar?  It should.  Think of Moises Alou, Kevin Brown, Gary Sheffield, Mike Lowell, Josh Beckett, and Miguel Cabrera – all victims of various Marlins fire-sales.

Yesterday it was time to purge Dan Uggla from the squad, a two-time All-Star and 2010 recipient of the Silver Slugger award for NL 2B.

The Blue Jays were actively pursuing a trade with Florida for Uggla, but ultimately fell short to Atlanta (though the Braves’ package is also quite debatable).  What happened next was completely unexpected to me – a fan backlash on social media, mainly Twitter.

Don’t get me wrong.  Dan Uggla is a solid player.  He is consistent, powerful, and will make a nice addition to the Braves.  He also would have looked good in Toronto’s batting order.

But at what cost?  The package the Jays offered Florida was, in a word, laughable, but if AA would have gone over and above that, would there not have been outrage in our city?  What would happen if Cecil and a minor leaguer, or Marcum and a minor leaguer, would have been sent to Florida?  I for one would have been disappointed.

The main reason why is because we already have a version of Dan Uggla on our team.  He plays second base too.  His name is Aaron Hill. 

I know people are probably rolling their eyes right now when I say that, but hear me out.  Aaron Hill is not as good of a player as he showed in 2009.  But Aaron Hill is not as bad of a player as he showed last year.  We know for a fact that his power looks legitimate, a likely 25 HR a year guy.  If we average out his career numbers, his batting average will likely be in the .265 – .275 range, his OBP around .330 and his OPS around .740.

Dan Uggla has legitimate power too – five straight years with 27 HR or more.  He has a higher OBP and OPS mainly because he walks more, but his batting average is historically about the same as Hill’s.

But, and here’s the big but, Uggla has two things going against him:

1. He strikes out a lot, about 150 + times per year.  Hill whiffs about half of that.

2. He plays terrible defense, and when I say terrible, I mean TERRIBLE.  He has made 73 errors in 769 games as a second baseman, compared to 40 in 642 games for Hill.  Using more advanced fielding stats, he has a zone rating of -39 for his career (-10 last year), and a defensive runs saved number of -29 for his career (-11 last year).  Aaron Hill? Zone rating of 51 (career) and 3 (2010), and defensive runs saved of 72 (career) and 9 (2010).

Flawed as those stats may be, there’s no denying that Aaron Hill is a FAR better defensive second baseman.

What else is not to like about Uggla, aside from his horrendous defending?  How about the fact that he is asking for $71-million over 5-years?  Or the fact that it would have taken a major league ready player to get him (likely Marcum, Cecil, Arencibia)?  Many say that Florida was robbed, but let’s not forget that Omar Infante was an All-Star last season…

So relax people.  Losing out on Uggla is not the end of the world.  Part of me wants to say it is a blessing in disguise.  After all, I can think of one good example of a team who refused to part with young starting pitchers and a high-ceiling rookie catcher in exchange for power hitting.

The 2010 San Francisco Giants.

That turned out well for them…

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