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It’s getting Uggla

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Every armchair general manager believes they’re the smartest cat in the room. Until Dan Uggla gets traded for Omar Infante and Mike Dunn. Then it’s the Florida Marlins who’ve lost their damn minds. Again.

The market for Uggla, at least on the friendly internet, was ridiculously over-valued. Frankly, there was no market. And I can’t understand why the trade shocked as many people as it did. Think about it: Uggla refused to sign a contract extension with Florida worth $48 million over four years. He reportedly wouldn’t budge from five years and $71 million. That’s a lot of bloody money. Wouldn’t that information, out in the open, lead you to pull a few chips off the table? Uggla’s a year away from free agency, will be 31 in March 2011, is coming off a career season, and has, in five years, shown a tendency to follow up a monster year with an above-average, but not so, well, monster-ish season.

2006: .347 wOBA, .309 BABIP

2007: .345 wOBA, .279 BABIP

2008: .372 wOBA, .320 BABIP

2009: .354 wOBA, .274 BABIP

2010: .381 wOBA, .330 BABIP

Don’t get me wrong, Uggla’s a tremendous hitter. I take nothing away from a man who’s hit more home runs as a middle infielder in his first five years in the league than anyone before him, ever. Uggla can mash. No, he can’t play defence, any defence at all, but he can hit.

In the end, the trade proved that most everyone in baseball thought acquiring Uggla was too risky. Atlanta took that risk, and good on them. I can’t say I’m upset that Alex Anthopoulos and the Blue Jays didn’t, because I’m not. Had the Jays acquired Uggla, I don’t think he signs long-term in Toronto. And even if Uggla’s “likely Type A haul is more valuable than his 2011 contract/production,” the risk would have been in Uggla producing, which, yes, I think he would have, even in the AL East. But say he got injured. Then what?

Names like J.P. Arencibia, Brett Cecil and Shaun Marcum were being bandied about in the Toronto blogosphere. Even precious Zach Stewart! Marlins bloggers were thinking Cecil, Marcum, Marc Rzepczynski, maybe even Travis d’Arnaud. Everyone was wrong. Not by a little, by a lot. Too much risk, especially when we’re talking about guys who make little money, and are under team control. And, with respect to Marcum and Cecil, have proven their ability. I don’t believe Anthopoulos is out to create a window from which the Jays can contend. I don’t think his plan involves seizing an opportunity. It’s about building a foundation from which the Jays, with a payroll of $100 million, can consistently contend.

I don’t for a second believe that the Marlins didn’t do their due diligence. Sure, they’re run by that clown Jeffrey Loria, but they may have figured out a system by which they develop prospects, win a World Series, sell said prospects, and do it all over again. (The system is still being tested.) While Omar Infante is no Dan Uggla, he does bring some skills to the table. According to ESPN, since 2007, nobody in baseball has been better with runners in scoring position, with at least 250 plate appearances, than Infante. Yep, better than Joe Mauer, Albert Pujols, Kevin Youkilis, and Joey Votto. Obviously trading Uggla to a division rival wasn’t the optimal scenario for Florida, but you play the cards you’re dealt. Had Anthopoulos dealt Roy Halladay to the Yankees or Red Sox, as long as it was the best deal to be made, I’d have lived.

According to living legend Ken Rosenthal, the Blue Jays were certainly in on Uggla. Toronto “had most early interest in Uggla. Jays’ offer: RHP J. Roenicke, RHP D. Farquhar and either SS R. Goins or OF D. Mastroianni.” Considering what it took Atlanta to get the deal done, I think Anthopoulos’ offer was more than fair. It just wasn’t enough. And that’s fine. Between Uggla and Manny Ramirez, I was hoping, and still am, for Manny. All he costs is money. But the offer as it stands proves, once again, that Anthopoulos is a lot smarter than you and I.

Happy hot stoving.

Image courtesy of otrsportsonline.com.

Written by Navin Vaswani

November 17th, 2010 at 1:29 pm