clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Giants sign Dan Uggla, who is bad at baseball

New, 970 comments

Well, he's better than you. But relative to his peers, he hasn't been good for a while.

metaphor
metaphor
USA TODAY Sports

Dan Uggla is reportedly on the Giants now. The day started with Matt Cain and Brandon Belt going on the DL, and it keeps getting better. If you're not thinking about Jeff Francoeur right now, it's because you're not trying.

Uggla is not a good hitter. Over his last 682 plate appearances, he's hit .175/.295/.332. That's a .175 batting average and a .295 on-base percentage. For comparison, Brandon Hicks hit .162/.280/.319, and he was designated for assignment because of it.

Uggla is not a good fielder. At least Hicks kept turning sweet double plays when he dropped his bat in the latrine. Uggla is one of the clankiest fielders of his generation, by statistical and scouting measures alike. He was worth -2 wins with his glove alone last year.

You might read a few arguments in favor of this move. Let's address them.

Hey, it's not like he can do any worse than what Brandon Hicks or Joe Panik have done

Almost true! Giants second basemen have hit .180/.265/.288 this year, which is a very Uggla line. But Uggla used to hit a lot better than that, so the idea is that there's no risk, all reward.

Except I don't think Panik is actually a .180 hitter. He should get on base more than 27 percent of the time. He's probably not a starting second baseman on a good team if you can help it, but he's not this bad. He has the potential to be a little better.

At the same time, I'm absolutely convinced this is the real Dan Uggla. He's always had contact issues, and second basemen age like uncovered guacamole. He's 34. And don't forget the bit about him being incapable of playing second base. If he hits like he has over the last two years, he absolutely can do worse than what Hicks or Panik have already done.

If it doesn't work out, what's the risk? Just cut him.

The only thing the Giants have to lose are baseball games, in other words. The risk is that the Giants will play him, and play him often. Bruce Bochy is a good manager of people. He has different ideas about the shelf life of declining hitters, though. The Giants won the World Series in 2010 because Jose Guillen got hurt/busted. Bochy was starting Guillen instead of Cody Ross right until the last game of the season, despite Ross being much, much better at baseball. It wasn't a question then, and it looks sillier in retrospect, especially considering Guillen never played again.

Bochy remembers the good times when players are in the middle of the bad times. That's admirable, in a way! But it hurts the team when the players' bad times will never, ever end. As long as Uggla is on the roster, Bochy will play him. Guillen and Francoeur are just two of the comps, but you can find others (Aubrey Huff, Miguel Tejada, Aaron Rowand) who played longer than they should have because they were name-brand players. Uggla will play.

It's just a minor league deal. He isn't even on the roster. Wait and see before freaking out.

Francoeur was a minor league deal. He hit .222 in 18 at-bats before he was called up. Pat Burrell was a minor league deal. He was 0-for-5 before he was called up. They don't get these players with tepid wait-and-see promises. He'll be up, and he'll be up soon.

Pat Burrell! Pat Burrell! Pat Burrell!

That is a name, alright! And that is a thing that happened. It doesn't mean the Giants are magically capable of repairing every busted mid-30s clankmitted dinger monster who stumbles across their path. It happened once. It was extraordinarily unlikely to happen then, and it's extraordinarily unlikely to happen again.

Put it this way: You do not want the Giants to sign Barry Zito in case they play the Cardinals in the NLCS again. He did that thing back there, and it was super. But you cannot possibly expect it again. Expecting another Pat Burrell is like expecting another Zito postseason.

The Giants had a host of second basemen who couldn't hit. Now they have one who can't hit or field. This is not progress.

It's not even noon yet ...