If you haven't watched Dan Uggla attempt to hit a baseball lately, it looks sorta like this, but with different uniforms. It's uncomfortable. Painful, even. Not pleasant.
Uggla went 0-for-3 on Tuesday night. He's 3-for-34 over his last ten games (all singles), and 19-for-103 on the season. Uggla is batting .184 for the year, after hitting .179 last season and .220 the year before.
At some point, Atlanta, it's no longer a slump. This is who he is, an 0-for-3 machine. He isn't drawing walks at a significant rate this season (6 BB), plus the power is fading (2 HR). Bummer about the $13 million he's due next season, when he'll be 35. But the team can't leave him in the lineup much longer.
Meanwhile, 25-year-old second base prospect Tommy La Stella is slashing .311/.372/.340 at Triple-A Gwinnett, walking more often than he strikes out. La Stella hit .356/.444/.492 across two minor league levels last season (again with more walks than punchouts), so his 2014 performance isn't some huge surprise. He offers only modest pop and speed totals, but the average and on-base skills make him a prospect of interest in deeper formats.
Atlanta has been sliding lately, losing seven of eight, and the team ranks next-to-last in MLB in runs scored. With Uggla not helping, there's been plenty of recent speculation about a La Stella call-up. It basically has to happen. You'll want La Stella in N.L.-only and giant mixers, and in any custom league using OBP. Add soon, before the Braves make the move.
• You want me to say nice things about Gordon Beckham, because he had a four-hit game? Well, no. That's not happenin'. Beckham entered Tuesday's action hitting just .167/.222/.214. I'll give him full credit for destroying Cubs pitching over the course of his career (.356/.408/.586, 5 HR), but no one should expect a surge.
• Detroit starter Robbie Ray earned a win in his MLB debut, though the degree-of-difficulty was low, facing Houston. Ray went 5.1 innings, he threw 55 of his 86 pitches for strikes, and he allowed five hits and one run. The 22-year-old lefty struck out five, issued one walk, and generally made the Astos look like Astros (although George Springer managed to go 3-for-4). Ray was off to an excellent start at Triple-A Toledo this season — 1.53 ERA, 21 Ks in 29.1 IP — so keep him on the radar. There's no point jumping on him in mixers now, however, because Anibal Sanchez is expected to return soon.
• Fun fact, while we're discussing Houston: The last man to earn a save for the Astros is Raul Valdes, and he was DFA'd over the weekend. This might just be the worst bullpen committee of all-time.
• Just when it appeared that Ernesto Frieri had perhaps reclaimed the ninth for the Angels, this happened. Whoops. That was the sixth homer allowed by Frieri in just 14.1 innings this season, which is kinda nuts. It certainly explains how the guy can maintain a respectable WHIP (1.26) and K/9 (10.67) while continuing to cough up earned runs (6.28 ERA). Joe Smith may not be out of the saves mix just yet, although he's currently dealing with some aches and pains.
• We gave you a full dose of Marcus Stroman discussion on Monday, and the kid picked up his first major league win on Wednesday night. He retired four batters, one via K, and worked around a Cody Asche single. Stroman is a hard-thrower for a wee person (5-foot-9), and he has a deep arsenal of quality pitches. If/when he gets a spot start, give him a look. Aaron Loup earned the save for the Jays. He's a reasonable short-term add, while Casey Janssen rehabs.
• In other rogue save news, Bryan Shaw closed the door on Minnesota on Tuesday, because John Axford had worked in three straight games. No need to run out and grab Shaw, but it's worth noting that he — not Cody Allen — got the nod in the ninth. Perhaps Allen needed some down time, too, after appearing in three of the Tribe's previous four games and throwing 20 pitches on Monday.
• Oakland's Jim Johnson had been on a decent roll of late, but he coughed up four runs on two hits and two walks on Tuesday. The runs were unearned, because Johnson himself committed a throwing error. Not great.
• Matt Wieters, as you've no doubt heard, is having elbow issues. He DH'd for the O's on Tuesday, going 2-for-5 and raising his average to .341. Wieters is expected to visit Dr. Andrews, however, according to Yahoo's Jeff Passan. Those visits don't often end well. If this is a UCL tear, that's awful news for the player and the ballclub. Wieters' cannon of an arm is a big part of his real-world value.
We don't yet know how this situation will resolve itself, but, if you're a Wieters owner, it's probably time to scan the free agent pool for replacement possibilities. Here are a few of my personal favorites (ranked in order of preference), each available in at least two-thirds of Yahoo leagues: Carlos Ruiz, Derek Norris, Mike Zunino, Dioner Navarro, Yasmani Grandal, Welington Castillo.
Grandal, we should note, has homered in back-to-back games.