A third of the way into the 2014 season, the Atlanta Braves finally admitted the problem. Their second basemen can't hit a lick, and it's time for a change.
Dan Uggla is the primary offender of course, he of the soul-crushing .177/.254/.257 line (two homers, zero steals). He's not exactly a Gold Glove defender, either. The Braves tried Ramiro Pena and Tyler Pastornicky at second base here and there, two other guys who can't hit.
If you add it all up and frame the numbers, the Braves have the worst second-base offense in the league. Their group is last in batting average and last in slugging, second to last in OBP and second to last in OPS. San Diego's piddly production is challenging for the 2B basement, but at least the Padres can partially blame their home ballpark. No such excuse in Atlanta.
Tommy La Stella, take me away.
You won't find La Stella on any of the hot-prospect clipboards, but he's acquitted himself nicely during his four minor-league seasons (.322/.407/.474, 21 homers, 24 steals). He's at .293/.384/.359 with Triple-A Gwinnett this year, though not much category juice (one homer, one bag). Still, that slash line is nothing to blanch at. The Braves recalled him Wednesday and presumably will give him a chance to play.
La Stella had a nifty .344 average and .422 OBP last summer at Double-A Mississippi. He turned 25 in late January (same birthday as Jackie Robinson, Nolan Ryan, and Yuniesky Betancourt, among other luminaries). Maybe he can take a sad song and make it better.
Middle infield isn't an easy fantasy fill for 2014, so those in deeper leagues have to consider La Stella simply because he's likely to get at-bats. He's already been snapped up in a couple of my pools where PT is important. Those in shallow mixers can probably take a wait-and-see approach. But this news item at least allows the final holdouts to cut the cord with Uggla, who simply can't hit in the majors any longer. Thanks for the memories, Cooley. We had some good times.