How much more peculiar can the Dan Uggla situation get for the Atlanta Braves? He showed up late to Wrigley Field on Saturday and the team suspended him for Sunday's game against the Cubs.
Maybe no one would have even noticed, since Uggla doesn't play anymore anyway. But the Braves made the news public for a reason. They obviously wanted to embarrass Uggla, as if his batting average isn't enough to cause him to hide his head in shame.
This guy needs to go, like now, like yesterday. Uggla can't hit anymore. Who knows what happened? Who cares anymore? He just can't hit. He can't even pinch-hit. He's so bad offensively he can't even be a threat off the bench.
This weekend's situation wasn't the first time the Braves have had to deal with Uggla's tardiness. He's given this team more than one reason to question his commitment to this team, and even more importantly his commitment to getting his game back on track. Do they wonder if Uggla just doesn't care anymore? Sure, they have to wonder that.
The most troubling part of this news was a comment made by the AJC's David O'Brien in his story on the Uggla suspension. Evidently, one of Uggla's teammates was upset when the news of Uggla's suspension was on a crawl on ESPN. Huh? Why not be upset, or even mad as hell that one of your teammates had such little respect for the team that he couldn't even get to the park on time for a game? Isn't that what the player should be upset about?
If that is true, it shows a factor to me why this Atlanta team will not do anything special in October. Sure, the Braves may make the playoffs. But there is no leadership on this team. Zero. None. That player upset at seeing the suspension on TV should be outraged that this franchise is even keeping Uggla on the roster, along with how he should feel about Uggla not giving a damn about showing up on time on Saturday.
This is why the Braves must release Uggla. The Braves supposedly have financial reasons for not letting him go yet, and that's understandable. They still owe Uggla close to $20 million through next season. But who cares? He's taking up a spot on this roster. This team is basically using a 24-man roster with Uggla irrelevant.
He has no value to this team. He can't hit. His replacement, Tommy La Stella, can hit and is so much better. Uggla can't even be a solid bat off the bench. He can't be a guy who could hit a home run off the bench. There is no power in his game. Maybe he can find it after he leaves the Braves, but Uggla has zero value.
There does not need to be any controversy in the Atlanta clubhouse. They know Uggla is done. They know he can't hit anymore. They like him, however, and he's still a good teammate. But this isn't going to get prettier. There's not going to be a great turnaround here. And there's no reason to believe Uggla can have this magical, movie-like comeback.
Is it bad to eat the money? Well, sure. But what is worse is having this guy in the clubhouse. This team will be so much better for having Uggla elsewhere. Maybe he turns it around with another team, but that won't matter. The important thing is he couldn't turn things around in Atlanta.
The suspension may be a blessing in disguise. Perhaps it will be the last straw in a career that broke down and stalled in Atlanta.
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Braves must release Uggla this week
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