The last time we saw the Braves, they were here...the next time we see them, they will be immersed in bright sunshine at Disneyworld.
I'm beginning to realize how much I miss baseball; and sitting here snowbound, I'm beginning to realize how much disdain I hold for winter.
(I say snowbound...there's really about a dusting of an ice/snow/slush crap melting on the ground. But, I live in North Carolina, therefore I'm snowbound.)
And with little more than a month left before the likes of Tim Hudson, Brian McCann and sure-to-be-rookie-sensation Freddie Freeman begin to grace the ground at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, I expect the days to start slowing down as my anticipation for action begins to grow.
Since news has been less-than-exciting over the past few weeks (save the Dan Uggla situation—getting on that here in a second), there hasn't been much to write about.
Today, I'm making things to write about (some old-timers here may remember me doing this sort of article last year during this lull), so bear with me on some of the stupidity that's going to be included in here.
First thing...the whole Dan Uggla situation.
Let me start by putting my opinion on the deal "on the record" (something I've yet to do): it's great.
I _____ the Dan Uggla extension.
Getting a legitimate, power-hitting, right-handed, 30-homer threat for a utility infielder (as much as we all love Omar, I'm not dissing him here) and a left-handed reliever with control problems is a helluva deal.
Then, signing him below market value for five years is just icing on the cake (Uggla would probably be a 7/98 man on the open market next year).
People may have qualms about signing a guy through his age-36 season, but when you compare similar players (thanks to FanGraphs), you see a similar career track to some mustachioed second baseman that spent time with the Giants, Dodgers, Astros and Mets...I think his name was Jeff Kent.
Simply, Uggla is the only second baseman in Major League history with four consecutive seasons of 30 or more home runs, and that skillset tends to age fairly well.
To the defense, keep this in mind: a lot of his reputation comes from the '09 All-Star Game when he botched a couple easy chances.
Granted, a negative-double-digit UZR doesn't help his case, either, but I did find an interesting nugget on FanGraphs about Uggla's defense.
At his old home park (poorly-configured, fast-infielded Sun Life Stadium), his UZR was -26.
On the road (which is what Turner Field was considered, you know), it was 3.4.
Freddie Freeman will be...
And if those stats don't ring true in a larger sample size, then left field can hide him pretty well (from both an offensive expectations and defensive perspective...he couldn't be any worse than Garret Anderson, right?).
Second thing...projecting Freddie Freeman.
We all know that Jason Heyward was a special player.
And most of us know that Freddie Freeman is a special player (in 124 AAA games, he hit .319/.378/.521 with 18 homers and 35 two-baggers as a 20-year-old for much of the season...oh, and he played killer defense).
Therefore, we can expect a Heywardian-type season from Freeman, right?
Well, I don't think we, as fans, can put that sort of pressure on J-Hey's Minor League best friend.
Heyward's 91-walk season at his age is something that probably won't be replicated for a long time.
And until we see what he can do in Major League Spring Training as the "man to lose the job," I'm not comfortable giving a precise projection for Freeman.
But I'm going to anyway.
My line for Freeman: .260/.340/.410 with a ton of doubles.
We'll see how many windows he breaks in camp before I change that SLG projection (smile).
The biggest deal...Craig Kimbrel.
I'm not concerned about his performance in 2011.
His 40 Ks in 20.2 innings sold me on the 5'11" right-hander.
I'm concerned about his name..."Craig" isn't intimidating anybody coming out of the 'pen.
He needs a nickname.
My suggestion: Midnight Specialist.
No reason...it's just the coolest suggestion to come out of the nickname generator I used.
Last thing...my new favorite baseball player.
His name is Fernando Perez, the new fourth outfielder for the Chicago Cubs.
Reason number one: this (anybody who uses "ameliorated" and "prick" in the same interview is cool in my book).
Reason number two: the video (see elsewhere in the article).
This guy is the man, even if he does play for the Cubs.