This morning I was contemplating what to write about since today is the lone off day for the Dodgers this Spring Training. There are many questions and concerns heading into the new season with a new owner on the horizon. One problem that has been bugging me throughout the offseason (and now it has spilled in to the Spring) is the Juan Uribe situation. Coincidently while I pulled up his page on the Dodgers website to look at his Spring stats in order to start writing, I realized that today is Juan’s 33rd birthday. I suppose it was meant to be. Destiny if you will.
Juan Uribe, where art thou bat?
During the offseason we didn’t hear much about Mr. Uribe. I asked Scott if he had heard anything, and no he had heard nothing about the portly infielder. In fact, the only thing I read was that Ned Colletti had paid him a visit down in his home country of the Dominican Republic, and that he had a conversation about what was expected from Uribe in 2012. Uribe knew that he must bounce back from the disappointing season in which he made his Los Angeles debut.
After Juan Uribe signed a 3-year $21 million contract with the Dodgers, his first year with the team was anything short of atrocious. He only played in 77 games with the Dodgers, and his 4 homeruns, 28 RBI, and line of .204/.264/.293 was a statistical nightmare. He also whiffed 60 times while only drawing 17 walks. I often wondered how his swing for the fences approach ever worked. He missed 75 games due to a left hip flexor muscle strain (14 games from the end of May through early June) and an abdominal strain caused him to miss the remainder of the season after July 24th. He underwent sports hernia surgery on September 7, 2011.
“It was a very difficult year, a very hard year,” Uribe said. “If it wasn’t one thing, it was another.”
Juan Uribe was for the most part a designated fielder last season. He only committed three errors during the time he actually played. I constantly was annoyed at the fact he impressed me with his surprisingly agile fielding especially at third base, but then his uselessness at the plate frustrated me to no end. Was this a curse casted upon us by bitter Giants fans?
In 2010, the year Uribe and his San Francisco teammates won the World Championship, Juan hit 24 homeruns with 85 RBI. He struck out 92 times, but he did manage to have 45 walks. His batting average was still not great at .248, but his career average hovers around that at .253.
Flash forward to this Spring. Many commented that they thought Uribe had arrived to Spring Training “trimmed down.” I honestly cannot tell the difference. He said he had hired a trainer, and he worked out every day in his home country of the Dominican Republic. If he has slimmed down, then perhaps it has stripped any remaining power he might have still had in him. Uribe’s played in 10 games and has had 23 at bats. He’s only mustered 5 hits, and they all have been singles. His average sits at .217, and he has had twice as many strikeouts as walks. Even Mark Ellis, the light-hitting second baseman is hitting .258 this Spring with 8 hits including 5 doubles! Matt Treanor, the back-up catcher is hitting .273 in his 11 at bats with three hits including a homerun.
My question is this. If Juan Uribe is still floating around the Mendoza Line come June, what do we do? We have all had to live through this following scenario. Useless players who are given too much time on the roster are finally cut from the team after we suffer watching them flounder through half the season. How long did it take to release the likes of Garrett Anderson, Marcus Thames, Lance Cormier, or Dioner Navarro? How long does one give a player to try to turn things around? Is a .217 average with under 10 homeruns (I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt on that number) worth $8 million a year? Absolutely not.
We have to be thinking of what our plan B is now. Hopefully the new owner will have the cash to make some moves if needed. The third base position has been a trouble spot for far too long now. We need that Adrian Beltre power-hitting corner man. I’m having serious doubts that Juan Uribe can ever be that type of player or even close to it for that matter. By the way, Beltre is just about the same age as Uribe, and last year with the Rangers hit 32 homeruns, 105 RBI, and had a .296 BA. Sigh. Don Mattingly has said that if Uribe struggles, he will put someone out there who can help the team win. Be it Jerry Hairston Jr., Adam Kennedy, or Justin Sellers. In fact the Adam Kennedy signing has always made me feel like they made that move as a precautionary measure in case Uribe fails.
“I’m not worried because this is practice,” Uribe said regarding his poor hitting this Spring.
Okay, now I’m worried.
Do you think Uribe will bounce back this season? Let us know in the comments.