May 12, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Juan Uribe (5) pumps his fist after making the last out of the game against the Miami Marlins at Dodger Stadium. Dodgers won 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Juan Uribe Isn't So Bad in 2013

Juan Uribe has been the center of many jokes since joining the Dodgers in 2011 and failing miserably in his first two seasons in Blue. Uribe, once a World Series hero, was now playing for the enemy, but not doing so well at it. 2011 and 2012 were disastrous. Uribe finished with a line of .204/.264/.293 with 4 homeruns and 24 RBIs in 77 games. That was a huge drop from the 24 homeruns and 85 RBI season he had with San Francisco in 2010. 2012 was even worse. Uribe couldn’t finish above the Mendoza Line with a .191 batting average and 2 homeruns and 17 RBIs over 66 games. It was easily Uribe’s worst career year, and one that spurred hate toward Ned Colletti for making the deal.

 

Juan Uribe (Photo by Stacie Wheeler)

Three years and $21 million. Juan is making a cool $8 million in this his contract year. Yet Uribe seems to have turned things around a bit in 2013. More patient at the plate, a leaner frame, and a good attitude have allowed Uribe to resurface as valuable after two straight years of poor performance. Uribe is now hitting a respectable .274 with 3 homeruns and 13 RBIs in 50 games. Even more impressive is that Uribe has walked 18 times while striking out 26. The portly third baseman even has a stolen base on the year. What has gotten into Uribe this season? Is it the contract status or is it that he really can be a productive player?

Empanada jokes aside, Uribe has been consistent this season both on the field and with the bat. The 33-year old has always been a solid defender, and he has only made one error this season when he was playing first base. Uribe has only made 8 errors as a Dodger. With his consistently solid defense at third and his rejuvenation at the plate, the Dodgers should start Uribe at third for most games. Luis Cruz has fared horribly this season with the bat, and Uribe should be starting over him. Nick Punto is not a viable option as an everyday starter at third either, and his defense is lackluster. Punto has three errors at third base this year.

I would have never thought I would be writing a pro-Uribe post, but here I am. Juan deserves a little recognition after the onslaught of negativity and mockery was at his expense. I too indulged in Uribe bashing, and I too called for him to be cut from the team. Yet Uribe’s resurgence (he’s not really surging, but for him it is) has caused me to see the man a bit differently than before. It was almost tear inducing when the media interviewed him after a win this season. He said he just wants to help the team and be part of the team. Uribe’s sincerity and humbleness sure made me feel bad that I had previously called him a bum and possibly other empanada laced expletives.

I said to prepare yourself for another season of Juan Uribe back in February. I questioned whether Mark McGwire

Jun 15, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Juan Uribe (5) singles in the game winning run against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the eleventh inning at PNC Park. The Los Angeles Dodgers won 5-3 in eleven innings. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

could work with Uribe, and perhaps McGwire’s coaching has been working to improve Uribe’s hitting approach.

Last year at around this same time, July 9, 2012, I wrote that Juan Uribe Has Become a Liability. Looking back, the Dodgers were in a much better position last season at this time. In fact, they were in first place in the N.L. West at the All-Star Break. Even though there were injuries and fill-in players, the team played with more vivacity and it was reflected in the standings. Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano pitched admirably last season, and I’m still unsure why they traded Harang for Ramon Hernandez. I guess it’s easier to say that now knowing what injuries have befallen the team this year.

Juan Uribe was pretty horrendous last season, and I called for him to be released as soon as possible. Once again, it’s easier to see things after the fact than right in the middle of a torturous Uribe season that was 2012. Now, I’m glad that the Dodgers hadn’t cut Uribe. Otherwise we may have been subjected to many more games with Luis Cruz. Cruz is having an even worse season than any Uribe season this year, but that is discussion for another time.

Juan Uribe has sat out the last couple of games with a sore back. Hopefully Uribe will be able to play at Yankee Stadium for this historic series. Uribe deserves to play third base over Cruz, and I dare say that even a cheap one-year contract to Uribe for 2014 shouldn’t be out of the question. I sound delusional, but with the Dodgers lacking any viable third base prospects outside of Corey Seager, they can’t afford to lose Uribe right now. The Dodgers should definitely seek out a third baseman, but for now Juan Uribe will man third. Perhaps next time number 5 makes a diving stop on a grounder to third, we should all eat an empanada in his favor.

Read even more about Juan Uribe in his Blue Bios.

Tags: Juan Uribe Los Angeles Dodgers

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