Juan Uribe has certainly become the center of a lot of jokes, jabs, and downright negative name calling by Dodger fans and baseball fans alike. The astonishing thing is that I clearly remember overhearing a couple of Giants fans complaining after the Dodgers signed him in November of 2010. The orange and black foes were bemoaning the Dodgers and how they “stole” him away from San Francisco after their World Championship season. Fast forward a couple of seasons and a mere 6 homeruns later, I think those same Giants fans are probably giggling to themselves about the failure that has been Juan Uribe in Dodger Blue.
Don Mattingly said that he will play Uribe at various infield positions this Spring in order to gauge what they are going to do with him in 2013.
"“I think he can show his value — like is he going to be able to handle different positions for us?” manager Don Mattingly said. “We’re going to try to expand him a little bit to first base. He’s not quite the typical shortstop body type, but if we put him there, he isn’t going to be lost, and if we put him at second, he wouldn’t be lost either.”"
Juan Uribe looks so happy in his 2013 Spring Training photo, but can he turn things around this season? Photo: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Juan Uribe is quite good defensively. That is one surprising facet of the portly third baseman which I discovered after watching him play the hot corner over the past two seasons. Even at shortstop, Uribe is decent. The Dodgers will try him out at first base this Spring, and I have a feeling that we will see the 33-year old playing first when Adrian Gonzalez isn’t anchored there. We can’t expect Gonzo to play nine innings every day for 162 games. The Dodgers don’t have many viable options to cover first base anyways. Looking back over the course of his 12 Major League seasons, Uribe has never played first base. He has played shortstop, second base, and he even played a couple of games in the outfield for Colorado early in his career.I’m really not opposed to Mattingly using Uribe around the infield, but the real focus this Spring should be his two season long slump at the plate. He hit .204 for the Dodgers in 2011, and last year he couldn’t even break the Mendoza Line with a .194 batting average. He went from hitting 24 homeruns with San Francisco in 2010 to hitting just 4 for the Dodgers in 2011 and 2 last season.
The Dodgers will pay Juan another $8 million in 2013, and I expect them to most likely keep him on the roster despite his total lack of hitting. Last season it was even a bit sad to see him as a benchwarmer basically. You can’t blame Donnie for not playing him since every at bat he had was cringe worthy. Perhaps Mark McGwire can work his magic? Or is there no hope for Juan? The silver lining on this possibility of watching Juan Uribe fail again this season is that this will be his last season with the Dodgers. Uribe kept a positive outlook last season even when he was relegated to the bench. That must have been hard since he had to watch Luis Cruz come up and succeed and essentially take the starting role at third base. Uribe will have to prove that he is valuable to the club this Spring even if that means playing a little first or second base.
I want Juan Uribe to succeed, I really do. If Juan Uribe can’t turn things around with the Dodgers, there may not be another team which will call him for 2014.