Juan Uribe’s near fall from grace

Okay, I admit it – I was really getting angry with Juan Uribe - especially with continuing reports that he wouldn’t even respond to Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti’s repeated offers to return to the Dodgers for what was believed to be a one year contract with an option for a second year.

Granted, Uribe had a great season in 2013 – at least great by Juan Uribe standards with a .278 batting average and 12 home runs. But lest we forget that the first two seasons of his ludicrous three-year/$21 million contract were absolutely awful when he hit .204 and .191 with 4 and 2 home runs respectively. And then there are his career numbers which are anything but stellar. In 13 big league seasons, Uribe has a career triple slash of .253/.299/.420 – not exactly Hall of Fame numbers or even the kind of numbers that a guy should be holding out with.

“Hopefully, this week we’ll have more conversations with (Uribe and his agent) and at least get an update on their position. I’m in need of an update on their position.” - Ned Colletti at last week's Winter Meetings in Orlando. (Video capture courtesy of MLBNetwork.com)

“Hopefully, this week we’ll have more conversations with (Uribe and his agent) and at least get an update on their position. I’m in need of an update on their position.” – Ned Colletti during last week’s Winter Meetings in Orlando.
(Video capture courtesy of MLB Network)

Uribe’s stubbornness to even negotiate with Colletti was quickly beginning to irritate Dodger fans and alienate them from the oft teased “Uribear.” He was clearly playing with fire by jerking the Dodgers around because, quite frankly, he’s not all that good. Here again, when you look at Uribe’s career numbers, every indication is that 2013 was the exception and not the rule; and at 34 years old, one can only assume that his production numbers will begin to decline even further. All of that said, Uribe was still the best free agent third baseman available on the market this off-season – especially defensively.

When it was reported early Saturday morning that the Dodgers were prepared to move on from Uribe and that they were now seriously considering signing 37-year-old Michael Young to be their everyday third baseman in 2014, my anger actually turned to rage. Even the most casual of Dodger fans are aware that Young did absolutely nothing for the Dodgers during his one month with the team and did even less during the postseason. Surely the Dodgers could do better than Michael Young. Heck, even Mark Ellis would be a better choice for third base than Michael Young, not to mention that he could also spell recently signed Cuban superstar infielder Alexander Guerrero at second base once in a while. (Note: Mark Ellis was drafted out of the University of Florida as a third baseman. In fact, when he played for the Gators, his teammates referred to third base as ‘Ellis Island’ because he played the position so well).

Lo and behold, the Michael Young thing was just a ruse by Colletti to light a fire under Uribe to get he and his agent to move – and it worked. Around noon on Saturday it was reported that Uribe had agreed to a guaranteed two-year contract with the Dodgers for a reported $15 million. Although this was longer than the one plus one contract that Colletti wanted, it was also shorter than the guaranteed three-year contract that Uribe wanted. It was indeed a compromise right down the middle. (Note: It had been rumored that the Marlins had offered Uribe a guaranteed three-year deal, although this rumor was never substantiated).

Uribe etched his name in Dodger history with his 2013 NLDS-clinching home run against the Braves. (Photo credit - Jon SooHoo)

Although Uribe certainly helped his contract cause with his three-home-run game and his historic 2013 NLDS-clinching home run against the Braves, Dodger fans can only hope that the 2013 Uribe will show up for spring training in February and not the 2011-2012 Uribe. (Photo credit – Jon SooHoo)

The bottom line is that Uribe is returning to the Dodgers for two years, which just so happens to fit right in with Dodgers President and CEO Stan Kasten’s master plan for the team. Kasten has been very specific about the Dodgers’ plan to “get younger” by investing heavily in their minor league system – which he refers to as Phase II of rebuilding and returning the Dodgers into a championship franchise (with Phase I being the acquisition of several well established All-Star-caliber players and going for immediate results towards that end). To help Kasten accomplish Phase II, he has hired several well respected (and very successful) scouting executives over the past two years and the fruits of his efforts are beginning to show both domestically and internationally.

One of the most notable prospects is infielder Corey Seager, who was selected by the Dodgers in the first round of the 2012 MLB Draft. Although still only 19 years old, Seager is moving up quickly through the Dodgers farm system, having finished the 2013 season with the Advanced Single-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes and having participated in the recently concluded 2013 Arizona Fall League. Although a natural shortstop (even at 6′ 4″), Seager is more likely a better fit at third base. The problem is that Seager is still at best one full year away from being MLB-ready and more realistically two full years away. With Saturday’s re-signing of Uribe for two years, Phase II of Kasten’s plan now appears to be right on schedule.


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11 Responses to “Juan Uribe’s near fall from grace”

  1. OldBrooklynFan says:

    Well Uribe wanted 3 years and the Dodgers were only willing to give him 1. Well I’m glad that it equaled to 2 and I’m sure both are happy. I like the re-signing mainly because when a team comes as close as the Dodgers did to getting into the World Series I’m in favor of sticking as close as possible to having the same players as they had when the season ended.
    Now we’ll see what happens at 2nd base. If what I read is true and Ellis may sign elsewhere, I hope the Dodgers will come up with as close to a high quality player as possible to take over that position.

    • Ron Cervenka says:

      Second base was filled two months ago, Joe.

      • Bluenose Dodger says:

        Good recovery Ron. Now about Jim Johnson?

        Someone told you in a previous blog response he thought Uribe would be signed by the Dodgers, eh!

        Glad it is done. Hopefully Juan II will show up and not Juan I. I think with all the favourable publicity he has been given and the team around him Juan II should be on board. I read the Dodgers had the fourth highest ground ball rate in all of MLB baseball. A good glove is necessary at 3B and a few timely hits as in 2013 will continue to make us forget 2011 and 2012.

  2. bigbluebird says:

    It is always good to forget what happened in the negotiation once the deal is done. He tried what he could to create a market for himself and Dodgers bluffed by pulling out the name that we shall not mention. I have the suspicion he left more years and more money on the table in the Miami deal to come back to the Dodgers, so you have to give him some credit. Although his batting was not extraordinary, his glove was and he appears to have some good influence over Puig. Under the circumstances of a down year for free agent third basemen, the Dodgers did what needed to be done with Seager coming soon.

  3. OldBrooklynFan says:

    Aside from what I’ve read recently that the Dodgers were negotiating with Micheal Young, which I hope doesn’t happen and not knowing if Guerrero, whose first name I’ve forgotten, is ready for MLB, Who’s will play 2B?

  4. OldBrooklynFan says:

    My question has been answered, thanks to Harold, but the last I’ve heard was that Alexander Guerrero may not be ready. It’s great if he is, but what if he isn’t?

    • Ron Cervenka says:

      Where did you hear that Guerrero might not be ready?

      Guerrero is not a minor league prospect. In fact, he will be 27 years old on December 20 and has played professionally in Cuba for many years. He is also currently playing in the Dominican Winter League with the Gigantes del Cibao and doing well: .289/.325/.447 with 4 XBH including 1 HR. In his final year in Cuba (2012), he hit .290/.402/.576 with 21 home runs in 328 plate appearances.

      The last Dodger second baseman to hit 20 home runs was Jeff Kent – 29 in 2005 and 20 in 2007. If Alexander Guerrero doesn’t excite you, you better check your pulse.

      I am surprised that you know so little about Guerrero with all that has been written about him. I encourage you to do a little research on him. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at what you find. Google is always a great place to start but you can also start here: Wikipedia or here: Baseball_Reference or here: Projecting the Dodgers 2014 infield

      Rest assured, Alexander Guerrero will be the Dodgers everyday second baseman – at least for the next couple of years.

  5. OldBrooklynFan says:

    That good to read 53, It looks like the team is set for next year. I’m happy that all 8 of the 9 position players are back (which incluses 4 outfielders) and Guerrero is ready to take over at 2B.
    The entire team is loooking good.

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