I Suppose It’s Time to Discuss Juan Uribe

November 28, 2010 at 9:41 pm | Posted in Jesse Crain, Juan Uribe | 26 Comments

As I was riding the train home today, I came upon a Ken Rosenthal blog post outlining why he thinks that Juan Uribe would be a perfect fit for the Dodgers, who have a big hole at 2B, a declining 3B, and an injury-prone SS. Minutes later, Ken Gurnick posted at dodgers.com that the club is actually “targeting” Uribe.

I’m not sure if Gurnick was just parroting Rosenthal, since the two posts appeared so quickly after each other, but in Gurnick’s version the club was showing interest in Uribe, which is a notable point absent from Rosenthal’s story. Either way, this is about to become a thing, so now is as good a time as any to look into whether the Dodgers should be going after Uribe.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because I proposed the exact same thing in my 2011 plan back in early October:

5) Sign Juan Uribe to a 1-year, $5m deal to play 2B with an option for 2012.

Yes, he’s a Giant, and one with a .310 OBP at that. But the Dodgers are probably going to pay Theriot $3.5m to play decentish defense while being a black hole at the plate. If you’re going to pay that much for a 2B without much of an OBP, why not pay just a bit more for better defense and more power?

Theriot has 16 homers in his big-league career. Uribe has hit at least 16 in six of the last seven seasons; his .440 SLG this year and .431 SLG career is nearly 100 points better than Theriot’s ever had. On defense, Uribe (10.9 UZR/150 at 2B) is better than Theriot is (4.3 UZR/150 at 2B), plus he’s above average at SS and 3B – and provides excellent insurance for another Rafael Furcal injury, as he started 96 games at SS this year with Edgar Renteria ailing.

Uribe’s not perfect. But for $4-5m, would you rather a low-OBP guy with zero power and decent defense, or a low-OBP guy with good power and plus defense? Now, it’s possible I’m short-changing the contract Uribe would get here, but he was horrendous in 2007 and ’08, to the point where he had to take a minor-league deal before 2009. That, plus the fact he’s turning 32 next summer and that he entered 2010 as a backup to Renteria and Freddy Sanchez, means I can’t see anyone investing a bunch of years.

Now, it should be noted that I wrote that before the Giants made the bulk of their playoff run. Uribe was actually kind of lousy in the playoffs (he got on base just 10 times in 51 plate appearances) but he gained notoriety by hitting the game-winning homer in Game 6 of the NLCS, which he followed up with a three-run shot in Game 1 of the World Series. So if that inflated his market value to the point where he’s getting guaranteed big money 2- or 3- year deals, then count me out. I’d like to think that two big homers in the midst of a terrible postseason wouldn’t fool teams into giving him more than he’s really worth, but you can never count on logic too much with some teams.

Still, if he can be had for one year (and I’m willing to include an option for another), it’s a deal worth making. It’s clear with the signings of Ted Lilly, Hiroki Kuroda, and Jon Garland that the Dodgers plan on going for it in 2011, and you can’t do that with Ryan Theriot at second base. Uribe’s not the ideal solution – low-OBP guys who were sub-replacement in their age 26-28 seasons rarely are – but middle infielders with pop and above-average gloves are valuable, particularly on a team that was short on both power and defense last year. You could sign him and install him immediately as the 2011 second baseman, knowing you have another option if/when Rafael Furcal gets injured. Then, assuming he had an option or a second year, he could stay at 2B in 2011, slide over to 3B once Casey Blake is gone, or ideally even become an infield super sub if you managed to get superior options at all three spots. And if the side benefit of that is weakening the Giants, all the better.

In an odd way, however, signing Uribe might almost make me more apt to want to bring back Russell Martin. Rod Barajas is, in a way, similar to Uribe in that he’s got decent power and poor OBP skills. The Dodgers weren’t great at OBP last year, and Uribe wouldn’t help that; bringing back Barajas as well would be a killer in that category. Martin may not have power anymore, but he is one of the better OBP catchers around. Ken Gurnick also noted that Ned Colletti wanted to re-sign Barajas quickly, but that Barajas chose to test the market. For all the platitudes about how happy Barajas was to play for his hometown team last year, I find that decision surprising. I didn’t really want him back anyway, and even if he did I’d only like it at a big hometown discount.

Back on topic, Uribe would indeed be a good fit for the 2011 Dodgers – at the right price. One year? One with an option? Sure. Count me in.


Unrelated, but Peter Gammons is reporting that the Dodgers (and eight other teams!) are sniffing around Twins reliever Jesse Crain. I like Crain just fine, and he’d be a nice addition to any team’s bullpen, but I don’t think the Dodgers should really be putting a lot of money into signing free agent relievers. Bullpen arms are notoriously inconsistent from year to year, making most of them poor investments at the inflated prices of the free market, and since we don’t know how much money the Dodgers have left after rebuilding the rotation, the offense really needs to be the top priority.


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  1. Agreed on Uribe, as long as it’s not more than a one-year deal or 1 + an option, although the Dodgers tend to give very player friendly options. The Dodgers need some pop in the line-up, I just hope they don’t think Uribe is a clean up hitter.

  2. Another Giant re-tred? Sign me up…for third or fourth place again. We missed the boat with Uggla, which was such a no brainer, as he filled the prob at 2nd base, the clean-up role and as the clubhouse leader. Atlanta got him for a song. We could have dumped our crap on Fla, thrown in some Dodger dogs and be looking at some other poor team courting a Giant scrub.

    • Lots of teams are probably kicking themselves over Uggla. We don’t know what into that deal or why the Fish took that, so I find it hard to blame Colletti too much for it. As for Uribe, what team a player was on previously is irrelvant to me.

      • I don’t care what team Uribe is on, we missed the boat on Uggla. I dont know much about Mike Dunn and i know enough about Omar Infante to know we have plenty of similar players that we could have made that trade and solved three problems at once. But the new dodger way is to pick the scraps of other teams, like the dreaded giants.

        • Mike is right. We have no idea what conversations took place between the Braves and Marlins or the Dodgers and Marlins. Maybe Ned offered a better package but was turned down for some reason. There’s very few teams with a good enough 2B or a bad enough farm system that wouldn’t offer a better deal for Uggla. Something strange happened, and we can’t blame Ned for that.

      • I agree, I dont care who he played for before, as long as he can help the Dodgers. anyone is better than the completly useless Theriot.

  3. I agree that the Dodgers shouldn’t pursue relievers in this free agent market.They must concentrate on the offense,and Uribe can plug some holes in the infield.The catching is a must on the offensive side,and another outfielder is needed,too.This coming weeks could bring some answers regarding these matters.

  4. Uribe for one year would be acceptable. Uribe for multiple years? No thanks.

    Still, I’d rather the Dodgers use the money they would spend on Uribe and put it toward a power hitter and just go with De Jesus at 2B.

    • I agree. Uribe for one year…fine. But I have to think that he will get a three year offer from someone and if so, let them have him. I am not totally sold on Uribe even at one year and $5 million. His defense and versatility is a plus, but he could easily end up with a .250 obp and I think we can do better. I am still first and foremost for Dunn(as I doubt we could even make a respectable offer to Crawford) and then fill in the blanks after that. Just as long as Theriot is no longer on this team and we get an upgrade, offensively, at first.

      • Uribe would be a step up from Theriot but it will be hard to get his name on the dotted line for a one-year deal. The World Series win by the G-Men is still fresh in baseball people’s minds. I would take a 2 year-$10 mil deal but that may not get it done either. If Blake is on the last year of his deal, Uribe can play 3B in 2012 when/if DeJesus is ready! He’s not, like you say Billy G., a guy that will win any prizes with his OBA. I think in 2010, it was .310, which is the norm for Uribe. He did have a career high .329 OBA in 2009 but his batting average was 40 points higher. I’m actually surprised that the Astros didn’t fish in these waters (they ended up with Barmes) as their mid-inf of 2010 would make Theriot a first ballot Hall of Famer. If he were 10 years younger, I would like Jamey Carroll as a stop-gap!

  5. Yup yup, plus Giants fans will get all hurt, might as well throw in Torrealba so all the NL West teams will be bitter about us buying up their players haha

  6. Martin could net the dodgers a reliever if they really wanted to. he’s young, can run a little, call a good game and will probably be well rested having not been on the field since early august. im assuming he can catch 110 games or so. although i say keep martin at 3yrs\8mil. if not go the best way and trade him or non tender him. if he theriot and sherill are nontendered dodgers would have about 12mil in flexibility to fix c/lf\3b

    • Of course, if Martin would take 3 years and $8-mil, I sign up for that in a second. I think, first, the Dodgers have to see if he’s healthy and capable of squatting behind the plate. I’m no doctor, though I play one on the web, but from the reports that I hear, his injury wasn’t minor. And any injury is exacerbated for a catcher, especially a workhorse like Martin. Sherrill should be a no-brainer as a non-tender and Theriot, if the Dodgers are that in love with him, can be had for less.

  7. I dont see uribe signing for 1yr!he will likely want a 2yr deal with an option for a 3yr for around 7.5-8.5 mill per season.

    • Wow… good guess, dude. Pretty much nailed it, except that the third year is guaranteed.

  8. On the surface Uribe appears to be a good fit for the Dodgers. He could start at second base. He could fill in for Furcal and Blake, if needed or if Ivan de Jesus, Jr., looks ready to break out. Problem is, I’m just not very comfortable with 230 pound middle infielders who remind me of Belliard.
    If he’d take $5M for one year, I’d consider it, as long as it doesn’t preclude future moves for a left fielder with some power.
    I like Jesse Crain out of the pen a lot!

    • Jesse Crain is a very solid reliever but I would rather see the money spent on the offensive side. Lindblom could give serviceable numbers out of the pen. These relievers, if you look at Benoit’s contract start at 3 years and at least $12-mil. I wouldn’t make that commitment to the career Twin. A guy that I do like, but it looks like the Reds will re-sign him, is the ancient Arthur Rhodes. That’s if the team can find a match for Broxton and commits to a back of the bullpen of Kuo/Jansen. That would be asking a lot, too!


    • If it’s $1m per year, and Ned still signs a real left fielder, I’m happy. Otherwise, I’m in for the killing me now. Mass suicide of Dodger fans? Poisoned kool-aid, anyone?

      • And it just gets better; Uribe is a Type B free agent, so we get to give the Giants a high draft pick! Wooooo! (………………………………..)

        • No – that’s not true. The Giants get a supplemental pick, but the Dodgers would not give one up.

    • I almost threw up when I saw this.

  10. I agree with Mike on this. Uribe is a good defensive infielder with alot of pop in his bat. definatly worth signing for a year on the cheap. ehll add some much needed power to the lineup. What about signing someone like Marcus Thames for left field? Hes put up decent slugging numbers for the yankees, and I read he is a free agent this year.

  11. I can’t wait to see your post shredding Ned for giving this chump 3 years and $21M

    • writing it now…

  12. mlbtr says 3 years 21 mil… well atleast theyre spending now. not too happy tho

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