Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Uribe's time in Dodger blue is done

It was official, and then it wasn't.  And now it looks to "officially" be official.  Got that?

Juan Uribe sure does, and after a day of going back and forth, the trade that sends Alberto Callaspo and others to the Dodgers for Uribe is done.  Apparently Callaspo had a change of heart about playing for the first place Dodgers.  Or maybe he was told he would be DFA'd if he didn't accept the trade anyway.  Who knows.

What we do know is that after a day of going back and forth with the Braves, the two-time champion Uribe is going across the coast to Atlanta.  Actually, he's going across the field to the visiting clubhouse, as the Braves are still in LA.  Go figure.

Before looking back at what Uribe brought to the Dodgers, it's important to note why exactly this deal was executed, especially after all of the praise of Uribe being such a great "clubhouse guy" on a team that was dysfunctional in the past.  It's true - he is very well-liked, and I'm sure was invaluable in helping Yasiel Puig get adjusted to the Majors.

But, this year has brought a whole lot of change to the Dodgers, and keeping an older, declining guy in the fold over younger, better options just doesn't make a whole lot of sense.  Justin Turner can play many positions and hit well, and Alex Guerrero has already brought enough power to warrant more playing time.

So Uribe is the odd man out.

In reflecting back on Uribe's tenure with the Dodgers, let's remember that he was a Gold Glove finalist at third base the last two seasons.  I thought he got robbed in not winning one of them, but it is what it is.  Even when the hitting wasn't there, he really could flash some serious leather at a very hard position.  His Defensive WAR the last two seasons are 1.8 and 2.0, respectively.

That's the good side, but the not-so-good-side has been his inconsistency in both staying on the field and at the plate.  He's battled leg injuries the last couple of years, limiting him to 103 games last season.  For a guy who's 36 and in his 15th season, that's some understandable wear and tear.

When Uribe was first signed before the 2011 season, he was coming off a World Series championship with the Giants.  Ned Colletti, formally of the Giants' front office, liked his championship experience (he won another one with the White Sox in 2005), and wanted his leadership to rub off on the Dodgers.

Well, things didn't quite work out initially to say the least.  His 2011 and 2012 campaigns featured some of the worst baseball any "big" free agent signing has ever played.  He hit .204 with four homers and 28 RBIs in 77 games in '11, and followed that up with a .191/2/17 line in 66 games.  To sum it all up, he was really, REALLY pathetic.

Somehow, some way he was able to survive being cut, and wouldn't you know it, in 2013 he actually looked like a real player again, going .278/12/50 in 132 games.  Not huge, overpowering numbers, but much-improved and complimented his slick play at third very well.

Last year was when injuries limited him to 103 games, though he was effective at the plate by going .311/9/54 in 103 games.  And he again failed to win a Gold Glove, even if he deserved to win.

The offseason signing of Hector Olivera to a six-year, $62.5 million contract (which only recently became official) along with the emergence of Guerrero had only further clouded Uribe's future in LA.  Now, he's an ex-Dodger after 4+ years of service.

It was an interesting ride for Uribe, at times bumpy, and at times smooth.  He was described as being very emotional about the trade, which one can only imagine what that must feel like.  His teammates will definitely miss him, no doubt.  The fans have grown to appreciate his hard work, too.

But in the end, the Dodgers made the correct call in freeing up some of the logjam (think Matt Kemp's trade helping the outfield), and will give more swings to Guerrero and soon Olivera.

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