By R.J. Anderson //
The Dodgers have been one of the most active teams this off-season. All of their moves to date had focused on bolstering their rotation: re-signing Ted Lilly and Hiroki Kuroda, then signing free agent Jon Garland. Their latest is an attempt to solidify their middle infield (specifically second base) while weakening a division rival. They believe they’ve done so by signing Juan Uribe to a three-year deal worth $21 million.
The shift away from shortstop and to second base actually limits Uribe’s real world value. Uribe’s defensive skill set is the opposite of David Eckstein’s. His arm gives him the ability to make long, tough throws, meaning he should be playing on the left side of the infield.
Uribe’s offensive value should be unaffected by the park change and he remains a safe bet to hit 15 to 20 home runs during any season where he amasses 500-plus plate appearances. Not everything in Uribe’s offensive game is that dependable or worthwhile, though, as his slash line over the last three seasons is a combined .261/.312/.443. That batting average and on-base percentage are weak, even for a middle infielder.
Making matters worse is Uribe’s unpredictable aging curve. He turns 32 in July and carries a history of problematic conditioning. Now, those issues were a few seasons ago, and perhaps it is unfair to place the sins of a younger (and possibly less dedicated) Uribe upon this version. Being this is the first comfortable contract Uribe has bagged in a while, though, the possibility remains that he could become a little too relaxed about his work ethic.
Nevertheless, Uribe remains a decent mixed league option for 2011 at shortstop and second base (he also qualifies at third base), thanks to his steady power output. Just don’t expect much if your league values on-base percentage in any form.
For more on Juan Uribe, check out Bloomberg Sports’ Front Office.
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