Why is third base the Dodgers greatest need? What, you mean besides the fact that nearly all the evidence you can possibly require is right there before you in the photo above? That and a scale?
Why? I’ll tell you why. Oh, I’ll tell you why. Because whatever you think of the state of Los Angeles starting pitching, and more importantly, whatever you think of the incumbent at first base, the guy imitating a baseball player at the hot corner is the man on the Dodger roster least qualified to wear the uniform.
He can wear a Giants uni just fine, and if L.A. wants to just leave him in San Francisco after the series-ender tomorrow, you’ll get no argument from this quarter. Or any other, for that matter.
My harshness stems from the impatience I have with a professional athlete who, after an injury-plagued and ineffective season either cannot or will not improve on the conditioning he so clearly needs. The frustration magnifies when the season in question is the first for a player on a new team, and comes immediately after his being signed to a very generous contract.
Uribe got three years and $21 million prior to last season and managed all of four home runs, 28 RBIs and a .204 batting average in 77 games.
He came into spring camp this year claiming to have lost weight, but hesitant to admit to how much, or how little he’d taken off during the winter. Which means, quite obviously, that while Uribe should have made every effort to lose 15 or 20 or 25 pounds, he shed something in the neighborhood of five or six or seven instead.
The result is more injuries and more of the same at the plate. .217, with one whole homer and 12 RBIs.
The Dodgers are keeping him around for two reasons. Uribe’s back-loaded contract calls for him to be paid $12 million between the midway point of the current campaign, which is next Tuesday, and the end of 2013.
The club is also holding out hope that their third baseman can make something of his 2012 season, and they’d probably settle for a .240 average, 10 homers and 35 RBIs the rest of the way if they could get it.
If they determine the likelihood of it happening are somewhere between slim (a word rarely associated with Juan Uribe) and none, the Dodgers might just go ahead and eat the contract (with eat being a word commonly associated with Juan Uribe). And probably over the next coupla weeks.
I’ve already made my case for Chase Headley, and Jon Heyman has since reported that the Padres will listen to offers for their third baseman. The more I think about Headley, and with every Uribe at bat, the closer I get to the notion that the Dodgers need to make this deal happen. If it takes one of the team’s brightest pitching prospects, so be it. You can’t keep them all. And Headley is so worth it. Really, he is. The absolute perfect fit for Los Angeles.
As for Loney, well, we’ve all gotten used to the lack of power, and the Dodgers can live with that. There’s a greater chance of Loney heating up in the second half than there is of Uribe being even close to average. Plus there are right-handed alternatives for first base already in the organization, from Juan Rivera to Scott Van Slyke to Jerry Sands, if need be, so a platoon is easy enough to make official.
There’s nothing at third base but an over-sized, under-motivated Juan Uribe, who’s more prepared for a pink slip than he is for the low and outside curve he’ll no doubt strike out on come tonight’s first plate appearance.