Sunday, December 15, 2013

Dodger infield: Juan Uribe and Mark Ellis

The Dodgers didn't pick up Mark Ellis' option for about $4 million.

Now he's signed with the Cardinals.  I don't know for how much, but I'd guess something around $3-$4 million.  

The Dodgers didn't feel they needed Ellis as a starter after acquiring Yasiel Puig Jr Alexander Guerrero.    I hope they are right, but I don't see a reason that they shouldn't have picked up Ellis' option.  If Guerrero is capable of manning the position from Opening Day then the Dodgers shouldn't have had much problem trading Ellis (the Yankees still don't have a starting 2Bman).  At least that way they would have picked up something in return instead of letting him go for nothing.  And, if Guerrero isn't ready, then they have a perfectly acceptable starting 2Bman.  

That he signed with the Cardinals is somewhat interesting.  Dodger fans won't forget that it was the Cardinals that dispatched the Dodgers from the playoffs last season.  Cardinal fans know that the Cardinals are in much the same situation as the Dodgers at 2B this year.  Where LA has Alexander Guerrero, Stl has Kolten Wong.  Wong is a highly rated prospect but has the same questions as Guerrero - can he repeat his success at the major league level.  The Cards got Ellis as insurance.  The Dodgers went without.

The more important move, though, was the Dodgers re-signing Juan Uribe.  While I was hoping that the team would sign, first, Joel Peralta (who went to the Cardinals), then, Omar Infante the Dodgers ended up with Uribe.

Everyone knows how terrible Uribe was in 2011 and 2012 so I won't post the grisly numbers.  As bad as he was those 2 years he was that good in 2013.  He went from hitting at about half of the league rate to hitting 16% better.  Some of it was batted ball luck (.240 BABIP to .322 and 4.5% HR/FB rate to 10.5%), the rest was...I don't know.  His peripherals are all similar.  Some was made of Uribe being in better shape.  Hard to believe that is the entire cause.  

Anyway, expectations have to be tempered regarding Uribe.  He's probably not going to be as good in 2014 as he was in 2013.  ZiPS, STEAMER and Oliver projections have Uribe hitting .243/.304/.392 and 2.2 WAR in 550 PA's.  That sounds about right.  That's a bit worse than league average hitting combined with some plus defense making Uribe a useful player.  

Also hard to overlook Uribe's place in the clubhouse.  According to AJ Ellis, "If you ask everyone in this clubhouse who is their favorite teammate, 95 percent will tell you Juan Uribe"

If Uribe provides 2 WAR of value in 2014 then he will have earned nearly all of his $15 million contract before it's half over - good value despite the forthcoming comments from people when Uribe's hitting exactly as described above.

After Peralta and Infante were taken off the market, Uribe was really the only reasonable choice.  That the Dodgers got him is no problem.

Let's all hope for 2 more seasons of the Uribear.


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