20 Days of Thinking Blue: Third Base Depth at a Premium

The countdown has begun, kids. Opening Night (well, American Opening Night) is fast approaching as the Dodgers take on the Padres down in San Diego on March 30th. Leading up until then, MAMBINO will tackle 20 of the most important–and some not so important–questions that will get you set up for a season of almost unparalleled expectations. Let’s get it going:
Is anyone else worried about the lack of depth at third base? Uribe and then…?
In a word, yes. Very.
Juan Uribe was more or less the Dodgers’ only option this offseason at the hot corner, as scary as that sounds. Faced with no other alternatives besides Michael Young (who decided to retire after the Dodgers signed Uribe, giving you an idea of where he was skill-wise) and giving up a ransom in prospects for players like Chase Headley, LA re-signed their incumbent three-bagger to a two year, $15 million dollar deal. To a fan with any long-term memory beyond the 2013 season, it’s damn near unfathomable to believe that Uribe was at all a palatable signing. Before this past year in which he redeemed himself with fantastic defense and a very serviceable .769 OPS, Juan had been one of the worst everyday players in baseball. In the first two seasons of his three-year, $21 million dollar contract, he only played in 143 games combined, batting .199 with a .552 OPS and just 6 homers. He was benched for long periods because of his complete ineffectiveness, perhaps as a mere salve to get the fans to stop booing him. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

It seems that a huge performance in a contract year and an unworldly showing in the NLDS against the Atlanta Braves (6 for 16 with 2 jakks) has washed Uribe of all sins. For some of us.

I won’t easily forget just how horrific Uribe was in those two preceding seasons and what a offensive and defensive succubus he was on both side of the field. Though he was literally a season savior in 2013, an ugly 2011 or 2012 performance isn’t far away. Thus, third base depth is as important as ever.

Unfortunately for the Dodgers, all that depth they accrued last season has gone away. Nick Punto has gone to the Oakland A’s, while Young and Hairston have retired. In their places are guys like Chone Figgins and Brendan Harris, both of whom may not even make the team. Even if they did, these two light-hitting vets can’t perform much better than Uribe at his worst, truly. Corey Seager, the team’s best third base prospect most likely won’t be ready for primetime this year and beyond that, there doesn’t appear to be much for the Dodgers to count on.

I am extremely worried about the team’s lack of depth at third base. If Uribe goes back to his 2011-12 form, the Dodgers are going to have to trade for help.


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