For all the talk about the return of Tim Lincecum, there is another player from the 2010 World Series championship team who might be a perfect fit. Can you say U_____ribe!
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When a sports team really has depth, even their bench players could start for other teams. Locally, the Golden State Warriors have a swarm of players that would fill starting fives around the NBA. But in these days of salary caps and luxury taxes, it is harder and harder to put together rosters that are as deep as the 1994 San Francisco 49ers.
The San Francisco Giants have put together a roster that features premier pitching, a defense with sure hands, and a batting order that can potentially feature eight 10-15 home run, .300 batting average guys. That is nothing to turn your nose up at, it’s a quality lineup if everyone stays healthy.
But therein lies the problem. Health is impossible to predict, so there need to be contingencies just in case.
The team replaced Joaquin Arias with Kelby Tomlinson. Well, I should say, Tomlinson forced the decision with his well-rounded effort late last year. But there is a duplication in some ways with another bench player. The front-runner for the other back-up infield spot is Ehire Adrianza.
Adrianza, for what he is in the field, is not confident at the plate. And without a lot of at bats, it is hard to get a gauge on where he really is. If Tomlinson can be consistent in the field, he solves the “base-hit, pinch runner” situation himself.
But what about some pop off the bench?
The Giants signed Kyle Blanks to a minor league deal back in November. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Blanks is in the orange and black to start the season. But he is an outfielder/first baseman, who won’t be able to give Matt Duffy a breather when he needs it.
So with an old pal still available on the free agent market, it only seems fitting that the Giants bring Juan Uribe back for another shot at a ring.
Uribe is a steadying influence in the clubhouse, and one that you can rely on in the field. At this point in his career, he would be a force off of the bench with his experience at the plate, and ability to produce when he is called upon to play a string of games.
After the Giants won the title in 2010, Uribe signed with the rival Los Angeles Dodgers. Normally this would mean that his return is not likely as he wanted to play for the enemy. But in this case it’s a little different.
Uribe was a fantastic signing by the Giants. He played great in 2009 and 2010. But the emergence of Brandon Crawford and Pablo Sandoval made it a little hard to fit Uribe into the mix at that point. So Uribe went for the money, knowing that a baseball career has its high and low points, and got it with the Dodgers.
Unfortunately for the Dodgers, Uribe had trouble (either injury or performance-related) living up to the deal. In his nearly five years in L.A., Uribe hit .260, with 28 home runs in 407 games. Similar numbers to when he was with the Giants (.266 batting average and 40 home runs) but in far fewer games 270.
Those numbers look alright at the two-year $4.25 million deal that he had with the Giants. But at three-years and $21 million, the value wasn’t there. And then they signed another two-year deal worth $15 million.
Uribe should know at this point that his value lies in his ability to play off the bench, and be like Andre Iguodala is with the Warriors. Be available to start every day, but also know that the teams success will ultimately dictate playing time.
A player that puts the team’s success before their own is hard to find in free agency. Players coming up through the organization have a built-in mentality to play for the pride of the team that drafted them. But not many players will sign as a free agent for a bench role when they feel they still can be a starter.
That being said, Uribe has a history with the Giants, and it is a great one. Even with his defection to Dodger-blue, it wasn’t taken as badly as Jeff Kent‘s was. But that’s another story, for another day.
Juan Uribe would be a good fit on a very strong team. A team that has put up the resources to stay competitive year in and year out. A team that doesn’t need another player to come in and carry the team, even though Uribe still can do that once in a while. And a team that gets the most out of their players, especially when they come back (Ryan Vogelsong and Travis Ishikawa.)