Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

Uribe, Turner could again form nice duo at third

Jill Weisleder/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jill Weisleder/Los Angeles Dodgers

Los Angeles Dodgers workoutBy Jon Weisman

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Much has been speculated about the upcoming timeshare arrangement for the Dodgers in 2015 at catcher, but third base might not be much different.

After batting .311 with a .337 on-base percentage and sterling defensive work, Juan Uribe is the clear starter at third. Justin Turner is the team’s No. 1 infield utility player, becoming the first Dodger since Jose Hernandez in 2004 and sixth since 1924 to play more than one game at first, second, third and short.

But injuries limited Uribe, who turns 36 in March, to 103 games (98 starts) last year, opening the door for Turner to approach the 59 games (45 starts) he had at third in 2014.

“I think we do give (Uribe) breathers,” Mattingly said. “Definitely, we watch Juan. … and he’s pretty honest with us. Sometimes we get a bad matchup, and J.T. makes it easy to give him some days off.”

While Mattingly is wary of overplaying Uribe, he also finds that Turner wears down if he plays too often. That being said, he raved about Turner’s physical condition heading into camp this year.

“He’s in great shape this year, moving so much better,” Mattingly said. “I know he feels really good, and just his movements — looks like he’s got his base underneath him. So we’ll get a good chance to see what he looks like all over.

Maybe this guy’s gonna handle more, because he was really diligent with his work during the offseason. He was at Dodger Stadium almost daily. He was a guy who put in a lot of time in his winter training, and it shows.”

Turner had a .404 on-base percentage and .493 slugging percentage in 2014, thanks in part to a .404 batting average on balls in play.

“Obviously, he had a really, really good year,” Mattingly said. “We always thought he could hit, but that was probably over-the-top good. But if you can do it once, you can do it again, (though) I think you have to look at the whole career and say, ‘What do you think we’re gonna get?’

“I think if we look at the kind of year J.T. had last year, it’s really a pretty good fit for us, because if he continues to swing the bat like that, you’re gonna want to get him at-bats. We envision J.T. being able to play all over, being able to give Adrian days off at first, possibly give Juan days off at third primarily, and then we look at him as being able to handle second and we’re gonna see a little bit of shortstop.”

You could oversimplify it and call it a five-man infield, with one of them starting the game on the bench. However you slice it, the Dodgers are pleased with their infield depth, not only with Turner but such other potential reserves as Darwin Barney, Alex Guerrero, Kike Hernandez and Austin Barnes.


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  1. This bit of sunshine about 3b doesn’t play. Yes, Uribe’s glove is a plus but he is a hacker with a career 305 OBP and could easily bat in the low 200’s as he did a couple years ago… HIs bat could be a problem. As to Turner, the 404 BABIP last year says it all, although he was a 300 hitter in the minors and a 265 hitter in the majors before his anamolous 2014 season. Basically, he’s a decent utility guy who won’t hurt you if he has to get 250 ab’s, but limited power and on-base skills mean he won’t be a help like last year if he has to play too often. Uribe will not have another 2014 season at the bat and the worry is that he could end up as a real sinkhole. Two utility-quality hitters at 3b do not add up to adequacy, and unfortunately neither has any pronounced LH/RH splits so platooning is unlikely to help much. 3b will be a problem offensively this year.

    • Yeah I’m leaning that way. In fact I think the left side of the field (3B and LF) won’t provide very much offensive punch. It wasn’t a big factor with Kemp and Hanley in the lineup. But now that they are gone???? Hopefully I’m wrong.

      Nothing wrong with hoping Turner plays like last year…but the key word is hope.

  2. 3rd base may be a little cloudy going in, but Mr. Miller’s take seems a bit dire, almost “Cruz-like” in terms of his prediction. He could have made that same argument based on similar data going into 2014 and it would have been very wrong. While a drop off is likely, hard to imagine a sinkhole opening up at the hot corner. That said, the brain trust realizes that a future solution at 3rd will be necessary and if speculation regarding more Cuban signings are correct, the Dodgers may be looking at someone who might be able to help almost immediately if things go south quickly.

  3. oldbrooklynfan

    I’m happy to see that J.T. is back. He was quite a help last year.

  4. With the conditioning JT did in the off-season, the Dodgers should be OK at the hot corner. Uribe is at the age when a good fastball is becoming a problem. I see Uribe struggling early and JT getting more of the starts and playing well until we get a good replacement from international signings. The question is if Donnie pulls the trigger early or waits until Uribe is hitting 200 for 2 months. With Pederson and the new middle, I still see a great year for the Dodgers because they are shoring up the defense making it easier on the pitching and the offense.

  5. Uribear was third on the team in WAR in 2014 among position players, with about half of that from his glove. Hard to imagine pulling the plug too early unless he is really dismal at the bat.

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