While the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ front office continues to mold the 2016 roster, it’s safe to assume that more changes will occur and additional moves will be made before pitchers and catchers convene next month.
One recurring theme across this blog over the winter has been infield depth. The more we write about it, the more worrisome it becomes — especially at shortstop.
For many years into the future, the Dodgers are set with Corey Seager at short. Well, at least a few years, anyway, before the chatter emerges once again about a potential move to third base because of his size, range or whatever else critics decide to pin on him. But all that is beside the point.
Two areas of concern may need to be addressed.
First, who backs up Seager?
In light of the modern game, there’s no way Seager takes the field 162 times this year. Rest is needed. Injuries and sickness will happen, hopefully minor. All fingers are crossed to ensure he stays consistent and productive over the course of the season, but cover is required nonetheless.
We already discussed the possible roles of Enrique Hernández heading into 2016, and realistically, covering second, short, third base and center field may be a bit too much, especially taking into account his range, his glove, and his success against right-handed pitching at the dish.
Elian Herrera and Ronald Torreyes seem capable enough with the glove, but with relatively limited offensive ceilings, they’re not sexy choices by any means for a squad with World Series aspirations.
Secondly, who on the roster or the coaching staff is capable of mentoring Seager for one more year?
2015 saw Jimmy Rollins as the bridge to Seager being the everyday shortstop, but keep in mind Corey will still be 21 years old at the beginning of the season, and a strong, veteran presence around him would seemingly be very beneficial.
In view of the virtually “all new” Dodgers coaching staff for 2016, only two of the 10 coaches have any experience at all at shortstop.
Third base coach and former utility man Chris Woodward wasn’t exactly a wizard with the glove, while new quality assurance coach Juan Castro will be limited to clubhouse duties or watching the games from a suite.
Enter Juan Uribe.
Granted, at 36, Uribe doesn’t have the quickness of a fleet-footed gold glover, yet his defense is still solid. His range in his twilight years isn’t suited ideally for shortstop, but he’s more than capable of providing ample cover. The real value comes in getting a player who is also a dependable option at second base and third base, as well as being a legit long ball threat as a pinch hitter off the bench.
Uribe is very well respected by many of his peers, and possesses natural leadership qualities — something the Dodgers have been craving for the past several seasons, and something he was getting a handle on before being shipped to Atlanta last year. Most importantly, he could be a very influential mentor for a budding superstar like Seager.
Uribe won’t be demanding more than a one-year deal and shouldn’t add too much salary to the books. He could easily replace somebody like Alexander Guerrero on the 25-man roster, whose future with the club moving forward may be in limbo.
Above all, with an overloaded shift on the right side of the infield and an opposing runner on second, it never hurts to have an experienced player thinking one pitch ahead while shouting from the dugout for somebody to cover third in the event of a possible steal.
And that’s just one example.
(Photo Credit: dodgersway.com)