By Mitch Chortkoff
On the many occasions when I attended Dodger games this season there was a lot of speculation about Juan Uribe’s future with the Dodgers.
Media friends and scouts from other teams were pretty sure the Dodgers won’t sign him again. This is the third and final year of his current contract. The Dodgers signed him for three years at $21 million after he helped the Giants win the 2010 World Series.
But look at what’s happened. Uribe has had a great 2013 season, both at bat and in the field. And Monday night his dramatic two-run homer turned a 3-2 deficit into a playoff series-clinching 4-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves.
Now what happens?
The Dodgers acquired Michael Young from the Phillies recently. Young is a seven-time all-star, and even though he doesn’t have a major role in these playoffs his presence is not to be taken lightly.
The speculation is he was signed to take over third base next season when Uribe won’t be on the club.
But playoff heroics are magnified. The home run Monday immediately becomes a huge addition to Uribe’s resume.
From the start of their acquisition of Uribe the Dodgers knew they were getting a high class individual.
Dodger General Manager Ned Colletti used to work for the Giants and was well acquainted with their players. He knew Uribe would be a good influence in the clubhouse.
Some Dodger players have revealed they were told by Giants players “you’re going to love this guy.”
Uribe became a mentor to the talented but youthful Yasiel Puig this season along with first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.
So, now do the Dodgers ignore Uribe’s two forgettable years with them and bring him back? Or do they move on as they were planning to do?
Here’s how Uribe’s eighth inning homer after Puig doubled affects baseball.
Instead of going to Atlanta for a deciding fifth game the Dodgers got a day off to celebrate their first round victory.
Instead of manager Don Mattingly being the center of controversy for starting Clayton Kershaw on three days’ rest that debate goes into the background. Don’t forget that Kershaw left the game with a 3-2 deficit and could have been the losing pitcher.
Because of Uribe’s home run Atlanta’s Fredi Gonzalez became the manager on the hot seat. He kept Craig Kimbrel, the best closer in baseball, in the bullpen when David Carpenter gave up Uribe’s homer.
All season Carpenter pitched the eighth inning and Kimbrel the ninth. Carpenter was outstanding. But the fact remains the Braves had what they wanted – the lead with Kershaw out of the game.
Kimbrel could have protected it. But he never got into the game as Atlanta’s season ended.
And just to point out baseball can be a crazy game, don’t forget Uribe was trying to bunt in order to move Puig to third base. He tried twice and failed. Only then did he swing away and hit his game-changing home run.
Uribe is 34 years old. Young is 36. One of them is likely to start next season as the Dodgers’ third baseman. Or it could be someone else.
And if Uribe doesn’t anything else in these playoffs he has etched his name into the Dodgers’ huge memory bank of sensational accomplishments.