Wednesday, February 23, 2011

2011 Los Angeles Dodgers Season Preview: Middle Infield

In the sixth of a nine-part series, I preview the Dodgers' middle infield for the 2011 season.

Second Base

Juan Uribe
- If you've read this blog at all, you know my thoughts on the Uribe signing (it was horrible!). I could have stomached a 1- or 2-year deal at maybe $5 million per season, but GM Ned Colletti was really careless with this contract. Anyway... Uribe had two big postseason hits which helped him to land this deal and will be the Dodgers' every day second baseman. He brings pop and solid defense, but not much else. One of his best seasons (2008) came as a part-time player. There's a reason for that: he's just a part-time player. Unfortunately, we'll have to see this guy at second base for the next nearly 500 games (sounds scary, no?).

Backups: Jamey Carroll, Ivan DeJesus, Aaron Miles

Shortstop

Rafael Furcal
- This is the wild card. As goes Furcal, so goes the Dodgers. It's been that way since he was signed in 2006. If he's healthy, he will perform. If he isn't, he won't and he'll be no better than a replacement player. He had a 4.1 WAR last season in 97 games. If Furcal had kept up that pace, he would have been a 6.5+ WAR player -- putting him in such company with Evan Longoria, Matt Holliday and Carl Crawford. Furcal did steal his most bases in a season (22) since 2007 (25), so that is reason to be optimistic. If he's healthy, he will be the key to the Dodgers' attack.

Backups: Carroll, Juan Castro, Miles, Justin Sellers, Uribe

The backups have been profiled in my preview of the Dodgers' bench.

Analysis

Furcal's health is of the utmost importance. He and Uribe should make for a nice double play combination. I'm not expecting much from Uribe -- and my hatred of all things Giants plays into that. It doesn't change the fact that he's a career .300 OBP player and had no business getting the type of contract he did. But the Dodgers are stuck with him for the next three seasons, so there isn't much sense in belaboring the point any further. The duo should provide the Dodgers with at least league-average offense, as well as above-average defense. If Furcal plays 130 games and Uribe doesn't perform under his career averages, the offense from the middle infield would be acceptable.

Next up: Left Field

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