If the Giants were baseball’s version of the Island of Misfit Toys, Juan Uribe was Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. The veteran utility man and his endearing smile shined brightest on baseball’s biggest stage.
Uribe was the Giants go-to guy in the clutch. His came through with a walkoff sacrifice fly to win Game 4 of the NLCS, a pivotal comeback victory that gave San Francisco a 3-1 series cushion. He stepped up again to poke an opposite-field home run that broke a tie in Game 6 and clinched the series. Uribe carried the momentum into the World Series with a three-run home run that highlighted a six-run fifth inning and gave the Giants an 8-2 lead.
The St. Louis Cardinals are hoping there’s still some magic left in Uribe’s bat. Buster Olney reported on Twitter that the Cardinals be “a team that will likely be aggressive in its pursuit of Uribe.” Olney also added that he is an attractive option because he can play shortstop and third base.
St. Louis could use the help at both positions.
Though Brendan Ryan is among the top defensive shortstops in the game, his ineptitude with the bat can be frustrating. Uribe would give the Cardinals another capable shortstop if Ryan needs a few days off to get out of a slump. Third base has been something of a revolving door since Scott Rolen left town. David Freese played well early last season, but he hasn’t proven to be a reliable option for 162 games. The rookie missed the last few months of the summer due to injuries. Felipe Lopez filled in until the team cut him for being late to work multiple times. Pedro Feliz came to the Cards in a trade, but he was just a stopgap for the rest of the summer.
Uribe would be a better option than both Lopez and Feliz, and a necessary one considering the uncertainty surrounding Freese.
Uribe showed he is an above average fielder with his memorable postseason performance. He stole multiple hits and made tough defensive plays look easy at both third base and shortstop. He may not look the part, but Uribe is a ballplayer.
And the Cards could use some of those after the forgettable 2010 season.
The lead misfit plays the game with a youthful energy the Cardinals need badly. There was no sign of fun in St. Louis, the Cards clubhouse was dead all season and it showed on the field. Uribe would certainly bring his fun-loving attitude with him to the team.
Uribe swings for the fences every at bat. He never gets cheated, but he’s also able to adjust to the situation. The Cards lineup lacked that aggressive approach and a little bit of change couldn’t hurt.
Unlike Dan Moore, I think Uribe would be a perfect match in St. Louis. Moore compares him to Felipe Lopez who quit on the team and offered nothing to the clubhouse. Uribe is the polar opposite — the anti-Flip. His teammates in San Francisco loved him.
Seth Livingstone of USA Today described Uribe as “the funny guy who is able to bridge any divide between teammates with his humor.” The New York Times’ Ben Shpigel gave this account of his affect on the World Champs during their October run:
"This Uribe, now 31, is a ringleader in a famously loose clubhouse. Uribe declined an interview request after the Giants’ workout Friday, but he cracked up his teammates with his bursts of broken English, his sweeping hand motions and his exaggerated reactions to a basketball game playing on television.“You never hear a negative thing come out of his mouth,” first baseman Travis Ishikawa said. “He’s the same guy all the time and, I think, for me at least, I look up to that. Being able to stay the same no matter what the circumstance is; I think that’s a trait that goes a long way.”"
That’s the type of guy I would want on my team. He’s a winner and brings much-needed energy in a draining 162-game season. His teammates would feed off his personality. It worked in Chicago with the White Sox and it worked in San Francisco. A couple of years in St. Louis should work too.
I think his personality can win over the ultra-serious Tony La Russa. Uribe could give La Russa a new and fresh perspective. Nick Swisher transformed the Yankees corporate clubhouse and sparked them to the 2009 World Series.
Uribe’s smile should shine like Rudolph’s red nose wherever he goes. The Cards would be smart to give the misfit a new home in St. Louis.