The Honeymoon is Over

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

With a full month of play finished, I think it's time we took a look at the everyday lineup and identified a few of the weak links. Though Dan Uggla is off to a somewhat slow start, batting .202 and OPSing .696 (OPS+ 82), the two weakest spots in the order are Cameron Maybin and Emilio Bonifacio. Their lines so far this season:

Bonifacio 112
17 30 6 7 28 .268 .311 .330 .641 69
Maybin 77
9 16 3 7 29 .208 .282 .325 .607 59

Maybin's numbers are worse, but considering his spot in the order (usually eighth) and the fact that he is a franchise player, I am comfortable with keeping him in the everyday lineup a bit longer and letting him adjust to major league pitching (he had less than 100 career PAs heading into this season).

Bonifacio's situation is more interesting. As much as I would not like to let Ken Rosenthal win this argument, a .311 OBP is simply unacceptable in the leadoff spot. Combined with his 28 strikeouts, Bonifacio's production has been abysmal. Simply put, if he stays in the leadoff spot and continues at his current pace, Hanley Ramirez will not have enough RBI opportunities.

Joe Frisaro reported today that Larry Beinfest is preaching patience with Maybin and Bonifacio:
In the eyes of the organization, both have terrific upside, and that's why the team is patient.

"With the young guys, they all have different time tables," Beinfest said. "It's all about making the adjustments, learning the pitchers, those types of things. It happens differently for different guys.

"It's hard to say this guy has this many at-bats, and we know for sure about him. It's not just that. You have to look at the mental aspect of the player. Is he up or down? Is he handling it? Is he making the adjustments."

Because both are handling the adversity, the team is sticking with them.

"Both of them. They're confident in their abilities, and they're working through," Beinfest said.

I have no problem with Beinfest giving a vote of confidence to the media (you certainly don't want him trashing his own players and giving them inferiority complexes). However, at some point, if either of these two does not improve their offensive production, the team must consider benching one or both of them. And they certainly have a lot of options on the table.

Alfredo Amezega is not an everyday player by any stretch, but he can play centerfield and third base, which allows him the opportunity to replace either Bonifacio or Maybin in the lineup. However, I think Maybin's numbers will pick up relatively soon as he adjusts to Major League pitching. With Bonifacio, the Marlins could move Jorge Cantu back to third base and promote either Gaby Sanchez or Logan Morrison to play first base. This has a couple of drawbacks: Cantu's defense is very suspect at third base, and if Morrison and Sanchez were sent to the minors after spring training, then it is clear the team does not think either are prepared to start yet. We shall see if the team's assessment of these two changes if Bonifacio continues to struggle.


David May 6, 2009 at 11:24 AM  

Joel Frisaro brings up an interesting point this morning: The Marlins could call up Chris Coghlan to play third if Emilio continues to struggle.

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