Wednesday, February 23, 2011
The Marlins pretty much held their own at the plate in 2010. They were around the league average in most major categories (7th in the NL in runs scored) but they still left a bit to be desired. The major offseason personnel move showed what the Marlins are looking for in 2011: less homers, better station-to-station baseball. Dan Uggla was shipped to a division rival for Omar Infante. Gone are 30 HR, but in hopefully are more men on base and manufacturing runs (which will help Edwin win all those close game he lusts after!). The club has also, stop if you've heard this one, reinforced the importance of defense. Perry Hill (no relation unfortunately) is back as infield coach. Outfield is a different story, but we'll touch on that. Let's just get to the burning questions.
Can Matt Dominguez win the 3B job?
A simple peek at his career minor league numbers would tell us he's not ready to hit major league pitching. However, if you just look at last year, he struggled in the first half but pretty much raked in the second half in the Southern League (a pitchers league). Perhaps he turned a corner? Either way, it looks like the Marlins really want him to make the club and with his stellar defense he'd have to tank for the Marlins to resort to starting Emilio Bonifacio. I hope.
What should we expect in year two for Gaby/LoMo/Stanton?
Last year the team got big contributions from all three of these rookies. But as we saw with Chris Coghlan, year two as a hitter can be a bit humbling. A key to the season is if these three can match or exceed their 2010 production or do they suffer a sophomore slump like Cogs. Can Mike Stanton hit 40+ homers and raise his batting average? Can Logan Morrison pick up where he left off (20 doubles and 7 triples in just 297 plate appearances)?
Can Chris Coghlan actually play centerfield?
Honestly, I could probably write 500 words in this section but I'll try to keep it short. I'm a big skeptic, but I also didn't think he should play left field and that worked out alright. Problem is, the outfield is vast at Sun Life Stadium and it's not like he's playing with two great corner outfielders. Stanton is good in right, but LoMo is also a new and converted outfielder patrolling left. I guess the idea is to have him be like a Cody Ross, who wasn't the fastest but new how to get good jumps and read the ball off the bat. I also doubt Coghlan has an arm worthy of centerfield, but then again, neither did Juan Pierre. Only time will tell.
I couldn't really think of an appropriate question, but he belongs in the preview. The Marlins made a splash by their standards in signing him as a free agent this winter. Last year the team got pretty much nothing from the catching platoon (.226 BA, .628 OPS, 9 HR). Prospect Kyle Skipworth is a couple years away, at least, so the team obviously had a need. Buck had a career year last year (.280 BA, 20 HR) and made the all-star game. The front office will hope he is finally reaching his potential and can sustain those type of numbers again.
As for the bench, it will probably look pretty familiar. Uncle Wes is back. The aforementioned Bonifacio is still around. John Baker is still recovering from elbow surgery but he'll be the backup catcher when he's available. There has been talk of him making opening day solely as a lefty bat off the bench, but I'd be surprised by that. Brett Hayes will presumably fill in at backup catcher in the meantime.
That leaves two spots. One will be an outfielder. Scott Cousins is listed on the team's depth chart as the primary backup for all three outfield spots, so you'd think it would be him. The other would probably be Donnie Murphy, who could fill in at third if Dominguez struggles. Other non-roster invitees that may have a shot with a strong spring: DeWayne Wise, Ruben Gotay, Greg Dobbs.
Useless Opening Day Lineup Projection!
- Infante, 2B
- Coghlan, CF
- Ramirez, SS
- Stanton, RF
- Morrison, LF
- Sanchez, 1B
- Buck, C
- Dominguez, 3B
- Johnson, P
Bench: Hayes, (C), Helms (1B, 3B), Cousins (OF), Bonifacio (OF), Murphy (IF)