The Bleacher Report Report, Vol. II

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Bleacher Report Report is a new feature at Marlins Diehards. Dave and I will scan the vast array of quality commentary on the Marlins section of Bleacher Report and submit them to you, with our thoughts interspersed FJM-style.

For the second edition of TBRR we look at 2011 Fantasy Baseball: Florida Marlins Emilio Bonifacio = Steals and Eligibility. Now I don't really get much into fantasy baseball anymore, but it still revolves around actual baseball and there are a number of things in this piece that need addressing. Plus it's about Emilio Bonifacio, who we can't get enough of here at MDH. Let's begin.

At first glance, Emilio Bonifacio appears to have no position, and therefore no opportunity for regular at bats.
Yes. We very much like it that way.
As we look deeper at the Florida Marlins lineup for 2011, there are opportunities lurking just under the surface.
Noooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!! #facepalm
I see the versatile speedster getting almost 500 at bats this season, and that will translate into a real contributor either drafted as part of your taxi squad or picked up in the first week or two of your season as drafted players are put on the DL or are sent down to the minors.
500 is a LOT of at bats. In 2009 he reached that level for all the wrong reasons. The team had flaws and started the season literally with no first-baseman, forcing Jorge Cantu to vacate his usual third-base spot. Enter Emilio. Also, a better utility man, Alfredo Amezaga, was hurt for most of the season. When you OPS just barely over .600, you shouldn't receive any playing time. Last year saw a just reduction down to around 200 ABs.
Matt Dominguez has a great glove at 3B but he might still be too raw at the plate. If he is hitting .205 and being overmatched at the plate by the end of April, the Marlins will have no choice but to send him back down to the minors to work on his hitting. This would either put Bonifacio at 3B or move Infante to 3B, thereby opening up 2B for him.
Dominguez either getting sent down early or not making the club at all seems a probability at this point, so no gripes there. But, Bonifacio certainly won't get all the playing time at 2B or 3B. Most likely, it would be a super-platoon between veteran Wes Helms, Donnie Murphy, and Bonifacio. Perhaps Ozzie Martinez, who had a terrific September last year, will also play some.

There's also a possibility that a Dominguez stint in the minors wouldn't last too long. Last year Matt struggled in the first half of the year but turned a corner and had a great second half. A similar trajectory this year would mean he'd be back with the team well before September call-ups.
During inter-league play, manager Edwin Rodriguez will look to get Gaby Sanchez's glove off the field. Watching the young first baseman stab at throws from the left side of the infield should inspire Marlin fans to vote for the DH. Those interleague games will also open up playing time for Bonifacio.
First of all, there will only be nine Marlins games played under American League rules, so that wouldn't be much of an increase in playing time for Emilio even if he gets the playing time that would be opened up. More importantly, Gaby's glove will remain on the field, just like it did in all nine AL-rules interleague games last year. At first glance he may not look the best defender but a look at the numbers proves otherwise. Gaby is middle of the pack. He'll make some errors (not as many as Ryan Howard or Prince Fielder), but he has good range and definitely holds his own. Besides, it's not like the team has a defensive wizard to plug in at first base.
I believe, presented with playing opportunity, Bonifacio, still only 25 years old, will end up hitting around .275-.280 with 80 runs scored and 35-40 stolen bases. His HR and RBI production will be limited, but that can also be said of Juan Pierre and Michael Bourn, players who are being drafted early in many leagues.
Emilio has never reached any of those statistical milestones, even in 2009. Even if he magically got to that 500 AB total and had a decent improvement (considering he is young and possibly still learning, though improved plate discipline is not easily acquired) those numbers are probably out of reach. Bonifacio has terrible plate discipline and strikes out a lot (career K-rate of 20%). This means he doesn't get on base, which is the prerequisite for stealing bases and scoring runs. The reason Pierre and Bourn are drafted early are because they are starters and statistically better across the board than Bonifacio (specifically in the runs and stolen bases category the writer mentions).

So there we have it. Surely Manager Edwin Rodriguez couldn't justify regular playing time for Emilio and will relegate him to bench duties, if at all.
Rodriguez said this morning that he'd rather see Emilio Bonifacio in the lineup every day than playing the utility role he's penciled in for but acknowledges that may not be possible.

"I would like to put him in the lineup on an everyday basis, somewhere, if it comes to that," Rodriguez said. "His energy, what he brings to the game. … I like the lineup when he's in the lineup.

Rodriguez may get his wish if third baseman Matt Dominguez does not make the team or if Coghlan is not healthy. Otherwise … "At some point in the season when everybody starts getting a day off, he's going to start getting more playing time."

Rodriguez says Bonifacio is above average defensively at second base and an average third baseman and outfielder.
The Diehards' response?


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