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Marlins' 1B candidates fighting for job

3/15/2010

Is there anything more entertaining -- and at the same time, sort of silly -- than a position battle in March? Submitted for your approval, Miami's First Basemen of the Future:

    If slumping Logan Morrison doesn't pick up his performance at the plate, he'll come out on the short end in his battle with Gaby Sanchez for the starting job at first base.

    Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez -- quick to note that he hasn't given one look at either player's Grapefruit League numbers -- said the decision won't be difficult if one player holds a distinct statistical edge over the other at the end of spring training.

    "I've always said I want both of them to hit .390," Gonzalez said. "But, obviously, if one's hitting .390 and the other's hitting .057 -- competition is competition. If one guy's hitting .380 and the other guy hits .060, we can't say, `Wait a second, the other guy makes the team.' "

    --snip--

    "A lot can happen," Gonzalez said of the Morrison/Sanchez competition at first. "The only thing that separates them for me is one is left-handed [Morrison] and other is right-handed [Sanchez]. They're that close. If we start breaking them down, it's splitting hairs."

Just for fun, let's split a few hairs anyway.

Sanchez is 26; Morrison's just 22.

Sanchez was a fourth-round draft pick out of the University of Miami; Morrison was a 22-round pick out of high school.

Last year, Sanchez hurt his knee in the spring, then spent a few months in Triple-A before coming up in August and serving as a pinch-hitter for the big club; Morrison hasn't played above Double-A yet.

About all they have in common -- aside from rooming together for a couple of weeks in 2006 -- is that both play first base and both have real affinities for the strike zone. Sanchez has walked as many times as he's struck out, and Morrison posted a .411 OBP in the Southern League last year.

If one of them has to win, Sanchez seems like the obvious choice. Considering his age, right now he's almost as good as he's ever going to be, and the Marlins should take advantage of his cheap talent.

Of course, in the old days -- and I know I'm starting to obsess about this -- a manager would have looked at these two guys and pondered a platoon. If not now, then later this season when Morrison (presumably) proves his mettle in New Orleans. But, you know ... gotta carry a dozen pitchers!