|Al Bello/Getty Images|
|Marlins third baseman Emilio Bonifacio is struggling this season.|
- ... for all the buzz about Gaby Sanchez moving from first to third at Triple-A New Orleans, it's looking less and less likely Bonifacio is going anywhere. Are the overall numbers still disappointing? Yes. Even aftera 1-for-3 performance with a triple and sacrifice fly that knocked in the deciding run in the eighth, Bonifacio's OPS remains .601. His on-base percentage (.298) has been south of .300 since May 22. He's been error-prone at third, a position he hadn't played before this spring.
Yet for all that, I thought manager Fredi Gonzalez had a telling quote about him after the game: "Boni, even through all the stuff he's been going through, at the beginning of the year and hitting .900 and people expecting him to hit .970, he comes every day to work and he's getting better. He's got a nice little hitting streak going. He's hitting a little over .300 from the right side ... He's doing fine. He's one of those guys you characterize as a winner because he'll find something to do during the course of a game to help you win a ballgame."
Would the Marlins be a better team with Mark DeRosa starting at third every day? Probably, but this notion that the only reason Bonifacio is still here is so the Marlins can justify the trade that sent Scott Olsen and Josh Willingham to the Nationals is absurd. If that was the case, why isn't Cameron Maybin here to justify the Miguel Cabrera trade? Come on.
I know Bonifacio's fan base has dwindled to next to nothing since his flashy first week, but if I were a Marlin fan I'd get used to him being in lineup in some capacity. It doesn't look like he's going anywhere.
Regarding Fredi Gonzalez, either he really believes that claptrap he's spouting or he's just saying something nice because he has to. If it's the latter, I feel sorry for Marlins fans.
Regarding Gaby Sanchez, I'm not sure why his switch to third base isn't considered more newsworthy. The Marlins moved him a few weeks ago, and he's now got nearly as many games at third base as first. This, after he was voted the best defensive first baseman in the Southern League last year; the Marlins wouldn't have moved him back to third -- where he played quite a bit early in his pro career, and then again last season -- if they didn't think that position might be in his immediate future (and it's not like they have a powerhouse first baseman ahead of him).
Just one problem: Sanchez has been moved off third base twice in his pro career already, simply because he wasn't much good at it; in 126 games there, he's got a .917 fielding percentage, and that just won't play in the majors. So this is probably his last shot. If he doesn't start making the plays, he'll go back to first base for good. And the early returns are not good: four errors in 19 games.
If Sanchez can't play third base, can someone else? Sure. Right now the Marlins often have three second basemen in the lineup: Bonifacio (at third), Dan Uggla (at second) and rookie Chris Coghlan (in left field).
Coghlan hits like a second baseman, Uggla hits like a third baseman, and Bonifacio hits like a surprise call-up from Class AA.
Coghlan used to play third base, in the minors. Uggla's been playing second base like a third baseman for years. Bonifacio's glovework (which is shoddy) is irrelevant because you could justify playing him regularly only if he were a Gold Glove shortstop (which he is not).
Depending on how you measure such things, the Marlins have one, two, or three players who are capable of assuming Bonifacio's duties, and the only catch is that they might have to find a new left fielder. Which -- as I noted just a few days ago -- shouldn't be all that hard, considering that top prospect Cameron Maybin has a .410 on-base percentage with New Orleans this season.
And yes, it was just a few days ago. Sue me. In Blogging for Idiots, right there on Page 37, it says to keep hammering the same point until the suits do what you've told them to do. It also says on Page 37 that when that happens, you get to take credit. So, you can understand my fixation on this matter.(H/T: BTF's Newsstand)