23 March 2011
Going into this spring the Marlins only seemed to have one big question, which was is Matt Dominguez going to be the starting third baseman? If the answer was going to be no then it was assumed that Wes Helms and Greg Dobbs would platoon at 3rd base. The only other questions on the Marlins line up was who would be on the bench and who would be the last guy in the bullpen; Burke Badenhop or Brian Sanches. But as the spring has gone one none of these questions have seemed to have been answered, and with only a week left in spring training the Marlins seem to have more questions now than they did at the start of the spring. Here are some of the questions that need to be answered within the next week.
1. Who will start at 3rd base? It is still possible that Matt Dominguez could win the starting job, after all he was one of the best hitters in the lineup earlier this spring. However, if Dominguez can't get out of his slump and his average can't get over .200 then he should start the year in the minors, and if that happens then the Marlins have several options to consider. Option one is that the Marlins stick to the original plan and just platoon Greg Dobbs and Wes Helms at third. Personally this is the option I would go with. Dobbs has had a great spring and him are both solid and reliable veterans. While they may not excel and be all-stars at the position at the potion, they should be able to do a good enough to keep the Marlins afloat. Option 2 is the Marlins move Omar Infante over to 3rd and have Emilio Bonifacio play 2nd base for the team (or Ozzie Martinez could also play here as well). Edwin Rodriguez has loved the way that Emilo has played this spring and was already on playing him a lot when giving regular starters a day off. While moving Infante to 3rd maybe a smart move, as he is a better 3rd baseman than 2nd baseman, but like most Marlins fan I still remember Emilio's struggles when he was the everyday for the Marlins a few years. Option 3 is that the Marlins go out and get another 3rd baseman. ESPN.com reports that the Marlins may be open to going somewhere outside the team to get a new 3rd baseman, but that would also mean the Marlins would have to trade for someone at this point (and it will not come cheap at this point in the season), unless the Marlins go for a prospect that could not make a Major League roster somewhere else and is to good to go back down to the minors. It should also be noted that the Marlins had a chance to bring in veteran 3B Eric Chavez (signed with the Yankees) and 2B Luis Castillo (signed with Phillies) and passed on both players.
2. Will Chirs Coghlan be in centerfield on opening day and will it work? The Marlins decided to take a risk this year and put (natural 2nd baseman) Chris Coghlan into centerfield, well its three weeks into spring training and he has yet to play that position for the Marlins. While most believe that Coghlan has both the speed and arm strength to play the position, but their is still a more to the position to than that. The centerfielder job is to also instruct the other outfielder and he is suppose to be the leader out there, but Coghlan, Stanton, and Morrison have yet to play together in the field together. These guys need to be able to build up their chemistry so that they do not have communication errors in the field, and it looks like they will need to build that chemistry during the regular season. Chris Coghlan has only played in part of 8 games this spring, but most of that has been as a DH. The Marlins have a few options for centerfield if Coghlan is not ready in Emilio Bonifacio and Scott Cousins, but the player who will get the most time is Dewayne Wise, who has had a good spring and has the best glove of the three. At one point it was up in the air if the Marlins would even keep Wise on their bench as a fourth outfielder because of the play and versatility of Greg Dobbs and Emilio Bonifacio, but with Coghlan playing so little this spring and Dominguez struggling it looks as though the Marlins will keep Dewayne Wise out of necessity.
3. What are the Marlins going to do with their lineup and Mike Stanton? After getting hurt in the first spring game of the year against the University of Miami, it looks as though Mike Stanton should return to the Marlins outfield by Friday. But even with the return of Stanton, it is still unclear where he will hit in the Marlins batting order at the start of the year. The original plan for the Marlins batting order was to be 1.Coghlan 2.Infante 3.Ramierez 4.Stanton 5.Sanchez 6.Morrison 7.Buck 8.Dominguez 9.pitcher, but with Coghlan and Stanton both being hurt this spring and not getting a ton of appearances at the plate the Marlins may need to reshuffle the lineup. Most likely if Coghlan is in the lineup Stanton could move down to 6th in the order, but if Coghlan can't go Stanton may bat 5th with Infante moving up to 1st and Morrison up to 2nd.
4. Who will be the backup catcher? With John Baker out until this summer at the earliest their is an ongoing competition for the backup catcher spot between Brett Hayes and Brad Davis. Most likely Hayes will get the spot as he has more experience and is hitting .100 points higher this spring, but Brad Davis does have more of an upside and neither one has really separated themselves this spring.
5. What will be the order of the Marlins rotation? This maybe the least important question that the Marlins have to answer. Truth be told with the exception of the playoffs and the last month of the season, the order of a teams rotation really does not make that much of a difference. What we do know is that Josh Johnson will be the #1 and Chris Volstad will be the #5. The 3-5 order was orignally expected to be Ricky Nolasco, Javier Volstad and then Anibal Sanchez, but if you go based on their performances this spring the order should be Javier Vazquez, Anibal Sanchez and then Ricky Nolasco. But once again this really does not matter.
6. Who is going to fill out roster spots 15 thru 25? We all know that Chris Coghlan, Mike Stanton, Logan Morrison, Gaby Sanchez, Omar Infante, Hanley Ramirez, Josh Johnson, Javier Vazquez, Anibal Sanchez, Ricky Nolasco, Chris Volstad, Leo Nunez, Clay Hensley, and John Buck will make the team, but who will be the others to fill out the roster? You know that one of the roster spots will go to the backup catcher and the third baseman (which for argument sake we will say it will be Matt Dominguez), but that will still leave 9 roster spots open for competition. It is almost positive that Emilio Bonifacio, Wes Helms, and Greg Dobbs will all be on the bench and Ryan Webb, Edward Mujica, and Michael Dunn will all be in the bullpen. That leaves 3 open roster spots to be deciced between Dewayne Wise, Ozzie Martinez, Randy Choate, Brian Sanches, Burke Badenhop, and possibly another player or two I have not mentioned or who could be cut from another team in the next few days. A lot could go into who gets the final roster spots between whether or not Dominguez wins the job at third, the health of Coghlan and Stanton, do the Marlins want to carry and extra bullpen pitcher or bench player, do the Marlins want to carry a fourth outfielder or will they use Dobbs and Bonifacio in the outfield to give players a day off, and what players are cut by teams in the day leading up to opening day.
All these questions, both big and small, need to be answered before opening day against the Mets on April 1st. While everything maybe alright and work out for the Marlins, with each passing day the Marlins do not answer some of these question the optimism many Marlins fans had for this season coming into spring turns more and more into concern.
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