Another week in Joe Frisaro's Marlins mailbag

I know, two mailbag articles in one week? I answered some of the Florida Marlins fans’ questions sent over to MLB.com beat writer Joe Frisaro earlier this week, but those were initially published last week. This week’s mailbag just came out, and I think it’s worth the objective look with the occasional snark. On with the questions!

What do the Marlins plan on doing after the 2011 season at second base? Will they likely sign Omar Infante or will they look at the free-agent market?
— Alex F., Cape Coral, Fla.

You know, this is a really interesting question. The answer to whether Omar Infante can stand as the short-term answer for the Marlins in the infield will depend on his 2011 season. If he performs as he did for three partial seasons with the Atlanta Braves, the Marlins just may chance an extension akin to something Placido Polanco would sign. If Infante can pull off something close to a .300/.350/.400 slash line with average defense, he would be around a league average player, which is a pretty valuable asset.

Keep in mind Infante isn’t terribly old at 29 years old, and he could still have a few more solid years at this level. The question is how well he will age, as any decline in his contact skills will bring a pretty quick downfall to his overall game; Infante isn’t loaded with secondary, repeatable skills like patience (career 6.0% BB%) or power (career .121 ISO). If he has a solid 2011 like the seasons he posted in Atlanta, a two-year deal to act as a placeholder at the position wouldn’t be out of line at a price around $5-6M a year.

Why don’t the Marlins sign an established center fielder or third baseman and stop relying on their prospects?
— Luis H., Miami

You know, Luis H. from Miami, I think you’re on to something here.

The truth of the matter is that the Marlins are being hard-headed in insisting that Chris Coghlan move to center field. By almost every account, he was at best an average left fielder, and that sort of defense just won’t play well in center field. Coghlan definitely doesn’t have the bat to make up for some of that poor defense. Here’s what FanGraphs’ Dave Cameron said in a recent FG chat about how many runs Coghlan will cost the Marlins in center this season:

Five – it will only take them a few weeks to realize the disaster that the current plan is and change course.

I have a strong feeling that when the fans don’t like the move, and the saber-folks don’t like the move, that the organization is probably a bit off on the decision. Combine the defensive struggles of Coghlan with the offensive struggles Matt Dominguez will go through if he indeed wins the job and the Marlins are throwing away plenty of runs here.

As for the reliance on prospects, here’s how Joe Frisaro responded:

Besides, the Marlins have enjoyed success in the past promoting their own prospects. Josh Johnson, a fourth-rounder in 2002, turned out fine. Coghlan, Gaby Sanchez, Logan Morrison and Mike Stanton all are homegrown and former Florida Draft picks.

But what Joe doesn’t mention is that in the past, the Marlins have had deeper minor league systems, whereas now the team is universally considered a bottom-five organization because of the number of players it’s had to promote over the last three years.

Since the Marlins need a lefty bat off the bench, I see Willie Harris being a nice fit. He has shown flashes of being a 20-20 guy with regular time, and he is versatile defensively. He is affordable, and he is familiar with the National League East.
— Tony J., Miami

Willie Harris is a fine player, but what is the 20-20 comment doing there? Unless the first “20” means “20 doubles,” I don’t see it; Harris has 37 career home runs in over 2000 PA. His power has improved since his early days, but it’s still not 20-HR power. Not a bad idea at all though, and it’s certainly better than acquiring Dewayne Wise. Oops.

How does the signing of John Buck affect the future of catching prospect Kyle Skipworth?
— Alex L., Parkland, Fla.

Kyle Skipworth won’t be ready for another three years at least. He just had his first acceptable season at the plate, and he still needs to improve behind the dish. John Buck won’t be getting in anyone’s way once Skipworth is ready (if he’s ever ready).

Why didn’t the Marlins offer a Minor League contract to Jeremy Hermida? We are looking for a lefty bat off the bench. Couldn’t Hermida could have filled that role?
— Eduardo B., Coconut Creek, Fla.

I’m just going to say no. I don’t want any part of Jeremy Hermida anymore.

Tags: Chris Coghlan Jeremy Hermida John Buck Kyle Skipworth Miami Marlins Omar Infante

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