As we continue with our 2014 season preview, we move to the keystone position, second base. Last year the Marlins employed the services of Donovan Solano and Derek Dietrich at second base, and the results were certainly less than desired. As a result, Miami went to the free agent market and signed slick-fielding Rafael Furcal.
Furcal, a 13 year veteran, will make the position switch to the other side of second base in 2014. The move isn’t unprecedented for Furcal, he has played 36 career games at second base. Rafael is coming off of a season lost to Tommy John surgery, and Miami is hoping that the move to second base will be less stress on his arm.
Furcal will certainly be an upgrade from what the Marlins experienced last year, but the true question is for how long? Furcal has played in 100 games in a season only once since 2009. If Furcal can stay healthy, he can provide Miami with speed and a player that can get on base at the top of the lineup, something the Marlins had major problems with last year.
I believe that Furcal will be slotted at the top of the lineup. If Furcal can play an entire season, I am betting he can post a OBP around .335. He is still a threat to steal double-digit bases. The most important thing that Furcal will bring is his winning pedigree. Having been on numerous playoff teams, including the National League Champion St. Louis Cardinals last year, he will be used to teach the younger players how to compete night in and night out. With his help, Miami may learn what it takes to win close games.
If Furcal is injured, look for Donovan Solano to step in to his place. Solano will need to show that he belongs at this level. Solano is getting dangerously close to being labeled a “utility” guy. If he doesn’t pick up his play, he will find starting games harder and harder to come by. Ideally Solano should be a “spark plug” guy. He should provide you with a .280 AVG to go along with .340 OBP, steal a handful of bases, and play excellent defense. Solano did a good job of hitting behind the runners last year, but his overall game needs improving. I am hopeful that he will be able to learn from Furcal, and will progress instead of regress.
What do you think about the second base position for the Marlins? Do you think Furcal can stay healthy? Let us know in the comments below, and Go Fish!