The Florida Marlins are trying to get back to their roots of pitching and defense. The Fish have had their fill of homerun hitting infielders that can’t catch. Now they’re hoping that the additions of Omar Infante and Matt Dominguez will be the cure for a team that has averaged 122 errors since 2006. Still the defensive ability of the young outfield remains a big question mark for 2011. When you look at Logan Morrison, Mike Stanton and Chris Coghlan the biggest similarity of the trio is their inexperience. Stanton surprised people with his defense last season. The young slugger’s athleticism allowed him to cover ground, while displaying a very strong arm. Morrison, like Coghlan in 2009 is being thrown in left field because, honestly there’s nowhere else to put his stellar bat. Yet many people feel that Coghlan, a natural infielder, is the biggest liability of them all.
Before you write off Coghlan, take this into account. In the span of just 213 career games, he turned himself into an above average left fielder. You can scoff at that notion, because it’s where teams will typically stash their weakest defender, but Sun Life Stadium is no simple task. Players have the burden of a high wall with awkward bounces, something Coghlan mastered before his injury last June. In 2010 Coghlan had 7 assists in just 90 games. That was tied for 5th and was amongst left fielders like Josh Hamilton and Carl Crawford. Not bad company for a natural 2nd baseman. The other challenge in the stadium formally known as (too many to list), is picking up the baseball in the lights. The fixtures at Sun Life are mounted lower than normal parks, because they are for football games. This makes playing left field in Miami much tougher than other ball parks, yet Coghlan didn’t seem to let it affect him.
Centerfield is not all about speed, just look at Cameron Maybin. The kid is faster than grease lightning but many times looked lost going after the baseball. Cody Ross is slower than Maybin, but what makes him such an affective centerfielder, is his keen sense to read the ball off the bat and take a great route to it. Match Ross and Coghlan in a foot race, you might have a dead heat. Chris has the physical tools to be a good centerfielder and he’s shown the ability to read the ball well in left. There surely will be an adjustment period, but it should be a fairly smooth transition for Coghlan, while roaming the Bermuda Triangle this year. If it doesn’t pan out, there’s always Dewayne Wise.
About the Author
Written by Brendan Tobin
Life long Marlins fan who's had the privilege of covering the team the last 2 seasons for Sports Talk 790 The Ticket in Miami, FL.