When the Miami Marlins signed Garrett Jones recently there was speculation that the team would employ a strict platoon giving Jones most of his at-bats against right-handed pitchers only due to the great disparity in his statistics between opposing righties and lefties. However, comments from Jones himself after the signing alluded to the fact that the Marlins had promised him regular playing time against all pitchers. If the Marlins plan to succeed in 2014, they may want to re-think those plans.
When you look at Jones’ career numbers against only right-handed pitchers, his contract with Miami seems like a bargain. The career slash-line vs. those pitchers is .271/.337/.489 while against southpaws it is .193/.234/.344. It doesn’t take much thought to see that is a tremendous difference that a team needs to consider when signing Jones. It is not in the best interest of Jones or the team to have him play against left-handed pitchers regularly. What the team could do is similar to how the Pittsburgh Pirates utilized Jones in 2013 where he sits on days that a lefty toes the slab. To do this, however, the Marlins would need to bring on board a right-handed first base option or convert someone already on the roster into the role.
Justin Ruggiano looked like a candidate for Jones’ platoon partner, but he has since been dealt to the Chicago Cubs so the Marlins will need to look elsewhere. They could give the role to a guy like Ed Lucas, but that’s probably not a good solution for the team as Lucas is more suited for a utility type role. The team could try and sign Michael Young, but he could prove to be too costly for a part time role. Young may opt for a contract elsewhere especially due to recent rumors of the Los Angeles Dodgers considering him for their starting third baseman job. Jeff Baker could be another possibility as he has destroyed left-handed pitching in his career while struggling mightily against right-handers. He’s almost the exact opposite of Jones so a platoon between the two could be a perfect solution. One other name to keep an eye on is Mark Canha, who played in AA for the Marlins in 2013 as he is right-handed and a 1B. Canha could win the role with a solid few weeks in Spring Training.
Whatever the Marlins do, they must do something because if Jones sees at-bats on a regular basis, regardless of who is pitching, the team will regret the decision. It will cost them games and could ultimately keep the Marlins from progressing into a contending team.