Two Steps Closer to the Opening Day Lineup

Marlins fans breathed a sigh of relief this week over two significant events in Miami’s organization. Most importantly, Hanley Ramirez accepted his move to third base, disproving all the rumors that he would not be happy with the switch. Secondly, but also important, the Marlins signed free agent Greg Dobbs, who played for Florida in 2011.

Ever since Miami expressed interest in signing Jose Reyes, or another shortstop for that matter, it became apparent that Hanley Ramirez, an All-Star shortstop, might need to switch to third base for the lineup to work. And in the weeks following the Jose Reyes signing, rumors spread that Hanley was not happy moving to third. Rumors went as far as to say that Hanley requested a trade from Miami, but all that was put to rest when Ramirez himself spoke to the Associated Press this week:

“I’ve talked with Guillen…with the position change…if it’s at third, fine”

Whether or not Hanley is excited about the switch, at least he isn’t demanding a trade from the Marlins. As long as Ramirez is healthy for Opening Day, he and Jose Reyes round out an All-Star infield with Omar Infante and Gaby Sanchez, built for success with no apparent uncertainties.

That leaves the outfield to be decided. With Logan Morrison currently in left, and Stanton in right, centerfield is the only position yet to be determined for the Fish. That’s where Greg Dobbs comes in.

Dobbs is a lifetime corner infielder/utility/pinch-hitter who has found success with every team he has been a part of. He was an integral part of the Marlins lineup last season, being forced to start  due to all the team’s injuries. Miami signed Dobbs to a two-year, $3 million deal on Tuesday. Since Dobbs’ infield/pinch-hit role has now been taken care of, Emilio Bonifacio could start in centerfield, or go back to his super utility role he has possessed for most of his major league career. Bonifacio might be the most valuable utility player in the league, given his speed and awareness. I would really like to see him in that dynamic position with periodical starts. But all this means the Marlins would still need a centerfielder.

Miami has so many options for that position in center, and they don’t need to decide right away. If Aaron Rowand emerges in Spring Training as a clear starter, then let it be done. If Chris Coghlan finds his 2009 form, so be it. A Spring Training trade is always an option as well. Whatever the case may be, the Marlins will have a centerfielder come opening day, and an exponentially impressive lineup around him.

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