MIAMI, FL - APRIL 28: Gaby Sanchez #15 of the Miami Marlins reacts after striking out during a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Marlins Park on April 28, 2012 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
It seems the consistent struggles from the beginning of the season to now have prompted the Miami Marlins to make a move on first baseman Gaby Sanchez. The team is optioning him to Triple-A to see if he cannot better recover from his season-long slump in 2012.
"We just felt like we needed to send [Sanchez] down to get him going," Marlins general manager Michael Hill said. "He's not a .190 hitter. We do not think he's a .190 hitter. We think he's better than he's showing here. He's pressing.
"We want to take some of the pressure off of him, and get him down in Triple-A and try to get him right."
This is an understandable move in its entirety. Sanchez is hitting just .197/.244/.295 (.238 wOBA) thus far this season. Among qualified players before today's game, Sanchez's line was only better than eight other major leaguers in baseball. In all of 2012, he had been struggling, and it was not the type of struggle that also came with decent peripheral performance. Despite pretty similar contact and swing rates compared to his career numbers, he has struck out more and walked less this season, likely owing to an increase in foul balls this season. Either way, his contact was just not solid thus far this season, and the Marlins are hoping Triple-A time will sort him out.In Sanchez's place on the roster, the Marlins are expected to bring up Chris Coghlan, who has hit just .277/.314/.369 in 70 Triple-A PA this season. The Fish are then likely to decide whether to replace Sanchez with Logan Morrison, Greg Dobbs, or Austin Kearns at first base in the short run. Of the three options, do not be surprised if Morrison ends up at first base more often than not, if only because it will allow the team to play Coghlan in center field and foolishly play either Kearns or Bryan Petersen in left field, despite the fact that Petersen is a superior center fielder to Coghlan. At this point, I would not surprised if the Fish did anything they could to salvage Coghlan, even if it seems his struggles are very real. Nevertheless, expect Greg Dobbs to be the primary starter at first base.
How long could this demotion go on? Usually, when the Marlins demote a player to "fix" problems that he has from an early start, it is not a quick promotion back to the big leagues. If you will recall, Cameron Maybin was sent down on May 10 after 95 PA in 2009 and did not return until September. In 2010, the Fish had more patience and held him until June 6 (201 PA) before returning him to the majors only on August 24. Maybin did perform well in the minors (.387 and .409 wOBA in 2009 and 2010 respectively), so it was not a matter of performance. Then again, Ricky Nolasco spent just two starts in 2009 before he returned to the majors, though he seemed much closer to being a "fixed" player than Maybin did. Sanchez is not being viewed as a prospect as Maybin likely was seen, so expect a much shorter stint, especially if he begins raking in the minors. I would not be surprised if he was only there for two weeks.