July 4, 2012; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Miami Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez (15) is greeted by third base coach Joe Espada after hitting a home run in the ninth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. Sanchez was optioned to Triple-A after the game. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-US PRESSWIRE
In order to make room for the arrival of the newly acquired first baseman Carlos Lee, Gaby Sanchez has once again been optioned to Triple-A New Orleans.
Sanchez has not done any better since his return to the majors on June 10. He left the team batting .198/.244/.302, and now he is leaving the team again after hitting .190/.230/.259 during that stretch prior to today's two-for-four performance. What is most ironic about this move is that Sanchez just finished a good game at the plate that included a game-tying solo home run that helped push the Marlins-Brewers game into extras.
When Ozzie Guillen was asked post-game about Sanchez's second demotion of the season, Guillen held nothing back.
Ozzie on Gaby Sanchez being optioned to NOLA; "he should blame himself. We gave him plenty of opportunities "— joe capozzi (@joecapMARLINS) July 5, 2012
Gee Ozzie, tell us how you really feel.
But Guillen has a point. Sanchez has gotten 196 PA in the majors and a stint in the minors to try and recollect himself. If this was a typical "balls are not falling" type of slump, I would be more lenient. But Sanchez has struck out more often, walked fewer times, and his popup rate is through the roof. He has swung and missed at more pitches in the zone this season as well, leading perhaps to more of his strikeouts. When you are making that kind of weak contact and your peripherals are down, you have to suspect something in his swing is off the mark.The Marlins were fairly likely to demote Sanchez in the coming weeks anyway, as Emilio Bonifacio's imminent return would have necessitated a move. When Bonifacio returned, a possible move would have been to option Sanchez to get more playing time, shift Justin Ruggiano to left field, and move Logan Morrison back to first base. This would have been an amiable move given Ruggiano's hot bat and Morrison's terrible fielding in the outfield.
Now the move is being done to accomodate Lee, who should get the bulk of the starts at first base. We mentioned earlier that Lee does not project as much better than Sanchez right now, but until Sanchez sees some positive results, it is difficult to justify continuing to run him out there. That being said, Lee is not a good hitter and certainly is not one for first base, so the Marlins may not even be gaining that much in such a move.
Nevertheless, this is Sanchez's opportunity to impress again in Triple-A. He hit .310/.494/.483 when he was down there last time, so perhaps a little more of that success combined with some work with the hitting coach can identify and resolve his issues. If Lee continues to play at the level he did in Houston (and that is not even that good given his 0.2 FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement thus far), Sanchez may have much of the rest of the season to work through those problems.