Before I lay out my grand plan for an unprecedented three team...
Emilio Bonifacio Is The Biggest Deal In The MegaDeal
The Miami Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays have reportedly decided to move a whole bunch of players up and down the east coast. Old news, I know, but among them is a guy who’s not making any headlines: Emilio Bonifacio. Bonifacio is not Reyes, the biggest over-the-top-holy-cow player moved up to Toronto. But he is, very simply, a very talented baseball player. He has started in at least 17 games in six different positions and brings his plus speed with him to each of them.
Bonafacio hit a pedestrian .258 and slugged a paltry .313 in 2012, but that is not indicative of the type of player he will be for Toronto. In 2011, Emilio hit .296 with 40 steals. While the .296 may be a bit high, the steals will be there for at least the foreseeable future. Consider that he stole 30 bags in 33 attempts (91%) in just 64 games last year. I really think that in his 26 yeor old year of 2011 Emilio Bonifacio figured it out and that the poor 2012 was due more to injuries (hand and knee) than a decline in skills. Both injuries were not long term concerns and he should be good to go in the Spring.
The other players that the Blue Jays got are all in some way flawed. Josh Johnson is the one that I have the most faith in given how he pitched in the second half of this past year (3.50 ERA and just a .220 opponents average against). Still, the concern with Johnson is that he’s only got one year left on his contract and with a strong showing in the AL East next year, should be well positioned to go pitch for the Yankees. (Why do you think they are quiet this year on the Grienke-Lohse-Sanchez fronts?.) Jose Reyes is going to be paid $22 million a year from 2015-2018, when he’ll be between the ages of 32-35–also known as “past his prime.” Mark Buerhle’s being paid $48 million over the next three years to pitch 200 innings and win Gold Gloves. That seems a little high. John Buck is going to be a backup catcher. Do you really want any more analysis about Mr. Buck than that?
Remember when Omar Infante made the All-Star game as a utility player? It seems that every great team has a great deal of flexibility built into at least one part of its roster. Consider that in 2012, the Rays flexed Ben Zobrist, the Braves had Martin Prado, the Giants moved Brandon Belt, Buster Posey, and Gregor Blanco all over, the Tigers did different things with Ryan Raburn, and the Rangers had Michael Young. It’s really a big deal in today’s game to have some flexibility within a roster. It makes for easier off day maneuvering and allows a manager to spell stars through the long summer months. Emilio Bonifacio provides that. He can play six positions and passes the eye test extremely well in Center Field. As for how he fits into the Jays equation, some early reports had him slotted behind recent signing Maicer Izturus. That’s wrong. He should be in front of Izturus at second base and be available to give Colby Rasmus, Jose Bautista or Brett Lawrie a day off with Izturus then substituting in at second. It’s a really good looking proposition for the Jays.
When we talk about baseball it’s impossible to talk about deals on a purely talent level. Without a doubt Josh Johnson and Jose Reyes are more talented players than Emilio Bonifacio, but given the nature of their deals, he’s the guy I would most want on my team. He’s about to start climbing the arbitration ladder, but given his poor showing in 2012, Emilio should stay at least somewhat near the $3 million mark.
He’s the type of player that completes a roster and does wonders for a managers mental health. He’s not making the headlines, but he really should be.
Stat of the Day: Pete Rose is the only player in Major League history to play at least 500 games at five different positions.