About ten days ago the Florida Marlins decided they probably would need a Major League third baseman after all. The Fish developed their preferred short list and one name on that list was Mark DeRosa of the San Francisco Giants. Subsequently, DeRosa went on the 15 day DL with an inflamed left wrist– hardly a deal breaker but it put any further trade discussions on hold.
All in all a pleasant little story until Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval broke the hamate bone in his right hand last weekend and will be out for up to six weeks.
How big a blow is this to the Giants? Try hugenormous. Sandoval leads the team with a .904 OPS and in total bases with 44; he is tied with Pat Burrell for the team lead in home runs with 5. His fielding improves seemingly week by week: Sandoval leads all NL third basemen in fielding percentage (.988), assists (58), and Range Factor (3.58); his 5 double plays tie him with two other NL third baggers in second place.
To put Sandoval’s importance to the team’s offense in perspective, the Giants have scored 99 runs so far this season– good for a tie with the Pittsburgh Pirates at 14th out of 15 NL teams.
But with some luck, the beautiful symmetry of baseball could kick in if… . If Mark DeRosa comes off the DL in ten days, takes over at third base and goes on an offensive tear. Last year the capable DeRosa was on the sidelines almost all season with injuries as the Giants surged to the World Series. This season, DeRosa looked to be a super back-up along the lines of Juan Uribe. Now the Giants need that super back-up at third and pronto.
As for the Marlins, they are currently 17-9 and a half game behind the Phillies at the top of the NL Eastern Division and they can smell blood in the water: Atlanta has not found traction early on and, despite Philadelphia’s dominant starting pitching, a number of their veteran hitters look like they might be more comfortable in a gated retirement community than at home plate.
Florida’s top minor league prospect at third, Matt Dominguez, was given a shot at the starting job in Spring Training but didn’t hit. The team grudgingly sent Dominguez down to the minors, where an injury promptly sidelined him until July. Now the Marlins are rotating Greg Dobbs, Emilio Bonifacio and Wes Helms at third and are just this side of desperate to find an everyday player at the hot corner. The best possible outcome for the Marlins would be if they can possibly swing a deal with the Texas Rangers to get Michael Young, a longshot that would cost Florida several prime prospects and a large section of downtown Miami.
Mark DeRosa would have been a perfect fit for the Marlins at the right price, but now it’s the Giants who are crossing their fingers and plugging in stop gap players like Miguel Tejada and Ryan Rohlinger at third base until DeRosa comes back.
And if the thirty-six year old DeRosa doesn’t come back all the way or tanks as an everyday player? Maybe Emilio Bonifacio will still be available…